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Israel and Palestine

Monopoly Just a Game... until it Considered "Jerusalem Comma Israel"

March 3rd 2008

Micah Halpern headshot
Micah Halpern

There are war games. There are diplomatic games. There are mind games. And there are just plain - games. Monopoly, the most popular game in the world, produced by Hasbro, one of the most successful game sellers in the world, used to be just a game, a fun, simple, wildly popular game.

And then Hasbro decided to take the game one step further. Hasbro already had the Banking Edition, the SquarePants Edition, the Junior Disney Princess Edition, but they did not yet have the World Edition. So Hasbro came up with a plan to invite fan participation and create Monopoly Here and Now: The World Edition. The invitation went out from headquarters in Pawtucket, Rhode Island to the entire online world - vote for you favorite city anywhere in the world and the cities with the most votes will win spots around the coveted Monopoly board.

That's when the fun stopped. That's when true competition stepped in. That's when Hasbro - unwittingly - stepped out of the realm of gamesmanship and into the real world of politics and diplomacy. Problem was, votes came in for the city of Jerusalem, Israel. Problem is, the Arab world does not believe that Jerusalem belongs to Israel, the Palestinians want Jerusalem for their own capital city one day. The problem was solved by an independent-thinking Hasbro employee in the London office. Just take out the comma and the word Israel. London remained London comma England, Paris remained Paris comma France, Istanbul a frontrunner for first place remained Istanbul comma Turkey and Jerusalem was left to stand alone. And that did not sit well with Israel's friends. Read more ..


Election Edge

Super-Delegates Means It's About to Get Real Ugly in Democratic Race

February 20th 2008

Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

Before the primary season began the Democratic Party reached an agreement with its potential presidential candidates that they would not campaign in Florida or Michigan and that the delegates from those states would be meaningless. All the candidates agreed, which in effect, made the Florida and Michigan primaries moot because none of the delegates could be used by the candidates vying for the nomination. The Clinton campaign was the main advocate for this “ban” because at the time they felt they were invincible and would have little competition from the field. A few months later Super Tuesday arrived.

 

Super Tuesday was Hillary Clinton’s chance to wipe Senator Barack Obama out of the picture, but what happened was shocking and humiliating to the once unstoppable and formidable candidate. After the votes were tallied Clinton’s campaign had to face the realization that despite winning the big states (California and New York) she was still in a horse race that was neck in neck with the upstart from Illinois.

 

The result of Super Tuesday was a loss of momentum over the coming weeks which led to less money raised, less positive talk in the news, less volunteer sign-ups, and less energy than her rival. And then she shook up her campaign by removing (or forcing the resignation of) her deputy campaign manager. The cold hard truth is that Clinton is in danger of losing the nomination despite going against her word and campaigning (and winning the non-races) in Florida and Michigan. Now, out of desperation, the Clinton campaign is lobbying the Democratic Party to reverse its prior decision and count the Florida and Michigan delegates in the final delegate count, despite their earlier disqualification. Read more ..


Probing Palestine

Solutions to Gaza Hopeless

January 28th 2008

Shoshana Bryen
Shoshana Bryen

Gaza looks just about hopeless these days, and indeed, President Bush basically wrote it off while he was in the region. But the problem of Gaza cannot be wished away and no one is comfortable consigning the Palestinians to life behind bars while Hamas takes Iranian money and works on bigger and more precise missiles with which to destroy Israel. Nor is anyone comfortable with ongoing military incursions and the social service "squeeze" that Israel has been forced into - even though we know the Israelis are doing their very best to limit the humanitarian crisis.

Many believe the time has come for drastic action and even President George Bush noted the need for "new international institutions" to deal with the problem.

Three leading options present themselves above the rest:

First, increase the size of Gaza with long-term land leases in northern Sinai, now by Egypt. This is only a few miles west of the present border. We know from Israel's experience with its former Sinai settlement Yamit that there is water and arable land. If part of the problem were density and the lack of room for productive enterprise, this would help. It would also give Egypt a stake in the area's stability and future economic growth. An Israeli politician suggested this some time ago as a humanitarian gesture, but Egypt rejected it out of hand—preferring to leave Israel with responsibility for the whole problem. If one believes that radicalism stems from poverty (many social observers understand that in most poor societies in which children are not turned into human bombs), this idea should have merit and the U.S. government should use its leverage with Egypt to pursue it. Read more ..


