The Happy Arab News Service

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Who is the Enemy ???

Over 3,000 attend rally in support of former MK Bishara, Arab leaders speak against Israel's ‘attack’ on Arab population

Ali Waked
Published: 04.28.07, 19:29 / Israel News

The Balad movement held a rally in support of former Knesset Member Azmi Bishara, who is under investigation for suspected collaboration with the enemy during the Second Lebanon War last summer.

Over 3,000 supporters attended the rally in Nazareth on Saturday, and protested what they defined as “the cruel campaign against Bishara and the Arab population in Israel”.

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"What is Bishara accused of? Collaborating with the enemy? Hizbullah isn't our enemy, the Israeli occupation is the enemy. Olmert, Diskin and Lieberman the immigrant will not succeed in removing us from our land," Hadash's Secretary-General Ayman Auda said.

Balad Faction Chairman Jamal Zahalka told Ynet ahead of the rally, “The attack is not only against Bishara, but against all Palestinians in Israel.

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Sheikh Salah said that Israeli Arabs would never agree to leave the State of Israel.

“If the options before us are either to be kicked out or to die on this land – we will take the second option (Arabs like to die. There is very little we can do about this. NB). We may be killed and jailed and we will not leave this land. At the end of the day, we will win,” Salah said (And they like to win, though dying plainly comes to them easier. NB).

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MK Talab El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta'al) said that being part of the Palestinian people was a great honor for Israeli Arabs, not a crime (Go tell it to our peace loonies, because I got tired of trying NB).

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My question to Ayman Auda would be if the Israeli occupation still means only the WB/Gaza.

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Once Upon a Country

Sari Nusseibeh, the president of Al Quds University, with Ruthie Blum on his new book (You don't have to agree NB)

The Jerusalem Post

Apr. 26, 2007

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But now, you're telling me, "Look, we Israelis are different from you Palestinians."

It's true. You are. Nobody disagrees. One of the characteristics of the Jewish or the Israeli population is that they are capable of making judgments that are a little bit self-critical. They don't necessarily fall into the trap of building up a certain stereotype of the other side. They're prepared to stand back and judge. The fact that they have a major Peace Now movement - the fact that they can be critical of their government - illustrates this. The Palestinians, on the other hand, don't seem to be able to this.

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The Zionists began the endeavor of institution-building even before the State of Israel was established in 1948. Would the Arabs in Palestine have been building similar institutions had the Jewish state not been established?

Are you asking whether we, by ourselves, would have developed the notion of Palestinian identity - and therefore pursued the aim of establishing a state in which we could express this national identity in the same way that the Jews did?

We, as a people, were not born with an identity. Most peoples - the Jews are an exception, so let's put them aside for a moment - develop their national identities and then begin to look upon themselves as nations needing to be embodied in the form of a state. We Palestinians are no different. And one of the things that helped us forge our sense of identity as a nation was the fact that the Jews - the people we confronted in the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century - were a community or a group wishing to have a state with their own identity.

You know, I have a great-great-great-great-great grandfather who is buried in a mausoleum in [the Jerusalem neighborhood of] Mamilla. If you had asked him, "Are you a Palestinian?" he would probably have answered, "What do you mean, a Palestinian? No, I belong to the Muslim nation."

But you see, what I believe you Israelis might actually be doing in asking that question is drawing the conclusion - the wrong one, in my opinion - that because we were not born one or five or six thousand years ago with an identity, we do not have an identity, or even rights.

On the contrary. Let's assume it makes no difference what gives the Palestinians a sense of national identity or how recently they acquired that sense. Let's say it's totally legitimate. Then let's imagine that we remove the proclaimed obstacle - namely "occupation" - to independent Palestinian statehood. The question is: Would the Palestinians be building highways and concert halls and art galleries?

As a state, you mean? Presumably, yes. But suppose, for instance, that we did have our own state, and suppose this state had been created when Israel was created...

If the Arabs had agreed to partition, you mean?

Yes. And suppose we and Israel had nothing to do with one another. We probably would have developed just the way that the rest of the Arab world developed. We probably would have been just as backward as the rest of the Arab states. We would have produced a state with all of the problems that Arab states have.

But, everything seems to have a positive as well as a negative side. Our interaction with Israel has had a major negative impact on us, without question. But what Palestinians don't realize is that it has also had a positive impact. Although we came to suffer as a result of this interaction with Israelis and the Jewish people, we learned a lot. We learned a lot from you; we learned a lot about you; and we learned a lot through you about the rest of the world. And that's very important, and a major source of power, as far as we are concerned.

In other words, seeing Israel not in the sense that is normally depicted - namely, as a dagger in the heart of the Arab world - but as a bridge to the rest of the world is something the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab peoples are in need of. We need this bridge between ourselves and the rest of the world. This is something one should be aware of as one looks to the future.

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Is the global war between radical Islam and the West that erupted - or became apparent - after 9/11 a reflection of what is going on between Israel and the Palestinians or a result of it? Do you believe that the Palestinian struggle is the root cause of outside unrest - or is it the other way around?

There are two schools of thought about this. Let's hope that one of the major sources of the overall global problems is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Why should we hope that?

Because it's a very focused conflict and we can solve it. If doing so then solves the global conflict, we'd all be very happy. Whereas, if we assume that we have to solve the global conflict first, we're going to have a long wait [he laughs].

But I'm not sure how things work, to tell you the truth. And I'm not sure that there's an answer that makes sense. But, regardless of what the real answer is, we should focus on our own problems, tend to our own garden.

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Is it possible that behind the Palestinians' inability to create a state of the kind you describe is an emphasis on victimhood, rather than on personal responsibility for improving their own lives?

I agree that we complain a lot and that we are not exercising control of our lives in a rational way. I think we have reached a point where we can translate the problem we are complaining about into something that's soluble and go ahead and solve it with our own hands.

Do you see any resolution in sight to the civil war that's going on between Fatah and Hamas?

That's hard to say. The question is: What does Hamas stand for? What does Fatah stand for? In other words, they could end up coming to an agreement on the radical aspects of their ideologies.

Is there an option for a third entity arising to replace both of them?

This is like the chicken and the egg. Let's hypothesize that the Israeli government comes to the Palestinians and makes an offer. And let's say the offer is the Ayalon-Nusseibeh agreement [based on Israel's withdrawal to the '67 borders, Jerusalem as a shared capital and no right of return of Palestinian refugees to Israel]. But Israel will not sign such an agreement just like that. It needs to know that the Palestinians really want it. In which case, they have to have a representative government or party that will do it.

Now, in that context, I think a Palestinian party could arise which is prepared to represent the people for that particular agreement - and which is prepared to run for elections on that platform. I even think such a party would win the elections.

Do you actually believe that a Palestinian running on a platform of peace with Israel and no right of return would win an election in the PA?

Yes, if there is an Israeli offer. The trouble so far has been that Fatah hasn't been clear, which hasn't been good either for the Palestinians or the Israelis.

And you actually believe that in such an event, terrorism and warfare would be kept at bay?


So, you don't think the problem, as far as the Palestinians are concerned, is the very existence of the State of Israel?


Full Source

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Proclaimed un monstruooo muy monstruoso at 8:24 PM


Critical Part

The New York Times

Published: April 24, 2007

American commanders consider Kurdish soldiers to be a critical part of the new Baghdad security plan because of their fighting prowess.

BAGHDAD, April 23 — The Shiite mother and her son opened their door for the soldiers on night patrol.

In walked the Americans, each brandishing an M-16 assault rifle. Next came the men wearing tan uniforms and carrying Kalashnikovs. They spoke Arabic with accents as thick as crude oil.

“Are there problems in the neighborhood?” said their leader, Capt. Sardar Hamasala. “We’re here for your safety. Let us know if there are sectarian problems or other kinds of problems — Sunnis threatening Shia, Shia threatening Sunnis.”

The black-robed mother and her son said they were glad to see the soldiers, and shook their hands before the men stepped back into the cool night air of western Baghdad.

“There was a time when we couldn’t go from house to house like this among the Arabs just because we’re Kurds,” Captain Hamasala said. “Now we’re trying to make things easier for them. We’re proud of that.”

Kurdish soldiers from the rugged north are the latest armed group to be introduced into Baghdad’s boiling sectarian stew. Like the Americans, they are a slender peacekeeping force standing between the warring Sunni Arabs and Shiite Arabs in a city of more than six million. American commanders consider them a critical part of the new Baghdad security plan because of their fighting prowess and neutrality in the conflict between the Arab sects. About 2,100 have been brought into the capital in recent months.

The deployment of Kurdish forces carries risks. Some Kurdish politicians have criticized sending Kurds to Baghdad for fear their presence will exacerbate tensions between Kurds and Arabs. Many Kurds also harbor intense hostility toward Arabs because of decades of violence in Iraq between the two ethnicities, so there is the chance that Kurdish soldiers could treat Arabs harshly.

But so far, American officers working with the Kurds have praised their professionalism, and several Arab families in neighborhoods patrolled by Kurds said in interviews that they hoped the Kurds would help stem the sectarian violence.

