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Message to Muslim World Gets a Critique

Message to Muslim World Gets a Critique

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has written a searing critique of government efforts at “strategic communication” with the Muslim world, saying that no amount of public relations will establish credibility if American behavior overseas is perceived as arrogant, uncaring or insulting.

The critique by the chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, comes as the United States is widely believed to be losing ground in the war of ideas against extremist Islamist ideology. The issue is particularly relevant as the Obama administration orders fresh efforts to counter militant propaganda, part of its broader strategy to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“To put it simply, we need to worry a lot less about how to communicate our actions and much more about what our actions communicate,” Admiral Mullen wrote in the critique, an essay to be published Friday by Joint Force Quarterly, an official military journal.

“I would argue that most strategic communication problems are not communication problems at all,” he wrote. “They are policy and execution problems. Each time we fail to live up to our values or don’t follow up on a promise, we look more and more like the arrogant Americans the enemy claims we are.”

While President Obama has sought to differentiate himself from his predecessor, George W. Bush, in the eyes of the Muslim world — including through a widely praised speech in Egypt on June 4 — the perception of America as an arrogant oppressor has not changed noticeably, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, where United States forces remain engaged in war, and in Pakistan, where American-launched missiles aimed at militants from the Taliban and Al Qaeda have killed civilians.

Last week, during a visit to Pakistan by Richard C. Holbrooke, Mr. Obama’s special envoy, Pakistanis told his entourage that America was widely despised in their country because, they said, it was obsessed with finding and killing Osama bin Laden to avenge the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Admiral Mullen expressed concern over a trend to create entirely new government and military organizations to manage a broad public relations effort to counter anti-Americanism, which he said had allowed strategic communication to become a series of bureaucracies rather than a way to combat extremist ideology.

He also challenged a popular perception that Al Qaeda operates from primitive hide-outs and still wins the propaganda war against the United States. “The problem isn’t that we are bad at communicating or being outdone by men in caves,” Admiral Mullen wrote. “Most of them aren’t even in caves. The Taliban and Al Qaeda live largely among the people. They intimidate and control and communicate from within, not from the sidelines.”

American messages to counter extremist information campaigns “lack credibility, because we haven’t invested enough in building trust and relationships, and we haven’t always delivered on promises,” he wrote.

As a guide, Admiral Mullen cited American efforts at rebuilding Europe after World War II and then containing communism as examples of successes that did not depend on opinion polls or strategic communication plans. He cited more recent military relief missions after natural disasters as continuing that style of successful American efforts overseas.

“That’s the essence of good communication: having the right intent up front and letting our actions speak for themselves,” Admiral Mullen wrote. “We shouldn’t care if people don’t like us. That isn’t the goal. The goal is credibility. And we earn that over time.”

Members of Congress also have expressed concern about the government’s programs for strategic communication, public diplomacy and public affairs. Both the Senate and House Armed Services Committees have raised questions about the Pentagon’s programs for strategic communication — and about how money is spent on them.

The Senate Armed Services Committee issued a budget report last month noting that while “strategic communications and public diplomacy programs are important activities,” it was unclear whether these efforts were integrated within the Pentagon or across other departments and agencies. “Nor is the committee able to oversee adequately the funding for the multitude of programs,” the Senate report stated.

Admiral Mullen did not single out specific government communications programs for criticism, but wrote that “there has been a certain arrogance to our ‘strat comm’ efforts.” He wrote that “good communications runs both ways.”

“It’s not about telling our story,” he stated. “We must also be better listeners.”

The Muslim community “is a subtle world we don’t fully — and don’t always attempt to — understand,” he wrote. “Only through a shared appreciation of the people’s culture, needs and hopes for the future can we hope ourselves to supplant the extremist narrative.”

He acknowledged that the term strategic communication was “probably here to stay,” but argued that it should be limited to describing “the process by which we integrate and coordinate” government communications programs.

Coinciding with the publication of his essay, Admiral Mullen released a YouTube video inviting questions from members of the armed services and the public on a range of national security and military personnel issues for an online discussion.

