Quantcast

Blogs

Iran’s Hostage Victory

During Sunday’s Democratic primary debate, Senator Bernie Sanders argued that it’s time to bring Iran in from the cold. “I think what we’ve got to do is move as aggressively as we can to normalize relations with Iran,” he said.

If Iran had a representative government, if it wasn’t ruled by Ayatollah Khamenei, his dark theocratic Guardian Council and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the United States and Iran would restore normal relations almost as a matter of course.

Iran would, in all likelihood, take its proper place as one of America’s premier allies in the Middle East alongside the Kurds and the Israelis. The extreme and often fantastical anti-Americanism so endemic in the Arab world is far weaker among the Persians, Azeris and Kurds who make up the Iranian nation.

Iran right now is like Poland under the Warsaw Pact—a would-be friendly nation occupied and ruled by a hostile regime. Good and proper relations will have to wait until the government is overthrown or reformed out of all recognition like Vietnam's current communist-in-name-only government.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes a harder line than Sanders, naturally. “We’ve had one good day over 36 years, and I think we need more good days before we move more rapidly toward any kind of normalization.”

She was referring to the release of three American citizens—journalist Jason Rezaian, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini and former Marine Amir Hekmati—whom the Iranians held hostage until a couple of days ago.

It’s not at all clear that their release counts as a good day. It’s terrific for the freed prisoners, obviously, and it’s almost as terrific for their friends, family and colleagues, but the ransom was insanely steep.

First the United States had to release seven Iranian criminals who were convicted of sanctions violations in a properly functioning judicial system. Second, Washington had to scrub the names of 14 Iranians from an Interpol watch list. And third, the United States is kicking 100 billion dollars in frozen assets back to the Iranian government.

A fair swap would have been three innocent prisoners for three innocent prisoners, but the United States doesn’t randomly grab foreign nationals off the streets to use as bargaining chips, so that was never an option.

If the Iranian government had released innocent people because they’re innocent like it’s supposed to—then we could say we had a good day. But that’s not what happened. That’s not even close to what happened.

It could have been worse, though. Secretary of State John Kerry said he thought he’d secured these peoples’ release months ago, but the deal fell apart because the Iranian government wanted the United States to release convicted murderers.

That demand shouldn’t surprise anyone. Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hezbollah convinced the Israelis to release convicted murderers like the notorious Samir Kuntar in exchange for  the bodies of kidnapped soldiers who weren’t even alive anymore, who had in fact been mutilated by Hezbollah.

That’s how Iran and its proxies roll, but the US doesn’t cave like the Israelis.

And at least the US got something out of the deal. At least our people are still among the living when they come home. Jason Rezaian is one of my colleagues. I don’t know him personally, but it will be good to have him back all the same. He holds dual Iranian-American citizenship, but he was born in the San Francisco Bay Area and was the Tehran bureau chief for the Washington Post when the Iranians grabbed him 18 months ago on trumped up espionage charges.

It was instantly obvious to almost everybody that he wasn’t snatched because he’s some kind of a spy. He was simply the latest hostage taken by the government that made a name for itself on the world stage by taking hostages. No doubt he’ll write some very interesting articles, and perhaps even a book, when he gets settled in and recovers.

Anthony Bourdain interviewed him in Tehran shortly before he and his wife were dispatched to Evin Prison. (She was later released.)

“I miss certain things about home,” he said. “I miss my buddies. I miss burritos.” He laughed and added, “I miss having certain beverages with my buddies and burritos in certain types of establishments.”

He missed booze and bars, in other words, both of which have been banned in Iran since the 1979 revolution. (Contrary to popular belief, Iran is one of only a small minority of Muslim countries that actually ban alcohol.)

“I love (Iran) and I hate it, but it’s home,” he said. “It’s become home.”

It’s not home for him anymore. That’s for damn sure. He’s on his way back to his real home in America where he was born.

Iran committed three criminal acts against American citizens and paid no price. We put kidnappers in prison for a very long time in this country, but the Iranian government was rewarded.

What’s to stop that government from doing it again?

Nothing.

Why should the Iranian government stop? Kidnapping and ransoming hostages works. And the regime is already gearing up to do it again.

In October of last year they grabbed Siamak Namazi, one of the founders of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). He’s still being held hostage despite the prisoner swap.

NIAC lobbied hard for the nuclear deal signed earlier by Washington and Tehran. Its principle founder and president Trita Parsi has been fighting even longer—since 1997—to have sanctions against Iran lifted.

