position:ambassador

  • How Hamas sold out Gaza for cash from Qatar and collaboration with Israel

    Israel’s botched military incursion saved Hamas from the nightmare of being branded as ’sell-outs’. Now feted as resistance heroes, it won’t be long before Hamas’ betrayal of the Palestinian national movement is exposed again

    Muhammad Shehada
    Nov 22, 2018 7:04 PM

    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/.premium-how-hamas-sold-out-gaza-for-cash-from-qatar-and-collaboration-with

    Earlier this month, Hamas was confronted by one of its worst nightmares. The Palestinian mainstream began to brand Hamas with the same slurs that Hamas itself uses to delegitimize the Palestinian Authority. 
    "They sold us out!” Gazans began to whisper, after Hamas reached a limited set of understandings with Israel in early November. Its conditions required Hamas to distance Gazan protesters hundreds of meters away from the separation fence with Israel and actively prevent the weekly tire-burning and incendiary kite-flying associated with what have become weekly protests.
    In return for this calm, Israel allowed a restoration of the status quo ante – an inherently unstable and destabilizing situation that had led to the outbreak of popular rage in the first place. 

    Other “benefits” of the agreement included a meaningless expansion of the fishing zone for few months, restoring the heavily-restricted entry of relief aid and commercial merchandise to Gaza, instead of the full-on closure of previous months, and a tentative six-month supply of Qatari fuel and money to pay Hamas’ government employees. Basically, a return to square one. 
    skip - Qatari ambassador has stones thrown at him in Gaza
    Qatari ambassador has stones thrown at him in Gaza - דלג

    The disaffected whispers quickly became a popular current, which took overt form when the Qatari ambassador visited Gaza. He was met with angry cries of “collaborator,” as young Gazans threw stones at his vehicle after the ambassador was seen instructing a senior Hamas leader with the words: “We want calm today...we want calm.”
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    Hamas leaders didn’t dare show their faces to the people for several days following, and the movement’s popular base had a very hard time arguing that the agreement with Israel - which offered no fundamental improvement of condition – and sweetened by Qatari cash wasn’t a complete sell-out by Hamas. 
    Inside Hamas, there was evident anxiety about public outrage, not least in the form of social media activism, using Arabic hashtags equivalents to #sell-outs. One typical message reads: “[Suddenly] burning tires have became ‘unhealthy’ and [approaching] the electronic fence is suicide! #sell-outs.”

    Social media is clearly less easy to police than street protests. Even so, there was a small protest by young Gazans in Khan Younis where this “sell-out” hashtag became a shouted slogan; the demonstrators accused Hamas of betrayal.
    But relief for Hamas was at hand – and it was Israel who handed the movement an easy victory on a gold plate last week. That was the botched operation by Israel thwarted by Hamas’ military wing, the al-Qassam brigade, which cost the life of a lieutenant colonel from an IDF elite unit.
    The ensuing retaliation for Israel’s incursion, led by the Islamic Jihad (prodded into action by Iran), who launched 400 improvised rockets into Israel, was intended to draw a bold red line of deterrence, signaling that the Israeli army cannot do as it pleases in Gaza. 
    For days after this last escalation, Hamas leaders rejoiced: that exhibition of muscle power proved their moral superiority over the “collaborationist” Palestinian Authority. Boasting about its heroic engagement in the last escalation, Hamas easily managed to silence its critics by showing that the “armed resistance” is still working actively to keep Gaza safe and victorious. Those are of course mostly nominal “victories.”

    But their campaign was effective in terms of changing the political atmosphere. Now that the apparatus of the Muqawama had “restored our dignity,” further criticism of Hamas’ political and administrative conduct in Gaza was delegitimized again. Criticism of Hamas became equivalent to undermining the overall Palestinian national struggle for liberation.

    Unsurprisingly that silenced the popular outrage about Hamas’ initial agreement of trading Gaza’s sacrifices over the last seven months for a meager supply of aid and money. The few who continued to accuse Hamas of selling out were promptly showered by footage of the resistance’s attacks on Israel, or reports about Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s resignation, for which Hamas claimed credit, coming as it did a day after a Hamas leader demanded he resigned. 
    Mission accomplished, a piece of cake. Now it was time for Hamas to return to business, strengthened by a renewed shield of resistance-immunity that branded criticism as betrayal.
    Although Hamas leaders have admitted the reality: no more fundamental cease-fire is being negotiated, and so no fundamental improvements for Gaza can be expected - it continues to sell Gazans the delusion that their decade of endurance is finally bearing fruit and soon, more prosperity, employment and hope will trickle down to the masses.
    What has actually trickled down so far are temporary and symbolic painkillers, not an actual end to Gaza’s pain.

    Hamas agreed to give a small share of the Qatari spoils to 50,000 poor Gazan families; $100 for each household. They agreed to creating temporary employment programs for 5,000 young university graduates with the aspirational title of Tomoh (“Ambition”). They promised to keep up the fight until Gaza is no longer unlivable, and Hamas leaders pledged with their honor to continue the Gaza Great Return March until the protests’ main goal - lifting the blockade - was achieved.
    But does that really mean anything when the protests are kept at hundreds of meters’ distance from the fence, essentially providing the “Gazan silence” Netanyahu wants? When no pressure is applied anymore on the Israeli government to create a sense of urgency for action to end the disastrous situation in Gaza? And when Hamas continues to avoid any compromises about administering the Gaza Strip to the PA in order to conclude a decade of Palestinian division, and consecutive failures?
    That Hamas is desperately avoiding war is indeed both notable and worthy, as well as its keenness to prevent further causalities amongst protesters, having already suffered 200 deaths and more than 20,000 wounded by the IDF. That genuine motivation though is mixed with more cynical ones – the protests are now politically more inconvenient for Hamas, and the casualty rate is becoming too expensive to sustain.
    Yet one must think, at what price is Hamas doing this? And for what purpose? If the price of Gaza’s sacrifices is solely to maintain Hamas’ rule, and the motive of working to alleviate pressure on Gaza is to consolidate its authority, then every Gazan has been sold out, and in broad daylight.

    Only if Hamas resumes the process of Palestinian reconciliation and a democratic process in Gaza would those actions be meaningful. Otherwise, demanding that the world accepts Hamas’ rule over Gaza as a fait accompli – while what a Hamas-controlled Gaza cannot achieve, most critically lifting the blockade, is a blunt betrayal of Palestinian martyrdom.
    It means compromising Palestinian statehood in return for creating an autonomous non-sovereign enclave in which Hamas could freely exercise its autocratic rule indefinitely over an immiserated and starving population.
    Which, according to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, is what Hamas has always wanted since rising to power in 2009: an interim Palestinian state in Gaza under permanent Hamas rule, not solving the wider conflict but rather obliterating in practice the prospect of a two state solution.
    It remains to be seen if the calls of “sell-outs” will return to Gaza’s social networks and streets, not least if Hamas’ obduracy and appetite for power end up selling out any prospect of a formally recognized State of Palestine.
    Muhammad Shehada is a writer and civil society activist from the Gaza Strip and a student of Development Studies at Lund University, Sweden. He was the PR officer for the Gaza office of the Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights. Twitter: @muhammadshehad2

    Muhammad Shehada


  • British academic accused of spying jailed for life in UAE | World news | The Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/21/british-academic-matthew-hedges-accused-of-spying-jailed-for-life-in-ua

    Les terrains de thèse les plus risqués au monde : les Etats du Golfe.

    A British academic who has been accused of spying for the UK government in the United Arab Emirates after travelling to Dubai to conduct research has been sentenced to life in jail.

    Matthew Hedges, 31, has been in a UAE prison for more than six months. The Durham University student who went to the country to research his PhD thesis, was handed the sentence at an Abu Dhabi court in a hearing that lasted less than five minutes, and with no lawyer present.

    Hedges was detained in May at Dubai airport as he was leaving the country following a research trip, and was held in solitary confinement for five months.

    The UAE attorney general, Hamad al-Shamsi, said Hedges was accused of “spying for a foreign country, jeopardising the military, political and economic security of the state”.

    Hedges has denied the charges, and maintains that he was in the country to research the impact of the Arab spring on the UAE’s foreign policy.


  • A Haven for Money in the Middle East, Dubai Is Losing Its Shine - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-18/a-haven-for-money-in-the-middle-east-dubai-is-losing-its-shine

    There’s a deeper problem. Dubai prospered as a kind of Switzerland in the Gulf, a place to do business walled off from the often violent rivalries of the Middle East, says Jim Krane, author of the 2009 book “City of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism.’’

    Now the state that Dubai is part of, the United Arab Emirates, has become an active player in those conflicts, fighting in civil wars from Libya to Yemen and joining the Saudi-led boycott of Qatar.

    “It’s a situation that Dubai finds itself in mostly through no fault of its own,’’ says Krane. “You can go to war with your neighbors, or you can trade with them. It’s really hard to do both.’’
    ‘Unpleasant Surprise’

    Stories of Qatari citizens being ordered to leave the U.A.E. shocked businesses that serviced the region from headquarters in Dubai. American executives were especially concerned about the prospect of being forced to pick sides, says Barbara Leaf, who was U.S. ambassador in the U.A.E. until March.

    “It has cast a shadow,’’ she says. “It was a very unpleasant surprise when U.A.E.-based companies found out they could no longer fly or ship goods directly to Doha.’’ The dispute rumbles on, even though the U.S. is applying renewed pressure for a settlement.

    #émirats


  • Are Jared and Ivanka Good for the Jews? - The New York Times

    Jewish communities stand more divided than ever on whether to embrace or denounce Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

    By Amy Chozick and Hannah Seligson
    Nov. 17, 2018

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/17/style/ivanka-trump-jared-kushner.html

    On election night in Beverly Hills, Jason Blum, the hot shot horror-movie producer, was accepting an award at the Israel Film Festival. The polls in a string of midterm contests were closing, and Mr. Blum, a vocal critic of President Trump, was talking about how much was at stake.

    “The past two years have been hard for all of us who cherish the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of this country,” Mr. Blum said.

    That’s when the crowd of mostly Jewish producers and power brokers started to chant, “We like Trump!” An Israeli man stepped onto the stage to try to pull Mr. Blum away from the microphone as the crowd at the Saban Theater Steve Tisch Cinema Center cheered.

    “As you can see from this auditorium, it’s the end of civil discourse,” Mr. Blum said, as security rushed the stage to help him. “Thanks to our president, anti-Semitism is on the rise.”
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    In the weeks after a gunman killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, in one of the most horrific acts of anti-Semitism in years, debates about the president’s role in stoking extremism have roiled American Jews — and forced an uncomfortable reckoning between Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and his daughter and son-in-law’s Jewish faith.
    Rabbi Jeffrey Myers greets Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump near the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
    Credit
    Doug Mills/The New York Times

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    Rabbi Jeffrey Myers greets Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump near the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
    Rabbis and Jewish leaders have raged on Twitter and in op-eds, in sermons and over shabbat dinners, over how to reconcile the paradox of Jared Kushner, the descendant of Holocaust survivors, and Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism to marry Mr. Kushner.

    To some Jews, the couple serves as a bulwark pushing the Trump administration toward pro-Israel policies, most notably the decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. To many others, they are the wolves in sheep’s clothing, allowing Mr. Trump to brush aside criticism that his words have fueled the uptick in violent attacks against Jews.

