Monday, February 28, 2011

Mid-afternoon Coffee Snack

Yehudit Ravitz - Shir Lelo Shem

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Video - Gaddafi's Goons Fleeing Like Rats

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Petition to the German Government

This open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and foreign minister Guido Westerwelle has come to my attention. It expresses dismay at Germany's recent UN vote against Israel. The petition has so far garnered 3,500 signatures and they are targeting 10,000. While many of the signatories are just concerned German citizens, it includes some respectable journalists and intellectuals.

If you know any German citizens that wish to maintain their country's modern role as a friend of the Jewish people and the state of Israel, please bring this petition to their attention.

It was translated by a native German speaker and further edited by me:

To: Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle

The Arab world is burning. But the UNSC has nothing better to do than to debate for three hours Israel's settlement policy with the goal of label them as illegal.

You, honorable Ms. Merkel, and you honorable Mr. Westerwelle have promised the world that Germany will not disappoint when it occupies a seat in the UNSC.  But now, you support a resolution that is part of the propaganda war of the Palestinians, instead of prompting the Palestinians to negotiate with their peace partner Israel a mutual agreement in regards to the future borders of the Palestinian state.

This makes it clear that Germany does not measure up to its own expectations with respect to its position as 'Friend of Israel' exactly when it is called upon to back years of lip service with concrete actions. Here, one would expect Germany's equivocal 'No!'.
However, by consenting to the UNSC resolution you support the one sided conviction of the only democracy in the Middle East based on the falsification of history.

Video - Live Fire Against Libyan Rebels

This video is from yesterday in Derna. The title says 'Peaceful Demonstrators'. I don't know, a heck of a lot of them seem to carry pretty large rocks. They are not peaceful demonstrators, but rebels. Rebels against a brutal, insane dictatorship, but still rebels.

I wish them luck and international assistance.


Mid-afternoon Coffee Snack

Rmi Kleinstein - Tapuhim u'Tmarim

Video - Gaddafi's Mercenaries in Action

Spring Time of the (Arab) Peoples

Anyone who has followed my blog with respect to the recent wave of unrest in the Arab world, must have realized that I tend to liken the current it to a very important hinge-point in European and world history, the popular revolutions of 1848 otherwise knows as 'Spring Time of the Peoples'. In that year, a wave of popular unrest swept most of the continent after a successful revolution toppled the French constitutional monarchy.

Robert Zaretsky, a Texas based history professor, also likes this analogy:

The dead weight of brutal and autocratic rulers; a young and professional middle class deprived not just of liberty, but jobs; a deep and persistent economic crisis; and a revolution in communications that renders traditional borders obsolete and, finally, the bursting of the dam that unleashes a surge of revolution that sweeps across a continent: these conditions describe not only North Africa and the Middle East today, but Europe in 1848. If nations from Tunisia to Bahrain are, in fact, reviving the so-called “springtime of peoples”, the winter of political disenchantment may not be far away.
The backgrounds to the two series of revolutions are eerily similar. The Great Recession of recent memory was a blip compared to the economic depression, known as the “hungry years,” that flattened Europe in the 1840s. Disastrous harvests pushed up grain prices across Europe; city dwellers, spending more on food, bought fewer commodities; industrial and commercial activity slowed to a near standstill.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Scary Video from Libya

Tripoli - Gaddafi's forces spraying bullets at rebels. 

Israeli Arab Sheikh Threatens an Uprising

Israeli Arab Sheikh Abbas Zakhour, who until recently occupied a seat in the Knesset, Israel's national parliament is warning that unless discrimination against Israel's Arab minority stops, a similar type of popular uprising as seen in the Middle East recently is imminent.

This is coming from a person who merely last year traveled to Libya to kiss Gaddafi's ass to the dismay of many Israelis. While some of the Israeli Arab leaders who traveled to Libya last year expressed reservations regarding the visit (at least retroactively), to my Knowledge the Sheikh hasn't. 

It's important to note that individual members of Israel's Arab minority have access to far more political and economical rights than any other Arab individuals in the Middle East. That's without mentioning the large number of affirmative action programs that was legislated by the state in recent years.

Are things perfect? No... but it's mostly because of douches like the Sheikh who wants to push his constituents towards petty ethnic warfare rather than represent their many (legitimate) aspirations in the Knesset, which is what he was elected by them to do.

If anything, I think Israeli Arabs should enact a similar day of range against their own community leaders, who would rule just as a typical Middle Eastern autocrat were they given the chance.


Obama on Libya - Live

The POTUS is now addressing the world about the recent events in Libya.

Will it be another vacuus, empty speech as usual? 

We shall see!

'We condemn the violence in Libya... blah blah blah... Not only us, but even the Arabs!'

The Libyan government must be made accountable, and held accountable. This must be an international effort. HRC (which ironically, Libya is a proud member of) will be convened in Geneva and Obama is sending Hillary there.

'This is a change driven by the people...'.

Overall, not anything dramatic or substantial. The administration is maintaining its firm line of supporting the protest movements in the Middle East.

However, no mention whatsoever of Muammar Gaddafi. Not outlining the type of change that America concretely wants to see.

I hope that this means he is sending Clinton to bitchslap the Europeans who have been in bed with Gaddafi for about a decade now.

First Taste of Middle East Instability Reaches Israel

In the last few hours several 'Grad' rockets have hit several towns in the northern Negev. Most notably, Be'er Sheva has been hit for the first time since operation 'Cast Lead' just over two years a go.

