discarded lies: saturday, march 24, 2018 12:20 am zst
grinding the peppercorns of truth
daily archive: 01/13/2005
zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
A Fine Line
We've written about the five soldiers, all Israeli Arabs, who were killed in a boobytrapped tunnel in Gaza. There are many others like them serving in the IDF. Here's a glimpse of what life is like for their families:
The choice on the part of the soldiers' relatives to eschew military honors points to a continuing problem within bedouin army recruits: while many young bedouin men are keen to sign up for military service, they and their families may be ostracized from their local communities as a result.

This has certainly proved the case for Samir Shehada, father of Adham, 20, who was killed in the explosion. In the week following the death of his son, Shehada received no less than five death threats, prompted by his public call to Arab youth to enlist in the Israeli army, despite his son's tragic fate. While he believes that young bedouin men hold the same responsibility toward their country as their Jewish counterparts, such a view is contentious both within his own community and within wider Muslim and Arab circles.

Indeed, a statement issued to bedouin tribes on December 18 by the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, only serves to highlight the controversy that rages over bedouin enlistment in the army. Stating that those bedouins who join the IDF "bring you shame and disparage your history, struggle and Arabism".

Hamas went on to express shock at the numbers of bedouin soldiers who currently serve in the "occupation army, especially on the borderline between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, and obey the orders of their commanders to kill our innocent children and women and demolish their homes".

Whilst Samir Shehada continues to stand by his view, he has since sought police protection for himself and his family.

"Nothing has been said to me on the street, but eyes talk," he told Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz recently. "I live with the feeling that I'm being told I no longer belong with my village and the Arab people."

Similarly, at the opposite end of the country, Youssef Jahada, father of deceased soldier Said, is an unpopular figure in his southern Negev village of Arara. Few of the 12,000 villagers attended the family's mourning tent, since not only Said, but both his twin and elder brothers, have served in the IDF and the border police. At a time when only 17 percent of young bedouins volunteer for IDF duties, a family with three members in active service is seen not only as an anomaly, but also often as a threat.
Israel's bedouin soldiers walk fine line
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Modern and Peaceful Interpretations
It's inevitable that Turkey will join the European Union, despite trepidations and a disputed history. Still, if I'm going to be seeing more and more imams in Europe, I'd rather they be Turkish imams than Saudi ones. If nothing else, they come from a secular Muslim society and not a dictatorial theocracy.
More than 1000 moderate clerics have been dispatched to European countries by Turkey, the only Muslim candidate member of the European Union, in a drive to promote modern and peaceful interpretations of Islam.

About 700 imams have already been sent to Germany, and there are plans to send more across Europe.

"Our mission is to explain Islam as a source of peace and friendship and certainly not as a tool for violence," said Ali Bardakoglu, who heads Turkey's directorate of religious affairs, or diyanet.

"There are 70,000 imams in Turkey. One of our biggest priorities now is to educate imams, teach them foreign languages, to equip them to go abroad."

Professor Bardakoglu said the campaign aimed to prevent extremism and aid integration of the estimated 4 million ethnic Turks in the EU.

The move follows last month's deportation of a Berlin-based Turkish imam who allegedly exhorted his followers to look kindly on suicide bombers and incited hatred against Americans and Jews.

France, whose Muslim population of 5 million is the EU's largest, offered inducements to imams to undergo university education in an effort to build a more inclusive, "Western" form of Islam.

Professor Bardakoglu admitted firebrand clerics, with little formal religious education, posed a problem for Muslim communities. Some fostered intolerant fundamentalism.
Imams spread word of moderation across Europe

(many thanks to ploome for the DW link)
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
A Trench In Gaza
The IDF wants to build a trench separating Gaza from Egypt and making tunnel-building for weapons smuggling much harder.

The Israeli army is seeking permission to build a trench along the Gaza-Egypt border, to curb Palestinian efforts to smuggle in arms through tunnels.

The AP news agency says the three schemes put to the attorney general would mean the demolition of between 200 and 3,000 Palestinian homes.

There has been no official word from the army on the application.

However, on Sunday the Israeli defence ministry announced that construction of a trench could begin within weeks.

The trench is expected to follow part of the Israeli-controlled corridor along the border, also known as the Philadelphi Road.

Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat condemned the plans for the trench, calling them "a catastrophe and a disaster for the Palestinian people".

