Click here: Maan News Agency: Report: Hamas mulls joining Muslim BrotherhoodReport: Hamas mulls joining Muslim Brotherhood
Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh welcomes Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood
leader Mohammed Badie before their meeting at the headquarters of the
Muslim Brotherhood movement in Cairo Dec. 26.
(Reuters/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany)
Hamas leaders are holding meetings in Sudan to discuss joining the Muslim Brotherhood, the London-based Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported Saturday.Some 59 members of Hamas’ Shura Council met in Khartoum to discuss creating a separate branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine, the report said. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh met Muslim Brotherhood chairman Muhammad Badie on Dec. 26 during his visit to Cairo. A Hamas delegation, including Haniyeh and Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal, is in Khartoum and met Sudanese President Omar Bashir on Thursday. In October, a Muslim Brotherhood delegation visited the Gaza Strip for the first time. The party had been curbed by US-aligned Hosni Mubarak but it has been empowered by a strong showing in elections since the president’s ouster.
Another brilliant article by Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery, highlighting his government’s ongoing attempts to avoid any real engagement in a peace process. You’ll find all of Uri’s articles on www.gush-shalom.org….
January 7, 2012
The Stolen War
IS THERE no limit to the villainy of Hamas? Seems there isn’t.
This week, they did something quite unforgivable.
They stole a war.
FOR SOME weeks now, our almost new Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, has been announcing at every possible opportunity that a new war against the Gaza Strip is inevitable. Several commanders of the troops around the Strip have been repeating this dire forecast, as have their camp-followers, a.k.a. military commentators.
One of these comforted us. True, Hamas can now hit Tel Aviv with their rockets, but that will not be so terrible, because it will be a short war. Just three or four days. As one of the generals said, it will be much more “hard and painful” (for the Arabs) than Cast Lead I, so it will not last for three weeks, as that did. We shall all stay in our shelters – those of us who have shelters, anyway – for just a few days.
Why is the war inevitable? Because of the terrorism, stupid. Hamas is a terrorist organization, isn’t it?
But along comes the supreme Hamas leader, Khaled Mash’al, and declares that Hamas has given up all violent action. From now on it will concentrate on non-violent mass demonstrations, in the spirit of the Arab Spring.
When Hamas forswears terrorism, there is no pretext for an attack on Gaza.
But is a pretext needed? Our army will not let itself be thwarted by the likes of Mash’al. When the army wants a war, it will have a war. This was proved in 1982, when Ariel Sharon attacked Lebanon, despite the fact that the Lebanese border had been absolutely quiet for 11 months. (After the war, the myth was born that it was preceded by daily shooting. Today, almost every Israeli can “remember” the shooting – an astonishing example of the power of suggestion.
WHY DOES the Chief of Staff want to attack?
A cynic might say that every new Chief of Staff needs a war to call his own. But we are not cynics, are we?
Every few days, a solitary rocket is launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel. It rarely hits anything but an empty field. For months, now, no one has been hurt.
The usual sequence is like this: our air force carries out a “targeted liquidation” of Palestinian militants in the strip. The army claims invariably that these specific “terrorists” had intended to attack Israelis. How did the army know of their intentions? Well, our army is a master thought reader.
After the persons have been killed, their organization considers it its duty to avenge their blood by launching a rocket or a mortar shell, or even two or three. This “cannot be tolerated” by the army, and so it goes on.
After every such episode, the talk about a war starts again. As American politicians put it in their speeches at AIPAC conferences: “No country can tolerate its citizens being exposed to rockets!”
But of course, the reasons for Cast Lead II are more serious. Hamas is being accepted by the international community. Their Prime Minister, Isma’il Haniyeh, is now traveling around the Arab and Muslim world, after being shut in Gaza – a kind of Strip-arrest – for four years. Now he can cross into Egypt because the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ parent organization, has become a major player there.
Even worse, Hamas is about to join the PLO and take part in the Palestinian government. High time to do something about it. Attack Gaza, for example. Compel Hamas to become extremist again.
NOT CONTENT with stealing our war, Mash’al is carrying out a series of more sinister actions.
By joining the PLO, he is committing Hamas to the Oslo agreements and all the other official deals between Israel and the PLO. He has announced that Hamas accepts a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. He has let it be known that Hamas would not contest the Palestinian presidency this year, so that the Fatah candidate – whoever that may be – would be elected practically unopposed and be able to negotiate with Israel.
