Tag archive for » israel «

The “moderates” on Gaza: sowing seeds of hate

Thursday, 7. August 2014 1:08

First published on Al Jazeeara.net aje.me/1sgTl1V

In 2006 Saudi Arabia’s leadership broke with convention in Arab politics by publicly blaming a self-proclaimed “resistance” force for provoking Israel to unleash a war. Rather than hold Israel to account for targeting civilians, ground invasion, air and sea blockade, Saudi Arabia took aim at Hizbullah for what it called “irresponsible adventurism” in kidnapping two Israeli soldiers. This set the tone for a number of Arab governments during a month of war during which it became clear they hoped Israel would “finish off” Hizbullah, a nuisance that inflamed popular passions, leading to impossible demands on regimes who relied on Western support to survive. Hosni Mubarak couldn’t even bring himself to call Hizbullah by its name, referring to it famously during the Lebanon war as “thingy”. Add to that, especially for Saudi Arabia, the fact that Hizbullah was an extension of Iranian power. [...]

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Key shifts in the “Arab moderate” position on Hamas and Israel

Tuesday, 5. August 2014 1:47

The Egyptian, Saudi and other Arab “moderates” position on the Gaza war over the past three weeks has been presented in most media discussion and political analysis as a striking departure from previous policy and indication of a new shift towards Israel and its view of Hamas, “resistance” and other regional challenges to the global order. The fact is, however, that their Gaza policies are the consequence of over a decade of restructuring of Arab positions to accommodate the United States. [...]

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A case for one state – by a two-stater

Tuesday, 31. December 2013 22:08

A recent conference on “Israel and the changing Middle East”, organised by the Anglo-Israel Association (with a few other sponsors) offered a fascinating insight into the concerns of Zionist Israelis and their views of the historical conflict with Arab Palestinians at this point – with Oslo’s clear failure to produce a resolution while settlement building in the West Bank and extensive incorporation of the territory into the fabric of Israeli politics and society continues apace, and Gaza remains under a state of manufactured separation from its Israeli-Palestinian environs. [...]

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Does Zionism explain the success of Israel?

Saturday, 9. November 2013 21:18

Does Zionism explain the success of Israel? It might seem an odd question but it was raised by Israel Studies scholar Derek Penslar in a talk in Oxford this week which analysed the fates of several settler colonial movements. In a tour d’horizon he looked at the New England Puritans, the French in Algeria, and South Africa and apartheid. Each one was similar to Israel and yet different in crucial respects, which led to the failure of one and the dismantling of a system of racial supremacy and subjugation in another. [...]

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‘Egypt First-ism’ turns its guns on Islamists

Friday, 13. September 2013 0:59

One of the key themes the coup regime has developed in Egypt against its Islamist opponents is a rehashed version of the chauvinistic nationalism of the Mubarak regime. This involved an ’Egypt First-ism’ vis-a-vis the Arab-Israeli conflict that gave a veneer of respectability for security paranioa over Palestinians that verged on racial hatred. The redux of this fascistic nationalism has anti-Syrian racism thrown in for extra. This nationalism emerged specifically in an Arab nationalist context, as a response to the Nasserist years with its failures. It was traditionally challenged by leftists and Arab nationalists, and lately among the youth activists behind the Jan 25 uprising. [...]

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Empire Wants What’s Best for the Arabs

Monday, 27. May 2013 23:19

The fear among international players with a stake in the Arab world that more instability threatens the political systems in place was palpable at the Doha Forum I attended last week. This even extended to the Gulf, purportedly the most stable part of the region, despite its having survived the first wave of the Arab uprisings that began in 2011. What was also striking was the idea among foreign powers that change among the Arabs can only happen through their coaching and supervision. [...]

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Israel attacks Syria: A Night on Twitter

Sunday, 5. May 2013 16:28

The Israeli rocket strikes on Mount Qasioun last night produced an almost immediate explosion of Twitter commentary, despite the wee hours when the action took place. Those opposed to the Syrian opposition – whether for fear of the Jihadists or Syria falling into the hands of a Saudi-Israeli-US axis – were sort of triumphant at seeing the rebels exposed on the same battlefield as the Israelis, while there was perhaps some embarrassment dressed up as bravura from the other side. Either way, the massacred civilians of Banias have fallen off the news cycle, not that global media attention has really made any difference to anything, despite the intense glare directed at this most horrific of conflicts.* [...]

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Israeli Arab wrestles with grief, guilt in suicide bomb film

Thursday, 20. December 2012 4:33

By Andrew Hammond

DUBAI | Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:50am EST

(Reuters) – When Universal Studios took a disliking to the script for Ziad Doueiri’s Israeli-Palestinian suicide bombing drama, the Lebanese director thought his career was over.

Six years later “The Attack” is garnering interest on the festival circuit, winning praise in Toronto, an award in Marrakech, and wowing audiences at the Dubai international film festival in the United Arab Emirates this week. [...]

