Posts Tagged ‘Arab World’

Caroline GlickBy Caroline B. Glick

Over the past week, Israel has been criticized for being insufficiently supportive of democratic change in Egypt. While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been careful to praise the cause of democracy while warning against the dangers of an Islamic takeover of the most populous Arab state, many Israelis have not been so diplomatic.

To understand why, it is necessary to take a little tour of the Arab world.

In the midst of Tunisia’s revolution last month, the Jewish Agency mobilized to evacuate any members of the country’s Jewish community who wished to leave. Until the end of French colonial rule in 1956, Tunisia’s Jewish community numbered 100,000 members. But like for all Jewish communities in the Arab world, the advent of Arab nationalism in the mid-20th century forced the overwhelming majority of Tunisia’s Jews to leave the country. Today, with between 1,500 and 3,000 members, Tunisia’s tiny Jewish community is among the largest in the Arab world.

So far, six families have left for Israel. Many more may follow. Two weeks ago, Daniel Cohen from Tunis’s Jewish community told Haaretz, “If the situation continues as it is now, we will definitely have to leave or immigrate to Israel.”

Since then, Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia’s Islamist party Ennahda, has returned to Tunisia after 22 years living in exile in London. He was sentenced to life in prison in absentia on terrorism charges by the regime of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Then on Monday night, unidentified assailants set fire to a synagogue in the town of Ghabes and burned the Torah scrolls. In an interview with AFP, Trabelsi Perez, president of the Ghriba synagogue, said the crime was made all the more shocking by the fact that it occurred as police were stationed close by.

The day after the attack, Roger Bismuth, president of Tunisia’s Jewish community, disputed the view that the scorching of Torah scrolls had anything to do with anti-Semitism. The man responsible for representing Tunisia’s Jewish community before the evolving new regime told The Jerusalem Post that the attack was the fault of the Jews themselves, “because they left [the synagogue] open… This is not an attack on the Jewish community.”

The fear now gripping the Jews of Tunisia is not surprising. The same fear gripped the much smaller Iraqi Jewish community after the US and Britain toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003. The Iraqi community was the oldest, and arguably the most successful, Jewish community in the Arab world until World War II. Its 150,000 members were leading businessmen and civil servants during the period of British rule.

Following the establishment of Israel, the Iraqi government revoked the citizenship of the country’s Jews, forced them to flee and stole their property down to their wedding rings. The expropriated property of Iraqi Jewry is valued today at more than $4 billion.

Only 7,000 Jews remained in Iraq after the mass aliya of 1951. By the time Saddam was toppled in 2003, only 32 Jews remained. They were mainly elderly, and impoverished. And owing to al-Qaida threats and government harassment, they were all forced to flee.

Shortly after they overthrew Saddam, US forces found the archives of the Jewish community submerged in a flooded basement of a secret police building in Baghdad. The archive was dried and frozen and sent to the US for preservation. Last year, despite the fact that Saddam’s secret police only had the archive because they stole it from the Jews, the Iraqi government demanded its return as a national treasure.

As embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak began his counteroffensive against the anti-regime protesters, his mouthpieces began alleging that the protesters were incited by the Mossad.

For their part, the anti-regime protesters claim that Mubarak is an Israeli puppet. The protesters brandish placards with Mubarak’s image plastered with Stars of David. A photo of an effigy of newly appointed vice president, and intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman burned in Tahrir Square showed him portrayed as a Jew.

On Wednesday night, Channel 10’s Arab affairs commentator Zvi Yehezkeli ran a depressing report on the status of the graves of Jewish sages buried in the Muslim world. The report chronicled the travels of Rabbi Yisrael Gabbai, an ultra-Orthodox rabbi who has taken upon himself to travel to save these important shrines. As Yehezkeli reported, last week Gabbai traveled to Iran and visited the graves of Purim heroes Queen Esther and Mordechai the Jew, and the prophets Daniel and Habbakuk.

