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Saturday, December 16, 2006

British University Student Union to Ignore Jewish Student Complaints

A British student union voted to ignore complaints of Jewish students about an anti-Israel campain. This is bad enough, but was incorrectly reported by Jerusalem Post as shown below.

British university union votes to gag Jewish society

JONNY PAUL, jerusalem post correspondent, THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 15, 2006

The student union at a prominent British university has voted to gag the
Jewish Society from complaining against an increasingly intense anti-Israel
campaign by the university's Palestinian society.

The student union at the University of Leeds, home of a large Jewish student
population, last Friday voted on a motion proposed by the Palestinian
Solidarity Group to ignore complaints by the Jewish Society "as long as
Judaism as a faith is not offended."

The Palestinian Solidarity Group, which has a history of hostile campaigning
against Israel, using terms such as "apartheid" and "racist," claimed that
the existing practice of considering every complaint received by the student
union as a real complaint constituted "an arbitrary use of authority."

Students have voiced concern that the motion singles out the university's
Jewish students and denies them basic rights enjoyed by other students and
student societies.

Leeds University Student Union (LUU) released a statement on Thursday
saying: "LUU are committed to maintaining the freedom for all our members to
follow individual beliefs in a positive and harmonious environment.
Following the outcome of the recent referendum, LUU will continue to build
positive relationships between groups and individuals on campus, and we
assure all students that regardless of belief or background that their
safety and welfare are paramount.

"Policy passed by the referendum in no way changes Jewish students' right to
support the State of Israel or debate the issue. The Union is an
organization which supports and provides opportunities for debate and
expression; however we will not tolerate behavior which strays into the
realms of racial or religious hatred, and any instances of anti-Semitism
will be dealt with in a timely and appropriate manner.

"We believe all students have a right to study in an open and fair
environment without fear of prejudice. We intend to continue our fight for
equality following a year in which LUU received national coverage for its
fight against fascism, and are constantly looking for ways to strengthen
interfaith relations on campus, through LUU's interfaith forum. We remain
committed to maintaining the freedom for all our members to follow
individual beliefs in a positive and harmonious environment."

Mitch Simmons, campaigns director of the Union of Jewish Students, said:
"While there is concern about the events at Leeds University as part of a
wider movement on campuses to delegitimize Israel and the connection to the
Jewish people, UJS along with the Jewish societies across the UK will be
fighting to ensure the right of Jewish students to show about how proud we
are to support Israel and be a Zionist and Jewish on campus."

He said the motion will be raised again at a referendum in February, when it
is expected to be defeated.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Syria's Walid Moallem defends a 'noble peace' with Israel

Syria's Walid Moallem defends a 'noble peace' with Israel
By David Ignatius
Daily Star staff
Saturday, December 16, 2006 

What positions would Syria take if it entered a dialogue with the United States about Iraq and other Middle East issues? I put that question Thursday to Walid Moallem, Syria's foreign minister, and he offered surprisingly strong support for the recommendations made last week in the Baker-Hamilton report.
"We are not against the US," Moallem said. "To the contrary, we want to be part of a regional dialogue that, in our opinion, serves American interests in the region." He described America and the region as being at a "crossroads" and explained: "Either we go for stability, or the region will fall, and religious civil wars and the extremists behind them will take over."
The comments by Moallem are the most detailed Syrian response to the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, headed by former Secretary of State James A. Baker and ex-Representative Lee Hamilton. As we made a line-by-line review of the group's recommendations involving Syria, Moallem expressed support for nearly every item. When I asked if Syrian President Bashar Assad endorsed these positions, he answered: "He is the leader. I am expressing his ideas."
Moallem portrayed Syria as a potential partner in stabilizing the region. He referred at one point to "the noble cause of peace between Syria and Israel." Later, he said that while Syria favors a timetable for US withdrawal from Iraq, a rapid American withdrawal before Iraqis are ready to take over security would be "an immoral step."
The Bush administration has shown little interest so far in dialogue with Damascus, and the administration has been sharply critical of Syria's campaign against Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, a key US ally. Administration officials have said in the past that although Syria speaks of a desire for cooperation and dialogue, its actions - in Lebanon and elsewhere - have not matched its words.
A former Syrian ambassador to Washington, Moallem worked with Baker on diplomatic issues involving the 1991 Madrid peace conference, which opened the way for peace talks between Syria and Israel that were ultimately unsuccessful. The Syrian said that when they met again last September to discuss the Iraq Study Group, Baker asked him: "'Walid, how can we return to the Syrian-American situation of the early 1990s, when we succeeded to build mutual trust?' I told him: 'This is our wish also in Syria."'
Moallem argued that the Bush administration's efforts to isolate Syria have failed, and that it's time for the administration to try another approach based on shared Syrian-American interests in three goals for the Mideast: peace, stability and prosperity. He said that although Syria hoped to recover the Golan Heights, it was not setting this as a precondition for dialogue.

"A constructive dialogue has to start without preconditions," he said. He denied that Syria was seeking greater power in Lebanon as the price for its help in Iraq. "This is not a deal. This is not, 'we will do this if you give us Lebanon,"' he said. But he did note that if America wanted dialogue, "you need to reassure us about your good intentions concerning our stability."
Syria has already begun implementing some of the Baker-Hamilton recommendations for Iraq, Moallem said. With this month's restoration of Syrian-Iraqi diplomatic ties, he explained, the two countries are beginning joint efforts to control their border and increase political and economic cooperation, as called for by the report. "We are not doing this to please the US. We are doing what is in the Syrian and Iraqi interest," he said.
Moallem said he supported the report's recommendation for an Iraq Support Group that would draw in Syria and other neighboring states, but only after the Iraqis themselves had agreed on plans for disarming militias and ending sectarian divisions. He said the timetable for withdrawing US troops "depends on Iraqi ability to take over security," and that America's military role there should focus on training rather than fighting.
On the specific Baker-Hamilton recommendations involving Lebanon, Moallem also expressed general support. He said Syria wasn't shipping arms to Hizbullah, would "continue our cooperation" with the United Nations investigation of the murder for former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and was "ready" to "achieve a deal on exchanging prisoners" with Israel. He also disclosed what he said was a previously unreported effort by Syria and Qatar to broker a compromise between the radical Palestinian group Hamas and the moderate Fatah faction of President Mahmoud Abbas.
Is this Syrian gambit for real? Is Moallem serious in his offer to talk with America about a comprehensive package of peace with Israel, stability for Iraq and compromise in Lebanon? The answer is that there's really only one way to find out, which is to explore further the ideas the Syrian foreign minister has put on the table.

Syndicated columnist David Ignatius is published regularly by THE DAILY STAR.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Peres: There are preconditions for talks with Syria

Peres: There are preconditions for talks with Syria

Syrian FM's call for negotiations with Israel without any preconditions continues to arouse great interest in Israel. Vice premier says negotiations with Syria will only be held if Damascus stops supporting terror. There are those, however, who urge Olmert to accept call, as rejecting it 'may lead to unnecessary war'
Ronny Sofer Latest Update:  12.16.06, 19:44,7340,L-3340783,00.html
Vice Premier Shimon Peres on Saturday rejected Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem's call for negotiations with Israel without any preconditions.
According to Peres, "Halting the activities of terror headquarters in Damascus and stopping Khaled Mashaal's activities in Syria are preconditions for a dialogue as far as we are concerned."
 Peres added, "The Syrian desire that Israel would agree to the continued supply of weapons to Hizbullah is an intolerable precondition. We could similarly invited the leader of the Syrian opposition, Khaddam, and equip him with missiles to fire on Damascus."
 In an interview with the Lebanese Daily Star on Saturday, Moallem echoed his sentiments of peace, portraying Syria as a potential partner in stabilizing the region.