Bad Arolsen Media Analysis

USHMM’s Bloomfield Media Misinformation Muddies Survivor Quest for Bad Arolsen Remote Access

January 21st 2008

Sara Bloomfield headshot
Sara Bloomfield

When probing the Holocaust, the horrific experiences of survivors, the listener melts. We all melt at the enormity of the horror. Tattoos always trump the arcane questions of technology. But professionals who study the Holocaust beyond the blood and bones of mass murder know information technology was an indispensable behind-the-scenes factor in the original crime. Seventy-five years after Adolf Hitler came to power, information technology is again an indispensable behind-the-scenes factor, this time in exposing the crime.

This brings the Holocaust community to the continuing controversy over providing survivors remote secure access terminals to the Bad Arolsen archives instead of making them travel to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. to obtain details of their incarceration and enslavement. The USHMM is refusing to share access with other Holocaust institutions and now claims it will begin “individualized research” for the estimated 150,000 survivors in America and perhaps many among a million worldwide, all of whom want answers today not tomorrow, and do so with an initial staff of 24 trained researchers. The Museum refuses to budge and is increasingly defensive on the persistent demands of Holocaust survivors and media inquiries about a seemingly obvious question.

During and after the January 17, 2008 USHMM press conference on the topic of the Bad Arolsen archival transfers, Museum executive director Sara Bloomfield made statements about the archival technology to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), the 85-year-old, war-tested Jewish communal news service, known for its precision as well as its diligent, respected correspondents. Bloomfield’s remarks to the JTA reporter about why the Bad Arolsen files could not shared, it seems, amounted to a calculated misinformation effort to pretend such sharing was impossible. The opposite is true. Her remarks were implausible on their face, and completely contrary to the published facts. Read more ..


Inside the Islamic World

Turkey Imperils Religious Freedom for Christians, Greek Orthodox and Others

January 11th 2008

Joe Griebowski headshot
Joseph Griebowski

Turkish President Abdullah Gul met President George W. Bush on January 8, marking Gul's first visit to Washington as president.

The official agenda included a laundry list of issues central to US-Turkish relations: joint efforts to counter the Kurdish rebel group PKK; to promote stability in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and the broader Middle East; and to advance Turkey's European Union accession goals.

In his second inaugural address, President Bush stated that, “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.”

While each of the issues that is currently on the agenda is a priority issue, each also touches on a broader question which remains off the agenda: freedom of religion and belief in Turkey itself.

A significant problem facing religious groups in Turkey is the nation’s biased religious registration laws. Registration is required for religious leaders and institutions to serve the spiritual needs of their constituents. Currently, the Sunni branch of Islam is the only “state-sanctioned” form of religion. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Cross-examining the NIE on Iran's Nukes--plenty of questions but few answers

December 20th 2007

Shoshana Bryen
Shoshana Bryen

The traditional job of the national intelligence apparatus is to describe what it sees and what it believes it cannot see, hedging its bets with what it calls “estimative language” and degrees of confidence. It traditionally ascribes no intentions to its subjects and prescribes no policies to its government. The new unclassified National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, however, leaves a large exclusion it its field of vision; traffics heavily in purported intentions over observed and understood capabilities; and has the effect of proscribing military action as an element of American policy.

Quick reading indeed, the “Key Judgments” span only three pages, followed by a handy-dandy chart comparing the 2005 NIE to its current counterpart. 

Most prominently in the news, the NIE asserts with “high confidence” that Iran shut down its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and has “moderate confidence” that it has not restarted. “Our assessment that the program probably was halted in response to international pressure suggests Iran might be more vulnerable to influence on the issue than we judged previously.”

The Exemption

To understand how this came to be, start with the single footnote – an extraordinary admission of the limitation of the intelligence process:

By ‘nuclear weapons program’ we mean Iran’s nuclear weapon design and weaponization work and covert uranium conversion-related and enrichment-related work; we do not mean Iran’s declared civil work related to uranium conversion and enrichment.'

This begs questions. Read more ..


