Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mr. President: It’s a Fake Deal - Ran Baratz

by Ran Baratz

What a closer look at the Palestinian negotiation strategy reveals.

Reprinted from

In a fascinating scene from the documentary movie “The Fog of War,” Robert McNamara, the American Secretary of Defense in the 1960s, discusses a 1992 meeting with Fidel Castro. During that meeting, McNamara discovered for the first time that during the Cuban Missile Crisis the Soviet Union had already delivered 162 nuclear warheads to Cuba. Shocked to the depths of his soul, McNamara stops the meeting and asks Castro three questions:
(1) Did you know the nuclear warheads were there?
(2) Would you have recommended to Khrushchev – in the face of a US attack – that he’d use them?
(3) If he had used them, what would have happened to Cuba?
The dictator answered immediately:

(1) I knew they were there.
(2) I would not “have recommended to Khrushchev” – I did recommend to Khrushchev that they’d be used.
(3) It [Cuba] would have been totaly destroyed.
McNamara, still refusing to believe what he heard, thinking about the nuclear destruction, and with tears of despair, said: “That’s how close we were,” indicating a tiny space between his forefinger and thumb.

History of the Negotiations

There is no doubt that McNamara had mistaken expectations with regard to Castro and his behavior. “Rationality alone will not save us,” declared the former Secretary of Defense. But this is a lame excuse that seeks to cover up his failure in understanding the opponent, his thinking and objectives.
The history of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians is also paved with tears of despair. In order to explain why, it is crucial to understand the fundamental beliefs which guide the Left’s  expectations. There are four such convictions:

1. A comprehensive peace deal is good for both sides;
2. The differences can be bridged;
3. Prior negotiations came close to an agreement;
4. Everyone knows what the solution will be.

Peace between Israel and the Palestinians always seems “so close” – but remains elusive. And similar to McNamara, the fault is not with the other side; instead it is the Left’s mistaken understanding of the Palestinians. The tears of despair are the result of misguided expectations. In order to examine this, the following is a summary of the negotiations led by Left wing governments in Israel.

After it became clear in Israel that agreements such as Oslo, which are not permanent accords, do not achieve the intended results; there were a number of attempts to reach a “comprehensive peace agreement.”

Already in the 2000 Camp David summit, Ehud Barak surprised even his Israeli staff with a far reaching proposal. When President Clinton heard it, his eyes lit up. “Now”, he announced, “we have something to work with.”  Encouraged, Clinton went to convince Arafat, and, according to Dennis Ross, explained to him clearly –
why the stakes were high and this was the moment, and maybe historically the Palestinians never controlled their own destiny –but this is the moment. If this fails he (Arafat) couldn’t blame this on others.
All of the elements of a peace deal were present: a great “deal,” plenty of goodwill, a charismatic American president with convincing arguments and a strong desire to leave a legacy of peace, and a determined “courageous” left-wing Israeli prime minister. Euphoria swept over Camp David. History was about to be made.

But Arafat said: NO.

Shortly thereafter, Clinton tried to save something from Barak’s tenure, and suggested his generous “parameters.” Clinton thought progress had been made, and still had hope in his heart. He met Arafat again, utilizing all his wit and charm.

But Arafat again said: NO.

One may say, “well, that was Arafat.” But the negotiations between Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) prove that we are dealing with a deeper issue.

In 2008, the most generous offer ever made was presented to the Palestinians. The concessions were excessive, crossing every Israeli red line: Olmert promised to withdraw all presence of the Israel Defense Forces from Judea and Samaria; he conceded sovereignty over east Jerusalem and the Old City – including the Western Wall! He offered 94% of the territory of Judea and Samaria, and the remaining 6% would be given to the Palestinians with land swaps in central Israeli areas, including a tunnel that would connect Gaza to the West Bank. Olmert implored Abu Mazen: “The Palestinians won’t get an offer like this even in another 50 years!”

Again, everything was ready. The teams were excited. Abbas himself admits that such a generous offer was unprecedented. Only one thing was missing to finally end this cursed and unnecessary conflict, one with gaps that can be bridged and a solution known to all: that Abu Mazen would say: “yes!”

But Abu Mazen said: NO.

Yet, Olmert’s failure didn’t discourage the progressive and most pro-Palestinian Administration since the Carter era, led by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. The staffs were reassembled for negotiation talks, and on July 30, 2013 Kerry announced – with a latent comic talent – that he planned to reach a historic agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians “within nine months!”

Once more, the stage was set. Kerry oversaw the negotiations and Obama led  from behind. The American president even met Abu Mazen and implored him to seize the moment. This was a grace period for the Palestinians: The complete support of an American president who dreams of a peace legacy in Middle East – even at the expense of Israel’s interests.