One of those guys is Iran’s current hostage. Not some CIA spook. Not a wannabe revolutionary. Not even a crusading journalist. No. The regime’s current hostage is a man who worked for years to normalize relations with Iran.

Bernie Sanders wants to pick up where Namazi left off. He’ll fare no better.

The Negativists are Wrong on Ukraine

It was at the California Republican state convention in San Diego on September 11, 1970 that Vice President Spiro Agnew immortalized his speech writer, William Safire, by saying the following memorable words: “In the United States today, we have more than our share of nattering nabobs of negativism. They have formed their own 4-H club—the hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history.”

Too bad the witty and erudite Safire, who eventually went on to become a New York Times columnist, isn’t alive today. If he were, he might be tempted to direct his rhetoric at the nattering nabobs and hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs who comment on Ukraine.

The 2016 Santa-Putin Letters

These top-secret letters were brought to my attention by my deep-throat contact in the Kremlin. They appeared just after the Orthodox Christmas on January 7.

To: V. Putin

From: S. Claus

You’ve been decidedly naughty this year, and I’m not at all sure you deserve any presents. Unless some persuasive justification is forthcoming, the reindeer and I won’t be visiting you in the Kremlin.

***

To: So-called “Santa” Klaus

From: The President of Russia

Your lies disgust me. I’m not surprised, though, given your Turkish birthplace, German name, and American sexual orientation. If you were a real man, you’d get rid of that ridiculous costume and show the world your bare chest. What real man hides behind an army of midgets?

***

To: V. Putin

From: Santa Claus

Obama's Cuba Policy Met By Crackdown in Cuba

The Obama administration is continuing to drop heavy hints that the president will go to Cuba, and that he believes his presence would make be a big, perhaps decisive factor, in getting the Castro regime to end its repression of the Cuban people. According to the New York Times, “Administration officials believe that, rather than waiting for the Castro government in Cuba to loosen its grip on power before making a presidential visit there, Mr. Obama can use his presence to help create momentum toward democracy that the Castros will be unable to stop.” The Times story echoes the interview the president gave on December 14th, in which he said that he hoped to visit Cuba in 2016.

North Africa Exports Rape Culture to Germany

Last week, roughly 200 women in Cologne, Germany, reported that they were sexually assaulted on New Year’s Eve in a public square by a mob of more than a thousand Arab men.

That number exploded this week. More than 600 women now claim they were assaulted, molested, robbed and even raped, and reports are coming in not only from Cologne but also from elsewhere in Germany and even elsewhere in Europe.

Europeans and especially Germans are furious, of course, not only at the perps but also at German Chancellor Angela Merkel for accepting a million refugees from Syria. That’s a staggering number. It’s as if the United States had accepted four million refugees all in one go, which is roughly the population of my home state of Oregon.

At least the United States has a long history of successfully integrating immigrants, including Arab immigrants. According to data from Cornell University, two-thirds of American Muslims earn more than 50,000 dollars a year, and a fourth earn more than 100,000 dollars a year. That’s hardly the profile of a failed immigrant group.

Europe, though, has a much harder time with this sort of thing, and Germany is in an uproar. Protests are breaking out everywhere, with demonstrators yelling “deport them” and carrying signs that say “Rapefugees not welcome” in English.

The culprits are mostly Arabs, and Merkel’s refugee policy is predictably collapsing as a result, but the rapefest in Cologne was not imported from Syria. It mostly comes from North Africa.

Women have fewer rights in the Middle East and North Africa than anywhere else in the world with the single exception of Afghanistan, and they’re abused far more often over there than anywhere in the West, but they aren’t routinely assaulted by hundreds of men in unruly mobs all at once anywhere except Egypt.

Many years ago in Cairo I struck up a conversation with an Australian woman at a restaurant who was traveling around on break from her job at the Ministry of Defense.

“This is the absolute worst place for a woman to travel alone,” she said. “Men harass me constantly. They hiss, stare, and make kissy noises.”

I told her what one of my Syrian friends once said to my wife, that if she ever goes there she should carry a spare shoe in her purse. If any man gives her trouble and she whacks him with the bottom of the shoe, a mob will chase him down and kick his ass.

The Australian woman laughed. “Syria is wonderful, though. I mean, it’s much more oppressive than Egypt. But it’s also more modern. No man ever bothered me there. No men bothered me in Lebanon, either. I was surprised. Lebanese and Syrian men are more respectful even than European men.”