I bet western liberals feel very proud of their unconditional support to the 'democratic' revolution taking place in the Middle East. Well, what we will actually be seeing very soon is much more instability, more conflicts. The only thing we will probably not see much off is real democracy in the western sense. That is, a democracy that runs on the principles of individual rights, freedom of expression and mutual coexistence of citizens with varying, often contradictory desires.

Sorry, the 'people's desire to wage holy war on the infidels' does not cut it as a democratic aspiration.

Mid-afternoon Coffee Snack

Hemi Rodner - Geula

Monday, February 21, 2011

Insane Tweets from Libya

I was always weary of what's found on Twitter regarding any event in the world, let alone what's happening in the Middle East right now.
This tweet has to take the cake:
 Confirmed caller from Tripoli: African mercenaries are African jews trained in
Israel #Libya #Egypt #Tunisia #Algeria #feb17
Yep. This is the kind of quality news streaming out Libya via the celebrated social networks. If you didn't chuckle when reading this tweet then it's pretty much imperative that your brain leaked out of your rears, some time a go.

Sadly enough, this is not comedy, but it's really what's going on in the minds of the alternative, democratic leadership of the Arab world.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Seif El Islam Addressing Libya

Boy, do lengthy, delusional speeches run in the family!

Seif El Islam, who until recently was the favourite to inherit the crown, is currently delivering a lengthy, tedious speech which I am following through Al Jazeera.

Basically he is blaming the entire situation on foreign influences, African migrant workers and on drugs and alcohol. Amazing!

He spent most of the speech addressing Libya's social and historical background and making predictions of where it is headed, if the current government is toppled. He is making the grimmest of predictions, promising tribalism will fracture Libya into multiple states. It will be worse than Yugoslavia and the division will be deeper than North/South Korea.

On the positive side, he is promising to work on a constitution and work together to create the second 'Jumahariya', or people's republic.

He is counting on the people's fear of chaos, hunger and tribalism to establish himself as the leader. Basically, he is telling the demonstrators that if they want to make gains, they must work with him.

Very self serving, don't you think?


The Collapse of the Ghaddafi Family

It seems as though Libya is outdoing its more populous neighbours Egypt and Tunisia. The ruthlessness of Ghaddafi's regime is much more severe than anything else seen in the Middle East under the current wave of strife. The brutality of the regime is so far matched pitch for pitch by the resilience of the demonstrators.

The security forces did not seem to reluctant to open machine gun fire at crowds, including attendants of funerals of deceased demonstrators. 

This however, was insufficient to deter the demonstrators from pressing home the advantage. The city of Benghazi is reported to be in full control of the anti-regime forces and that the capital is about to fall as well.

Some of the rumours trickling down suggest that two of Ghaddafi's sons (who were the contenders for the crown rights) have entered a gun fight with each other and that Ghaddafi himself has fled for Venezuela, where he can hang out with fellow benevolent creator of a socialist paradise, Hugo Chavez.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011

Obama is AWOL

So now we know, Iranian warships are going to cross the Suez canal and unload munitions headed for Syria and Hizbullah.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Qardawi, has returned to Egypt and held a mass prayer that makes the demonstrations of the last couple of weeks look like a small campfire gathering of a few buddies.

Qardawi is perhaps the single most influencial radical islamist preacher in the world. This is Egypt's Khomeini, who has been in exile in Qatar. Incidentally, it's the same Qatar who has been promoting a false narrative of the events of Egypt in order to speed-up the collapse of the government there via their propaganda arm, Al-Jazeera.

In the last few days, we see all of America's strategical interests in the Middle East falling apaprt and the administration is AWOL.


Mid-afternoon Coffee Snack

The High Windows (Ha'Khalonot Ha'Gvohim) - Yehezkel

The Assault on Lara Logan - a Case of Cognitive Dissonance

Lara Logan, a CBS reporter of whom I was never too familiar with, was sexually assaulted while covering the events on Tahrir square. After being immediately flown out of Cairo back to New York, Lara has since recovered from her injuries, which were deemed serious, reunited with her family and returned to work.

Lara is coming out as quite a remarkable person.

In an interview she said: 

"We were detained by the Egyptian army," Logan told Esquire. "Arrested, detained, and interrogated. Blindfolded, handcuffed, taken at gunpoint, our driver beaten. It's the regime that arrested us. They arrested [our producer] just outside of his hotel, and they took him off the road at gunpoint, threw him against the wall, handcuffed him, blindfolded him. Took him into custody like that."
Logan continued to say, "They blindfolded me, but they said if I didn't take it off they wouldn't tie my hands. They kept us in stress positions-they wouldn't let me put my head down. It was all through the night. We were pretty exhausted... We were accused of being Israeli spies. We were accused of being agents. We were accused of everything," Logan said.
So it looks as though she was assaulted by the army and not by unruly mob of demonstrators as was initially thought. But the most disturbing issue surrounding this is the disgusting cognitive dissonance of western liberals.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Barry Rubin to Kerry - You are Playing with Fire!

The Obama administration and the entire strategical decision-making capacity in the US seems to be on an extended leave. It's a shame that such a weak administration is in charge at such tumulus times.

Recently, John Kerry came out in support of the demonstrators in Bahrain in a sign that could be interpreted by everyone as an American approval of a free-for-all against its allies. 

