Category Archives: Quote of the day

Quote of the day

Let us pause here in front of this state of [Assad’s] mad dictatorship, and compare it with what Israel has committed against us [i.e. the Arabs] in recent times […] particularly the Lebanon and Gaza wars. The entire world rushes to stop Israel’s aggressions against Lebanon in 2006, and this war ended after approximately two months, claiming the lives of 1,200 Lebanese. The same thing applies to the Gaza war, which had approximately the same death toll. In both wars, the public opinion in the Arab world rushed to take action, whilst counterfeit “friends of Israel” lists were issued, masterminded by the al-Assad regime; indeed a number of Arab politicians attempted to exploit this tragedy, most prominently the al-Assad regime. However we did not hear anybody ask – even now – why did these wars happen? Whose interests did these wars, and more, serve? Who was responsible for this?

Today, in the case of al-Assad, we have seen the Syrian forces brutally killing their own people on our television screens over the past year – not two months – whilst the death toll stands at more than 8,000 and the tyrant of Damascus’s troops have destroyed mosques, tortured and assassinated children, as well as women and the elderly, simply in order to allow al-Assad to cling to power. Despite all this, we find some countries, politicians, media organizations and figures, who are procrastinating; it is as if we – as Arabs – are saying that if the killer is also an Arab, then this is something that we can accept, however if he is an Israeli, then we must all move as one to put an end to this! This is a saddening and shameful state of affairs, particularly when somebody like Hassan Nasrallah shamelessly comes out to defend al-Assad!

Tariq Alhomayed, Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, in a widely noted op-ed with the provocative title “Let us compare al-Assad to Israel.”  But as nice as it may be to read Alhomayed’s  condemnation of “the growing hypocrisy in our region” and “the lie of the resistance,” it is worth keeping in mind that Asharq Al-Awsat is a Saudi paper owned by a member of the Saudi royal family. It’s also worth keeping in mind that Alhomayed is doubtless bright enough to have known everything he wrote in this op-ed already years ago; yet, his paper used to feature regular columns by Assad’s media advisor Bouthaina Shaaban until last spring.  By fall of last year she was called by one of her former fellow-columnists what she always had been: “the ‘make-up artist’, or the embellisher of the Syrian regime’s ugly face.”

Quote of the day

“The country’s military rulers would have Egyptians believe that ongoing protests are the work of “foreign agents”, “hidden hands”, and other mysterious third parties bent on driving a wedge between the Egyptian people and their beloved army and/or destroying the institutions of the state — even suggesting that activists are paid 200 Egyptian pounds (about $33) a day to protest in Tahrir. The SCAF’s recent crackdown on several pro-democracy NGOs, including the criminal indictments of 19 Americans on charges related to illegal funding and fomenting public unrest, is the direct if unspoken ancillary to this fanciful conspiracy.

Such conspiracy theories may strike a populist chord, but there is no shortage of actual reasons for Egyptians to feel unhappy — even angry — at their current condition. With foreign investment and tourism in sharp decline and youth unemployment hovering around 25 percent, the country’s economic crisis is edging toward disaster. This is on top of the SCAF’s gross mishandling of the transition at virtually every stage and in nearly every respect — from its erratic decision-making to its brutal repression of all forms of dissent to its blatant manipulation of the political process.

Khaled Elgindy, Egypt must look back before it can move forward. Elgindy’s observations reminded me of an article by Bret Stephens, published in the Wall Street Journal in early January 2011 under the title “Egypt’s Prison of Hate” (subscription required; but some of the relevant passages are quoted here). Stephens wrote about the popularity of conspiracy theories in Egypt, arguing:

“The ultimate source of Arab backwardness lies in the debasement of the Arab mind. When the only diagnosis Egyptians can offer for their various predicaments is that it’s all a Zionist plot, you know that the country is in very deep trouble.”

While it seems that by now, Egyptians have broadened their list of scapegoats far beyond the “Zionists,” conspiracy theories have apparently remained as popular as ever. Indeed, following a tweet by Omri Ceren, I chanced today on this short blog post aptly entitled “conspiracy cab” that offers a glimpse of the amazing conspiracy theories of a Cairo cab driver – who still seems very focused on blaming Israel. As blogger doctorzamalek notes in conclusion:

The common element in all of his theories, I was disappointed to note, was the assumption that no Arab person is capable of doing anything wrong at any time. At least conspiracy theories in America usually blame Americans.

