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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Days of Rage - an Egyptian Melt Down

Everyone is concerned about the coup d’├ętat by the Egyptian military.  Of course, no-one is calling it a coup but it is difficult to describe a situation where the elected government of a country is replaced, by force, with an unelected government as anything other than that.  The media are full of excited speculation about the direction the violent confrontation will take. No doubt as the death toll rises they will become even more energized and speculative about the probable direction of the conflict.  This is not about democracy but about a venomous identity and Western support for a failed extremist theology.

Debate is polarized because the facts presented by pundits are no more than entrenched political ideological positions and therefore, they are not truths but passionately held theories at risk of being shown to be false.

No wonder the experts are so agitated. It is difficult to generate excitement about Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks where a news blackout is in place to prevent either side from grandstanding in order to undermine the talks.  There are no natural disasters to take our minds off the tedium of our cyclical weather.  And wars are thankfully uncommon in the 21st Century. And so we are left with Egypt. Because, save for Syria, nothing much else is happening in the world.  Therefore, everyone will offer their sage advice without really contributing anything honest to the discussion. 

We could be presumptive and view the whole exercise since the January 25 Revolution in 2011 overthrew the regime of President Hosni Mubarak as the military giving the Muslim Brotherhood plenty of rope to hang itself.  They certainly did that.

The Egyptian Military allegedly own around a third of the Egyptian economy.  Following the 1952 Revolution by that same military they have continued to exercise control in a country that has a relatively diverse economic base and therefore, the potential to sustain the economy irrespective of the upheavals that global events create internationally.  But the most powerful rival that the military faces is the Muslim Brotherhood. It is an Egyptian creation, having been founded in Egypt in 1928 and it has remained influential, feared and for much of that time, banned. When not banned it was tolerated and encouraged in its social work which alleviated poverty for many Egyptians, fostering obedience rather than helping anyone to actually leave poverty behind them.

The Brotherhood is a conservative, Islamic movement that is fundamentally intolerant of any vision other than its own narrow Islamic one. It has been happy to encourage others to create chaos even as it remains on the sidelines, often providing condemnation of violence while tacitly approving of those that carry it out.  Quite simply, the greater the chaos, the more people flock to its cause.  Islamic social and political justice, a destiny of conquest and rejection of a Western identity deemed corrupt, this is the dream. And it is the vision for a purified Islam, untainted by foreign influences.  Its nativist approach is by theological design ethnocentric and wholly bigoted.

While not all Muslim Brotherhood movements have been reactionary they are the exception, not the rule.

Morsi never had his eye on the economy.  He took the country from being a natural gas exporter to a state that this year needed to import gas.  Fuel shortages sent food prices soaring in a country where estimates of the population vary from a low of 80 million to a high of 90 million. And it has almost two million new mouths to feed born each year.   Over 50% of the population are under the age of 25 and 13.5% are unemployed (although the percentage is much higher for the young who despair of any kid of positive future) see: CIA World Factbook. Morsi was more concerned with consolidating power than feeding his people.

And here lies the crux of the problem. A movement that sees progress as a contagion and views its purpose as a return to the period of the brutal founding of its faith, in the seventh Century CE, can be relatively successful (as it has in Iran and Turkey) if it controls the nations’ resources (which in Egypt they did not) and if it is capable of running the country. But the Muslim Brotherhood rushed headlong towards economic catastrophe and did not seem concerned with the damage it caused.  Recent forecasts of Egyptian food needs are horrifying.  Egypt imports 80% of its grain needs and 60% of its total food requirements. It is expected to run out of both food reserves and cash before the end of 2013. With the overthrow of the Morsi regime this nightmare scenario may now be delayed by an emergency loan of twelve billion dollars provided by the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia

Starvation, violence, anarchy and terrorism are the dangers that lie barely beneath the surface of Egyptian society. The danger lies in the oft quoted example of Algeria. After the generals cancelled the 1991 election victory of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) a civil war was ignited that ultimately killed between 50,000 and 200,000 and was witness to whole villages being slaughtered.   The Muslim Brotherhood is patient but it has never been a particularly pleasant winner; it is an even worse loser. When the "Arab Spring" came to Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood took control of Tahrir Square and sexual harassment, abuse, and rape of women skyrocketed.