He referred at one point to "the noble cause of peace between Syria and Israel."

He emphasized Syria's willingness to enter negotiations without preconditions, stating that "a constructive dialogue has to start without preconditions."
Knesset Member Danny Yatom (Labor) called on the government to accept Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem's call for negotiations with Israel without any preconditions, saying that rejecting the call "could lead to war."
Many other politicians also called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to seriously consider the proposal.
 Yatom added, "I continue to call on Prime Minister Olmert to take leadership and accept Syria's peace challenge. The State of Israel must not reject a proposal for negotiations without preconditions.

 "The problem of terror and wars in our region can only be solved through negotiations. Rejecting the Syrian call may lead to an unnecessary war between Israel and Syria, and terror may be enhanced."
MK Ran Cohen (Meretz) welcomed the declaration: "I see it as important progress for peace negotiations. We have reached an absurd situation, in which Syria is going out of its way to signal to Israel about how serious it is, while the Israeli leadership is going out of its way to prevent any progress."
'Recognize Syrian sovereignty over Golan Heights'
MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) believes that Israel must not ignore the remarks made by Moallem and Syrian President Bashar Assad .
"I call on the prime minister, in light of the two Syrian declarations by the president and the foreign minister, not to continue ignoring the Syrian messages, but to look into them seriously.
"Both proposals are very significant, and the policy of denial and ignorance and failure to look into things does not serve the Israeli interests," he said.
 The Council for Peace and Security called to launch negotiations which will end with recognition of the Syrian sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
"Israel must express its willingness to sign a peace agreement with Syria, as part of which it would recognize the Syrian sovereignty over the Golan Heights in exchange for peace and security arrangements.
"As part of these changes, Syria will be required to make trust-building moves which will take place during the negotiations. Israel must take moves to examine the seriousness of the Syrian intentions, in coordination with the Unites States," the council announced.
Attila Somfalvi contributed to the report

First Published:  12.16.06, 18:36


Continued (Permanent Link)

Rice to seek additional funds to boost Abbas' security forces

Last update - 08:02 16/12/2006   

Rice to seek additional funds to boost Abbas' security forces
By Haaretz Service and Agencies

United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Friday she would ask the U.S. Congress for tens of millions of dollars to strengthen the security forces of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
"We will request funding to support the security reform [of Abbas's forces] and I think we will get support," said Rice in an interview with Reuters, adding that the aid would be in the range of tens of millions of dollars.
The funding request comes as tensions are at their highest in a decade in the Palestinian Authority, with government unity talks stalled and Hamas accusing Abbas of trying to start a civil war.
The United States wants to ensure that Abbas, whose Fatah party was trounced by Hamas in elections last January, emerges victorious in any power struggle with Hamas and has been saying for months that more needs to be done to boost his forces.
But Rice cautioned this could take some time. "You can't build security forces overnight to deal with the kind of lawlessness that is there in Gaza which largely derives from an inability to govern," she said.
"Their (the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority) inability to govern, of course, comes from their unwillingness to meet international standards," she added.
State Department officials have been discussing the request in recent weeks with key staff on Capitol Hill, trying to convince them the money will not reach Hamas.
"We are going to adopt extremely concrete and tight measures to make sure that the money is going to the right places," said Rice.
The United States, the European Union and others regard Hamas as a terrorist group and have cut off direct aid to the group.
EU extends Palestinian aid deal that bypasses Hamas-led gov't
European Union leaders on Friday extended by three months an aid deal for the Palestinians that bypasses the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government that took office earlier this year.
In a two-day summit in Brussels, the leaders also urged Syria to respect democracy in Lebanon and to stop meddling in its neighbor's internal affairs.
Hamas' refusal to recognize Israel has meant diplomatic and economic isolation from the international community and triggered a financial crisis for the Palestinians.
EU leaders said "the protracted deterioration" of the Palestinian situation justified continuing the World Bank-monitored aid scheme that has funneled hundreds of millions of euros (dollars) directly to Palestinians.
The Middle East faces "one of the worst crises in years," EU leaders said, stating their readiness to work with a "legitimate" unity Palestinian government acceptable to the international community.
Damascus "must end all interference in Lebanese internal affairs and actively engage in the stabilization of Lebanon and the region," the leaders said.
France - a longtime ally of Lebanon, its former protectorate - has insisted the EU take a stronger stance on Syria, which has long exerted influence on its smaller neighbor and backs Hezbollah guerrillas based in Lebanon's south.
French President Jacques Chirac told reporters Friday that the 25 EU nations stand united in their support of "the democratic institutions in Lebanon and, as a result, in support of the democratically elected government" of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.
"Our security and our prosperity depend also on the stability in this troubled region," he said. "We cannot appear divided or inactive as a spiral of uncontrolled violence looms."
Lebanon, still rebuilding from a 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah that ended in August, has been wracked by political upheaval for weeks. Since December 1, the Hezbollah-led opposition has mobilized thousands of supporters in mass protests and daily sit-ins in a bid to top Siniora's western-backed government, confining the Lebanese leader in his office in Beirut.
Arab League envoys this week mediated a tentative agreement between the Lebanese government and the opposition on a national unity cabinet.
EU leaders also condemned the assassination last month of anti-Syrian Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, and decried any other attempts to "destabilize Lebanon through political assassinations or terrorist acts."
Chirac said France would host an international donor conference for Lebanese reconstruction on January 25. "More than ever, Lebanon needs our help," he said.
EU leaders also warned Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that his policies - including his dismissal of the Nazi Holocaust and calls for Israel's destruction - have a "negative impact" on stability in the region.
"Iran needs to play a responsible role in the region," the leaders said in their statement.