Palestine and Israel

After Annapolis Quick Action is Needed

December 20th 2007

Hanna Siniora headshot
Hanna Siniora

Despite the cynicism of the experts, the Annapolis meeting was a resounding victory for the persistent efforts of American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The presence of Saudi Arabia and Syria signaled the desire of the Arab League to demonstrate their commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative.

The second leg of Annapolis, the December 17th Donor’s meeting, proved to be extremely supportive and generous. In the Palestinian Authority Development and Reform Plan for the next three years, the PA asked for US $5.6 billion dollars and received total pledges of US $7.4 billion, with $3.373 billion for 2008, $2.054 billion for 2009 and $2.054 billion for 2010.

Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad now have a concrete demonstration of the international community’s support for their leadership and the two-state solution. French President Nicholas Sarkozy and his foreign minister Bernard Kouchner excelled in the arrangements that provided the Quartet envoy, former PM Tony Blair, with the tools needed to jumpstart the Palestinian economy. President Abbas, always sensitive to his Palestinian constituency in Gaza, promised to spend more than half of the funds for the benefit of the destitute Gaza Strip. Read more ..


America's Islamic Strategy

US Pushing Kosovo Independence for Muslim consumption

December 14th 2007

Waliid Phares

Over the past few months a number of Western leaders, including senior United States figures, have lent their support to separating the province of Kosovo from the Republic of Serbia, based on the fact that a majority of the inhabitants in the province, ethnic Albanians, wishes this to be done.

The U.S Secretary of State and top European diplomats have been working on the assumption that the ultimate outcome of the crisis should be to see another new Republic emerging in the Balkans from the rubble of former Yugoslavia. Their participation in the UN-sponsored negotiations, along with Serbia, Kosovo, Albania and Russia, has been heading toward the endpoint of breaking one nation state's territory into two states, ignoring the historical context, consequences, and important principles, with far-reaching unpleasant consequences when these principles serve as precedents elsewhere.

Underlying all of this is a not-so-hidden agenda: an anticipated so-called diplomatic dividend for pleasing the Muslim world. A prominent US legislator declared over the summer that granting Kosovo its independence would please the Muslim world and would show that America is not anti-Islamic. The Kosovo affair has this assumed extra importance in this precarious post 9/11 era, as a token. But it risks kindling a chain reaction of explosive crises around the world. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Israel's New Iran Strategy

December 12th 2007

Iran - Ahmadinejad at Iranian nuclear plant
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Nuclear Facility

After the shock of last week’s U.S. intelligence estimate that found that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, Israel is reshaping its Iran strategy.

Israel essentially is arguing that the U.S. assessment is dangerously misleading and that Tehran is as determined as ever to acquire nuclear weapons. The Israeli dilemma is how to prove Iran is cheating without being accused of trying to push the United States into war. That is why the official strategy is to work quietly behind the scenes. Israel's top intelligence agencies all believe Iran is still at full throttle to produce a nuclear bomb and will be capable of doing so by 2009 or 2010.

The new Israeli strategy is based on four main elements:

  • actively pushing for stiffer international sanctions on Iran, despite the U.S. report;
  •  working quietly behind the scenes to convince others through Israel’s own intelligence material that Iran is intent on producing nuclear weapons;
  •  refraining from arguing with the U.S. assessment in public, lest Israel be seen to be trying to push the United States into military action against Iran;
  •  and Israel keeping open its own military options.The emerging policy is the result of close consultations among Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

In a Cabinet meeting Sunday, Olmert stressed that Israel would work to "expose Iran's clandestine operations."

Barak earlier had advised the prime minister not to get into a public spat with the United States over its assessment of Iran's nuclear program but rather promoted the behind-the-scenes effort. Read more ..


Global Terrorism

Is Iran's Revolutionary Guard Iran's SS

September 4th 2007

Iran - Iran's Revolutionary Guard
Iran's Revolutionary Guard

Placing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (Pasdaran) on the official U.S. terror list is not unlike what it would have been to so-target the SS, and by association the Nazi regime and the German war machine during World War II.

To name the 125,000-strong Pasradan a “terrorist organization” [the first state military branch to be so designated] was a master stroke of effective symbolism. We can already see the uncomfortable, worldwide reaction as exhibited by the spokespersons of the Khomeinist elite, including the Arab-speaking apologists for Tehran.