But even to this duo, Abu Mazen said: NO.

Perpetual Refusal

To better understand the Palestinian refusal, the Palestinians’ conduct during negotiations must also be examined. Here, too, there is a clear pattern that is documented by people on the Left. For example, Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami said to journalist Ari Shavit after the Camp David failure:
Ben-Ami: After a while Clinton became very angry and yelled horrifically. He said to Abu Ala…that the Palestinians have to present their own positive proposals….
Shavit: The Palestinians didn’t offer a counter proposal?
Ben-Ami: No. That’s the heart of the matter. There is never a Palestinian counter offer. There never was one and there never will be. Therefore the Israeli side always finds itself in a dilemma: either I get up and go…or I make another concession, another squeeze. But at the end, even the most moderate person reaches the point where he says to himself: wait a minute, the people on the other side have no end goal. Another squeeze and another squeeze, but it’s never enough for them. It never ends.
The story of the heartbroken dove Ben-Ami is in line with many descriptions of the Palestinian conduct, including from the American team. For example, this is how Dennis Ross describes the back and forth between President Clinton and the Palestinian negotiating team at Camp David:
President Clinton said: ‘This is the beginning of the negotiations, so I need you to respond to it.’ Abu Ala said: ‘I can’t respond to this.’ [Clinton said] ‘At least point out what were the problems with the Israeli map. Don’t just reject it. Point out the problems.’ And they wouldn’t even do that. Every suggestion he made, they simply said no to.
In a similar way Ross describes the meeting between the President and Arafat about the Clinton Parameters, which were meant to create a framework for future negotiations. “Arafat,” he says,
immediately started to question everything that he’s asked to do. Every single item in the Clinton Parameters that required something of the Palestinians – he rejected.
This was not merely a problem with Arafat’s character or his unwillingness to reach an agreement. As Palestinian staff member Saeb Erekat reveals, when their team received Ehud Barak’s far reaching plan, Abu Mazen himself said to Arafat: “It’s a non-starter, and we cannot accept this, it’s a liquidation sale.”

Three Monumental Historical Facts

There are an abundance of such testimonies. But the time has come to look at the big picture, from which three determinative facts arise with regard to the Palestinians’ conduct in everything related to negotiations.

1. The Palestinians never initiate negotiations. They are always forced upon them.
2. During the negotiations, the Palestinians never present their own peace plan.
3. The Palestinians end every negotiation, no matter how generous the offer, with a refusal.

These are monumental facts. Three Palestinian resounding NO’s that repeat themselves again and again.

A Necessary Paradigm Change

When a thinking person discovers that reality repeatedly contradicts  his convictions, he must ask himself whether he is holding on to a false set of beliefs. He has to check if there is an alternative theory that explains more facts and that would have better predicted occurrences.

In this case, there is a simple and convincing explanation that covers all the relevant data: the Palestinians do not want to negotiate a permanent agreement.

Let us consider our two competing theories. The first theory states that the Palestinians desire peace, like the Israelis and Americans who negotiated with them, but for some mysterious reason they act as if they are not interested in it. Consequently, the Left, who espouses this theory, is forced to start making excuses for the Palestinian’s behavior, instead of explaining it.

The problem is that it isn’t easy to explain five “historical opportunities” that were “missed” in only the last 17 years, especially in light of the complete lack of positive evidence for the claim that the Palestinians want a final-status agreement. The best this theory can offer is that the facts and testimonies are evidence of a Palestinian negotiations tactic – which means that the Palestinians are very poor tacticians, because the negotiations always fail.

On the other hand, the competing theory states that the talks always fail because the Palestinians are not interested in negotiating a permanent agreement. This claim successfully explains Palestinian behavior during the past two decades of negotiations, from signing agreements that were not final, to the stubborn refusal to advance in the direction of a permanent and comprehensive peace agreement.

According to this thIt’s not a negotiation tactic that fails each time, but the exact opposite: it is a successful strategy of abstention from a permanent agreement.

If the new theory sounds strange, it in only because we have become accustomed not only to the idea that everyone always prefers a peace treaty, but also to the paradigm that is rooted on “missed historical opportunities.”

The truth is that when there is joint will to reach an agreement, there is no need for unique “historical opportunities.” But when there is no such will, there is only an illusion of “opportunities.” The bitter joke that “the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity” is completely illogical. Since the Palestinians don’t want the end that these “opportunities” present, for them these are not opportunities at all – more like historical traps. This is why they need to be avoided rather than taken advantage of.