He was moved to travel to Iran after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered Esther and Mordechai’s tomb destroyed. The Iranian media followed up Ahmadinejad’s edict with a campaign claiming that Esther and Mordechai were responsible for the murder of 170,000 Iranians.

Gabbai’s travels have brought him to Iran, Gaza, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and beyond. And throughout the Arab and Muslim world, like the dwindling Jewish communities, Jewish cemeteries are targets for anti-Semitic attacks. “We’re talking about thousands of cemeteries throughout the Arab world. It’s the same problem everywhere,” he said.

Israelis have been overwhelmingly outspoken in our criticism of Western support for the antiregime forces in Egypt due to our deep-seated concern that the current regime will be replaced by one dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. Representing a minimum of 30 percent of Egyptians, the Muslim Brotherhood is the only well organized political force in the country outside the regime.

The Muslim Brothers’ organizational prowess and willingness to use violence to achieve their aims was likely demonstrated within hours of the start of the unrest. Shortly after the demonstrations began, operatives from the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood branch in Gaza – that is Hamas – knew to cross the border into Sinai. And last Thursday, a police station in Suez was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and firebombs.

Hamas has a long history of operations in Sinai. It also has close ties with Beduin gangs in the area that were reportedly involved in attacking another police station in northern Sinai.

Western – and particularly American – willingness to pretend that the Muslim Brotherhood is anything other than a totalitarian movement has been greeted by disbelief and astonishment by Israelis from across the political spectrum.

It is the likelihood that the Muslim Brotherhood will rise to power, not an aversion to Arab democracy, that has caused Israel to fear the popular revolt against Mubarak’s regime. If the Muslim Brotherhood were not a factor in Egypt, then Israel would probably have simply been indifferent to events there, as it has been to the development of democracy in Iraq and to the popular revolt in Tunisia.

Israel’s indifference to democratization of the Arab world has been a cause of consternation for some of its traditional supporters in conservative circles in the US and Europe. Israelis are accused of provincialism. As citizens of the only democracy in the Middle East, we are admonished for not supporting democracy among our neighbors.

The fact is that Israeli indifference to democratic currents in Arab societies is not due to provincialism. Israelis are indifferent because we realize that whether under authoritarian rule or democracy, anti-Semitism is the unifying sentiment of the Arab world. Fractured along socioeconomic, tribal, religious, political, ethnic and other lines, the glue that binds Arab societies is hatred of Jews.

A Pew Research Center opinion survey of Arab attitudes towards Jews from June 2009 makes this clear. Ninety-five percent of Egyptians, 97% of Jordanians and Palestinians and 98% of Lebanese expressed unfavorable opinions of Jews. Threequarters of Turks, Pakistanis and Indonesians also expressed hostile views of Jews.

Throughout the Arab and Muslim world, genocidal anti-Semitic propaganda is all-pervasive. And as Prof. Robert Wistrich has written,

“The ubiquity of the hate and prejudice exemplified by this hard-core anti-Semitism undoubtedly exceeds the demonization of earlier historical periods – whether the Christian Middle Ages, the Spanish Inquisition, the Dreyfus Affair in France, or the Judeophobia of Tsarist Russia. The only comparable example would be that of Nazi Germany in which we can also speak of an ‘eliminationist anti-Semitism’ of genocidal dimensions, which ultimately culminated in the Holocaust.”

That is why for most Israelis, the issue of how Arabs are governed is as irrelevant as the results of the 1852 US presidential elections were for American blacks. Since both parties excluded them, they were indifferent to who was in power.

What these numbers, and the anti-Semitic behavior of Arabs, show Israelis is that it makes no difference which regime rules where. As long as the Arab peoples hate Jews, there will be no peace between their countries and Israel. No one will be better for Israel than Mubarak. They can only be the same or worse.

This is why no one expected for the democratically elected Iraqi government to sign a peace treaty with Israel or even end Iraq’s official state of war with the Jewish state. Indeed, Iraq remains in an official state of war with Israel. And after independent lawmaker Mithal al-Alusi visited Israel in 2008, two of his sons were murdered. Alusi’s life remains under constant threat.

