Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Guide to Survival In the Middle East. By Mordechai Kedar.

A guide to survival in the Middle East. By Mordechai Kedar. Elder of Ziyon, April 20, 2016. Hebrew original here.


To my brethren and friends, the Jews who live in Israel and abroad.

It saddens me to let you know that those attacks from which we have been suffering today, yesterday, a week, a month, a year, a decade and a century ago, are indeed the same war that our neighbors have been waging against us for over 100 years. Sometimes they fight with a great fire, with tanks and ships and airplanes, and sometimes they fight with a simmering fire, “Terror” they call it, with explosions, stabbings and shootings. This war is called “Jihad” in Arabic, and it is directed at Jews wherever they may be.

It saddens me to remind you that this war began a long, long time before Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948. The pogroms of 1920, 1921, 1929 and 1936-39 were not caused by the creation of Israel, nor by the “occupation of 1948”, as our enemies refer to it. This war is most certainly NOT waging because of the “1967 occupation”. The Hebron Jews who got massacred were not a part of the Zionist movement. The Organization for liberation of Palestine (the Fatah) was established in 1959, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (the PLO), in 1964, years before the “1967 occupation”.

It saddens me to remind you that the calls we heard during our war of independence were “Itbah al-Yahud” - “Slaughter the Jews” - Not the Israelis or the Zionists. This is because their problem is with Jews (and for that matter, Christians as well) refusing to live under the mercies of Islam as “Ahel D’ima” or “Proteges”, as obliged by their religion. To this day, in various Arab countries around the world children sing: “Palestine Baladna wa’al-Yahud Kalabna” - “Palestine is our land and the Jews are our dogs”. The dog, according to Muslim tradition, is an impure animal, and according to Sharia law if a Muslim is praying and a dog, a pig, a donkey, a woman, a Jew or a Christian passes before him, his prayer becomes impure and he has to start over.

It saddens me to tell you that a common chant with Israel’s enemies is: “Khybar, Khybar ya yahud, Jish Muhammad siaud” - Khybar is an oasis in the Arab peninsula in which Jews used to live until Muhammad slaughtered them in 626 AD. The chant is to remind people of what happened and says “Khybar, Khybar oh Jews, Muhammad’s army will return” - to do it again. According to the Koran, Surah 5:82, Jews are “Muslims’ fiercest enemies”, and in verse 60 it states that Allah’s curse and wrath are on the Jews and he turned them into monkeys and pigs. So, who gave them the right to own a country? Since when do they have the right to sovereignty?

The Language of Power

Despite what you may think, the peace with Egypt came about only after Sadat realized that despite the Arab’s efforts to eliminate Israel in 1948’s was of independence, in 1956’s Sinai war, in 1967’s six day war, in 1970’s war of attrition and in 1973’s Yom Kippur war which started as a complete surprise, Israel not only survived but managed to move the war into enemy grounds. Realizing that Israel is unbeatable, Sadat begrudgingly turned to peace, even if the peace will be temporary and based on the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah from 628 AD, in which Muhammad gave the Mecca infidels temporary peace for 10 years, only to retract it two years later.

The Oslo accords with Arafat did not stem from his belief in peace either. They were a con, a trojan horse which Arafat himself called “Treaty of Hudaybiyyah”. The entire purpose of the Oslo accords was to create a Palestinian entity with an army and weapons, one which will eliminate Israel when the time is ripe. He said it day in and day out, and our policy makers said that it was for “internal consumption only”, and when suicide bombers exploded in our streets, they called them “victims of peace”. Since when does peace require victims? And how long before the guns we gave them are turned on us?

It saddens me to tell you that all of Israel’s efforts to appease Hamas in Gaza were for naught, and that Hamas has turned from a terrorist organization to a terrorist state. Deadly rockets, attack tunnels, suicide bombers - those are all viewed as legitimate instruments by Gaza’s Jihad government. They do not give a single hoot about the lives, health, property or prosperity of the people, the women and children in the strip. The residents of Gaza are pawns in the hands of Hamas, the Jihadists and the Salafis, who make their current lives hell while “allowing” them to be sent to heaven.

