Monthly Archives: January 2008

Venezuelan Jewish Community Center Raided, Fidel Castro on the International “Zionist” Conspiracy

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[H/t to A.L. for these two articles. I meant to post something on the Chavez piece last week and then my man hits me with this other rant written by The Bearded One going on about “Zionist control.” Slow down, A.L. You’re making the rest of us look old…]

Venezuelan government officers recently raided the Hebraica Jewish community center in Caracas resulting in widespread condemnation from Jewish community. Ostensibly on a hunt for weapons and evidence of “subversive activity,” government officials previously raided the community center in December of 2007 and tensions have remained high ever since.

The Forward’s Marc Perelman reports:

The December operation took place on the night preceding a crucial referendum on proposed constitutional reform that would have granted Chavez broad powers and the possibility to run indefinitely. The reform was rejected by a thin margin.

“It seems that the only interpretation is that this was an intimidation by the government,” Abraham Levy Benshimol, president of CAIV [Confederation of Israelite Associations of Venezuela,--e.d.], told the Forward.

Venezuela’s Jewish community numbered about 16,000 until Chavez was elected in 1998, and has since declined to around 12,000. The community comprises émigrés who began arriving in the mid-19th century from both North Africa and Eastern Europe, with the majority arriving during and after World War II. Evenly made up of Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews, the community has thrived in the oil-rich country. Benshimol said that it has maintained “good relations with the Venezuelan government since the end of military dictatorship in 1958.”

CAIV’s president also said that the ties continued when Chavez came to power and initially met with CAIV leaders. What has happened since then is a long and complicated story of domestic and international power politics.

One of the first points of tension was the April 2002 coup attempt against Chavez. Michael Penfold-Becerra, a political scientist at Caracas’s institute of superior administrative studies, said that among some government officials, suspicions against Jews were fueled by the alleged support of prominent rabbi Pinchas Brenner for the authors of the short-lived coup, as well as by the perception that Israelis and Jews were active in the arms business.

The first raid, in 2004, heightened the tensions, especially since it took place early in the day when hundreds of children were on their way to school.

The tensions escalated again during the 2006 summer war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, when Chavez accused Israelis of behaving like Nazis…

Through it all, Benshimol and others have stressed that there has been no instance of physical violence against Jews in the country. And they have, on occasion, defended Chavez against accusations of antisemitism aired by such American Jewish groups as the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

But the atmosphere has worsened lately, first and foremost because of Chavez’s increasingly inflammatory talk about Israel and its supporters. A television program called “The Razor,” broadcast on a state-owned channel, has featured lengthy rants about the presence of Mossad agents allegedly in the country working to unseat the Chavez regime with the support of the United States and opposition forces in Venezuela. The host of the show has also questioned the loyalty of leading Jewish figures to their home country. Despite repeated complaints by CAIV, the authorities have taken no action.

[read the entire article]

Regarding the International Zionist Conspiracy™, Fidel Castro aka The Bearded One had this to say:

In 1917, by the Balfour Declaration, the British decided to create the State of Israel within its colonial empire, located on territory inhabited by the Palestinians who had a different religion and culture; in that part of the world, other ethnic groups coexisted for many centuries before our era, among them the Jews. Zionism became popular among the Americans, who rightly detested the Nazis, and whose financial markets were controlled by representatives of that movement. That state today is practicing the principles of apartheid; it has sophisticated nuclear weapons and it controls the most important financial centers in the United States.

Spring Semester has begun

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The spring semester has started so I have not had as much time to blog as usual. It’s always a bit crazed the first couple of weeks, whether you are a student or instructor. I’m teaching four classes this semester, three sections of 20th Century U.S. History and one section of 20th Century World History with emphasis placed on decolonization and independence movements in the developing world.

Al Qaeda Terrorist Sentenced to Life in Prison, Former Congressman Indicted in Terror Fund Conspiracy

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U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones sentenced Al Qaeda terrorist Mohammed Mansour Jabarah to life in prison for plotting to bomb U.S. Embassies in Singapore and the Philippines. Israeli Embassies in both countries were targeted as well. Tons of explosives had been purchased and a suicide bomber selected.

Jabarah, a Canadian citizen, was turned over to the FBI by Canada’s intelligence service in 2002. At that time he managed a plea bargain in exchange for serving as an informant:

For a few months, he was a valuable resource in the hunt for al-Qaida leaders. He gave investigators information about Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, described his personal meetings with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, and detailed his interactions with several other high ranking al-Qaida lieutenants.

He also described his own involvement in a terrorist plot. After graduating from high school in St. Catharines, Ontario, where he had lived since a move from Kuwait at age 12, Jabarah slipped into Afghanistan and trained at al-Qaida camps in 2001. Prosecutors said he was preparing his first major operation — bomb attacks on American and Israeli embassies in Singapore and the Philippines — when the scheme was foiled by a round of arrests.

The FBI kept Jabarah under constant surveillance in Fort Dix, NJ but allowed him to make phone calls to family, watch television and movies, make his own meals, and go for walks. Court documents note this led to “a considerable amount of valuable intelligence.” However, officials noticed a change in Jabarah’s mood after the death of his childhood friend Anas al-Kandari. Al-Kandari was killed in an attempted terrorist attack on a Marine barracks in Kuwait.