One of the more troubling aspects of the Western media coverage of the tumult in Egypt over the past two weeks has been the media’s move to airbrush out all evidence of the protesters’ anti-Semitism.

As John Rosenthal pointed out this week at The Weekly Standard, Germany’s Die Welt ran a frontpage photo that featured a poster of Mubarak with a Star of David across his forehead in the background. The photo caption made no mention of the anti-Semitic image. And its online edition did not run the picture.

And as author Bruce Bawer noted at the Pajamas Media website, Jeanne Moos of CNN scanned the protesters’ signs, noting how authentic and heartwarming their misspelled English messages were, yet failed to mention that one of the signs she showed portrayed Mubarak as a Jew.

Given the Western media’s obsessive coverage of the Arab-Israel conflict, at first blush it seems odd that they would ignore the prevalence of anti-Semitism among the presumably prodemocracy protesters. But on second thought, it isn’t that surprising.

If the media reported on the overwhelming Jew hatred in the Arab world generally and in Egypt specifically, it would ruin the narrative of the Arab conflict with Israel. That narrative explains the roots of the conflict as frustrated Arab-Palestinian nationalism. It steadfastly denies any more deeply seated antipathy of Jews that is projected onto the Jewish state. The fact that the one Jewish state stands alone against 23 Arab states and 57 Muslim states whose populations are united in their hatred of Jews necessarily requires a revision of the narrative. And so their hatred is ignored.

But Israelis don’t need CNN to tell us how our neighbors feel about us. We know already. And because we know, while we wish them the best of luck with their democracy movements, and would welcome the advent of a tolerant society in Egypt, we recognize that that tolerance will end when it comes to the Jews. And so whether they are democrats or autocrats, we fully expect they will continue to hate us.

Related Links

Die Welt Sees No Anti-Semitism – The Weekly Standard
The Source of Anti-Semitism – (Andy Woods)
Israel’s government raises alarm at events in Egypt – The Guardian
Hundreds march against government in Jordan – AP
Rand Paul Repeats Calls to End Aid to Israel – Commentary Magazine


Caroline GlickBy Caroline B. Glick

The Egyptian multitudes on the streets of Cairo are a stunning sight. With their banners calling for freedom and an end to the reign of President Hosni Mubarak the story these images tell is a simple one as old as time.

On the one hand we have the young, dispossessed and weak protesters. And on the other we have the old, corrupt and tyrannical Mubarak. Hans Christian Andersen taught us who to support when we were wee tots.

But does his wisdom apply in this case?

Certainly it is true that the regime is populated by old men. Mubarak is 82 years old. It is also true that his regime is corrupt and tyrannical. Since the Muslim Brotherhood spinoff Islamic Jihad terror group murdered Mubarak’s predecessor president Anwar Sadat in 1981, Egypt has been governed by emergency laws that ban democratic freedoms. Mubarak has consistently rejected US pressure to ease regime repression and enact liberal reforms in governance.

This reality has led many American commentators across the political spectrum to side enthusiastically with the rioters. A prestigious working group on Egypt formed in recent months by Middle East experts from Left and Right issued a statement over the weekend calling for the Obama administration to dump Mubarak and withdraw its support for the Egyptian regime. It recommended further that the administration force Mubarak to abdicate and his regime to fall by suspending all economic and military assistance to Egypt for the duration.

The blue ribbon panel’s recommendations were applauded by its members’ many friends across the political spectrum. For instance, the conservative Weekly Standard‘s editor William Kristol praised the panel on Sunday and wrote,

“It’s time for the US government to take an active role… to bring about a South Korea/Philippines/Chile-like transition in Egypt, from an American-supported dictatorship to an American-supported and popularly legitimate liberal democracy.”

The problem with this recommendation is that it is based entirely on the nature of Mubarak’s regime. If the regime was the biggest problem, then certainly removing US support for it would make sense. However, the character of the protesters is not liberal.