Rubin writes:
Senator John Kerry, who when I worked in the Senate was regarded as...let's just say as not a great genius, is now chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Kerry regards himself as something of a shadow secretary of state. If he ever actually gets that job we're all in trouble.
Kerry has been perhaps the most outspoken member of the Senate, now that Senator Arlen Spector is gone, in flattering the tyrannical government of Syria. Yet now Kerry is giving Bahrain the "Egypt treatment." He warned that government:
"Using tear gas, batons, and rubber bullets on peaceful protestors is the worst kind of response to a nonviolent demonstration. I urge the government of Bahrain to put an end to the violence and allow the Bahrainis to voice their call for greater political freedom. Historic protests are taking place across the Arab world and it is vital for every government to respond peacefully and listen to their own people.”
In principle,  these are fine sentiments, but in strategic terms they are foolish indeed. Bahrain is different from the Egyptian case in two important respects. First, the uprising in Bahrain is openly being led by islamists. Second, the problem of democracy in Bahrain is that the great majority of the population--about 85 percent--are Shia Muslims while the monarchy is Sunni.

If the majority were to rule, Bahrain would probably align itself with Iran. Following the fact that Iraq has a Shia-majority government, the transformation of a Gulf Cooperation Council state to Shia rule would freak out the Saudis and other Gulf monarchies as the beginning of the end for them.
So to play with backing an uprising in Bahrain is extremely dangeorus and no doubt Kerry, like the sorcerer's apprentice, has no idea what he might be unleashing there. If he wants to urge on an uprising he'd be better advised t
o stop coddling and start criticizing his friends in the Syrian regimet.

Israeli President Shimon Peres to Visit Morocco

I have heard an unconfirmed report that Shimon Peres will visit Morocco by way of Spain. The unconfirmed report is in Hebrew. It's provided by a source with a pretty good track record, so I will consider it as 'highly probably' to be true.

If this report is correct, I find the timing somewhat interesting as major demonstrations are planned for the 20th of February.


Video from Iran - Goons Beating Civilians

- QP

Bahrain Revolt Might be Iran - backed Shia Coup

Bahrain is a small island 'nation', sandwiched between Saudi Arabia. It is a small oil Sheikhdom ruled by the Sunni bedouin al-Khalifa tribe while most of the population is Shia. There are frequent complaints of discrimination.

Bahrain is one of the better places to live in in the Muslim world, with a GDP of about $20,000 per capita. This apparently, is insufficient to keep the population of just over 1 million docile and apathetic to the rampant corruption and authoritarian rule (unlike their southern neighbor, Qatar).

The makeup of Bahrain's population, as well as its historical links to the Persian empire means that often there is an Iranian connection. Ahmadinijad has declared only two years a go that Bahrain is rightfully owned Iranian sovereign territory that will be reclaimed.

Mid-afternoon Coffee Snack

Gazoz - Hee Lo Teda

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sarkozy Advisor Accuses Karsenty as being a Mossad Spy

France 2, has unfortunately played a role in one of the biggest blood libels of the second Intifada. As a 15 year old Zionist, I found it difficult to swallow the footage when the report came out. It was used extensively to label Israel as a 'child killer'.

Turns out that it was a carefully perpetrated piece of Pallywood (Palestinian's crafty use of media in order to construct a false narrative in world opinion). Phillipe Kasenty is a French media analyst that revealed the truth regarding the France 2 footage. The network successfully sued him for libel, a decision that was overturned in Karsenty's favour. To date, France 2 has continuously refused to released their full footage.

Now Karsenty is being accused by Sarkozy's staff as being an Israeli spy (h/t Israel Matzav):

Jenny Peto in Her Brother's Words

I know for a fact know that Jenny Peto is considered an extremely unpleasant person by those who had to deal with her.

Luckily, I never had too!

But I did, however, got quite disgusted when I saw her bulldogish appearance on every major Canadian newspaper when controversy over her aimless rant, which was somehow mistaken for a Master's thesis by UofT, erupted. 

You see, Jenny thinks that attempt of Jewish communities around the world to commemorate and educate about an event in history that saw half of their kind systematically executed, is merely a conspiracy to perpetuate the sense of 'victimhood' and monopolies plight. Not only does she trivialize the suffering of many of her direct ancestors, she had the gull to dedicate this worthless piece of trash to her deceased grandmother. Luckily, I do not need to lambaste her, her own brother did an excellent job:

Jordan - New Government Resorts to the Oldest Trick in the Book

Things are not looking too dandy for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The East Bank bedouin tribes are demanding a greater say in the affairs of state of the kingdom which is ruled by the house of Hashm, which was transplanted from Hejaz after the First World War. There has been much criticism of the king's Palestinian wife and her lavish, wasteful lifestyle. They also demand a faster transition towards a more restrictive constitutional Monarchy. Currently the king has authority to dismiss both the executive branch and the legislative branch of governmnet, on an ad-hoc basis.

From the other side, the country's majority Palestinian population are continuously treated as some sort of an underclass. Their ability to climb the military ladder, as well as the state bureaucracy is greatly impeded by the bedouins. More recently, there is a trend of expropriating Palestinians and stripping them off from their Jordanian citizenship. A friend of this blog, Mudar Zahran frequently voices the concern of his Palestinian/Jordanian community.

Mudar also recently wrote an excellent post on how regressive Arab regimes use Israel bashing as the opiate of the masses. It seems that the new cabinet in Jordan has already caught on!

Mid-afternoon Coffee Snack

Ivri Lider - Boh

Iran - Law Makers Call for the Execution of Moussavi, Karroubi

The Iranian parliament is a joke. The mob protesting for democracy is just that, a mob. Their anger is well understood, but they are still an unruly crowd.