Changing the paradigm has consequences. It turns out that the Left’s four principles of faith, that we opened with, are false: (1) the Palestinians don’t think a “comprehensive peace deal” is good for them; (2) from their perspective the gaps can’t be bridged; (3) no negotiation came close to a successful conclusion; and (4) they don’t accept the same end of conflict resolution that the Left believes “everyone knows.” These are but myths based on nothing more than the Left’s internal discourse.

There Won’t be a Deal, There Will be Violence

When the 2000 Camp David talks collapsed, President Clinton said in his publicized speech:
Prime Minister Barak made some very bold decisions, but in the end we were unable to bridge the gaps. I think they will be bridged, because I think the alternative is unthinkable.
But not only was the alternative “thinkable” for the Palestinians, they chose it in a very real manner. And here we reach the danger in dogmatic thinking about the conflict.

The routine problem of the history of negotiation failures is that they lead to Palestinian escalation and violence. Now we can understand why. Since the Palestinians oppose negotiations, after every round of forced talks, the Palestinian leadership has to prove to their people that they did not concede anything. And so, after the pendulum has swung from the status-quo to the direction of “peace,” they have an urgent political need to compensate by diverting the pendulum in the direction of violence.

Such escalations are not only terrible not for the Israelis and the Palestinians. They are also bad for the brokering American president, because both the failure and Israel’s need to react to the new escalation tend to weaken his stand in the Middle East.

All of this is bad news for President Trump. He is certainly an expert in negotiations and closing deals, but a deal has a prerequisite of two sides thinking it can benefit them – a condition which doesn’t exist on the Palestinian side. Even the best mediator cannot bridge the gap of the refusal to bridge gaps.

It is more likely, therefore, that like all of his predecessors, the negotiation that Trump will force upon the Palestinians will end miserably. It is not a lack in mediation skills that will foil Trump’s efforts, but the mistaken conception that the Palestinians are interested in negotiating a peace agreement at all.

Therefore, were I able to advise him, I would ask President Trump to give up on the attempt to achieve “a deal”. This is in sync with what he said in his speech in Saudi Arabia:
We will make decisions based on real-world outcomes – not inflexible ideology. We will be guided by the lessons of experience, not the confines of rigid thinking.
The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations history is the best example of inflexible ideology, contradicted to its core by the real-world outcomes and lessons of experience.

If the President is still unconvinced and wants proof ahead of failure, I would ask him to perform a simple test: before he commits to negotiations, he should ask the Palestinians for their peace plan – the Israelis’ he has long had. If he receives one, by all means,  try another round of negotiations. But if the Palestinians send him – as Arafat used to say – “to drink Gaza’s sea water,” it’s a sign that nothing has changed and failure is looming on the horizon.

This doesn’t suggest that there is no path forward. With realistic expectations and an understanding of both sides, there are many things that can be done. But, as strange as this may sound to him, his biggest success would be to concede in advance the attempt to reach the “most difficult deal” – because it is a fake deal. The best thing to do is to let the misleading peace dogma finally rest in peace.

Ran Baratz served as Director of Communications for Prime Minister Netanyahu between 2016-2017.

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Saudi Journalist To Palestinian Leaders: You Have Missed Too Many Opportunities To Resolve The Conflict With Israel; It Is Time For Palestinian Unity, Peace With Israel - MEMRI


Hamas should cease its violence against Israel, drop the slogan "Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea," and launch an initiative for achieving Palestinian unity.

In his May 21, 2017 column in the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily, Saudi journalist Mash'al Al-Sudairi criticized the Palestinian leaders and stated that for many years they had missed numerous diplomatic opportunities to resolve the conflict with Israel, and that they had at the same time lost Palestinian lands on the West Bank and wreaked destruction on Gaza.

Appealing to newly appointed Hamas political bureau head Isma'il Haniya, Al-Sudairi wrote that Hamas's agreement to a Palestinian state in the June 4, 1967 boundaries implied recognition of Israel. Therefore, he said, Hamas should cease its violence against Israel, drop the slogan "Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea," and launch an initiative for achieving Palestinian unity. He added that a country's size was not necessarily an indication of its capacity for economic prosperity and success, and that it was high time for young Palestinians to live normal lives like other young people worldwide. The entire Palestinian people, he added, deserved to "enjoy life under peaceful conditions."

Mash'al Al-Sudairi (Source: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, May 21, 2017)
Below are translated excerpts from the article:[1]
"Some Palestinian leaders, while in power, excelled in two things: rhetoric and missing opportunities. They have done this from the 1940s to the early 21st century. In 1947, they opposed the [UN] partition decision, although it awarded them 49% of the lands of Palestine; they accused [Egyptian president] Gamal 'Abd Al-Nasser of treason because he agreed to the Rogers Plan,[2] and later they also accused [Egyptian president] Anwar Al-Sadat of treason because he signed the peace agreement with Israel at Camp David. These two [presidents] at least recognized reality, and the Sinai [peninsula] was returned in its entirety to Egypt.

