Archive for the ‘al-Jazeera’ Category

Venezuela: North Korea to open embassy in Caracas

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Caracas hairdressers better take notice:

The June 20 issue of the Gaceta Oficial, the Venezuelan government’s official organ, announced that North Korea is allowed to open an embassy in Caracas.

The murderous Communist North Korean regime, which has attempted to interfere with private businesses in democratic countries, will have an embassy near the newly-expanded Panama Canal.

No wonder the chavistas are decamping to Spain.

In other Venezuelan news,
University students and government opponents protested in Caracas on Tuesday, demanding the release of people who have been arrested in street demonstrations in recent months. Also on Tuesday, Venezuela’s Supreme Court (TSJ) granted the army permission to participate in political marches and rallies, and denied that it would encourage proselytizing of the military.

A review of Al-Jazeera’s Fault Lines documentary, Venezuela Divided:
Al-Jazeera sent me information and a preview link to its Fault Lines documentary, Venezuela Divided, which will air on Al Jazeera America Saturday, June 28, at 7 p.m. Eastern time.

The reporter was accompanied by chavistas throughout the film, which is very sympathetic to the regime (as you can see from the article title The art of the Boliviarian revolution in Venezuela, as if the Boliviarian revolution was a symphony).

Venezuela Divided starts by contrasting a slum with an ice cream shop in a middle-to-upper class neighborhood, in the premise that it’s all “rich vs. poor”; the possibility that some of the people in the ice cream shop may be high-ranking chavistas or their relatives does not cross the reporter’s mind.

It shows a confrontation between university students and the National Guard, and a chavista college student whose nose was broken allegedly by anti-government students, while it forgets to show assemblywoman Maria Corina Machado’s nose being broken on the floor of the National Assembly by chavista Nancy Asencio, or the fact that the chavista regime deposed Machado of her Assembly seat and banned her from leaving the country.

Additionally, al-Jazeera’s emphasis on showing the Venezuelan demonstrators as engaged in a “simple” class struggle ignores this,

The report, while talking to members of a colectivo, spent no time on news like this, or this, or on Human Rights Watch’s finding of “systematic” human rights violations in Venezuela.

In the past, al-Jazeera’s reports on Latin America have been interesting, but this one I find lacking.

The gold Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Argentina’s presidential election
Fait accompli

La Evonomics y la “crisis del capitalismo”

When an American Company Redomiciles to the Cayman Islands, What Lesson Should We Learn?

Colombia cashes in on ‘.co’ Internet domain
The ‘co.’ Internet domain in Colombia is a lure for companies in Florida looking for new website addresses.

Colombia’s Operation Stairway and the secret agent who carried it out

‘Rise of the Apes’ Director: Film’s Hero Inspired by Che Guevara

Castro dictatorship celebrates Fidel’s birthday with more violent repression

More PR Shame: Associated Press Cooperates With Dictatorial Propaganda Machines

EXCLUSIVE: Emilio Palacio presents video evidence that President Correa gave order to fire on police

Violence in El Salvador, El Salvador’s gangs joining the drug trade:

Guatemala’s presidential election
The final word on the first lady

Drug Traffickers’ Paradise

No-fly Zone Proposed for Northeastern Honduras


The Buffer Between Mexican Cartels and the U.S. Government

Operation Fast and Furious Weapons Found at Scenes of Violent Crimes in the U.S.

VIDEO: Mexico’s security spokesman speaks to Al Jazeera

A Panama historic district battles development boom
In a city that’s run out of room to grow, residents of a historic district wonder if the old seawall can hold back progress

El paraguayo Zanotti tercero en el abierto checo de golf

Los mayores enemigos de Ollanta Humala son sus dos hermanos

Puerto Rico edges closer to U.S. voting rights

Puerto Ricans’ chances of winning a right to vote in U.S. elections are as close now as at any time in American history. A First Circuit Court of Appeals decision last week has set up the conditions needed for the Supreme Court to review the possibility of voting rights for Puerto Rico’s four million residents.

The appeals court deadlocked 3-to-3 on whether to hear a case in which a lower court already denied Puerto Ricans a right to vote. A tied vote means any previous rulings are left to stand.

Hurricane Irene Slams Puerto Rico Twitter hashtag #Irene

Venezuelan emissaries reported to be aiding talks between Qaddafi and rebels

Libya rebels claim Gaddafi is fleeing to Venezuela

S&P Cuts Venezuela’s Credit Rating; Outlook Stable, via Joy.