It's quite telling when a nation's law makers seem to be worse than the mob outside. You can take a random sample of the angry youths and they will probably do a more responsible job running the state's affairs.


Revolution in Egypt and Iran - Dr. Bechor on the Contrasts

The success of the Egyptian popular ouster of their long serving autocrat, Mubarak, coupled with Obama's blessings has given hope to many Iranians that perhaps this is time to get rid of their autocratic regime.

Dr. Guy Bechor, of whom I am an avid reader, weighs in on the differences between the Iranian situation and the Egyptian situation, aside from the many superficial similarities.

Regime Survival

In Egypt, the current regime which is dominated by the defense establishment, has sacrificed  its figurehead Mubarak, in order to guarantee its own survival (at least until the next round). The Iranian equivalent will be the Revolutionary Guard attaining full control of the state, sacrificing Ahmadinijad in the process. However, in Iran, Ahmadinijad is viewed as a puppet of a hated regime, not as the root of it.

Gaza Citizens Speak at a Conference in Sderot

In Sderot, a conference that deals with the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict and 15 Gaza residence were able to get an visitor permit in order to participate. It's interesting to get a perspective into what they think and Ynet provides it.

While most Palestinians requested to remain anonymous, Mayin Shakafa, a community organizer was outspoken and was undeterred despite of worries for his family's safety.

Understandably so, Shakafa isn't happy about the Strip's isolation:
He also provided the crowd with his viewpoint of life in the Strip. "We are still holed up in Gaza and bringing everything through tunnels. Why must it be this way?" he asked.
Shakafa, however, does not hold Israel responsible for all his maladies:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Has Mubarak Finally Payed a Visit to Israel?

Many Israeli prime ministers flocked down to Mubarak's seat of power in Sharm Al Sheikh in what was presented by Israelis as a sign of improved relations, and by the Egyptians as an Israeli recognition of who's in charge.

Unlike his predecessor Sadat, who made quite an overture and appealed for regional, lastable peace from the podium of the Israeli Knesset, Mubarak never ventured to the Holly Land with the exception of Rabin's funeral.

Some interesting rumours are running wild at the moment. A recent one puts Mubarak in Eilat, Israel.

Of course those rumours are just as reliable as the ones that placed the former Egyptian president (HeeHee!) in Dubai, Baden-Baden and Saudi Arabia.


Tarek Fatah Loses It!

Tarek Fatah is a co-host on the show Friendly Fire on the station NewsTalk 1010. He acts as a sort of a 'liberal' balance.

On the Michael Coren show, he was a member of a panel that happened to discussed a pretty straightforward issue: Women's shelters should not be used as a refuge from the law, immigration law in this particular debate.

Pretty simple, I think. Illegal immigrants should not be able to hide from the law. This discussion was not about immigration policy or immigration, simply about equal-handed law enforcement.

So what's Tarek conclusion? Xenophobia, bigotry and right-wing conspiracy.

Mid-afternoon Coffee Snack

David Broza - Shir Ahava Bedoui

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The People of Iran are Getting Ready to Reclaim the Revolution

Tomorrow morning Iran's 'Green Movement', the pro-democracy protest movement, is planning a day of action. Perhaps emboldened by the outcomes of the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Iran's vast educated middle class is fed up with the dictatorship of Khaminai, Ahmadinijad and their Seppah gangs.

Unlike my worries about an Egyptian revolution, I am fully convinced that Iran is ready to establish a consensual democracy. Despite of years of mismanagement, sanctions and oppression, Iran has a relatively good economy and a strong, affluent and educated middle class. While, I do not expect Iran to immediately become close friends of Israel, simply cutting the genocidal rhetoric and letting Iranian athletes compete against their Israeli counterparts will be a good starting point.

I believe that Iranians and Israelis actually have much more in common than they expect.

New Zionist Conspiracy: Iran Accuses Mossad of Artificially Deflating Drug Prices

Asside from controlling world media, financial markets, the American congress, the president and a wide range of wild animals, apparently the Mossad is also working quite hard to ensure that Iranian drug addicts get their fix really really cheap.

Once again, I find myself extremely powerful of the Mossad! An organization that is estimated to have about 2,000 employees is able to control all the flow of contraband across the porous Iran-Afghanistan border. They are also able to keep every heroin pusher in the country on a short leash and bitchslap him if he may dare to sell at the reasonable, market price. If that's not an excellent use of the 'secret discretionary' budget of the Prime Minister's Office, I don't know what is.

Dethroning the Oppressor

I recently re-watched the excellent film 'Training Day', starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. Take five minutes to watch the last words of Alonzo (Washington), which I think represent a good metaphor of the complex dynamic between Arab dictators, the public and the west.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Atlas Shrugged: the Trailer

Ayn Rand's classic novel is finally coming to the silver screen.

Can't wait.


Shavua Tov! Humor Edition

The satirical show Eretz Nehederet has been a hit in Israel for almost a decade. Recently, they have started to record humorous satirical songs. Here is a small selection:
Rechev Chevra

Dan Carlin: Common Sense

Every two weeks or so, independent-minded commentator, Dan Carlin releases a current affairs podcast 'Common Sense'.

The last episode is titled 'The Obama Doctrine'. As always, I enjoyed listening to Dan's show, which is informative, interesting, and thought provoking. In the very recent installment however, I found myself often not convinced by Dan's train of thought.