It saddens me to tell the gentle peace lovers in Israel and around the world that the concrete and iron we were forced to provide Gaza’s Jihadists with to rebuild the destruction, were used to build tunnels of death - death to Israelis and death to the sons of Gaza. Instead of rebuilding their hospitals, schools and infrastructure, the Jihad people have built the infrastructure for death, suffering and disaster. You made the mistake, again, of basing your policy on hopes, dreams and delusions instead of on data and facts. And even the commentators (myself included) share the blame: We all said with one voice that when Hamas will assume responsibility over food, electricity and the livelihood of Gazan population, they will moderate, and become realistic and pragmatic. Well, we were wrong: The Hamas movement, despite its evolution from an opposition organization to a governing body, has left Jihad against Israel at the top of its priority list, and did not moderate its absolute negation of “The Zionist Entity” one bit.

The Blinding Peace Vision

It saddens me to spoil the “Two peoples, two states” party. What happens today in Gaza will, with absolute accuracy, happen in the Palestinian state you are trying to create in Judea and Samaria. Hamas will win the elections to the legislative assembly in the same way they did in January of 2006, and they will win the presidential elections. If not, they will simply enact a violent revolution just like they did in Gaza in June of 2007. And when that happens, what will you say? “Oops… We didn’t realize… we didn’t think…?” So, now you know and you don’t have to think. This should be your working assumption. And if today Gaza’s Hamas digs tunnels in the sand, the tunnels in Judea and Samaria will be dug in rock, making them that much harder to find and destroy.

And for those with a particularly short memory: In July of 2014 Hamas managed to close the Ben Gurion airport for a day with rockets they sent from Gaza. If and when they control Judea and Samaria, they will be able to close the airport with even a slingshot - they will have direct view of it from Bet Arieh hills. If you don’t believe me, just take a short drive to the hills just east of the airport, those that are in the “occupied territories” (occupied from whom, exactly?). Because of the wind patterns, most planes approach the runways from the east, passing exactly above those hills. Will Hamasland allow Israeli airplanes to approach and land from above its territory? And what price will Israel have to pay after a plane was taken down with a machine gun or an RPG? Shall we give them Jerusalem to keep them quiet?

Speaking of Jerusalem, what will you do when Hamasland serves you with an ultimatum: Jerusalem or war? Temple mount, or we close Ben Gurion Airport? And when the world shows their support of those demands, appeasing extremist Islam with Israeli payments, what will you say? And when the sharpshooters are again dropping pedestrians in Jerusalem over the walls of the Old City, just like their Jordanian brethren did in 1967, where will you hide? Behind concrete walls? Or a safety fence? Will you transfer Israel’s capital to Tel Aviv?

It saddens me to inform you that the worst thing to ever happen for hope and peace is the various peace movements, those who call upon Israel to let a terror state rise in Judea and Samaria and to give east Jerusalem up. In the Middle East, those who ask for peace, those who sing about their passion for peace and those who offer their land and their country in exchange for a piece of paper which says “peace”, are perceived as those who were defeated in war and are now begging for their lives. The peace movements have painted Israel as soft, weak and defeatist - an image which, in the middle east, does NOT get you peace. In this extremist, violent corner of the world in which Israel is trying to survive, being perceived as weak will earn you a swift kick in the you know what, and get you thrown out harshly on a good day, or beheaded on a normal one. In the middle east, “Peace” means that your enemies leave you alone because you are too strong, too aggressive and too dangerous to mess with. In the middle east, peace is only for the invincible.

Those who refuse to accept these facts, those who are not ready for blood, sweat and tears, those who are anxious for “peace now”, should not be in the middle east. It is a place for the strong, the brave, the determined, who firmly believe in their way. For all others, they should probably find a different place to live. Somewhere quiet and prosperous, like Paris, Brussels, Madrid, Boston or San Bernadino.