I can’t know from personal experience what it’s like to walk around as a woman in the Middle East or North Africa, but I’ve spent more than a decade of my life on and off in that part of the world and have had conversations with more than a thousand people, men and women alike. Women are unanimous here: Harassment in North Africa ranges from annoying to unspeakable while it’s virtually non-existent in Lebanon and Syria. I don’t know why. That’s just how it is.

“The worst part is that Egyptian men won’t back down when I tell them to leave me alone,” the Australian woman in Cairo added.

The Cologne police department says most of the offenders come from North Africa rather than Syria, which is exactly what we should expect.

“In a 2008 survey by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights,” Mona Eltahawy writes in her book, Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution. “More than 80 percent of Egyptian women said they’d experienced sexual harassment, and more than 60 percent of men admitted to harassing women. A 2013 UN survey reported that 99.3 percent of Egyptian women experience street sexual harassment. Men grope and sexually assault us, and yet we are blamed for it because we were in the wrong place at the wrong time, wearing the wrong thing.”

Sexual assault in public is so pervasive in Egypt that the authorities ban men from some cars on the subway so women can get to work in the morning without being mauled.

Foreign women get it in Egypt, too, most infamously when CBS reporter Lara Logan was brutally assaulted in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on the night the Egyptian army removed Hosni Mubarak from power. An enormous mob surrounded her, stripped her naked, sexually assaulted her and damn near killed her.

“I didn't even know that they were beating me with flagpoles and sticks and things,” she later said in an interview on 60 Minutes. “Because the sexual assault was all I could feel, their hands raping me over and over and over again. They were trying to tear off chunks of my scalp…not trying to pull out my hair, holding big wads of it literally trying to tear my scalp off my skull.”

She thought they were going to kill her. They probably would have if she hadn’t been rescued by Egyptian women who themselves have suffered plenty at the rough hands of their neighbors.

The same thing happened to British journalist Natasha Smith the following year, and she wrote about it in excruciating detail on her blog.

In a split second, everything changed. Men had been groping me for a while, but suddenly, something shifted. I found myself being dragged from my male friend, groped all over, with increasing force and aggression. I screamed. I could see what was happening and I saw that I was powerless to stop it. I couldn’t believe I had got into this situation.

My friend did everything he could to hold onto me. But hundreds of men were dragging me away, kicking and screaming. I was pushed onto a small platform as the crowd surged, where I was hunched over, determined to protect my camera. But it was no use. My camera was snatched from my grasp. My rucksack was torn from my back – it was so crowded that I didn’t even feel it. The mob stumbled off the platform – I twisted my ankle.

Men began to rip off my clothes. I was stripped naked. Their insatiable appetite to hurt me heightened. These men, hundreds of them, had turned from humans to animals.

Hundreds of men pulled my limbs apart and threw me around. They were scratching and clenching my breasts and forcing their fingers inside me in every possible way. So many men. All I could see was leering faces, more and more faces sneering and jeering as I was tossed around like fresh meat among starving lions.

Germany has announced that it’s changing the law to make it far easier to swiftly deport migrant criminals. Most of those involved in Cologne are apparently not Syrian refugees, but they can still be sent back to wherever it is they come from if they are not citizens.

Those who are seeking asylum from Syria and think it’s okay to rape and molest women in Europe’s most generous host country may soon find themselves deported post-haste back to where they belong—to the war zone.

Will South Korea Rethink Its Nuke Policy?

On Monday, a “US official” speaking anonymously to Reuters, said the Pentagon was not thinking of reintroducing nuclear weapons to the Korean peninsula.

Earlier in the day, Seoul had suggested Washington was considering the possibility. “The United States and South Korea are continuously and closely having discussions on additional deployment of strategic assets,” South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said.

By “strategic assets” the unnamed US official said the Defense Department was referring to nuclear-capable bombers. South Korean media had been reporting that Washington and Seoul were discussing the deployment of American B-2 bombers, F-22 fighters, and nuclear submarines to the Korean peninsula.

President George H. W. Bush in 1991 announced the unilateral withdrawal of tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea and other foreign countries, and today there is virtually no apparent support in the Pentagon for redeploying them.

Have Chinese Agents Abducted Hong Kong Publisher, Book Sellers?

The case of five missing Hong Kong residents connected to a Hong Kong publisher and bookshop took a strange turn Monday when the wife of one of the missing individuals withdrew her request for police assistance. Choi Ka Ping said she had heard from her husband that day and no longer needed help.

The police, however, said they would continue the investigation into the disappearance of the husband, Lee Bo.