What Dan refers to as the Obama Doctrine is a generalization of Obama's reaction to the recent uprising in Egypt. Obama seemed to take a stand for a transition towards democracy, coming out in support of the legitimate wishes of the Egyptian population. Under this approach, Obama should have also aggressively came out in favor of the demonstrators in Iran over a year a go.  Unfortunately his archive store is a little disorganized and it's hard to locate Dan's relevant episode and compare his reactions to the two popular uprisings in the Middle East.

What bewilders me is that Dan is usually somewhat of an 'isolationist', taking the position that the US should not interfere globally. However, all of a sudden when an opportunity of supporting  a popular struggle for democracy comes, he is for intervention. He also asks whether the risk of a popular islamist regime that will choose to fight American interests and go to war with Israel, is enough of an impetus to suppress the desires of the people. His only condition for support of any Egyptian democratically elected government is that the maintain the democratic process going.

Rejoicing the Junta

In the last few weeks, Egypt was undergoing a coup d'etat. For 61 years Egypt has been an authoritarian military dictatorship, headed by the strongmen Nassr, Sadat and Mubarak. This cadre of military strongmen came during the officer's revolt, which saw a constitutional monarchy with a multi-party democratically elected parliament replaced with the current, authoritarian style of government. Out of the three Nassr is the only one that left office due to natural death. His successor, Sadat, was assassinated by a radical islamist shortly after signing a peace treaty, and Mubarak was ousted by the military due to popular pressures.

Other than Mubarak's premature departure, so far there isn't much to rejoice. While I maintained that Mubarak is a good ruler (in the Machiavellian sense, not in terms of benevolence), he was pushed into a corner that he couldn't get himself out of. So now, instead of having a faux democratically elected president that atleast pretends to balance the needs of the military elite, business elite and the people, the country is in full control of a small military Junta that has become even more powerful over the last few days.

Mubarak's last deed of office was to put the military in full charge of the affairs of state. Now this does not mean that a peaceful transition towards multi-party democracy is impossible, but at the end of the day, the country is currently run by a powerful group, armed to the teeth and the lion's share of the crimes of the regime. Should we expect much of a change when the whip is wielded by the people who were patiently waiting for Mubarak to croak, anyway?

I would hope positive change can come. However, military juntas tend to be horrible with yielding power. There is always going to be some unfinished business that necessitates  maintaining the status quo.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Reactions from Israel to Mubarak Departure

I have previously maintained that support for the Mubarak regime is not deeply ingrained in Israeli society and is mostly limited to close cordial relationship of a small layer of politicians and to the fact that Mubarak's rule has been stable and found shared interests with Israel.

As for the people, they usually see Mubarak as a laughable autocrat. While 'official Israel' pretended that Mubarak's regime is a democratic republic for posterity, everyone knew the truth. Israelis tend to have disdain for central authority and far reaching regulations, they have no sympathy for a brutal dictator, be him a complacent one.

Israel always pointed out that the Middle East is a tough neighbourhood, and having Switzerland, Belgium or Canada as neighbours is preferable to having Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Deep inside, most Israelis would love to see Egypt (as well as all of Israel's neighbours) transformed to western style liberal democracies. This can be reflected by reactions of the Israeli public to recent events in Egypt. 

Mid-afternoon Coffee Snack

Shlomo Artzi - Ha'ish Hahu

Mubarak is Out!

Watch live streaming video from usa_today1 at

After dancing tango with the Egyptian military and people, Mubarak has finally stepped down. You can watch live coverage via the embedded player above and read more below.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Obama Killing Arab Dictators, Almost Literally

Obama had quite a conversation with the Saudi king about the situation in Egypt earlier today. It seems as though the American leader presented quite a heavy handed approach that was difficult for his Saudi octogenarian counterpart to swallow.

After the conversation, king Abdullah has collapsed with a heart attack, making oil prices jump by as much as a buck per barrel:

Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz is alive, a source close to the monarch said on Thursday denying reports of his death.
"The king is presently in Morocco; he is in good health and good spirits. The report on his death is untrue," the source in Morocco said. web portal reported on Thursday that King Abdullah suffered a sudden heart attack after a phone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama, during which they discussed the events in Egypt.
The portal said doctors were unable to save the king and he was pronounced dead, but "his death was not reported due to the sensitive conditions that exist in the region."

Mubarak and Regime Survival in Egypt

After much speculation, we find that Mubarak is not resigning. All he does is transfer some powers to his newly appointed VP, Omar Suleiman, appoint a a special committee to oversee constitutional reform, and step down in September after overseeing an orderly transition of power. This means that the regime is not relenting, and not planning to go anywhere.

If the entire episode has left you confused, perhaps you should stop listening to what Al Jazeera tries to promote, but rather read experts such as Guy Bechor and Barry Rubin. Perhaps checking back at my earlier post on Bechor's 10 rules for regime survival in Egypt and you will readily see that the struggle for power in Egypt still plays out according to those 10 rules. 

You would also be better served if you read Barry Rubin latest piece, as well as an earlier one. While so far Rubin has mostly played the role of pessimist, raising the alarm bells of the possible outcomes of an Egyptian revolution, he is an excellent analyst of what's going on over there.