83% of Egyptian women have experienced sexual harassment, but 98% of foreign female visitors have suffered an often worse fate if, they dared to appear in public. In Tahrir Square after the revolution, organized rape of women became common place and this was somehow justified through the accusation that the ‘accused’ women were Coptic Christians, or Foreigners.

If the will of the people is something we should all respect then similarly we should respect the arbitrary sexual violence of the Egyptian Revolution, it’s burning down of churches, the ethnic cleansing of the Christian minority and its incitement against Israel.  Certainly, the world’s major newspapers have had a hard time coming to terms with the fall from power of the Muslim Brotherhood. 

At the time of the July 3rd coup against President Morsi, the world’s major “quality” newspapers were all horrified by the overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected president without considering the damage he had done to Egypt or why he failed.

The April 6 Movement that preceded the Revolution to overthrew President Mubarak made their own progressive demands for change.  But their platform did not tackle the strategic issues inherent within Arab society of triumphalism and jingoism (which by definition seeks, by belligerent endeavor, the acquisition of power and dominance through a focus on chauvinistic enterprises.) The international Press romanticized popular enthusiasm for change by referring to the youthful exuberance of the protesters ‘camping out’ in Tahrir Square but it was still change within an historical framework that was willing to ride to power on the back of popular prejudice.

True revolutionaries are bigots who willingly sacrifice others for their cause even as they demand real change.  This summer, Tamarod, the successor to the April 6 Movement likewise, took to the streets to demand a ‘return’ to so called ‘liberal’ democracy.  They overthrew President Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government. They also called for the cancellation of the peace treaty with Israel – a demand that the Muslim Brotherhood saw as desirable but placed on a wish list far, far away.  In celebration of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan a virulently racist TV serial was broadcast across the Arab (and wider?) Muslim world. As the Morsi overthrow sunk in, initially, Muslims destroyed 40 churches and severely damaged 28 others.

Nations that willingly embrace violence and hate; that demand greater respect for their ‘values’ while showing not the slightest interest in reciprocation or in fact, of reforming their own hate filled societies have no right to make demands of us.  And yet, on the eve of his first trip to the United States, President Mohamed Morsi instructed the United States to show greater respect for Arab values.  Turkey has told its citizens and their descendants living throughout the European Community they are first and foremost, Turkish Muslims.  Negative reciprocity is a marker for Islamic relations with the non-Muslim world; generosity and kindness are not.  It is always easier to blame a traditional foe for ones own failures.

The Jewish faith teaches that there was a beginning and that we should look forward, not back.  Perhaps this is Islam’s greatest weakness (as well as its greatest strength). Everything is referenced to the past, not as a guide to the future but as a model of unchallengeable and therefore, unchangeable perfection.  If the embodiment of all that is to be aspired towards took place 1,400 years ago, at a time of Muslim savagery and conquest then the failure to complete that conquest with equal or even greater murderous cruelty must have its non-Islamic scapegoat.

We can be sure that there will be many conspiracy theories surrounding the failure of the Morsi era.  It lasted less than a year.  But the one thing Egypt will not do is to seriously address the internal dysfunction and prejudice that has made it unable to overcome centuries of malevolent mediocrity.

Free and fair elections brought fascism to power in Egypt and in the West too many cheered the result.  A recent article asked whether democracy was a process or a result. In fact, democracy is a state of mind.  It is not a favor that is granted and one that may be diminished by special interest groups but an inalienable right. It is tolerance for widely divergent opinions; respect for everyone, even ones enemies; it is checks and balances and then and only then, a press and judiciary that is free from fear or interference. But most important of all, democracy works because it rejects the demagogue and practices emotional control on an individual and group basis.  The election of a fundamentalist party to power was a vote for fascism.  In contradiction to the accepted view, it was a failure of democracy.

Respecting Arab values will neither feed the Arab masses nor will it save the defenseless Arab (or non-Arab) woman from her groping and predatory Arab master. But in the Western World choosing sides is unpopular, unless it is against America or Zionism (i.e. Jewish Israel). 