"One of the unforgivable opportunities missed by the Palestinian leaders was their refusal to sit in the seat earmarked for them by Sadat at the negotiating table, behind their own flag, at the Cairo Mena House hotel.[3] Let it be noted that at that time not a single settlement existed in the West Bank, and not a single destroyed house [existed] in Gaza.

"After a few decades, after half the area of the West Bank was filled with settlements, they [the Palestinians] signed the Oslo Accords, which later proved worthless to them. Was [arriving at the current situation] the reason for Black September?[4] And was it the reason that the civil war in Lebanon erupted and the reason that Gaza was thrice destroyed?

"With all the respect that I have for the leader [Isma'il] Haniya, I say to him: 'When you determined [in the new Hamas policy document that the borders of Palestine are the borders] that existed prior to June 5, 1967, you implicitly and indirectly recognized Israel.[5] Therefore, from now on you cannot throw a single stone at it, not to mention fire a single rocket against it.

"I therefore wonder about the value of the flowery and futile expression 'Palestine from the river to the sea,' as long as Gaza is detached from the West Bank. Will valor and sacrifice bring the leader Haniya to launch a historic initiative and consolidate unity in the Palestinian state that will be supported by the Arab brothers and the entire world?

"Young Palestinians deserve to live, aspire, and act like the young people of other nations. We have had our fill of sorrow, oppression, idiocy, and the spouting of extremist slogans, that have eliminated wisdom and at the same time [forfeited] much land. If the Palestinian people were to enjoy life under conditions of peace, you would discover that they are a creative people, as demonstrated by the fact that the recipient of the award for the world's best teacher is the Palestinian teacher Hanan Al-Hroub.[6]
"And, if we are talking about the [Palestinian state's] territorial aspect, [it should be remembered that] Singapore occupies an area of only 710 km² – that is, one-ninth of the [combined] area of the West Bank and Gaza. Additionally, the population of the two [i.e. Singapore and the Palestinian territories] is similar – yet this Singapore's annual income exceeds $400 billion – more than the income of every petro state... even though it has no natural resources [of its own]."

[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 21. 2017.
[2] The Rogers Plan comprised the three Israel-Egypt and Israel-Jordan peace plans presented by U.S. Secretary of State William P. Rogers between 1969 and 1971.
[3] Following Sadat's visit to Israel, a peace conference at the Mena House hotel, Cairo, opened, on December 14, 1977; conferees included representatives of Israel, Egypt, the U.S., and a UN observer.
[4] The September 1970 struggle between the Jordanian army and the PLO-affiliated armed Palestinian organizations that were at that time situated in Jordan.
[5] It should be noted that the new Hamas policy document's passage concerning a Palestinian state in the 1967 boundaries, which ostensibly attests to the organization's pragmatic evolution, is written in such a way that it is not possible to understand clearly whether Hamas accepts the establishment of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders; it notes only that Hamas "regards [this]... as a national, agreed-upon, and joint formula" by Hamas, Fatah and the PLO. It states: "There is no compromise on any part of Palestine under any conditions, any circumstances, or any pressure, no matter how long the occupation continues. Hamas rejects any alternative to the complete liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea." It continues: "At the same time – and this does not mean recognition of the Zionist entity or compromise on any of the Palestinians' rights – Hamas regards the establishment of a fully sovereign independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital in the June 4, 1967 lines, and the return of the refugees and the uprooted individuals to the homes from which they were expelled, as a national, agreed-upon, and joint formula."See:, May 1, 2017 and MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1313, Hamas Policy Document: Palestinian State In 1967 Borders Is 'National, Agreed-upon and Joint Formula' By Hamas, PLO – Yet Armed Struggle Will Continue, And Palestine Extends From River To Sea, May 5, 2017. Additionally, it should be noted that the position on the establishment of a state in the 1967 borders as an "agreed-upon joint formula" is not a new Hamas position. Mash'al had declared it several times in the past, and the late Hamas leader Ahmad Yassin spoke about it as well. This position has also appeared in the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreements. The only thing that is new about it is that this time it is in an official document expressing the position of the entire Hamas leadership that was approved by the movement's highest body, the Shura Council.
[6] A teacher from the Dheheishe refugee camp near Bethlehem, who developed a method to reduce violence amongst her students. In March 2016, she took first place in an international competition for outstanding teachers.