Quote of the day

All these years, Arab MKs have traveled to seek the favor of the Syrian ruler who is now butchering his people. They sat with the killer-leader, soaking up his every word, and after all that, there isn’t a single voice among them saying “Enough bloodshed.” […]

I remember October 2000, when 13 Israeli Arab citizens were shot dead by the security forces. The whole country trembled from the demonstrations in the Galilee and in Wadi Ara […]

And here we are, in the days of “spring” that have turned into a horrifying winter, and all I hear is the most popular MK in Jewish society, Dr. Ahmed Tibi, taking the podium to read, with unusual fervor, a feuilleton about a wacko racist MK from Yisrael Beiteinu. How brave! How sharp!

He knows that this is idle chatter and a distraction, because today another hundred were slaughtered, not by malicious Jews but by the hands of his own people. But there is no outcry. Neither he nor anyone else from the Arab civil leadership took to the podium to add his voice to the world’s demand to stop the killing.

 Eliezer Yaari, Syria crisis reveals hypocrisy of Israel’s Arab MKs.

Let me add to this a quote from an article published in May 2010 in The National (Abu Dhabi) by Jonathan Cook, yet another writer who has made a career of demonizing Israel (while residing in Nazareth).

NAZARETH // Six Arab members of the Israeli parliament returned last week from a visit to Libya at the personal invitation of its leader, Muammer Qadafi, to a storm of protest in Israel, including threats to prosecute them and bar them from standing in future elections. The delegation of 39 public figures from Israel’s Arab minority, who were flown to Tripoli on Mr Qadafi’s private plane last weekend, had requested the visit in the hope of breaking their isolation in the Arab world. […]

“Israel forced us into a political and cultural ghetto for decades and is targeting us because we are breaking out of this abnormal situation by engaging with the Arab nation to which we belong,” said Haneen Zoubi, one of the MPs in the delegation. […]

They were later hosted by Mr Qadafi in Sirte, his hometown and the venue of the Arab League summit. Calling them “Arabs of ’48” – a reference to the fact that they were part of the Palestinian people until Israel’s creation in 1948 – Mr Qadafi told the delegation last Sunday that they had been invited because “I want the world to hear you”. In comments widely reported in the Israeli media, the Libyan leader warned that Israel’s actions were pushing it “to the edge of the precipice” and that the West’s pursuit of a two-state solution, as opposed to a single binational state, was “stupid and unrealistic”.

He added that the Arab minority should concentrate on having more babies to defeat Zionism, arguing that a “human explosion is stronger than nuclear weapons” […]

Quote of the day

And if PennBDS is particularly disturbed only by the oppression of Palestinian Arabs, then one wonders why they are not protesting the governments of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, or others in which the Palestinians have suffered extreme discrimination, violence, and forced expulsions.

In Gaza, under the authority of Hamas, political freedom, religious freedom, and freedom of association are severely curtailed, women’s rights are limited, human rights activists are targeted, and homosexuality is a criminal offense.

Upon any serious consideration, it becomes clear that BDS actually has no problem with oppression, no problem with oppression of Arabs, and no problem with the oppression of Palestinian Arabs. BDS actually has a problem only with Israel and it can only be deduced that their problem is truly with Jews.

Sarit Catz, Bigotry under the umbrella of a great university, commenting on the forthcoming 2012 National Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Conference at the University of Pennsylvania campus on Feb. 3-5, organized by a university-recognized group called PennBDS. Many excellent posts about the hollow BDS claims can be found at PennBDS-Oy.

Quote of the day

We come together today after a year of turmoil in the Middle East. Great challenges stand on the horizon.

People are demanding dignity and seeking liberty after generations of oppression. Extremism threatens fragile societies. Human rights continue to be trampled. Unrest has shaken the foundation of the political order from the straits of Gibraltar to the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea.

And what issue has this Council deemed the most pressing in its monthly debate on the Middle East?

Surprise, surprise…the status of municipal building applications in the West Bank.

In the last two monthly briefings by the Secretariat, barely a square inch of Jerusalem or the West Bank was left unexamined. Yet, entire Middle Eastern countries where people are being killed, repressed and tortured daily continue to go without mention.

