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What Israel Is Afraid of After the Egyptian Uprising

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By: Peter Beinart

We’re almost two weeks into the revolution in Egypt and the American media keeps asking the question that my extended family asks during all world events: Is it good for Israel? Ask a Jewish question, get a Jewish answer, by which I mean, another question: What’s good for Israel?

Obviously, a theocracy that abrogated Egypt’s peace treaty with the Jewish state would be bad for Israel, period. But that is unlikely. The Muslim Brotherhood is not al Qaeda: It abandoned violence decades ago, and declared that it would pursue its Islamist vision through the democratic process, which has earned it scorn among Bin Laden types. Nor is the Brotherhood akin to the regime in Iran: When Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei tried to appropriate the Egyptian protests last week, the Brotherhood shot him down, declaring that it “regards the revolution as the Egyptian People’s Revolution not an Islamic Revolution” and insisting that “The Egyptian people’s revolution includes Muslims, Christians and [is] from all sects and political” tendencies. In the words of George Washington University’s Nathan Brown, an expert on Brotherhood movements across the Middle East, “These parties definitely reject the Iranian model…Their slogan is, ‘We seek participation, not domination.’ The idea of creating an Islamic state does not seem to be anywhere near their agenda.”

Could this all be an elaborate ruse? Might the Brotherhood act differently if it gained absolute power? Sure, but it’s hard to foresee a scenario in which that happens. For one thing, the best estimates, according to the Council on Foreign Relations’ Stephen Cook, are that the Brotherhood would win perhaps 20 percent of the vote in a free election, which means it would have to govern in coalition. What’s more, the Egyptian officer corps, which avowedly opposes an Islamic state, will likely wield power behind the scenes in any future government. And while the Brotherhood takes an ambiguous position on Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel–it opposes it but says it will abide by the will of the Egyptian people-the Egyptian army has little interest in returning to war footing with a vastly stronger Israel. Already, Mohammed ElBaradei, the closest thing the Egyptian protest movement has to a leader, has called the peace treaty with Israel “rock solid.”

But Egypt doesn’t have to abrogate the peace treaty to cause the Israeli government problems. Ever since 2006, when Hamas won the freest election in Palestinian history, Egypt, Israel and the United States have colluded to enforce a blockade meant to undermine the group’s control of the Gaza Strip. A more accountable Egyptian government might no longer do that, partly because Hamas is an offshoot of the Brotherhood, but mostly because a policy of impoverishing the people of Gaza has little appeal among Egyptian voters. It’s easy to imagine a newly democratic government of Egypt adopting a policy akin to the one adopted by the newly democratic government of Turkey. The Turkish government hasn’t severed ties with Israel, but it does harshly criticize Israel’s policies, especially in Gaza, partly because Turkey’s ruling party has Islamist tendencies, but mostly because that is what the Turkish people want.

More than ever in the months and years to come, Israelis and American Jews must distinguish hatred of Israel’s policies from hatred of Israel’s very existence.

Which bring us back to the question: Is this bad for Israel? Benjamin Netanyahu and AIPAC certainly think so, since they believe that what’s best for Israel is for its government to be free to pursue its current policies with as little external criticism as possible. I disagree. For several years now, Israel has pursued a policy designed, according to Israeli officials, to “keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse.” (The quote comes courtesy of the recent Wikileaks document dump). The impact on the Gazan people has been horrendous, but Hamas is doing fine, for the same basic reason that Fidel Castro has done fine for the last 60 years: The blockade allows Hamas to completely control Gaza’s economy and blame its own repression and mismanagement on the American-Zionist bogeyman. Meanwhile, Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad govern in the West Bank without the democratic legitimacy they would likely need to sell a peace treaty to the Palestinian people.

All of which is to say: a shift in U.S. and Israeli policy towards Hamas is long overdue. The organization has been basically observing a de-facto cease-fire for two years now, and in the last year its two top leaders, Khaled Meshal and Ismail Haniya, have both said Hamas would accept a two-state deal if the Palestinian people endorse it in a referendum. That doesn’t mean Hamas isn’t vile in many ways, but it does mean that Israel and America are better off allowing the Palestinians to create a democratically legitimate, national unity government that includes Hamas than continuing their current, immoral, failed policy. If a more democratic Egyptian government makes that policy harder to sustain, it may be doing Israel a favor.