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Europe's Leaders: Shielding Themselves from Reality - Judith Bergman

by Judith Bergman

The answer is to change Europe's outdated and unsustainable welfare policies

  • Shielding heads of state from seeing the consequences of the policies that they themselves have forced on the entire European continent represents a staggering new level of hypocrisy.
  • Why do the citizens of Europe need to 'broaden their horizons,' while the people in power protect themselves from the reality they themselves imposed on everyone else? This attitude, far from democratic, borders on the atmosphere prevalent in Europe during the bygone days of Europe's absolute monarchs.
  • While it is true that "everyone knows about our prosperity and lifestyle," the answer to that problem is not fatalistically to sit back and wait for the migrant influx. The answer is, based on a new starting-date, to change Europe's outdated and unsustainable welfare policies, which stem from a pre-globalization era, and in this way actively work to make it less attractive for millions of migrants to venture to the European continent in the first place.
When the G7 heads of state arrive in Taormina, Sicily, for the G7 meeting on May 26, they will find themselves in an embellished, picture-postcard version of European reality. Italy, the host of the G7 meeting, has announced that it will close all harbors on the island to ships that arrive with migrants ( mainly from Libya) for the duration of the two-day meeting. The reason for the closure of the Italian island to migrants is to protect the G7 meeting from potential terrorist attacks. According to Italian reports, "the Department of Public Safety believes that the boats with illegal immigrants could be hiding an Islamist threat".

G7 meetings are, of course, always subject to a host of high-level security measures. However, shielding heads of state from seeing the consequences of the policies that they themselves have forced on the entire European continent represents a staggering new level of hypocrisy. Literally altering reality in order to present a whitewashed picture of the influx of migrants into Europe, which happens largely through Italy, is a Potemkin measure, regardless of terror risks. Heads of state, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom Italy seeks to protect from a terrorist risk, seem not to care particularly about the very real terrorist risks that European citizens are forced to live with daily thanks to the migrant policies of these heads of state.

In 2015, when asked how Europe could be protected against Islamization, Merkel, who does not move without her own personal security team consisting of 15-20 armed bodyguards, carelessly said: "Fear is not a good adviser. It is better that we should have the courage once again to deal more strongly with our own Christian roots." In December 2016, she told members of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who were asking how to reassure the public about the problem of integrating migrants, "This could also broaden your horizons."

Why do the citizens of Europe need to 'broaden their horizons,' while the people in power, who forced them to do that, protect themselves from the reality they themselves imposed on everyone else? This attitude, far from democratic, borders on the atmosphere prevalent in Europe during the bygone days of Europe's absolute monarchs.

Being confronted with the results of their policies by seeing the migrants as they arrive in Sicily could be helpful in bringing these heads of state back to reality in Europe.

Migrants, who crossed from Libya, disembark the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) 'Phoenix' vessel on May 20, 2017 in Trapani (Sicily), Italy. (Image source: Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

According to the UNHCR, there were 362,753 Mediterranean migrant arrivals in Europe in 2016 - compared to more than a million people who arrived in Europe in the record year 2015, when Merkel invited asylum seekers to come to Germany.

Out of these migrants, the majority, 181,436, crossed the Mediterranean into Italy in 2016 and another 173,450 crossed the Mediterranean into Greece. According to the UNHCR, 55,374 migrants have already arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean, between January 1, 2017 and May 19, 2017. The majority (almost 46,000) have arrived in Italy, but some also arrived in Spain (3,200) and Greece (6,100). The most common nationalities of these migrants are Nigeria (17%), Bangladesh (10.7%), Guinea (9.7%), Cote d'Ivoire (9.1%), Gambia (6.6%), Syria (6.1%), Senegal (5.9%), Morocco (5.6%) and a total of 10% from "unspecified" countries. Most of these arrivals, evidently, are not refugees, but economic migrants.

Nevertheless, as Soeren Kern writes, Europe is unrelenting in pursuing its old, dysfunctional policies. On May 2, 2017, Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner in charge of Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, urged the EU:
"take the last concrete steps to gradually return, as we have repeatedly said many times before, to a normal functioning of the Schengen Area. This is our goal, and it remains unchanged. A fully functioning area, free from internal border controls".
What he seems to be saying, in other words, is that the EU would like to see a return to the complete border chaos that reigned in Europe in 2015, until several EU nations reinstated pre-Schengen border controls. Avramopoulos "notably recommended" that Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway phase out "the temporary controls in place at some of their internal Schengen borders over the following six months". These are the countries that experienced the most chaos from migrants eager to reach those wealthy countries' borders, after Angela Merkel invited asylum seekers in.

It seems inconceivable to European politicians, evidently, that the answer to the large wave of migrants seeking a better economic future for themselves on the European continent (eight to ten million migrants could be on the way), might be countered by something other than open arms and a continuation of the old welfare policies.

