Tag Archives: Iran

Oh, Mehdi, feel free to tell us to “bugger off to Tel Aviv”.

Mehdi Hasan.

Mehdi Hasan.

Last Friday Luke Bozier, a Labour blogger, said of Mehdi Hasan, the embattled Senior Editor (politics) at the New Statesman magazine:

“Wouldn’t it be good if he just buggered off to Tehran.”

It was in response to Hasan’s article the previous day If you lived in Iran, wouldn’t you want the nuclear bomb? which some commentators have interpreted as a call by Hasan for Iran to develop a nuclear bomb.

Yesterday Hasan posted a response to the criticism of his article and made the following curious remark about Bozier:

Can you imagine the media reaction if a British Jew wrote a column about Israel which prompted the response of “bugger off to Tel Aviv”?

I can’t see the parallel myself. Hasan isn’t Iranian and neither does Bozier’s remark seem to be an attack on Hasan’s Muslim identity.

It might be in dispute as to whether Hasan’s article amounts to a call for an Iranian nuclear bomb, but what is not in dispute is his coming to the defence of the vile Iranian regime, describing it as “surrounded on all sides by virulent enemies” and he doubts whether Iran is looking to create a nuclear bomb when he gives credence to the regime’s rhetoric that its “goal is only to develop a civilian nuclear programme, not atomic bombs”.

And so Bozier’s comment is not so different from those by people who tell apologists for Hamas to move to Gaza if they love Hamas so much. It’s the same with telling Hasan to go to Tehran. It isn’t a racist slur.

And in reality, and Hasan must know this, the equivalent far-left racial slur against British Jews is for us to bugger off to Russia. I, myself, was once told to go back to Poland at an anti-Israel event in London.

So what a nice change it would be for British Jews to be told to “bugger off to Tel Aviv”.

Implicit in such a suggestion would at least be a recognition of the Jewish connection to Israel, a connection which both the Palestinian leadership and the far-left refuse to make.

But it wasn’t like that before 1948 when the common refrain of racists in the UK was for Jews to go back to Palestine. After 1948 it became politically inconvenient for the racists to suggest Jews go back to Israel, so Poland and Russia are now the new hot spots designated for us by the far-left, irrespective of the fact that Jews got slaughtered there in their millions by the Nazis.

And how ironic that Hasan now chooses to employ British Jews in his defence when he has previously shown us such disregard with his casual attitude to anti-Semitism.

In an echo of Ben White’s article in 2002 Is It Possible to Understand the Rise in Anti-Semitism? in which White wrote “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are” Hasan wrote in his article Does Israel “cause” anti-Semitism?:

“Nothing justifies anti-Semitism…But I do find it both tragic and ironic that the state of Israel…through its actions today…provokes such awful anti-Semitic attacks against diaspora Jews who have nothing to do with the actions of the IDF or the policies of Netanyahu, Olmert and Sharon.”

As The CST‘s Dave Rich wrote in the comment section of that post:

“The people who are primarily responsible for racist hate crimes are the racists who perpetrate them; the “cause” is their bigotry and hatred for a chosen ‘other’…You would not write an article lamenting that fact that Muslim immigration “caused” the recent arson attack on the Luton Islamic Centre…Don’t make excuses for racists, and don’t use racism as an excuse to score political points.”

And anyway, Hasan and President Ahmadinejad do have similar ideas which suggests that Hasan might actually feel at home in Tehran. For example, they both wish for Israel to be wiped off the map. In his article I’ve changed my mind about a two-state solution Hasan describes his own solution as being:

“a single, secular and binational state for Israelis and Palestinians. No longer ‘two states for two peoples’, but ‘one person, one vote’.”

And in mid-July 2009 he wrote of the Iranian regime’s Press TV that “not a single critic so far has claimed that his or her views were ever censored”. However, two weeks earlier Press TV interviewed Hossein Mousavi in his prison cell in Iran asking him questions prepared by the Iranian regime with Mousavi reading his answers from a script also prepared by the regime. (OFCOM recently upheld the complaint of unfair treatment and unwarranted infringement of privacy in making the programme containing Mousavi’s interview.)