The first to disappear was Gui Minhai, owner of Mighty Current, a publishing house that since 2012 has released about 80 books highly critical of China’s Communist Party. The last known contact from him was an e-mail message sent on October 15 to a printer from the Thai resort of Pattaya.

The Saudi-Iranian Eruption

Saudi Arabia has severed diplomatic ties with Iran after a mob set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran, stormed the compound and trashed its offices while Iranian security personnel stood aside.

This is hardly anything new. The Iranian government has been violently contemptuous of worldwide norms of diplomacy ever since it seized power in 1979. The Iranian hostage crisis, where Islamist revolutionaries held 52 foreign servicemen and women hostage at the American Embassy for 444 days, was just the beginning.

Four years later, Iran’s terrorist proxies in Lebanon used to a suicide truck bomb to destroy the American embassy in Beirut.

Ten years later they blew up the Israeli embassy in Argentina, also with a suicide truck bomb.

In 2012, Azerbaijan arrested 22 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah for plotting attacks on the American and Israeli embassies in Baku.

Like Iran, Azerbaijan is a Shia-majority nation, but unlike Iran, its government has normal and even warm relations with the United States and Israel. And like most of the world, Azerbaijanis understand and respect the sovereignty of foreign embassies. The Iranians don’t, so the Saudis are calling everyone home and giving the Iranians 48 hours to leave the country or else.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have been enemies since the 1979 revolution, but their hatred for each other is far older than either regime. It stretches all the way back to the time of the Persian Empire.

It’s slightly amazing that they’ve had diplomatic relations at all. They have more grievances against each other—some of them reasonable, others bigoted, sectarian and hysterical—than anyone outside the region could ever keep track of.

The Iranians didn’t torch and sack the Saudi embassy just because they woke up in the morning and felt like it, though. The Saudis kicked off the latest round when they executed Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Nimr lived in Saudi Arabia’s enormous Eastern Province. It’s where most of the oil fields are. It’s also—inconveniently for Riyadh—the one place where Shia Muslims make up the majority in an otherwise Sunni-dominated kingdom. Nimr had been calling for democratic elections and for the Shias to secede if their rights weren’t better respected.

He was right to complain. Saudi Arabia is the most backward and medieval society in the entire world outside ISIS- and Taliban-occupied territory. Tehran is like Amsterdam compared with Riyadh despite the Iranian government’s theocratic regulations and draconian enforcers.

During a series of protests in 2011 and 2012, Nimr called on Shia demonstrators to resist the Saudi government with words rather than violence. “The weapon of the word is stronger than the power of lead,” he said.

The Saudis called him a terrorist and cut off his head.

Unless the Saudi government knows something about him that the rest of us don’t, this is pretty outrageous.

The Iranians are almost right to be furious, but not quite. They’re furious for the wrong reasons. They’d be just as furious if the guy was really a terrorist. They’d be just as furious if he’d been dispatching squads of suicide bombers to Riyadh and Medina. The Iranian regime murdered its way into power and tortures and murders to keep itself in power. It doesn’t care about human rights any more than Kim Jong-un of North Korea. 

Tehran’s rulers are just bent out of shape because Nimr was a fellow Shia who could have been useful if the global Sunni-Shia war—which Iran does everything in its power to keep ablaze—were to engulf Saudi Arabia as it has just about everywhere else Sunnis and Shias live next to each other.

Which isn’t to say the Saudi rulers aren’t violating anyone’s human rights. Of course they are. They do so as a matter of course. Their absolute monarchy isn’t drastically different from the ISIS “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq except that Riyadh plays well with others diplomatically and pushes back hard against Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Saudis do so for entirely self-interested reasons, of course. They don’t care about human rights any more than the Iranians do. They’re the world biggest proponents of hardline Sunni fanaticism. The only reason they’re bothered by ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood is because ISIS and the Brotherhood threaten the Saudi royal family’s stranglehold on absolute power.

Americans can be excused for watching the Saudis and Iranians slug it out as if they were Hitler and Stalin beating the crap out of each other in Europe.

We have to stick with the Saudis, though, like it or not, the same way we stuck with the Soviet Union against the Nazis.

The Washington-Riyadh alliance is strictly transactional. We have common enemies and common economic interests, and that’s it. There is no warmth there, no real friendship, on either side. We rightly find the Saudis distasteful. They find us distasteful, too, because they’re a thousand years behind us. They’re a thousand years behind almost everyone in the world, including much of the Arab world.