While it is true, as said by German Development Minister Gerd Müller, that "In our digital age with the internet and mobile phones, everyone knows about our prosperity and lifestyle," the answer to that problem is not fatalistically to sit back and wait for the migrant influx. The answer is, based on a new starting-date, to change Europe's outdated and unsustainable welfare policies, which stem from a pre-globalization era, and in this way actively work to make it less attractive for millions of migrants to venture to the European continent in the first place.

In addition, European leaders appear not to care that their continuing migration policies and welfare systems support an entire industry of human traffickers, who prey on the desire of hopeful migrants to reach Europe; the traffickers are making billions.

According to the [Europol] report, migrant smuggling in 2015 earned crime bosses up to £4.9billion (€5.7billion), with profits dropping to around £1.7billion (€2billion) last year as the number of people entering the EU illegally fell to around 510,000.
Europol said: "Migrant smuggling has emerged as one of the most profitable and widespread criminal activities for organised crime in the EU.
"The migrant smuggling business is now a large, profitable and sophisticated criminal market, comparable to the European drug markets."
European politicians are indirectly responsible for the existence of this industry.
Italy may think that it is protecting G7 leaders such as Angela Merkel from potential terrorist attacks during the G7 meeting in Taormina by closing Sicilian harbors to migrants. But by shielding from reality politicians who are already solidly detached from it, they are exposing the European citizenry -- whom those politicians are supposed to protect -- to even greater risks.

Judith Bergman is a writer, columnist, lawyer and political analyst.


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France: No-Go Zones Now in Heart of Big Cities - Yves Mamou

by Yves Mamou

In the heart of Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseille, Grenoble, Avignon, districts here and there have been "privatized" by a mix of drug traffickers, Salafist zealots and Islamic youth gangs.

  • "There are several hundred square meters of pavement abandoned to men alone; women are no longer considered entitled to be there. Cafés, bars and restaurants are prohibited to them, as are the sidewalks, the subway station and the public squares." – Le Parisien.
  • "For more than a year, the Chapelle-Pajol district (10th-18th arrondissements) has completely changed its face: groups of dozens of lone men, street vendors, aliens, migrants and smugglers harass women and hold the streets." – Le Parisien.
  • In the heart of Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseille, Grenoble, Avignon, districts here and there have been "privatized" by a mix of drug traffickers, Salafist zealots and Islamic youth gangs. The main victims are women. They are – Muslim and non-Muslim -- sexually harassed; some are sexually assaulted. The politicians, as usual, are fully informed of the situation imposed upon women.
In January, 2015, a week after the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the American television channel Fox News created a scandal in France by claiming that Islamic "no-go zones" were established in the heart of Paris. For the French media, the existence of no-go zones -- where non-Muslims are unwelcome and Islamic law, sharia, holds sway -- in the heart of the capital was pure nonsense and horrifying "fake news." Paris's mayor, Anne Hidalgo, said she planned to sue Fox News and that the "honor of Paris" was at stake.

By May 2017, however, the tone had changed. The French daily, Le Parisien, disclosed that, in fact, no-go zones are in the heart of the capital. It seems that the district of Chapelle-Pajol, in the east of Paris, has become very much a no-go zone. Hundreds of Muslim migrants and drug dealers crowd the streets, and harass women for wearing what many of these migrants apparently regard as immodest clothing:
"Women in this part of eastern Paris complain that they cannot move about without being subjected to comments and insults from men.
"There are several hundred square meters of pavement abandoned to men alone; women are no longer considered entitled to be there. Cafés, bars and restaurants are prohibited to them, as are the sidewalks, the subway station and the public squares. For more than a year, the Chapelle-Pajol district (10th-18th arrondissements) has completely changed its face: groups of dozens of lone men, street vendors, aliens, migrants and smugglers harass women and hold the streets."
Natalie, a 50-year-old resident of the area said: "The atmosphere is agonizing, to the point of having to modify our routes and our clothing. Some [women] even gave up going out."

Aurélie, 38, who has lived in the area for 15 years, said that the café-bar below her apartment had been a pleasant place, but has turned into an exclusively male establishment. "I have to listen to a lot of remarks when I pass by, especially since they drink a lot," she said. A local 80-year-old woman is reported to have totally stopped leaving her apartment after being sexually assaulted one day as she was returning home. Another woman is said to suffer a flood of insults simply by standing at her window.

Mayor Hidalgo is not talking about suing the media for defaming the honor of Paris anymore. She even said that this security issue has been "identified for several weeks", and proposed launching an "exploratory process" to combat discrimination against women and a "local delinquency treatment group". It was slightly hollow, Orwellian "newspeak," and aroused mockery and indignation on social networks.