And that is why there will be no meaningful discussion of the failure of the Arab Spring or of the nature of the illness that afflicts Egypt.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Peace in Our Time?

The State of Israel released 26 murderers. Some Israelis will justify this with reference to the ongoing conflict since a situation of enduring warfare creates inequality between peoples which cannot be resolved without the achievement of peace.  Many in the Muslim world will celebrate the release of murderers.  Far too many in the Western World (particularly within the anti-Zionist Left) will delight in this concession granted to the Palestinian Authority, ostensibly because unequal justice is no justice at all.

Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet agreed the move for political reasons. Abu Mazen in his turn did not demand as pre-conditions for negotiation either a return to the 1967 borders or a construction freeze.  Israel held him to his word by announcing prior to the commencement of negotiations the construction of 800 housing units in Jerusalem and a further 1,200 within Judea and Samaria.
Perhaps the ultra-orthodox are more far sighted than we thought.  If peace talks fail they will be the only political force in Israel that retains any credibility.

Is it reasonable to assume failure for this latest round of negotiations (the first in three years) even as they have barely begun?  If peace were hopes then success would be guaranteed in spite of any obstacles.  Polls on both sides have consistently supported the talks by a margin of two to one.,7340,L-4417563,00.html  Courage is a pivotal requirement for both sides and peace will not be achievable without it. But the greatest danger facing both sides is incitement – it shows failure of nerve. So where are the pitfalls?

Palestinians never cease to incite hatred of Israel’s Jewish population while promoting maximalist demands reminiscent of previous Jew-haters throughout history.  Mr. Abbas tells the world that his country will be Judenrein (Clean of Jews).  At the end of July 2013 he reiterated this point (according to Reuters) in a briefing he gave to mostly Egyptian journalists.

Such tactics are not intended to encourage faith in negotiations. Fatah recently honored jailed Fatah Leader Marwan Barghouti because he had killed “61 Zionists”.  When we glorify killers we also send out a message.  Sticks and stones will break your bones but with words begin the slaughter.

President Mahmoud Abbas received his doctorate by denying the holocaust and associating Zionism with Nazism.  He later justified his position with reference to the ongoing state of war between the two peoples (Jews and Muslims?) and “in 2013 he reasserted the veracity of the contents of his thesis”

That said, is it credible to announce the expansion of Israeli construction within “disputed territories” even though in most Arab/Muslim eyes all of Israel is disputed territory? Realistically, the world will soon forget that Israel released 26 murderers as a “gesture of reconciliation” and blame us for (to use yet another former Nazi expression) our “Judaization” of Arab (Palestinian) land.

Realistically, the way to a conclusion of successful negotiation is not through making further concessions (even prisoner releases) to a holocaust denying President but by applying pressure through his fellow Arab and Muslim leaders around the world.

Israel has a case for its defense and it is time to trumpet it loud and clear. Blame, if it is not Arab, is ours, and frankly, that is not an option we should accept. It is naive to believe at this time, in compromising on our history because the current global narrative does not accept the original sin of Palestinian dislocation. Our conflict begins long before 1948 and it is a weapon of Arab and Muslim prejudice that has enabled them to rule us all with fear for too long.

For Israel to get Palestinian attention the Arab world must appreciate that they have the potential for significant losses – both spiritual and material - if they continue to use the conflict as an excuse to extort from the West rights and privileges that no other people receive.  Islam is a political theology, like communism, only of considerably greater vintage. And like communism it has grown by conquest, by terror and by waging a relentless propaganda war that mocks its rivals as it creates fear in them.  If Muslims scream hatred from the political and religious pulpit then peace is not possible, except as a sham.  Throughout its history Trojan Horses have taken many forms. ‘Religion of Peace’ is one of the memes used by Islam and its western apologists.

Pressure from brother Arab nations and the worldwide Muslim community can create a momentum for change in the Palestinian leadership if the same bad press begins to attach to them, by association.