The Middle East’s tectonic plates are shifting. For a long time, countries like Turkey and Egypt were ruled by men more interested in pleasing the United States than their own people, and as a result, they shielded Israel from their people’s anger. Now more of that anger will find its way into the corridors of power. The Israeli and American Jewish right will see this as further evidence that all the world hates Jews, and that Israel has no choice but to turn further in on itself. But that would be a terrible mistake. More than ever in the months and years to come, Israelis and American Jews must distinguish hatred of Israel’s policies from hatred of Israel’s very existence. The Turkish government, after all, has maintained diplomatic ties with Israel even as it excoriates Israel’s policies in Gaza. ElBaradei this week reaffirmed Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel even as he negotiates the formation of a government that could well challenge Israel’s policy in Gaza.

Instead of trying to prop up a dying autocratic order, what Israel desperately needs is to begin competing for Middle Eastern public opinion, something American power and Arab tyranny have kept it from having to do. And really competing means reassessing policies like the Gaza blockade, which create deep-and understandable-rage in Cairo and Istanbul without making Israel safer. It is ironic that Israel, the Middle East’s most vibrant democracy, seems so uncomfortable in a democratizing Middle East. But at root, that discomfort stems from Israel’s own profoundly anti-democratic policies in the West Bank and Gaza. In an increasingly democratic, increasingly post-American Middle East, the costs of those policies will only continue to rise. Israel must somehow find the will to change them, while it can still do so on its own terms, not only because of what is happening in Tahrir Square, but because the next Tahrir Square could be in Ramallah or East Jerusalem. After all, as Haaretz’s Akiva Eldar recently noted, Palestinian kids use Facebook too.

US academic all praise for Pakistani students

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By Zaheer Mahmood Siddiqui

LAHORE, An American professor has a dream to simultaneously hold journalism classes for Pakistani and the US students.

“Pakistani students are well informed, dedicated and hard working. I see proudly at young journalists of Pakistan. We should try to do some projects together. I don’t know how it is going to work but I have an idea of holding journalism classes through video conferencing,” Prof Sherry Ricchiardi of Indiana University School of Journalism told Dawn here.

Ms Sherry and her husband, Frank S. Folwell, director of photography at US Today, are on a visit to Pakistan to hold workshops and seminars on journalism in public and private universities.

“The Pakistani youths are very open and sharing. I met almost 60 to 80 in Islamabad; someone was covering human and women rights, someone was covering domestic violence, etc. A couple of guys asked credibly good questions. During that interaction and the one at Safma office in Lahore, I met many youth for five minutes or so, but it seemed we knew each other for ever. I am getting many e-mails from a couple of them. Wherever we go, there is a connection with us and it has been great here again,” said Ms Sherry who had been to Pakistan some three decades ago along with Frank.

“We were here as journalists as well as travellers during pre-Russia era. We just came here on our own as we wanted to see this part of the world. We had landed in Lahore, flew to Rawalpindi and then to Kabul,” recalled Frank and added they were fascinated by this part of the world after driving back from Kabul to Rawalpindi through Khyber Pass.

The couple found no change in the attitude of the general public here towards foreigners. “One day walking on a sideway, I felt dizzy and sat on the ground. A woman came out of nowhere, took us to her home and offered all sort of help. It was a nice moment,” said Sherry.

However, there were not much women in the profession of journalism or Sherry could not found them during her maiden visit to Pakistan. “Now, a number of young women I met told me that they are coming into mainstream journalism,” she said.

“New technology is amazing for journalists,” said Sherry but was interrupted by Frank: “She has been the last person to go for computer.”

Terrorists attack Jinnah Hospital

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* Four terrorists donning police uniforms attack emergency, ICU wards, kill 5 people
* Attack considered bid to free arrested terrorist who was injured in attack on Ahmedis
* Terrorists ‘flee in Elite Force vehicle’

LAHORE: At least five people, including a woman, were killed when at least four unidentified terrorists stormed various wards of Lahore’s Jinnah Hospital late on Monday night.

Reports said the attack was an attempt to free a terrorist, who was under treatment at the hospital after being arrested following Friday’s attacks on a Ahmedis’ prayer facility in Model Town’s C-block.

The terrorists, who were in police uniform, entered the emergency ward of Jinnah Hospital after killing two security guards and two police officials manning the main gate.

The assailants then entered the emergency ward from three sides firing indiscriminately. The attackers also took several patients, doctors and paramedics hostage. They also disrupted the hospital’s electricity supply system by firing at the power controls. An eyewitness said the assailants attacked the Intensive Care Unit on the hospital’s first floor where Muaz, the terrorist arrested on Friday, was under treatment.