S&P last to downgrade Venezuela to B level

The week’s posts and podcasts,
Where’s the Colombia FTA? Sitting on the President’s desk
You, too, can wear Hugo on your feet
Gold rush: Chavez to nationalize gold industry
Say hello to the Canada-Colombia FTA
Is Cuba going capitalist?
Ecuador’s assault against free press

At the Green Room, Ahmadinejad to visit Caracas, Venezuela to move its gold

At Conservative Commune, Gold Rush: Chavez to Nationalize Venezuela’s Gold Industry

Silvio Canto’s
Political Vindication


Mexico’s Hidden War

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Al-Jazeera has a series of reports on Mexico’s drug wars. The following episode focuses on the state of Guerrero:
Mexico’s hidden war
Josh Rushing finds out how campesino communities caught in the narco-economy are resisting repression and dispossession

Part 1: Impunity and profits,


Posting has been light because I’ve been having internet connection issues for since yesterday. Thank you for your patience.


Al Jazeera: Egypt military have said “they will not go against the people”

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

I’m watching the livefeed from Al Jazeera English and their reporter said “nothing suggests a confrontation between the military and the people on the ground.”

Al-Jazeera has continued to broadcast live from Egypt even when the network’s licences were cancelled and accreditation of staff in Cairo withdrawn by order of information minister

“The information minister [Anas al-Fikki] ordered … suspension of operations of Al Jazeera, cancelling of its licences and withdrawing accreditation to all its staff as of today,” a statement on the official Mena news agency said on Sunday.

Stratfor has a Red Alert on Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Meanwhile in the USA, the President is voting present. Darleen has the photoshop.

Thad McCotter: “This is not a nostalgic ‘anti-colonial uprising’ from within”

This is not a nostalgic ‘anti-colonial uprising’ from within, of all places, the land of Nassar. Right now, freedom’s radicalized enemies are subverting Egypt and our other allies.

Muslim Brotherhood Announces They Will Support El-Baradei. Blame Bush!

The Muslim Brotherhood is the Enemy


More on NASA for Muslim self-esteem

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Following Charles Bolden’s statement to al-Jazeera that,

When I became the NASA Administrator — before I became the NASA Administrator — [Obama] charged me with three things: One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.

This will surely make the Taliban abandon its bellicoseness, won’t it?

Jules Crittenden comments,

Oddly, space exploration didn’t crack the top three. That explains why they put Mars on the back burner. Screw the Cosmos … they’re launching missions to the Casbah!

Charles Krauthammer ripped the goals:

“This is a new height in fatuousness,” Krauthammer said. “NASA was established to get America into space and to keep is there. This idea to feel good about their past and to make achievements is the worst combination of group therapy, psychobabble, imperial condescension and adolescent diplomacy.”

“If I didn’t know that Obama had told this, I’d demand the firing of Charles Bolden the way I would Michael Steele,” he continued. “This is absolutely unbelievable.”

Byron York writes about how NASA is now “not only a space exploration agency, but also an Earth improvement agency,” at least in Obamaspeak:

The Muslim outreach at NASA is the result of the White House’s preparation for Obama’s Cairo speech. Staffers found that many Muslims admire American achievements in science and technology, so Obama used the speech to announce the appointment of U.S. “science envoys” and a new fund “to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries.”

Obama appointed Egyptian-American scientist Ahmed Zewail as the first science envoy to the Middle East. Just last week, Zewail argued that the U.S. can build better relations with the Muslim world by “harnessing the soft power of science in the service of diplomacy.” The NASA initiative is part of that.

Last month, Bolden himself traveled to Cairo to mark the first anniversary of Obama’s speech. In an address at the American University, Bolden cited Zewail’s work and stressed NASA’s role in improving relations with Islamic nations.

Not content with this pseudo-self-esteem-for-the-Muslim world initiative, the administration also believes that

“We’re not going to go anywhere beyond low Earth orbit as a single entity,” Bolden said. “The United States can’t do it.”

Can’t go beyond low Earth orbit, can’t secure the border, can’t clean up the oil spill.

But back to space; Who, pray tell, will American astronauts have to rely on to get them out and back from the rickety old space station? Russia!

Yes, Russia will take them for a ride, alright. (Make sure to read this while you’re at it.)

So, tell me, how’s that “hope” portion of the “hope and change” working for you?

Mr. Bingley goes to it.