But we have to stand by them—and not just because they have oil—because they don’t actively work against us like the Iranians do despite the negotiated nuclear “deal” between Tehran and Washington earlier this year.

So: good on the Saudis for kicking the Iranians out even though the Saudis instigated the recent unpleasantness with their usual appalling behavior.

Japan, South Korea Reach Historic Agreement on ‘Comfort Women’

On Monday, Japan and South Korea, in parallel statements of their foreign ministers, agreed to a “final and irreversible” settlement of the so-called “comfort women” issue. 

 During Japan’s colonization of Korea last century, Korean females had been forced to provide sexual services to Japanese soldiers in military-run brothels. 

 Pursuant to the deal, Tokyo agreed to pay 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) into a South Korean fund for the 46 surviving comfort women. More important, Japan’s foreign minister, while in Seoul, delivered the apology of his country’s prime minister. Fumio Kishida said Shinzo Abe “expresses anew his most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.” 

Putin is Steering Russia to Collapse

As the new year begins, both Ukraine and Russia are making steady progress. The difference is that, while Ukraine is slowly, and more or less surely, adopting a raft of systemic reforms that will make it a normal Western market democracy, Russia is becoming a failed state. If current trends continue, as they probably will, Russia may even disappear.

That’s not just my conclusion. It’s Dmitri Trenin’s, and Trenin is the director of the prestigious Carnegie Moscow Center and a distinguished Russian analyst who, unlike his former colleague, the anti-Putin firebrand Lilia Shevtsova, has often expressed a soft-line interpretation of the Putin regime and its intentions.

China Threatens to Shoot Down Australian Planes

On November 25th the Royal Australian Air Force conducted a “routine maritime patrol” in the South China Sea as a part of Operation Gateway, a program of periodic flights. An AP-3C Orion surveillance plane flew near a reclaimed Chinese feature in the Spratly island chain, in the sea’s southern portion.

In response, the Global Times, a Beijing-based Communist Party newspaper, published an editorial that essentially threatened to start a war: “It would be a shame if one day a plane fell from the sky and it happened to be Australian.”

Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne responded to Beijing’s bluster with remarks that left something to be desired. “We always navigate in a very constructive way in the region,” she said.

Putin ‘Outlaws’ European Justice in Russia

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Last week, Vladimir Putin signed a law that effectively banishes international legal norms from Russian territory and denies Russian citizens access to European justice. The measure, overwhelmingly passed in both houses of Russia’s rubber-stamp Parliament, gives the Constitutional Court—whose chairman, Valery Zorkin, recently called for “transforming the legal system in the direction of military harshness”—the right to ignore rulings by the European Court of Human Rights by declaring them “non-executable.”

The Winners and Losers of ‘Nation-Branding’

The following is an interview with Robert Saunders, a professor in the Department of History, Politics, and Geography at Farmingdale State College–SUNY and an expert on “nation-branding.”

* * *

MOTYL: Harper’s once called you the world’s premier Boratologist. How and why did you come to study the Borat phenomenon?

Good Riddance to Child-Killer Samir Kuntar

The Israelis killed the infamous Lebanese terrorist and child-murderer Samir Kuntar and several other Hezbollah commanders with an air strike in Syria.

They are neither confirming nor denying that they carried out the attack, but it’s obvious that they did. No one else drops bombs from the skies on Hezbollah right now, and Kuntar committed one of the most horrific terrorist attacks in Israeli history.

On April 22, 1979, in the northern town of Nahariya, he killed policeman Eliyahu Shahar, civilian Danny Haran, and Haran's four year old daughter Einat by placing her head on a rock and smashing her skull with the butt of his rifle.

The Israelis convicted him of murder, but they released him in 2008 when Hezbollah agreed to return the bodies of captured Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

It was a bad trade.

When the bodies of Goldwasser and Regev were returned to Israel, former Chief Rabbi of the IDF Yisrael Weiss said, “If we thought the enemy was cruel to the living and the dead, we were surprised, when we opened the caskets, to discover just how cruel. And I’ll leave it at that.”

Shortly after Kuntar’s release, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as one of Hezbollah’s co-patrons, awarded him with the Syrian Order of Merit medal.

Just three months ago, in September of 2015, the United States government declared Kuntar a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224.

Perhaps letting Kuntar back into the wild seemed like a reasonable idea to Israelis at the time. Prison seemed to have changed him.

Israeli journalist Chen Kotes-Barr spent more than a year interviewing Kuntar in prison and getting to know him. I imagine she must have felt a little like Clarice Starling when she met Hannibal Lecter in Thomas Harris’ Silence of the Lambs.