    “For Jews who are deeply opposed to Donald Trump and truly believe he is an anti-Semite, it’s deeply problematic that he’s got a Jewish son-in-law and daughter. How can that be?” said Dr. Jonathan D. Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University.
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    Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump serve as senior advisers in the White House. At a time when Judaism is under assault — the F.B.I. said this week that anti-Semitic attacks have increased in each of the last three years — they are unabashedly Orthodox, observing shabbat each week, walking to an Orthodox Chabad shul near their Kalorama home in Washington, D.C., dropping their children off at Jewish day school and hanging mezuzas on the doors of their West Wing offices.

    After the Pittsburgh attack, Mr. Kushner played a key role in Mr. Trump (eventually) decrying “the scourge of anti-Semitism.” And Mr. Kushner helped arrange the president’s visit to the Squirrel Hill synagogue, including inviting Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States to accompany them. There, in Pittsburgh, thousands marched to protest what one organizer described as the insult of the Mr. Trump’s visit.
    Arabella Kushner lights the menorah as her parents look on during a Hanukkah reception in the East Room of the White House in 2017.
    Credit
    Olivier Douliery/Getty Images

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    Arabella Kushner lights the menorah as her parents look on during a Hanukkah reception in the East Room of the White House in 2017.CreditOlivier Douliery/Getty Images
    The White House has referenced Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump’s religion to dismiss accusations that Mr. Trump’s rhetoric has emboldened anti-Semites. “The president is the grandfather of several Jewish grandchildren,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, told reporters.

    Using the couple in this way has unnerved many Jews who oppose the president and say Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump violated the sacred, if sometimes unspoken, communal code that mandates Jews take care of each other during times of struggle. “I’m more offended by Jared than I am by President Trump,” said Eric Reimer, a lawyer in New York who was on Mr. Kushner’s trivia team at The Frisch School, a modern Orthodox yeshiva in New Jersey that they both attended.

    “We, as Jews, are forced to grapple with the fact that Jared and his wife are Jewish, but Jared is participating in acts of Chillul Hashem,” said Mr. Reimer, using the Hebrew term for when a Jew behaves immorally while in the presence of others.
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    For Mr. Reimer, who hasn’t spoken to Mr. Kushner since high school, one of those incidents was the administration’s Muslim ban, which prompted members of the Frisch community to sign an open letter to Mr. Kushner imploring him “to exercise the influence and access you have to annals of power to ensure others don’t suffer the same fate as millions of our co-religionists.”

    Leah Pisar, president of the Aladdin Project, a Paris-based group that works to counter Holocaust denial, and whose late father, Samuel Pisar, escaped Auschwitz and advised John F. Kennedy, said she found it “inconceivable that Jared could stay affiliated with the administration after Pittsburgh” and called Mr. Kushner the president’s “fig leaf.”

    Those kinds of accusations are anathema to other Jews, particularly a subset of Orthodox Jews who accused liberal Jews of politicizing the Pittsburgh attack and who say that any policies that would weaken Israel are the ultimate act of anti-Semitism.
    Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner at the opening ceremony of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem in May.
    Credit
    Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press

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    Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner at the opening ceremony of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem in May.CreditSebastian Scheiner/Associated Press
    “Jared and Ivanka are one of us as traditional Jews who care deeply about Israel,” said Ronn Torossian, a New York publicist whose children attend the Ramaz School, the same Upper East Side yeshiva where Mr. Kushner’s eldest daughter Arabella was once enrolled. “I look at them as part of our extended family.”

    Even some Jews who dislike Mr. Trump’s policies and recoil at his political style may feel a reluctance to criticize the country’s most prominent Orthodox Jewish couple, grappling with the age-old question that has haunted the Jewish psyche for generations: Yes, but is it good for the Jews?
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    To that end, even as liberal New York Jews suggest the couple would be snubbed when they eventually return to the city, many in the Orthodox community would likely embrace them. “They certainly won’t be banned, but I don’t think most synagogues would give them an aliyah,” said Ethan Tucker, a rabbi and president of the Hadar yeshiva in New York, referring to the relatively limited honor of being called to make a blessing before and after the reading of the Torah. (Mr. Tucker is also the stepson of Joe Lieberman, the first Jewish candidate to run on a major party ticket in the U.S.) “I don’t think people generally honor people they feel were accomplices to politics and policies they abhor,” Mr. Tucker said.

    Haskel Lookstein, who serves as rabbi emeritus of the Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, the modern Orthodox synagogue on the Upper East Side that Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump attended, wrote in an open letter to Mr. Trump that he was “deeply troubled” by the president saying “You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides,” in response to the white nationalist riots in Charlottesville, Va.

    When reached last week to comment about the president’s daughter and son-in-law days after the Pittsburgh attack, Mr. Lookstein said simply, “I love them and that’s one of the reasons I don’t talk about them.”

    Talk to enough Jews about Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump, and you begin to realize that the couple has become a sort of Rorschach test, with defenders and detractors seeing what they want to see as it relates to larger rifts about Jewish identity.

    “It’s not about Jared and Ivanka,” said Matthew Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. “People look at them through the prism of their own worldviews.”
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    From left to right on front row, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara Netanyahu, Mr. Kushner, Ms. Trump, and the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin at the opening ceremony of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
    Credit
    Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press

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    From left to right on front row, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara Netanyahu, Mr. Kushner, Ms. Trump, and the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin at the opening ceremony of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.CreditSebastian Scheiner/Associated Press
    Those worldviews are rapidly changing. One in five American Jews now describes themselves as having no religion and identifying as Jews based only on ancestry, ethnicity or culture, according to Pew. By contrast, in the 1950s, 93 percent of American Jews identified as Jews based on religion.
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    As Jews retreat from membership to reform synagogues, historically made up of political liberals who were at the forefront of the fight for Civil Rights and other progressive issues, Chabad-Lubavitch, the Orthodox Hasidic group with which Mr. Kushner is affiliated, has become a rapidly-growing Jewish movement. The growth of Chabad correlates with fierce divisions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a small but growing contingent of American Jews who prioritize Israel above any other political or social issue.

    Mr. Kushner, in particular, has become a sort of proxy for these larger schisms about faith and Israel, according to Jewish experts. “There is a great deal of anxiety around the coming of the Orthodox,” said Dr. Sarna, the Brandeis professor. “Jared in every way — his Orthodoxy, his Chabad ties, his views on Israel — symbolizes those changes.”

    Mr. Kushner is the scion of wealthy real-estate developers and his family has donated millions of dollars to the Jewish community, including through a foundation that gives to settlements in the West Bank. Mr. Kushner influenced the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy, to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, and to shutter a Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington.

    “You’d be hard pressed to find a better supporter of Israel than Donald Trump and Jared plays a role in that,” said Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush. Mr. Kushner is currently working on a Middle East peace plan expected to be rolled out in the coming months.

    Haim Saban, an entertainment magnate and pro-Israel Democrat, is optimistic about Mr. Kushner’s efforts. He said in an interview from his hotel in Israel that although he disagrees with some of Mr. Trump’s policies, “Jared and by extension the president understand the importance of the relationship between the U.S. and Israel on multiple levels — security, intelligence, but most of all, shared values.”
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    That embrace has only exacerbated tensions with secular Jews who overwhelmingly vote Democratic and oppose Mr. Trump. According to a 2018 survey by the American Jewish Committee, 41 percent of Jews said they strongly disagree with Mr. Trump’s handling of U.S.-Israeli relations and 71 percent had an overall unfavorable opinion of Mr. Trump. (In response to questions for this story, a White House press aide referred reporters to an Ami magazine poll of 263 Orthodox Jews in the tristate area published in August. Eighty-two percent said they would vote for President Trump in 2020.)

    “To wave a flag and say ‘Oh, he’s obviously pro-Jewish because he moved the embassy’ just absolutely ignores what we know to be a deeply alarming rise of anti-Semitism and all sorts of dog-whistling and enabling of the alt-right,” said Andy Bachman, a prominent progressive rabbi in New York.
    President Trump praying at the Western Wall.
    Credit
    Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

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    President Trump praying at the Western Wall.CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times
    In September, Mr. Kushner and his top advisers, Jason D. Greenblatt and Avi Berkowitz, hosted a private dinner at the Pierre Hotel on the Upper East Side. Over a kosher meal, Mr. Kushner, aware of concerns within the Jewish community that Israel policy had become an overly partisan issue, fielded the advice of a range of Jewish leaders, including hedge-fund billionaire and Republican donor Paul Singer and Mr. Saban, to craft his Middle East peace plan. “He called and said ’I’ll bring 10 Republicans and you bring 10 Democrats,’” Mr. Saban said.

    The undertaking will only bring more kvetching about Mr. Kushner. Indeed, some of Mr. Trump’s most ardent Jewish supporters have already expressed their displeasure at any deal that would require Israel to give up land.

    “I’m not happy with Jared promoting a peace deal that’s sending a message that we’re ready to ignore the horrors of the Palestinian regime,” said Morton A. Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America and a friend of Republican megadonor Sheldon G. Adelson.

    “But …” Mr. Klein added, as if self-aware of how other Jews will view his position, “I am a fanatical, pro-Israel Zionist.”
    Amy Chozick is a New York-based writer-at-large and a frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine, writing about the personalities and power struggles in business, politics and media.


  • I met John Collison and Courtland Allen today — this is what I learned
    https://hackernoon.com/i-met-john-collison-and-courtland-allen-today-this-is-what-i-learned-9cb

    I met John Collison and Courtland Allen today — this is what I learnedHey everyone :)I really want to share with you something amazing that happened today!There was an Indie Hackers meetup in Dublin, Ireland. I’m from a city called Cork that is about 3 hours drive from Dublin. As soon as I heard Courtland was interviewing John Collison at this meetup, I decided to travel up from Cork to Dublin!And it was amazing. I learned so much during the interview, and took loads of notes! I even got to speak to John about some of my ideas. I also spoke with Courtlands +1 Cloey about becoming an ambassador for Indie Hacker events in my city!Here are some of the things that the interview covered:1) Core attributes of a promising founder worth following:Progress/trajectory over timeHow well they lead a team  (...)

    #courtland-allen #startup #john-collison #tech-events #product


  • The Real Reasons Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Wanted Khashoggi ‘Dead or Alive’
    https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-real-reasons-saudi-crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salman-wanted-khasho

    Christopher Dickey 10.21.18
    His death is key to understanding the political forces that helped turn the Middle East from a region of hope seven years ago to one of brutal repression and slaughter today.

    The mind plays strange tricks sometimes, especially after a tragedy. When I sat down to write this story about the Saudi regime’s homicidal obsession with the Muslim Brotherhood, the first person I thought I’d call was Jamal Khashoggi. For more than 20 years I phoned him or met with him, even smoked the occasional water pipe with him, as I looked for a better understanding of his country, its people, its leaders, and the Middle East. We often disagreed, but he almost always gave me fresh insights into the major figures of the region, starting with Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, and the political trends, especially the explosion of hope that was called the Arab Spring in 2011. He would be just the man to talk to about the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood, because he knew both sides of that bitter relationship so well.

    And then, of course, I realized that Jamal is dead, murdered precisely because he knew too much.