Mentioning no-go zones in France was, until recently, taboo. It was regarded as "racist" or "Islamophobic" -- most of the time both -- to talk about that. In May 2016, Patrick Kanner, France's Minister for Urban Areas, harassed by journalists, finally acknowledged the truth : "There are today, we know, a hundred neighborhoods in France that present potential similarities with what has happened in Molenbeek." He was referring to the infamous neighborhood in Brussels, under Salafist control, which has become the epicenter of jihad in Europe.

What is new, is that no-go zones are no longer relegated to the suburbs, where migrants and Muslims have usually been concentrated.

No-go zones, through mass migration, have been emerging in the heart of Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseille, Grenoble, Avignon -- districts "privatized" here and there by a mix of drug traffickers, Salafist zealots and Islamic youth gangs. The main victims are women. They are -- both Muslim and non-Muslim -- sexually harassed; some are sexually assaulted.

Politicians, as usual, are fully informed of the situation imposed upon women. A 2014 report from the High Commissioner on Equality revealed that in the so-called "sensitive urban areas," nearly one in ten women has suffered physical or sexual violence.

Another report handed to the government, in September 2016, by the organization "France Médiation" revealed significant details, albeit written in chastened terms:
Public areas are "occupied" exclusively by men who "park" there, and women are merely authorized to pass through them...
It's not unique to this city: in the past 10 years, women have been seen public spaces desert them.
"You have to stay away, not provoke. I always go out with my children so there is no problem."
In some places, male groups "monopolize" public spaces and sometimes block the access to the entrances of buildings
Women are obliged to avoid the elevator in order to flee glances and remarks that are sometimes unpleasant. They have go up the stairs -- dirty, unlit and several stories high.
Cafés are occupied exclusively by men; women do not dare to enter them; they even avoid passing by.
The newly elected French president, Emmanuel Macron, ostensibly avoided security questions during the election campaign. No doubt, security questions will overtake him sooner than he thinks.

(Image source: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Yves Mamou, author and journalist, based in France, worked for two decades as a journalist for Le Monde.


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Protests in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Vancouver over Iran elections - Hassan Mahmoudi

by Hassan Mahmoudi

The mainstream media may have hailed Iran's election as some sort of victory for moderates, but Iranians abroad protested in the streets of Canada

In the wake of Iran’s 12th presidential election on May 19, 2017, there were protests in Iran. But they went much further than just the home country. Canadians held simultaneous protests in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver to denounce the sham election and the mullahs' ongoing violations of human rights in Iran. 

The protests occurred in Ottawa outside parliament, in Toronto in Mel Lastman Square, in Montreal at the city center, and in Vancouver in front of the Art Gallery at the city center. Demonstrators held banners reading “Stop Executions in Iran.” “No to Sham Election,” “No to Rouhani Imposter,”No to Raisi mass killer of 1988,” “Our vote is regime change,” “Free all political prisoners and“This is a selection, not an election.”.

One graduate student who helped organize the demonstration said: “The Iranian political system is not democratic and today’s election was neither free nor fair. In Iran, the Supreme Leader [Ali] Khamenei, stands at the apex of Iran's complex political dictatorship. He is the most powerful of Iran's four major governing bodies, the Supreme Leader and the Council of Guardians, are not elected by the general population and power of the president is secondary to the Supreme Leader, who is an unelected head of state.

The speakers led continuous chants, denouncing the fraudulent election. The protestors said they had various reasons why this protest is important, a fourth-year student at the York University of Toronto said there are a lot of issues in Iran, including its deteriorated economy, its state-sponsored terrorism, its human rights violations, and women’s rights… "but what we are primarily concerned about the election." He noted that the presidential race was between incumbent President Hassan Rouhani seeking a second term in office, with 3,000 executions during his tenure, and Ebrahim Raisi, the candidate closest to Supreme Leader who was part of a tribunal that oversaw the execution of 30,000 political prisoners in the summer of 1988. He has also preferred candidate of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

In Toronto, the demonstration was held in Mel Lastman Square, where protestors were holding placards condemning the sham election. This demonstration received wide media and social attention. During the demonstrations, CTV, a Canadian broadcaster, interviewed one of the organizers of the demonstration: “Today our simultaneous protests in Canada over Iran's elections is in solidarity with Iranian people," she said. “The people of Iran deserve a democratic change, they rejected 38 years of this tyrannical rule." 

National CBC Television had a live interview with Mrs. Shahnaz Fallah from the International Coalition of Women Against Fundamentalism (ICWAF) regarding Iran’s election, too.

Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate and social media journalist seeking democracy for Iran and peace for the region. He tweets at @hassan_mahmou1


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Venezuela's civil war gets closer as mobs burn Hugo Chavez's childhood home - Monica Showalter

by Monica Showalter

Protestors in Venezuela burned down the late dictator Hugo Chavez's childhood home. Strong as that statement is, it's still symbolism

Following the toppling of at least five statues of the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, angry mobs startled the ruling regime by burning down Chavez's childhood home, set up as a shrine to his socialist revolution by his supporters.