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Hessen: Islamkunde,Runder Tisch diese Woche

Man merke, wie der Verein, der sich schon seit Jahren für einen islamischen Religionsunterricht in Hessen einsetzt (die IRH) überhaupt nicht zur Sprache kommt, während der frisch-gekürte aus Trotz entstandene Landesverein der Ditib in Hessen mit einem direkten – dafür aber sinnleeren – Zitat in den Artikel kommt. Mehr auch hier:
http://www.faz.net/s/Rub8D05117E1AC946F5BB438374CCC294CC/Doc~ECB928F7E8B1D41C9A92D70B846DAEACF~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html

Gegenüber anderen muslimischen Organisationen zeigt sich Kurt gesprächsbereit – sofern diese nicht vom Verfassungsschutz beobachtet würden. Deswegen gebe es auch keine Kontakte zwischen Ditib und der Islamischen Religionsgemeinschaft Hessen (IRH). Diese Gruppierung bietet sich schon seit längerem dem Land Hessen als Partner für die Einführung eines islamischen Religionsunterrichts an – bisher vergeblich. Ob Henzler auch die IRH zu dem Runden Tisch einladen wird, ist noch ungeklärt.

Dass die Ditib das Spiel des “Spalte und Herrsche” immer ganz gerne mitspielt, ist auch in Hessen zu sehen. Dass sie sich auch schön auf die Äußerungen des Verfassungsschutzes stützen, um nicht mit anderen muslimischen Organisationen mitspielen zu müssen, ist vor allem aufgrund ihrer Proteste gegen die staatlichen Personenkontrollen vor ihren Moscheen in Niedersachsen nur noch grotesk. Entweder man ist staatsergeben oder eben nicht! Was würde die Ditib wohl davon halten, wenn andere muslimische Organisationen aufgrund der Personenkontrollen, von denen die Ditib wohl nach Aussage der Hürriyet “besonders betroffen” sind, sich öffentlich von der Ditib distanzieren und sie verbal in die extremistische Ecke schieben würden? Ein wenig strategischen Verstand würde dem Ein oder Anderen Vertreter wohl nicht so schlecht tun!

http://www.hr-online.de/website/rubriken/nachrichten/indexhessen34938.jsp?rubrik=34954&key=standard_document_37745314
16.08.2009

Islamkunde

Runder Tisch diese Woche

Der von Justizminister Jörg-Uwe Hahn (FDP) angekündigte Runde Tisch zum Islamunterricht trifft sich am Donnerstag zum ersten Mal. Es geht um den Religionsunterricht für 60.000 muslimische Schüler.

 

Der Runde Tisch solle ausloten, wie die Pläne eines Religionsunterrichts in Hessen umgesetzt werden können, hieß es am Wochenende. Eingeladen sind Vertreter verschiedener islamischer Strömungen. Ziel ist es, islamische Schüler ihren evangelischen, katholischen oder jüdischen Klassenkameraden gleichzustellen. Das Problem: Dem Staat fehlt bisher der Partner, weil der Islam keine festen Organisationen und Glaubensgemeinschaften kennt. Geklärt werden muss auch, wer die Lehrer aus- oder weiterbildet.

Ein Sprecher Hahns sagte, die Frage am Runden Tisch sei: “Wer spricht für wen und welche Glaubensrichtung?” Lob gibt es für Hahn und Kultusministerin Dorothea Henzler (FDP) schon, weil sie jetzt endlich nach einer Antwort suchen. Die Ausländerbeiräte sprechen von einem Zeichen der Wertschätzung. Der Vorsitzende des neuen hessischen Landesverbandes der “Türkisch-islamischen Union der Anstalt für Religion” (Ditib), Fuat Kurt, sagte: “Ich sehe den politischen Willen bei den Ministern.”

 

Hahn hat sich das Thema zu eigen gemacht

Als Kultusministerin Dorothea Henzler (FDP) im Februar ihren Anlauf zur Einführung eines Islamunterrichtes angekündigte hatte, war der Koalitionspartner CDU nicht uneingeschränkt begeistert. Henzler selbst sprach von “großen Bedenken” bei der CDU. Der bildungspolitische Sprecher der CDU-Fraktion, Hans-Jürgen Irmer, warf ihr in einem Interview vor, sie sei “ohne Not vorgeprescht”.