Lisa Goldman translated Kotes-Barr’s long story about Kuntar from Hebrew to English and published it on her blog. Here’s the first part:

For the first year, my conversations with Samir Kuntar were difficult. Our meetings, which began in February 2004, took place in the prison library – just the two of us, unaccompanied. Our conversations were open, and they lasted for hours. Samir spoke to me in Hebrew. He brought tea and biscuits, and he chain-smoked. Over the 29 years he spent in Israeli jails, I was the first and only Jewish Israeli woman he met and spoke with to face-to-face.

“I’m talking to you about reality,” Kuntar said, each time we met. “I am not trying to ingratiate myself with you.” As we slowly built up some kind of trust, we stopped talking about politics and turned to personal subjects – like prison life and his own life. “Don’t go with slogans and clichés,” he implored. “Just write the facts.” He showed me photographs of his family in Lebanon. He prepared a list of Hebrew-language books on the Arab-Israeli conflict for me.

I told him about my father, who survived Auschwitz, and about my 5 year-old son. Each time I wrap him in a towel after his bath, I told Kuntar, I think of Danny Haran and his daughter Einat. About the terror attack in Nahariya.

The girl’s death was a tragic incident, answered Kuntar. He insisted that he had not killed her. What does it matter, I told him, you shot at them. If you had not landed on the beach at Nahariya in your rubber dinghy, Einat Haran would still be alive. He never expressed any remorse.

I did not try to understand, to resolve or even to interpret. I just wanted to get to know the man. “I met the enemy,” Samir said, when I asked him how he would explain our meetings to his children. “I met the enemy and I saw that he has a face.”

Samir Kuntar’s Jewish enemy does indeed have a face, which is why Hezbollah and the Assad regime have done everything in their power to ensure that the people of Lebanon and Syria have no contact whatsoever with Israelis. It’s a bit harder to see people as a diabolical “other” after spending quality time with them.

Sending an email to Tel Aviv from Beirut or Damascus can land a person in prison. (I’ve done it hundreds of times myself, but I refuse to obey such a contemptible law, and anyway I’m not Syrian or Lebanese.) Even saying hello to an Israeli tourist on holiday in a third country like Cyprus or Greece is a crime.

Kuntar really did seem to change, and he seemed to change even before Kotes-Barr met him. Perhaps it was all a big put-on—he wouldn’t be the first person to pretend he had seen the errors of his ways in order to get out of prison—but either way he knew exactly how to tell the Israelis what they wanted to hear.

Ha’aretz interviewed him in 1995. “Theology enlists people to hate blindly,” he said, “both on the Israeli and the Arab side.

If instead of talking about the Promised Land you would find a way to introduce into the Palestinian education system – for which you are responsible – the horrors of the Holocaust, the history of Jew-hatred from the days of the Romans until the Nazi era, I have no doubt everything would be different. We never recognized Jewish suffering. We saw an entire people being thrown out, and a prosperous country thriving at its expense.

[…]

You have to accept Israel as a fact, in order to move on and not return to the cycle of losses. The message to the coming generations, especially the Palestinians, is that you have to include presenting the suffering of the Jewish people. Without this, it’s impossible to develop any empathy toward Jews.

He didn’t change, though. Or, if he did, he changed back and signed on with Hezbollah shortly after his release even though he isn’t even a Muslim. (He’s Druze.) Until the Israelis killed him this weekend, he was one of Hezbollah’s most formidable commanders and spokesmen in Syria.

He has been busy fighting Syrians lately rather than Jews. Perhaps one of these days, maybe—just maybe—the Arab world will realize that terrorists who kill Jews will turn right around and kill Arabs and that the Israelis are doing everybody a favor by zotting them from the skies.

US Diplomat is Roughed-Up in Scuffle in Beijing

On Monday, unidentified men, many of them wearing smiley-face stickers on their jackets, shoved journalists so that they fell onto American diplomat Dan Biers as he was reading a statement in Beijing about the persecution of Chinese human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang. Biers, a deputy political counselor at the US Embassy, had to stop reading but was later able to finish.

The incident took place while Biers was standing outside Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court, where Pu’s trial is being held.

The men, almost certainly from Beijing’s Public Security Bureau or a similar unit, also interrupted a European Union delegate. Diplomats from 10 countries other than the US were on hand for the proceeding—“the capital’s biggest political trial in two years,”  according to the Wall Street Journal’s “China Real Time Report”—and many of them were also harassed.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - blogs