So, Mehdi, by all means hate Israel, excuse anti-Semitism and support the Iranian regime if you are that way inclined but please don’t try to use British Jews in your defence when it suits you politically. And if anyone does tell me to “bugger off to Tel Aviv” I will be happy that, finally, they will have stopped trying to force me back to Poland.

Threatened and told I’m “one of the chosen people” at anti-Israel trade union event.

Moshe Machover about to wake someone up with talk of wet dreams.

Moshe Machover about to wake someone up with talk of wet dreams.

Last night the RMT union, which represents London Underground’s tube drivers, held a rally at SOAS under the pseudonym Palestine’s Fight for Freedom.

Speakers demonised Israel with accusations of “apartheid”, “ethnic cleansing” and being a “racist state”. There were also the usual racist boycott calls.

There was an incredible screaming rant by Steve Hedley, RMT’s London regional organiser, in which, addressing an audience member, he made remarks such as “your friends in the media”, “the attack on those innocent women and children who you starved and turned into the biggest concentration camp on the earth”, “you’re an absolute disgrace to the Jewish people” and “you’re a modern day Nazi”.

After he had sat down I asked him if he felt better, to which he replied:

“Better than you, obviously. But then again you’re one of the chosen people so you might feel better than me, huh?”

Here is the audio of Hedley’s rant, including his “chosen people” remark. He was cleared earlier this year of assault:

Hedley on “the chosen people”.

And here is some footage of the end of Hedley’s rant:

It wasn’t long after this that I felt a tug on my shirt collar and heard the words “You’ve got a right hook coming to you” menacingly whispered into my ear.

Here is another RMT official speaking about how Israel has “deformed the area”:

Hedley had earlier more calmly refuted any accusations of anti-Semitism:

“If the Israeli people are going to tolerate the oppression of the Palestinian people, they will never be free themselves. And I’m an anti-fascist. I’ve been an anti-fascist since the early teens. I’ve got absolutely nothing against Israelis at all; nothing against Jewish people. It’s a clear line to draw because people have been throwing around labels ‘oh, you’re anti-Semitic’… and that’s not the case.”

Well, that’s all clear and good, apart from calling a Jewish person “one of the chosen people”.

More depressing than that though was to hear a SOAS lecturer, Dr Adam Hanieh, calling for a racist boycott of Israel. Let’s be clear; he was not calling for a boycott of “settlement goods”, but everything Israeli.

I don’t wish to suggest that there is anything improper about Hanieh’s classes. I have never been in one. But do his students know of his vile politics before enrolling on to Development Studies at SOAS?

If you were parting with £9,000 a year wouldn’t you want to be informed that a lecturer supports racist action? I would. Even if he or she were the best lecturer in the world I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with them.

Hanieh’s SOAS biography gives no hint of his boycott activism. Here is Hanieh speaking about a boycott of Israel last night:

And here is Hanieh talking about “ethnic cleansing” and comparing the West Bank to the bantustans in South Africa:

Meanwhile, raunchy Moshe Machover bravely injected some sex talk into the event. Apart from calling for a “one-state solution” he said:

“The wet dream of all major Zionist parties is further ethnic cleansing. And this is what is on the cards.” (At 2 mins 43 secs.)

And here is Hugh Lanning, Chair of the PSC and Deputy General of the Public and Commercial Services Union, complaining about BBC bias and refuting claims that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, despite the fact that no one makes such a claim. Calling for the destruction of Israel, which is the PSC position, is anti-Semitic though.

During the Q&A a questioner asked whether the RMT has proposed boycotts of Iran, Syria, Zimbabwe, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, China and Russia, while another asked whether the boycotts aren’t reminiscent of the Nazis boycotts of the Jews in the 1930s.

Ilan Pappe’s squirming answer was that Iran is already being sanctioned and, therefore, the RMT doesn’t have to boycott Iran and that everyone knows that the likes of Saudi Arabia are oppressive, unlike the media which presumes that Israel is democratic.

He finished off addressing the difference between the Nazi boycott and today’s boycott movement just by saying:

“How can someone who was the victim of Nazis stand in support of Israel today?”