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Egypt’s ‘Security State’ and Israel

Wednesday, 20. June 2012 21:55

There was an interesting discussion on Twitter yesterday on the comparison between Egypt and Algeria, a theme that has come up after the ruling military council in Egypt dissolved parliament last week, took on legislative powers in the interim, gave the armed forces powers of arrest, set parameters of presidential power that place the military above oversight and reduce presidential control of security forces, and arrogated to itself the right to reject items in a future constitution. Media and observers brought up the Algerian military’s decision to annul elections in 1992 because of concern when it appeared that the Islamic Salvation Front would win. After that Algeria was thrown into a decade-long civil war in which tens of thousands of people died. [...]

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Egyptians fear embassy attack may set back reform

Monday, 12. September 2011 14:04

By Andrew Hammond

CAIRO | Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:58am IST

(Reuters) – An attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo last week could set back political gains since Hosni Mubarak was toppled in a popular uprising this year, as the ruling army council takes measures to tighten security around the country.

Protesters scaled the building where Israel occupies the top two floors, replacing the Israeli flag with Egypt’s and seizing embassy documents from a storeroom on a lower floor before tossing them from a window to cheering crowds below.

The Israeli ambassador and his family fled Cairo that night in an Israeli military helicopter. Israel and the United States issued anxious calls for Egypt to respect its controversial 1979 treaty with Israel and protect the embassy.

Egypt’s government swiftly offered reassurances it would boost security at the embassy and chase down those behind the attack, indicating the treaty was still safe.

But many Egyptians worry the security crackdown that follows will undermine political freedoms gained since the uprising.

Officials have said emergency law, a key plank of Mubarak’s social control mechanisms in place since he took power in 1981, will be reactivated to try those involved in the embassy attack.

“This is the first time since the revolution that they transferred anyone to a state security court,” said Emad Gad of the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.

“There is already a bad security situation in the country with crime rising. They (the ruling generals) are taking advantage of this,” he added.

Activists and opposition parties have disowned the violence around the embassy which they say sullies the uprising’s goals.

But the revival of courts under emergency law will be just as worrying. Some of the demonstrators who moved on the embassy had come from a protest on Friday in Tahrir Square where one of the demands was scrapping the hated emergency laws immediately.

Analysts say Egypt’s democratic transition could suffer and some already see worrying signs of a slow return to the kind of tactics used by Mubarak’s security forces to stifle opponents.

Security officers raided offices of the Al Jazeera television channel on Sunday and detained staff in what the Qatar-based broadcaster said was an attempt to drive the channel, which had live coverage of the embassy incident, off air.

Al Jazeera was a target in the last days of Mubarak’s rule.

A security source said several other channels were shut down over licencing or other breaches of professional codes.


Changes in Egypt have been sweeping since Mubarak was ousted on Feb. 11. His party was dissolved, his hated state security service was revamped and he and many familiar faces from his three decades of rule were sent to trial on charges ranging from corruption to conspiring to kill hundreds of protesters.

But there is a deep sense among many of those who protested against Mubarak that his system remains in place although he has gone. An interim cabinet now answers to a military council headed by Mubarak’s defence minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

Tantawi did not turn up to give testimony behind closed doors at Mubarak’s trial on Sunday, saying he was busy handling the security crisis, state media said. The hearing has been delayed till later this month, fuelling more suspicions.

“This is a sign and it’s possible there could be repercussions for the elections,” said Gad. “They have an interest in delaying — to let figures from the old NDP form new political parties.”

Candidate registration for a parliamentary election is due to open sometime this month ahead of polls expected in November, although no date has been set.

Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) was a vehicle for the state under Mubarak, whose government viewed most of the Islamist, leftist and Arab nationalist forces that dominate the political scene now as irresponsible opposition who would harm Egypt’s position with the West through populist policies based on enmity to Israel.

Hossam Tamam, a researcher on Islamist groups, said many people feared the ruling military council was looking for reasons to slow the shift to a new system and a security vacuum in the country was serving that purpose.

“The official rhetoric says they want a complete transfer to civilians but, deliberately or otherwise, their policies have led to a vacuum, confusions and no faith in the process. No one knows when or if the transfer will happen,” he said.


Conspiracy theories have mushroomed since Friday, with many activists, columnists and politicians suggesting Mubarak allies placed agents provocateurs among the protesters to provoke violence that would place the protest movement in a bad light.

They note that a nearby police building was ransacked. Three people were killed and more than 1,000 injured in clashes with riot police that resembled the pitched battles of the uprising.

Nervous looking soldiers stood in the doorway of the embassy building on Monday, as curious Egyptians pored over the rubble of a wall protecting the building that protesters destroyed.

The government erected the concrete barrier after the Israeli flag was removed in a similar protest last month.

“It was here, but it’s gone now,” a teenager said, laughing.

The wall provoked popular anger because it went up after Israel shot several Egyptian soldiers in border operations against Palestinians in Gaza last month.

The government appeared to fumble in its response to that incident, at first saying it had recalled Egypt’s ambassador to Tel Aviv then recanting the claim.

Turkey’s diplomatic jousting with Israel in recent years is making it difficult for Egypt’s generals to follow the same policies of Mubarak, who is widely perceived to have been soft on Israel in tune with his predecessor Anwar Sadat’s shift of Egypt’s political orientation in return for U.S. aid money.

Anti-Israeli graffiti can still be seen daubed on slabs of the concrete walls and other buildings all around the tower housing the embassy: “I want to go to Jerusalem”, “Islam is coming, despite America and Israel” and “Crush the Zionists”.

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