Continued (Permanent Link)

18 people hurt in Hamas-Fatah clashes in Gaza

Last update - 21:00 16/12/2006   

18 people hurt in Hamas-Fatah clashes in Gaza
By Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff and Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondents, and Agencies

Eighteen people were wounded as Fatah and Hamas supporters traded fire and hurled stones at each other in towns across the Gaza Strip on Saturday after Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced early elections.
Tens of thousands rallied in Khan Yunis, Gaza City and Rafah in support for their side, but much smaller numbers were involved in the clashes.
Seven people were wounded by gunfire and eight by stones in the rallies, according to reports from Hamas and hospital officials. Three others were treated after being trampled in Gaza City, medical officials said.
In Khan Yunis, Fatah loyalists touching off the melee by chanting, "Shia, Shia" - a reference to the Shiite Muslims who control Iran, Hamas' backer.
Hamas gunmen opened fire and threw stones, and then Fatah returned fire. Masked Hamas gunmen from a nearby refugee camp came into the town to reinforce armed men already there.
In Rafah, Hamas gunmen said they came under fire from Fatah, while Fatah officials accused Hamas militiamen of firing on a peaceful demonstration.
The gunbattles in Gaza City took place near the home of Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan. Hamas accuses Dahlan of masterminding an assasination attempt against Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas earlier this week.
On Friday, Hamas' Damascus-based political chief Khaled Meshal urged Hamas members to "practice restraint" and avoid being "dragged into a civil war" amid worsening factional violence in the PA.
At least 31 Hamas supporters were wounded, some critically, when gunmen from Abbas' Fatah movement opened fire on a Hamas rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday, leading a senior Hamas leader to accuse Abbas of launching a war.
"I call on our brothers in Hamas to practice restraint ... to protect Palestinian blood," Meshal said in a live radio interview from his base in the Syrian capital of Damascus. "Our battle is against the occupation, and we will not be dragged into a civil war."
But a senior Hamas official in Gaza on Friday accused Abbas of sparking a civil war between Fatah and Hamas.
"What a war Mahmoud Abbas you are launching, first against God, and then against Hamas," senior Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya told a Gaza City rally of 100,000 Hamas supporters, who chanted "God is Greatest" and fired guns into the air.
On Thursday night, a convoy in which Haniyeh was riding came under fire as he crossed the border from Egypt into Gaza. Hamas charged that the shooting was an asssassination attempt by Fatah.
Haniyeh was more conciliatory at the rally Friday, appealing for "national unity," but he stopped short of explicitly calling for calm. Haniyeh called on both factions to "preserve Palestinian blood."
Fatah and Hamas gunmen exchanged fire on the streets of Gaza City and the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday.
After an urgent cabinet meeting convened by Haniyeh, Interior Minister Saeed Seyam told reporters the government had decided to open an investigation into the attack on the prime minister and "pursue the criminals and bring them to justice."
Abbas announced Saturday that he has decided to call fresh elections as soon as possible, drawing condemnation from the ruling Hamas movement.
Trading blame
Senior Abbas aide Saeb Erekat, also of Fatah, said Hamas was to blame for the violence, and warned against any reprisals for the attack on Haniyeh.
"We hold Hamas fully responsible for what happened Thursday at Rafah, both the chaos and destruction, and Hamas is fully responsible for whatever may harm [top Fatah official Mohammed] Dahlan or any other Palestinian citizens," Erekat told reporters in Ramallah.
Hamas has accused Dahlan of orchestrating the attack on Haniyeh. Fatah sources accused the Hamas' highest ruling body, the Shura Council, of ordering the assassination of Dahlan and seven other Fatah leaders in Gaza: Maher Makdad, Samir Masharawi, Jamal Abu Jadian, Samiah Madhoun, Abd-Alhakim Awad, Tawkfik Hussah and Abu Ali Shahin.
In Washington, without referring to the assassination allegation, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said differences among Palestinians "should be resolved within the context of the Palestinian political system."
"What you are seeing," he added, "is a rise in tensions that really emanates and is the direct result of the inability of Hamas to effectively govern in the Palestinian areas."
The fighting damped celebrations Friday marking the 19th anniversary of Hamas' founding. However, the Islamic militant group pushed ahead with its rallies, and about 70,000 loyalists gathered at a stadium in Gaza City on Friday afternoon, cheering wildly, sobbing and firing in the air when Haniyeh arrived flanked by more than 50 armed bodyguards.
"We joined this movement to become martyrs, not ministers," Haniyeh declared in a fiery speech, referring to Hamas loyalists' willingness to die for their cause, often in suicide attacks on Israeli targets.
He then left for an emergency session of the Hamas-led Cabinet, called to
discuss the escalating unrest.
A Ramallah resident told Israel Radio that one person was killed in the clashes in the city, but the report could not be immediately verified.
Abbas' security forces, dressed in riot gear, used clubs and rifles to beat back Hamas demonstrators before shooting broke out.
The shooting in Gaza City began Friday afternoon when masked Hamas gunmen began waging battle with Fatah-allied Palestinian police at their post in the middle of the city. The four-minute battle sent civilians running for cover. It was unclear if anyone was hurt.
The clashes took place a block away from Dahlan's home.
In a show of force, Hamas had earlier deployed armed militants carrying automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers in key parts of the Gaza Strip on Friday.
Haniyeh bodyguard killed, over two dozen hurt in Thursday attack
The attack on Haniyeh's convoy took place upon his return from a fundraising tour of the Middle East. Haniyeh's bodyguard was killed in the shooting, and more than two dozen people - including Haniyeh's son, Abdel Salam, and his political adviser, Ahmed Yousef - were wounded. The incident deepened factional violence that has pushed the rival Hamas and Fatah parties closer to civil war.
Haniyeh has threatened to "deal with" shots fired at his convoy, but did not provide further details. Angry Hamas officials on Friday pointed the finger at Dahlan - who denied the accusation, according to Israel Radio.
Ismail Radwan, a Hamas spokesman, told a news conference that Dahlan "planned and organized the [attempted] assassination of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh."
"The dirty hands which assassinated and wounded the body guards of the prime minister and attacked the prime minister's convoy will not escape punishment," said Radwan. He offered no evidence of Dahlan's involvement.
Fatah dismissed the accusations against Dahlan.
"These accusations are not true, as long as no investigation to find out has been conducted," Tawfik Abu Khousa, a Fatah spokesman, said, calling for an official investigations. "These accusations are posing a grave threat to Palestinian unity."
The shooting attack took place after Haniyeh was held up at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza for more than seven hours. Israel ordered the closure to prevent him from bringing in $35 million in cash raised on a trip to Muslim states. Haniyeh was allowed to enter Gaza on Thursday night after leaving the funds in Egypt.
Arriving home around midnight, Haniyeh appeared furious over the gunfire at his convoy. "We know the party that shot directly at our cars, injuring some of the people with me... and we also know how to deal with this," he said, but did not explain further.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the shooting was an attempt to assassinate Haniyeh, and held the Fatah-allied Presidential Guard responsible.
"The Presidential Guard controls the Palestinian side [of the border terminal]. There are no other gunmen there. They are responsible for security of the border," Barhoum said. "We say there was a clear assassination attempt."
Wael Dahab, a spokesman for the Presidential Guard, said many gunmen were in the area and that it was difficult to control the situation. "Our men did not start the shooting, they did not shoot, and there were many people carrying guns," he said.
Abbas expressed regret for the shooting, according to the Palestinian news agency, WAFA.
About 50 gunmen greeted Haniyeh at his home in a refugee camp next to Gaza City, firing in the air and throwing candies.
The latest round of Hamas-Fatah fighting erupted Monday with the brutal
killing of the three small children of a Fatah security official and continued Wednesday with the gangland-style execution of a Hamas judge.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Turkish statement on Tehran Holocaust meeting

December 15, 2006
NO: 190


We maintain the same views expressed in our statement dated December 9, 2005
also in the context of the conference held in Teheran on December 11-12
entitled "Jewish Holocaust: Global Perspectives." We expressed in that
statement that the Holocaust suffered by the Jews in World War II is a
historical fact that wounded the conscience of humanity and that this crime
against humanity had been established also by international law.