Here’s the audio:

Pappe on Iran, Saudi Arabia and Nazi boycotts.

Pappe is a lecturer at Exeter University.

It was left to Jonathan Hoffman to propose that Israel was a smokescreen for the failure of unions like the RMT to prevent the cuts, which didn’t go down with the Chairman of the event who said that he wouldn’t be taking any lectures on RMT’s efforts to represent the working man.

But is the same union that stops many a working man from getting to work when they launch one of their regular tube strikes?

If so then the sooner Mayor Boris introduces driverless tube trains, the better.

Should Israel be in the Asian qualifying section for the World Cup Finals?

Israel at the 1970 World Cup finals in Mexico.

Israel at the 1970 World Cup finals in Mexico.

Last Saturday night the draw took place for the qualifying rounds of the 2014 World Cup finals and the Jewish Chronicle has published my piece about Israel being disadvantaged by playing in the European qualifying section, as opposed to the Asian qualifying section.

They put my piece up against an excellent one by Simon Griver, an Israel-based sports correspondent, and are conducting a poll: Should Israel be in the Asian World Cup group?

At the moment the “Yeas” have it 59% to 41%.

Thanks to CifWatch for the idea for my piece.

Champagne all round if my argument has continued to win out by next week.

Should Israel be in the European qualifying section for the World Cup finals?

No (me):

We know that most Middle Eastern countries refuse to play Israel, but this is contrary to Fifa’s “Say No to Racism” campaign and Article 3 of the Fifa statute, which states that discrimination on account of “ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason” is punishable by suspension or expulsion.

Those countries that object to playing against Israel should really be expelled from Fifa. But Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Qatar are set to begin their 2014 qualifiers.

Israel’s only appearance in the finals was in Mexico in 1970, when they competed in the Asia qualifying section. Which begs the question: how much better would Israel do if they were playing these far weaker Asian nations?

Israel is ranked 32 in the world. Of the 20 countries in the Asian qualifying section only two, Australia (23) and Korea Republic (28), are ranked above Israel. Had Israel been in the Asia qualifying section, they would have been seeded and, one imagines, would easily have overcome the likes of Iran (54), Saudi Arabia (92), Syria (104), Qatar (90) and Thailand (119). Thailand are there by dint of just beating Palestine (166) in the earlier elimination rounds.

But with Portugal (7) and Russia (18) in Israel’s European group, qualifying is going to be very difficult.

And what about next year’s Olympics? The Charter of the International Olympic Committee states that discrimination “on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise” is incompatible with the Olympic Movement.

But Iran will not compete against Israeli athletes. At the recent swimming world championships in Shanghai, an Iranian swimmer, Mohammad Alirezaei, withdrew from a breaststroke heat in which Israel’s Gal Nevo was swimming. He did the same at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Most likely the shame of losing to Israel is the primary motivation.

Yes (Simon Griver):

Israel’s chances of reaching the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014 look slim after being drawn in Group F alongside Portugal and Russia.

Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg are also in the group. One UK bookmaker makes Israel 20-1 outsiders to top the group and automatically qualify for the World Cup finals for the first time since 1970, and 4-1 to finish second and thus take part in the play-offs, probably against one of Europe’s powerhouses.

It would be much easier for Israel to reach Brazil if Yossi Benayoun and co were playing in the Asia Confederation, which expelled Israel in 1973. Yet even in the unlikely event that Middle East peace materialises, Israelis would reject rejoining Asia out of hand.

Israel joined Uefa in 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which had routinely vetoed Israel’s candidacy. Some sporting associations such as basketball had even joined their European federations before the Soviet demise.

The odds of reaching the World Cup finals may have lengthened but European competition has its compensations. Israel also takes part in the Euro football championships as well as a wide range of other national competitions, and will host the Euro 2013 Under-21 championships.

More significantly, Israel’s club sides get to play in the highly lucrative Champions League and Europa League. Israeli fans can reminisce about Hapoel Tel Aviv dumping Chelsea out of the Uefa Cup, or Maccabi Haifa hammering Manchester United 3-0 in the Champions League.