It surely takes the anger and bitterness in the streets to another level. We no longer hear much in the way of restraining voices for non-violence in that socialist hellhole much. The mob has taken over and the monuments are beginning to topple.

It's a sign of a growing civil war, in fact, and like most of such events it could be very bloody. In the midst of the largely non-violent Velvet Revolutions of Eastern Europe in 1989, the sorry end of the region's worst dictator, Nicolae Ceaucescu, was the exception - dragged from his palace hideaway to some wall by angry rebel troops and summarily shot as crowds cheered.

The other Nicholas, Nicolas Maduro, seems to be headed for the same fate, given the efforts to take down the relics of the illegitimate regime.

Still, as Eric Farnsworth noted in the Associated Press piece linked above, it is still is symbolism. The protests are symbolism, the monument topplings are symbolism. They aren't actually acts of war. Only the Venezuelan government is moving on with a war footing. It is now deploying snipers to shoot into crowds - which isn't a symbolic gesture at all, or as the monument toppling is, it's a real one.

Nevertheless, it may point to worse for the Chavistas. The growing attacks on the symbols of the Chavista regime may well extend to attacks on the rulers of the Chavista regime. It's the direction it's headed, and by their actions, the Chavistas show that they know it. 

Monica Showalter


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2017 Has Seen a Terror Attack Attempted in Europe Every Nine Days - Raheem Kassam and Victoria Friedman

by Raheem Kassam and Victoria Friedman

Europe, the United Kingdom, and Russia have witnessed terror attacks or attempted attacks every nine days in 2017 on average, analysis of security incidents has revealed.

terror attack

Since January, around 45 people have been killed by mostly Islamic terrorists, while hundreds have been injured. The only known incident not linked to jihadism in 2017 was the attack on the Borussia Dortmund soccer team by a Russian-German national attempting to profit from short-selling stock in the company.

Attacks and attempted attacks have taken place in Austria, France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy, Russia, Sweden, Norway, and Germany.

Security services in Britain — population 65 million — are known to be tracking 3,500 potential terror suspects or persons posing a threat. Meanwhile Belgium, with its population of just 12 million, is tracking around 18,000 potential jihadists.

A further minimum of 14 terror attacks have occurred in Turkey in 2017, a NATO member country currently being considered for European Union membership.


Date Location Result Attacker profile Name Fate of Attacker
20 January 2017 Austria foiled 18-year-old was an Austrian citizen of a migrant background
3 February 2017 Paris, France executed Egyptian national on tourist visa Abdullah Reda Refaie al-Hamahmy arrested
10 February 2017 Paris, France foiled
Four arrests including 16y/o girl arrested
18 March 2017 Garges-lès-Gonesse and Orly Airport Paris, France attempted Radicalised French-born Muslim of North African origin Ziyed Ben Belgacem dead
22 March 2017 Westminster, London executed British. Muslim convert Khalid Masood dead
23 March 2017 Antwerp, Belgium attempted Tunisian national Mohamed R. arrested
30 March 2017 Venice, Italy foiled Three adults from Kosovo Three men and an unidentified minor arrested
3 April 2017 St. Petersburg, Russia executed Ethnic Uzbek, Kyrgyz-born Russian citizen Akbarzhon Jalilov dead
7 April 2017 Stockholm, Sweden executed Uzbek failed asylum seeker Rakhmat Akilov apprehended
8 April 2017 Grønland, Oslo, Norway foiled 17y/o Russian citizen. Asylum seeker (arrived 2010). MEDIA CLAIM was known to Norwegian security services for having expressed support for Islamic State unnamed (underage) arrested
11 April 2017 Dortmund, Germany attempted An Iraqi (Abdul Beset A) linked to Islamic State arrested, but later found to not be related to the attack. On 21 April, Sergej W., a market trader, was arrested. Sergej W. Joint Russian-German national arrested
18 April 2017 Marseille, France foiled Plot against at least two candidates in the French presidential election two arrests` arrested
20 April 2017 Champs Élysées, Paris, France executed 39-year-old gunman known to intelligence services as an Islamist. French national. Karim Cheurfi/Abu-Yusuf al-Baljiki (“the Belgian” identified via Amaq) dead
18 May 2017 Milan, Italy executed Half-Tunisian, half-Italian radicalised. Not on a terror watch list, but known to police for criminality Ismail Tommaso Ben Yousef Hosni, 21 arrested
22 May 2017 Manchester Arena, Manchester executed tbc One (unnamed) male dead

Raheem Kassam and Victoria Friedman


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