    Although the stories keep changing, there is now no doubt that 33-year-old Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the power in front of his decrepit father’s throne, had put out word to his minions that he wanted Khashoggi silenced, and the hit-team allegedly understood that as “wanted dead or alive.” But the [petro]buck stops with MBS, as bin Salman’s called. He’s responsible for a gruesome murder just as Henry II was responsible for the murder of Thomas Becket when he said, “Who will rid me of that meddlesome priest?” In this case, a meddlesome journalist.

    We now know that a few minor players will pay. Some of them might even be executed by Saudi headsmen (one already was reported killed in a car crash). But experience also tells us the spotlight of world attention will shift. Arms sales will go ahead. And the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi risks becoming just one more entry in the annals of intensifying, murderous repression of journalists who are branded the “enemy of the people” by Donald Trump and various two-bit tyrants around the world.

    There is more to Khashoggi’s murder than the question of press freedom, however. His death holds the key to understanding the political forces that have helped turn the Middle East from a region of hope seven years ago to one of brutal repression and ongoing slaughter today. Which brings us back to the question of the Saudis’ fear and hatred of the Muslim Brotherhood, the regional rivalries of those who support it and those who oppose it, and the game of thrones in the House of Saud itself. Khashoggi was not central to any of those conflicts, but his career implicated him, fatally, in all of them.

    The Muslim Brotherhood is not a benign political organization, but neither is it Terror Incorporated. It was created in the 1920s and developed in the 1930s and ‘40s as an Islamic alternative to the secular fascist and communist ideologies that dominated revolutionary anti-colonial movements at the time. From those other political organizations the Brotherhood learned the values of a tight structure, party discipline, and secrecy, with a public face devoted to conventional political activity—when possible—and a clandestine branch that resorted to violence if that appeared useful.

    In the novel Sugar Street, Nobel Prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz sketched a vivid portrait of a Brotherhood activist spouting the group’s political credo in Egypt during World War II. “Islam is a creed, a way of worship, a nation and a nationality, a religion, a state, a form of spirituality, a Holy Book, and a sword,” says the Brotherhood preacher. “Let us prepare for a prolonged struggle. Our mission is not to Egypt alone but to all Muslims worldwide. It will not be successful until Egypt and all other Islamic nations have accepted these Quranic principles in common. We shall not put our weapons away until the Quran has become a constitution for all Believers.”

    For several decades after World War II, the Brotherhood’s movement was eclipsed by Arab nationalism, which became the dominant political current in the region, and secular dictators moved to crush the organization. But the movement found support among the increasingly embattled monarchies of the Gulf, including and especially Saudi Arabia, where the rule of the king is based on his custodianship of Mecca and Medina, the two holiest sites in Islam. At the height of the Cold War, monarchies saw the Brotherhood as a helpful antidote to the threat of communist-led or Soviet-allied movements and ideologies.

    By the 1980s, several of the region’s rulers were using the Brotherhood as a tool to weaken or destroy secular opposition. Egypt’s Anwar Sadat courted them, then moved against them, and paid with his life in 1981, murdered by members of a group originally tied to the Brotherhood. Sadat’s successor, Hosni Mubarak, then spent three decades in power manipulating the Brotherhood as an opposition force, outlawing the party as such, but allowing its known members to run for office in the toothless legislature, where they formed a significant bloc and did a lot of talking.

    Jordan’s King Hussein played a similar game, but went further, giving clandestine support to members of the Brotherhood waging a covert war against Syrian tyrant Hafez al-Assad—a rebellion largely destroyed in 1982 when Assad’s brother killed tens of thousands of people in the Brotherhood stronghold of Hama.

    Even Israel got in on the action, initially giving Hamas, the Brotherhood branch among the Palestinians, tacit support as opposition to the left-leaning Palestine Liberation Organization (although PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat once identified with the Brotherhood himself).

    The Saudi royals, too, thought the Brotherhood could be bought off and manipulated for their own ends. “Over the years the relationship between the Saudis and the Brotherhood ebbed and flowed,” says Lorenzo Vidino, an expert on extremism at George Washington University and one of the foremost scholars in the U.S. studying the Brotherhood’s history and activities.

    Over the decades factions of the Brotherhood, like communists and fascists before them, “adapted to individual environments,” says Vidino. In different countries it took on different characteristics. Thus Hamas, or its military wing, is easily labeled as terrorist by most definitions, while Ennahda in Tunisia, which used to be called terrorist by the ousted Ben Ali regime, has behaved as a responsible political party in a complex democratic environment. To the extent that Jamal Khashoggi identified with the Brotherhood, that was the current he espoused. But democracy, precisely, is what Mohammed bin Salman fears.

    Vidino traces the Saudis’ intense hostility toward the Brotherhood to the uprisings that swept through much of the Arab world in 2011. “The Saudis together with the Emiratis saw it as a threat to their own power,” says Vidino.

    Other regimes in the region thought they could use the Brotherhood to extend their influence. First among these was the powerful government in Turkey of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has such longstanding ties to the Islamist movement that some scholars refer to his elected government as “Brotherhood 2.0.” Also hoping to ride the Brotherhood wave was tiny, ultra-rich Qatar, whose leaders had used their vast natural gas wealth and their popular satellite television channel, Al Jazeera, to project themselves on the world stage and, they hoped, buy some protection from their aggressive Saudi neighbors. As one senior Qatari official told me back in 2013, “The future of Qatar is soft power.” After 2011, Jazeera’s Arabic channel frequently appeared to propagandize in the Brotherhood’s favor as much as, say, Fox News does in Trump’s.

    Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, and the birthplace of the Brotherhood, became a test case. Although Jamal Khashoggi often identified the organization with the idealistic hopes of the peaceful popular uprising that brought down the Mubarak dynasty, in fact the Egyptian Brotherhood had not taken part. Its leaders had a modus vivendi they understood with Mubarak, and it was unclear what the idealists in Tahrir Square, or the military tolerating them, might do.

    After the dictator fell and elections were called, however, the Brotherhood made its move, using its party organization and discipline, as well as its perennial slogan, “Islam is the solution,” to put its man Mohamed Morsi in the presidential palace and its people in complete control of the government. Or so it thought.

    In Syria, meanwhile, the Brotherhood believed it could and should lead the popular uprising against the Assad dynasty. That had been its role 30 years earlier, and it had paid mightily.

    For more than a year, it looked like the Brotherhood’s various branches might sweep to power across the unsettled Arab world, and the Obama administration, for want of serious alternatives, was inclined to go with the flow.

    But then the Saudis struck back.

    In the summer of 2013, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the commander of the Egyptian armed forces, led a military coup with substantial popular support against the conspicuously inept Brotherhood government, which had proved quickly that Islam was not really the “solution” for much of anything.

    Al-Sissi had once been the Egyptian military attaché in Riyadh, where he had many connections, and the Saudis quickly poured money into Egypt to shore up his new regime. At the same time, he declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, and launched a campaign of ruthless repression. Within weeks of the coup, the Egyptian military attacked two camps of Brotherhood protesters and slaughtered hundreds.

    In Syria, the efforts to organize a credible political opposition to President Bashar al-Assad proved virtually impossible as the Qataris and Turks backed the Brotherhood while the Saudis continued their vehement opposition. But that does not mean that Riyadh supported moderate secular forces. Far from it. The Saudis still wanted to play a major role bringing down the Syrian regime allied to another arch enemy, the government of Iran. So the Saudis put their weight behind ultra-conservative Salafis, thinking they might be easier to control than the Muslim Brothers.

    Riyadh is “okay with quietist Salafism,” says Vidino. But the Salafis’ religious extremism quickly shaded over into the thinking of groups like the al Qaeda spinoff called the Nusra Front. Amid all the infighting, little progress was made against Assad, and there to exploit the chaos was the so-called Islamic State (which Assad partially supported in its early days).

    Then, in January 2015, at the height of all this regional turmoil, the aged and infirm Salman bin Abdelaziz ascended to the throne of Saudi Arabia. His son, Mohammed bin Salman, began taking into his own hands virtually all the reins of power, making bold decisions about reforming the Saudi economy, taking small measures to give the impression he might liberalize society—and moving to intimidate or otherwise neutralize anyone who might challenge his power.

    Saudi Arabia is a country named after one family, the al Saud, and while there is nothing remotely democratic about the government, within the family itself with its thousands of princes there traditionally has been an effort to find consensus. Every king up to now has been a son of the nation’s founder, Abdelaziz ibn Saud, and thus a brother or half brother of the other kings.

    When Salman took over, he finally named successors from the next generation. His nephew Mohammed bin Nayef, then 57 and well known for his role fighting terrorism, became crown prince. His son, Mohammed bin Salman, became deputy crown prince. But bin Nayef’s position between the king and his favorite son clearly was untenable. As one Saudi close to the royals put it: “Between the onion and the skin there is only the stink.”

    Bin Nayef was pushed out in 2017. The New York Times reported that during an end-of-Ramadan gathering at the palace he “was told he was going to meet the king and was led into another room, where royal court officials took away his phones and pressured him to give up his posts as crown prince and interior minister. … At first, he refused. But as the night wore on, the prince, a diabetic who suffers from the effects of a 2009 assassination attempt by a suicide bomber, grew tired.” Royal court officials meanwhile called around to other princes saying bin Nayef had a drug problem and was unfit to be king.

    Similar pressure was brought to bear on many of the richest and most powerful princes in the kingdom, locked up in the Ritz Carlton hotel in 2017, ostensibly as part of an extra-legal fight against corruption. They were forced to give allegiance to MBS at the same time they were giving up a lot of their money.

    That pattern of coerced allegiance is what the Saudis now admit they wanted from Jamal Khashoggi. He was no prince, but he had been closely associated in the past with the sons of the late King Faisal, particularly Turki al-Faisal, who was for many years the head of the Saudi intelligence apparatus and subsequently served as ambassador to the United Kingdom, then the United States.

    Although Turki always denied he had ambitions to be king, his name often was mentioned in the past as a contender. Thus far he seems to have weathered the rule of MBS, but given the record of the crown prince anyone close to the Al Faisal branch of the family, like Khashoggi, would be in a potentially perilous position.

    Barbara Bodine is a former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, which has suffered mightily since MBS launched a brutal proxy war there against Iran. Both MBS and Trump have declared the regime in Tehran enemy number one in the region. But MBS botched the Yemen operation from the start. It was dubbed “Decisive Storm” when it began in 2015, and was supposed to last only a few weeks, but the war continues to this day. Starvation and disease have spread through Yemen, creating one of the world’s greatest humanitarian disasters. And for the moment, in one of those developments that makes the Middle East so rich in ironies, in Yemen the Saudis are allied with a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    “What drives MBS is a ruthless effort toward total control domestically and regionally; he is Putin of the Desert,” says Bodine. “He has basically broken the back of the princelings, the religious establishment and the business elite, brought all ministries and agencies of power under his sole control (’I alone can fix it’), and jailed, killed or put under house arrest activists and any and all potential as well as real opposition (including his mother).”

    In 2017, MBS and his backers in the Emirates accused Qatar of supporting “terrorism,” issuing a set of demands that included shutting down Al Jazeera. The Saudis closed off the border and looked for other ways, including military options, to put pressure on the poor little rich country that plays so many angles it has managed to be supportive of the Brotherhood and cozy with Iran while hosting an enormous U.S. military base.

