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Monthly Archives: June 2009

Obstacles to Arab hearts and minds

(Amelia Opalinska)

(Amelia Opalinska)

A June 25 editorial in the Jerusalem Post online entitled “Arab hearts and minds” begins: “Another day, another massacre in Iraq.” The remainder of the first paragraph covers the details of the day in question (Thursday) and the attendant massacre (result of fanatical Sunni behavior in Baghdad street market). The author makes it clear that the current pattern of Iraqi days and massacres is unlikely to subside given impending US troop departures.

The second paragraph of the editorial delineates one of the consequences of recent global distraction by Persian hearts and minds, which is that “Iraqis have continued to kill each other and Americans,” with one of the non-American victims identified as the national karate coach. The fourth paragraph describes US Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ invitation to friendly Arab militaries “to help stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan”; analysis of the invitation is invited by the following question in paragraph five: “Still, isn’t the administration curious about why it must work so hard to convince [the Arabs] to do what is in their own interest?”

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Israeli left fails at logic

Dahiyeh, south Beirut: IAF forced to compensate for lack of logic on Israeli left. (Photo by Amelia Opalinska)

Dahiyeh, south Beirut: IAF forced to compensate for lack of logic on Israeli left. (Photo by Amelia Opalinska)

In a June 24 article on the Haaretz website entitled “Leave the settlers there,” opinion writer Yair Sheleg condemns the Israeli left for comparing Jewish settlers to Hamas. According to Sheleg, the comparison is “based on the following logic: The Israeli majority is the equivalent of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which recognized Israel and is willing to make peace with it, while the settlers are equivalent to Hamas in their refusal.”

Sheleg’s review of the defects of this analogy does not include the most obvious one—that Hamas is more likely to recognize a Jewish state within the 1967 borders than are the settlers. He instead focuses on such issues as how “even the most moderate Palestinians have yet to voice consent to the ideas that most moderate Israelis have been promoting for many years – see, for instance, their demand for the refugees’ ‘return’ to Israel.” The argument is thus transformed into one in which not even Palestinians willing to embrace Israeli existence are moderates, and that the only moderate view—espoused by most moderate Israelis, who have been nobly espousing it for many years—is that there is no right of return.

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Sentimental moments at the ballot box: Thomas Friedman warms his heart in Brummana, Lebanon

Not Brummana, Lebanon. (Photo by Amelia Opalinska.)

Not Brummana, Lebanon. (Photo by Amelia Opalinska.)

In a June 16 Op-Ed column in the New York Times entitled “The Virtual Mosque,” Thomas Friedman declares that events in Iran have raised “three intriguing questions” for him:

Is Facebook to Iran’s Moderate Revolution what the mosque was to Iran’s Islamic Revolution? Is Twitter to Iranian moderates what muezzins were to Iranian mullahs? And, finally, is any of this good for the Jews — particularly Israel’s prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu?”

Friedman goes on to explain that, over the past 8 years in certain parts of the Middle East, “spaces were opened for more democratic elections,” but that “[u]nfortunately, the groups that had the most grass-roots support and mobilization capabilities — and the most energized supporters — to take advantage of this new space were the Islamists.” Leaving aside the issue of why Friedman thinks it is up to him to decide which manifestations of democracy are fortunate and which are not, we are informed that the reason the Islamists have been able to exploit the opening of democratic spaces is that they have mosques, places where they “were able to covertly organize and mobilize… outside the total control of the state.” Over the next few paragraphs Friedman appears to arrive at the conclusion that people who attend mosques are less entitled to rights as citizens than, for example, the more than 50,000 fans that Mir Hossein Mousavi is reported to have on Facebook. Friedman points out that 50,000 exceeds the capacity of a mosque, although he does not speculate as to whether all of the Mahmoud Ahmadinejads listed on Facebook are real.

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Evo Morales incites genocide of the Peruvian police force

(Amelia Opalinska)

(Amelia Opalinska)

In a June 13 article in the online version of the Bolivian state-run newspaper Cambio, Peruvian president Alan García is quoted as accusing international communism of attempting to create chaos in Peru. Recent examples of chaos might include helicopter attacks on indigenous protesters in the Peruvian Amazon in order to safeguard foreign exploitation of resources; one result of attributing his country’s internal problems to an international communist conspiracy is that García and Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez are shown to share the same fundamental belief that history has not, in fact, ended.