They attempted to get their accomplice released but failed, killing the security personnel guarding Muaz before escaping.

Meanwhile, police contingents also arrived at the hospital, sparking a volley of fire from the terrorists hiding on various floors of the hospital’s emergency ward.

Subsequently, commandos from the Elite Force and armoured vehicles were called in to deal with the situation. Police launched a clearance operation and reportedly arrested two of the terrorists in injured condition.

Punjab (IGP) Tariq Salim Dogar and other senior police officials also arrived at the scene, as the police rescue party declared the hospital safe.

Escape: However, the IGP told reporters that the four terrorist had escaped, with various news channels reporting that the assailants had escaped in an Elite Force vehicle.

Police said the arrested terrorist Muaz was still in police custody and the terrorists had failed in their mission. Following the terrorists’ escape, police sealed the entire city and began a search operation to arrest the attackers. Later, reports poured in saying the attackers clashed with police in Hanjarwal area on Multan Road, but they had managed to flee.

Talking to reporters, Jinnah Hospital senior official Dr Javed Akram said the terrorists “started indiscriminate firing outside the emergency ward and the intensive care unit”, AFP reported.

Akram told reporters that at least 30 wounded Ahmedis had been admitted to the hospital along with one of the attackers of Friday’s devastating attacks.

The assault came three days after terrorists wearing suicide vests burst into two Ahmedi prayer halls in Garhi Shahu and Model Town, killing over 90 people.

They were the worst attacks in Pakistan since a suicide bomber killed 101 people on January 1 at a volleyball game in Bannu.

Police blamed the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan for the attacks.

A leading rights group said the Ahmedi community had received threats for more than a year and officials blamed the attack on terrorists who have killed more than 3,370 people in bombings over the last three years.

With eight million residents and the tag for being the country’s cultural capital, Lahore has increasingly suffered Taliban and al Qaeda-linked violence, with around 265 people killed in nine attacks since March 2009.

The Taliban and al Qaeda-linked terrorists have orchestrated the three-year bombing campaign in Pakistan to avenge military operations and the government’s alliance with Religious violence in Pakistan, mostly between majority Sunni and minority Shias, has killed more than 4,000 people in the past decade.

Taliban earn £1,600 bounty for each NATO soldier killed

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LAHORE: Taliban earn a bounty of up to Rs 200,000 (£1,660) for each NATO soldier they kill, insurgent commanders informed The Sunday Times on Sunday.
The paper said the money was said to come from protection rackets, taxes imposed on opium farmers, donors in the Gulf states who channel money through Dubai and from the senior Taliban leadership in Pakistan.

So far this year, 213 NATO soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, including 41 British troops, bringing the potential rewards for the Taliban to £350,000, The Sunday Times said.
The Taliban commanders told the paper that the bounty had more than doubled since the beginning of last year.
“The insurgents, who employ “hit and run” tactics against foot patrols and convoys, use paid informants, media reports and the local population to confirm the deaths of NATO soldiers,” the paper said. T
“We can’t lie to our commanders: they can check to see if there was a fight in that area. We get money if we capture equipment too. A gun can fetch $1,000 [£690],” a commander from Khost province who controls about 60 fighters told The Sunday Times.

Energy sector Govt’s top priority: Gilani

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LAHORE,: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani Sunday said on Sunday that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government attaches top priority to the energy sector and every measure would be taken to end the load-shedding. “The PPP government has the capability and the will to resolve the crises and it would take the country out of current energy crisis as it had pulled the country out of other crises”,he said while addressing the inaugural ceremony of 62 MW Gulf Rental Power Plant at Eminabad, Gujranwala.

The prime minister said the country was facing a deficit of 3000 MW electricity which would be overcome with hydro, rental power plants, coal and other renewable energy resources.

He said that the government had held Energy Summit which recommended to introduce load management and that had helped to overcome unscheduled load-shedding in the country.

Gilani said Pakistan was not the only country to face power shortage, India was facing a shortfall of 50,000 MW while Bangladesh and Nepal also confronted a problem of load-shedding.

He said the PPP government of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto had brought the IPPs to the country in order to bring an end to load-shedding, and now while following her policy, the present PPP government too would resolve this crisis .

He said this was followed by scathing criticism to make the people believe that all investment would be deterimental to the economy of the country.

He said our standpoint stands vindicated after a lapse of a decade as the IPPs have established their credibility and they had become successful partner of the government in the matter of power generation.