We regard such initiatives which question this historical fact as misplaced
and approach them with concern and grief.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Continued (Permanent Link)

Turkish-Israeli multi-pipeline agreement to be drafted


With reference to the results of the Turkey-Israel energy working group
which were held on 10th October, 2005 in Ankara and on 12th March, 2006 in
Jerusalem, the parties reiterated their joint determination to build an
energy corridor between Turkey and Israel which would be composed of
pipelines for crude oil, natural gas, fresh water as well as electricity

The Parties expressed their firm belief that this project would not only
serve the bilateral relations of Turkey and Israel, but will at the same
time have a positive impact on their immediate region by way of creating new
incentives and fostering a new climate for a lasting peace and prosperity
for all of the region. They also emphasize the fact that such an energy
corridor will contribute greatly to enhancing global energy security and
supply stability.

The Parties welcome the willingness of The European Commission to support
cooperation on the energy corridor, as expressed in its communication
following the Euro-Mediterranean Forum which took place in Brussels on 21st
October,2006. In this context the Parties call on The European Commission to
materialize its support in the near future.

Further,  the Parties view with importance the extension of the work on this
corridor that has already commenced by the private sectors. In this context,
the Parties seek the construction of an off-shore multi-pipeline project
(oil, natural gas, water and electricity) in connection with the
aforementioned Turkish-Israeli energy corridor, and thereby also connecting
the Samsun-Ceyhan crude oil pipeline to the Israeli outlets and establishing
a physical link between the Ceyhan energy terminal of Turkey and Israel. The
Parties further agree that this linkage will be done by a decision of the
Turkish Government. The Parties welcome this initiative and request the
completion of the feasibility studies on it as soon as possible.

The Parties therefore agreed to instruct their relevant authorities to take
concrete steps in order to prepare the draft for an Inter-Governmental
Agreement between Turkey and Israel which would constitute the legal
framework for the realization of this project.

Dr. Mehmet Hilmi Guler
Minister of Energy and Natural Resources
The Republic of Turkey

Binyamin (Fouad) Ben Eliezer
Minister of National Infrastructures
The State of  Israel

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Continued (Permanent Link)

Satmars denounce Jewish Shoah conference attendies

["Satmars" are members of the anti-Zionist Chassidic sect led by Rabbi Tennenbaum, originally from Satu Mare in Roumania.] 
Satmars denounce Jewish Shoah conference attendies
Associated Press, THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 16, 2006

Six Jews who attended a Holocaust denial conference in Iran have come under
intense criticism over the visit, with one of the world's largest Hasidic
groups denouncing them as "reckless outcasts."

The Jews who went to Iran "trampled on the memory of their ancestors and
people. They embraced the disciplines and followers of their murderers,"
said a statement from the Satmar leaders of Congregation Yetev Lev in

The Jews who attended the conference are often confused with the Satmars,
who also are anti-Zionist but acknowledge that 6
million Jews died in the Holocaust.

The Satmars say there is no connection between them and Neturei Karta, a
group that sent a half-dozen delegates to this week's conference in Teheran
under the banner Jews United Against Zionism.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Ariel Sharon - Lights and shades

The Gaza withdrawal has been quickly blotted out of the mind of Europeans. Economist asks:
Why do so many Israelis admire a man who so many outsiders regard with
revulsion? A reading of these biographies suggests that part of the
explanation has to do with memory. To outsiders, Mr Sharon is the hawk
who eschewed compromise and set his face against Palestinian statehood
As though it never happened!

Ariel Sharon

Lights and shades
Dec 13th 2006
 From The Economist print edition

The personification of Zionism, or a stain on its character?

"THE question then must be asked," reflected a recent unfriendly
psycho-history of Zionism: "Is Sharon an aberration, or does he
represent Israel's dark night of the soul? Is he a travesty, or rather
does he, by giving flesh to an abiding logic of Zionist thought, bring
to fruition the nation's most powerful, unanswerable vision of itself?"

Ariel Sharon has been in a coma for almost exactly a year, after a
stroke cut him down at a moment of extraordinary popularity. As prime
minister he had just forced all of Israel's settlers to evacuate their
villages in the Gaza Strip. He had reacted to a mutiny from his Likud
party by creating a brand-new centrist party, Kadima, which was expected
easily to win the forthcoming general election. A former general and war
hero at the head of a party offering a two-state solution: to many
Israelis, Mr Sharon looked like a peace-bringer.

Why do so many Israelis admire a man who so many outsiders regard with
revulsion? A reading of these biographies suggests that part of the
explanation has to do with memory. To outsiders, Mr Sharon is the hawk
who eschewed compromise and set his face against Palestinian statehood.
But that view is based on a caricature of Israel as it strikes much of
the world now: the strong and expansionist country that resorts to
violence instead of compromise. Israelis remember things differently.

Nir Hefez and Gadi Bloom are Israeli journalists. They have written a
workmanlike biography. Uri Dan is not only a journalist but also his
subject's lifelong confidant, and much of his book is a record of his
own conversations with Mr Sharon. Both biographies nonetheless start at
more or less the same time and place: the battle of Latrun in 1948,
during which Arik Scheinerman, as he was then, was badly wounded. It was
a chaotic defeat for the Israelis. Many of the Jewish soldiers who took
part were, unlike the native-born Sharon, Holocaust survivors who had
only just disembarked from Europe.

The defeat at Latrun had a formative influence on Mr Sharon. Most
Israelis, but especially those old enough to remember their war of
independence, find it hard to accept the world's view of their country
as the region's all-powerful bully-boy. To Mr Sharon, the survival of
the Jewish state could never be taken for granted, and the perennial
enmity of the Arabs had always to be met by military power and an iron
will. Many Israelis still feel this way: indeed, their mistrust has
increased since the years of intifada and the rise of Hamas and a
militant Iran, which both say they seek Israel's destruction. To that
extent, Mr Sharon was no "aberration".

In exercising military power, did he make a habit of breaking the rules
of war? In 1953 Mr Sharon commanded a raid against the Jordanian village
of Qibya, in which some 70 civilians were killed. Both biographies skip
lightly over the incident, simply reporting Mr Sharon's lame excuse,
which Israel's leaders claimed to believe, that his soldiers failed to
notice the villagers hiding in the attics and cellars of the houses that
were dynamited. The Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon in 1982
receives fuller treatment. Mr Hefez and Mr Bloom quote extensively from
the inquiry that found Mr Sharon guilty as defence minister of failing
to reduce the danger of a massacre before letting Lebanon's Christian
militiamen into the Palestinian refugee camps. But they reserve their
own judgment. Mr Dan quotes mainly his good friend's protestations of

Both books would be better if they made their own judgments more
explicit. But by placing Mr Sharon's life in the context of Israel's
intractable conflicts they perform a service. Here was a fearless,
charismatic and ruthless soldier in a state which, like many, has done
bad things in half a century of wars. As a politician he was often
intransigent. He dragged Israel into the quagmire of Lebanon and
masterminded the colonisation of the West Bank and Gaza, thus making
peace harder to achieve. He could also be supremely pragmatic, as in
eventually accepting the idea of an independent Palestine and evacuating
Israel's Gaza settlements. Israel's enemies brand him a war criminal who
personifies the sins they consider inherent in Zionism. But his story,
like the lights and shades of the conflict that shaped it, is a lot more
complicated than that.