Late Afternoon Coffee Break

I messed up the auto-schedule for today. So the this is overdue!
Mashina - Rakevet Laila l'Kahir

Updated: Apparently Mubarak to Resign Tonight

The Egyptian army came out with a statement that the 'demands of the people' are about to be met:

Egyptian television interrupted all programming to present footage of a panel of serious military officers reading out a statement they described as "communique number one" of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

"Based on the responsibility of the armed forces and its commitment to protect the people and its keenness to protect the nation... and in support of the legitimate demands of the people," the army "will continue meeting on a continuous basis to examine measures to be taken to protect the nation and its gains and the ambitions of the great Egyptian people," it said.
But the demands of the people have been fairly vague. Some of the more principled positions would require a rigorous  and lengthy process of careful reform. I doubt the army and the security establishment is about to throw in the towel.

Syria and Qatar Tried to Sabotage a Shalit Deal

According to WikiLeaks (via Ynetnews), Qatar and Syria tried to derail the Egypt mediated negotiations that would have resulted in the captive Israeli soldier released, and hundreds of Palestinian prisoners let go from Israeli prison. This comes from a discussion between Mubarak and a US general, which was cabled back to Washington:
According to the report, which is based on a WikiLeaks document, Mubarak claimed that Syria and Qatar offered Hamas$50 million to keep soldier Gilad Shalit in captivity in order to impede a prisoner swap deal with Israel brokered by Egypt.
The US general quoted Mubarak in a cable sent to Washington. The document does not specify whether Hamas accepted the offer and does not contain details regarding the proposed payment method.
Mubarak apparently made the comments three months before Israel received a video tape showing Gilad Shalit in what then appeared as a breakthrough in efforts to release him.
According to the Norwegian report, which was quoted in Al Jazeera and Palestinian media, WikiLeaks papers provide additional details regarding Egypt's involvement in the deal. Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman, the former intelligence minister, had a major role in efforts to free the kidnapped soldier

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

MJ Rosenberg Proves Himself Right (by ignoring history)

Sometimes you see an opinion that is so correct, so convincing and so well written. That's of course if you don't know history or willfully ignore it! MJ Rosenberg set out to prove that in any historical debate the Israeli 'Peace Camp' had it right. In order to so, he molests  over 40 years of history.

Let's examine some of his claims. Of course it was the Israeli Peace Camp that could have saved Israel from the dreaded Yom Kippur War. It would have been averted if Israel merely trusted Sadat blindfoldedly. He writes:
The most egregious example of this phenomenon comes from Egypt, where in 1971 President Anwar Sadat offered to begin negotiations toward peace in exchange for a two-mile wide Israeli withdrawal from the east bank of the Suez Canal, which Israel had captured along with the rest of the Sinai Peninsula in the 1967 war.
The Nixon administration told the Israeli government to explore the idea because Sadat was intent on going to war if he did not get his territory back.
The peace camp in Israel and its allies here urged Israel to follow Nixon's advice and hear Sadat out. The lobby, of course, told Nixon to mind his own business.
As for the Israeli cabinet, it told Nixon's emissary, Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Sisco, that it had no interest in discussing Egypt's offer. It voted for keeping all of the Sinai Peninsula and sending Egypt a simple message: no. After all, the Egyptians had shown just four years earlier that they were no match for the IDF.
Two years later, the Egyptians attacked, and within hours all of Israel's positions along the canal were overrun and its soldiers killed. By the time the war ended, Israel had lost 3,000 soldiers and almost the state itself. And then, a few years later, it gave up the entire Sinai anyway - not just the two-mile strip Egypt had demanded in 1971. 

Israel Inside Promo

h/t Challah Hu Akbar

Demand Al Jazeera?

Apparently, Al Jazeera wants you to demand it! More specifically, they have been trying really hard to woo you with their Egypt coverage and then demand that your domestic broadcasting networks and authorities will feature their English language international broadcast. So far, they have been heavily promoting this campaign on social networking sites such as Facebook and twitter.

Since I have been following Al Jazeera's live stream closely last week, I think I should weigh in.

First of all, I was very impressed with their coverage. They had a thorough presence everywhere it seems, with constant live feed from Tahrir square, Qasr a Nile, 6th of October Bridge, etc. The studio was professional and kept the discussion alive and engaging. There is no doubt that Al Jazeera is an excellent news network.

That's of course all on the positive side. But there is a different, less benign side to Al Jazeera.

Mid-afternoon Coffee Snack

Yigal Bashan - Sivan

Dr. Guy Bechor and his 10 Rules for Egypt's Regime Survival

If you have been following the events unfold in Egypt via Al Jazeera, Twitter or any western source (that got most of its sources through the former), the lack of regime change in Egypt this far into the revolt must seem strange. That's because our understanding of Egypt has been clouded by democratic optimism on one side, and Qatar's agenda on the other. With lack of thorough understanding of the history and the culture of Egypt, it's almost impossible to make a clear headed judgment.

There is however, one analyst, that knows Egypt very well. Unlike some analysts who predicted the fall of the Mubarak regime and its replacement with the Muslim Brotherhood, or others who optimistically foreshadowed the dawn of 'true democracy', Bechor maintained that the regime will probably survive this round.

To let his readers better grasp his understanding of the situation, Dr. Bechor came up with 10 guiding rules to why the regime has thus far survived, and will probably continue doing so. To those of you who can read Hebrew, you may follow the link. To those who don't, here is my summary of them:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In Search of Apocalypse: a Story of Liberal Hypocrisy and Western Naivete

In the aftermath of the Iraq invasion, many on the left were criticizing Bush and warning others, about the former president's strange religious views and how they affect his policy decisions. It was said that Bush and his 'neocon' friends have a millenarian bend and that they are looking to live out some apocalyptic biblical prophecy. Most notable is president Chirac's claim that Bush said 'Gog Magog is at hand' when the latter tried to convince the former to join his coalition for the war in Iraq (which is coincidentally the location of biblical Babylon, not to mention lots and lots and lots of Oil).