In June, Israel began soliciting bids for a trench that is expected to be 25m wide and about 5 km long. The number of houses demolished will depend on the width of the trench.
Saeb Erekat is still around? Sheesh. A big step towards peace in Palestine would be to expel all the Tunisians again. Why were they ever allowed back in Israel?
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Extracting Information
Tomes have already been written about the Gonzales confirmation hearings, the torture memo, the legality of certain practices, and whether or not captured terrorists deserve the protections of the Geneva Convention; I don't wish to cultivate already well-plowed ground.*

Instead, I take as a given that some coercive measures will and should be implemented in certain interrogatory situations, although we must weigh the importance of the information we seek against the damage our methods inflict on human dignity. As such, this article examines the moral and legal implications of two potential approaches that investigators could follow in seeking information from imprisoned terrorists: Alan Dershowitz's torture warrants and Mark Bowden's necessity defense.

In his 2002 book Why Terrorism Works, Harvard law professor and "defense counsel to the stars" Alan Dershowitz outlines the strategy he believes Western states should follow in confronting the terrorist scourge. Perhaps his most novel -- and hotly disputed -- suggestion is that interrogators seek a judge-issued "torture warrant" before using physical tactics to grill captured terrorists.
Read the rest: How Should We Coerce Life-Saving Information from Terrorists?
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
A Pretext, Not A Cause
the Middle East would be worse off without Israel
Would getting rid of Israel make the Middle East better off, and spare America its the ire of her detractors? This erudite article in Foreign Policy debunks the easy, too-frequently voiced (in polite company!), shopworn tropes about how "if only the US didn't support Israel..." and "if only Israel had never existed..."
Let us start the what-if procession in 1948, when Israel was born in war. Would stillbirth have nipped the Palestinian problem in the bud? Not quite. Egypt, Transjordan (now Jordan), Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon marched on Haifa and Tel Aviv not to liberate Palestine, but to grab it. The invasion was a textbook competitive power play by neighboring states intent on acquiring territory for themselves. If they had been victorious, a Palestinian state would not have emerged, and there still would have been plenty of refugees. (Recall that half the population of Kuwait fled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s “liberation? of that country in 1990.) Indeed, assuming that Palestinian nationalism had awakened when it did in the late 1960s and 1970s, the Palestinians might now be dispatching suicide bombers to Egypt, Syria, and elsewhere.

Let us imagine Israel had disappeared in 1967, instead of occupying the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which were held, respectively, by Jordan’s King Hussein and Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Would they have relinquished their possessions to Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and thrown in Haifa and Tel Aviv for good measure? Not likely. The two potentates, enemies in all but name, were united only by their common hatred and fear of Arafat, the founder of Fatah (the Palestine National Liberation Movement) and rightly suspected of plotting against Arab regimes. In short, the “root cause? of Palestinian statelessness would have persisted, even in Israel’s absence.

Let us finally assume, through a thought experiment, that Israel goes “poof? today. How would this development affect the political pathologies of the Middle East? Only those who think the Palestinian issue is at the core of the Middle East conflict would lightly predict a happy career for this most dysfunctional region once Israel vanishes. For there is no such thing as “the? conflict. A quick count reveals five ways in which the region’s fortunes would remain stunted—or worse:

States vs. States: Israel’s elimination from the regional balance would hardly bolster intra-Arab amity. The retraction of the colonial powers, Britain and France, in the mid-20th century left behind a bunch of young Arab states seeking to redraw the map of the region. From the very beginning, Syria laid claim to Lebanon. In 1970, only the Israeli military deterred Damascus from invading Jordan under the pretext of supporting a Palestinian uprising. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Nasser’s Egypt proclaimed itself the avatar of pan-Arabism, intervening in Yemen during the 1960s. Nasser’s successor, President Anwar Sadat, was embroiled in on-and-off clashes with Libya throughout the late 1970s. Syria marched into Lebanon in 1976 and then effectively annexed the country 15 years later, and Iraq launched two wars against fellow Muslim states: Iran in 1980, Kuwait in 1990. The war against Iran was the longest conventional war of the 20th century. None of these conflicts is related to the Israeli-Palestinian one. Indeed, Israel’s disappearance would only liberate military assets for use in such internal rivalries.

Believers vs. Believers: Those who think that the Middle East conflict is a “Muslim-Jewish thing? had better take a closer look at the score card: 14 years of sectarian bloodshed in Lebanon; Saddam’s campaign of extinction against the Shia in the aftermath of the first Gulf War; Syria’s massacre of 20,000 people in the Muslim Brotherhood stronghold of Hama in 1982; and terrorist violence against Egyptian Christians in the 1990s. Add to this tally intraconfessional oppression, such as in Saudi Arabia, where the fundamentalist Wahhabi sect wields the truncheon of state power to inflict its dour lifestyle on the less devout.