All this would put the present Israeli government in a difficult position.
Mash’al has some experience in causing trouble for Israel. In 1977, the (first) Netanyahu government decided to get rid of him in Amman. A team of Mossad agents was sent to assassinate him in the street by spraying his ear with an untraceable poison. But instead of doing the decent thing and dying quietly from a mysterious cause, like Yasser Arafat, he let his bodyguard chase the attackers and catch them.
King Hussein, Israel’s longstanding friend and ally, was hopping mad. He presented Netanyahu with a choice: either the agents would be tried in Jordan and possibly hanged, or the Mossad would immediately send the secret antidote to save Mash’al. Netanyahu capitulated, and here we have Mash’al, very much alive and kicking.
Another curious outcome of this misadventure: the king demanded that the Hamas founder and leader, the paralyzed Sheik Ahmad Yassin, be released from Israeli prison. Netanyahu obliged, Yassin was released and assassinated by Israel seven years later. When his successor, Abd al-Aziz Rantissi, was assassinated soon after, the path was cleared for Mash’al to become the Hamas chief.
And instead of showing his gratitude, he now confronts us with a dire challenge: non-violent action, indirect peace overtures, the two-state solution.
A QUESTION: why does our Chief of Staff long for a little war in Gaza, when he could have all the war he desires in Iran? Not just a little operation, but a big war, a very very big war.
Well, he knows that he cannot have it.
Some time ago I did something no experienced commentator ever does. I promised that there would be no Israeli military attack on Iran. (Nor, for that matter, an American one.)
An experienced journalist or politician never makes such a prediction without leaving a loophole for himself. He puts in an inconspicuous “unless”. If his forecast goes awry, he points to that loophole.
I do have some experience – some 60 or so years of it – but I did not leave any loophole. I said No War, and now General Gantz says the same in so many words. No Tehran, just poor little Gaza.
Why? Because of that one word: Hormuz.
Not the ancient Persian god Hormuzd, but the narrow strait that is the entrance and exit of the Persian Gulf, through which 20% of the world’s oil (and 35% of the sea-borne oil) flows. My contention was that no sane (or even mildly insane) leader would risk the closing of the strait, because the economic consequences would be catastrophic, even apocalyptic.
IT SEEMS that the leaders of Iran were not sure that all the world’s leaders read this column, so, just in case, they spelled it out themselves. This week they conducted conspicuous military maneuvers around the Strait of Hormuz, accompanied by the unequivocal threat to close it.
The US responded with vainglorious counter-threats. The invincible US Navy was ready to open the strait by force, if needed.
How, pray? The mightiest multi-billion aircraft carrier can be easily sunk by a battery of cheap land-to-sea missiles, as well as by small missile-boats.
Let’s assume Iran starts to act out its threats. The whole might of the US air force and navy is brought to bear. Iranian ships will be sunk, missile and army installations bombed. Still the Iranian missiles will come in, making passage through the strait impossible.
What next? There will be no alternative to “boots on the ground”. The US army will have to land on the shore and occupy all the territory from which missiles can be effectively launched. That would be a major operation. Fierce Iranian resistance must be expected, judging from the experience of the eight-year Iraqi-Iranian war. The oil wells in neighboring Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states will also be hit.
Such a war would go far beyond the dimensions of the American invasions of Iraq or Afghanistan, perhaps even of Vietnam.
Is the bankrupt US up to it? Economically, politically and in terms of morale?
The closing of the strait is the ultimate weapon. I don’t believe that the Iranians will use it against the imposition of sanctions, severe as they may be, as they have threatened. Only a military attack would warrant such a response.
If Israel attacks alone – “the most stupid idea I ever heard of,” as our former Mossad chief put it – that will make no difference. Iran will consider it an American action, and close the strait. That’s why the Obama administration put its foot down, and hand-delivered to Netanyahu and Ehud Barak an unequivocal order to abstain from any military action.
That’s where we are now. No war in Iran. Just the prospect of a war in Gaza.
And along comes this evil Mash’al and tries to spoil the chances of that, too.
If I were President Obama (which, of course, I am not), I would suspend financial and military aid to both sides until both sides agree to comply with International Law. I would also remove Hamas from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.