In football, hope springs eternal and upsets are likely. Avram Grant’s Israel was only beaten on goal difference to a World Cup 2006 play-off place. Besides, Israelis think of themselves as being in Europe rather than Asia, and competitive visits by the likes of Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo help nurture the geographical illusion.

Hacked by Yachad.

New organisation Yachad describes itself as a “a pro-Israel pro-peace grassroots movement that aims to harness the energy of large numbers of British Jews through education, debate and advocacy in support of the steps needed to create peace and long-term security for Israel”.

They have just written a letter to Daniel Taub, the new Israeli Ambassador to the UK, and launched an Ipetition to gain signatures to the letter (see text of letter below).

Last night I noticed an automated email thanking me for signing this petition.

I couldn’t recall signing it and presumed I must have somehow done it by mistake. Then this morning I got an automated follow-up email from Hannah Weisfeld, a Yachad director, thanking me for signing and asking me to get my friends to sign it and also asking me for money.

Looking through the other signatures I noticed Jonathan Hoffman’s name. But he told me that he hadn’t signed it either!

I have nothing against Yachad and wish them well in their search for “long-term security for Israel”, but their letter basically amounts to a call for Israel “to end the occupation”.

It’s a nice idea in fantasy, but in reality ending “the occupation” would lead to Hamas, with the help of Syria and Iran, unleashing destruction on Tel Aviv, and Israel in general, on a scale unseen for many years.

Yachad means well but following their cause won’t achieve anything worthwhile soon.

Oh, and please will someone remove my signature from the petition. Thanks.

Text of Yachad’s letter to the new Israeli Ambassador to the UK:

Dear Mr Ambassador,

We welcome you to the UK and the British Jewish community.

The British Jewish community has a long and proud connection to Israel as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people and we care deeply about its future. Each day without a peace agreement makes this future less secure.

We stand behind the cross section of voices inside Israel – including former chiefs of staff, major generals, leading academics and intellectuals – who have spoken in support of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps. We believe the need to create a Palestinian state is urgent, and the best way to safeguard Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and internationally recognised borders.

We urge the Israeli government to do everything in its power to make this vision more, not less likely, through taking steps to end the occupation and heeding the calls to return to the negotiating table.

We look forward to an ongoing dialogue with you throughout your term of office here and hope you will ensure our message of support is passed to the government of Israel.

Yours Sincerely,

“Naqba Day” extremists spew hate outside Israeli Embassy.

Hezbollah flag, with gun, on streets of London.

Hezbollah flag, with gun, on streets of London.

It is testament to the power of propaganda that the Palestinians and their “supporters” still react with incredible rage to an event that never concerned them and that happened 63 years ago.

1948 was the Jewish Spring, when the Jewish people decided that no more would they subject themselves to the whims of societies that were less than welcoming to them.

Pogroms in Russia, the Holocaust and being treated as dhimmi by Arab countries had taken their toll and by 1948 they had fought off British colonial rule in their ancient homeland and through the United Nations re-created a Jewish state in British Mandate Palestine that has been thriving ever since.

63 years later we finally have the Arab Spring, although it is turning into an Arab Slaughter with Christians now being attacked in Egypt and Libya and Syria massacreing their own people, the latter probably with the help of Iran.

But in 1948 the Arabs thought they would massacre not their own people, but the Jews. But it didn’t happen. The Jews won. It was the ultimate insult for these Arab countries that had treated their own Jews as inferior subjects for so long.

In response many Arab countries forcibly ejected their own Jewish populations. Around 900,000 Jews from Arab countries, who were indigenous, lost everything. Racist laws forced them to leave the Arab countries with nothing.

Out of a Jewish population in Arab countries of about 1,000,000 pre-1948 only 5,000 remain now. It was an ethnic cleansing of the highest order.

Yet, 63 years later instead of creating something positive the Palestinian national identity is marked by hatred and disaster. Their self-identity is based on little that is positive, but on what they claim has happened to them. It is a victim mentality of the highest order. “Naqba Day” is a symbol of their victimhood.

And so to London today where about 200 of their most extreme supporters called for Palestinians to get even more violent. They screamed “Victory for the Intifada” and waved the Hezbollah flag with its AK47 gun on it.