This is possibly the first time since the days of Saladin, the revered 12th-century Kurdish warrior-king, that Kurdish forces have been given the task of controlling swaths of Baghdad. They have been ordered to secure the streets for their historic enemies, the Arabs.

The Kurds have complicated attitudes toward their mission. “God sent Muhammad as a prophet to these people, and he couldn’t solve their problems,” Captain Hamasala said. “How are we supposed to help them?”

He later added: “Here, they still talk about what happened 2,000 or 3,000 years ago. That’s the way the Arabs think.” (!!! NB)

There have already been some clashes between the Kurds and Arab militants. The captain’s unit and American soldiers came under withering gunfire one night when they went into two mosques to detain hundreds of men and boys. Another Kurdish unit battled members of the Mahdi Army, a powerful Shiite militia, at a checkpoint in western Baghdad this month, leaving one civilian dead and one wounded. That unit has been trying to secure several blocks in the Amel neighborhood to encourage displaced Sunni Arab families to return.

Some of the Kurds here — as well as their fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers — fought for independence from Arab Iraq as militiamen called pesh merga, or “those who face death.”

Saddam Hussein retaliated, killing at least 80,000 Kurds and razing villages in the so-called Anfal campaign in 1988. But the Kurds won autonomy after the American military set up a no-flight zone over Iraqi Kurdistan in 1991 to prevent incursions by the Iraqi Army.

“I’m proud of being an officer in an army that just years ago was killing my people and torturing my family,” said Lt. Karwan Abdul Hadi as he led a night patrol on a hunt for a suspected Shiite militant. “It’s very important to make the point that we’re not like the Arabs. We don’t look for revenge. We don’t have a black heart.”

The lieutenant noted that the Kurdish militias fought their own civil war from 1993 to 1998, a conflict that left thousands dead.

“But it wasn’t like this,” he said. (The Kurds did not use to slit each other's throats. Neither to attack markets or to bomb schools and buses NB)

The lieutenant’s superior, Captain Hamasala, 30, commands the headquarters company of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade of the 4th Iraqi Army Division, the first Kurdish unit to enter Baghdad as part of the buildup to the new security plan. The company lives on an old air base in the Ali Salah neighborhood of western Baghdad. Arab soldiers from another division sleep in nearby barracks, as do American soldiers from the 82nd Airborne.

The Kurds go out on patrol with the Americans and shun the Arabs.

“The Americans are our friends in Iraq, not the Arabs,” Captain Hamasala said as he and 10 other Kurds left the base one night with an American foot patrol.

Another officer, Lt. Serwan Dawa Rashid, said one afternoon at a traffic checkpoint: “I consider the relationship between us and the United States to be like that between Tel Aviv and the U.S.”

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Mookie, Miles & Dodo

Mookie, Miles & Dodo

by the genius of the IraqPundit .. wondering how until now nobody in the washington post or new york times has invited this guy to write a weekly column ...

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The Jewish Department's worst nightmare

The Jerusalem Post

Apr. 22, 2007
by Anshel Pfeffer

If, as the police suspect, the bomb that lightly wounded one man near Beit Shemesh on Friday was the work of haredi activists protesting the upcoming Gay Pride Parade, then it is a new development taking the relationship between religion and state back over 50 years.

In the early Fifties, a group of yeshiva students joined together in a clandestine group called "Brit Hakanaim" (Brotherhood of the Zealots) to try to force the new state to adopt a more religious nature. Their methods were threats, arson and primitive bombs. They acted against butchers who sold non-kosher meat and drivers and taxi stands that operated on Shabbat. The members were arrested in May 1951 before they managed to carry out their plan to plant a bomb in the Knesset. One of them was the young Mordechai Eliahu, who 32 years later was elected chief rabbi.

The Brotherhood and another similar haredi group that operated during the same period were inspired by the struggle of the Irgun and Lehi, that had not only fought against the British Mandate, but were also not part of the Zionist mainstream establishment. Many yeshiva students felt comfortable joining them.

But despite the previous clandestine experience of some of the members, they were quickly rounded up by the police and security services before they managed to cause much damage.

For the next five decades, the bitter conflicts between the government and the haredim often included violence from both sides, but at the most it included stone-throwing and fistfights.

The younger generations, further, had no experience with weapons and explosives. The most they were capable of was burning dumpsters and spray-painting Herzl's grave.

As adamant as the haredi rabbis and their followers were in fighting against autopsies, archeological digs in presumed burial grounds, and tussling with policemen during the battle for Shabbat, there always was a line they didn't cross between "casual" violence and the life-threatening variety. As much as they might have hated the Zionists, it always remained within acceptable limits.

Over the last decade, the Shin Bet's "Jewish Department" has warned about the dangerous potential of former soldiers and officers in elite combat units who joined some of the more radical yeshivot.

So far, this potential hasn't been realized - but the gay pride parades in Jerusalem have provoked a more violent response than ever. Two years ago, a haredi protester stabbed three participants.

There is not enough space here to explain why the haredi community regards gays parading as a greater abomination than bacon sandwich eaters driving on Shabbat, but it has obviously pushed them to higher levels of violence than what was previously considered acceptable.

The details released so far about Friday's bomb suggest a level of experience hitherto lacking in the haredi arsenal. If the leaflets found on the spot against the Gay Pride Parade aren't just a ruse, it seems like they have some new recruits - and the Shin Bet's fears might be realized.


The gay community may continue to entertain itself with the idea of organizing gay parades on every square mile of this country, yet the dangers outlined by this article are too obvious for any sane person to ignore. It's not only that the idea of gay parades in Jerusalem is impractical and hardly relevant for the city increasingly dominated by its religious sector and conservative 'mizrahi' population. The secular sector in general and the gay community in particular are plainly playing with fire by refusing to accommodate the orthodox sector. The approach they adopted is even less comprehensible given how much our sexual minorities are committed to making peace with the Arabs. It should be noticed that any attempt by the gay community to organize a similar gay parade in, say, Um el-Fahm would lead to even greater violence and more resistance and resentment. And this begs one question - why these peace campers are ready to celebrate differences and co-exist with everybody around except the ultra orthodox?

The ultra orthodox did not try to disrupt gay parades in Tel Aviv and in general until now they were committed isolationists. The traditional Israelis too usually mind their own business even though they may object to institutionalized gay marriages (Israel recognizes such marriages enacted by Israeli gays outside Israel).

The recent attempts by the gay community to stage provocations in the middle of Jerusalem are unsound on all grounds and they are not going to make life much easier for the gay community of Jerusalem itself. Jerusalem always had gay and mixed places. In fact some very cool places in Jerusalem have a strong gay presence. Even as far back as almost 10 years ago one of the fanciest places in Jerusalem,, the 'Q' club, was almost equally split between gays and straights who were mixing freely between themselves. Many perfectly straight people (like Nobody for example) were taking a ride on the gays' ability to create a vibrant nightlife around them and were frequenting such places. The orthodox either did not really mind such places or had no nerve to start messing with them. The last attempt by the gay community, apparently led by its members from Tel Aviv and elsewhere, to bring the gay parade into Jerusalem left many Jerusalem gays worrying if they are now going to pay the price for a confrontation they were unwillingly made part of.

Until now the unsigned pact between the ultra orthodox and gays in Jerusalem was that both sides avoided messing with each other and stayed clear of each other's territory. This time the ultras have clearly got the perception that the old red lines are no longer respected and a few more similar provocations can lead to a violent backlash. The ultras have never hesitated to resort to limited violence when the secular sector deliberately or by mistake intruded on their territory, but now it can get even worse and the gay community should take this into account.

For Jerusalem gays the situation is complicated by the demographic explosion in the haredi sector which in the future may make the city totally dominated by the ultra and other orthodox. Many secular Israelis are moving out of Jerusalem instead of waiting for the inevitable to come and this does not put the gays of Jerusalem in the position to dictate their terms. But even thinking nationwide it's time to be worried by such incidents and avoid provoking confrontations:

By the year 2020, the haredi population of Israel will double to 1 million and make up 17 percent of the total population, said Hebrew University demographer Professor Sergio DellaPergola Tuesday.

DellaPergola, who belongs to the Department of Contemporary Jewry and the Institute for Jewish People Policy Planning, spoke at the Knesset's Interior and Environmental Affairs Committee.

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Nov. 9, 2005


The implications of this are obvious. While religious people are not necessarily extremists themselves (and for that matter i never claimed that the majority of Muslims are terrorists), their very existence in the population boosts the ranks of extremists by a simple law of statistics. If one can expect so and so extremists for every 1,000 religious persons, then the more religious people you have, the more chances you get that the number of extremists among them may reach a critical mass which is followed by organized religious extremism.

And above all this, the coming years may bring a partial Israel's pullout from the West Bank where over years certain sections of the settlers' population have transformed themselves into a bizarre Martian race plagued by even worse forms of lunatism than the ghetto-dwellers of Jerusalem. While the majority of settlers did manage to preserve a semblance of normalcy despite their messianic lunatism and political extremism, this is impossible to say about some hardcore communities where people at times walk around in a pseudo biblical dress supposed to be that of their Hebrew ancestors, their crystal clear eyes radiating that pathologically insane divine light so typical of many religious loons worldwide. Left for decades to their own devices in the wilderness of the West Bank some of the settlers did what lunatics usually do when locked for a while in a company of similar minded lunatics - they became even more lunatic. The government should not even try to bring these people into Israel proper and make an utmost effort to relocate all of them elsewhere.