    “It was Qatar’s independent streak—not just who they supported but that they had a foreign policy divorced from the dictates of Riyadh,” says Bodine. “The basic problem is that both the Brotherhood and Iran offer competing Islam-based governing structures that challenge the Saudi model.”

    “Jamal’s basic sin,” says Bodine,“was he was a credible insider, not a fire-breathing radical. He wrote and spoke in English for an American audience via credible mainstream media and was well regarded and highly visible within the Washington chattering classes. He was accessible, moderate and operated within the West. He challenged not the core structure of the Kingdom but the legitimacy of the current rulers, especially MBS.”

    “I do think the game plan was to make him disappear and I suspect the end game was always to make him dead,” said Bodine in a long and thoughtful email. “If he was simply jailed within Saudi there would have been a drumbeat of pressure for his release. Dead—there is certainly a short term cost, whether more than anticipated or longer than anticipated we don’t know yet, but the world will move on. Jamal will become a footnote, a talking point perhaps, but not a crusade. The dismembered body? No funeral. Taking out Jamal also sends a powerful signal to any dissident that there is no place safe.”

    #Arabie_Saoudite #Turquie #politique #terrorisme #putsch


  • Pourquoi Israël (et le lobby pro-Israël aux Etats-Unis) défend MBS

    Why we should go easy on the Saudi crown prince

    For 50 years we’ve prayed for a key Arab leader who agrees to sign a significant pact with Israel. Such a leader has finally arrived

    Tzvia Greenfield
    Oct 22, 2018 1:48 AM

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-why-we-should-go-easy-on-the-saudi-crown-prince-1.6576593

    Turkey, a human rights champion under Erdogan, is accusing Saudi Arabia, another human rights champion, of the abhorrent murder of a Saudi journalist who entered the lion’s den in Istanbul and, as befits horror stories typical of places like Syria China, Iran, Russia and North Korea, disappeared from sight. Now we have recordings and videotapes, allegedly from the Saudi consulate, suggesting that his body was chopped into pieces.
    The underlying reason for this gruesome act, that evokes something conjured up by the Coen brothers, is not completely clear. One shouldn’t treat any death lightly, particularly not a murder committed by an evil government. However, because of the political ramifications involved, it’s worth contemplating this episode a bit more.
    To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz
    It’s possible that just like Putin, the Saudi royal house cannot tolerate any criticism, which is why it decided to eliminate the rogue journalist in an acid bath (a no less likely possibility that has not yet been suggested by the authorities in Ankara). It’s possible that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is gnashing his teeth over Saudi Arabia’s bolstered global status, particularly vis-à-vis U.S. President Donald Trump, and over the central role played by Mohammed bin Salman in a regional coalition meant to block Iranian influence in the Middle East — which is why Erdogan is bent on deflating the Crown Prince’s image.
    Erdogan may want to humiliate the Saudis, but his main goal is foiling the plan apparently devised by Trump and Mohammed to forge a regional alliance under the aegis of the United States, an alliance that includes Israel, the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt (and possibly Iraq). These countries will jointly try to block Iran, which endangers all of them. Turkey, which is struggling to find an as-yet-undetermined place within the Arab Muslim world, does not strive merely to lead the Sunni world. It also wants to depict Israel as a foreign colonialist implant in the Middle East. Any legitimization afforded Israel thanks to an alliance with Arab states has negative implications for Erdogan.
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    >> Why are some pro-Israel voices speaking out against Jamal Khashoggi? | Explained ■ Saudi Arabia, reeling from Khashoggi scandal, battles a new front: Arab media | Analysis
    But fate obviously has a sense of humor. It has embroiled the Turkish rivalry with Saudi Arabia in the U.S. midterm elections. Since Mohammed is currently Trump’s most important international ally, mainly for economic reasons, the campaign advocating a “liberal order,” espoused by international media assailing the Saudi leader, is buzzing with excitement. Its main objective is not the brushing aside of Saudi Arabia, but the delivery of a humiliating knockout blow to Trump and his economic plans.

    According to Time magazine, the level of public support for Trump remains stable at 43 percent, similar to that of Obama, Clinton and Reagan at comparative phases in their terms. It’s no wonder that after the failed attacks on Trump, who immerged unscathed from the intimidation of migrant children, the Stormy Daniels saga and the attempt to prevent the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, the left is eager to pounce on the Saudi murder case as if it has found a treasure trove.
    However, this time it’s necessary to treat the suspect with kid gloves. Trump’s peace initiative, if it is ever put on the table, is apparently the direct result of pressure by Mohammed bin Salman, who wishes to legitimize Israel before embarking on open cooperation with it. For 50 years we’ve prayed for a key Arab leader who agrees to sign a significant pact with Israel. Such a leader has finally arrived, and calls to depose him, such as those by former U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro in an op-ed in Haaretz (October 21) are destructive and in keeping with the best Obama tradition. Anyone waiting for a world of the purely just will have to struggle all his life with the purely evil.

    Tzvia Greenfield

    • Israël est un état colonial par la décision qui l’a créé et par son racisme (dès l’origine les kibboutz, bien que laïques étaient « juifs only »). Les nationalistes sionistes étaient sans doute habités par l’idéologie raciste coloniale propre à la période.

      Cela n’aurait pas été un problème si Israël avait accepté plus tard de reconnaitre les souffrances infligées aux populations arabes autochtones et s’il avait cherché à les compenser.
      Au lieu de cela Israël n’a jamais envisagé de créer une société réellement multi-ethnique et n’a eu de cesse de s’étendre et de réprimer toujours plus massivement les arabes, crimes de guerre sur crimes de guerre ...

      Israël comme l’Arabie, bien que différents, sont deux créations de l’occident colonial, toutes deux structurées par le racisme.
      Leur rapprochement a une logique.


  • Discours de Hagai El-Ad au Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies, le 18 octobre 2018
    AURDIP | 20 octobre | B’Tselem |Hagai El-Ad
    https://www.aurdip.org/discours-de-hagai-el-ad-au-conseil.html

    Hagai El-Ad, Directeur exécutif de B’Tselem, a pris la parole devant le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies ce soir, à la session trimestrielle prévue par la résolution 2334.

    Merci, Monsieur le Président,

    Merci, membres du Conseil de Sécurité,

    Il est très difficile, voire impossible, de décrire l’indignité, l’outrage et la souffrance d’un peuple privé de droits pendant plus de cinquante ans. Ici, dans ces locaux, il est difficile de donner corps aux vies que les Palestiniennes endurent sous occupation. Mais bien plus grande que cette difficulté, est celle de faire face à une existence intolérable au quotidien, d’essayer de vivre, de fonder une famille, de développer une communauté dans ces conditions.

    Cela fait bientôt deux ans que j’ai eu l’honneur d’être convié à témoigner devant ce Conseil. Deux ans de plus d’occupation, deux ans durant lesquels la routine des 49 années d’occupation s’est prolongée. Depuis ma dernière présentation ici, 317 Palestiniens ont été tués par les forces de sécurité israéliennes, et treize Israéliens ont été tués par des Palestiniens. Israël a démoli 294 maisons palestiniennes, et a continué d’effectuer des arrestations quotidiennes, notamment de mineurs. Des colons israéliens ont vandalisé et déraciné des milliers d’oliviers et de vignes. Les forces de sécurité israéliennes ont continué, sur une base régulière, d’entrer dans des maisons palestiniennes, parfois au milieu de la nuit pour réveiller des enfants, noter leurs noms et les prendre en photo. Les Palestiniens ont perdu d’innombrables heures à attendre aux check-points, sans explications. Et ainsi se poursuit la routine de l’occupation. (...)

    • The Real Hero Is the B’Tselem Chief
      Gideon Levy Oct 20, 2018 9:22 PM
      https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-the-real-hero-is-the-b-tselem-chief-1.6574668

      On the day the world realizes that the UN ambassador is Israel and Hagai El-Ad represents a muzzled minority, maybe its forgiving attitude toward Israel will change

      Who contributes more to Israel’s status in the world, UN Ambassador Danny Danon or B’Tselem director Hagai El-Ad? Who generates more respect, the diplomat or the human rights activist? Which of the two disgraced Israel with his words and who retained some of its humane image? Who told the truth and who lied? Whom does the world believe – excluding Nikki Haley, the only true collaborator in the hall – and whom can the no world no longer believe?

      They sat opposite each other at the Security Council – two Israelis of the same age, born here, army veterans, with totally different worldviews and conflicting moral standards. Their values are contradictory and their information on what’s happening under the occupation is divergent. One relies on the lies of Israel’s propaganda machine while the other’s views are based on the investigative efforts of an organization whose work couldn’t be more reliable and professional.

      El-Ad reminded the world of something the world still clings to, the belief that there is still a difference between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Danon tried to erase the difference with his pitiful response: “IDF soldiers protect you and you come here and slander them. You should be ashamed, collaborator.”

      Danon is a faithful representative of the majority in Israel. His appearances are important – he reminds the world that the illusion of the “only democracy in the Middle East” must be dispelled. On the day the world realizes that Danon is Israel and El-Ad represents not just a negligible minority but one muzzled by an aggressive majority, maybe its forgiving attitude toward Israel will change.

      The reactions in Israel only intensified the damage wrought by Danon. Not only the right pounced on El-Ad with viciousness – the center-left took part in the fascist revelry as well. There was Yair Lapid, as could only be expected. There were Zionist Union Knesset members such as Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (“these are one-sided texts deserving every condemnation”) and Eitan Cabel (“hateful words and an abomination”). Their words attested to the urgency of dispensing with this party and its rotting ideas. None of their colleagues came to El-Ad’s defense – how shameful. There is no alternative to the rule of the right.

      El-Ad showed the truth – naked, ugly and disturbing. Anyone calling him a snitch actually admits to this truth and is ashamed of it. It’s not only El-Ad’s right to behave this way, it’s his obligation. The occupation is not and cannot be an internal Israeli matter. The abuse of people without rights under a military tyranny in occupied territory is an international crime.

      Anyone seeing these crimes must report them to the authorities. If you see a man striking a woman or abusing a child or some other helpless creature, you have an obligation to report it to the police. If you see a tyrannical government abusing another nation for decades, killing, destroying, causing hunger, imprisoning people and blocking medical aid, you are obliged to report this to the United Nations, to The Hague and to other international institutions.

      El-Ad fulfilled his civic and moral duty. The chorus of his detractors knows this, which is why it’s so vicious and strident. If Danon really believed his own hollow speeches at the United Nations, he wouldn’t be alarmed at one Israeli speaking out differently. But Danon and Cabel, Benjamin Netanyahu and Miri Regev know that not one word in the restrained and to-the-point speech by El-Ad wasn’t truthful. This is why their reaction was so aggressive.

      El-Ad was modest, as is his wont. He said he was no traitor or hero; the Palestinians are the true heroes. He’s right, of course. Every demonstrator along the Gaza border is far more courageous than any Israel sniper shooting him from a distance. Every shepherd at the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar exudes more justice than the entire chorus of those attacking B’Tselem.

      But El-Ad too is a hero; he’s the ambassador of Israel as it should be, a public relations officer of an alternative Israel, a beautiful and just one. Now we have to be concerned about his safety. He has been marked as a target and must wear a bulletproof vest. If he comes to harm we’ll remember those who are to blame: Not just people on the right, but also the sanctimonious hypocrites on the center-left – Lapid, Cabel and Nahmias-Verbin, the spokespeople of Israel’s shameful and imaginary opposition.