Indeed, their character is a bigger problem than the character of the regime they seek to overthrow.

According to a Pew opinion survey of Egyptians from June 2010, 59 percent said they back Islamists. Only 27% said they back modernizers. Half of Egyptians support Hamas. Thirty percent support Hizbullah and 20% support al Qaida. Moreover, 95% of them would welcome Islamic influence over their politics. When this preference is translated into actual government policy, it is clear that the Islam they support is the al Qaida Salafist version.

Eighty two percent of Egyptians support executing adulterers by stoning, 77% support whipping and cutting the hands off thieves. 84% support executing any Muslim who changes his religion.

When given the opportunity, the crowds on the street are not shy about showing what motivates them. They attack Mubarak and his new Vice President Omar Suleiman as American puppets and Zionist agents. The US, protesters told CNN‘s Nick Robertson, is controlled by Israel. They hate and want to destroy Israel. That is why they hate Mubarak and Suleiman.

What all of this makes clear is that if the regime falls, the successor regime will not be a liberal democracy. Mubarak’s military authoritarianism will be replaced by Islamic totalitarianism. The US’s greatest Arab ally will become its greatest enemy. Israel’s peace partner will again become its gravest foe.

Understanding this, Israeli officials and commentators have been nearly unanimous in their negative responses to what is happening in Egypt. The IDF, the national security council, all intelligence agencies and the government as well as the media have all agreed that Israel’s entire regional approach will have to change dramatically in the event that Egypt’s regime is overthrown.

None of the scenarios under discussion are positive.

What has most confounded Israeli officials and commentators alike has not been the strength of the anti-regime protests, but the American response to them. Outside the far Left, commentators from all major newspapers, radio and television stations have variously characterized the US response to events in Egypt as irrational, irresponsible, catastrophic, stupid, blind, treacherous, and terrifying.

They have pointed out that the Obama administration’s behavior – as well as that of many of its prominent conservative critics – is liable to have disastrous consequences for the US’s other authoritarian Arab allies, for Israel and for the US itself.

The question most Israelis are asking is why are the Americans behaving so destructively? Why are President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton charting a course that will necessarily lead to the transformation of Egypt into the first Salafist Islamic theocracy? And why are conservative commentators and Republican politicians urging them to be even more outspoken in their support for the rioters in the streets?

Does the US not understand what will happen in the region as a result of its actions? Does the US really fail to understand what will happen to its strategic interests in the Middle East if the Muslim Brotherhood either forms the next regime or is the power behind the throne of the next regime in Cairo?

Distressingly, the answer is that indeed, the US has no idea what it is doing. The reason the world’s only (quickly declining) superpower is riding blind is because its leaders are trapped between two irrational, narcissistic policy paradigms and they can’t see their way past them.

The first paradigm is former president George W. Bush’s democracy agenda and its concomitant support for open elections.

Bush supporters and former administration officials have spent the last month since the riots began in Tunisia crowing that events prove Bush’s push for democratization in the Arab world is the correct approach.

The problem is that while Bush’s diagnosis of the dangers of the democracy deficit in the Arab world was correct, his antidote for solving this problem was completely wrong.

Bush was right that tyranny breeds radicalism and instability and is therefore dangerous for the US.

But his belief that free elections would solve the problem of Arab radicalism and instability was completely wrong. At base, Bush’s belief was based on a narcissistic view of Western values as universal.

When, due to US pressure, the Palestinians were given the opportunity to vote in open and free elections in 2006, they voted for Hamas and its totalitarian agenda. When due to US pressure, the Egyptians were given limited freedom to choose their legislators in 2005, where they could they elected the totalitarian Muslim Brotherhood to lead them.

The failure of his elections policy convinced Bush to end his support for elections in his last two years in office.