It's a combination of the military skills of the more deranged among the settlers chronically enraged ever since the beginning of the Oslo process and the enthusiasm for Jewish Sharia state shared by some sections of the Haredi youth rediscovering with the 60 years' delay the joys of political and territorial Zionism, that is bound to increase the headache of Shin Bet's Jewish department. It may also soon teach the gay community a few valuable lessons about the wisdom of avoiding needless confrontations.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Compassion that Lost Its Mind

Amnon Rubinshtein made another stance for the Sudanese refugees in the Jerusalem Post. The readers refused to be impressed though and as one of them wrote to the author:

Compassion without wisdom always leads to unwelcome conclusions. For Israel to open the door to islamic refugees is not only compassion without wisdom, it is compassion that has lost its mind.

A small number of refugees penetrated Israel via Egypt, some possibly smuggled into the country by Bedouin gangs operating across the border. The Bedouins regularly camel into Israel drugs, weapons and prostitutes from Eastern Europe for Tel Aviv massage parlors. A few years ago the Bedouins have also channeled into Israel an unknown number of foreign workers and, in general, it appears that human trafficking has turned into a lucrative business in Negev. Three years ago an illegal worker from Moldova admitted to 'Nobody' that he and members of his group paid a few hundreds dollars each to Bedouin smugglers and those did not disappoint. The guy later gave himself away to the authorities after their shelter in Jerusalem was raided twice by immigration police.

Anyway, dozens of refugees are sitting in detention centers now, but they refuse to be deported back claiming that life in Israel's jails is ways better than freedom in Egypt. And probably they could continue sitting there indefinitely but human rights groups started campaigning for their rights forcing the government to make a tough choice between providing the refugees with some kind of temporary residency status and deporting them back. The government is busy right now setting up new settlements to bring more haredi population to Negev in a possibly vain attempt to strengthen Jewish presence where nomadic demographics and growing lawlessness are threatening to get out of control. In this situation one is just tempted to suggest that integrating African Muslims is not high on the government's agenda these days.

In fact, Israel's government may be much more preoccupied with the demographics than ordinary Israelis imagine:

On 15th October 2001, Ariel Sharon summoned Haifa University geographer Arnon Soffer to the prime minister's office to discuss his recently published findings on Israel's demographic future. Given the higher Palestinian birth rate, Professor Soffer had predicted that by the year 2020, only 42% of those living in Israel and the administered territories would be Jewish, a figure which U.S Population Reference Bureau forecasts have since supported. According to Soffer, only a complete evacuation of the Gaza Strip, a withdrawal from most of the West Bank and the transfer to PA control of predominantly Arab-populated areas within Israel's pre-1967 borders such as the northern Triangle region would ensure a continued Jewish majority and the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.

Two and a half years later, the seeds sown in that meeting have borne fruit. Just three weeks after he told a press briefing for foreign journalists in Jerusalem that he did not believe the burgeoning Palestinian population posed "any demographic dangers," Prime Minister Sharon disclosed to Haaretz and Maariv respectively that he had ordered the effective evacuation of Gaza and requested an analysis of the legal implications of a cession of Israeli Arab towns, such as Umm el-Fahm, to a future Palestinian state.

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By Sean Gannon February 19, 2004


Another complication is that a few weeks ago Ehud Olmert publicly refused to consider the possibility of bringing any number of Palestinian refugees into Israel proper and in fact he went so far with this that he even criticized his predecessors who played with this idea during Oslo (At one point Israel offered the Palestinians to let in a few dozens of thousands of refugees as a symbolic gesture of goodwill). Probably like many other well intentioned individuals, Olmert too would just love to have in this country a small farm of domesticated Hebrew speaking Sudanese pets, a nice supplement to the YadWaShem demonstrating how this country is just one big light upon other nations. Yet unlike other well intentioned Israelis Olmert also has to show up here and there to explain to the world the position of Israel on the issue of Palestinian refugees and the cognitive dissonance is just too obvious for the idea of such a farm to become practical.

Strangely and in shart contrast to the lunacy massively ruling the Israeli blogsphere, the commenters of the Jerusalem post did not find the whole idea of naturalizing Sudanese refugees very fancy. There may be one thousands and one reasons for this. Some of Rubinshtein's argumentation plainly sucks:

But what if we are inundated with refugees from Sudan? you may ask. The answer is that at this point we are not talking about a mass immigration, and the duty we have is absolute. However, should the numbers increase to levels we can no longer deal with, Israel would have to foster an international arrangement to distribute the burden of absorption among a number of different countries.

Probably Israeli readers of the Jerusalem post were not born yesterday and even some of its readers from Diaspora got the idea of how efficient the Israeli bureaucracy is, to trust its judgement on such an important issue as defining at which levels this country can no longer manage this Muslim immigration.

Neither talks about granting only temporary status can satisfy anybody here apart from hardcore humanists. Israelis know their media all too well for not to know that in a few years the media will put them under a full scale assault of pictures and interviews with Sudanese refugees who will be, with tears in their eyes, pledging their love for Israel (and its welfare system) and begging to be allowed to stay.

And of course Holocaust also came up at one point. There can be no political and social discourse in Israel that will not, sooner or later, bring the memories of the Holocaust somehow. Just as all roads lead to Rome ... and so:

ISRAEL IS no ordinary state. It is a Jewish state. That is not a figure of speech: We remember how the gates of freedom were closed to our parents and grandparents; we remember the White Paper, which served as a death sentence to many tens of thousands of our people; we remember the Evian Conference, which convened on the eve of the Holocaust and officially resolved to do nothing for the Jewish refugees; we remember the fate of the Saint Louis, the ship filled with Jewish refugees fleeing from the Nazis that the United States sent back to Germany just a few weeks before the extermination was to begin.


That Holocaust was a terrible event in the history of Jews that's sure. It set the Jews back by centuries. Even many young Israelis seem to be in a full paranoia from the whole thing, as if it happened only yesterday. It traumatized this nation to the point that a few generations should pass before it would become possible to talk about real recovery. It is the lessons of the Holocaust that are disputed.

As Rubinshtein admits himself Jewish refugees were all too often turned back. What followed since then does not inspire more trust in the goodwill of humanity as this nation spent its modern history as a semi pariah state. Almost every week another European association from Irish men of arts to British journalists is debating boycotting its Israeli colleagues. Under these conditions the most important lesson of the Holocaust in the eyes of the majority of this nation is that humanity is short on goodwill and understanding towards Jews/Israel. And another important lesson is that mistakes are costly and risky and when shit hits the fan for the Jews, they have only themselves to rely on.

Maybe if the rest of the world would have demonstrated more understanding towards a tiny nation locked in a vicious conflict with the one billion strong Arab/Muslim civilization, things would have looked different today. But this was not the case at all and given Israel's own demographic plight tough measures may be required in the future such as unilateral fencing off some parts of the country populated by Arabs. Most Israelis don't even fancy finding understanding with the world on this issue. They sure don't fancy to exacerbate the situation by creating for themselves more problems where theoretically they were supposed to have none.

The plight of African Muslims whether in Sudan or elsewhere is not Israel's problem. Sure the small 'apartheid' state is bound to have many problems, but this should not be one of them. On this issue many Israelis would stick to the main lesson of the Holocaust - too many mistakes and excessive trust in the goodwill of humanity can be deadly. Too deadly. Probably one can find many reasons for granting the Sudanese refugees asylum in Israel, but the Holocaust is not one of them.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

'Rabbi Nachman's Go Trancy

Independence Day, Tel Aviv

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New Blog in the Links

My father's side of the family is Jewish and my mom's side is antisemitic, so I am one messed up fellow. Oh yeah, and I am stuck in the Jew-hating part of Arabia (as opposed to the Jew-loving district of course). Oy!

Jew of Arabia

The guy is considering conversion. Judging by his sense of humor he does not need one.

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Proclaimed un monstruooo muy monstruoso at 12:22 AM


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Horn of Africa Blows at Midnight

I was not posting about the Horn of Africa for a while because, since the Islamic Courts (ICU) were overthrown, it was all more or less about the same. Over last weeks hundreds and thousands died in Mogadishu in heavy fighting between the Ethiopian and government forces and local clans apparently allied with the remnants of the ICU. Dozens of thousands fled the capital. In short, a usual monotonous and boring routine not worth of attention. Yet today there happened something that may signal a new twist in this conflict

Ethiopian rebels who have fought alongside Islamic militants in neighboring Somalia stormed a Chinese-run oil field at dawn Tuesday, killing 74 people and destroying the exploration facility in a restive border region.

It was the first such attack on a foreign company in this Horn of Africa nation, in contrast to Nigeria on the western side of the continent, where rebel groups frequently attack international oil concerns.

Chinese officials said nine Chinese oil workers and 65 Ethiopians died and seven Chinese were taken away by the rebels. It wasn't known if the rebels suffered any casualties.

The assault by more than 200 gunmen lasted nearly an hour, and followed a warning last year from the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front against any investment in eastern Ethiopia's Ogaden area that could benefit the U.S.-allied government.

Formed by Ethiopia's ethnic Somali minority, the Muslim group has been fighting for secession of the Britain-sized region with 4 million inhabitants since the early 1990s, but it had mounted only occasional hit-and-run attacks on government troops in recent years.

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Almost half of Ethiopia's population are Muslims. Ethiopia fought several wars in Somalia and at the peak of their power (which lasted no more than a few months) the ICU were repeatedly threatening Ethiopia with Jihad and pledging their commitment to the creation of a 'Greater Somalia'.

So Ethiopia went to Somalia to stop the 'Greater Somalia' from coming to Ethiopia. Yet it starts looking as if the 'Greater Somalia' is nevertheless on its way to Ethiopia.



My previous coverage of this conflict is available under 'The Horn of Africa' and other tags below

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Israeli vs Israeli

Last updated: Apr 24, 2007

April 24, 2007

For Midi

Midi said:

What we do need to do is to tie the "other" population even closer to the jewish population, otherwise there is no possibilty of more immigration of "others". With statistics you can form peoples minds and the CBS has been very good at this previously. Why dont create instead of "others" a term that indicates that they want to join the jewish people through slow assimilation (rather than conversion)? This would make it easier to accept and digest lets say 200 000 more halv and quarter jews from FSU.

Its not the best solution in the world but would give breathing space for another decade until the arab birthrate is lower than the jewish.


First of all, I don't think that the Arab birth rate will become lower than the Jewish one in the foreseeable future. That's why we should consider the idea of non-Jewish immigration to balance off the growth of the Arab sector, unless we suddenly get a few hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants from Europe. Such a possibility exists because these days not only Jews but even Europeans themselves feel threatened by the Muslim immigration. Pinchas Landau was discussing this option recently. He claims to see signs of the incoming Jewish immigration from Europe.

From an Israeli viewpoint, the relocation process is still in its early stages, but several aspects are already clear. First, large amounts of capital - meaning billions of euro - are flowing into Israel from European Jews and have made their mark on the real estate markets of many cities. The flow of people is still very small, if measured in terms of aliya, but is significant in terms of holiday tourists, students and other personal visitors. All these flows are likely to be stepped up, in line with the deterioration of Jewish security and communal stability in Europe.

The implications for Israel, its economy and society, are staggering. On the eve of the country's 59th Independence Day, the received wisdom in official and intellectual circles is that no further mass aliya can be expected (interestingly, this was also the accepted view in the late 1980s). This time, however, there can be no grounds for surprise: the writing is on the wall for European Jewry, it's not in code and needs no interpretation. The way European Jews are behaving demonstrates that they have read and absorbed the message, even if the Israeli government and bureaucracy have not.

Fortunately for this forthcoming wave of immigrants, they should not have to depend on the government and its agencies to get them out, get them here and get them back on their feet. Although they will be seeking refuge, they will not be coming as refugees in the classic sense, but will bring their financial, cultural and intellectual wealth with them. In its outward form, the impending Exodus from Europe therefore should be quite opposite to that of Exodus 1947, and indeed to the original Exodus - but its driving force and goal will be the same.


Regarding the Israeli vs Jewish thing. The problem is that the things got mixed up at the level of language. Technically speaking secular Israeli Jews are developing the Israeli identity and non-certified Jews and other immigrants adopt it easily. The second generation Russians and many children of foreign workers are 100% Israelis. They speak Hebrew as a mother tongue, celebrate Israeli holidays which are basically Jewish ones. Some serve in the army.

This process is greatly facilitated by the fact that Israeli Jews are racially diverse. Judging by people's outward experience you have blacks, Europeans and Arabs here. A Lebanese blogger who's been here recently was amazed to see that many of our Mizrahim look very Arab and at times he could even guess the country of origin. So non Jewish Israelis are indistinguishable from Israeli Jews as there are no rules here in terms of what a regular Israeli should look like. Ironically, it is these people who become real Israelis as they often have no Jewish or other identity apart from their Israeli one.

You should know that whatever i write about the Israeli identity is 100% descriptive and not prescriptive. It's a reflection of very real trends going on in terms of identity of the secular and mildly traditional Israeli Jews. It is no 'feel good, save the world' ideology of our peace loonies style.

The confusion starts because Israeli leftists also use the term 'Israeli' and Israeli Arabs even claim they want to become 'Israelis' (even after in a public poll 1/4 of them shamelessly deny that Holocaust ever happened and 1/2 claim Hezbollah was right to kidnap our soldiers !!!). But they have something very different in mind. They want a binational state, and they use the same word 'Israeli' to mean something political, more like giving the Israeli Arabs collective rights, cultural and political autonomy and other shit. It's basically about undermining Israel as a country of Israelis. So they use the same term but they want just the opposite.

There is no need to talk about slow assimilation and Israel has no problem with half, quarter and even non Jews from FSU, as it is all over in the second, if not the first generation. Israel is a total melting pot. All these talks about racism are nonsense. And technically speaking the CBS columns should be not Jews and others vs Arabs but Israelis and others (others include non Arab Christians and even Jews like some orthodox sects) vs Arabs but here shit starts because of political correctness.


I think that i can clear all possible misunderstandings and misreadings in the following way. What we got in Israel is not exactly a new nation or ethnicity. It's a new type of Jewish community. Jews always had communities with very pronounced differences. In Israel the secular part of the Jewish community started developing a different approach by allowing non Jews to join it not only by conversion but also through cultural and linguistic assimilation.

But it remains a Jewish community, in fact the biggest Jewish community in the world. But clearly it's just a part of the larger Jewish nation and it was and remains the sanctuary for the rest of the Jews. It minds less the traditional definitions of Jewishness and for this matter conservative or reform conversions, because its relationships with the Jewish diaspora are more and more defined by the Israeli nationalism, means support for Israel as a state. And from my observations non Jews who join the Jewish community in Israel largely adopt the perception of Israel and Israel oriented Jewish diaspora as one nation though they identify it not in a cultural sense or because of shared historic legacy but in terms of support and solidarity with Israel.

But because it's just another Jewish community, Israeli Arabs have nothing to do with this (unless they are ready to switch to Hebrew and to give up on their connection to the Arab world). Neither Pushtuns or Baluchis have anything to do with this, though Israelis have a knack for reducing everything to nonsense and some people will sure try to drag into this shit even Australian aborigines.

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Tagging Of Pacific Predators

absolutely cool blog .... no relation to the Middle East

On TOPP of the World

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Andrey, i borrowed this map from the BlackSmith. He stumbled on the link on some forum. It's a sheer lunatism of course as it pretends to redraw the map of the region in a just manner, but it gives a very good visual idea of what we are talking about.

Notice the size of the hypothetical Kurdish state that the Arabs, Turks and Persians keep from coming into being. It's bigger and more populated that Syria (There are 35 million Kurds). Quite a piece of nation, isn't it?

Baluchistan is huge but lightly populated. I don't know how many are they but I guess no more than 10 million.

Also notice how nicely Shias are sitting on top of the region's biggest oil fields. Not sure why he left Kuwait in place as they are 40% or 45% there. But the guy who drew the map was not really knowledgeable. This is at least what the BlackSmiths said.

Of course, some of these minorities are in no rash to secede or to rejoin their ethnic motherlands. The Persians mostly treat their minorities well by the standards of the region, so it's not sure how much their Azeris want to join the neighboring Azerbaijan. This is not the case with their Kurds. I have no idea what they got in their part of Baluchistan. Unlike Azeris, the Baluchis are Sunnis.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007


Andrey, while it's not about Baluchis, it should be something similar. After all, it's just another 'martial' race. You should find this article interesting.

The Pushtuns' tribal code

Thieves, murderers, rapists; and how the Pushtuns' ancient tribal code is fighting for survival against radical Islam

From The Economist print edition

IN A cinema hoarding in Peshawar's Khyber bazaar, Arbaz Khan brandishes a Kalashnikov rifle with a muscular brown arm dripping with scarlet blood. Two nicely plump, pink-cheeked maidens are arranged on the grey rocks behind the actor, manacled and in chains. Mr Khan's roaring, jet-moustachioed mouth bellows the name of the film: “It is my sin that I am Pushtun!”

As an examination of moral equivalence, the film raises difficult questions. To simplify: Mr Khan's father is killed in a blood-feud, after which, according to the tribal code of the Pushtuns—or Pakhtuns, or Pathans, as they are also called—Mr Khan's uncle should marry his dead brother's widow and accept Mr Khan as his son. But Mr Khan's mother is rather long-in-the-tooth, so Mr Khan's uncle (or father) takes up with a dancing-girl, whom, to satisfy his mother's honour, Mr Khan kills. Mr Khan then falls in love. But, dash it, his uncle (or father) makes a play for his girl! Herein lies a dilemma. According to the tribal code, which is called Pushtunwali, Mr Khan must honour his father and also slaughter anyone who messes with his lady. Which way should he choose? After brief anguish, Mr Khan slots his randy uncle.

To Western critics, “Aayeena” might sound like Bollywood schlock. But it has real-life resonance in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Your correspondent recently paid a visit there to a politician, Anwar Kamal Marwat, a florid gentleman of military bearing and parliamentary leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in the NWFP assembly. By chance, Mr Kamal had that evening returned from a distant jirga, or tribal council, involving several hundred elders from Pakistan and Afghanistan, representing several dozen Pushtun tribes and their constituent clans. The jirga had been convened to settle a blood-money claim against the Marwat tribe, which Mr Kamal leads, incurred in April 2004.

For several years previously, the Marwat had been feuding with their neighbours, the Bhattani, another small Pushtun tribe. The tit-for-tat offences were quite piffling, said Mr Kamal—a spot of thieving or kidnapping of fighting-age males. Then some Bhattani hotheads abducted two Marwat girls; and Mr Kamal went Pushtun-postal. Leading an army of 4,000 Marwat fighters, equipped with artillery, he levelled a Bhattani town, killing 80 people, including the two unlucky, but nonetheless dishonoured, girls. Neither the bloodletting, nor the jirga that followed it (which stung Mr Kamal and his tribe for $60,000), seem even to have been mentioned in the Pakistani press.

Asked whether he saw any contradiction in a senior lawmaker instigating such extreme violence, Mr Kamal appeared astonished. “Well, we don't claim this is something to be proud of,” he stuttered. “But it is a question of prestige, you see, a question of honour.” In other words, he might have said, paraphrasing Mr Khan: it is his sin that he is Pushtun.

. . . Continue Reading

It is over 250 years since Afghanistan was cobbled together, from many ethnic groups, and two centuries since British colonisers tried stretching their writ to India's (now Pakistan's) north-western frontier, where the plains crumple up towards the Hindu Kush. Yet, in both places, a large part of the population is still wedded to Pushtunwali. Some 15m Pushtuns live in Afghanistan, or 50% of its population; and 28m in Pakistan, mostly in NWFP, representing about 15% of the population there. Most of them are ruled by their tribal code, the notable exception being where the rival Islamist code, of the stringent Saudi variety which is preached by the Taliban and quite new to Afghanistan, is strong. Islamism has rivalled Pushtunwali for centuries; it has often gained prominence, as currently, in time of war. More typically, the two competing ways have cross-fertilised in Afghanistan, each subtly influencing the other.

Pushtunwali's principles have not changed in centuries—certainly not since they were recorded by Victorian ethnographers, middle-class soldiers and civil servants: players of the Great Game. Most lionised the fierce tribesmen, who periodically murdered them. Some even swallowed a delicious Pushtun claim to be descended from a lost tribe of Israel. But not all Westerners fell for the Pushtun. As a reporter for the Daily Telegraph, attached to the Malakand Field Force, Winston Churchill wrote: “Their system of ethics, which regards treachery and violence as virtues rather than vices, has produced a code of honour so strange and inconsistent that it is incomprehensible to a logical mind.”

Pushtun amateur genealogists (that is, most Pushtun men) say Pushtunwali is 5,000 years old. But as Pushtu was first written less than 500 years ago, the theory is hard to test. The code's sine qua non is honour, or nang, a word which, according to Sir Olaf Caroe, an imperial scholar of the Pushtuns, contains a mythical sense of chastity. According to Khusal Khan Khattak, a great 17th-century Pushtun poet, credited with 45,000 poems: “I despise the man who does not guide his life by nang,/the very word nang drives me mad!” In dusty Pushtun villages today, few bearded men would not nod approvingly at this. “Any man who loses his honour must be completely ostracised,” said Sandaygul, a long-beard of the Mangal tribe in Afghanistan's south-eastern Paktia province. “No one would congratulate him on the birth of child. No one would marry his daughter. No one would attend his funeral. His disgrace will endure for generations. He and his family must move away.” In Pushtu, to be disgraced means literally to be an outsider.

The insulting Americans

There are infinite ways to slight a Pushtun's nang, but most involve zar, zan or zamin: gold, women or land. The search tactics of American troops in Afghanistan, five years after they invaded the country, tend to offend on all counts. By forcing entry into the mud-fortress home of a Pushtun, with its lofty buttresses and loopholes, they dishonour his property. By stomping through its female quarters, they dishonour his women. Worse, the search may end with the householder handcuffed and dragged off before his neighbours: his person disgraced. America and its allies face a complicated insurgency in Afghanistan, driven by many factors. But such tactics are among them.

His honour besmirched—and here's the problem for the Americans—a Pushtun is obliged to have his revenge, or badal. Last year, in one of the myriad such examples that arise in conversations in northern Pakistan and Afghanistan, the daughter of a prominent businessman in Gardez, Paktia's capital, eloped with her beau. So the businessman sold up his property, moved to Kabul and tracked down and killed his daughter's lover. His daughter, whom he must also kill if the stain is to be removed, has been given sanctuary by a human-rights organisation. Her prospects are not good. According to a Pushtu saying: “A Pushtun waited 100 years, then took his revenge. It was quick work.”

In addition, the honourable Pushtun embraces two obligations. He will offer hospitality, malmastai, to anyone needing it. And he will give sanctuary, nanawatai, to whoever requests it. Stories of extreme generosity are common in Pushtun places. Near the village of Saidkhail, in the Zadran tribal area of eastern Khost province, a wandering Islamic student, or talib, killed a man with a knife, recounts Mohammed Omar Barakzai, the deputy minister for tribal affairs. The talib knocked on the nearest door and said to the woman who opened it: “I have killed a man. Shelter me.” She let him in. And sure enough, to trim an elegantly told tale, the murdered man was the woman's son. “I am a Pushtun and have given this man refuge,” the woman told her blood-lusting husband and brothers. “Take him to safety.”
“Their system of ethics, which regards treachery and violence as virtues rather than incomprehensible to a logical mind”—Churchill

But Pushtunwali is not all fierce imperatives. The code also contains many flexible means of preventing conflict through consensus and compromise. Chief among these is the jirga, of which each of Afghanistan's main groups, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Pashai, Hazaras and Baloch, has its version. By one estimate, jirgas settle over 95% of Afghanistan's disputes, civil and criminal. The figure for northern Pakistan is perhaps only slightly lower. This is not just because the regular courts are incompetent and corrupt (Afghanistan's were recently reformed by Italy). It is because, given high levels of illiteracy, many Afghans and Pakistanis find it easier to understand unwritten customary law, in Pushtu called narkh. And, where authority is contested by a well-armed citizenry, the jirga's verdicts, delivered with the warring parties' consent, tend to be more enforceable than off-the-peg legal or Islamic judgments.

A juddering two-hour drive from Peshawar, at Jamrud, in Khyber Agency, a 60-strong jirga recently settled half a dozen cases in a day—more than a bent Pakistani magistrate might manage in a week. Two disputes over money and property, including one involving the murder of five people, were ended with compromises. A dispute over a murderer who had been given sanctuary by a neighbour was postponed, pending deliberation from the spingeeri—literally, white-beards—who make up the jirga on a forerunning series of killings. A man accused of “adultery”, of rape in fact, was told to pay 1m Pakistani rupees ($16,500) to his victim's family; he may thank his stars he had lived so long.

Among the spingeeri sat Adam Khan Afridi, who had himself been judged shortly before. For 25 years he squabbled with a cousin over which of them would inherit an uncle's lands, until Mr Khan killed his cousin and his cousin's sons and grandson. Then he killed their uncle. This was excessive, Mr Khan conceded; he had committed the crime of miratha—annihilating every male in the rival camp. The jirga decreed that two of Mr Khan's houses be destroyed, and fined him 500,000 rupees. He thought this harsh.

Jirgas do even greater service, as with the Marwat and the Bhattani, in ending tribal wars. On a chill recent morning in Kabul, your correspondent sat with a jirga convened to settle a dispute between two nomadic clans of the Siddiquekhail, a sub-tribe of the powerful Pushtun Ahmedzai. In 1980, a 17-year-old youth of one the clans, named Babur, disappeared while travelling through Pakistan with members of the other; then in 1992, a 60-year-old shepherd of the second clan was found murdered, allegedly killed with an axe by an uncle of Babur.

Previous attempts to settle the dispute had foundered in part on a deposit of $10,000 that each tribe had been asked to lodge with the jirga, with a vow to abide by its decision. “It is time for this feud to end,” said Haji Naim Kuchi, the chief mediator, or narkhi, and member of a different Ahmedzai clan. “You should be at home sleeping with your wives, not plotting to kill each other!” Mr Kuchi, who is famed for his deep knowledge of customary law, asked the feuders to “place a stone” on their dispute—to suspend hostilities while the jirga sat. “We all know that if this continues many men will die before you return to the jirga,” said Mr Kuchi, who had been released from American custody shortly before, after three years' imprisonment without trial in Guantánamo Bay.

To settle disputes, Mr Kuchi has two main options. He can order a guilty party to compensate its victim with cash, a practice known as wich pur, “dry debt”, or he can order the two parties to exchange women, or lund pur, “wet debt”. By binding the antagonists together—just as in medieval European diplomacy—lund pur is considered more effective. Typically it involves exchanging a 15-year-old, a ten-year-old and a five-year-old girl, to be married into three succeeding generations of the enemy clan. Thereby, and though human-rights groups understandably revile the practice, Pushtuns have peace and happy grandfathers. “Blood cannot wash away blood,” runs a Pushtu proverb. “But blood can be turned into love.”

In a land far, far away

If Pushtunwali is about more than killing, its strictures are still remarkably unforgiving. Many Tajiks, like Pushtuns, would die before they suffered a slight. But, unlike Pushtuns, they do not fear their peeved neighbours to the extent of living in castles. A recent European Union analysis of jirgas in eastern Afghanistan found that elopement was the crime most often heard by Pashai jirgas, but Pushtun jirgas rarely considered it. That could be because few Pushtun lads and lasses elope or, more likely, because they are more likely to be killed when they do. What makes Pushtunwali so durable and so harsh?

One reason is remoteness. At the confluence of civilisations, between Central Asia, ancient Persia and India's plains, Afghanistan has been contested by marauding armies and strange traders for millennia. A ruined capital, or two, lies buried in most of its 34 provinces, and each has left its trace in the languages and traditions of today. Pashto, for example, is believed to have originated in Bactrian, the language spoken by Greek descendants of Alexander the Great. And yet the wildest Pushtun places, especially along the lofty border where the strictest Pushtunwali is practised, have been relatively untouched by outsiders for centuries. Waziristan, in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal area, has never been held by any foreign power.

Another reason for Pushtunwali's rude health lies in the nature of Pushtun society. Once rulers of Delhi, in the ranks of the Mughal emperors, and never vanquished for long, Pushtuns consider their society every bit as superior as Winston Churchill considered his. And it is defined by Pushtunwali: there is no Pushtun nation or, in fact, ethnicity. A Pushtun is simply someone who speaks Pushtu and who therefore follows the tribal code: Pushtunwali literally means to “do Pushtu”.

A third factor promoting Pushtunwali is one of its most appealing features, egalitarianism. Leadership among Pushtuns is rarely inherited. It is more often bestowed by a jirga on merit. Even then, the most elevated Pushtun elder dares not condescend to another man of his tribe. When lunch is served at a Pushtun feast, with tasty dishes of mutton, raisins and rice, there are no servants, but servers, of equal status to host and guests. Where a good name is the cost of social inclusion, Pushtuns will fight to keep it so.
Compensation typically involves exchanging a 15-year-old, a ten-year-old and a five-year-old girl, to be married into three succeeding generations of the enemy clan

It is above all this political function that makes Pushtunwali so resistant to change; but it is not unchanging. Pushtun tribes constantly update their code. Three years ago, the Mangals of Paktia ended a practice of revenge-taking by proxy, whereby a weak man had only to slaughter a sheep outside the house of his stronger neighbour to make him accept his blood-debt. “We were doing too much killing,” explained Sandaygul, the Mangal in Gardez.

More traumatic change to the code has come from external pressures. In urban places, where the Pakistani and Afghan states somewhat function, aspects of Pushtunwali have been jettisoned; jirgas of the Kasi tribe, which is based in the Pakistani city of Quetta, rarely meet. More powerful opposition has come from political Islam, which seeks to replace the authority of the jirga with the mullah, customary law with Islamic sharia.

Over the past millennium or so, the Pushtuns' religious and tribal codes have roughly co-existed. As a mark of a time-honoured accommodation, Pushtun elders and mullahs often insist there is no contradiction between the two prerogatives. “The sharia and jirga systems are not opposed,” said Maulvi Sayeed, a member of the Muslim council, or shura, in Kandahar, capital of southern Afghanistan. “To solve a problem through the use of a shura, a council, is the aim of both. The jirga is not against sharia law. If there has been a murder then the aim is to satisfy the relatives of the victim,” said the mullah, seated cross-legged amid stacks of religious texts, with a vast white turban atop his grizzled head.

In fact, sharia courts, which in Afghanistan are often indistinguishable from regular courts, are an alternative to blood-feuding and jirgas. Like jirgas, they can urge the victims of a crime to settle the matter through compensation. But where this is rejected, the courts can issue death sentences, or other harsh penalties, which jirgas do not. A plaintiff who is unhappy with a jirga's verdict may seek an alternative ruling from a sharia court. According to Maulvi Sayeed: “If the brother of a man who has been murdered does not agree to forgive his killer according to the jirga, then he can go to the sharia court. If the murder was unjust then the sharia court will say that the killer has to be killed.”

Another big difference between the codes is in their treatment of women. In sharia law, there can be no exchange of women as a means to end disputes, and women are guaranteed some rights of inheritance—unlike in Pushtunwali. Nor does sharia law recognise the Pushtun habit of wife inheritance, wherein a widow is forcibly married to her dead husband's brother or cousin. “Such things happen when people are uneducated,” sniffed Maulvi Sayeed. “We don't oppose the system of tribal elders but they must follow the way of Islam. They can convene jirgas and dispense the law, but the law must be that of sharia.”

Though fiercely religious, Pushtuns have mostly preferred their leaders and law to be tribal. The great exception has been in times of duress, when a standard is needed to rally their fractious tribes and sub-tribes: then they have tended to hoist the flag of jihad. Of the 19th-century Masood tribe of Waziristan, Sir Olaf wrote that they wanted “at all costs to resist subjection and to preserve their own peculiar way of life. To attain this end they were always prepared to make use of adventitious aids such as appeals with a pan-Islamic flavour.”

Thus the jihad launched in the 1980s against Soviet invaders united all Afghan tribes. It was generously backed by Saudi Arabia and America and given sanctuary by Pakistan, which was home to 3m Afghan refugees. Yet still its Pushtun leaders found it necessary brutally to suppress their tribal peers, terrorising the refugee camps and murdering the jirga-leaders who defied them there.

In the early 1990s, after the Soviets had been driven out and the former jihadist chiefs were fighting a civil war, Pushtuns again rallied around Islam. A band of Ghilzai Pushtuns near Kandahar, led by a mullah named Omar, backed by Pakistan and calling themselves the Taliban, raised the black flag. Gushing with Islamist zeal, Pushtun youths rushed to join them as they swept the feuding militias away.

But once the Taliban restored order to most of Afghanistan, Pushtuns began recoiling against their rulings. Their public executions and other outrages to public decency were anathema to them. So too when the Taliban—despite their celebrated chauvinism—outlawed wich pur and advocated female inheritance. No wonder if the lives of the vast majority of Afghan women have not eased since the Taliban were bombed from power.

For two years after their demise, the Taliban were not mourned in Afghanistan. But since then an insurgency has gathered pace. It is not quite clear what is driving it. An exploding opium harvest, which is providing cash for the Taliban and a reason for Pushtun farmers to keep the government away, is one reason. Another, as Sir Olaf might have foretold, is the response of the most remote and traditional Pushtuns to a foreign invasion.

In late 2001, thousands of Taliban and several hundred Arab and Central Asian followers of Osama bin Laden poured into northern Pakistan's tribal areas—including Waziristan, home of the Masood. To hunt them, and in a bid to save Western troops in Afghanistan from the same cross-border insurgency that hobbled the Soviet Union, Pakistan sent 80,000 troops into the tribal areas.

Alas, they have achieved the very opposite effect of that intended. Calling themselves the Pakistan Taliban, fighters of Waziristan's main tribes have rallied against the army, killing several hundred soldiers. As in the former refugee camps, jihadist assassins have killed several hundred Pushtun elders, ensuring that sharia, not Pushtunwali, is the law.
If history is any guide, many Pushtuns in northern Pakistan and southern Afghanistan will continue their drift to Islamist militancy until they are defeated, which looks impossible, or the Pakistani and Western forces are withdrawn.

If history is any guide, many Pushtuns in northern Pakistan and southern Afghanistan will continue their drift to Islamist militancy until they are defeated, which looks impossible, or the Pakistani and Western forces are withdrawn. They are then likely to return to their simmeringly murderous tribal ways. That would be better than the current mess. But it would also leave millions of people outside the writ of Pakistan and Afghanistan. If either state is to succeed, the alternative writs of Pushtunwali and jihadist Islam will have to wither. But that will not be soon.

To imagine quite how long it may take, consider Nakband. It is a suburb of Peshawar, the most developed Pushtun city, a mere two-hour drive from Pakistan's smart capital of Islamabad. Yet it is little different from the craggy and forbidding tribal areas, where Pakistan's constitution does not apply. Nakband's inhabitants have no state services except the electricity they steal from the mains. There is no half-serious hospital for 20 miles. Pushtunwali, with a sprinkling of the Koran, is the law in Nakband. Blood-feuding, as marked by the ratchet of gunfire in the unbroken gloom of night, is routine. The government makes no effort to intervene in these disputes. Combing his long black hair beside a baked-mud road, a resident of Nakband said that, in theory, the city police were free to enter his suburb. But the locals had not permitted them to do so, so far as he could recall, since 1998.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Demographic Race - I

My understanding of the matter has changed considerably since this post. Read The true convergence for my current view of the demographic situation of Israel.

The opening clause of 'The demographics point to a binational state' by Ya'ir Sheleg, published by Haaretz in 2004, got my attention by its striking similarity to the argument I was making in 'Wild South'.

Wild South:

In fact it's not for nothing that the Arab share of Israel's population has been always hovering around 20% since 1948. It testifies to the extreme demographic robustness of the Arab sector that holds out against all 'aliyot', big and small, whether they are from Morocco or from Russia. More than one million 'Russians' came to Israel over the last 15 years. Yet the Arab sector survived them all, stuck at 20%. It's hard to believe that the coming decades will bring massive Jewish immigrations as apart from the US heavily assimilated community, there are left not so many Jews in the world. This means that the following decades may be critical and if nothing is done we will be soon talking about something much more than 20%.


'The demographics point to' starts with:

At the end of the War of Independence, after the expulsion and flight of some 700,000 Arabs, the population of Israel consisted of 82 percent Jews and 18 percent Arabs. In 2003, 54 years and almost 3 million immigrants later, the Central Bureau of Statistics' official figures indicated a similar Jewish-Arab ratio (81 percent Jews, 19 percent Arabs), with the figure for Jews including non-Jewish immigrants.


'The demographics point to' then basically states the same point mentioning the massive Russian immigration and concluding that the Jewish immigration since 1949 served only to balance out the growth of the Arab sector.

If we assume that the proportion of Jews in the population is, in fact, even lower (because the figures do not reflect Palestinians residing in Israel illegally) and that massive immigration is no longer very likely, it becomes clear why more and more demographic experts and Jewish politicians see the question of a "Jewish majority" in Israel as a central issue, even within the 1967 borders.

The two approaches to the demographic race are represented by prof. Sergio DellaPergola, a demographer from the Hebrew University's Institute of Contemporary Jewry, and by prof. Arnon Soffer, Chair of Geostrategy at Haifa University.

The Optimist

Professor Sergio DellaPergola, a demographer from the Hebrew University's Institute of Contemporary Jewry, is among the more moderate members of his profession. His style is not apocalyptic, and his predictions tend to be highly cautious (some experts, as will be shown later, consider them too cautious). And yet even he is worried.

The demographic balance is affected by three main factors: immigration, birth rate and mortality. For all practical purposes the difference in mortality rates and life expectancy are inconsequential for the demographic situation. It is the birth rates and immigration that make the difference.

According to DellaPergola analysis, Israel's advantage in immigration is being steadily eroded and he is expecting net immigration increase of only 105,000 people in the first decade of the 21st century , 50,000 in the second and less than 30,000 in the third. And this does not mean that immigration is a special privilege of the Jewish sector:

A research project recently conducted at the Israel Defense Forces National Defense College shows that the number of Palestinians that have entered sovereign Israel in the decade since the Oslo Accords (whether illegally or through legal marriages and family unification) is around 240,000. Family unification permits have been almost entirely suspended since the beginning of the intifada in September 2000, but Palestinian immigration to East Jerusalem has increased, reaching 70,000-100,000 people during this period, the researchers estimate.

The article published at 2004, the fence and its impact on the demographic balance are not mentioned of course. Yet these statistics are more than enough to see the demographic disaster from which Israel was saved by the second Intifada. Were the Palestinians more patient at that time, Israel could have been now well on its way to become another South Africa.

When it comes to birth rates, here the Arab sector has a clear advantage of 4.6 births per woman vs 2.6 in the Jewish sector.

When the state was established, the average birth rate among Muslims was eight births per woman. In the sixties the figure leaped to 10 births; today it stands at 4.6 births. The Druze population began with an average of seven births per woman; the figure rose to eight in the sixties and is now 8.2 per woman. Only the Christians, who began with an average rate of 4.5 births, now fall below the Jewish average with 2.3 births per woman.

DellaPergola estimates that by 2020, the Arab sector, including the Druze, will amount to 23% of the population and by 2050 will account for 26%. These estimates are based on the assumption that the birth rates in both sectors will gradually converge, with the birth rate in the Arab sector gradually slowing down to resemble more the birth rate in the Jewish sector. DellaPergola does not entertain the possibility that the recent surge of Islam in the Arab sector may reactivate it demographically or that its birth rate may refuse to slow down. DellaPergola also assumes that the birth rate in the Jewish sector will remain stable, which is open to doubt to say the least.

Some Israelis may breath a sigh of relief on learning that by 2050 the birth rates in both sectors are expected to stabilize with the Arab sector accounting for under 30% of the population. Yet it's more complicated than this. DellaPergola is held to be the most relaxed of all 'demographic' forecasters. The rest are nowhere as relaxed as he is, and even DellaPergola is worried so much that he urges:

"swapping heavily populated areas - annexing the Jewish population clusters in the West Bank, in exchange for annexing to the Palestinian Authority areas with a dense Arab population, especially if they are already adjacent to the PA."

This is because Cyprus broke up when its Turks reached only 18% of the population and the current demographic dynamics clearly point to the formation of a binational state in Israel in which its swelling Arab sector, already accounting for more than 18% of the population, will sooner or later demand collective rights as a minority, spiced up with its perception of itself as the original owner of this land.

The Alarmist

The false sense of relief quickly evaporates when confronted with the calculations by one of the leading alarmists, prof. Arnon Soffer, Chair of Geostrategy at Haifa University. Soffer approach is different and more detailed, as he is taking into account Palestinians residing in the country illegally, the figure estimated to be 220,000 in 2002, and foreign laborers. Soffer holds it impossible to forecast demographic trends for periods exceeding a range of 20 years and on these grounds he is not ready to discuss anything beyond the year 2020. By 2020, according to Soffer, the Arab sector will already cross 26% landmark earmarked by DellaPergola for 2050.

in 2020 the Israeli population (which he claims will number some 10 million people) will consist of 64 percent Jews, 4 percent non-Jewish immigrants, 5 percent foreign laborers, 25 percent Arabs and 2 percent Druze.

The Arab sector, the Druze excluded, will reach 1/4 of the population by 2020. With the Druze, it will account to 27%.

Given that the article was published in 2004, these estimates missed out on the vigorous campaign mounted by the Israeli government to expel foreign laborers, a remarkable feat of shooting one's own foot in the history of this country. Between 200,000 and 300,000 gastarbaiters were expelled, many left voluntarily, which means that the Arab sector will account for 29% of the population by 2020.


What's missing in this picture among others is any attempt to predict the effect of a large scale unrest in the Arab sector on the immigration in the Jewish sector. This is particularly strange given that Soffer himself has given the maximum of five years for the Intifada in Negev to be in full swing.

"I say that within five years, the next intifada will break out in the northern Negev. Deterioration has already begun, with stone throwing, blocking of roads and Bedouin shooting at Israeli cars. It will grow to an extent where Jews will not be able to drive in the South. We must take note that all four main roads in the Negev - Tel Shoqet-Arad, Be'er Sheva-Dimona, Be'er Sheva-Ramat Hovav-Yeruham and the Gvulot Revivim road - are controlled by Bedouin. The South has been taken hostage by the Bedouin."


And he plainly should be able to see the connection, given his support for unilateral separation and fencing off the country:

As a leading strategist of the unilateral disengagement policy (mainly for demographic reasons), he [Soffer] sees separation as a major variable that will affect the demographic balance. The policy, he argues, should include parting with East Jerusalem, "except for the Holy Basin, which alone has historic importance for us." Moreover, he believes that disengagement and building the separation fence will have an indirect effect on the demographic picture. "It will not only prevent West Bank and Gaza Arabs from being included in our demographic balance, and greatly reduce the entrance of Palestinians from the territories into Israel; building the fence is expected to have a favorable effect on both security and the economy, and this in turn will make Israel more appealing to potential immigrants, especially among the threatened Jews of France."


By the way both Soffer and DellaPergola address the point I was making in 'Wild South':

Yet I suspect that the statistics may be misleading since they treat the Arab sector as a whole ignoring the hardcore demographically intensive nucleus forming itself in Negev. Next years may bring a gradual increase in the population growth of the Arab sector with the nomads reversing the trend. As the Bedouins' share of the general Arab population is increasing the overall growth rate will start moving closer to Negev standards. Anyway it's only my guesses because to expect from the media an honest discussion and analysis of the demographic situation is really too much these days.


'The demographics point to a binational state':

To produce more accurate estimates about fertility trends, demographers strive for a detailed breakdown of Israel's Muslim society (Muslims account for over 80 percent of the Arab sector). As it turns out, there are distinct differences not only between Muslims and Christians, but within the Muslim population itself. In northern Israel the average birth rate for Muslim women is 3.9; in the Jerusalem district - 4.3; in the central region - 4.9; and in the south (whose Muslims are mostly Bedouin) the figure leaps to an average of nine births per woman - the highest in the world (higher than in the Gaza Strip).

. . .

Dr. Yitzhak Ravid is an economist who formerly headed the center for military studies at the Armaments Development Authority (Rafael) and in recent years has come to specialize in demographics . . .

. . .

Ravid attributes the high Bedouin birth rate to "the rare combination of Third World birth norms and the health care of a developed Western country." He adds that "the state's child allowances are set according to the needs of a Western population. But because children are much less expensive to raise in the Bedouin villages, the allowances become additional income for the family and an incentive to procreate."


Even if the move to a binational state progresses peacefully, it may have a huge impact on the Jewish immigration by scaring away prospective repatriates and provoking massive exodus of Israelis from the country, out of fear before the prospect of the Arabs taking over Israel in the future. Let alone if things get violent with a Bedouin Intifada erupting in Negev or other shit starting.

The author of this blog had a rare privilege to get a glimpse into the future during the last years of Oslo, when some bus lines in Jerusalem turned into unusable for Israelis. The massive presence of Palestinians from East Jerusalem and the West Bank on these lines, who were bullying passengers and harassing women, caused many people to switch to alternative lines or to use taxes. At one point 'Nobody' gave up on line 11 he had used for two years before to get to his work and started taking taxes. He did not try to board the line until the beginning of the second intifada, when the 'iron curtain' came back and with it the city returned to its previous state of virtual separation.

Much of the statistics done by DelaPergulo and Soffer don't take into account the possibility of unrest in the Arab sector and its impact on the demographic situation. But it does not take a very big brain to see that the situation may get dangerous long before the Arab population in this country start seeing any chance of becoming majority. In fact, from the moment the explosion point in the Arab sector is reached, a vicious circle may develop when the progressively larger and more restless Arab population scares more and more Israelis into leaving the country. And this will in turn make the Arab population even more emboldened. Here may come into play the clear difference between the Arab and Israeli populations in terms of emigration, since for Israelis it's much easier to leave the country and move elsewhere while the majority of Israeli Arabs have nowhere to go. In short it's not when the Arab sector starts approaching 50% that Israel will start seeing the beginning of its end on the horizon. The explosion point should be at between 25% and 30%, maximum 35%. And it is at this point that the vicious circle starts.

Ironically, for Israel, all this is happening at the moment when the technological and economic gap between it and its neighbors has become so huge that this nation may be very close to the point of winning its 60 years long battle for survival. The next generation of anti missile defense technology may render obsolete the ballistic arsenals of both Hezbollah and Iran. Within a decade Israel may join the ranks of the world's most prosperous and developed nations. $30,000 GDP per head is certainly within its reach. The elevated and still rising living standards mean that if Israel ever decides to resort to non Jewish non Muslim immigration to fend off the incoming demographic onslaught of its Arab sector there will be no shortage in candidates.

For Israel it is its last battle and it is either to win it all or to lose it ... all.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nitric Acid is also Beautiful

Apparently the change of tactic by the Sunni insurgents, that I mentioned in Small is Beautiful, went beyond switching from huge truck bombs to smaller car bombs and suicide belts. A dump truck overturned 25 miles north of Baghdad on Monday.

After the truck tipped over, U.S. troops approached the truck driver to help, and found the vehicle loaded with nitric acid containers and explosives, the military said in a statement.

While not a toxic gas like chlorine, nitric acid can nicely supplement regular explosives by burning through victims' skin.

"The driver was taken into custody and confessed that he was paid to attack the Joint Security Station in Mashahda, which also houses the town's Iraqi police station," the statement said.



The US army retracted its earlier statement regarding the truck loaded with nitric acid, saying the containers were filled with gasoline only. Apparently there was a mix-up of information here as another statement confirmed that 3,000 gallons of nitric acid were seized in a weapons cache in Baghdad.

This does not mean that all is lost for the insurgency as it appears that today they were celebrating on a really huge scale killing and wounding hundreds of people. Parked car bombs are now clearly a favorite tactic and they seem to be even more effective than truck bombs. Some reports claim hundreds of people died today.

About an hour earlier, a suicide car bomber crashed into an Iraqi police checkpoint at an entrance to Sadr City, the capital's biggest Shiite Muslim neighborhood and a stronghold for the militia led by radical anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

The explosion killed at least 30 people, including five Iraqi security officers, and wounded 45, police said.

Black smoke billowed from a jumble of at least eight incinerated vehicles that were in a jam of cars stopped at the checkpoint. Bystanders scrambled over twisted metal to drag victims from the smoldering wreckage as Iraqi guards staggered around stunned.

Two Iraqis are pushing their vehicle across the scene of a truck bomb attack.

In the deadliest of the attacks, a parked car bomb detonated in a crowd of workers at the Sadriyah market in central Baghdad, killing at least 112 people and wounding 115, said Raad Muhsin, an official at Al-Kindi Hospital where the victims were taken.

. . .

Among the dead were several construction workers who had been rebuilding the mostly Shiite marketplace after a bombing destroyed many shops and killed 137 people there in February, the police official said.


... and the day is not over yet.


The death toll is approaching 200 and it was apparently one of the bloodiest days in Baghdad in last years. The ability of the insurgents to penetrate the beefed up security net means that the only way to pacify the capital is by pacifying every province around. The US forces are amassing in Diyala Province where thousands of insurgents are reported to completely take over Baquba.

Sadr pulled six of his ministers out of the government, while in Basra hundreds of his supporters are demonstrating in demand for the resignation of the local governor from a Shia party that's at odd with Sadr's movement. While the US is trying to stop the rage of Sunni Shia sectarian killings in Baghdad and the North, it appears that in the South intra-Shia tensions are growing and in some provinces US and Iraqi forces clashed with militants allied with Sadr.

In short, the chaos is growing and the moment of truth is approaching.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Know Thyself

Middle Easterners exploring their own and each other's religious and ethnic identities...

Los Angeles Times

By Borzou Daragahi, Times Staff Writer
April 16, 2007

Iraq returns to its Persian heritage

. . .

A bitter Jan. 2 television debate about Hussein's legacy on the satellite channel Al Jazeera underscored the ethnic underpinnings of Sunni Arab rage against Iraq's new Shiite order.

The debate pitted Mishaan Jaburi, a Sunni Arab politician, against Sadeq Moussawi, a Shiite journalist and supporter of the current government.

During the debate, which was posted on the Internet and rapidly became famous here, Jaburi waved sheets of white paper at Moussawi, screaming, "These are your documents! You are an Iranian citizen …. You are Persian."

"Your father killed Kurds," Moussawi snapped back.

"You are Iranian," Jaburi reiterated. "These documents show that [you] applied for Iraqi citizenship in May 2004."

Moussawi didn't bother denying the accusation. "We will settle accounts with all of you," he said instead.

. . .

Persians and Shiism have become so intertwined that opposition to Tehran's policies across the region has taken on a Sunni character. Ethnic Baluchi separatists in southeastern Iran fight under the banner of a Sunni Muslim group linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist network. And in a growing number of cases, Iran's Shiite Arab separatists have converted to Sunni Islam (!!!).

Even as Sunnis fight Shiites, accusing them of being Iranians, Shiites have begun to whisper about the identity of Iraq's Sunnis.

"The Sunnis of Iraq aren't really Arabs," one Iraqi Shiite diplomat said recently. "They're Turks." (!!! Why not Jews ??? NB)


Meanwhile the real Turks are pondering a limited invasion of the Iraqi Kurdistan, used as a base by Kurdish insurgents for launching attacks against Turkey. One big advantage of living in the Middle East is that it's never boring here.

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Small is Beautiful

Today six bomb attacks killed and wounded hundreds across Baghdad. All attacks were against Shia civilian population in Baghdad. A twin car bomb attack targeted a Shia market. The second car went off five minutes after the first one in an apparent attempt to get rescue forces who were evacuating the casualties... and it got them.

A suicide bomber destroyed a minibus packed with passengers. Many of the victims are reported to be severely burnt.

A minibus destroyed by a suicide bomber

Another minibus served as a car bomb and exploded on a busy street, killing and wounding dozens of passers-by.

This minibus served as a car bomb itself

And in the same district two bombs exploded in the evening pushing the overall toll to 45 dead and hundreds of wounded.

The use of suicide belts and minibuses signals a switch in tactics by the insurgents. Instead of using massive trucks and fuel tankers packed with tons of explosives, the insurgents adopted the Palestinian tactic of sending suicide bombers to their destinations on foot and thus bypassing American and Iraqi army checkpoints. Probably for the same reason came minibuses and cars, as in the big city they can mix with hundreds and thousands of similar vehicles.

In almost any recent report of a truck bomb attack, police and soldiers were spotting a surging on his target truck bomber from afar. In some instances gunfire caused the truck to explode prematurely or the truck bomber to lose control of the vehicle and miss the target. Now parked car bombs of a smaller size, detonated remotely or by hand, are proving no less effective. There were no truck bomb attacks today and yet, by the end of the day, the death toll is as high as if one did happen.

All this raises doubts about the ability of anybody to defeat such an insurgency fought by dedicated kamikadzes. At the time of the second Intifada Israel had solved this problem by building the security fence, finally splitting Israel and the WB/Gaza in two (three? NB) separate entities. For the American and Iraqi forces it's different, as they are supposed to remain in the same country the insurgents do.


Small is Beautiful

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