(h/t Miki for translation)

Don’t Give Up on Young Arabs. By David Ignatius.

Don’t give up on young Arabs. By David Ignatius. Washington Post, April 19, 2016. Also at Real Clear Politics.


As President Obama travels this week to Saudi Arabia, here’s a surprising snapshot of what young Arabs think: They’re scared about the Islamic State and terrorism; they yearn for more freedom and gender equality; they fear that the Arab Spring has made life worse; and they’re increasingly skeptical about the role of traditional religious values.

If these Arab reactions seem similar to what people would say in the West, maybe that’s the real takeaway. Despite all the violence and extremism that plague the region, most young Arabs have sensible modern reactions. This isn’t a world apart: Arab youths hate the turmoil that’s wrecking their countries and want a better, more stable life.

This portrait of the Arab world emerges in a remarkable survey by the public relations company ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller and the polling firm Penn Schoen Berland. It’s actually a time-lapse photo, because this “Arab Youth Survey” has been conducted annually for the past eight years. By reading the back issues, you can see hopes rising with the Arab Spring in 2011, and then crashing against the reality of violence and disarray.

Let’s start with this year’s headlines: In face-to-face interviews with 3,500 young people ages 18 to 24 in 16 countries, 77percent of participants said they were concerned about the rise of the Islamic State and 76 percent said the group would fail in its ultimate goal of establishing a caliphate. Asked to explain why young people were attracted to the group, 24 percent cited lack of jobs, but a larger 25 percent chose the answer: “I can’t explain it — I don’t understand why anybody would want to join.”

One intriguing finding of this study is that Arab youths are increasingly dubious about the role of religion and traditional values. Asked if they agreed with the statement “Religion plays too big of a role in the Middle East,” 52 percent said yes this year, with 61 percent of those in Arab Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, sharing that view.

Women’s rights also get strong support: 67 percent of young Arabs said their leaders should improve the personal freedom and human rights of women. This progressive view had roughly equal support from young Arab men (66 percent) as women (68 percent). By the way, an even number of men and women were surveyed.

What kind of country do these young Arabs want to live in? The overwhelming answer in 2016, for the fifth year running, was the United Arab Emirates — a Muslim country that is increasingly open, tolerant, prosperous and adapting to the modern world.

The previous installments show how far the region has traveled over the past decade. In the 2009 and 2010 surveys, there was a yearning for democracy, with at least 90 percent of the respondents in most countries saying that living in a democratic country was important to them. But they still embraced a traditional world: 68 percent said their religion defined them as a person in 2010, and men were far less likely than women to support equal opportunity in the workplace. This Arab conservatism had eroded by 2014, when the percentage who agreed that “traditional values mean a lot to me” had fallen to just 54 percent from 83 percent in 2011.

The hurricane of the Tahrir Square uprising that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 was vividly captured by the survey. In January that year, 82 percent of Arab youth supported “traditional values.” A month later, that number had fallen 11 points. Those describing their political views as liberal jumped from 20 percent in January to 51 percent the next month. Young people overwhelmingly supported the overthrow of Mubarak in Egypt and the autocratic rulers of Libya and Yemen.

The optimism and idealism of the Arab Spring were real. But so was the disillusionment that followed. The share who agreed that “Following the Arab Spring, I feel the Arab world is better off” collapsed from 72 percent in 2012 to just 36 percent in 2016. Egyptians bucked that pessimistic trend, with 61 percent still positive this year about their revolution.

Here’s what I draw from this survey: Young Arabs are sadder but wiser; they want a freer, more modern life; and they’re skeptical about easy answers from religion or democratic elections. They know they’re in a long transition, and they’ve become more pessimistic, but they still affirm in each survey, “Our best days are ahead of us.”

A simple summary: Don’t give up on the Arabs. They’re living through hell, but they want the same modern, secure world that most people do.