They called for jihad against Israel, called Israel a “terrorist state” and called for Israel’s destruction. Goodness knows what they were saying in Arabic. Please let me know if you can translate the clips below.

The Naturei Karta turned up about two and a half hours late to a heroes welcome. Children sat atop the shoulders of the extremist anti-Israel protesters; another generation about to grow up fed with lies and hate.

Meanwhile, the pro-Israel protesters sang “The People of Israel live”, which was slightly more positive than the hate-filled anti-Israel protesters. You will sense the hatred from the following clips:

The photos.:

Israeli Embassy

Israeli Embassy

Naturei Karta

Naturei Karta

View from Wagamama's

View from Wagamama's

Syrian Ambassador to UK: “Israel behind Syrian Revolution.”

Sami Khiyami: "Israel could be behind any bad thing in world."

Sami Khiyami: "Israel could be behind any bad thing in world."

It was an almost comic exchange on BBC’s Newsnight (the exchange begins at 17 minutes) last night when Jeremy Paxman interviewed Sami Khiyami, the Syrian Ambassador to the UK, over who was behind the plot to destabilise Syria.

It went like this:

“Ambassador: Syria is not a one party state, it is not a one family state. It is the nicest and most beautiful state in the Middle East.

Paxo: Ok, now you’ve got that off your chest, tell us about this plot, who’s behind it?

Amb.: I think all those who thought Syria is at a time when it will cash in on the result of the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia. The changes that occured in the Arab world were about to help the Syrian position a lot towards Israel and the expansionist policies of Israel.

Paxo.: Basically, it’s the Israelis behind it, is it?

Amb.: I’m sorry?

Paxo.: Is it the Israelis behind it, is that what you’re saying?

Amb.: Well, the Israelis could be behind it. They could be behind any bad thing in the world.”

As ever, Paxman looked in on disbelief.

Then again Khiyami was only parroting the line of President Assad of Syria who spoke of an “Israeli agenda” in his speech yesterday about the violence currently taking place in Syria.

The Times reports that a 14 year-old boy was yesterday shot in the head while carrying an olive branch. And many dozens so far have been murdered in cold blood at the hands of Assad’s forces (has anyone seen Judge Richard Goldstone lately?).

Some claim that Assad is basically a reformist President, but one who is kept in a straightjacket by hardline conservative elements in his Ba’athist administration.

Nevertheless, Syria hosts Hamas, supports Hezbollah in Lebanon and will do anything that Iran commands it to, especially considering that the Assads are Alawite, an offshoot of Shia Islam. The majority of Syria are Sunni Muslims.

I would have liked to have seen Paxman ask Khiyami whether there could be a repeat of events in Hama in 1982 when Assad’s father massacred up to 20,000 of his own people the last time they were impertinent enough to attempt a revolt against Assad totalitarian rule (Here is Robert Fisk reporting on his visit to Hama in June 2000).

But then we know what Khiyami would probably have replied: “Israel slaughtered them!”

Hypocrite of the Month: Vote now.

March has been a busy time for hypocrites, so before the list grows any longer now might be an appropriate time to take stock of those who say one thing at one time but say another when the situation suits them. Please vote at end.

William Hague:

When Israeli agents, allegedly, assassinated a Hamas terrorist in Dubai William Hague, then shadow Foreign Secretary, stood shoulder to shoulder with then Foreign Secretary David Miliband in his condemnation of Israel for using faked foreign, including British, passports and was in full agreement with Miliband’s decision to expel an Israeli diplomat from the London embassy.

Last week Hague sent in that secret service mission to eastern Libya to make contact with rebel forces only to find them detained by those rebels in the confusion when the secret mission dropped in from a helicopter in the the dead of night. And the mission was found to have in their possession…….faked foreign passports.

Shami Chackrabarti:

Shami is the director of human rights group Liberty and in this capacity behaves as the conscience of Britain appearing regularly on BBC’s Question Time to berate the government over such human rights laws as the length of detention without trial for suspected terrorists.

She is also a member of the council of the London School of Economics and was part of the decision making process that allowed LSE to accept a huge donation from Colonel Gadaffi. She accepts she was fooled but fooled by what? Didn’t she know the human rights situation in Libya? Howard Davies resigned as Director of LSE but there is, currently, silence from Shami.