Ideologies vs. Ideologies: Zionism is not the only “ism? in the region, which is rife with competing ideologies. Even though the Baathist parties in Syria and Iraq sprang from the same fascist European roots, both have vied for precedence in the Middle East. Nasser wielded pan-Arabism-cum-socialism against the Arab nation-state. And both Baathists and Nasserites have opposed the monarchies, such as in Jordan. Khomeinist Iran and Wahhabite Saudi Arabia remain mortal enemies. What is the connection to the Arab-Israeli conflict? Nil, with the exception of Hamas, a terror army of the faithful once supported by Israel as a rival to the Palestine Liberation Organization and now responsible for many suicide bombings in Israel. But will Hamas disband once Israel is gone? Hardly. Hamas has bigger ambitions than eliminating the “Zionist entity.? The organization seeks nothing less than a unified Arab state under a regime of God.

Reactionary Utopia vs. Modernity: A common enmity toward Israel is the only thing that prevents Arab modernizers and traditionalists from tearing their societies apart. Fundamentalists vie against secularists and reformist Muslims for the fusion of mosque and state under the green flag of the Prophet. And a barely concealed class struggle pits a minuscule bourgeoisie and millions of unemployed young men against the power structure, usually a form of statist cronyism that controls the means of production. Far from creating tensions, Israel actually contains the antagonisms in the world around it.

Regimes vs. Peoples: The existence of Israel cannot explain the breadth and depth of the Mukhabarat states (secret police states) throughout the Middle East. With the exceptions of Jordan, Morocco, and the Gulf sheikdoms, which gingerly practice an enlightened monarchism, all Arab countries (plus Iran and Pakistan) are but variations of despotism—from the dynastic dictatorship of Syria to the authoritarianism of Egypt. Intranational strife in Algeria has killed nearly 100,000, with no letup in sight. Saddam’s victims are said to number 300,000. After the Khomeinists took power in 1979, Iran was embroiled not only in the Iran-Iraq War but also in barely contained civil unrest into the 1980s. Pakistan is an explosion waiting to happen. Ruthless suppression is the price of stability in this region.

Again, it would take a florid imagination to surmise that factoring Israel out of the Middle East equation would produce liberal democracy in the region. It might be plausible to argue that the dialectic of enmity somehow favors dictatorship in “frontline states? such as Egypt and Syria—governments that invoke the proximity of the “Zionist threat? as a pretext to suppress dissent. But how then to explain the mayhem in faraway Algeria, the bizarre cult-of-personality regime in Libya, the pious kleptocracy of Saudi Arabia, the clerical despotism of Iran, or democracy’s enduring failure to take root in Pakistan? Did Israel somehow cause the various putsches that produced the republic of fear in Iraq? If Jordan, the state sharing the longest border with Israel, can experiment with constitutional monarchy, why not Syria?

It won’t do to lay the democracy and development deficits of the Arab world on the doorstep of the Jewish state. Israel is a pretext, not a cause, and therefore its dispatch will not heal the self-inflicted wounds of the Arab-Islamic world.
Read it all.
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guest author: monkeyweather in Discarded Lies:
The Sanhedrin, the Temple, and the King
Back in October 2004, the Sanhedrin reappeared in Jerusalem, launched by a ceremony to resume its place as the judiciary and legislative body that once held power going back to the days of Moses.

The organizers announced their intention to convene 71 rabbis (ordained by specifications of Maimonides) to meet once a month to issue rulings on central issues.

The Sanhedrin had ceased to exist over 1,600 years ago, disappearing some time after the destruction of the Second Temple. It now appears to be their desire that Israel re-instates its monarchy. This is also the desire of a direct descendant of the House of David.

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guest author: Semite5000 in Discarded Lies:
Free Iran!
Shortly after the reelection of George W. Bush a website was established showing photos of young Americans holding signs apologizing to the world for, among many things, our country having spearheaded the toppling of one of the world’s most brutal regimes. A corollary could be post WWII Americans apologizing to the world for having helped end Nazi Germany’s genocidal tyranny.

But those morally misguided Americans are not the only ones embarrassed and ashamed of their country. In fact, in the Middle East there is a nation whose behavior has compelled some of its sons and daughters to refer to themselves as “Persians�? instead of “Iranians,�? often because of the embarrassing associations connected with “Iran.�?

“Persia�? conjures images of Cyrus the Great; the poetry of Hafez, Khayyam and Rumi; delicate miniature paintings, and graceful Persian dance. For many, “Iran�? conjures up images of Islamic fanaticism, support for terrorism and genocidal calls for the obliteration of America, the “great satan,�? and Israel, the “little satan.�?

But unlike many Arab and other Islamic countries, the vast majority of Iranians are fed up with Islam dominating their lives. The 1979 Islamic Revolution that ushered in Islamic government has been an abject failure. It has turned Iran into an impoverished pariah state on a dangerous collision course with the West.