    • réaction à son intervention d’il y a deux ans :

      Le chef de B’Tselem est “un vrai patriote”, selon des sources de l’unité d’élite où il a servi
      Hagai El-Ad est décrit comme un excellent soldat qui a grandement contribué à la sécurité d’Israël par ceux qui ont servi avec lui dans l’unité 504, élite du renseignement
      Par Alexander Fulbright 31 octobre 2016,
      https://fr.timesofisrael.com/le-chef-de-btselem-est-un-vrai-patriote-selon-des-sources-de-lunit

      Hagai El-Ad, le directeur de B’Tselem, est un « vrai patriote », qui a apporté une contribution inestimable à la sécurité d’Israël quand il servait dans l’une des unités d’élites les plus secrètes de l’armée israélienne, ont déclaré dimanche des sources internes à l’unité, dans un contexte de tempête médiatique et politique après son discours devant le Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies ce mois-ci.

      Il avait à ce moment demandé une intervention mondiale contre les implantations israéliennes en Cisjordanie.

      Pendant la session du 14 octobre, El-Ad avait dénoncé la “violence invisible et bureaucratique” qui domine la vie des Palestiniens “du berceau à la tombe”, faisant notamment allusion aux contrôles exercés lors de l’entrée et de la sortie des Territoires et les droits liés à l’agriculture.

      Hagai El-Ad, le directeur de B’Tselem, est un « vrai patriote », qui a apporté une contribution inestimable à la sécurité d’Israël quand il servait dans l’une des unités d’élites les plus secrètes de l’armée israélienne, ont déclaré dimanche des sources internes à l’unité, dans un contexte de tempête médiatique et politique après son discours devant le Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies ce mois-ci.

      Il avait à ce moment demandé une intervention mondiale contre les implantations israéliennes en Cisjordanie.

      Pendant la session du 14 octobre, El-Ad avait dénoncé la “violence invisible et bureaucratique” qui domine la vie des Palestiniens “du berceau à la tombe”, faisant notamment allusion aux contrôles exercés lors de l’entrée et de la sortie des Territoires et les droits liés à l’agriculture.
      El-Ad a servi au sein de l’unité entre 1987 et 1991, aux côtés de l’actuel coordinateur des activités gouvernementales dans les territoires (COGAT), Yoav Mordechai, qui est responsable de la mise en place des politiques du gouvernement israélien en Cisjordanie, selon la chaîne.

      Pendant ces années, a annoncé la Dixième chaîne, l’unité travaillait principalement dans le sud du Liban pour mettre en place des réseaux d’informateurs.

      Pendant son discours, El-Ad avait déclaré qu’Israël a utilisé le processus de paix « pour acheter du temps » afin d’établir des faits sur le terrain pour les implantations.

      Le pays ne peut pas occuper un peuple pendant 50 ans et se dire démocratique, a-t-il déclaré, ajoutant que les droits des Palestiniens devaient être réalisés, et que l’occupation devait cesser.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NE5x4IqxTq0



  • Why the Khashoggi murder is a disaster for Israel -
    The grisly hit-job on Khashoggi has implications far beyond its exposure of the Saudi Crown Prince as brutal and reckless. In Jerusalem and D.C., they’re mourning their whole strategic concept for the Mideast - not least, for countering Iran

    Daniel B. Shapiro
    Oct 17, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-why-the-khashoggi-murder-is-a-disaster-for-israel-1.6569996

    For Israel, this sordid episode raises the prospects that the anchor of the new Middle East realities it has sought to promote - an Israeli-Sunni Arab coalition, under a U.S. umbrella, to check Iran and Sunni jihadists - cannot be counted upon.
    And Israel must be careful how it plays its hand. There will, without question, be a U.S. response to Khashoggi’s murder, even if it is resisted by the Trump administration. It will not lead to a total dismantlement of the U.S.-Saudi alliance, but Congressional and public revulsion will have its price. 

    President Hassan Rouhani giving a speech on Iranian TV in Tehran on May 8, 2018.HO/AFP
    The price could include significant restrictions on arms sales that had been contemplated. It is already leading key U.S. investors to distance themselves from the major development projects MBS has promoted. At a minimum, there will be no replay of the warm, PR-friendly visit by MBS to multiple U.S. cities last March, no more lionizing of him in the American press as a reformer who will reshape the Middle East.
    Israel, which has a clear interest in keeping Saudi Arabia in the fold of U.S. allies to maximize the strategic alignment on Iran, will need to avoid becoming MBS’s lobbyist in Washington. Israel’s coordination with its partners in the region is still necessary and desirable. Simple realpolitik requires it. But there is a new risk of reputational damage from a close association with Saudi Arabia. 
    It won’t be easy for Israel to navigate these waters, as the Washington foreign policy establishment has quickly splintered into anti-Iran and anti-Saudi camps. The idea that the United States should equally oppose Iranian and Saudi brutality toward their peoples, and not let MBS’s crimes lead to a lessening of pressure on Iran over its malign regional activities, is in danger of being lost.
    For Israelis, that may be the biggest blow in the fallout of Khashoggi’s murder. MBS, in his obsession with silencing his critics, has actually undermined the attempt to build an international consensus to pressure Iran.
    The damage is broad. Trump may be an outlier. But what Member of Congress, what European leader, would be willing to sit with MBS for a consultation on Iran now?
    That is the greatest evidence of MBS’s strategic blindness, and the damage will likely persist as long as he rules the kingdom.
    Daniel B. Shapiro is Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa in the Obama Administration. Twitter: @DanielBShapiro


  • UK Labour enables assaults on free speech | The Electronic Intifada

    https://electronicintifada.net/content/uk-labour-enables-assaults-free-speech/25576

    On 28 August this year, the New Statesman published an interview with Jonathan Sacks, Britain’s former chief rabbi, in which he described Jeremy Corbyn, the country’s main opposition leader, as “an anti-Semite.”

    By way of evidence, Sacks cited comments made by Corbyn in 2013, when the Labour leader and long-standing supporter of Palestinian rights allegedly criticized Zionists for failing to understand English irony. An editorial in the same issue of the London magazine claimed that “Corbyn’s remarks conflated a political position and an identity.”

    Even the traditionally Labour-supporting New Statesman, then, was endorsing the anti-Semitism charge.

    My initial reaction to these accusations was to dismiss them. How could anyone believe such nonsense?

    I have known and worked with Corbyn since the late 1970s. I cannot think of any other prominent politician who, throughout their entire adult life, has worked as tirelessly against racism in every form.

    But on reflection, I think a more considered response is necessary. We need to look carefully at any such allegations. Theoretically, at least, they just might be true.

    Corbyn’s remarks were made in reference to an earlier speech by Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to the UK. Hassassian spoke in the British Parliament on 15 January 2013.

    We don’t have access to Hassassian’s entire speech but Richard Millett, a pro-Israel activist, recorded it at the time.


  • Saudi Arabia, Germany turn page on diplomatic dispute -
    The spat was triggered last November when Germany’s foreign minister at the time, Sigmar Gabriel, condemned ’adventurism’ in the Middle East

    Reuters
    Sep 26, 2018 5:39 PM

    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/saudi-arabia-germany-turn-page-on-diplomatic-dispute-1.6511068

    Germany and Saudi Arabia have agreed to end a prolonged diplomatic row that prompted the kingdom to pull its ambassador from Berlin and punish German firms operating in the country.
    The spat was triggered last November when Germany’s foreign minister at the time, Sigmar Gabriel, condemned “adventurism” in the Middle East, in comments that were widely seen as an attack on increasingly assertive Saudi policies, notably in Yemen.
    The comments, which aggravated already tense relations caused by a moratorium on German arms exports to Saudi Arabia, led Riyadh to withdraw its ambassador and freeze out German companies, particularly in the lucrative healthcare sector.

    Gabriel’s successor Heiko Maas, egged on by German industry, had been working for months to resolve the dispute. Earlier this month, Berlin signed off on the delivery of four artillery positioning systems to Saudi Arabia, a step that officials say accelerated the rapprochement.
    Standing alongside his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir at the United Nations on Tuesday, Maas spoke of “misunderstandings” that had undermined what were otherwise “strong and strategic ties” between the countries, saying “we sincerely regret this”.
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    “We should have been clearer in our communication and engagement in order to avoid such misunderstandings between Germany and the kingdom,” he said. “We’ll do our best to make this partnership with the kingdom even stronger than before.”
    Jubeir said he welcomed Maas’ statement and invited him to the kingdom to intensify their ties. He spoke of a “a new phase of close cooperation in all areas” between Berlin and Riyadh.
    Officials told Reuters that the Saudi ambassador, Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan, son of longtime Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, was expected to return to Berlin soon.
    After weeks of delay, the new German ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Joerg Ranau, is now expected to receive his accreditation and take up his position in Riyadh.
    “The Gordian knot has been broken,” said Volker Treier, foreign trade chief at the German chambers of commerce and industry (DIHK), who is in Riyadh to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the local chamber.
    “The optimism is back. Diplomacy triumphed,” he said. “Everyone we have met here has made clear they want to work closely with us again.”
    The dispute hit trade between the countries. German exports to Saudi Arabia fell 5 percent in the first half of 2018. And companies like Siemens Healthineers, Bayer and Boehringer Ingelheim complained that they were being excluded from public healthcare tenders.
    In a strongly-worded June letter to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, European and U.S. pharmaceutical associations warned that the restrictions could hurt Saudipatients and dampen future investment in the kingdom.
    The dispute with Germany predates one that erupted between Canada and Saudi Arabia this summer after the Canadian foreign minister, in a tweet, called for the release of human rights activists in Saudi Arabia.
    The kingdom responded by expelling the Canadian ambassador, recalling its own envoy, freezing new trade and investment, suspending flights and ordering Saudi students to leave Canada.
    Saudi Arabia’s role in the Yemen war, in which Arab forces are fighting Iran-aligned Houthis, remains controversial in Germany.
    Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new government went so far as to write into its coalition agreement earlier this year that no arms could be sent to countries involved in the conflict. It is unclear how recent arms deliveries fit with this ban.


  • The State of Israel vs. the Jewish people -
    Israel has aligned itself with one nationalist, even anti-Semitic, regime after another. Where does that leave world Jewry?
    By Eva Illouz Sep 13, 2018
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-the-state-of-israel-vs-the-jewish-people-1.6470108

    Orban, left, and Netanyahu, in Jerusalem in July 2018. DEBBIE HILL / AFP

    An earthquake is quietly rocking the Jewish world.

    In the 18th century, Jews began playing a decisive role in the promotion of universalism, because universalism promised them redemption from their political subjection. Through universalism, Jews could, in principle, be free and equal to those who had dominated them. This is why, in the centuries that followed, Jews participated in disproportionate numbers in communist and socialist causes. This is also why Jews were model citizens of countries, such as France or the United States, with universalist constitutions.

    The history of Jews as promoters of Enlightenment and universalist values, however, is drawing to a close. We are the stunned witnesses of new alliances between Israel, Orthodox factions of Judaism throughout the world, and the new global populism in which ethnocentrism and even racism hold an undeniable place.

