Middle East

Wednesday, 09 February 2011 00:00 Alan Caruba Editorial Dept - Middle East

Imagine that every day of your life begins with a morning call to prayer from minarets around the city or village in which you live.

Imagine that you are required to pray five times throughout the day, every day.

Imagine that the law of the land is based on Sharia, taken from the Koran.

Imagine that you live in a nation where stoning women, beheading criminals, and other draconian, ancient punishments are deemed acceptable.

Imagine being Muslim and knowing that conversion from Islam is punishable by death.

Imagine saying or doing anything that might be interpreted as disrespect for Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, can get you whipped or killed.

Tuesday, 05 October 2010 00:00 Yacov Ben Efrat Editorial Dept - Middle East

Asked whether his speech at the UN General Assembly (September 28, 2010) expressed the position of his government or rather the platform of his political party, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman answered: 'The speech expressed the truth.' Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made no objection to the content, limiting himself to a statement, via his bureau, that the speech was not coordinated with him.

Lieberman said that a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians would be 'achieved only decades from now.' There is no reason to think that Netanyahu believes otherwise.

Lieberman expresses the dominant spirit in Israel's government, and his speech exposed a fact known to all: he is himself the cement that binds Netanyahu's coalition.

Lieberman did not parachute into the UN building from the skies of New York. He was sent by the Prime Minister, who apparently preferred not to know what he would say. His appearance at the General Assembly amounted to a 'favor' to Netanyahu, who preferred not to speak there, given the international pressures on him to continue the settlement freeze.

Tuesday, 07 September 2010 00:00 Yacov Ben Efrat Editorial Dept - Middle East

At last it is happening. U.S. President Barack Obama has opened direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians. All American presidents since Carter have tried for peace and failed, each failure resulting in blood. Responsibility is heavy therefore on the shoulders of the leaders, whether or not they feel its weight.

It is the first time in the thirty years of negotiations that a solid consensus has formed concerning the likely fate of the talks: all parties expect failure.

It will be nothing short of a miracle if Obama succeeds in bridging the gaps between a right-leaning Israeli government and a Palestinian delegation under heavy pressure from Islamist opponents.

Israeli PM Bibi Netanyahu refuses to commit on continuing the construction freeze in the settlements, and there is no indication that he has made a specific proposal concerning future borders. It is hard to imagine that the Palestinians will manage to wrest from him, Mr. Greater Israel, what they could not get from the Ehuds, Barak and Olmert.


Thursday, 22 April 2010 00:00 Yacov Ben Efrat Editorial Dept - Middle East

At a private meeting with Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu on March 25, US President Barack Obama asked for written responses to a series of American demands concerning construction in the West Bank settlements, including East Jerusalem.

Since then, Israeli cabinet discussions have yielded no such document, and relations with America are on the rocks. Seeking to sidestep further embarrassment, Netanyahu canceled his attendance at the global nuclear conference convened by Obama in mid-April, sending a deputy instead.

Recently the Washington Post published two articles, in the space of a week, claiming that the White House is thinking about proposing its own unilateral peace plan and seeing which side rejects it. On April 7, David Ignatius wrote that one day before the ill-fated meeting between Obama and Netanyahu, the National Security Advisor, General James Jones, gathered six of his predecessors, people who had served under presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr. and Clinton, to discuss an arrangement for the Middle East.

Obama entered the meeting and sought their views on the subject. Brent Scowcroft, who had advised Ford and Bush Sr., urged Obama to announce a peace plan of his own. From the article it appears that Obama means to create an extremely broad consensus, including Democrats and Republicans, to promote a plan to solve the conflict.


Friday, 12 March 2010 18:00 Judy Rebick Editorial Dept - Middle East

and That is Why They Are Losing Legitimacy - Before Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) even began members of the Ontario Legislature and the Canadian Parliament are falling all over each other to denounce it.

I can't remember another time when elected legislators formally denounced a student activity like this. Perhaps during the 1950s when McCarthyism was rampant but that was before my time.

Last week the Ontario Legislature unanimously passed a resolution denouncing Israel Apartheid Week submitted by PC Peter Shure who said calling Israel an apartheid state was “close to hate speech.”

While there were only 30 MPPs in the Legislature at the time, NDP MPP Cheri di Novo was one of them and spoke in favour of the resolution. This week a Conservative MP is introducing a resolution calling IAW anti-Semitic.


Friday, 11 December 2009 18:00 Roni Ben Efrat Editorial Dept - Middle East

The Monitoring Committee of the Arabs in Israel declared a general strike for October 1, 2009, in memory of those killed in the demonstrations of October 2000.

The strike was explained as a response to a series of anti-Arab bills presented to the Knesset, above all the proposed Naqba Law; this would forbid ceremonies commemorating the catastrophe of the Palestinian people in 1948, which culminated in its expulsion from the land. If this bill passes, the State will punish all recipients of government funding that organize Naqba ceremonies.

General strikes proclaimed by the Arab Monitoring Committee don't usually make ripples in Israel as a whole, because they have little effect on the day-to-day economy. Moreover, the influence of the Arab parties in the Knesset, or in public campaigns, has lessened considerably since the events of October 2000. Nonetheless, the very fact of the strike's proclamation amounts to an act of defiance, a reminder that the gap between the State and its Arab citizens is growing, together with anger and mutual mistrust.

The three parties representing the Arab public in the Knesset share a consensus on certain topics: First, they agree that the State of Israel discriminates against its Arab citizens in all areas of life. Second, they oppose the Israeli Occupation of the Palestinian territories. Third, they decried Israel's recent war in Gaza and condemn its crimes.



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