Speaking on Al Jazeera and other Arab media, pro-Iranian commentators reacting to the news boasted about the omnipresence of the Pasdaran across Iran and asked, "How will the U.S. make a distinction between the Guards and the people." In fact, such comments betray the fear Iranian leaders have had at this point.

Clearly, Iran's leaders are embarrassed in front of their masses; embarrassed that a global power officially considers the most-powerful organization within the regime to be nothing more than “terrorists.” The impact of this decision has barely begun, and will snowball in terms of the psychological impact it will surely have on the ordinary Iranian citizen. Read more ..


Bad Arolsen Inside Story

USHMM's Shapiro At Odds with Red Cross Bid for Bad Arolsen Openness

August 29th 2007

Central Name File
Bad Arolsen files

During the week of August 20, Red Cross officials transferred to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum some 13.5 million embargoed files from its massive Nazi-era archive at Bad Arolsen known as the International Tracing Service. The hard drives were hand-delivered by ITS director Reto Meister. For the Red Cross, it was a significant moment that it had labored hard to achieve.

The highlight of the initial ITS handover was a special Museum briefing held August 23 for several dozen Holocaust survivors, Second Generation members, and Jewish organizational leaders. The meeting was a chance to connect with the Holocaust community face to face. Survivors flew in from around the nation to attend. By all accounts the exchange was successful and a tribute to the efforts undertaken by both the Museum and the Red Cross to accelerate the controversial transfer.

During the presentation, ITS director Reto Meister deftly explained the technical complexities in transferring the huge collection and what could be expected in the future, according to several in the audience. Meister’s presentation and response to questions, in spite of a few pesky challenges, was honest and convincing as he promised continued dedication to the process, according to multiple reports from audience members.

Ironically, the special Museum briefing was nowhere covered in the media, not even the Jewish media which normally covers such events. Why? Read more ..


Armenian Genocide Conflict

Armenian Genocide is a Historical Imperative

August 27th 2007

World Scenes - Armenian Genocide1 Bodies

Armenian Genocide Victims 

From 2000 to 2002, I led a graduate seminar entitled "Post-Holocaust Ethical and Political Issues” at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Among the topics covered was the politics of memory.

One of the case studies we explored was the controversy surrounding language and its power. We looked in depth at the massacre of Armenians and how its depiction had become a subject of fierce debate, primarily between Armenians, who insisted on calling the events of 1915 a genocide, and Turks, who adamantly refused to countenance the "G word." Essentially, this was a zero-sum game.

Either one supported the Armenian or the Turkish position, whether for historical or political reasons, but neither side allowed room for compromise. The basic Armenian argument was that up to 1.5 million Armenians were deliberately targeted and massacred by the Ottoman Empire, eight years before the modern Turkish Republic came into being. At the time, the word genocide didn’t exist. Read more ..


Inside Iran

Missing in Iran

August 26th 2007

World Citizens - Micah Halpern headshot
Micah Halpern

Bob Levinson worked for the FBI and before that for the DEA. He retired from these "companies" about ten years ago and like many former agents, went into the private sector. According to his resume, Bob Levinson had "extensive international experience and has focused on criminal activities, business intelligence projects, asset location and recoveries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Russia and Europe."

Bob Levinson was last heard from on March 8th, 2007. He was last seen on an Iranian island called Kish, a resort that caters to a Muslim and European clientele. Unlike the rest of Iran, Kish is a commercially-oriented area where even United States residents - who can enter Iran proper only after undergoing scrutiny and obtaining a special visa and travel papers - are permitted entry without special visas.

Former agents often do private work after retirement. They gain employment as contractors for the government or for companies in the private sector interested in their contacts and talents. As the saying goes, once a spy always a spy. Levinson, it seems, was not working on a covert operation. He was working for a film company and he was in Kish gathering information and meeting contacts.

Almost five months later and there has been no word from Levinson or about Levinson. Relations between the United States and Iran being what they are there is no direct line of communication between the State Department and the powers that be in Iran. Diplomatic ties were severed in 1979 when the Iranians took the United States embassy in Teheran hostage. The United States is at a loss, their access to information is through back channels. Christine, Levinson, the missing man’s wife. is trying on her own, through the media, to gather any information that she can on the condition of her husband of thirty-three years.