Frustratingly, Bush’s push for elections was rarely criticized on its merits. Under the spell of the other policy paradigm captivating American foreign policy elites – anti-colonialism – Bush’s leftist opponents never argued that the problem with his policy is that it falsely assumes that Western values are universal values. Blinded by their anti-Western dogma, they claimed that his bid for freedom was nothing more than a modern-day version of Christian missionary imperialism.

It is this anti-colonialist paradigm, with its foundational assumption that the US has no right to criticize non-Westerners that has informed the Obama administration’s foreign policy. It was the anti-colonialist paradigm that caused Obama not to support the pro-Western protesters seeking the overthrow of the Iranian regime in the wake of the stolen 2009 presidential elections.

As Obama put it at the time,

“It’s not productive, given the history of US-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling, the US president meddling in the Iranian elections.”

And it is this anti-colonialist paradigm that has guided Obama’s courtship of the Syrian, Turkish and Iranian regimes and his unwillingness to lift a hand to help the March 14 movement in Lebanon.

Moreover, since the paradigm claims that the non-Western world’s grievances towards the West are legitimate, Obama’s Middle East policy is based on the view that the best way to impact the Arab world is by joining its campaign against Israel. This was the central theme of Obama’s speech before an audience dominated by Muslim Brotherhood members in Cairo in June 2009.

Like the pro-democracy paradigm, the anti-colonialist paradigm is narcissistic. Whereas Western democracy champions believe that all people are born with the same Western liberal democratic values, post-colonialists believe that non-Westerners are nothing more than victims of the West. They are not responsible for any of their own pathologies because they are not actors. Only Westerners (and Israelis) are actors. Non-Westerners are objects. And like all objects, they cannot be held responsible for anything they do because they are wholly controlled by forces beyond their control.

Anti-colonialists by definition must always support the most anti-Western forces as “authentic.” In light of Mubarak’s 30-year alliance with the US, it makes sense that Obama’s instincts would place the US president on the side of the protesters.

So there we have it. The US policy towards Egypt is dictated by the irrational narcissism of two opposing sides to a policy debate that has nothing to do with reality.

Add to that Obama’s electoral concern about looking like he is on the right side of justice and we have a US policy that is wholly antithetical to US interests.

This presents a daunting, perhaps insurmountable challenge for the US’s remaining authoritarian Arab allies. In Jordan and Saudi Arabia, until now restive publics have been fearful of opposing their leaders because the US supports them. Now that the US is abandoning its most important ally and siding with its worst enemies, the Hashemites and the Sauds don’t look so powerful to their Arab streets. The same can be said for the Kuwaiti leadership and the pro-American political forces in Iraq.

As for Israel, America’s behavior towards Egypt should put to rest the notion that Israel can make further territorial sacrifices in places like the Golan Heights and the Jordan Valley in exchange for US security guarantees. US behavior today – and the across-the-board nature of American rejection of Mubarak – is as clear a sign as one can find that US guarantees are not credible.

As Prof. Barry Rubin wrote this week,

“There is no good policy for the United States regarding the uprising in Egypt but the Obama administration may be adopting something close to the worst option.”

Unfortunately, given the cluelessness of the US foreign policy debate, this situation is only likely to grow worse.

Related Links

Muslim Brotherhood; not quite the YMCA – Bill Randles Blog
WHO IS MOHAMED ELBARADEI? – Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog
Protest Snowball Knocks Over Jordanian Government – Arutz Sheva
Egyptians fill Tahrir Square in massive rally – USA Today
Bolton: If Mubarak falls in Egypt, Israel should bomb Iran – Raw Story

Bob MaginnisBy Bob Maginnis

The Mideast presents a chaotic quagmire of unforgiving choices for Obama. The turmoil in Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, and Tunisia is piled atop wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the civil war with Islamists in Pakistan. Add to these woes the concerns over Islamist Iran’s emerging atomic threat, the re-emergent neo-Ottoman Turkey, the mischievous Syria, the ever-present Israeli-Palestinian standoff, and the global Islamic terror campaign.