[…]

How many times have members of this Council – and many others – repeated this statement: the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is the central conflict in the Middle East. If you solve that conflict, you solve all the other conflicts in the region.

Today one would ridicule that statement. It is obvious that Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, and many other conflicts in the Middle East have nothing to do with Israel. The constant repetition of the statement does not make it true.

And how many times have members of this Council – and many others – repeated: settlements are the primary obstacle to peace. The repetition of the statement also does not make it true.

The primary obstacle to peace is not settlements. The primary obstacle to peace is the so-called “claim of return.” Let me repeat that: the major hurdle to peace is the Palestinian’s insistence on the so-called “claim of return.”

You will never hear Palestinian leaders say, not even here in this Council, “two states for two peoples”. […]

You won’t hear them say “two states for two peoples” because today the Palestinian leadership is calling for an independent Palestinian state, but insists that its people return to the Jewish state. This would mean the destruction of Israel.

The idea that Israel will be flooded with millions of Palestinians will never be accepted. The international community knows it. The Palestinian leadership knows it. But the Palestinian people aren’t hearing it. In a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion last November, 90%, and I repeat, 90% of Palestinians said that they would not give up the so-called “claim of return.” This gap between their perception and reality is – and will remain – the major obstacle to peace.

Since the Palestinian leadership refuses to tell the Palestinian people the truth, the international community has the responsibility to tell them the truth. You have a responsibility to stand up and say that the so-called “claim of return” is a non-starter.

Yet, many around this table who never miss an opportunity to tell Israel what it has to do for peace –conveniently lose their voices when it comes time to tell the Palestinian people about the basic compromises they will have to make for peace.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Ron Prosor at the UN Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, January 24, 2012.

Quote of the day

We need to explode the misconception, commonly held on the Left, that Israel is an outpost of western colonialism and imperialism. Jews were indigenous to the region 1,000 years before the Islamic conquest, with an uninterrupted presence not just in Palestine, but all over the ‘Arab’ world. The Arab invasion turned native Jews and Christians into minorities in their own lands, converting them to Islam, appropriating their shrines and erasing their history. Jews ‘stealing Arab land’ is an offensive inversion of reality. Jews in 10 Arab countries were stripped of their rights and in most cases dispossessed of their property. […]

We need to restore a vital context to the discussion: the conflict is not between the Israeli Goliath and the Palestinian David. It pits six million [Jewish] Israelis against 300 million Arabs. In terms of values, the battle is between pluralistic, democratic Israel and the jihadists of Islam. […]

We need to emphasize that half the Jews of Israel never left the region – they were uprooted from the Arab and Muslim world to a tiny sliver of land on the Mediterranean. If these Jews are now full and free Israeli citizens, it is largely because Israel offered them unconditional refuge from pre-existing Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism.

This anti-Semitism takes the form of an ancient religious contempt for ‘dhimmi’ Jews, on the one hand, and a modern, Nazi-inspired, genocidal Jew-hatred on the other. The former accounts for a deep religious and cultural resistance to the idea of a Jewish state. The latter drove out almost a million Jews from Arab states, and still drives the conflict with Israel. The violence and abuse suffered by these Jews constitute an unresolved human rights issue.

There is a reckoning to be made between Israel and Arab states cleansed of their Jews. At every turn, Israel should be demanding justice for its own wronged refugees. Palestinian losses and any territorial adjustments Israel may make in the future pale in comparison to the deeded land and assets forfeited by Jews forced from Arab countries.

Lynn Julius, Let’s reframe the Israel debate. Lynn is a co-founder of Harif, a UK group representing Jews from the Middle East and North Africa.

 

Quote of the day

When you get three offers of a state in less than ten years, and turn all three down (the modern equivalent of the “Three Nos”), the problem is deeper than what Abbas disingenuously describes as the “Long Overdue Palestinian State.” It does not relate to the specifics of the offers, or to an alleged deficiency in decision-making instincts. The problem is an inherent inability to recognize a Jewish state, or defensible borders, or an end-of-claims agreement — and the inherent instability of a society that still lacks even the minimal institutions necessary for a democratic state.