She has been interviewed by CNN. There have also even been Persian language programs discussing the disappearance of her husband. She is making a direct appeal for help and information via radio. Her efforts even include an appeal on the Voice of Peace broadcast into Iran.

About two to three US citizens disappear each year in Iran. Sometimes, there is a happy ending, often there is not. One glimmer of hope for finding Bob Levinson comes in the form of the return of another US hostage. The director of the Middle East division of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, an Iranian American who was held hostage since May was just released on “bail.” The terms of her release involved the exchange of a very large sum of money - but she is free. Read more ..


Palestine and Israel

Will Abbas Finally Seize the Opportunity?

August 20th 2007

Howard Kohr headshot
Howard Kohr

Following the violent Hamas overthrow of the Palestinian Authority (PA) government in Gaza, President Mahmoud Abbas fired the Hamas ministers and created a new PA government in the West Bank. This seismic shift presented Israel with a potential partner for peace in Abbas and his new government.

In the two months since Hamas’ coup, Israel has taken bold steps to bolster Abbas and his new prime minister, Salam Fayyad. These measures include releasing Palestinian tax monies, freeing 250 Palestinian prisoners, offering amnesty to wanted Fatah militiamen and sending over 50,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza’s civilians Read more ..


Terrorism Readiness

New York Emergency Response an Invaluable Drill

August 20th 2007

World Citizens - Micah Halpern headshot
Micah Halpern

New York recently went on high alert after an Internet prediction of an Islamic terror attack. Traffic was a mess. Trucks and vans were scrutinized. Bridges, tunnels and highways were moving along at a steady crawl. One of the most fast paced and vibrant cities in the whole wide world was forced to move slowly, deliberately and cautiously.

And then it was over.

And now we must ask – what was that all about? What really is the purpose of putting a city, a population, a nation on high alert? One would think that between the Office of Homeland Security, local police and law enforcement, informants and counter terrorism wonks, the “people in the know” would know how to tell which threats are real and credible and which are hype and improbable.

Well, they do know.

Counter terrorism is an art, it is also a science, and it is also a precise, exacting military-like series of maneuvers. And elevated alerts are an important tool in the arsenal of the counter terrorist. What happened in New York on that specific Saturday was an exercise well worth the time, effort, discipline and the discomfort of the citizens and visitors who happened to have been in town on that warm summer morning.

Elevated alerts are rushed into action following a credible threat emanating from credible Intel. The goal is to prevent a terrorist attack from happening.

A terror attack is like a jigsaw puzzle. It requires many pieces and all the pieces must interlock properly or it will not succeed. Take away one piece and an entire operation is either aborted – or doomed to fail.

With elevated alerts comes heightened security. And one of the best ways to achieve heightened security is through the use of roadblocks. Roadblocks are an attempt to prevent one or more pieces of the terrorist puzzle from coming into the arena. Roadblocks are used to force the planners to halt their operation.

Heightened or elevated alerts send out messages. The message to the public is that we are on top of things, we are not letting terrorist sneak in or slide by, we are maintaining a serious defense system. More important is the message that is sent out to terrorists. An alert says “we know something, we have information.” And then it is up to the terrorists to determine just what and how much really is known – about their plan, about their players, about their general operation. The message is used to instill the fear of failure, the fear of being caught, in the terrorist operatives. Read more ..


Saudi Arms

Confronting The Saudi Arms Deal

August 19th 2007

Contributors / Staff - Waliid Phares headshot
Walid Phares

The U.S. is considering a new gigantic arms sale to Saudi Arabia of up to $20 billion. The proposed package includes advanced satellite-guided bombs, upgrades to its fighters and new naval vessels as a U.S. strategy to contain the rising military expansion of Iran in the region. The titanic arms deal is seen as a major Saudi spending to shield itself from a Khomeinist menace looming at the horizons: an Iranian nuclear bomb, a future Pasdaran control of Iraq, and a Hezbollah offensive in Lebanon.

In reality, the Iranian threat against the Saudis materializes as follows: A) If the U.S.-led coalition leaves abruptly, the Iranian forces - via the help of their militias in Iraq - will be at the borders with Saudi Arabia. Throughout the Gulf, Iran’s mullahs will be eyeing the Hijaz on the one hand and the oil-rich provinces on the other hand. B)Hezbollah threatens the Lebanese government, which is friendly to the Saudis. Hezbollah, already training for subversion in Iraq, will become the main trainer of Shiite radicals in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. C) Finally, across Iraq’s borders, Syria and Iran can send all sorts of jihadis, including Sunnis.