    When Prime Minister Netanyahu chose to align himself politically with Donald Trump before and after the U.S. presidential election of 2016, some people could still give him the benefit of doubt. Admittedly, Trump was surrounded by people like Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, who reeked of racism and anti-Semitism, but no one was sure of the direction the new presidency would take. Even if Trump refused to condemn the anti-Semitic elements of his electoral base or the Ku Klux Klan, which had enthusiastically backed him, and even if it took him a long time to dissociate himself from David Duke – we were not yet certain of the presence of anti-Semitism in Trump’s discourse and strategies (especially since his daughter Ivanka was a convert to Judaism).

    But the events in Charlottesville in August 2017 no longer allowed for doubt. The neo-Nazi demonstrators committed violent acts against peaceful counter-protesters, killing one woman by plowing through a crowd with a car (an act reminiscent in its technique of terrorist attacks in Europe). Trump reacted to the events by condemning both the neo-Nazis and white supremacists and their opponents. The world was shocked by his conflation of the two groups, but Jerusalem did not object. Once again, the indulgent (or cynical) observer could have interpreted this silence as the reluctant obeisance of a vassal toward his overlord (of all the countries in the world, Israel receives the most military aid from the United States). One was entitled to think that Israel had no choice but to collaborate, despite the American leader’s outward signs of anti-Semitism.

    This interpretation, however, is no longer tenable. Before and since Charlottesville, Netanyahu has courted other leaders who are either unbothered by anti-Semitism or straightforwardly sympathetic to it, and upon whom Israel is not economically dependent. His concessions go as far as participating in a partial form of Holocaust denial.

    Take the case of Hungary. Under the government of Viktor Orban, the country shows troubling signs of legitimizing anti-Semitism. In 2015, for example, the Hungarian government announced its intention to erect a statue to commemorate Balint Homan, a Holocaust-era minister who played a decisive role in the murder or deportation of nearly 600,000 Hungarian Jews. Far from being an isolated incident, just a few months later, in 2016, another statue was erected in tribute to Gyorgy Donáth, one of the architects of anti-Jewish legislation during World War II. It was thus unsurprising to hear Orban employing anti-Semitic tropes during his reelection campaign in 2017, especially against Georges Soros, the Jewish, Hungarian-American billionaire-philanthropist who supports liberal causes, including that of open borders and immigration. Reanimating the anti-Semitic cliché about the power of Jews, Orban accused Soros of harboring intentions to undermine Hungary.

    Whom did Netanyahu choose to support? Not the anxious Hungarian Jewish community that protested bitterly against the anti-Semitic rhetoric of Orban’s government; nor did he choose to support the liberal Jew Soros, who defends humanitarian causes. Instead, the prime minister created new fault lines, preferring political allies to members of the tribe. He backed Orban, the same person who resurrects the memory of dark anti-Semites. When the Israeli ambassador in Budapest protested the erection of the infamous statue, he was publicly contradicted by none other than Netanyahu.

    To my knowledge, the Israeli government has never officially protested Orban’s anti-Semitic inclinations and affinities. In fact, when the Israeli ambassador in Budapest did try to do so, he was quieted down by Jerusalem. Not long before the Hungarian election, Netanyahu went to the trouble of visiting Hungary, thus giving a “kosher certificate” to Orban and exonerating him of the opprobrium attached to anti-Semitism and to an endorsement of figures active in the Shoah. When Netanyahu visited Budapest, he was given a glacial reception by the Federation of the Jewish Communities, while Orban gave him a warm welcome. To further reinforce their touching friendship, Netanyahu invited Orban to pay a reciprocal visit to Israel this past July, receiving him in a way usually reserved for the most devoted national allies.

    The relationship with Poland is just as puzzling. As a reminder, Poland is governed by the nationalist Law and Justice party, which has an uncompromising policy against refugees and appears to want to eliminate the independence of the courts by means of a series of reforms that would allow the government to control the judiciary branch. In 2016 the Law and Justice-led government eliminated the official body whose mission was to deal with problems of racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, arguing that the organization had become “useless.”

    An illustration depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shaking hands with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Auschwitz. Eran Wolkowski

    Encouraged by this and other governmental declarations and policies, signs of nationalism multiplied within Polish society. In February 2018, president Andrzej Duda declared that he would sign a law making it illegal to accuse the Polish nation of having collaborated with the Nazis. Accusing Poland of collusion in the Holocaust and other Nazi atrocities would be from now prosecutable. Israel initially protested the proposed legislation, but then in June, Benjamin Netanyahu and the Polish prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, signed an agreement exonerating Poland of any and all crimes against the Jews during the time of the German occupation. Israel also acceded to Poland’s move to outlaw the expression “Polish concentration camp.” Moreover, Netanyahu even signed a statement stipulating that anti-Semitism is identical to anti-Polonism, and that only a handful of sad Polish individuals were responsible for persecuting Jews – not the nation as a whole.

    A billboard displaying George Soros urges Hungarians to take part in a national consultation about what it calls a plan by the Hungarian-born financier to settle migrants in Europe, in Budapest. ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP

    Like the American, Hungarian and Polish alt-right, Israel wants to restore national pride unstained by “self-hating” critics. Like the Poles, for two decades now, Israel has been waging a war over the official narrative of the nation, trying to expunge school textbooks of inconvenient facts (such as the fact that Arabs were actively chased out of Israel in 1948). In order to quash criticism, Israel’s Culture Ministry now predicates funding to creative institutions on loyalty to the state. As in Hungary, the Israeli government persecutes NGOs like Breaking the Silence, a group whose only sin has been to give soldiers a forum for reporting their army experiences and to oppose Israeli settlers’ violence against Palestinians or the expropriation of land, in violation of international law. Purging critics from public life (as expressed in barring the entry into the country of BDS supporters, denying funding to theater companies or films critical of Israel, etc.) is an expression of direct state power.

    When it comes to refugees, Israel, like Hungary and Poland, refuses to comply with international law. For almost a decade now, Israel has not respected international conventions on the rights of refugees even though it is a signatory of said conventions: The state has detained refugees in camps, and imprisoned and deported them. Like Poland, Israel is trying to do away with the independence of its judiciary. Israel feels comfortable with the anti-democratic extreme right of European states in the same way that one feels comfortable with a family member who belches and gossips, losing any sense of self-control or table manners.

    More generally, these countries today share a deep common political core: fear of foreigners at the borders (it must be specified, however, that Israelis’ fears are less imaginary than those of Hungarians or Polish); references to the nation’s pride untainted by a dubious past, casting critics as traitors to the nation; and outlawing human rights organizations and contesting global norms based on moral principles. The Netanyahu-Trump-Putin triumvirate has a definite shared vision and strategy: to create a political bloc that would undermine the current liberal international order and its key players.

    In a recent article about Trump for Project Syndicate, legal scholar Mark S. Weiner suggested that Trump’s political vision and practice follow (albeit, unknowingly) the precepts of Carl Schmitt, the German legal scholar who joined the Nazi Party in 1933.

    “In place of normativity and universalism, Schmitt offers a theory of political identity based on a principle that Trump doubtless appreciates deeply from his pre-political career: land,” wrote Weiner. “For Schmitt, a political community forms when a group of people recognizes that they share some distinctive cultural trait that they believe is worth defending with their lives. This cultural basis of sovereignty is ultimately rooted in the distinctive geography… that a people inhabit. At stake here are opposing positions about the relation between national identity and law. According to Schmitt, the community’s nomos [the Greek word for “law”] or sense of itself that grows from its geography, is the philosophical precondition for its law. For liberals, by contrast, the nation is defined first and foremost by its legal commitments.”

    Netanyahu and his ilk subscribe to this Schmittian vision of the political, making legal commitments subordinate to geography and race. Land and race are the covert and overt motives of Netanyahu’s politics. He and his coalition have, for example, waged a politics of slow annexation in the West Bank, either in the hope of expelling or subjugating the 2.5 million Palestinians living there, or of controlling them.

    They have also radicalized the country’s Jewishness with the highly controversial nation-state law. Playing footsie with anti-Semitic leaders may seem to contradict the nation-state law, but it is motivated by the same statist and Schmittian logic whereby the state no longer views itself as committed to representing all of its citizens, but rather aims to expand territory; increase its power by designating enemies; define who belongs and who doesn’t; narrow the definition of citizenship; harden the boundaries of the body collective; and undermine the international liberal order. The line connecting Orban to the nationality law is the sheer and raw expansion of state power.

    Courting Orban or Morawiecki means having allies in the European Council and Commission, which would help Israel block unwanted votes, weaken Palestinian international strategies and create a political bloc that could impose a new international order. Netanyahu and his buddies have a strategy and are trying to reshape the international order to meet their own domestic goals. They are counting on the ultimate victory of reactionary forces to have a free hand to do what they please inside the state.

    But what is most startling is the fact that in order to promote his illiberal policies, Netanyahu is willing to snub and dismiss the greatest part of the Jewish people, its most accepted rabbis and intellectuals, and the vast number of Jews who have supported, through money or political action, the State of Israel. This suggests a clear and undeniable shift from a politics based on the people to a politics based on the land.

    For the majority of Jews outside Israel, human rights and the struggle against anti-Semitism are core values. Netanyahu’s enthusiastic support for authoritarian, anti-Semitic leaders is an expression of a profound shift in the state’s identity as a representative of the Jewish people to a state that aims to advance its own expansion through seizure of land, violation of international law, exclusion and discrimination. This is not fascism per se, but certainly one of its most distinctive features.

    This state of affairs is worrisome but it is also likely to have two interesting and even positive developments. The first is that in the same way that Israel has freed itself from its “Jewish complex” – abandoning its role as leader and center of the Jewish people as a whole – many or most Jews will now likely free themselves from their Israel complex, finally understanding that Israel’s values and their own are deeply at odds. World Jewish Congress head Ron Lauder’s August 13, 2018, op-ed in The New York Times, which was close to disowning Israel, is a powerful testimony to this. Lauder was very clear: Israel’s loss of moral status means it won’t be able to demand the unconditional loyalty of world Jewry. What was in the past experienced by many Jews as an inner conflict is now slowly being resolved: Many or most members of Jewish communities will give preference to their commitment to the constitutions of their countries – that is to universalist human rights.

    Israel has already stopped being the center of gravity of the Jewish world, and as such, it will be able to count only on the support of a handful of billionaires and the ultra-Orthodox. This means that for the foreseeable future, Israel’s leverage in American politics will be considerably weakened.

    Trumpism is a passing phase in American politics. Latinos and left-wing Democrats will become increasingly involved in the country’s politics, and as they do, these politicians will find it increasingly difficult to justify continued American support of Israeli policies that are abhorrent to liberal democracies. Unlike in the past, however, Jews will no longer pressure them to look the other way.

    The second interesting development concerns Europe. The European Union no longer knows what its mission was. But the Netanyahus, Trumps, Orbans and Morawieckis will help Europe reinvent its vocation: The social-democrat bloc of the EU will be entrusted with the mission of opposing state-sanctioned anti-Semitism and all forms of racism, and above all defending Europe’s liberal values that we, Jews and non-Jews, Zionists and anti-Zionists, have all fought so hard for. Israel, alas, is no longer among those fighting that fight.

    A shorter version of this article has originally appeared in Le Monde.