3 January 2012 Last updated at 16:32 ET
Israel and Palestinians: ‘No progress’ in Jordan talks
Palestinian representative Saeb Erekat played down hopes for the talks
Israeli and Palestinian officials have met for the first time in over a year.
Israeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat held talks in the Jordanian capital Amman alongside international mediators.
Officials from both sides had played down the prospect of any imminent resumption in peace talks, and the meeting ended with no breakthrough.
Negotiations stalled in late 2010 in a dispute over Jewish settlement building in the West Bank.
Both Israeli and Palestinian officials did nothing to raise expectations ahead of the meeting, reports the BBC’s Kevin Connolly in Jerusalem, and there was never a point in the evening where it felt that they would be exceeded.
The priority for both sides will be to avoid blame if the process cannot be restarted, he adds.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh described the talks as "positive".
"The important thing is the two sides have met face-to-face today," he said.
"We agreed that the discussions will be continuous, that the meetings will continue and will take place here in Jordan.
"And we also agreed that we should not publicise about these meetings ahead of time, except through the Jordanian host, and I tell you that you may hear about it or you may not hear about it."
Mr Judeh said that the Israelis had promised to study a Palestinian paper on borders and security.
The Israelis and Palestinians are meeting bilaterally as well as with the Quartet of Middle East mediators – the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.
The Quartet had said talks between the two sides had to resume before the end of January.
Our correspondent says neither side wants to be held responsible for a breakdown in the talks, but in times of mounting uncertainty around the Middle East neither feels the time is right for serious negotiations.
Meanwhile representatives of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, have condemned the meeting.
"This meeting will continue the policy of failure… We in the Hamas movement demand that the Palestinian Authority stop and boycott all these kinds of meeting which are politically dangerous," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.
Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians stalled in September 2010. The Palestinians walked out in protest at the building of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Almost 500,000 Jews live in settlements on occupied territory. The settlements are illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.
If I were President Obama … which I’m not … I would invite Iran’s President Ahmadinejad to meet with me in Jerusalem for the sole/soul purpose of resolving our differences once and for all. I would suggest that we sit down and drink coffee together, with an attitude of good will and mutual respect, and with the International Community looking on. I would arrange for the meeting to take place at the Orient House.
P.S. Jesus taught: "For this I was born. For this I came into the world." (John 18)
Iranian President says ‘Zionists feign piety’ in regard to Jerusalem in order to strip it of its Islamic identity, claims Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the most important issue in the world.
Israeli attempts to "Judaize" Jerusalem will bring about its end, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday, saying Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land was the most important topic in the world.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking to his supporters in Ilam southwest of Tehran, December 28, 2011.
Photo by: Reuters
Speaking to a delegation to the Turkish-Palestinian Parliamentary Friendship Group, Ahmadinejad was quoted by Iranian state television that the "Zionists, who have no faith in religion or even God, now claim piety and intend to take away the Islamic identity of the Holy Quds."
"This ridiculous move is in fact the continuation of the colonialist polices of oppressors, which will not save the Zionist regime, but also take the regime closer to the endpoint of its existence,” the Iranian president added.
Speaking of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Ahmadinejad was quoted by Iran’s official news agency Iran as saying that the "issue of Palestine is the main issue in the region and the whole world and nobody can ignore it."
Iran has been embroiled in a standoff with the west over its contentious nuclear program, which Israel and the United States claim has military aspects.
Most recently, Iran and the United States have been involved in a heated verbal spat over an Iranian threat to close off the Straits of Hormuz – a waterway crucial to the distribution of Persian Gulf crude oil supplies – if the West sanctions its oil sector.
Earlier Tuesday, American officials rejected an Iranian demand that its naval vessels leave the Gulf, indicating that the threat itself was an indication that economic sanctions on Iran were beginning to take a toll on the Islamic Republic.
"These are regularly scheduled movements and in accordance with our long-standing commitments to the security and stability of the region and in support of ongoing operations," Commander Bill Speaks said in an emailed response to Reuters questions.
"The U.S. Navy operates under international maritime conventions to maintain a constant state of high vigilance in order to ensure the continued, safe flow of maritime traffic in waterways critical to global commerce," he said.