“Your elected government is aware of its responsility to redress grievances of the masses,” he said.

The prime minister urged the investors to invest in Pakistan as the country offered very good opportunities to them.

Earlier, the Prime Minister inaugurated the 62 MW Gulf Rental Power Plant which is financed by a consortium of Saudi and Pakistani business houses within the record time period of seven months.

The Prime Minister said that the current power situation has not only dissapointed the masses but it has also badly affected the industry and slowed down economic growth in the country.

He said that the gap between demand and supply of power will have to be bridged in order to attain economic stability adding that Pakistan’s economic growth is seriously affected by the fast increasing gap between supply and demand of energy resources in general and electricity in particular.

Gilani said the government believes in expediting sustained economic growth by enhancing direct investment for industrial and infrastructure development and at the same time safeguarding the interests of the common citizens besides improving their standard of living.

He said the government has adopted a multi-pronged strategy to provide electricity to every nook and corner of the country.

He said this strategy will enhance the capacity of building new power generation plants as well as upgradation of the existing transmission and distribution of infrastructure.

Gilani asserted that public and private sectors have to work hand in hand adding the government has already announced a lucrative framework to attract investment in energy sector.

He said the government will provide full support to encourage local and foreign power generation companies.

It has been the policy of the democratic government led by PPP to make Pakistan self-sufficient in the field of energy.

Gilani said the government would extend complete help for completing mega 850 MW Suki Kinari Hydro Power Project which will cost USD 1.4 billion.

He said that Suki Kinari hydel power project would be one of the largest hydro power projects in Asia.

The prime minister said the government would double the generation capacity of the country from the current 20,000 MW to 40,000 within the next ten years.

The Prime Minister also sought larger private investment and said that public private partnership could greatly help set up energy projects.

He said the government would form partnerships with the multilateral financial institutions besides ensuring cooperation between the federal and provincial governments as both will have to work attaining the objective.

He said he has directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help secure support as needed from bilateral partners.

The prime minister said the government would work hard to realise this vision.

Responding to the cheering of the party workers, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said he would convene a meeting of the local party workers to resolve their issues.

He also received applications from the party workers while leaving the venue of the public gathering.

Speaking on the occasion, Federal Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said, “We will rid the nation of the menace of load-shedding by seeking a balance between demand and supply of electricity”.

The Minister said the purported campaign against the IPPs by our detractors has failed adding that the impression that IPPs were set up without guarrantees is incorrect.

Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said the inauguration of Gulf rental power plant has been launched to treat the chronic power shortages, inherited from the previous dictatorial regimes, is a lucid proof of the vision of Shaheed Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto adding that the dream of making Pakistan self-sufficient in power generation would be realized under the dynmaic leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari and competent command of Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani.

The minister said 3000 MW of electricity would be injected into the power generation capacity of the country by the end of this year.

Federal Minister for Population Welfare Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Nazar Muhammad Gondal and Minister for State for Communication Imtiaz Safdar Warraich were also present on the occasion.

Legal action must be taken against Hamid Mir: Rashed Rahman

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LAHORE: Legal action must be initiated against Hamid Mir after the Inter-Services Intelligence and government quarters confirmed the authenticity of the taped conversation between Mir and a Taliban militant, Daily Times Editor Rashed Rahman said on Wednesday. Talking to Business Plus, he said Hamid Mir is answerable in this regard. “The Daily Times initiated self-accountability in the media by publishing a transcript of the taped conversation between Mir and an unidentified Taliban militant,” he said, adding that several people had contacted the Media Times Group with evidence against Mir. He also defended his decision to publish the taped conversation in the Daily Times. “It was a tough decision to publish such news, but we went ahead and published it,” he said, adding that the freedom of the media could be marred with restrictions in case of irresponsible behaviour. Describing the taped conversation as “doctored” and “concocted”, Hamid Mir has served the Daily Times with a legal notice and has claimed Rs 250 million in damages. According to BBC Urdu, the Jang Group has set up an investigation committee and has announced the conducting of an impartial investigation in this regard. A large number of websites carry the contents of the audiotape, describing it a candid conversation on the telephone between Hamid Mir and a militant. Mir, who finds himself in the midst of a raging debate on the issue of journalistic ethics, has described the taped conversation “doctored” and “concocted”. Separately, Senator Faisal Raza Abidi said the government had verified the authenticity of the voices on the audio tape from intelligence agencies. He said the audio clipping proved Hamid Mir’s links with the Taliban.