The debate went back and forth. Some claimed that the occasional Bush religious statement was merely a move for his substantial Evangelical support base. The left often tried to dig very hard to find such statements in order to try and label Bush as some sort of a religious whacko. 

Bush's critics wanted to warn us of the possibility of Bush being a religious fanatic, and rightfully so. While I believe that calling Bush a religious fanatic is much of a stretch, in the west, we have come to view religion as a private aspect of life that should not be used for public policy. This is a problem that every country with a substantial conservative religious minority has to grapple with.

Interestingly enough though, the same group of Liberals, who are taking a 'principled' stand on a western politician's religious fanaticism, are proven to be full of hot air. Because when the same conservative elements which the liberals accuse of being overly religious, point to the fact that we should be careful from Islamist movements because they are most certainly religious whackos bent on holy war and the end of days, the 'principled' liberals instinctively go on the defensive to protect the Islamists.

Mid-afternoon Coffee Snack

Arik Einstein - Kshe at Bocha at Lo Yafa

Iranium: a Sneak Preview

A couple of weeks a go, I mentioned the little diplomatic incident between Canada and Iran over the upcoming documentary 'Iranium', which is highly critical of the Ayatollah's regime and alerts the viewers to their nuclear ambitions. The Iranian government threatened the Canadian government and demanded the movie will not be showcased at the Library and Archives Canada, which is a government institution, in Ottawa. The Harper government, which has been very consistent with regards to a firm stance on foreign policy, has refused to cave in.

In the Canadian media this was a debate over free speech. The boorish demands of a regressive dictatorship to suppress criticism and freedom of speech in a western democracy has certainly been an effective PR tool for the producers. By this I am not trying to say that the entire heated exchange of words was a publicity stunt, but it certainly brought my attention to the film.

I ended signing up for the film's public premiere. For the next 12 hours or so, you can watch the entire movie for free (by clicking on the widget below). I already watched it and recommend you do the same while it is possible. If public access is no longer available, or you want to find out more about it before committing an hour, here's my impression:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Harper Half-Decade

On the 6th of February, 2006, Stephen Harper was sworn in as Canada's 22nd prime minister. After successfully reestablishing the Canadian Conservative party after long years of internal fracture, he was able to defeat Paul Martin's shaky Liberal minority government amidst a few severe scandals. Since then, Harper and his Conservative Party have been able to govern fairly effectively despite of the fact that they have never been able to garner a majority in the House of Commons.

If you ignore the fact that his first term of office was cut short, the current minority government is the longest serving in Canada's history. Harper is Canada's 11th longest serving prime minister, recently overtaking Lester B. Pearson.

Harper's administration has had a few bumps along the way, but overall, with lack of any ideal alternative, this has been the best realistic arrangement for Canada during this time period. The current administration has coolheadedly guided Canada's economy through the recession while avoiding the insanity that has recently afflicted our neighbors to the south.

The need for stability, and the lack of majority means that the Conservatives were unable to push for any highly transformational and divisive adventures. All while avoiding tax hikes, lowering the much dreaded GST and maintaining equivocal support of Israel.

Perhaps the most controversial set of events is the infamous Coalition Crisis and Harper's decision to prorogue the Parliament. At that time, the highly ineffective leader of the opposition and of the Liberal Party, Stephane Dion, schemed with the far left NDP and Quebec separatists to form a coalition government, a highly unconventional move in Canadian politics. The most ridiculous aspect of this move was that the Bloc Quebecois was supposed to provide outside support on matters of confidence only for 18 months. Without the Bloc, the Liberals and NDP would still have a minority which is weaker than the Conservatives minority government. Of course the left, lead by the labour unions, tried to sell this highly unorthodox move by claiming that this would represent the 'true majority', representing 62% of Canadians. If we look at aggregate votes it is correct, but you cannot forget that even Jean Chretien's most stable majority was attained using a mere 41% of the popular vote.

Harper requested that the Governor General (the Queen's representative) prorogue parliament. While conservatives were keen on the move, which kept the radical left-wing kook coalition out, he was highly criticized by the left. The spin was that Harper is shutting out 'democracy' and running from the debate. Whoever swallowed the spin obviously has never tuned in to the Parliament channel on TV.

As the threat of another pointless election that maintains the status quo is in the air, we can quietly reflect on the last five years. Behind the pointless political banter, we have had a fairly stable, coolheaded government under Harper.


Change in the Land of the Pharaoh's

While in no way am I pertaining to be an expert in the field, I have a soft spot for Egyptian history and culture.

Egypt is the world's oldest nation state, with 5,000 years of concentrated central authority headed by a mighty figurehead. Dynasties, foreign and domestic came and went while the population kept the country's heart beating to the rhythm of the Nile. While the exact location of the capitol shifted around between the centuries, the general governing model remained largely unchanged.

Any revolution, or change of governing authority usually involved a purge at the higher levels of government only, keeping the overall social order intact. Of course there are a few minor exceptions throughout history.

It was Lenin who said that there are decades where nothing happens, and weeks were decades happen. It is arguable that the common people of Egypt have gained more pull with the authority in two weeks than they have been able to garner in 5,000 years.