    • Eva Illouz : « Orban, Trump et Nétanyahou semblent affectionner barrières et murs »
      https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2018/08/08/eva-illouz-israel-contre-les-juifs_5340351_3232.html?xtor=RSS-3208
      Dans une tribune au « Monde », l’universitaire franco-israélienne estime que l’alliance du gouvernement israélien avec les régimes « illibéraux » d’Europe de l’Est crée une brèche au sein du peuple juif, pour qui la lutte contre l’antisémitisme et la mémoire de la Shoah ne sont pas négociables.

      LE MONDE | 08.08.2018 à 06h39 • Mis à jour le 08.08.2018 à 19h18 | Par Eva Illouz (directrice d’études à l’Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales)

      Tribune. Un tremblement de terre est tranquillement en train de secouer le monde juif. Lorsque le premier ministre israélien, Benyamin Nétanyahou, choisit de soutenir Donald Trump avant et après l’élection présidentielle américaine de 2016, certains pouvaient encore donner à ce dernier le bénéfice du doute. Certes, Trump s’était entouré de gens comme Steve Bannon dont émanaient des relents antisémites, certes, il refusait aussi de condamner sa base électorale sympathisante du Ku Klux Klan, mais personne n’était encore sûr de la direction que prendrait sa nouvelle présidence.

      Les événements de Charlottesville, en août 2017, n’ont plus permis le doute. Les manifestants néonazis commirent des actes de violence contre des contre-manifestants pacifiques (tuant une personne en fonçant dans la foule avec une voiture), mais Trump condamna de la même façon opposants modérés et manifestants néonazis.

      Le monde entier fut choqué de cette mise en équivalence, mais Jérusalem ne protesta pas. L’observateur indulgent (ou cynique) aurait pu interpréter ce silence comme l’acquiescement forcé du vassal vis-à-vis de son suzerain : de tous les pays du monde, Israël est celui qui reçoit la plus grande aide militaire des Etats-Unis.

      Cette interprétation n’est désormais plus possible. Il est devenu clair que Nétanyahou a de fortes sympathies pour d’autres dirigeants qui, comme Trump, front preuve d’une grande indulgence vis-à-vis de l’antisémitisme et dont il ne dépend ni militairement ni économiquement.
      Une statue à Budapest

      Prenons l’exemple de la Hongrie. En 2015, le gouvernement y annonça son intention de dresser une statue à la mémoire de Balint Homan, ministre qui joua un rôle décisif dans la déportation de 600 000 juifs hongrois. Quelques mois plus tard, en 2016, il fut question d’ériger à Budapest une statue à la mémoire d’un des architectes de la législation antijuive durant la seconde guerre mondiale, György Donáth....


  • Cate Blanchett: Nothing prepared me for Rohingya suffering
    https://apnews.com/b5ea34d47ea94f5792f19b55317c6b34

    Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that nothing prepared her for “the extent and depth of suffering” she saw when she visited camps in Bangladesh for Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled a violent crackdown by Myanmar’s military.

    In her very different role as a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. refugee agency, Blanchett said she heard “gut-wrenching accounts” of torture, rape, people seeing loved ones killed before their eyes, and children thrown into fire and burned alive.

    (...)

    The Rohingya have long been treated as outsiders in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, even though their families have lived in the country for generations. Nearly all have been denied citizenship since 1982, effectively rendering them stateless, and they are also denied freedom of movement and other basic rights.

    The latest crisis began with attacks by an underground Rohingya insurgent group on Myanmar security personnel last August in northern Rakhine State.

    #Rohingya #Birmanie #Myanmar
    Les photos sont un peu ridicules.


  • Hacking a Prince, an Emir and a Journalist to Impress a Client - The New York Times

    With Israel help

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/31/world/middleeast/hacking-united-arab-emirates-nso-group.html?imp_id=299442091&action=click&m

    The lawsuits also shed new light on the political intrigues involving Israel and the Persian Gulf monarchies, which have increasingly turned to hacking as a favorite weapon against one another.
    Image
    The NSO Group’s actions are now at the heart of the twin lawsuits accusing the company of actively participating in illegal spying.CreditDaniella Cheslow/Associated Press
    The U.A.E. does not recognize Israel, but the two appear to have a growing behind-the-scenes alliance. Because Israel deems the spyware a weapon, the lawsuits note, the NSO Group and its affiliates could have sold it to the Emirates only with approval by the Israeli Defense Ministry.

    Leaked emails submitted in the lawsuits show that the U.A.E. signed a contract to license the company’s surveillance software as early as August 2013.
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    A year and a half later, a British affiliate of the NSO Group asked its Emirati client to provide a sixth payment of $3 million under the original contract, suggesting a total licensing fee of at least $18 million over that period.

    An update the next year was sold through a different affiliate, based in Cyprus, at a cost of $11 million in four installments, according to leaked invoices.

    Tensions between the U.A.E. and its neighbor Qatar reached a boil in 2013 over a struggle for power in Egypt. Qatar had allied itself with the Egyptian Islamist movement that won the elections after the Arab Spring. Then the U.A.E. backed a military takeover that cast the Islamists into prison instead.

    In the escalating feud, each side accused the other of cyberespionage. Hackers broke into the email accounts of two outspoken opponents of Qatar — the Emirati ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, and an American Republican fund-raiser who does business with the U.A.E., Elliott Broidy. Mr. Broidy has filed a separate lawsuit accusing Qatar and its Washington lobbyists of conspiring to steal and leak his emails.

    Other hackers briefly took over the website of the Qatari news service to post a false report of an embarrassing speech by the emir to damage him, and later leaked Qatari emails exposing awkward details of Qatari negotiations over the release of a royal hunting party kidnapped in Iraq. Allies of Qatar blamed the Emiratis.

    The leaked emails disclosed in the new lawsuits may also have been stolen through hacking. Lawyers involved said the documents were provided by a Qatari journalist who did not disclose how he had obtained them.

    The messages show that the Emiratis were seeking to intercept the phone calls of the emir of Qatar as early as 2014.
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    But the Emirati target list also included Saudi Arabia. In the email discussions about updating the NSO Group’s technology, the Emiratis asked to intercept the phone calls of a Saudi prince, Mutaib bin Abdullah, who was considered at the time to be a possible contender for the throne.

    The Emiratis have been active promoters of Prince Mutaib’s younger rival, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Last year, the crown prince removed Prince Mutaib from his role as minister of the national guard and ordered his temporary detention in connection with corruption allegations.

    In a telephone interview, Prince Mutaib expressed surprise that the Emiratis had attempted to record his calls.

    “They don’t need to hack my phone,” he said. “I will tell them what I am doing.”

    According to the emails, the Emiratis also asked to intercept the phone calls of Saad Hariri, who is now prime minister of Lebanon.

    Mr. Hariri has sometimes been accused of failing to push back hard enough against Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese movement backed by Iran. Last year, the U.A.E.’s Saudi ally, Crown Prince Mohammed, temporarily detained Mr. Harari in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, and forced him to announce his resignation as prime minister. (He later rescinded the announcement, and he remains prime minister.)

    Mr. Alkhamis, who resigned in 2014 as the editor of the London-based newspaper Al Arab, called the surveillance of his phone calls “very strange” but not unexpected, since he had published “sensitive” articles about Persian Gulf politics.

    The U.A.E.’s use of the NSO Group’s spyware was first reported in 2016. Ahmed Mansoor, an Emirati human rights advocate, noticed suspicious text messages and exposed an attempt to hack his Apple iPhone. The U.A.E. arrested him on apparently unrelated charges the next year and he remains in jail.


  • Egypt Political figures arrested over Eid holiday interrogated about political views, affiliations | MadaMasr

    Escalade de la répression en Egypte où Emmanuel Macron a annoncé qu’il se rendrait bientôt

    https://www.madamasr.com/en/2018/08/29/feature/politics/political-figures-arrested-over-eid-holiday-interrogated-about-political-v

    In interrogations held on Monday and Tuesday, five of the seven political figures arrested over the Eid holiday were questioned about their views on and relationship to prominent political groups and events in Egypt’s post-2011 political landscape.

    On Monday, Supreme State Security Prosecution conducted preliminary interrogations with former ambassador Masoum Marzouk, university professor Yehia al-Qazzaz, economist Raed Salama and activist Nermeen Hussein, all of which will continue next Monday, according to lawyer Khaled Ali.

    Activist Sameh Seoudi’s questioning took place on Tuesday, Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) lawyer Ahmed Abdel Latif told Mada Masr on Wednesday. The sessions will be resumed next Saturday.

    The two remaining defendants in the case, university professor Abdel Fattah Saeed al-Banna and activist Amr Mohamed, are being interrogated today.




  • Amazon’s ’ambassador’ workers assure Twitter: we can go to the toilet any time | Technology | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/aug/23/amazon-fc-ambassadors-twitter-working-conditions

    Anxious consumers worried about the welfare of Amazon’s thousands of warehouse employees will be relieved to discover that they do in fact get to occasionally use the toilet. They’re also allowed to drink water on the job, work in well-lit spaces with really big fans, and don’t need food stamps to make ends meet.

    And, for at least one of them, “Olive Garden is life”.

    We know all this thanks to Amazon’s “FC ambassadors” – employees at the e-tailer’s fulfillment centers who spring to the company’s defense on Twitter when it’s being dragged for poor working conditions.

    #amazon #droits_humains #travail


  • Photo Tampering throughout History

    http://tampering.izitru.com/index.html

    Though photo manipulation has become more common in the age of digital cameras and image editing software, it actually dates back almost as far as the invention of photography. The pages that follow contain an overview of some of the more notable instances of photo manipulation in history. For recent years, an exhaustive inventory of every photo manipulation would be nearly impossible, so we focus here on the instances that have been most controversial or notorious, or ones that raise the most interesting ethical questions.

    Promoting the narrative that anti-government activists were actually puppets being manipulated by the U.S. government to undermine the Russian government, the Russian national television network REN-TV published a photo showing that U.S. ambassador to Russia John Tefft had attended a Moscow rally of these activists. The U.S. Embassy responded that Tefft had actually spent that day relaxing at home, and then mocked REN-TV’s coverage by releasing a series of composites showing Tefft at a variety of other historical events. After the original source photo was revealed to be from an interview Tefft gave in February at the site where Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov had been murdered, REN-TV conceded that the version they had published was a fake that they had found on Twitter.

    Ultra-orthodox Jewish newspaper Actuali published on its front page a group photo of the new Israeli coalition government ministers, but it modified the photo to remove three women. Two of the women had been standing side-by-side, so the paper filled the noticeable gap by moving in a minister from another region of the photo which had been cropped. Another ultra-Orthodox news source, the website B’Haderai Haredim, also felt the need to hide the women when publishing the photo, but it took the less extreme measure of pixelating their faces.

    After the Azerbaijan Ministry of Defense published a photo depicting its soldiers participating in a Victory Day parade in Moscow, online observers quickly pointed out that the image had been modified to hide the fact that Armenian soldiers were positioned immediately behind them in the parade, which was organized alphabetically. In an original version of the photo, the Armenian flag is clearly visible in the background, but this flag has disappeared in the “official” Azerbaijan version. The two countries have long had an adversarial relationship due to a territorial dispute.

    While it may not be the most outrageous example of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish publication removing a prominent woman from a photo, the website Kikar HaShabbat’s approach to removing Kim Kardashian deserves some recognition for its amusingly pragmatic simplicity. Before publishing a photo showing Kardashian and rapper Kanye West having lunch with Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, the website hid Kardashian by clumsily compositing a dining receipt over that portion of the photo. When asked about the modification, editor Nissim Ben Haim said it was necessary because Kardashian is a “pornographic symbol” who is inconsistent with the values of their site.