UPDATE 2, NASA backtracking:
Former NASA Director Says Muslim Outreach Push ‘Deeply Flawed’

Bob Jacobs, NASA’s assistant administrator for public affairs, echoed that point. However, he said that Bolden was speaking of priorities when it came to “outreach” and not about NASA’s primary missions of “science, aeronautics and space exploration.” He said the “core mission” is exploration and that it was unfortunate Bolden’s comments are now being viewed through a “partisan prism.”

Hey, quoting a guy’s own words is now “partisan.”


About that moving Gitmo to Illinois…

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

the Obama administration is struggling to come up with the money:

While Mr. Obama has acknowledged that he would miss the Jan. 22 deadline for closing the prison that he set shortly after taking office, the administration appeared to take a major step forward last week when he directed subordinates to move “as expeditiously as possible” to acquire the Thomson Correctional Center, a nearly vacant maximum-security Illinois prison, and to retrofit it to receive Guantánamo detainees.

But in interviews this week, officials estimated that it could take 8 to 10 months to install new fencing, towers, cameras and other security upgrades before any transfers take place. Such construction cannot begin until the federal government buys the prison from the State of Illinois.

The federal Bureau of Prisons does not have enough money to pay Illinois for the center, which would cost about $150 million. Several weeks ago, the White House approached the House Appropriations Committee and floated the idea of adding about $200 million for the project to the military spending bill for the 2010 fiscal year, according to administration and Congressional officials.

The Dems don’t want it:

But Democratic leaders refused to include the politically charged measure in the legislation. When lawmakers approved the bill on Dec. 19, it contained no financing for Thomson.

However, the issue is national security. In his post, We Interrupt this Socialization of Medicine to Bring You an Abdication of Our National Defense . . . Andy McCarthy explains that twelve detainees were released from Gitmo to – astonishing to believe, but true – Yemen:

Yemen, an al-Qaeda hotbed whose government makes common cause with jihadists (and has a history of allowing them to escape — or of releasing them outright); Afghanistan, which is so ungovernable and rife with jihadism that we’re surging thousands of troops there (troops the jihadists are targeting); and Somaliland, which is not even a country, and which offers an easy entree into Somalia, a failed state and al-Qaeda safe-haven. At least one of the released terrorists, a Somali named Abdullahi Sudi Arale (aka Ismail Mahmoud Muhammad), was released notwithstanding the military’s designation of him as a “high-value detainee” (a label that has been applied only to top-tier terrorist prisoners — and one that fits in this case given Arale’s status as a point of contact between al-Qaeda’s satellites in East Africa and Pakistan).

As if that’s not bad enough,

the Justice Department has taken the lead role in making release determinations — the military command at Gitmo has “zero input” and “zero influence,” in its own words. DOJ is rife with attorneys who represented and advocated for the detainees, and, in particular, Attorney General Holder’s firm, represented numerous Yemeni enemy combatants.

Maybe Holder expects the released detainees to take a job with al-Jazeera.

CNN’s Patricia Janiot: Chávez is “very attractive”

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Via Noticias24,
Senior anchor for CNN en Español Patricia Janiot declared in an interview with journalist Cristian Savio that Chávez is “very attractive,” and has “overwhelming charisma,”
(My translation: If you use this translation please link to this post)

CS: What political leader impressed you the most?
PJ: Beyond his political position – I believe that a politician, the more he shows himself as a person and further away from the gods of Olympus, the better – there’s no doubt that Hugo Chávez os “the character.” He’s the epitome of the populist leader, with plain tastes, overwhelming charisma and the ability to involve himself in his sorroundings since he has a point of reference that also interests you. He’s a combination comedian, military, President and religious leader: a very appealing combination, even more so than his oratorial ability. He’s very attractive to any journalist.

CS: And [Argentinian President] Cristina Fernández?
PJ: She made a very good impression, I met her before she became president. Beyond her strong personality, she comes across as letting you know what to expect of her. She tells you what she means to your face. She’ll tell you outright if she doesn’t want to answer a question. She won’t evade it or change the subject.

CS: What are your thoughts on the turn to the left in Latin American politics?
PJ: It strikes me as a natural swing after the neoliberal decade that left so many of us in ruins. It’s a natural process in any country: when something doesn’t work, we look for the opposite. But nowadays the difference between the Left and the Right is how distanced they are from the United States. Even the governments on the Right are closer to fighting inequality and poverty, so the difference is the degree of alienation from the US.

Readers of this blog may remember that CNN en Español’s freelancer Mauricio Funes is the Communist party candidate running for President of El Salvador.