Ariel Sharon: A Life
By Nir Hefez and Gadi Bloom
Random House; 490 pages; $29.9

Ariel Sharon: An Intimate Portrait
By Uri Dan
Palgrave Macmillan; 320 pages; $27.95 and £16.99

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Peace Talks Without Preconditions: WP Interview With Syrian Foreign Minister

There is no precondition. A constructive dialogue has to start without preconditions. Dialogue has a literature (of proper procedure). You don't put demands. You put agreed goals. Under this, you put each side's commitment to achieve the goals in a parallel way. This is how we understand constructive dialogue.

This is not a deal. This is not, 'We will do this if you give us Lebanon.' Our only goal is to get the return of Syrian occupied territories, to get Syrian regional stability.

Editor's Inbox

Interview With Syrian Foreign Minister

Here's the transcript the interview with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem conducted on December 14, 2006 in Damascus, Syria.

Q: Ignatius: Perhaps you could begin by giving an overall view of the Baker-Hamilton Report

A: Moallem: During my work in Washington (as Syrian ambassador in the early 1990s) I knew Baker and I knew Hamilton. I know their objectivity. I know that both of them and others on the (Iraq Study Group) committee who I used to know have vision.

The first question Baker asked me when we met in New York (in September 2006) was: Walid, how can we return to the Syrian-American situation of the early 1990s, when we succeeded to build mutual trust? I told him: This is our wish also in Syria.

But how can we make it? We need to ask ourselves one question: Has the prior American policy against Syria--isolation--worked or failed? I think from what we are seeing in the region today, it failed. What will be another option? The challenge is to adopt policies of engagement. The method is dialogue.

Why is this challenging? Through dialogue, no side can stay in his position. Constructive dialogue means both sides have to meet. We can call it a 'common ground.' Through an engagement policy, you agree on certain principles and goals.

What are Syrian goals in the region? There are three: Peace, stability and prosperity. These are the Syrian goals. Are these three goals contradicting American national interests in the region? I don't think so.

--If we tackle first the issue of peace: The American administration knows that during our previous direct talks with the Israelis (during the early 1990s) we achieved 90 percent of the agreement. We lacked the political will from Israel to achieve the noble cause of peace between Syria and Israel. Is it contradicting American interests to continue the path of Madrid (the 1991 Madrid peace conference, which laid the ground for subsequent Israeli-Syrian peace talks) on the same basis?

I wonder why the administration is preventing Israel to go on this path of peace, to secure its northern border. I wonder why this administration failed to achieve the question the late Prime Minister Rabin asked: What is the meaning of peace between Syria and Israel? When I say this, I mean a comprehensive peace--including Syria, the Palestinians and Lebanon. But as foreign minister of Syria, I will speak on behalf only of Syria.

Q: You referred to Bush administration efforts to prevent Israel from negotiation with Syria. What are you referring to?

A: I have been told this in New York by Americans who are attached to peace. Why is this administration preventing Israel?

Q: When did this happen?

A: Immediately after the war between Israel and Lebanon. (August 2006). In Israel, there is a weak government. This means that this government needs encouragement from Washington to move on the way to peace. If this administration put on its priorities peace in the Middle East, why didn't they (encourage the Israelis). Is this an administration for war only?

In December 1990, when President Hafez al-Assad met President Bush the father in Geneva, Assad told Bush: Mr. President, no one can challenge your military strength. But we understand when you hold in one hand the gun, you need to hold in the other the olive branch. This is how superpowers can survive. President Bush the father was honest to his promise. After the ceasefire (in the 1991 Gulf War) in March, Secretary Baker in April moved to call for a Mideast peace conference. This is how we understand the responsibilities of a superpower.

--Second, I turn to regional stability. Is it contradicting American interests? I don't think so. How do we achieve this when the administration is at a crossroads. Either we go for stability or the region will fall, and religious civil wars and the extremists behind them will take over. Will this serve U.S. interests?

It is not useful for anyone to tackle the deep concerns in the region by giving us tablets of aspirin. You need to tackle the biggest issues. One of them is a peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It will lead to a solution in Lebanon, immediately. It will help Iraqi stability and security.

Syria always asked America to change its behavior. The Syrians are asking the Americans: When you are showing keenness on Lebanese stability and Iraqi stability, why do you try to de-stabilize Syria? If you want us to have constructive dialogue, you need to reassure us about your good intentions concerning our stability.

--Third, prosperity. If you achieve peace and stability, you can focus on prosperity. Prosperity in the region has an effect on illegal immigration, terrorism, poverty. All these objectives serve our interests and the Americans'. So the question here is: Why do you sanction Syria?

We are ready for constructive dialogue to achieve these three objectives, based on our knowledge that you need to take history and geography into account. We are in the middle of three crises--Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinians--and you are far away.

Q: Let me ask you to discuss the specifics of the Baker-Hamilton report. Do you support the report?

A: There are many positive elements in this report. But it is not a Bible or Koran. This is the first time there is a report on the desk--another plan for the administration. We are not the decision-makers. It is up to the president to decide.

We say: We are not against the U.S. To the contrary, we want to be part of a regional dialogue that in our opinion serves American interests in the region.

Q: Let's go through the specific recommendations in the report that concern Syria. The first is recommendation 4, which calls for an Iraq Support Group composed of Iraq's neighbors and the Permanent Five members of the UN Security Council. Would Syria join in such an Iraq Support Group?

A: I will explain: I went to Iraq (in November 2006). I spent three days there. When others visited they have spent three hours. I met with all the Iraqi leaders. I discussed issues with them on the basis of agreed principles. One, the unity of Iraq. Two, the independence of Iraq. Three, an agreed timetable of withdrawal between the U.S. and Iraqi leadership.

When I refer to a timetable, it is not to offend the U.S. To the contrary. It is a timetable for withdrawal and building Iraqi security. They will go in parallel. It is not a timetable of immediate withdrawal.

Q: Do you have in mind a time frame? What about the Baker-Hamilton suggestion of early 2008?

A: It is not up to me to answer. It depends on Iraqi ability to take over security. Immediate withdrawal? This is an immoral step. Iraq must be prepared to take over. It is not a duty (for the US military in Iraq) of fighting. It is a duty of training.

Iraq is similar to Lebanon. You cannot rule Iraq by majority. You rule Iraq by consensus. All Iraqi groups have to participate in the political process. The first steps must start with the Iraqis themselves. They need to end existing divisions within themselves. They need to agree on the constitution, unity, the distribution of wealth, dismantling of militias. When they reach agreement on these, they need to start preparation of a national reconciliation conference. Even their legislation of uprooting the Baath (de-Baathification), they realize they need a change, to uprooting the Saddamists.

(Moallem goes off record to describe his conversations with the leaders of each of the main groups in Iraq. He agreed to allow me to summarize the basic outlines of his advice: To the Kurds, don't secede; to the Shia, recognize that you can't rule Iraq alone and work with the Sunnis; to the Sunnis, recognize that old system of Sunni rule is gone and work with the Shia.)