    #photographie #manipulation #Photoshop


  • China to allegedly assist Syrian Army in Idlib - report
    https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/china-to-allegedly-assist-syrian-army-in-idlib-report

    China will allegedly assist the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in their upcoming battle in southwestern Idlib, the Chinese Ambassador to Syria, Qi Qianjin, told Al-Watan this week.

    According to the Al-Watan, Qianjin told the Syrian daily that the Chinese military is prepared to ‘somehow’ take part in the upcoming Idlib offensive, especially because of the large presence of Uyghur fighters near Jisr Al-Shughour.

    “The Chinese military has played an imperative role in protecting sovereignty, security and stability of China. At the same time, it (China) is wanting to take part in peacekeeping operations,” Qianjin told Al-Watan.

    Tiens ! Les Chinois aussi en #syrie.


  • Saudi Arabia Planned to Invade Qatar Last Summer. Rex Tillerson’s Efforts to Stop It May Have Cost Him His Job.
    https://theintercept.com/2018/08/01/rex-tillerson-qatar-saudi-uae

    THIRTEEN HOURS BEFORE Secretary of State Rex Tillerson learned from the presidential Twitter feed that he was being fired, he did something that President Donald Trump had been unwilling to do. Following a phone call with his British counterpart, Tillerson condemned a deadly nerve agent attack in the U.K., saying that he had “full confidence in the U.K.’s investigation and its assessment that Russia was likely responsible.

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders had called the attack “reckless, indiscriminate, and irresponsible,” but stopped short of blaming Russia, leading numerous media outlets to speculate that Tillerson was fired for criticizing Russia.

    But in the months that followed his departure, press reports strongly suggested that the countries lobbying hardest for Tillerson’s removal were Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both of which were frustrated by Tillerson’s attempts to mediate and end their blockade of Qatar. One report in the New York Times even suggested that the UAE ambassador to Washington knew that Tillerson would be forced out three months before he was fired in March.

    The Intercept has learned of a previously unreported episode that stoked the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s anger at Tillerson and that may have played a key role in his removal. In the summer of 2017, several months before the Gulf allies started pushing for his ouster, Tillerson intervened to stop a secret Saudi-led, UAE-backed plan to invade and essentially conquer Qatar, according to one current member of the U.S. intelligence community and two former State Department officials, all of whom declined to be named, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

    In the days and weeks after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and closed down their land, sea, and air borders with the country, Tillerson made a series of phone calls urging Saudi officials not to take military action against the country. The flurry of calls in June 2017 has been reported, but State Department and press accounts at the time described them as part of a broad-strokes effort to resolve tensions in the Gulf, not as an attempt by Tillerson to avert a Saudi-led military operation.

    In the calls, Tillerson, who dealt extensively with the Qatari government as the CEO of Exxon Mobil, urged Saudi King Salman, then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir not to attack Qatar or otherwise escalate hostilities, the sources told The Intercept. Tillerson also encouraged Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to call his counterparts in Saudi Arabia to explain the dangers of such an invasion. Al Udeid Air Base near Doha, Qatar’s capital city, is the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command and home to some 10,000 American troops.

    Pressure from Tillerson caused Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the country, to back down, concerned that the invasion would damage Saudi Arabia’s long-term relationship with the U.S. But Tillerson’s intervention enraged Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and effective ruler of that country, according to the U.S. intelligence official and a source close to the Emirati royal family, who declined to be identified, citing concerns about his safety.

    Later that June, Mohammed bin Salman would be named crown prince, leapfrogging over his cousin to become next in line for the throne after his elderly father. His ascension signaled his growing influence over the kingdom’s affairs.

    Qatari intelligence agents working inside Saudi Arabia discovered the plan in the early summer of 2017, according to the U.S. intelligence official. Tillerson acted after the Qatari government notified him and the U.S. embassy in Doha. Several months later, intelligence reporting by the U.S. and U.K. confirmed the existence of the plan.

    The plan, which was largely devised by the Saudi and UAE crown princes and was likely some weeks away from being implemented, involved Saudi ground troops crossing the land border into Qatar, and, with military support from the UAE, advancing roughly 70 miles toward Doha. Circumventing the U.S. air base, Saudi forces would then seize the capital.


  • As U.S. pushes for Mideast peace, Saudi king reassures allies |
    Reuters

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-paelestinians-usa-saudi/as-u-s-pushes-for-mideast-peace-saudi-king-reassures-allies-idUSKBN1KJ0F9

    RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has reassured Arab allies it will not endorse any Middle East peace plan that fails to address Jerusalem’s status or refugees’ right of return, easing their concerns that the kingdom might back a nascent U.S. deal which aligns with Israel on key issues.

    King Salman’s private guarantees to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his public defense of long-standing Arab positions in recent months have helped reverse perceptions that Saudi Arabia’s stance was changing under his powerful young son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, diplomats and analysts said.

    This in turn has called into question whether Saudi Arabia, birthplace of Islam and site of its holiest shrines, can rally Arab support for a new push to end the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, with an eye to closing ranks against mutual enemy Iran.

    “In Saudi Arabia, the king is the one who decides on this issue now, not the crown prince,” said a senior Arab diplomat in Riyadh. “The U.S. mistake was they thought one country could pressure the rest to give in, but it’s not about pressure. No Arab leader can concede on Jerusalem or Palestine.”

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    Palestinian officials told Reuters in December that Prince Mohammed, known as MbS, had pressed Abbas to support the U.S. plan despite concerns it offered the Palestinians limited self-government inside disconnected patches of the occupied West Bank, with no right of return for refugees displaced by the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948 and 1967.

    Such a plan would diverge from the Arab Peace Initiative drawn up by Saudi Arabia in 2002 in which Arab nations offered Israel normal ties in return for a statehood deal with the Palestinians and full Israeli withdrawal from territory captured in 1967.

    Saudi officials have denied any difference between King Salman, who has vocally supported that initiative, and MbS, who has shaken up long-held policies on many issues and told a U.S. magazine in April that Israelis are entitled to live peacefully on their own land - a rare statement for an Arab leader.

    The Palestinian ambassador to Riyadh, Basem Al-Agha, told Reuters that King Salman had expressed support for Palestinians in a recent meeting with Abbas, saying: “We will not abandon you ... We accept what you accept and we reject what you reject.”

    He said that King Salman naming the 2018 Arab League conference “The Jerusalem Summit” and announcing $200 million in aid for Palestinians were messages that Jerusalem and refugees were back on the table.

    FILE PHOTO: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud attends Riyadh International Humanitarian Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser
    The Saudi authorities did not respond to a request for comment on the current status of diplomatic efforts.

    RED LINES

    Diplomats in the region say Washington’s current thinking, conveyed during a tour last month by top White House officials, does not include Arab East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, a right of return for refugees or a freeze of Israeli settlements in lands claimed by the Palestinians.

    Senior adviser Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, has not provided concrete details of the U.S. strategy more than 18 months after he was tasked with forging peace.

    A diplomat in Riyadh briefed on Kushner’s latest visit to the kingdom said King Salman and MbS had seen him together: “MbS did the talking while the king was in the background.”

    Independent analyst Neil Partrick said King Salman appears to have reined in MbS’ “politically reckless approach” because of Jerusalem’s importance to Muslims.

    “So MbS won’t oppose Kushner’s ‘deal’, but neither will he, any longer, do much to encourage its one-sided political simplicities,” said Partrick, lead contributor and editor of “Saudi Arabian Foreign Policy: Conflict and Cooperation”.

        Kushner and fellow negotiator Jason Greenblatt have not presented a comprehensive proposal but rather disjointed elements, which one diplomat said “crossed too many red lines”.

    Instead, they heavily focused on the idea of setting up an economic zone in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula with the adjacent Gaza Strip possibly coming under the control of Cairo, which Arab diplomats described as unacceptable.

    In Qatar, Kushner asked Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to pressure the Islamist group Hamas to cede control of Gaza in return for development aid, the diplomats said.

    One diplomat briefed on the meeting said Sheikh Tamim just nodded silently. It was unclear if that signaled an agreement or whether Qatar was offered anything in return.

    “The problem is there is no cohesive plan presented to all countries,” said the senior Arab diplomat in Riyadh. “Nobody sees what everyone else is being offered.”

    Kushner, a 37-year-old real estate developer with little experience of international diplomacy or political negotiation, visited Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and Israel in June. He did not meet Abbas, who has refused to see Trump’s team after the U.S. embassy was moved to Jerusalem.

    In an interview at the end of his trip, Kushner said Washington would announce its Middle East peace plan soon, and press on with or without Abbas. Yet there has been little to suggest any significant progress towards ending the decades-old conflict, which Trump has said would be “the ultimate deal”.

    “There is no new push. Nothing Kushner presented is acceptable to any of the Arab countries,” the Arab diplomat said. “He thinks he is ‘I Dream of Genie’ with a magic wand to make a new solution to the problem.”

    A White House official told reporters last week that Trump’s envoys were working on the most detailed set of proposals to date for the long-awaited peace proposal, which would include what the administration is calling a robust economic plan, though there is thus far no release date.

    Editing by Giles Elgood
    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

    • In Saudi Arabia, the king is the one who decides on this issue now, not the crown prince,
      […]
      A diplomat in Riyadh briefed on Kushner’s latest visit [in June] to the kingdom said King Salman and MbS had seen him together: “MbS did the talking while the king was in the background.

      Euh, question bête : c’est dans la même aile de l’hôpital la gériatrie de king S et la rééducation (il est probablement sorti des soins intensifs, depuis le temps) de Kronprinz bS ?

      Ce serait quand même plus commode pour Mr Son in law


  • Jewish Arab village in the spotlight after Israel passes nationality law

    https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/07/israel-palestinians-nationality-law-neve-shalom-coexistence.html

    Some ambassadors to Israel celebrate their country’s national day at the poolside of their official residences in Herzliya, just north of Tel Aviv. Others mark the day with receptions at fancy Tel Aviv hotels. Swiss Ambassador Jean-Daniel Ruch chose to celebrate his country’s independence in a unique spot. He will welcome his guests, among them government, Foreign Ministry and Knesset representatives, to the Jewish Arab village of Neve Shalom-Wahat al-Salam, which lies midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The principles on which this community, the first and only one of its kind, was founded run counter to the spirit of the nationality law — Israel’s new law that excludes the country’s 20% Arab minority, strips their mother tongue of its official status and negates their national narrative.

    The official invitation to the event says that Neve Shalom — Hebrew for “Oasis of Peace” — is a village of Jewish and Palestinian Israeli citizens working together for justice, peace and equality in the country and the region. Its vision, the invitation quotes from Neve Shalom’s founding principles, is to offer "a model of equality, mutual respect and partnership, challenging the existing patterns of racism and discrimination as well as the continued conflict.” Contrary to the nationality law, which reads that Israel “views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment,” the 70 Jewish and Arab families living in the village reject the idea of Jewish-only communities. The Arabic language has equal footing with Hebrew. The village children attend a bilingual school and unlike other Israeli schoolchildren, are allowed to mark the Palestinian Nakba and to protest the Israeli occupation.