Archive for April 2011
Interestingly, one of the key Israeli promoters of Arab democracy, Natan Sharansky, is a keen chess player, whose defeat of Garry Kasparov (born Garry Kimovich Weinstein) in a noisy simultaneous chess exhibition held in Israel in 1996 was reported by the New York Times to have prompted the then former world champion’s storming out of the event immediately after the last move and his failure to appear at an awards ceremony later. Apparently, the Russian Jewish chessmasters had made up by 2007, when Kasparov, as leader of Russia’s dissident United Civil Front, participated in Sharansky’s Prague conference on “Democracy and Security” — a seminal event which may indeed have sown the seeds of the Arab Spring.
Spreading democracy in the Middle East is a good idea, founder of One Jerusalem (under Israeli sovereignty) argued in 2007
Under the direction of Natan Sharansky, the former Israeli minister who resigned his cabinet seat in 2005 in protest over Ariel Sharon’s Gaza disengagement plan, the Jerusalem-based Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies held a “Democracy and Security” conference in Prague in 2007. The conference brought together (.pdf) right wing Israelis; their American neoconservative sympathizers, with their favourite Middle Eastern dissidents in tow—most notably, Richard Perle’s Israel-admiring Syrian protégé Farid Ghadry; and the newly-installed Eastern European democrats swept to power in the wake of a wave of neocon-backed “color revolutions,” the latter group presumably serving to inspire the Arab and Iranian participants to emulate them.
Jeff Blankfort, preeminent critic of the Israel lobby and host of “Takes on the World” on National Public Radio’s KZYX station, talks with Maidhc Ó Cathail, creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, about the Israel partisans who promote Arab democracy.
Summary: Middle East analyst and investigative journalist Maidhc Ó Cathail exposes US governmental and quasi-governmental agencies that have been involved behind the scenes in encouraging “democratic” reform in Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria and Libya, including the National Endowment for Democracy, Democratic and Republican Institutes, International Center on Nonviolent Conflict and its head, Peter Ackerman, plus the roles of George Soros and the pro-Israel neocons like Michael Ledeen and Robert Kagan.
Listen to the interview here.
“U.S. ‘Democracy’ Advisors Suddenly in Demand,” reports IPS:
“It’s exhilarating,” he said of IRI’s activities in Egypt. “We’ve been working since 2005 with Egyptian political activists and now the democratic universe has vastly expanded.”
Was it all a beautiful dream? The Western world’s broadcasters and print-journalists repeatedly characterised the celebratory atmosphere in Cairo and other Egyptian cities after Hosni Mubarak’s resignation late on 11th February as like a rock festival or a big party. It was the happy ending to die for – or was it the end?
From Ron Kampeas on February 2:
Robert Satloff, WINEP’s director, gives the Obama administration high marks for its performance so far, particularly in its urging Mubarak to speed the transition:
The imagery of Mubarak saying at 6, I’m going to say for eight more months and the president saying at 7, the transition needs to begin now –that’s the message people in the region will take away from the statement.
The downside is that the longer Mubarak resists, the worse for the United States:
Every day that Mubarak stays in office is a rebuke to President Obama
Satloff says now is not the time to cut off assistance to Egypt as a means of encouraging Mubarak’s departure:
The most likely agent of change … is the military. The idea that we gain influence by curtting off assistance may sound convincing in a seminar room but I assure you it doesn’t translate into Arabic.
He outlines likely changes in the relationship with Israel after Mubarak goes:
–The peace won’t be withdrawn; its benefits — massive aid, relationships with the West — is too valuable.
–The natural gas pipeline to Israel, however, is universally unpopular, and that may go.
–No actor in Egypt wants to open up the border to the Gaza Strip to the movement of arms, but any successor will likely want to ease controls to allow humanitarian aid in. That could raise flags in Israel.
Doesn’t sound like the people at WINEP, the AIPAC-created think tank, were too worried, does it?
In months of strategizing, the media team settled on red and white as the opposition colors for the spring elections. After Hariri’s assassination, however, the team members faced an unexpected challenge: how to blend the colors into the angry demonstration, giving the movement the brand recognition that had proved so successful in Ukraine.
Despite being the primary colors of Lebanon’s flag, red and white were not obvious choices. Kassir said they considered orange. But they did not want the movement to be seen as an imitation of Ukraine’s uprising, in November and December, that overturned fraudulent elections. Many Lebanese also remembered the distinctive orange markings on the Israeli tanks that rumbled into the country in 1982.
Blue also posed complications: What shade? Israeli blue wouldn’t work. Nor would European Union blue or United Nations blue. A rainbow was briefly considered, but it evoked the international gay rights movement. “In a macho country like this one,” Kassir said, “it just wouldn’t have worked.”
They settled on red and white. In the hours after the assassination, Jumblatt’s wife, Nora, a leading organizer of the protests, commissioned the manufacture of 40,000 lengths of red-and-white cloth that opposition leaders would soon drape around their necks. This was meant to serve as a message to the young foot soldiers to set aside party banners and follow suit, opposition strategists said. Soon, only red and white could be seen on the square and in other demonstrations, including a March 7 human chain leading from the bomb site to Hariri’s grave.
“In the business, it’s called visual equity,” said Francis, whose regular clients include General Mills, Cadbury chocolates and several banks. “That day, when I saw the streets full of red and white, it was just visually stunning.”
At the time of publication, Said Francis was the regional creative director of the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, which had been acquired in 2000 by the Publicis Groupe, a Paris-based global marketing concern. Considering Francis’s role in mobilizing crowds against Syria and Hezbollah, it’s interesting, to say the least, that his boss is an ardent supporter of Israel.
According to the Wikipedia entry on Publicis CEO Maurice Lévy:
In January 2008, Lévy was bestowed the International Leadership Award 2008 from the Anti-Defamation League in recognition of his stance towards tolerance and diversity. He also financed the 2008 concert at the Trocadéro to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel.