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Morning Report 7/23/05The War on Tourism


Israeli think tank’s unreported report sheds light on the death dance in London, Iraq, Egypt, ad nauseam

The Red Sea didn’t part this morning. Instead, it turned redder, after drive bombers blew up seaside hotels, cars and people in Sharm el-Sheikh:

“This flaming mass flew over my head, faster than a torpedo and plunged into the water,” Mursi Gaber, who was working on a nearby beach when the blast happened, told AP news agency.

“There were body parts all over the steps down to the beach.”

The fancy Egyptian resort town is starting to look a lot like Baghdead—parts of London, too, especially underground. The Bush-Blair war of terror in Iraq upped the ante, and the insane violence is spreading.

There are no excuses for such sickening events, but there are reasons. No matter how much George W. Bush‘s handlers try to deny that there’s a connection between the current spate of suicidal terror and the unjustified invasion of Iraq and the disastrous occupation, we’re in payback time.

Bush keeps saying that anyone who’s not with us is, dadgum it, a terrorist hisself. Likewise, Ariel Sharon‘s right-wing government never admits there is such a thing as payback.

Now, however, a high-level Israeli think tank shockingly acknowledges that there is.

The only newspaper anywhere to report this is the Forward, whose Marc Perelman write.s on the front page of the weekly’s July 22 issue:

A quasi-governmental Israeli body has acknowledged formally that the 1994 bombing of a Jewish communal center in Argentina, in which 85 people were killed, may have been an unanticipated consequence of Israeli military actions in South Lebanon.

The acknowledgement came in the second annual report of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, a Jerusalem think tank affiliated to the Jewish Agency for Israel. The report, released July 11, cites the bombing of the AMIA building in Buenos Aires as a possible consequence of Israel’s assassination in early 1992 of the leader of Hezbollah, Sheikh Abbas Mussawi.

The Mussawi assassination and AMIA bombing are cited to back up the institute’s call for Israel to weigh consequences on Diaspora Jews when formulating government policy.

No doubt. That makes sense. The Forward story makes no mention of Iraq, but I will. I’d say the same holds true for U.S. government policy. You can’t bomb a Muslim country—make that “countries”—without rightfully upsetting many other Muslims and risking the wrath of the wacko ones.

Finally, the polls are reflecting that people are waking up about this.

The West probably wouldn’t be paying an increasingly heavy price if we had limited our war on terror to the righteous goal of retaliating against Osama bin Laden for 9/11. However, breaking off that hunt to try to conquer Iraq—based on a fabric of lies—was bound to bounce back on us, especially with the way things have turned out in Iraq.

There are other reasons that Islamist extremists are unhappy with Hosni Mubarak‘s government in Egypt—he criticized the plan to invade Iraq this time around, but he’s an autocratic ruler too secular for the religious nuts—but Sharm el-Sheikh is a tourist haven and the frequent site of political summits. It’s been targeted by terrorists before, but there’s still no use denying that the Iraq debacle had something to do with this morning’s horror in Sinai, London, and elsewhere.

Even the New York Times reports such sentiments. Alan Cowell‘s July 19 story from London devoted its first paragraph to the establishment line but then schizophrenically acknowledged the truth of the situation in the second paragraph:

As Britons struggled to explain the London bombings to themselves, Prime Minister Tony Blair met with moderate Muslim leaders today, seeking to enlist their support against Islamic extremism and to discount the war in Iraq as the prime cause for the attacks.

A new opinion survey published in the Guardian newspaper today said two-thirds of Britons believe there is a direct link between the bombings and Mr. Blair’s decision to go to war in Iraq as the main ally of the United States. Several Muslim leaders who met Mr. Blair at 10 Downing Street today said the invasion had spawned what one called a “successful recruitment sergeant” for Al Qaeda.

Alan, you could have lost that first paragraph altogether.

Speaking of the Times: It’s ridiculous that the Israeli think tank’s major annual report—let alone its bold language that dares to suggest that Israel’s actions may have caused a reaction—still hasn’t made it into the Times or any other U.S. daily paper.

That’s especially absurd because the chairman of the quasi-governmental Israeli think tank is an American: Dennis Ross, who was Bill Clinton‘s Middle East envoy and is a friend of Times blowhard Tom Friedman. In fact, Ross, Friedman, and longtime Times columnist Bill Safire all attend the same synagogue in Bethesda, Maryland, according to a story written a couple of years ago by my ex-colleague Cynthia Cotts about the shul’s controversial rabbi. In a sidelight, Cotts noted that the synagogue, which Friedman co-founded, is a strongly Zionist outfit, adding:

In Israel, religion and politics are inseparable. Orthodox Jews have considerable power, and Reform and Conservative groups fight for leverage. While Friedman does not usually identify his arguments as religious ones, he has exhorted moderate Jews to be as passionate as extremists, and he endorsed the war in Iraq, which he casts as a moral imperative.

I guess that could be why Friedman hasn’t weighed in on the report produced by the think tank now run by his friend Ross. That bit about payback, retaliation—whatever you want to call it—is certainly not a popular one among war hawks.

They know that terrorists, especially these, make political calculations, and that terrorism is a political tool used by all sides. But the hawks don’t want to admit that to the public. They’d rather try to portray the GWOT as a pure crusade against evil.

The Israeli think tank’s report is certainly not dovish, but at least it acknowledges the political realism of the Middle East death dance. Here are the key paragraphs from the report itself:

If Israel is indeed the State of the Jewish People, not merely the state of Israelis, then its own strategic choices and policy decisions must be somehow guided by a concern for the wellbeing, not only of its own citizens, but also of Jews around the world who are citizens of their own countries. It can be expected of Israel’s government to try and be aware of the potential ramifications that its decisions and actions might have on the Jewish People as a whole.

A primary question is to what extent, if any, are possible impacts on the Jewish People considered? If the answer is positive, then the second question is—what weight is given to such an impact in the final decision? An example is the Israeli decision to engage in an action against Hezbollah in Lebanon (the killing of their leader, Sheikh Moussavi, with his wife and son), which may have contributed to the lethal terrorist attacks against the Jewish community in Buenos Aires in 1994. It seems that the question whether the Israeli action might trigger an attack on Jewish People targets was not considered.

And why the hell not? Because the innocent are pawns in the political game for power and territory.

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