Q: But what about the Baker-Hamilton idea of a regional Iraq Support Group? Should that come later?

A: The Iraqi consensus (after it is reached) has to be supported by the neighboring countries. That is the third step, after Iraqi agreement on issues and the national reconciliation conference. The third step is a meeting between Iraqis, their neighbors and the five members of the UN Security Council.

Q: Let me return to the specific recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton Report. Recommendation 12 says the U.S. and the Support Group should encourage Syria to do three things: control its border with Iraq to the maximum extent possible, including joint Syrian-Iraqi patrols; open a Syrian hotline to Iraq; increase Syrian political and economic cooperation with Iraq.

A: Leave that language aside. These are Syrian ideas that have been offered to the Iraqis. Tomorrow we will have the Iraqi interior minister in Syria, for talks based on these ideas. We will have 22 generals coming, from the Defense ministry, the Interior ministry. We are not doing this to please the US. We are doing what is in the Syrian and Iraqi interest. We promise to do things with Iraq, and we started doing them Dec. 11, when we raised flags at our two embassies. The next step is security arrangements, economic arrangements.

Q: So you are already doing the things mentioned in recommendation 12.

A: Yes.

Q: The next is recommendation 13, which calls for a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts. I assume from what you said before you favor that. And then recommendation 14, which calls for an unconditional meeting, like the 1991 Madrid conference.

A: It is a good idea. I would like to see this administration really honestly have interest to accomplish this goal. It has a duty to encourage Israel to walk on this path.

Q: Finally, Lebanon, which is discussed in recommendation 15. It has a series of specific items. First, it says that Syria should pledge full adherence to UN Security Council Resolution 1701 of August 2006 (which called on Syria to halt deliveries of arms to Hezbollah.)

A: We are adhering to it. We have increased our border patrols on the Lebanese border.

I deny all rumors that Syria is sending arms to Lebanese parties. You have satellite and air surveillance over these borders. Nobody has presented us a document telling us that there is this transfer of arms. President Assad committed to (UN Secretary General) Annan that Syria will work with the UN to implement 1701.

Q: The Baker-Hamilton Report next calls on Syria to cooperate with the UN investigation of the Hariri assassination and other killings. I know that Brammertz said this week in his latest report that Syria is cooperating, but will you continue to cooperate?

A: We will continue our cooperation with the Brammertz investigation, as long as this investigation is proven it is professional. Because discovering the reality of this crime is serving the Syrian interest.

Q: Next, recommendation 15 calls for cessation of Syrian aid to Hezbollah and use of Syrian territory to transport weapons.

A: There is no such cooperation (with Hezbollah). We have moral support, not operational support, because we want to see Lebanon stable. We want to help UNIFIL (the UN force in southern Lebanon) in achieving its mandate, and we believe the Lebanese are capable of solving issues.

Q: Next, recommendation 15 calls for Syria to use its influence with Hamas and Hezbollah for the release of Israeli army prisoners.

A: Who has influence on Israel to release Lebanese, Palestinians and 20 Syrians who are being held prisoner? Why don't we combine the two influences to achieve a deal on exchanging prisoners. We are ready.

Q: Next, the report calls on Syria to stop its efforts to undermine the Lebanese government.

A: We are for the stability, sovereignty and independence of Lebanon.

Q: But I believe the report is referring to the current Lebanese government of Fouad Siniora.

A: Fouad Siniora is not Lebanon. Fouad Siniora was invited to visit Syria three times. He was reluctant. We support Lebanese stability. We support what Lebanese agreed upon to achieve their stability, within Taif (the 1990 Taif agreement) and the constitution.

Q: Next, the report calls for Syria to cease arms shipments to Hamas.

A: This is nonsense. We are far from Gaza.

Q: Next, the report calls for a Syrian commitment to help obtain an acknowledgement by Hamas of Israel's right to exist.

A: I will disclose something to you for the first time. We are exerting efforts with the foreign minister of Qatar with Hamas and Fatah together. We kept the same distance between them, to reach agreement to compose a national unity government. We convinced Hamas to agree on a ceasefire in Gaza. We hope this will be applicable to the West Bank. We convinced Hamas to agree on a Palestinian state in the 1967 occupied territories. (An implicit recognition of Israel). What else do you want from us?

Q: Finally, recommendation 15 calls on Syria to make greater efforts to seal its border with Lebanon.

A: Can the US seal its border with Mexico? Unless you want us to build a wall to seal the border with Lebanon. Are the Lebanese seeking this? Will it serve their interests?

Q: Finally, Recommendation 16 says that in return for Syrian help in all these matters, Israel should return the Golan Heights to Syria. Is that a precondition, for Syria--that it would get the Golan back in any negotiations?

A: There is no precondition. A constructive dialogue has to start without preconditions. Dialogue has a literature (of proper procedure). You don't put demands. You put agreed goals. Under this, you put each side's commitment to achieve the goals in a parallel way. This is how we understand constructive dialogue.

This is not a deal. This is not, 'We will do this if you give us Lebanon.' Our only goal is to get the return of Syrian occupied territories, to get Syrian regional stability.

Q: A last question. I am assuming that you have discussed these issues with President Assad, and that he agrees with the views that you expressed today in this interview.

A: I am the foreign minister of Syria. The president and the foreign minister can speak. He is the leader. I an expressing his ideas.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Syrian FM: Returning Golan not a precondition for peace talks

Last update - 14:32 16/12/2006

Syrian FM: Returning Golan not a precondition for peace talks

By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent and News Agencies

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said in an interview with the Washington
Post on Saturday that the returning of the Golan Heights to Syrian hands would
not be a precondition of any peace talks with Israel.

"There are no preconditions," Moallem told the Washington Post. "A
constructive dialogue has to start without preconditions. Dialogue has a
literature (of proper procedure). You don't put demands. You put agreed goals.
Under this, you put each side's commitment to achieve the goals in a parallel
way," he said.

Moallem did not mention in the interview the traditional Syrian stance that
peace talks with Israel must begin at the same point they left off in the
past. However, the official Syrian standpoint is that in the 1990s, then Prime
Minister Yitzhak Rabin had promised a complete Israeli pullout from the Golan
Heights in return for a peace agreement with Syria.

Moallem said that during the negotiations with Rabin, 90 percent of the issues
had been settled. However, there had been, on Israel's part, a lack of the
political required to achieve the "noble goal."

Moallem told the Washington Post that peace between Israel and Syria would
secure Israel's northern border, because it would include peace with Lebanon
and the Palestinians. Moallem called on the U.S. to allow Israel to advance
towards peace with Syria, saying that in the past it had not been an American

Moallem added that should peace not be achieved, the region would collapse
under the weight of religious civil wars and the rule of extremists.

Continued (Permanent Link)

BBC in Tehran: to be "the BBC correspondent in Nazi Germany reporting on Hitler"

Some of us may remember when the BBC kept alive the hope of liberty in Europe. In this  all too rare moment of truth and objectivity about the Middle East, the BBC shows a spark of its former glory. Perhaps, finally, the shock of reality is beginning to sink in:
"In the BBC there's a lot of talk about impartial broadcasting. I've always wondered how that would work if you were the BBC correspondent in Nazi Germany reporting on Hitler.