The Washington Post reports:

According to court documents, Jabarah cut out a newspaper article about Kandari’s killing and wrote, “By Allah I will revenge your death.” He also cut out a newspaper article with a photograph of Mohamed Atta, a hijacker in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and asked that God bless his soul.

In addition to writing a “will” and mentioning martyrdom numerous times, Jabarah jotted down a list of initials corresponding to the FBI agents and prosecutors assigned to his case, as well as detectives assigned to secure him. Prosecutors said this was akin to a hit list. He also collected a Fort Dix installation map and directions for making explosives, and he wrote about his future, according to a translation of his notes: “If they release me then I will kill them until I am killed.”

U.S. officials began to grow suspicious of Jabarah in the weeks after Kandari’s death. While he was out for a walk on Nov. 8, 2002, agents searched his room and found a knife and rope hidden in a suitcase, and discovered his writings. Four days later, while in a federal jail cell, Jabarah wrote to the FBI apologizing for lying to agents about the knives, and saying that it was all a “misunderstanding” and that he would like to sit down and talk about his writings “like gentlemen.”

“If you or any of your bosses thought that I was trying to hurt somebody that is totally crazy!” Jabarah wrote in English on Nov. 12, 2002, explaining that he believed he had a strong relationship with his captors. “I still consider you guys friends.”

Another terror related story, former Republican Congressman and United Nations Representative Mark Siljander of Michigan was indicted for assisting an Islamic charity with links to al Qaeda and the Taliban. Siljander was charged with 42 counts including money laundering, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice. The Islamic American Relief Agency (IARA) is accused of paying Siljander $50,000 for lobbying on the organization’s behalf. The money was originally given to the IARA by the United States Agency for International Development, ostensibly for the construction of schools in Africa. IARA was indicted for sending close to $130,000 to assist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whom the U.S. has deemed a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist.”

Bill Roggio (The Long War Journal) provides some information on Hekmatyar:

Hekmatyar fought against the Soviets, was prime minister of Afghanistan in the mid 1990s, and became an anti-Taliban fighter until the collapse of Afghanistan’s Taliban government in December of 2001. After the U.S. operation, Hekmatyar threw in his lot with the Taliban and al Qaeda, and brought Hezb-i-Islami into battle against the government of Hamid Karzai. Hezb-i-Islami split in two, with a section loyal to Hekmatyar (know as Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin or HIG). HIG has influence particularly with Afghan refugees in western Pakistan. Hekmatyar had deep ties to Iran and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, and is said to have facilitated the movement of high level al Qaeda leaders, including Saif al-Adel and Saad bin Laden, into Iran with the assistance of the IRGC.

Read more here, here and here.

Sultan Knish: The 2008 Presidential Race Will be Run Against Political Correctness

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[H/t to Sultan Knish. For the record, among Democratic candidates I prefer Clinton to Obama. In the Republican field I like Giuliani and McCain. For more interesting posts on Obama check out The Contentious Centrist.]

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The 2008 Presidential race promises to be among the more grueling in American history because regardless of who wins either the Democratic or Republican primaries, there is little doubt that the Republican nominee will not be competing against simply a candidate but against political correctness itself.

Regardless of any myth that the race will be run on issues, the Republican candidate will actually be running against the “Historic Opportunity to Elect America’s First Black/Woman President”. Right now Obama and Hillary are busy sparring to see who wins the PC Olympics that are the Democratic primaries, whether gender will trump race or race will trump gender.

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GWOT: al-Quds Brigades Commander Killed

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Here are various media reports regarding the successful targeting of Walid Obeidi, a high-level commander of the al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad who was “martyred” by the IDF today.

Jerusalem Post

He enlisted in the Islamic Jihad in the 1980s and was held personally responsible by Israel for a suicide attack in a southern Tel Aviv falafel stand in 2006 in which 11 people were killed. Obeidi was also an expert bombmaker and was involved in financing the terror group’s activities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. According to the army, he was also involved in planning a suicide attack in March 2006 that was thwarted when police caught the bomber as he was driving on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway.

Obeidi was killed in clashes with soldiers from the elite undercover Duvdevan Unit, who raided a home where he was hiding in the village of Kabatiya, near Jenin. IDF sources said that heavy exchanges of fire erupted between the soldiers and Islamic Jihad gunmen. Obeidi was killed and two of his bodyguards were wounded and arrested.

YNet News

Obeidi, 45, the father of three from the village of Birkin near Jenin, was appointed commander of the Jihad’s military wing following the killing of the organization’s leaders Louay Saadi of Tulkarem Hussein Jaradat of Jenin.

Reuters

More on the elite IDF Duvdevan Unit here.

War of (Mis)information

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I opened up The New York Sun January 8, 2007 and was not shocked to read a delegation of Columbia University professors were heading to Iran to apologize to president Ahmadinejad for the behavior of Columbia president Lee Bolinger. I took the report with a big grain of salt as the source for the story was the “semi-official Iranian news agency, Mehr.” Not the most reliable source of information. And Officials and professors from Columbia steadfastly refused the allegations.