Omar Barghouti:

Omar detests Israel and ideally wants it gone as a Jewish state. He lives in Ramallah but is studying for a Ph.D at Tel Aviv university while calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, which includes an academic boycott. Meanwhile, he consumes Israeli products on a huge scale, taking for himself the best Israel has to offer.

The United Nations
:

Last week nine children were accidentally killed in a NATO air strike when trying to knock out Taliban positions but the UN has been silent. When Israel killed nine terrorists aboard the Mavi Marmara there was a worldwide outcry and the UN called for a full investigation.

Stop The War Coalition
:

While calling vociferously for successful revolutions against the ruling autocrats in Arab countries you will be hard pushed to find STWC support for the opposition in Iran despite the murders, arrests and sackings of opposition figures and anyone who dissents from the murderous ways of the evil Ahmadinejad/Khamenei twins. And despite the fact that Iran had been caught red-handed trying to heavily arm the Taliban in order to kill NATO troops.

Newsnight:

On Tuesday night BBC’s Newsnight gratuitously introduced the anarchist Noam Chomsky as being “Jewish” in a piece about the left-wing liberals in the West. I thought the time had passed when someone’s religion is relevant. In the following piece Jeremy Paxman went on to interview Chomsky who was then allowed to air unchallenged attacks on Israel.

Neil Warnock:

A bit of fun amidst the gloom, unless you are a QPR supporter. QPR are on the verge of promotion to the Premier League but now stand accused of failing to properly register a player when they signed him in 2009. This could lead to a big points deduction and the end of their hopes of reaching the big time.

When QPR’s current manager, Neil Warnock, was managing Sheffield United in the Premier League West Ham United had incorrectly registered Carlos Tevez. It was argued that West Ham should have had points deducted. This would have relegated them instead of Sheffield United.

There was no points deduction and Sheffield United were relegated. Warnock claimed that Sheffield United would have stayed up if the rules were adhered to. Now the boot is on the other foot can he morally argue against a points deduction for QPR if they are found guilty?

My Interview with Natan Sharansky.

Natan Sharansky: Chairman of Jewish Agency and former Soviet Prisoner

Natan Sharansky: Chairman of Jewish Agency and former Soviet Prisoner

On the 25th anniversay of his release from a brutal soviet gulag, Natan Sharansky spoke to me about Russian immigration, Egypt and chess. (The interview appears in this week’s Jewish News).

What is your greatest personal achievement of the last 25 years?

Apart from becoming a grandfather twice-over this year, one million Jews moved to Israel since the Soviet Union fell apart and have successfully integrated. I was heavily involved in that.

This has also been Israel’s greatest achievement during this time. I don’t know of another country that has increased its population by 20% and where those immigrants have been as successful as anyone else in society.

And Israel remains a vibrant democratic Jewish society, with one of the most successful economies in the world, despite being surrounded by dictatorships and fundamentalists and being demonised in the free world.

How important is the Diaspora to Israel?

Israel is an important part of the Jewish identity for all Jews. I’m very happy for Jews to move to Israel, but Diaspora Jews and Israeli Jews are all part of the same important process.

Are you worried by current events in Egypt?

There’s always reason to be worried. We always have to be ready to defend ourselves against our enemies. But events in Egypt are also a unique opportunity.

The 100-year pact between the free world and Arab dictators to keep the Arab street stable has finally been broken. I have always believed in the power of democracy and the desire of people to live in freedom.

Yes, but democracy led to Hamas governing Gaza.

Islamic fundamentalism has more chance of succeeding the longer the Arab world is ruled by dictators, including the likes of Yasser Arafat. Democratic dissidents from places like Egypt have been telling the free world for a long time that they are the only true partners for peace, not the dictators. Now that millions of Arabs are saying the same thing I hope the leaders of the free world will, finally, embrace this call.

So what is happening could be good for Israel?

Much depends on whether the leaders of the free world link the assistance they give to Arab leaders to democratic reforms. The people of the Middle East have made their choice. But if the free world doesn’t support them we could end up with more dangerous regimes like Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran.