With such hydra advancing, the Wahhabi monarchy is hurrying to arm itself with all the military technology it can get from Uncle Sam. Riyadh believes that with improved F-16s, fast boats, electronics and smarter bombs it can withstand the forthcoming onslaught. I believe it won’t. For as the Iraq-Iran war has proved, the ideologically rooted brutality of the Iranian regime has no boundaries. If the U.S. withdraws from the region without a strong pro-Western Iraq in the neighborhood and absent of a war of ideas making progress against fundamentalism as a whole, the Saudis won’t stand a chance for survival. For the Iranians will apply their pressures directly and unleash more radical forces among the neo-Wahhabis against Saudi Arabia. The Shiite mullahs will adroitly manipulate radical Sunnis, as they have in Iraq and Lebanon. So what should the U.S. advise the Saudis to do instead of spending hugely on arms? Read more ..


Genetically Modified Food

Unmasking the FDA's Policy on Cloned Food

August 12th 2007

Science - Mouse in Beaker

The FDA is still considering whether to allow meat and milk from cloned animals into America’s food chain, without so much as a warning label. Polls show that Americans oppose cloned foods 3 to 1, and the livestock and dairy industries have repeatedly said that cloned hotdogs and milkshakes make little business sense. Neverthless, the push for cloned livestock has been insistent for years.

In 2003, approval was said to be six months away; that didn’t happen, presumably because of fears of public outrage, but the public relations campaign continued. At the very end of 2006, a long-awaited draft “Risk Assessment” was published, inspiring a flurry of ill-informed puff pieces intended to legitimize the technology. That failed: the FDA received over 100,000 public comments, overwhelmingly opposed to food from cloned animals.

Officials then paused to consider their final decision. Some reports say that FDA approval will come later this year. Others suggest that it may take two years. The mainstream media seems to accept that it’s only a matter of time, no matter what the public wants – and no matter what the real scientific evidence is.

A scathing report by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) exposed embarrassing if not crippling inadequacies in the data the FDA used to suggest that cloned food is safe. The CFS report showed there are no peer-reviewed safety studies on meat from cloned cows, pigs or goats, and only three inconclusive ones on milk; this suggests further study, not immediate approval. Even before that, the National Academies of Science – the government’s science advisors – articulated concerns that the processes for assessing cloned food safety are currently not up to par. Read more ..


Palestine and Israel

Palestine Not Ready for Statehood

August 10th 2007

World Citizens - Micah Halpern headshot
Micah Halpern

The Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But not now, not yet.

Why? Because the Palestinians have not yet adequately proven themselves ready for total self-government. At least, not democratic self-government. The Palestinians have been in control of their own destiny for a significant chunk of time. And each time they are faced with a pivotal challenge, they fail to rise up to that challenge. And each failure is then blamed on Israel.

The election of Hamas to power, for example, was a challenge to the concept of democracy. And the result was a miserable failure of democracy and a return to anarchy. The decision to arrest terrorists is another example of a challenge the Palestinians faced and failed. The result was the decision not to make arrests by circumventing the issue and calling the gun-toting, saber rattling, Qassam throwing brigades not terrorists, but resistance fighters. Everyone speaks of normalization, but these actions should never be termed normal. These actions are an ab-normalization of the situation and they are an abomination.

Before they can become a democratic state, the Palestinians must be ready, willing and most crucially, able, to make changes in attitudes and in behaviors. Democracy is more than a system of self-government. Democracy is about respect. Respect for law and for laws. Respect for religious and cultural minorities. Respect for education.

Neither Palestinian leadership nor the Palestinian people have grasped the true essence of democracy. They have no understanding of the concept of freedom. They do not yet understand that democracy and freedom are co-joined, that democracy without freedom is dictatorship, that freedom without democracy is anarchy.

Striving for democracy is an admirable goal. Freedom is an inalienable right. But they come with a price - responsibility. Until Palestinian leadership is willing to accept that responsibility, the people will continue to live under an umbrella of violence, poverty and uncertainty. Read more ..



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