Später mochte Irmer dies nicht wiederholen, einer Landtagsdebatte zum Thema blieb er fern. Dass die FDP bei dieser Frage nicht klein beigeben will, wurde deutlich als FDP-Chef und Vize-Ministerpräsident Hahn sich das Thema zu eigen machte. Nun wird auch er am Erfolg gemessen.

Im Kultusministerium organisiert mit Staatssekretär Heinz-Wilhelm Brockmann ein Mann das Thema, der ein CDU-Parteibuch hat und aus seiner früheren Arbeit in Niedersachsen über Erfahrung mit dem Thema verfügt. Dort läuft seit Jahren ein Modellversuch mit einem Runden Tisch, an dem Muslime verschiedener Strömungen sitzen.

 

 
Redaktion: frbe / end
Bild: © picture-alliance/dpa

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Israel: West Bank settlers call tourists to the rescue

Und noch so ein charmanter Politiker.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hMZAMnCSuI-KwbYIbkoTatzB6R-Q
West Bank settlers call tourists to the rescue

By Patrick Moser – 4 days ago

ROSH TZURIM, West Bank (AFP) — This year’s cherry festival was a roaring success, drawing thousands of people who enjoyed grilled kosher sausages and right-wing ideology in the emblematic Gush Etzion settlement bloc.

A band belted out its stuff as clowns entertained the wee ones and families gorged themselves on the plump cherries of the Rosh Tzurim kibbutz, one of the communities in Gush Etzion, just south of Jerusalem.

Food stalls and other small businesses did brisk trade, but the fest was about more than just fun and money.

Local tourism authorities hope such events will help boost support for Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are seen as a major hurdle in peace efforts with the Palestinians and have come under increasing US pressure.

“The goal is to make people discover Eretz Israel,” says organiser Yoram Bitane, using the Hebrew words for Land of Israel, favoured by right-wingers to describe not only present-day Israel but also the Palestinian territories to which they claim a divine right.

“We want to make Israelis who have a negative idea of settlements come here and see for themselves,” says Bitane, whose PR company promotes several Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

“We want people to know what they’re talking about when making decisions on whether to give away a part of the territory or not.”

Bitane has no doubt what that decision should be.

“I am Israeli, Jewish and a believer. I live here, this is my house, my land. No discussion.”

He is also convinced tourism is a perfect tool to draw support and believes that if Israel had done more to attract visitors to Gaza at the time, it would not have needed to pull out its troops and settlers from the Palestinian territory in 2005.

After all, even former US president Jimmy Carter admitted he could not imagine Gush Etzion would ever be handed over to Palestinians.

Carter stunned the settler community which had long hated him for his opposition to settlements and whom they consider as pro-Palestinian, when he made the comment during a visit earlier this month to the bloc of settlements just south of Jerusalem.

“One can only wonder what President (Barack) Obama would feel if he actually saw for himself, rather than rely on hearsay,” says Allan Novetsky as he watches his grandchildren, perched high up trees, picking cherries.

Novetsky, who moved to Jerusalem from Chicago three years ago, says he regularly takes family trips to Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

“We treat the country as a whole. We want to show presence throughout the country.”

He points out he never feels the need to carry a weapon on such trips.

“It’s as safe as any street in New York, probably safer,” he says. A few metres (yards) away, two soldiers, assault rifles slung over their shoulders, amble through the orchard, stopping every now and then to eat some cherries.

Late last year, the Yesha Council, the main settlers’ organisation, launched a major drive to attract tourism under the motto: “Judea and Samaria, the story of every Jew.”

The campaign aims at promoting not only tourism in the West Bank — which most Israelis refer to as Judea and Samaria — but also the concept that Jews have had a God-given right to the land since Biblical times.

More than 280,000 Israelis live in some 120 settlements that criss-cross the West Bank and that are generally off-limits to Palestinians.

The international community considers the settlements illegal. Israel rejects this, and its right-wing government has dismissed calls for a freeze of all construction activity.

Authorities did demolish a few shacks in tiny outposts that were set up without authorisation, but right-wing activists immediately started rebuilding and pledged to erect more wildcat settlements.

The outposts have drawn much controversy but also hundreds of tourists, most of them intent on showing solidarity.

“The aim is to bring as many Jews as possible to the region, so they can see up close the type of danger that people face,” says Tomer Tzanani, who runs outpost tours in an armoured bus twice a month.