Janiot follows in the steps of tyrant-worshiper Barbara Walters, who idolizes Fidel Castro,

Another distinguished CNN alumna, Lucia Newman, is now working for al-Jazeera.

These and other headlines from the region in today’s podcast at 11AM Eastern . Chat’s open by 10:45AM. See you there!UPDATE
Welcome, NewsBusters readers!


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Through the back door:

Monday, October 8th, 2007

Socialized Medicine through the back door:
Doug Ross explains SCHIP for Dummies and Self-Employed Woodworkers.

Mark Steyn knocks on the woodworker part of the story.

And here’s the punchline:

“And in order to get enough money to pay for this, it would require 22 million new smokers.”


Terrorist memorial through the back door:
At the crescent of death, Why only 38 Memorial Groves?

One more push towards the Fairness Doctrine, through the back door:
Republicans rule radio but Democrats fight back

Another U.N. Power Grab through the back door:
What would Reagan do? On the Law of the Sea Treaty, we know the answer
Such developments only serve to reinforce the concerns President Reagan rightly had about the central, and abiding, defect of the Law of the Sea Treaty: its effort to promote global government at the expense of sovereign nation states–and most especially the United States. One of the prime movers behind LOST, the late Elisabeth Mann Borgese of the World Federalist Association (which now calls itself Citizens for Global Solutions), captured what is at stake when she cited an ancient aphorism: “He who rules the sea, rules the land.” A U.N. publication lauding her work noted that Borgese saw LOST as a “possible test-bed for ideas she had developed concerning a common global constitution.”


Charlie Gibson might be shown the back door if he keeps it up:
CHARLES GIBSON, ABC ANCHOR: The U.S. military reports the fourth straight month of decline in troop deaths, 66 American troops died in September, each a terrible tragedy for a family, but the number far less than those who died in August. And the Iraqi government says civilian deaths across Iraq fell by half last month.

As War Dragged On, Coverage Tone Weighed Heavily on Anchors:

By training their powerful spotlight on the chaos gripping Iraq, the anchors were arguably contributing to the political downfall of a president who had seemed to be riding high when he won his second term.

But not to worry: Howard Kurtz has been told:

To Kurtz’s obvious frustration, his guests – Robin Wright of the Washington Post and Barbara Starr of CNN – both supported the press burying this extremely positive announcement.



Al Jazeera through the YouTube back door:
YouTube Deepens Commercial Relationship With Al Jazeera

Sharia law through the Med School Back door:
Muslim medical students refuse to learn about alcohol or sexual diseases:
Some Muslim students claim studying sex and alcohol related diseases is ‘offensive’.

Professor Peter Rubin, chairman of the GMC’s education committee, said: ‘Examples have included a refusal to see patients who are affected by diseases caused by alcohol or sexual activity, or a refusal to examine patients of a particular gender.’

Spare them their feelings and kick them out of med school, then.


Special thanks to Larwyn for the links.

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Lawrence Wright on "Al-Qaeda: Past, Present and Future"

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

Yesterday afternoon TigerHawk and I attended Lawrence Wright’s lecture on “Al-Qaeda: Past, Present and Future.” These are my notes:

Mr. Wright started his lecture by asking what drew the 9/11 attackers to al-Qaeda? They were college educated Saudis, not the products of religious schools, with no obvious mental disorders, not religious. What draws these young men to al-Q?

Social factors:
In the 70s: Most al-Qaeda recruits came from rural areas of Egypt – displacement was the most common element among them; they joined the jihad in countries away from home.
Another factor is feeling marginal in the culture you’re in. The recent plots in UK by second- and third-generation Brits but whose feelings of marginality persisted through 3 generations. There’s not a clash of civilizations, but aa clash of identities within a civilization. For instance, in Belgium the most common babies’ name is Mohammed. For that Mohammed, not surprisingly, Mohammed becomes more than a religion, but an identity.

We’re more blessed in America with a Muslim community that’s part of our society. The average American Muslim makes a higher wage than the average American.

Displacement doesn’t explan everything: there are nihilists and idealists in al-Qaeda.
There are economic reasons: 1/5 world’s population lives in Muslim countries but those countries account for 1/2 of the world’s poor. If you take the oil out of those economies, 300 million Arabs produce less than Nokia corporation.
1.3billion Muslims mostly living in the 57 countries of Organization of Islamic Countries produce less than the German GDP.

Another factor is the lack of civil society: no movies, no plays, no dating, no political life, no museums, few parks, no unions. Nothing between the government and the mosque except shopping. No wonder that a study on depression showed that 65% boys, 72% of college age girls in college were depressed.

