A summary of news stories published this week in the Arab English language press- January 15, 2009.


Fighting the wrong battle

There is a small Jewish minority in Yemen consisting of less than 400 families, living mainly in the Amran governorate in the north of Yemen. The Jewish community was living peacefully with their Muslim neighbours for quite some time until some extremists threatened their peace and killed one of their prominent figures.

Today with the Israeli aggression against Palestinians in Gaza, some uneducated Yemenis have poured their anger and frustration on the Yemeni Jews. The mix up between Israelis and Jews is very common in many Muslim countries. They fail to understand that Judaism is a religion and Israeli is a political affiliation to a country.

Many consider all Jews as oppressors and Zionists, although there are many Jewish movements and individuals around the world that don’t approve of the Israeli policy or the Zionist regime.

Attacking the local Jews – even though some have never even been outside their hometown in Yemen – is a severe misjudgement and a wrong equal to what the Israelis are doing in Gaza. Threatening the peace and livelihood of our country’s people just because they share the same religion as the oppressors is not right and not even Islamic.

In fact, there are many Muslim leaders who are equally guilty of what is happening in Palestine today. Does that mean all Muslims are bad and should be attacked?

What is even worse is that the Yemeni government is not taking any significant stand to protect the minority and educate the surrounding villagers. When asked for protection, the President suggested to the Jewish leaders in Yemen that they should leave their homes and come live in Sana’a so that he can to protect them.

What kind of suggestion is this? And what does it imply? It is as if he said, “Sorry I have no power to protect you in your town, but leave everything that means anything to you and come live in Sana’a near me so that I can watch over your safety.”

Not only is this ridiculous, it is even sad to feel that our state cannot protect us. It is sad that minorities such as Jews, African Yemenis, women, and so forth cannot look up to the state as a system that can govern and protect them. They are left to defend themselves in any way possible.

And so, you will find Yemenis seeking justice by themselves and not paying any attention to the law. This is what happened when the man killed the Jewish figure last month. We are starting to take matters into our own hands and doing what we see fit because the state is not powerful or interested enough to govern.

Yemenis who harm the Jews in Yemen are fighting the wrong battle. They should look within and see what is wrong with the whole system and demand change rather than waste their time and energy picking on the weaker entities. – Yemen Times, January 14, 2009

Call to move Arab League to Venezuela

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – A Kuwaiti Islamist MP called on Wednesday for moving Arab League headquarters from Cairo to Caracas after Venezuela expelled Israel’s ambassador because of its onslaught on the Gaza Strip. “I call for moving the Arab League from Cairo to Caracas,” MP Waleed Al Tabtabai said during a special debate in parliament over the Israeli offensive. Tabtabai said that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez “has proved that he was more Arab than some Arabs”, after he expelled Israel’s ambassador to Caracas on January 6. Israel retaliated a day later, saying it was expelling Venezuela’s charge d’affaires.  – Jordan Times, January 14, 2009.

Beirut condemns rocket attack

BEIRUT (AFP) – The Lebanese government on Wednesday denounced the firing of three rockets from Lebanon into Israel, saying the incident undermined national unity and gave Israel an excuse to attack the country. “Whoever is behind this attack is targeting the national consensus and all parties represented within the government,” Lebanese Information Minister Tarek Mitri told reporters after discussing the situation with Prime Minister Fuad Siniora. “There is a consensus between the political forces in the country and Hizbollah is part of this consensus,” he added. “This gives Israel an excuse to attack Lebanon.” “Someone is trying to drag Lebanon into a conflict and is moving rockets from one area to another,” Mitri said. – Jordan Times, January 14, 2009.

KUWAIT TIMES POLL- January 14, 2009.

Do you think there will be a ceasefire in Gaza soon?

Yes: 28%

No: 59%

Maybe: 11%

JORDAN TIMES POLL- January 14, 2009.

The objectives of the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip go beyond destroying Hamas.

Agree: 71%

Disagree: 28%

No opinion: 11%

Battered Hamas puts faith in street fighters

JERUSALEM: The only way for Hamas to salvage the Gaza war is to lure Israeli troops into street battles in the crowded enclave’s myriad backstreets and hope the toll rises, analysts say. After two weeks of conflict that has left more than 850 Palestinians dead, some analysts are already drawing comparisons with the 2003 US invasion of Iraq in which crushing military superiority was transformed into a grinding battle with insurgents. “The overriding sense within Hamas is that time is on their side,” said Nicolas Pelham, senior Middle East analyst for the International Crisis Group think tank. – Times of Oman, January 12, 2009.

‘Courageous’ Chavez is Palestinians’ new hero

BETHLEHEM: Venezuelan flags and portraits of President Hugo Chavez have been flying high during protests in the West Bank against Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip. The Venezuelan president’s decision on January 6 to expel Israel’s ambassador from Caracas – the only country apart from Mauritania to take such a step – has made the left-wing South American leader a hero to Palestinians. Hamas has welcomed Chavez’s “courageous decision,” while Hassan Nasrallah, head of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, urged Arab states to follow the Venezuelan president’s example. – Gulf Times, Qatar, January 12, 2009.


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