The ruling clerics viciously oppress the entire Iranian population, especially religious minorities and secular Iranians. Perhaps most oppressed are two of Iran’s indigenous religions, Bahaism and Zoroastrianism The former is a harmless faith that teaches the unity and betterment of humankind. The latter is the ancient pre-Islamic religion of Iran whose motto is “good thoughts, good words, good deeds.�? The term “discrimination�? does not do justice to describe the treatment meted out to Bahais and Zoroastrians; “decimation�? is perhaps more apt.

And then there are Persian Jews- the oldest Jewish community outside of the land of Israel. At one time a thriving community, since 1979 the majority fled the rabid anti-Semitism of the Islamic revolution. The remaining Jews are unable to visit or communicate with their relatives in Israel and live under constant intimidation by Iranian security services.

But life in Iran is not much better for the majority Muslim population either. Shariah, or Islamic law, is the law of the land. Apostasy or leaving Islam are punishable by death. For women or young girls who have been convicted of extra or premarital sex, death by stoning is sometimes the preferred mode of execution. Unlike a hanging, death by stoning is an intentionally long and agonizing death. On numerous occasions Iran has executed children as young as fifteen.

Iran is also a huge state sponsor of terrorism. The Lebanese-based Hezbullah, the “Party of God,�? has been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans since the 1980’s. Financed and trained by Iran, Hezbullah is the first Islamist group to perfect suicide bombings. Iran also supports Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas- two terrorist groups dedicated to the destruction of Israel and responsible for the deaths of nearly a thousand innocent Israelis. Belying the oft-heard mantra that “We only hate “Zionists, not Jews,�? Hezbullah and Iran are widely believed responsible for the July 18, 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community center that killed 85 people and wounded more than 200. This would be the equivalent of blowing up the Jewish Community Center in your own community. To this day it remains the most deadly anti-Semitic incident anywhere since World War II.

Iran is also meddling in Iraq. According Iyad Allawi, Prime Minister of the Iraqi interim government, Iran has been attempting to destabilize Iraq by supporting radical Shiite groups; and according to Secretary of State Colin Powel, Iran has also lent support to arch-terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

And if all that weren’t enough, Iran is dangerously close to obtaining nuclear weapons capability.

The danger of a country like Iran having nuclear weapons cannot be overstated. MAD, or Mutually Assured Destruction, was the policy that prevented the US and the Soviet Union from all out nuclear war. The logic behind MAD being that the Soviets did not want to die, nor did we, and so a certain détente was reached.

But how could MAD work with an adversary that worships death?

On December 14, 2001 former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani declared that “the use of a nuclear bomb on Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam.�? In other words, tiny Israel would be destroyed by a single Islamic nuclear bomb, but the one billion-strong Islamic world would be able to withstand any Israeli counter-strike, despite the loss of millions of Muslim lives residing in the country that attacked Israel.

This blatant call for genocide should be a wake up call for the world because by all accounts Iran is frighteningly close to having nuclear weapons capability, as well as the capacity to deliver such weapons as far as Europe.

But the silver lining in all of this is that the clerics in Iran are intensely unpopular with most Iranians. The US and every peace-loving nation should do everything in their power to encourage Iranian democrats to topple the nightmare rule of the clerics once and for all. A democratic Iran would have far-reaching, positive implications for the region, not to mention the people of Iran.

The world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism would be out of business. Iraq and Afghanistan would have a peaceful democratic neighbor. Terror-supporting Syria would lose its closest ally. Perhaps most importantly, the wider Middle East would take note that the first country to usher in Islamic revolution finally repudiated that ideology in favor of democracy, freedom and human rights.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Term of Abuse
Is it really so bad to refer to an entire nation of people as frogs?

Last summer, when I was giving a speech on Franco-American relations — shortly before the publication of Our Oldest Enemy: A History of America's Disastrous Relationship with France — I made a frog joke. It involved a stuffed pig, a barbeque, and, well, you sort of had to be there. But it was definitely a quip about the French. The audience snickered, though a few people exchanged nervous glances. They clearly wondered if it was appropriate to laugh when somebody referred to the French as frogs.

Lighten up, I thought. Think about it: If we aimed to insult, truly and deeply and venomously, then we could skip right over cute green amphibians and compare the French to the frogs' warty cousins, the toads. Or, in honor of Pepe LePew (as well as international perceptions about French bathing habits), we could call them skunks. Or we might allude to something else entirely and call them chickens. Or maybe even cheese-eating surrender monkeys.
Why “Frogs??
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