The separation of the sexes takes a toll on women. Saudi woman can’t drive, need permission of men to travel; can’t check into a hotel. One of his reporters when he worked in Saudi Arabia, Najia, slept on carpet of mosque at the airport in order to be able to attend a press conference she wanted to report on.
It also takes a toll on men, who are deprived of the solace of women’s companionship. The guys didn’t spend adolescence molding their behavior trying to please girls. Women are referred to as BMOs – Black Moving Objects.

The element of humiliation:
Many Muslims are personally humiliated, for instance, in Egypt’s prisions. But Mr. Wright saw video of Bin Laden talking at a mosque in the 1970s – on the theme of humiliation: Why did this rich young charismatic man feel humiliated? P

There’s a profound sense of cultural humiliation: on 9/11/1683 at the Gates of Vienna marked the end of Islamic superpower. This sense of humiliation is linked to a desire to strike back. Mr. Wright quoted Bernard Lewis on the movement from “how did this happen” to “who did this” to us.
The sense of injustice is reinforced by images of Muslims under siege in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan.
Fox News and al-Jazeera show images of the continuing humiliation of the Arabs. CNN showed a pair of US Marines ignoring “quivering lips of little girls” (LW’s phase), and a family kneeling in front of Marines; this image was repeated endlessly.

The sense of humiliation is expanded by fact that nearly everything you own is made elsewhere. Measurements for excellence, such as Nobel Prizes, are practically absent from the Muslim world at large.

Bin-Laden wanted the US to replicate the errors of Soviets. After the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan the USSR dissolved. Bin-Laden miscalculated. 80% of al-Qaeda’s membership was captured or killed, and was repudiated all over the world. The WOT was essentially dead; then, Iraq sparked the flames.

A-Qaeda had planned for day when a country’s leadership would be smashed.
The old al_Qaeda was run from the top-down. The new is a network of small groups. In a way, it follows the model of street gangs: flat-horizontal groups tied together by internet. Al-Qaeda makes tremendous use of internet, leaving a legacy for future jihadists. Training’s a vital element in al-Qaeda.

Now al-Qaeda has training camps in Mali, Iraq, Pak, Somalia, Afghanistan, and roots in many different countries. How has it been able to reconstitute?
Al-Qaeda believes in the management of savagery: through savage acts, and taking advantage of danger opportunity, such as attacking oil fields so the government neglects other areas. Once the government falls, people look to other sources for safety.

Mr. Wright mentioned how Al-Zarqawi came to the fore: he cut off the head of a hostage, and began bombing Shiite mosques, thus creating a civil war.

In 2005 Fuad Hussein outlined al-Qaeda’s master plan in Zarqawi’s biography, as a 20-year plan:

9/11: The Awakening. This first stage ended in 2003 when US entered Bagdhad.
2d stage, up to 2006: recruiting
3rd stage: Syria Turkey, Israel
4th stage: 2013 al-Qaeda overthrowing Arab governements as US power continues to decline
5th stage: Caliphate. Israel won’t be able to defend itself
2016 total confrontation: Caliphate Islamic army on the attack
2020 definitive victory, which is defined as, “falsehood will come to an end. Islamic state w/lead mankind to shore of safety …and happiness”.

A failure of the US in Iraq will embolden al-Qaeda.

Measures we can take to defeat radicalism:
1. Fix our intelligence, and emphasize understanding, penetrating, disrupting AQ. FBI agent Ali Safan came close to stopping 9/11, but there are fewer Arabic speakers now than in 9/11. The head of FBI doesn’t know the difference between Suni & Shiite. [SEE NOTE BELOW] We need native speakers. Instead, there’s a new tier of bureaucracy: the Dept. of Homeland Security. We need skilled people on the ground. There are only 6 fluent Arabic speakers in the Iraq embassy. Spurned Arabs & Muslims can’t get a job in security after serving 4 yrs in the Army.
2. Need allies in this effort. “Antiamericanism seemed to have vanished from the lexicon after 9/11”. Many countries have a stake in Iraq, for instance Sweden, and the countries harbroing millions of refugees in Iraq’s neighbors.
3. We’re in pregnant moment in Israeli-Palestinian crisis. It’s difficult to make people make peace but it’s clear that the Arabs are suing for peace and want peace. This offers a great opportunity to restore our reputation and focus in the settlements. If we want Israel to survive, need to create prosperous successful Palestine. We need to succed in Israel and Palestine as this will reduce the flow of recruits and inflammation.