Rick Richman at Commentary’s blog Contentions. The links in this quote are worthwhile reading; in addition, there is a related must-read piece by Greg Sheridan in The Australian; here are a few of his observations:

Spending time in Israel is dangerous because it is impossible to reconcile the evidence of your eyes with the accepted international narrative about Israel. In the international media, Israel is presented as militarist, right-wing, oppressive. In fact it is the only pluralist democracy in the Middle East, the only nation where women’s rights — and gay rights — are protected. It has a vibrant Left wing, a cacophonous democracy and an innovative economy.

The vast majority of Israelis would love to be rid of the Palestinians and their territories if they could be confident they would get peace and security in return. […]

[…] all across the Middle East, the big winner is the Muslim Brotherhood. Partly as a result, the Brotherhood is in great flux internally. But on one thing the Brotherhood is absolutely clear, its constant and comprehensive demonising and delegitimising of Israel. These newly empowered forces would denounce and fatally undermine any serious Palestinian compromise with Israel.

This is perhaps a good time to recall that it was a year ago when Al Jazeera and the Guardian also tried to undermine the peace process by leaking the so-called “Palestine Papers”, which – according to the Guardian – showed a “craven” willingness for compromise on the Palestinian side… Unsurprisingly, the “craven” Palestinian concessions were largely imaginary.

Quote of the day

It is a cynical but time-honoured practice in Middle Eastern politics: the statesmen who decry the political and humanitarian crisis of the approximately 3.9 million Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and in Gaza ignore the plight of an estimated 4.6 million Palestinians who live in Arab countries. For decades, Arab governments have justified their decision to maintain millions of stateless Palestinians as refugees in squalid camps as a means of applying pressure to Israel. […]

After 60 years of failed wars, and failed peace, it is time to put politics aside and to insist that the basic rights of the Palestinian refugees in Arab countries be respected – whether or not their children’s children return to Haifa anytime soon. While Saudi Arabia may not wish to host Israeli tourists, it can easily afford to integrate the estimated 240,000 Palestinian refugees who already live in the kingdom – just as Egypt, which has received close to $60bn in US aid, and has a population of 81 million, can grant legal rights to an estimated 70,000 Palestinian refugees and their descendants. One can only imagine the outrage that the world community would rightly visit upon Israel if Israeli Arabs were subject to the vile discriminatory laws applied to Palestinians living in Arab countries. Surely, Palestinian Arabs can keep their own national dream alive in the countries where they were born, while also enjoying the freedom to work, vote and own property?

From a scathing report by Judith Miller and David Samuels, published in The Independent in October 2009 – definitely recommended reading.

I’ve selected this quote because the “pro-Palestinian” Twitterverse seems all upset about a clip that was tweeted yesterday and today by Israel supporters.

Quote of the day

Al-Dabi’s appointment [as head of the Arab League mission to Syria] was a mistake but it reflects the weaknesses that beset the Arab League as a whole. For most of its history, involvement in wholesale human rights abuses was more a badge of courage than a mark of shame in what was mostly a dictators’ club. Ignoring or even conniving at and enabling widespread, massive violations of human rights throughout the Arab world while screaming to high heaven about everything and anything Israel did has been standard operating procedure in the Arab League for decades.

Walter Russell Mead, Shock News: Arab League as Ineffective In Syria As It Is Everywhere Else

Quote of the day

The end of 2011 is a good moment to reflect on Israel’s condition, which, if you believe much of the media, is catastrophic. Growing numbers of folks dislike us, we’re told, our isolation is growing ever more dire, our democracy is crumbling, we’re forcing women into second-class status, America’s Jews are turning away in growing disgust, and so on and on and on…

Well, no.

[…] How does [Israel’s] cultural creativity fit into disappearing freedom of thought, you ask? It doesn’t. The disappearing freedom and democracy exist only in the minds of a certain section of Israeli society and the multitudes of ignorant foreign reporters and politicians who avidly agree with them whenever they criticise Israel. Apart from them, it’s not happening. There’s a racuous debate about all sorts of things, of course, but in other countries that would be called democracy, not facism.

[…] Yes, there are lots of folks out there who dislike us, but that’s always been so. These days we don’t have to give them too much attention. Seen historically, 2011 was probably one of the best years in millennia of Jewish history.

Yaacov Lozowick in one of his by now all too rare blog posts – because it has to be said that 2011 was a very bad year for the many devoted/addicted fans of his blog Ruminations: Yaacov abandoned us (I was in the addicted category) when he was appointed Israel’s State Archivist.