Will the Arabs ever accept a Jewish state in the Middle East?

Initially, it isn’t easy for people to lose something they believe is theirs. On the other hand 63 years of a Jewish state is long enough for it to be accepted. Middle East dictators have kept Israel as an external enemy for their own internal stability.

Unfortunately, the leaders of the free world, including Israeli leaders, did not, or chose not to, understand that it was important for these dictatorships to encourage hatred towards Israel. Tunisians and Egyptians have now demanded a new life, but haven’t been mentioning Israel.

If Middle East leaders now concentrate on improving their citizens’ lives, instead of encouraging hatred towards Israel, the chances of Israel being accepted will improve. Democracy will encourage this, so it’s in Israel’s interests for democracy to succeed in the Middle East.

Are you critical or supportive of Avigdor Lieberman?

He is part of our democracy. I don’t agree with him on everything but his demonisation is part and parcel of Israel’s demonisation. As long as he is acting within the framework of Israeli democracy he cannot be a threat to that democracy.

Finally, did you really beat Gary Kasparov at chess?

Yes! I had many years of playing chess in my head while in prison in the Soviet Union, so I was very well prepared!

If Egypt falls to the Brotherhood, Hamas could “go overseas”.

Hamas

Hamas

It needs no overstating that what happens next in Egypt is of crucial importance to not only Israel but the world.

It is obviously not right for the Egyptians to live under the yoke of oppression and poverty but as a people they need to draw lessons from the Iranian Revolution of 1979 so as to not go from one extreme to another.

In the rush for deserved freedom they could end up worse off.

In the 1979 Revolution Ayatollah Khomene’i was the figurehead behind which liberals, communists and religious Muslims coalesced to force out the Shah.

But once the Shah was ousted that coalition was soon quashed in a bloody Islamist coup, which led to the installation of extreme religious rule and a worse civil liberties situation than under the Shah.

Egypt is at a similar stage. The banned Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an offshoot, has not been actively calling its supporters on to the streets but their presence is casting a dark shadow over proceedings and they will make their play for power when the time is right.

If Egypt ends up like Iran then all bets are off. The Israel-Egypt peace treaty will be under serious threat and for the first time in 38 years the prospect of war between Israel and an Arab country will be rekindled.

Then there’s Hamas. The “siege” of Gaza by Egypt has been far more brutal than anything Israel has imposed.

But an Islamist Egyptian government, whether democratically elected or imposed by force, would allow Hamas freedom of movement through Egypt which would increase its access to Israel and the rest of the world.

An Israeli woman was murdered after the Gaza-Egypt border was breached by frustrated Gazans in February 2008 when a suicide bomber from Gaza crossed into Israel from Egypt.

Israel needs to complete the security wall that will run the length of its long border with Egypt as soon as possible.

Some argue that, unlike Al Qaida, Hamas’ terrorism is purely limited to attacks on Israel. But lack of international activity by Hamas could well be purely down to lack of opportunity due to it being hemmed in Gaza and cracked down on in the West Bank.

Hamas could take heart from just how successful the PLO was in bombing its way to the negotiating table.

Although the PLO attacked civilians in Israel 181 times between 1967 and 1979 between that same period there were at least 201 PLO attacks on aircraft and other civilians outside Israel, which, all told, involved attacks on the property and civilians of some 40 countries (Israel and Palestine – Assault on the Nations of Law, Julius Stone).

With freedom to operate freely through Egypt Al Qaida style international bomb attacks by Hamas could make Western nations pressurise Israel even more. Countries attacked might threaten to withdraw support for Israel if Israeli doesn’t acquiesce in making concessions that could compromise its own security.

In the same vein Spain withdrew its troops from Iraq after the Madrid bombings.

Hezbollah, which claims to be protecting Lebanon from Israeli aggression, “went overseas”. In 1992 it killed 29 people when it blew up the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires and in 1994 87 died when it blew up the Jewish Community centre located in the AMIA building in the same city.

Although international warrants were issued for arrests of the perpetrators they are now safely ensconced in Iran. Hezbollah has denied involvement just as it is denying involvement in the assassination of Rafiq Hariri.