3 reasons why al-Qaeda won’t win:
1. Everyone is its enemy: Shiites, Israel, USA, Westeners, NATO, Russia, China, and “atheists, pagans and hypocrites”, too.
2. Most of a-Qaeda’s victims are Muslims: for instance, in Casablanca, Instanbul, Algiers, Bali.
3. Al-Qaeda offers nothing to the people that follow it. Bin-Laden never thought in terms of politics because al-Qaeda doesn’t believe in the future. Al-Qaeda offers one thing: death. For instance, death, not victory, over the Soviets. Al-Qaeda is a suicide machine.

Questions and anwers:
Q: Humiliation issue; Why do the Turks, Albanians and Bosnians why feel less humiliated?
LW: There are no Turks that he knows of in a-Q, and very few Bosnians. A young Turk has the opportunity to affect his society, prosper, marry and date – no reason to look to old stories of former greatness. Al-Qaeda has used Spain’s Caliphate beauty, tolerance, learning, poetry, history selectively to inflame their followers.

Q. What’s the best way to extricate ourselves from Iraq?
LW: I’m ppposed to getting out. We have the moral burden to do as well as we can to the Iraqi people to try to create a space of calm so the Iraqis can organize themselves.
Al-Qaeda’s happy if US stays because the civil war’s prospering like crazy; a-Q’s happy if the US withdraws and leaves a likely genocide, spreading to other countries. We should not fool ourselves with thinking there are easy paths out.

Q. aQ offers people something to do – could you address other sources of humiliation in that part of the world?
LW. Al-Qaeda’s like an engine that runs on the river of despair in the Muslim world. We need to fight despair w/hope: jobs, greater sense of justice, but there’s a limit on what we can do.
Egypt has the roots for democracy, but its future is 1. the Mubarak regime perpetuates itself, or 2. the Muslim Brotherhood comes to power through democratic means. It won’t be pretty. The Muslim Brotherhood’s a shallow political organization, with the jihad, and now people are beginning to look at democracy in a different way; if they come to power through democracy it’d be better [than through other means].

Q; In the West we do not look forward to death, but they look forward to death through religious teachings. Why does [LW] say he say it’s not a cultural religious war, then?
LW: Jim Jones had an organization drawn people, even when knowing it celebrated death. Death has attraction not exclusive to al-Qaeda.
Qatar’s more open & tolerant, profoundly different from Saudi Arabia; the rotten political systems are stifling & humiliating the ambitions of so many young people.

Q. The person commented on the concept of humiliation in American foreign policy: Attempt to humiliate Lebanon, Abu graib, “Bring them on”, the US’s unwavering support of Israelis, & therefusal to recognize Pal elections.
LW. Wishes for a humble foreing policy, and a far more modest role in foreign relations.

Q. On the culture of death – culture of an alternative to life; what comes after death?
LW. It’s remarkable that the Muslims commit suicide – Mohammed said that suicides spend all of eternity repeating the act of killing himself w/ same instrument.
The suicide killings are justified because (using a suicide killing in Egypt) first there are no innocents because everyone in Egypt were perceived as supporting the advance of Islam. Suicidal choice is made because of those who die for the greater glory of god are not considered suicides but martyrs.
LW asked, why doesn’t everyone see through this sophistry – because there’s awillfulness to believe in this philosophy.

Q. General Petreus said there’s no diplomatic solution – only through diplomacy [NOTE: see my prior post on this statement]
LW. Only the military can provide some kind of protection to the Iraqi people because the diplomats aren’t going to do that. LW’s not an expert on subject. He worries about staying or pulling out. Anyone who advocates one or the other has to acknowledge the dangers of either course.

Q. The West Bank had been in the hands of Jordan; Gaza was held by Egypt. Is the sense of humiliation misplaced because a state could have been created by the Arab world and it wasn’t?
LW. No one who cares for Arabs can’t help but feel anger by missed opportunities to make pace. There’s an opportunity and we have to seize it.

Q. (This was a very wordy statement on the commenter’s study of Palestinian suicide bombers: honor students; the whole society is disaffected. Gangs in US, Colombine, etc., all are disaffected by socty around them.)
LW. Agreed

Q. What are the Islamic intellectuals doing to counter this lack of civil society?
LW. In the Arab world there are different things going on in different places. Entrenched autocrats have an investment in staying in power. We face a chove: they help us on terrorism or we democratize (for instance, in Egypt). The US has helped train people for democracy in Yemen. There are no rapid chgs in the Middle East.
There’s only a certain amt of chg people can take. For instance, the Editor of his paper (where LW worked in Saudi Arabia) had been a young shepherd, and graduated at the U of Texas, but lived an entire industrial revolution in his lifetime. The whole flood of change has been so instant there’s a kind of reluctance for more. Saudi Arabia’s so stuck: frustration, hopelessness, anger. What force is greater? Fear is that force. Fear not of the government (which is not as cruel as Egypt’s), but fear of change. Change does not equal progress in the Middle East.