Asked what Palestinians thought of the tours, Tzanani admitted: “I have no idea. We never come into contact with them.”

Many settlers are convinced the Palestinians are the intruders in the West Bank, not the Jews.

The land of the Jews, says Bitane, “is not just this small bit they want to give us, but the whole of Greater Israel.”

That he says includes the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War, when it also captured Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai peninsula

“We need the Golan. People need it to spend their vacations,” says Bitane as loudspeakers blare out James Brown’s signature tune “I feel good”.

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Israel: Housing Minister: Spread of Arab population must be stopped

Das ist ja richtig charmant und verständlich: diese Araber verbreiten sich mal wieder wie die … Die jetzige israelische Regierung scheint bisweilen so richtig ehrlich zu sein..

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1097411.html

Last update – 21:30 02/07/2009
Housing Minister: Spread of Arab population must be stopped
By Guy Lieberman, Haaretz Correspondent
Tags: Shas, Israel news, Arab 
Housing Minister Ariel Atias on Thursday warned against the spread of Arab population into various parts of Israel, saying that preventing this phenomenon was no less than a national responsibility.

“I see [it] as a national duty to prevent the spread of a population that, to say the least, does not love the state of Israel,” Atias told a conference of the Israel Bar Association, which focused on a reforming Israel’s Land Administration.

The Shas minister referred to Harish, a housing project built for the Haredi community in northern Israel, saying that the Arab population from the nearby Wadi Ara was spreading into the Harish area.

Atias went on to address the issue of the Galilee, saying that “if we go on like we have until now, we will lose the Galilee. Populations that should not mix are spreading there. I don’t think that it is appropriate [for them] to live together.”

“Look at what happened in Acre,” Atias continued, referring to violent protests that broke out on the Eve of Yom Kippur last year over Jewish-Arab tensions in the mixed town.

“The mayor of Acre visited me yesterday for three hours and asked me how his town could be saved,” Atias said. “He told me ‘bring a bunch of Haredis and we’ll save the city, even if I lose my political standing.’ He told me that Arabs are living in Jewish buildings and running them out.”

Atias argued that lands should be marketed to each sector separately, in order to create segregation, not just between Jews and Arabs but also between other sectors, such as ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews. “There is a severe housing crisis among the young ultra-Orthodox couples, and in the general population. I, as an ultra-Orthodox Jew, don’t think that religious Jews should have to live in the same neighborhood as secular couples, so as to avoid unnecessary friction. And since some 5,000 to 6,000 religious couples get married every year, a problem arises because they require a certain kind of community life that goes along with their lifestyle.”

The housing minister went on to say that the problem stemmed from faulty handling of land within the Land Administration and the Housing Ministry, among other reasons. “Today there is a serious housing crisis facing all the young couples in Israel, in part because of the limited appropriation of land in recent years in the Lands Administration and the Housing Ministry, and also due to faulty decision making which resulted from the high turnover of ministers over the last decade ? 8 ministers have held the office of Housing minister in the last decade and the Land Administration wasn?t under the ministry’s authority for part of the time.”

According to Atias, the solution he is spearheading is to flood the market with available land for housing construction. Atias explained that a team of planners has already begun working on the project. “I plan to market large amounts of land to the Arab population in the Galilee in order to solve their problems, as well as land for secular and religious Jews,” he said.

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Hi-tech system to seal Saudi border

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/07/2009737247375815.html

Hi-tech system to seal Saudi border

Saudi Arabia is concerned about escalating violence and sectarian fighting in Iraq [AFP]

Saudi Arabia has signed a deal with Eads, the European defence and aerospace group, to build a hi-tech security system along its land and sea borders.

The $2.8bn scheme is aimed at curbing people, weapons and drugs smuggling across 9,000km of the Gulf state’s frontiers.

The surveillance system includes radar facilities, coastal detection centres, telecommunications networks and reconnaissance aircraft.

Brigadier General Mansour al-Turki, an interior ministry spokesman, said the project “will help our performance at the border so we will be able to minimise the ability of terrorists and criminals to take advantage of the borders to smuggle people, weapons and drugs”.

Top priority

It follows a deal made in March between Eads and Al Rashid, its Saudi Arabian partner, to install a razor-wire fence, thermal imaging and radar equipment along the country’s 900km border with Iraq.