Hamas is an acronym for “Islamic Resistance Movement”. “Palestine” does not feature in its name and it has never claimed any pretence that its terrorist operations were restricted to what it considers “Palestine”.

Unlike the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) at least Hamas is honest in that respect.

Reset Stephen Kinzer.

Stephen Kinzer believes that the best way forward for America on foreign policy is for it to listen to its friends in the Middle East that share America’s basic principles.

One of those potential “friends” is Iran (sometimes you have to pinch yourself when you hear this kind of thing).

Kinzer, an American journalist and author, was at SOAS, London last night promoting his new book Reset Middle East, with its brand new cover (below) which includes Israel this time (always bound to add to sales).

Kinzer has great sympathy with Iran as a country.

He acknowledges its democratic history and even the love that the Iranian people have for everything American.

He told us that when he was standing in Shiraz, Iran all the Iranians shook his hand when they discovered he was American. When Sean Penn visited Iran Penn was asked by an elderly Iranian gentleman what it was like being married to Madonna.

Kinzer seems to have a rare easy access to Iran, unlike most.

I would love to visit Iran. The Iranians I have met have been the politest, warmest and most articulate of people.

But I can’t imagine walking the streets for too long before being picked up as a Mossad spy. Even in the UK I get accused of that (see clip).

An American woman has just been arrested on spying charges and Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal still languish in an Iranian prison after being picked up as “spies” when they hiked a bit too near the Iranian border.

I can’t believe I would escape the same fate, unless, like Kinzer, I can rustle up a book or two favourable to such an oppressive regime.

First, Kinzer likes Turkey because it is a longstanding NATO ally, is the most democratic country in the Middle East and has a booming capitalist economy. It is also becoming more religious under President Erdogan which proves its credentials to other Muslim countries.

And because it tried to do a deal with Brazil on Iran’s nuclear programme and also condemned Israel over the Mavi Marmara tragedy it won’t be viewed as America’s lackey.

And Turkey’s advice to America on Iran? Stop with the confrontational rhetoric and try to compromise more.

Second, Kinzer describes Iran as having an open, vibrant and democratic society; a society as democratic as its government is undemocratic.

But he sees America as the the main stumbling block as it is still angry over the Iranian hostage crisis of 30 years ago and, therefore, reacts too emotionally on Iran.

But, he continued, Iran, being an enemy of the Taliban and Al Qaida, is America’s way out of Iraq and Afghanistan as long as America can prove to Iran that it won’t use Iraq as a base from which to attack Iran.

So how to achieve peace with Iran?

Kinzer says America must conduct broader negotiations with Iran than just on the nuclear issue. And it must allow Iran to bring its concerns to the table.

Kinzer compares the America-Iranian animosity to that once between America and China and says the latter was far worse.

But he thinks that America doesn’t wish to sign a similar accord with Iran as it would make Iran a regional power (which, says Kinzer, it is anyway).

Oh, and there must be incorporated into any American-Iranian agreement a deal on human rights in Iran.

I pushed him on the latter point suggesting that I couldn’t see Iran giving way on that at all and that any deal with Iran would only entrench such a brutal regime. Surely, it is the human rights abuses that keeps the current regime in power. Without the economic control of the IRGC (Iranian Republican Guard Corps.) and brutality of both the IRGC and the basij militia the regime would crumble quickly.

In reply Kinzer, bemusingly, cited photos of liberated Iranian women from the fifties. He failed to address the brutal Ahmadinejad/Khamenei regime.

And eventhough America made peace with China that didn’t stop China going on to massacre hundreds of its own civilians in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and continuing to hang thousands of political opponents each year.

Similarly, an American peace with Russia hasn’t stopped the latter murdering anti-government journalists (Anna Politkovskaya shot dead on her way up to her appartment) and political dissidents (Alexander Litvinenko poisoned in London) and locking up its political opponents on trumped-up charges (Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev in prison since 2005 and who have just had their sentences arbitrarily extended).

Kinzer lives in Disneyland. He should realise that once a brutal regime, always a brutal regime.

The Ahmadinejad/Khamenei regime really needs to be ousted before his nice theory on American-Iranian relations can take root.