Q. What lies ahead for Europe?
LW. Europe’s very exposed to attack. There are many radical Muslims in the UK; tis’a much different situation than here. LW was at a mosque when someone asked for more beheadings and he watched the nodding heads of community approval. There’s a real problem in England right now. All over Europe, France Spain, Germany, the jihadi vets returning & joining new cells with the network now created in Iraq. The future in Europe’s not very attractive.

NOTE On the matter of the head of the FBI not knowing the difference between the Sunni and the Shiia, I was wondering if Mr. Wright had in mind Democrat Silvestre Reyes, head of the House Intelligence Committe instead. Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to ask a question.

Other links:
Hugh Hewitt interviewed Lawrence Wright on Tuesday
Lawrence Wright’s Official Website
Lawrence Wright is the author of


Israel in the foreign media: JP’s Gil Hoffman at Princeton University

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

UPDATE: I completed the post and the lecture is now posted in full

Gil Hoffman, chief political correspondent and analyst for the Jerusalem Post, was on campus yesterday afternoon and the subject of his lecture was Israel in the eyes of the foreign media.

The lecture, which coincided with Hans Blix’s, was not promoted heavily and I wasn’t the only person in the audience to learn about it at the last minute. Unlike the al-Jazeera lecture of April 13, 2005, this one was sparsely attended, with an audience of only 40 or so. He’s a most interesting guy, and I decided to post nearly all my notes on the lecture.

Hoffman’s main contact at his job is giving interviews with foreign media, such as CNN, BBC. Of them, mostly al-Jazeera is tremendously interested in what’s going on in the country. When the Prime Minister gave a 45-minute long press conference regarding rape accusations, the local TV stations stopped after the first 20 minutes, but al-Jazeera carried the whole press conference. Having the al-Jazeera coverage not only in the conflict but in cultural and social events in the country shows the Arab world that Israel has more to offer than the conflict.

During the Barak years there was no foreign media spokesman, and the only on who spoke English detested Barak.

The Israeli military studied what happened in Jenin – where the fighting was reported as a massacre against the Palestinians, something that couldn’t have been further from the truth. In fact, the troops had gone house-to-house to minimize casualties while trying to find terrorists. As there was no foreign media to do the reporting, the Palestinians got out a blood libel. From then on, the Israeli mililitary have made very effort possible to make sure the media go everywhere they go. No doubt this has improved how Israel comes across in the foreign media.

In contrast, last Summer there was a lot of media based in Jerusalem – and the media understood that it was Israel’s international border that was being defended.

Israel faces four major threats:

Internal rifts inside Isr society that threaten to tear from within: Divides between rich poor, Askenazi/Spahardic, Right/Left, all thses issues divide israelis.

The most scary? Iran.
Nuclear weapons: having them at all because if Iran has them the entire country of Israel would be the way Northern Israel was last country within range last Summer: The whole country would have to go down south or underground. Who would want to live in such a country? Iran is also developing longer range missiles to reach Europe; the US has established an antimissile base in Poland. Additionally, Iran supports Chavez; Iran then talks about the Jewish state from Israel and in Florida.

However, Hoffman genuinely thinks things will be alright, as the issue’s being handled discreetly at the highest levels. Olmert has been helping the country by networking with foreign powers ever since he was mayor of Jerusalem, and continues to this day, travelling to Russia China, Egypt London, US, and France, returning more optimistic after each visit.

A second reason for optimism: what is going on in American politcs. A lame duck President has to worry only about his place in history; if he saves the wold from nuclear destruction that will certainly earn him a place. The Democrat oposition now they alreay have the blue states and a way to gain red states is to prove they are tough. There’s a stream of Dem candidates visiting Israel, plus they want the Republicans to deal with Iran before they go the White House.
Additionally, the previous UN Secretary General never understood the fundamentalism threat. Now Ban Ki-moon’s trying to prevent North Korea from developing atomic weapons, but Iran is also a top priority.
Politics inside Iran: Ahmadinejad is losing the support of his people and there’s anger against him. As mayor, he improved the conditions of Tehran but has now brought the world against Iran. The Iranians need outside assistance to feed their people. Israel is hopeful that sanctions will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

What matters most is the politics in Israel. Used to be that generals were in charge, now Olmert is in charge but Israelis trust generals more. Hoffman said that in 62 days, Peretz (Minister of Defense) will be replaced, and the 2 leading candidates are miliary men. Israel needs a ough guy as Min of Def, as Nassralla head of Hizbollah, said last Summer that he wanted to test the weak leadership.