“This deal covers the rest of the border. It involves much technology, radar, camera systems,” a Saudi official said.

Eads said the planned security system will “ensure border coverage is visible and managed at the sector level, whilst simultaneously providing situational awareness at the regional and national level”.

The border project was first envisaged in the 1990s in the wake of the first Gulf War to secure Saudi Arabia’s border with Iraq with physical fencing and high-tech monitoring.

But with increased worries over infiltration into the country by anti-government and al Qaeda operatives, and a rise in illegal immigration from around the region, the Saudi interior ministry expanded the scope of the programme to fence and electronically monitor all the country’s borders.

Securing the 1,300km border with Yemen is also a top priority after militants announced in January the creation of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

In April, Saudi officials discovered a cave in the remote Saudi mountains near the Yemeni border which they said was a way station for militants.

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Gaza aid boat passengers still in Israeli custody

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/03/AR2009070300738.html
Gaza aid boat passengers still in Israeli custody

By Aron Heller
The Associated Press
Friday, July 3, 2009 12:22 PM

JERUSALEM — Most members of a group of foreign peace activists seized at sea by the Israeli navy remained in custody Friday, three days after their failed attempt to run Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, relatives and supporters said.

In the latest attempt by activists to break a crippling two-year blockade of Gaza, a group called the Free Gaza Movement sent the ship loaded with humanitarian supplies and 21 activists and crew from Cyprus.

The Israeli navy intercepted the ship Tuesday after it ignored repeated messages saying it would not be allowed to enter Gaza waters and ordering it to turn back.

Among those still being held Friday were former U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, said Sandra Law, mother of detained British activist Alex Harrison.

Law, speaking to The Associated Press from her London home, said her daughter was being held together with other women from the group at Ramle jail, near Ben-Gurion airport. She said she spoke briefly to her daughter on Friday.

“The conditions (in the jail) aren’t great, but they’re certainly not as bad as they could be,” Law said. “They’re in good spirits. … Alex is very upbeat.”

She said the planned deportation of the activists may have been delayed by their refusal to sign legal documents in Hebrew, which they do not understand.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said that those who signed an undertaking to return home voluntarily could be released immediately and repatriated on the first available flight.

He said the law demanded that those who refused that option must be held for 72 hours before being served a compulsory deportation order.

He said if they choose not to fight that order in local courts they could be deported Saturday night or Sunday. He did not know exactly how many group members remained jailed Friday.

The Free Gaza Movement said several Bahrainis among the group were released after the intervention of that country’s ruler, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.

Others on the passenger list included a Jordanian correspondent for Arab satellite TV station Al-Jazeera and his Yemeni cameraman as well as a Palestinian human rights activist. There were also activists from the United States, Britain, Ireland and Denmark.

A military statement issued on Tuesday said Israeli naval personnel boarded their small vessel without any shots being fired. It was ordered to the Israeli port of Ashdod and impounded.

The Free Gaza Movement has organized five boat trips to Gaza since August 2008, defying a blockade imposed by Israel when the militant group Hamas seized control of the territory from its Palestinian rivals in June 2007.

Two other attempts were stopped by Israeli warships during Israel’s three-week war in the territory in December and January. Nobody on board was harmed.

An Israeli news site reported Friday that the Defense Ministry had recommended a slight easing of the Gaza blockade as a goodwill gesture toward the Palestinians to spur talks to free a captive soldier.

Israel has linked the opening of its border with Gaza to the release of Sgt. Gilad Schalit, held by Hamas militants for three years. Hamas has been pushing for a deal to trade him for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

An unsourced report on YNet, the Web site of the Yediot Ahronot daily, said that under the draft proposal Israel would increase supplies of meat, fish, coffee, tea, soups and canned goods into Gaza ahead of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, which begins in August, to promote a deal for Schalit.

Israel would also renew shipments of fuel, clothing, kitchenware and hens as part of the package.

YNet said the proposal, drafted by defense officials, awaits the approval of Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

The Defense Ministry would not comment on the report.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Palestinians demanded a complete end to the blockade.

“The siege must be lifted and all the crossings have to be open and life to get back to normal in the Gaza Strip,” he told reporters outside a Gaza mosque after Friday prayers.

© 2009 The Associated Press

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