This collection of Mideast challenges threatens our national security interests and totally befuddles President Obama. That shouldn’t surprise anyone after Obama began his administration by naively promising to talk Tehran out of its nukes and to resolve the age-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Now he must face reality and pragmatically protect our key security interests. These include minimizing the threat posed by Islamic terrorists, protecting Mideast oil, preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and protecting democratic ally Israel, which stands in the Islamic Arab world’s crosshairs.

Obama has already begun wrestling the latest batch of Mideast crises using a bait-and-switch approach. He praised “the courage and dignity” of Tunisians who toppled their repressive president, and last Friday he called on Egypt’s president to stand down from violence against protesters bent on toppling that government. Then Obama threatened to reconsider our $1.5 billion in annual aid to Egypt.

These new challenges may force Obama to make an ugly Hobson’s choice — endorse secular totalitarian-like regimes that support America’s security interests. The non-choice is the emergence of new Islamist regimes such as the one in Iran, a radical Islamic version of totalitarianism that opposes American security interests.

Obama has limited time to influence the latest crises before the affected countries fall into the clutches of radical Islamists.

Egypt is the latest country to fall into chaos and be threatened by an Islamist overtake. Since the republic’s founding in 1952, the country’s army has been the guarantor of stability and will likely support President Hosni Mubarak, 82, and save the regime, especially now that Omar Suleiman, the country’s head of intelligence, is to become vice president and heir-apparent to the presidency. That appointment pleases the military, which strongly opposed Mubarak’s intent to make his son, a man without military experience, the next president.

But Egypt may still fall to Islamists. The man that wants to replace Mubarak is the former United Nations nuclear inspector Muhammad el-Baradei, who shielded the Iranian nuclear weapons programs for years and says as president he would recognize Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group in Gaza, and end all sanctions.

Last week the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Egypt’s only organized opposition to Mubarak, connected with Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi, suppliers of the 9/11 terrorists, joined the street protests, and is now calling for elections that would politically enable the group. MB members in Egypt’s parliament favor an Islamist state, ruled by Sharia law and at war with Israel and the U.S.

It is important to note that Egypt already has a significant Islamist proclivity that suggests widespread receptiveness to a future fundamentalist regime that the MB could leverage. Also, an Islamist strand exists among the military’s ranks that could prove influential if the revolution gets the upper hand.

The latest Pew poll finds considerable favor for Islamists among Egyptians (30% Hezbollah, 49% Hamas, and 20% al Qaeda). Egyptians, according to Pew, overwhelmingly (95%) welcome Islamic influence over their country’s politics, including 82% support for severe laws such as stoning for those who commit adultery, while 77% support whippings and hands cut off for robbery and 84% favor the death penalty for any Muslim who changes his religion.

Tunisia could fall to Islamists if it delays forming a new government. On Jan. 14, Tunisians ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years as the region’s most repressive leader. The Jasmine Revolution, which led to Ben Ali’s ouster, began in December after a college-educated street vendor burned himself to death in protest over Tunisia’s repression and poverty — and massive demonstrations ensued.

The interim government purged almost all of Ben Ali’s cabinet ministers and eradicated his ruling party. But no coherent opposition force has emerged to drive events because outlawed parties such as the once powerful Islamist groups are still barred from participating.

But protests continue in the center of Tunis demanding the interim government be broken up. Meanwhile, there are reports that Rachid Ghannouchi, the founder of the Tunisian Islamist party, is returning to the country to reenter the fray.

The ongoing chaos has created a vacuum that will inevitably be filled either by the military, emerging leaders such as Ghannouchi, or a known figure via a hurried election. Tunisia’s constitution calls for elections by March 15, but the interim government wants a six-month delay for the parties to engage the electorate, which will play into the Islamists’ hands.

Yemen is a prime candidate for an Islamist takeover because it is the Arab world’s most impoverished nation, and it has become a haven for al Qaeda militants. It was the site of the Islamist attack on the USS Cole in October 2000 in which 17 sailors were killed.