Would you not have to take sides? Well I got closer than ever before to this problem reporting on Iran's Holocaust conference.

I have interviewed suicide bombers, sexually-abused children, raped women - I have seen the devastation of war and the tsunami.

But I have never reported on anything like this. On the second day some of the delegates were coming up to me congratulating me on my coverage of the story. "

Please write to the BBC to thank them for this extraordinary story.

Ami Isseroff



Continued (Permanent Link)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Another day, another boycott

Another day, another boycott
Here's a novel idea for you. If sales of your novels are flagging: announce that you are boycotting Israel. That is sure to attaract attention. John Berger, the "celebrated" novelist, critic and artist just did it. No doubt, an original Berger will now appreciate in value. Chances are, you never heard of him before. Berger wrote two critically acclaimed books, "To the Wedding" and "A fortunate man: The story of a country doctor."  It is not clear what, if anything, he knows about Israel and the Palestinians.

Berger's manifesto in the Guardian tells us boycotting Israel will bring peace. Coincidentally, Ehud Olmert told the BBC he is striving for peace talks. How is boycotting Israel going to bring peace, when the major obstacle to peace is currently Hamas intransigence and unwillingness to recognize Israel?
What a pity that Israelis won't be able to read Berger's novels in Hebrew, but how will this advance the cause of peace?
Before you get all excited about this boycott, remember that the more you talk about it, the more you call attention to the boycott, and to Berger.

John Berger rallies artists for cultural boycott of Israel

 Supporters include Brian Eno and Arundhati Roy
 Critics say sanctions will be counter-productive

Charlotte Higgins, arts correspondent
Friday December 15, 2006
The Guardian
The celebrated novelist, critic and artist John Berger today calls on British writers and artists to undertake a "cultural boycott" of Israel. In a letter to the Guardian, co-signed by, among others, the artist Cornelia Parker, the musician Brian Eno, and writers Arundhati Roy and Ahdaf Soueif, Berger calls for support for "our Palestinian and Israeli colleagues".  He suggests boycott tactics; in his case it meant declining to be published by a large mainstream Israeli publisher, he says.
Yesterday he said of the boycott: "It could be a factor in Israeli policy changing. Of course its effects will not be gigantic but it is a way of not staying silent. It is a very personal call ... a way of encouraging the very courageous Israelis who oppose their government and an encouragement to Palestinians to somehow go on surviving." He made a clear distinction between individuals and state-sponsored events or institutions. "It is not a question of boycotting Israeli artists," he said.
The film-maker Ken Loach, who backs the boycott, said he would not take part in state-sponsored Israeli film festivals. However, Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre, said: "There are countless Israelis who vehemently oppose their government ... many are artists and academics, and none of them are prevented from expressing their opposition ... It seems profoundly counter-productive to cease contact with precisely that section of Israeli society most likely to provoke a change in direction within Israel."

Richard Eyre, the theatre director, said: "I would have said during apartheid in South Africa sanctions ... were effective, but so many people since then have said they were counterproductive. It's not cut and dried. Anything that boycotts Israel means we are in danger of cutting off access to [those] we should be speaking to."

The playwright Mark Ravenhill said it was good to keep a dialogue open with those challenging the government. "A cultural boycott runs the risk of stopping that dialogue and support." Michael Berkeley, the composer, said: "Sometimes it is only through the arts that a link remains open."

John Berger, novelist, painter, art critic and philosopher
Brian Eno, electronic musician, music theorist and record producer
Sophie Fiennes, film director
Eduardo Galeano, Uruguayan writer
Reem Kelani, Palestinian singer
Leon Rosselson, musician and writer
Steven Rose, scientist
Ahdaf Soueif, author
Arundhati Roy, Booker Prize winner
Elia Suleiman, film director and actor, and 85 others.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel PM strives for Abbas talks

Last Updated: Saturday, 16 December 2006, 12:04 GMT
Where Holocaust denial is welcomed

Iran has been severely criticised for hosting a conference questioning the Holocaust. Delegates included not only some of the world's best-known Holocaust deniers, but also white supremacists and anti-Semites.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iran frequently plays host to those who criticise Israel.
In the BBC there's a lot of talk about impartial broadcasting. I've always wondered how that would work if you were the BBC correspondent in Nazi Germany reporting on Hitler.

Would you not have to take sides? Well I got closer than ever before to this problem reporting on Iran's Holocaust conference.

I have interviewed suicide bombers, sexually-abused children, raped women - I have seen the devastation of war and the tsunami.

But I have never reported on anything like this. On the second day some of the delegates were coming up to me congratulating me on my coverage of the story.

The guest list was a who's who of holocaust deniers - men who have spent time in prison in Europe for saying Hitler's gas chambers never existed
I was actually lurking around wondering if they wanted to kill me for calling them Holocaust deniers and members of the Ku Klux Klan.

Quite the contrary - all publicity is good publicity for these sort of people. They were delighted to have made it onto the BBC and did not think being called a holocaust denier was at all insulting.

Only one Malaysian woman whose interview I didn't broadcast looked at me rather sourly.

Nazi apologists

The conference was organised by the Iranian Foreign Ministry in a centre where normally the topic of discussion is the price of oil or the future of the non-aligned movement.

David Duke
David Duke formed the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
When it is so difficult for an American to get an Iranian visa, I cannot understand how the government here let in a man who has been described as perhaps America's best known racist.

There's a photograph on the internet of a young David Duke wearing a swastika on his arm.

He formed the National Association for the Advancement of White People, not to mention the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

One of my colleagues tried to explain to a foreign ministry official what sort of organisation the Klan was - he talked of its history - men in white hoods going around lynching black people.

Every delegate I interviewed congratulated Iran on its commitment to freedom of speech which they said was absent in the West
The official just shrugged it off. I wondered if the Foreign Ministry lost control over the guest list but then again the visa process is rigorous - it took my mother more than three months to get a tourist visa for Iran.

But it was not just white supremacists - the guest list was a who's who of Holocaust deniers - men who have spent time in prison in Europe for saying Hitler's gas chambers never existed.

A small clique of apologists for the Third Reich with only fringe appeal suddenly revelling in being mainstream - well mainstream at least in Iran.

Free speech

Let me give you a flavour of the so-called academic papers they delivered. One French speaker said: "The Holocaust is a gigantic lie and the gas chambers should be put in the rubbish bin of history."

Australian Fredrick Toeben, jailed in Germany for incitement and insulting the memory of the dead
Frenchman Robert Faurisson, convicted in France under Holocaust denial laws
Frenchman Georges Thiel, convicted in France under Holocaust denial laws
American David Duke, a former KKK leader and white supremacist

He had already spent one year in prison because of what he called "one of his little books". Little books - but big lies - denying the Nazis had a deliberate policy to exterminate the Jewish people.

He summed up his argument succinctly. He claimed there were no gas chambers at all - millions of Jews did not die - therefore there was no holocaust.

And if there was no Holocaust then there was no justification for the creation of the state of Israel. Therefore Israel was an impostor.