When asked later Tuesday if the U.S. intends to send naval reinforcements to the Gulf in response to Iranian talk of closing the Strait of Hormuz, Pentagon spokesperson George Little did not answer directly but said, "No one in this government seeks confrontation over the Strait of Hormuz. It’s important to lower the temperature."
Also referring to Iranian threats on Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. saw "these threats from Tehran as just increasing evidence that the international pressure is beginning to bite.""They are feeling increasingly isolated and they are trying to divert the attention of their own public from the difficulties inside Iran, including the economic difficulties as a result of sanctions," Nuland told a news briefing.
Here’s an excellent piece by author and social justice advocate, Richard Forer, on “The Dehumanizing Nature of Accusations of Anti-Semitism”. Richard is the author of “Breakthrough: Transforming Fear Into Compassion – A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict”. You’ll find his details at the end of this post.
The Dehumanizing Nature of Accusations of Anti-Semitism
Perhaps the most dominating and confusing accusation emanating from one side of the Israel-Palestine debate is that virtually anyone who criticizes Israel‘s treatment of the Palestinian people hates Israel and is, ipso facto, an anti-Semite or self-hating Jew. What is it about criticism of Israel that provokes such an extreme reaction? After all, anyone with the decency to find out what sparks the criticism would learn that the vast majority of critics, including prominent Israelis and other members of the Jewish community, are motivated not by hatred but by justice; and that their intention is not to harm the state of Israel but to prevent the state of Israel from harming Palestinians.
So where is the hatred? The hatred is in the minds of those who are afraid to ask why someone is critical of Israel. Rather than doing honest re-search to refute or confirm the criticism, the accuser panders to his feelings of fear, confusion and anger, all of which are animated by unexamined beliefs and images within his own mind. This mind colors his perception so that he sees the world in terms of personal victimhood versus the world‘s hostility.
Because he is unconscious of this deeper thought process, the accuser can only project his perception onto the world and then assume that the world he sees proves the reality of his perception. He creates his own suffering and then scapegoats the world (in this case Palestinians and their sympathizers) for his suffering. Triggered through denial, this thought process attributes to Palestinians and their sympathizers the accuser‘s own hatred. In other words, the accuser makes the unknown other responsible for, or the repository of, his unresolved pain. He objectifies the other and rejects his humanity. Then he supports inhumane policies, which he justifies under the guise of Israel and the Jewish people‘s security. In so doing, he brings the world‘s anger down upon Israel which, in turn, authenticates and perpetuates the cycle of perceived victim-hood.
The real conflict, then, is an inner one and can only be resolved through self-reflection or inquiry into the beliefs and images the accuser takes for granted that form a large part of his personal and collective identity. Without inquiring into his beliefs and images, or indoctrination, he will not be able to integrate the hard-to-believe but inescapable awareness of Israel‘s treatment of non-Jews with unquestioned loyalty to the Jewish state. One consideration acknowledges Israel‘s dark side. The other denies the dark side exists.
If the accuser can find the courage to commit to the truth – to the best of his ability – and take advantage of the clarifying tools of research and inquiry, he will inevitably apprehend the astonishing reality that, as regards Israel-Palestine, criticism of Israel has never been his principal concern. In fact, he has never defended Israel, at least the Israel that actually exists. What he has always defended is an idealistic image of Israel that he unconsciously projects or superimposes upon the Israel that actually exists. This projection enables him to deny painful revelations that he would otherwise discover about Israel and about himself if only he would look at Israel and the world without the errant influence of an unexamined, or indoctrinated, mind.
The fruits of the accuser‘s sincere efforts will be the transformation of fear into compassion and confusion into clarity. He will know that no behavior occurs in a vacuum and that each of us is responsible for the suffering in the world. The unnecessary and self-created boundaries of his mind will dissolve, the intelligence of his heart will awaken and he will recognize his connection to all of humankind. Finally, he will understand that peace must first manifest within his inner world before he can see its manifestation in the outer world.
Richard Forer is author of Breakthrough: Transforming Fear into Compassion –A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict. A former member of AIPAC, he has ultra-Orthodox relatives living in Israel. His identical twin is a prominent member of an ultra-Orthodox sect of Judaism and his younger brother is a former president of one of the largest reform congregations on the east coast. Forer can be contacted through his website www.richardforer.com…
This article was originally published in the Canadian Charger (thecanadiancharger.com…)