Last week tens of thousands of Yemenis joined demonstrations calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh, 64, in power for 23 years, to step down. Their complaints include lack of jobs, outrage over abusive security forces, corrupt leaders, and a repressive political system. Saleh’s government is corrupt and exercises little control, and its main source of income — oil — will run dry in a decade.

Yemen is already host to many conflicts and radicals. There is a rebellion in the north with Iran-sponsored Shia radicals, and a Marxist succession movement in the south. Part of the country is also controlled by an al Qaeda affiliate in the southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula.

But Yemen is strategically important to the U.S. as an ally because al Qaeda has made it a base of operations. That organization and its leader, Anwar al-Awlaki, use the country to train, equip, and launch terrorists such as Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab, who is accused of trying to detonate a bomb in his underwear during a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day 2009.

Lebanon’s new prime minister was installed by Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy terror group, which suggests that country is on the path to becoming an Islamist state. Najib Miqati, a billionaire and former prime minister, calls himself a consensus candidate in a badly divided country. His selection demonstrates a shift of power in the region away from the U.S. and its Arab allies and closer to Iran and Syria.

Antoine Zahra, a Lebanese lawmaker, said, “They [Hezbollah] will turn it into an isolated country, ostracized by the Arab world and the international community.”

Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom described the Hezbollah appointment as effectively “an Iranian government on Israel’s northern border.” Israel and Hezbollah fought a war in 2006.

Hezbollah, which the U.S. State Department identifies as a terrorist group, was forged with Iranian support in 1982 and is blamed for two attacks on the American embassy and the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beruit that killed 240.

Obama should do everything possible to help distressed Mideast countries avoid becoming radical Islamist states. That may require him to accept governments that are less than liberal democracies, which would earn him criticism, but such governments would more likely than not support our security interests.

Related Links

Egypt and the Failure of the Obama Doctrine –
Popular Islamist Leader Returns to Tunisia – NTDTV
Lebanon not troubled by Hezbollah-backed leadership – OneNewsNow (Chad Groening)
‘Something big’ transferred to Gaza Strip – WND (Aaron Klein)
Obama Loses the Middle East – Right Side News
Unrest in North Africa and Middle East may spread to Syria – CNN
Yemen: Orderly Uprising Set for Feb. 3 – Jawa Report

Ryan JonesBy Ryan Jones
Israel Today

Israeli fire officials reported on Sunday morning that the enormous Carmel Mountain wildfire was more under control than it had been at any point since it began last Thursday, but stressed that it would take at least another two or three days until all the fires were extinguished.

More than 30 firefighting aircraft from across Europe and even the US took to the skies Sunday morning to continue battling Israel’s worst fire ever. Among the aircraft was the Evergreen Supertanker, a privately-owned American firefighting plane that has been used to great effect over the past year to bring fires in California and other locations under control.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday told Israelis there was no shame in asking for all this help, and said every Israeli’s heart should be warmed by the “willingness” and the “immediacy” of the desire by so many nations to lend a helping hand.

While the worst of the fire may be behind us, Israel is now starting to realize just how destructive the blaze was.

Most tragically, the fire claimed the lives of 42 people, including 36 prison guards whose bus was overwhelmed by the rapidly expanding fire on its first day. The guards were en route to a local prison that was being threatened by the fire and needed to be evacuated.

The fire also destroyed portions of a number of local villages and kibbutzim, and many families that were evacuated returned to find they had nothing left. More than 15,000 Israelis had to be evacuated from the area over the weekend.

Lastly, the Jewish National Fund reported that the fire had destroyed 12,000 acres of forest, just under half of the entire Carmel forest reserve. JNF officials said it would take decades to rehabilitate the area.

Related Links

Firefighters gain control of all blazes in Carmel area – The Jerusalem Post
Gov’t allocates NIS 60m to rehabilitate Carmel – Globes
Israeli police say negligence the likely cause of country’s worst ever forest fire – Taipei Times
Northern Blaze Delights Many in the Arab World – Turkish Weekly
Israel Forsees End to Deadly Forest Fire – VOA