The next day, various media outlets reported on the development of a much more serious escalation in the war of misinformation, a tense confrontation in the Gulf of Hormuz between an American naval group and Iranian speedboats:

[United States] Admiral Cosgriff said the five Iranian boats, outfitted with outboard motors and carrying three to four people each, rapidly approached three American warships — cruiser USS Port Royal, destroyer USS Hopper, and frigate USS Ingraham, which were passing through the Strait into the Gulf.

Two of the Iranian boats went to the ship’s left side, three to the right, he said. The two on the left “were more energetic and made a number of runs toward the lead ship, the USS Hopper.”

As the two boats did so, the USS Hopper’s crew heard a radio call threatening that the American ships would “explode.” The two boats dumped boxes into the water.

At first, Iranian officials denied the incident occurred. However, on January 10, they produced a different version of the incident (click here for a video and Iranian accounts from Iran Press TV):

The five-minute video does not include the confrontation or threatening language described by American officials. Instead, it shows Iranian navy personnel calmly radioing American warships to ask for additional information on ship identification.

Like the four-minute American video released Tuesday, the Iranian video does not capture the entire encounter, which American officials said lasted 20 to 30 minutes, and is therefore difficult to reconcile with the conflicting American version of events.

The Pentagon released a longer version of the tape on Friday, January 12. Click here to view. You can hear a muffled voice at the end of the tape saying “you will explode in minutes” but the visual is completely black so it’s impossible to tell if the audio was added.

The war of misinformation continues…

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Shlomo Avineri: Democracy and the Pursuit of Peace in the Middle East

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[Another old item (2004) I found on the Internet. One of my excuses is I only started blogging in June of last year. My other excuse is I am constantly finding interesting material in places I have little idea how I end up at. For example, this is a presentation Israeli political scientist Shlomo Avineri gave at the University of California at Los Angeles’ International Institute.]

My title is “The Situation” because what I would like to do is to share with you on one hand some of our problems in Israel but also view it in a wider context, and this is the official title of the lecture, which has to do with peace and democracy in the Middle East. One of the aspects when you deal with the Middle East is that people often overlook the fact that when one tries to find a way in which Israel and its surrounding neighbors can find a modus vivendi or compromise or coexistence you are not only dealing on one hand with a very small country and on the other hand with a very large so-called Arab world, but you are also talking about a country on one hand and a number of countries on the other hand that have some very different political cultures and political institutions.

I am certainly not a Kantian in this respect or Wilsonian who believes that if you have democracy all over the world there will not be wars or that democracy is the best and only guarantee for not having wars. But certainly it does create a problem when you want to solve problems of legitimacy, problems of contending narratives, as we have between Israel and the Palestinians and the Arabs, when one country is a democracy, a very flawed democracy—flawed is usually the normal adjective for democracy, I mean precisely because it is such a complex system; I don’t have to tell you about another flawed democracy because you know about it much better—but it is a democracy, and on the other hand a number of countries with very different sorts of governments, but none of them is a democracy.

And here this brings me to the Arab world. In contradistinction to this very complex and in some cases encouraging picture — not very encouraging but somehow encouraging picture in the non-Arab Muslim world, and I could mention also some other countries — twenty-two members of the Arab League are very different. Those of us who know history know that when one speaks about German history and its complex role one uses the term the Sonderweg, the special route of German politics compared to France and England. I’m not sure one should speak of an Arab Sonderweg, that there is something unusual or something wrong about the Arab politics. But the fact of the matter is that of the twenty-two members of the Arab League, twenty-two Arab countries, none has an elected government. None. No head of government in any one of those Arab countries has been elected. You don’t have it in any other region.

Furthermore, there hasn’t been in any Arab country a serious attempt at democratization. There may be window dressing. You know, the Saudis, who are now under enormous pressure, both internally and externally, have announced a year ago they are going to have municipal elections. Okay. Since this was first announced, first of all, it became clear, they did announce later, that half of the members of the municipal councils will be elected and the other half will be appointed by the government. So that is one thing. Yesterday I understand it was announced that women are not going to participate in the election. Not only that they cannot be elected, they cannot participate in the voting. So big deal. This is not a democratic reform. This is window dressing.

No Arab country has seen, in the last fifteen years about which we have been talking, either a grassroots movement towards democracy or a reformist leader who is trying to reform the country in a democratic direction. To put it in other ways, there has not been an Arab Lech Walesa or an Arab Solidarity movement a la Poland, or an Arab Vaclav Havel, nor has there been an Arab Gorbachev, or an Arab Attaturk.

Now this is first of all a fact, which for reasons of political expediency and political correctness has not been always publicly acknowledged. Politically, at least until 9/11, the United States political establishment, be it Republican or Democrat, it doesn’t matter, which has been very keen and with some success in promoting democracy by peaceful means all over the world, they did not push the point about the autocratic regime in Egypt or about what Saudi Arabia is.

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