It is even possible that theological Nazis such as Hamas could be terminally muzzled, but for that to happen Israel must start to consider the end game.  That starts with fighting the propaganda war. And nothing that I have either read or heard would indicate that Jerusalem has the faintest idea of how to even create the conditions under which we may approach the starting point of an end game.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Syrian Refugees, Compassion or Folly

Tolerance and Respect.
Two interesting words: Tolerance indicates fairness towards those people with whom we do not agree while respect indicates deference. As individuals we can agree to practice the former without having any enthusiasm for the latter, but Society is built around the latter and only afterwards reluctantly offers us the former.

In a perfect world,  Society would practice both in equal measure.  When do conflicts occur?  When the laws of society to which we all defer are disconnected from, and the object of alienation for groups, to whom our laws are an unwanted and unwarranted imposition on their beliefs. A multicultural society must be predicated on an assumption of adherence to basic laws; everything else is open to negotiation.  For instance, female circumcision, forced and child marriage – are against the core beliefs of our society.

It is not easy living in the twenty-first century.  I can be tolerant of Muslims but not of their Israel-centric revanchism.  I am uncomfortable with Islam’s institutionalized inequality, its militant imperialism and its insistence that my way of life is inferior. But then, my relationship with patriarchal and hegemonic ultra-orthodox Judaism is also problematic at best.  And progressive, pro-Palestinian Christians? They disgust me with their theological and historical revisionism, their antisemitism masked as anti-Zionism.

Our society encourages bigotry. In an interview with al-Jazeerah, the popular Arab television network, the celebrated atheist Professor Richard Dawkins damned the Jewish “god” but when asked by the interviewer about the Islamic “god” refused to be drawn into making a statement. Selective tolerance that demonizes one group while declining to comment on another creates a dynamic between the two groups, in effect, legitimizing violence against followers of the “Jewish God” (which he described as hideous, a monster and ‘the most unpleasant character in fiction’).  Professor Dawkins is world renowned; his crime against humanity is therefore all the greater for his cowardice and selective bigotry.  His unique incitement against the “Jewish god” makes his crime also, one of antisemitism.  But then, selectivity in narrow-mindedness is usually, financially, very profitable, but also prudent in a world that murders Islam’s critics.

Sadly, there is nothing unique about Professor Dawkins lack of moral courage. Those that question the historical basis for the existence of the State of Israel never question the legality of any other state created in the twentieth century. Communists and Socialists fail to acknowledge Israel’s right to exercise a Law of Return even though they are silent on the other twenty six countries that practice the same law.  They are silent about the racism inherent within the greater Arab colonial project and shy away from referring to the ethnic cleansing that has always been committed in the name of the Islam.

Israel, it seems, is truly isolated, even without a boycott.  With calls to open up the Western world’s borders to Syrian refugees the one issue of which I am truly concerned, is Arab-Muslim intolerance and disrespect. We have enough of it here already and it existed before the Arab-Muslim migration to the West.

Am I being unfair to Syria’s refugees?  Britain has been remarkably tolerant of racism and religious bigotry when it was the Jews that were targeted.  I cannot trust that my government will look after me.  Radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada was first arrested in the UK over alleged terror connections in 2001 and he successfully fought deportation from 2005 until 2013. During that time how many minds did this vile creature pollute?

Britain happily excludes those people who might offend Muslims and in recent times has excluded a Dutch member of parliament and two prominent American critics. But Islam’s hatred of “the other” i.e. anyone not blessed with the same beliefs they share, is theological and therefore not subject to change through reasoned debate or palliative legislation.

Europe has no problem recognizing the threat from the right but has been overwhelmingly silent on the horrors committed by the Left and by the terrors perpetrated in the name of Allah. The Left will often react with violence to any attempt at discussing the crimes committed outside of Western Europe, unless, that is, they are the alleged crimes of Israel or the USA. A sinister aspect of this conspiracy is that in order to demonise it, Israel is considered to be a ‘white’ nation.  This makes it much less complicated for the hypocrite to damn.

Compassion without fidelity to the law of the land, and passion without respect leads to nihilism.  Are we that far off from the experience of France – a country which has not even seriously attempted to crush the malevolent pride of those who celebrate the evil child murderer Mohamed Merah?

Expediency is our enemy. Our borders should be closed for the simple reason that the nation and the continent do not need to import more hate.