Chávez’ reluctance to accept the end of history was documented in an August 2006 article by Johns Hopkins professor Francis Fukuyama in the Washington Post. In the article, predictably entitled “The End of Chávez,” Fukuyama asserts that “Chavismo is not Latin America’s future — if anything, it is its past”; whether García will receive a similar reminder entitled “The End of the Cold War” remains to be seen. Allegiance to outdated historical models has meanwhile been observed among other sectors of the global population such as my grandfather, who exhibited unwavering commitment to the idea that his nursing home companions and their oxygen tanks were involved in a Soviet plot.

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Hearing impaired not spared from Israeli defense drills

In contrast with the Israelis, the Lebanese do not live in a different reality. (Photo by Amelia Opalinska.)

In contrast with the Israelis, the Lebanese do not live in a different reality. (Photo by Amelia Opalinska.)

Israel’s recent civil defense drill, labeled Turning Point 3, tested the ability of the Jewish state to respond to multi-front attempts at its annihilation via missiles, rockets, suicide bombers, a bomb-toting ship in Ashdod port, and natural disasters, among other mediums. The thoroughness with which existential threats were tallied was matched by the thoroughness with which the Israeli public was notified of them, and, according to a May 31 article on the Jerusalem Post website, persistent air raid sirens were set to be augmented by cell phone messages indicating incoming simulated attacks.

According to the Post, the IDF was “also reviewing technology that would enable it to send little ‘pop-up’ screens to computers that are connected to the Internet.” The enlistment of popular technology in the struggle for Israel’s survival was justified in a single line from a June 2 article on the Al Jazeera English website, which stated that “[i]n central Jerusalem, many pedestrians appeared to be ignoring the wailing air-raid sirens.”

Another article on the Jerusalem Post website advertised the possibility that even the hearing impaired could, with the help of beepers, acquire a Pavlovian response to stimuli like Iran and Syria; demographics unaccounted for in Turning Point 3 consisted of the security guard at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

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Why Israel should heighten censorship of the press

Results of Israeli civil defense drills in Lebanon. (Photo by Amelia Opalinska.)

Results of Israeli civil defense drills in Lebanon. (Photo by Amelia Opalinska.)

A June 1 article on the Haaretz website entitled “Israeli diplomats told to take offensive in PR war against Iran” details the role of Israeli embassies and consulates in preparing for the Iranian presidential election on June 12. According to the article, diplomatic responsibilities include “[o]rganizing demonstrations in front of Iranian consulates worldwide, staging mock stonings and hangings in public, and launching a massive media campaign against Iran,” the ultimate goal of which is described by a senior Foreign Ministry official as being “to show the world that Iran is not a Western democracy.”

The source of inspiration for mock stoning and hanging exhibitions is cited as Iran’s continuing dependence on public execution, “particularly [of] homosexuals and women who violate its morality laws.” Israeli reenactments of Iranian criminal procedures are touted as part of an effort to draw global attention to other radical Islamic faults aside from nuclear aspirations; not explained in the article is why the Israeli diplomatic corps was not enlisted during the run-up to the Lebanese elections to stage mock explosions of US embassies.

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Potential substitutes for Cuba in Organization of American States

(Amelia Opalinska)

(Amelia Opalinska)

In a June 3 statement on the website of the US State Department, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that “Cuba can come back into the OAS in the future if the OAS decides that its participation meets the purposes and principles of the organization, including democracy and human rights.” The announcement came the day after Clinton had departed the OAS meeting in Honduras for Egypt and 5 days after an article in the Cuban Communist Party Diario Granma had referred to the organization as a “pestilente cadáver,” terminology that might have been used more reservedly given the present condition of Fidel Castro.

Barack Obama proved more judicious in his choice of vocabulary in Cairo, where instead of referring to Hosni Mubarak as a pestilent corpse he commended him for his decades of experience. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez meanwhile categorized the OAS as merely as anachronistic organization, despite claims by Clinton that the decision to allow Cuba back in focused on the future rather than the past.

Rodríguez’s perspective had emerged at the end of the May meeting in Caracas of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) and had included the argument that the OAS was hampering the process of Latin American integration sin presencia extracontinental. Hugo Chávez would soon increase efforts at Latin American integration by announcing Ecuador’s ALBA debut before said debut was announced by Rafael Correa; as for prospects of presencia extracontinental, these increased with the announcement by the Israeli Foreign Ministry that Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon would be present at the OAS meeting in Honduras.

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