Ofense and defense
Defense: Israel has the Arrow Missile Defense System, which was tested again yesterday.
Ofense: Israel won’t be acting alone but with the countries that Olmert visited this last year acting together. When an Israeli general said last year, “Sometimes the last resort is the only resort”, it was the first time anyone had hinted at military option. In Iran they are scared of Israel, and the enemies are still scared of the Jewish state.

I’ll continue on this post later today. Continuing:
The threat from Syria and Lebanon:
Hoffman went to the north during the bombing last Summer. Dodging missiles and living in shelters was terrible for Israel to endure. However, the media didn’t get to see any of the damage because Iraelis don’t dwell in their victimhood. After suicide bombings they clean up immediately, and everything had been rebuilt immediately after the bombings from Lebanon. Israelis have resilience and morbid sense of humor.
They have to prepare for another war next Summer: those 4000 missiles that Hezbollah shot at Israel last year have already been replenished by Assad/Syria. Everybody in the military’s been recalled for retraining. There will be pressure on Olmert to quit after results of investigation on what went wrong comes out.

Assad has three pictures in his office: his father’s, Ahmadinejad’s, and Nassarallah’s.

The other threat are the Palestinians:
In the 14 months since they elected Hamas, Irsael had elected the government most willing to make accommodations that could have ended the conflict. Israel gave them two conditions: disarmament, and accepting the existence of Israel. Not a country in the world was supporting the Hamas government until last week, when Norway broke the boycott to spite Europe. At that time a suicide bomber was caught and a sniper attacked; Hamas claimed credit for that sniper, signaling that it’s not very smart to join Norway.

The Q&A Session:
My question was, what is being done with reporters like Charles Enderlin, who uses stringers that make up reports out of whole cloth?
Israel has a problem with foreign reporters having to rely on stringers. While Israelis speak freely in a divided kind of way, on the Palestenian street people won’t say anything out of fear from their lives. An organization in Israel has offered Arabic speakers to translate in the Palestinian areas.

2. How about the BBC’s fairness?
BBC sometimes is not very fair to Israel.
Al-Jazeera has never interviewed him three-against-one, the Israeli against the Arab, the Palestinian and the Lebanese.
When they interviewed him in London, the first question was “is this a land-grab?”, after the withdrawal from Gaza.
Israel is not given the benefit of the doubt. He tells them that the people of Israel want peace.

3. How important is the issue of recognition?
For Israel, it’s very important that its enemies allow it to exist. “Don’t kill us.”

4. What is the difference between al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya, and the new all-Arabic BBC?
By allowing Israel’s Arab-language spokespeople on Arab media, it is good for Israel because they see more Israelis as people and not enemies. As far as actual news, foreigneers and rich Arabs tend to watch al-Jazeera, but al-Arabiya’s on TV screens throughtot arab world.


Update, Wednesday March 28
On a related subject, BBC pays £200,000 to ‘cover up report on anti-Israel bias’
The BBC has been accused of “shameful hypocrisy” over its decision to spend £200,000 blocking a freedom of information request about its reporting in the Middle East.

The corporation is fighting a landmark High Court action, which starts next week, in a bid to prevent the public finding out what is in the review, which is believed to be critical of the BBC’s coverage in the region.

BBC bosses have faced repeated claims that is coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict has been skewed by a pro-Palestianian bias.

The corporation famously came under fire after middle-east correspondent Barbara Plett revealed that she had cried at the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004.

The BBC’s decision to carry on pursuing the case, despite the fact than the Information Tribunal said it should make the report public, has sparked fury as it flies in the face of claims by BBC chiefs that it is trying to make the corporation more open and transparent.

Politicians have branded the BBC’s decision to carry on spending money, hiring the one of the country’s top public law barrister in the process, as “absolutely indefensible”.

They claim its publication is clearly in the public interest.

The BBC’s determination to bury the report has led to speculation that the report was damning in its assessment of the BBC’s coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict that the BBC wants to keep it under wraps at all costs.

h/t The Anchoress