Why then, is there such a rush to get rid of Mubarak? Yes, his arm was twisted into stepping down in an orderly manner. The prospect of a dynasty is formally killed and he has also relinquished control of his powerful Egyptian National Democratic Party. So why not continue to pressure him to make concessions in a position where the isn't much of a future stake for him (except for honor and personal wealth)?

His immediate resignation would leave Omar Suleiman as interim president with practically no power to make reforms. The current constitution forbids him from adopting reforms and making cabinet appointments. The situation would be a disaster. Perhaps Hosni is correct when he points out that if he will resign immediately, chaos will ensue.

The last thing that Egyptians need right now is a free for all pitting brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor.

Egyptians have gained so much in the last couple of weeks. They don't want to through it by going to far and letting 5,000 years of social evolution descend into petty factionalism. Let Hosni pack his pekelakh when the time his due. Yes, he was corrupt, but he also adopted many reforms that helped Egypt modernize and it's not like there was a realistic better option.

UPDATE: It looks as though the initial popular momentum of the opposition is gone. The people want to get on with their lives, be able to get money and food, rather than shelter themselves with emergency supplies and wooden bats. The opposition groups are now in discussion with Omar Suleiman on an orderly transition of power, keeping Mubarak in charge for the meantime. The MB is playing the pragmatists, as usual. The Machiavellian group is set on working with the regime while other opposition groups are posing more hasty and radical demands. Make no mistake about it, this is merely a tactic to make themselves appear attractive to the regime and thus maximize their role in any upcoming power sharing agreement.

Interestingly enough, El Baradei was shut out. I think everyone knows that aside from 300,000 Facebook friends, he does not have concrete support.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Shavua Tov!

Benzin - Yom Shishi

A long week ahead, longing for Friday

Attack on Egypt - Israel Gas Line

Earlier this morning, the main pipeline transporting natural gas from Egypt to Israel was blown up. The attack took place in the vicinity of El Arish, the largest city in the northern part of the Sinai peninsula. As a result, the flow of Egyptian natural gas, which accounts for 25-40% of Israel's supplies, has ceased indefinitely. With the current instability and uncertainty in Egypt, it's hard to believe this pipeline is going to be fixed any time soon.

While some in Egypt try to calm the situation down and claim that the explosion was caused by a leak, I don't really by it. The northern Sinai is a bit like the wild west, especially now. Gangs of Bedouins rule the roads and a few days a go Egypt's border control with the Gaza strip collapsed, enabling an almost unrestricted flow of people in and out of the strip.

The Egyptians also claim that there was no real damage to the pipe and flow was suspended just as a precautionary measure.

Debka claim that this was a well planned military attack on the line, carried out by special units of the Hamas. While Debka is not the most trustworthy source, they have been fairly reliable on the Egyptian front, reporting that Obama is pressuring Mubarak to depart immediately, 3-4 days before the mainstream media collapsed.

While it is still difficult to make something out of the situation, it is a good indicator of things to come. The Egyptian revolution is just a week old and Israel is already facing the prospects of losing about a third of its natural gas supplies.  If things progress the 'wrong' way in Egypt, the effects could be much harsher, impacting the rest of the world significantly.


Friday, February 4, 2011

It's Official: Muslim Brotherhood Leader Says Will End Peace Treaty With Israel

Barry Rubin is reporting the following:

Over and over again we have been told that the Muslim Brotherhood is weak, moderate, and is not calling for ending the Egypt-Israel peace treaty. But now Rashad al-Bayoumi,  deputy leader of the Brotherhood said in an interview on Japan's NHTV:
"After President Mubarak steps down and a provisional government is formed, there is a need to dissolve the peace treaty with Israel," 
I think we will gradually see how all the other things the journalists and "experts" have told us about the Brotherhood will also be proven wrong.
 Of course if you have been reading Barry Rubin's blog recently, this information about the Muslim Brotherhood comes as no surprise.

On the other hand, if you read about them from a bunch of 30 year old liberals who never even heard about the Muslim Brotherhood until about a week a go (i.e. mainstream journalists), it may be a surprise.

If the Brothers take over, things are going to be very very very bad in the Middle East.


Assassination Attempt of Egypt's new Power Broker

Reports are surfacing that the newly appointed VP of Mubarak has survived an assassination attempt, that left two of his body guards dead.

Currently, these reports are mere rumours that must be taken with a grain of salt. However, an inside the palace type political assassination is not unprecedented in Egypt. Robert Gibbs' reaction to the rumours in a press conference today sheds some light on how tense and unstable the situation in Egypt is right now:
One brief exchange was tantalising though. Mr Gibbs was asked if there had been an assassination attempt against Vice-President Omar Suleiman in the last few days. Looking rattled, he said he wasn't going to get into that. Other sources are equally reticent as to any detail but certainly suggest something happened. If it is true, the big question would be who would be behind it this attempt.
Suleiman is the 'heir apparent' to the throne. An assassination attempt could come from various groups such as members of the security detail who are closet 'Brothers'. Another source could be members close to Tantawi, who is right under Suleiman in the pecking order of Egyptian power.

In any regards, the top echelons of Egypt are extremely nervous. Even if Mubarak is off to the Bahamas tomorrow, he will leave his successor with a largely unworkable constitution.

UPDATE: Just in case you don't find the situation in Egypt confusing enough, here is a new development on the story. Apparently the German diplomat who was quoted by the media as the source, just retracted and now maintains that his source of the rumour was 'unsabstantiated'.