It had all the simplicity of a mathematical proof - refuting the worst genocide in living memory and absolving one of the most evil and wicked regimes in history of its crimes against humanity.

A watchtower at Auschwitz
Holocaust deniers insist Auschwitz could not have been a death camp
So this was the aim of the conference for Iran - to undermine the very argument for the existence of Israel.

And also to score a few points over the West on the issue of freedom of speech. Every delegate I interviewed congratulated Iran on its commitment to freedom of speech which they said was absent in the West where their comrades were in jail for denying the Holocaust.

They all paid tribute to their new hero, President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. I asked them if they knew about the journalists and students who have been jailed in Iran for pushing the limits of freedom of speech in this country.

They were vague - happy to whitewash Iran without knowing the facts. As a journalist living and working in Iran I found it particularly galling to be told that I had freedom of speech by these people.

Eventually I found one of the movers and shakers behind the conference - a friend of President Ahmedinejad and asked him why there was freedom of speech to deny the Holocaust but not to criticise the Iranian government.

He told me there was complete freedom but the Western media was in the pocket of the Zionists and sent spies to undermine Iran's national security.

Presumably he meant all the students, bloggers, journalists and human rights lawyers who've been jailed here are Zionist spies.

Then he went on to say that the very presence of a BBC correspondent in Iran proved there was freedom of speech. Another twisted logic.

But when all the delegates were taken to see President Ahmedinejad for a mutual admiration session, the BBC, unlike other foreign media, was excluded from covering it. So much for Iranian freedom of speech.

Israel PM strives for Abbas talks
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said he is making "extraordinary efforts" to start peace negotiations with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

In a BBC interview, Mr Olmert said Israel was prepared to "pull out from many, many territories".

He reaffirmed his support for a Palestinian state and said a new border would have to be determined, "hopefully through negotiations".

Mr Abbas - also known as Abu Mazen - has called for peace talks with Israel.

"I'm making extraordinary efforts now to try and reach that kind of understanding with Abu Mazen that will allow both of us to start open, bilateral negotiations," Mr Olmert told the BBC.

He said he was "very hopeful" that talks would go ahead "in spite of the difficulties that he (Mr Abbas) experiences all the time".

Israeli officials have said Mr Abbas is well-intentioned, but restricted by the government led by the radical group Hamas.

Mr Olmert said talks would not be easy because the Palestinian Prime Minister, Hamas' Ismail Haniya, was "not prepared to make any move towards peace".

Hamas has resisted international calls to reject violence and recognise Israel.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Tehran Holocaust Conference

An Iranian blogger comments on Mr. Ahmedinejad's Holocaust Conference, "What is in it for me?." Indeed, what is in it for them? This conference will not ingratiate Iran with the European powers or the US. It will not help to feed the Iranian people. The Iranian official press made a mockery of the respectable Iranian academic establishment and Iranian intellectual achievements by referring to this gathering that featured former Klan leader David Duke, and cuckoo self-styled Austrian "rabbi" Moishe Aryeh Freidman as "Top Scholars." So what is in it for Iran? Nothing. What is in it for Ahmadinejad? Playing to the local extremists in Iran? Winning an anti-Semitism contest with Al-Qaeda? On the other hand, perhaps what is in it for Ahmadinejad is an intrinsic "reward" - doing bad is its own reward. Holocaust denial is part of Iranian ideology.

Tehran Holocaust Conference
There is a term in business when you want to sell an idea called :"WIIFM" or "What is in it for me?" and people try to judge business situation based on the logical answer they give or receive. Seems that when you live in Iran, you should ask "WTHIHTDWM" or "What the hell it has to do with me?" when you hear about political moves. I have been trying to answer this since I heard the news about the Holocaust conference in Tehran but still no luck!. It is very normal in Iran to see things that you do not understand and approve mainly because the politics here is mainly to impress people of other nations of the middle-east even if it kills Iranian reputation. When I was in Libya, I met many people from different countries of the Arab world and they were all so happy about this much opposition Iran puts against Israel exactly the opposite to many people in Iran who ask WTHIHTDWM?
In the streets of Tehran, I bet not many are even aware of the conference, the city is so covered by election posters for the upcoming city and expediency council elections next Friday and many people are basically more interested in the Asian games than anything else.
For us as humans, there is always a great regret of any tragic event in any human society, that is the lesson we should learn from history and if Iranian government wants to show sympathy with Palestinians, it should not let such historical lessons to be jeopardized.
I am sorry that the Iranian Holocaust is very much forgotten. By the end of WWII when the allied troops invaded Iran and used it as the bridge of victory to help Russian, hundreds of thousands of Iranians died from hunger, historic records are showing that the invading troops were intentionally buying and dumping tons of food to keep it like that. Any need for a conference on this Mr. President?

Continued (Permanent Link)

Report: Bin Laden family gave $1 million to Carter * Billy Carter lobbied for Libya

Report: Bin Laden family gave $ 1 million to Carter
Is this a canard or is it a fact?
As Jimmy Carter would say, "I just wanted to stir up controversy.... "
Of course, there will be the usual knee-jerk reactions. It is just about impossible to criticize Carter, or have a rational debate about Carter, because the Carter lobby has the media all sown up.
Moreover, remember that Jimmy Carter's brother Billy admitted to lobbying for Libya.
When asked "Why Libya?" supposedly he said, "The only thing I can say is there is a hell of a lot more Arabians than there is Jews."
Whadday know about that? Now ain't that a fact, Billy!
And I wonder if that has something to do with brother Jimmy's campaign against Israel, don't you?
Of course, there will be the usual knee-jerk reactions. It is just about impossible to criticize Carter, or have a rational debate about Carter, because the Carter lobby has the media all sown up.

Bin Laden family gave $1 million to Carter
Ex-president reportedly met with terror leader's brothers in 2000

Posted: June 2, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2006

Jimmy Carter speaking in Tokyo in 2003 (photo: United Nations University)
Former President Jimmy Carter's center in Atlanta received more than $1 million from the family of Osama bin Laden, according to an investigative report.

A brother of the al-Qaida terrorist leader, Bakr M. bin Laden, funneled the money to the Carter Center in Atlanta through the Saudi Bin Laden Group, according to Melanie Morgan, chairman of a group opposing the Georgia Democrat called the Censure Carter Committee.

Morgan, a WorldNetDaily columnist, based her claim on papers she acquired from the Carter Center.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Hamas says Abbas wants war

Hamas says Abbas wants war
A senior Hamas official has accused Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and leader of Fatah, of starting a war after his security forces opened fire on a Hamas rally in the West Bank and firefights broke out in Gaza.

Khalil al-Hayya, the head of Hamas's faction in parliament, told 100,000 of the movement's supporters at a noisy rally in Gaza City: "What a war Mahmoud Abbas you are launching, first against God, and then against Hamas."

Ismail Haniya, the prime minister and leader of Hamas, was more conciliatory at the rally, appealing for "national unity", but stopping short of explicitly calling for calm as he had during previous spikes in internal fighting.

At least 32 Hamas supporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah were wounded by gunfire from Abbas's forces, hospital officials said. Several were in critical condition.

Unity government

Tensions were at their highest in a decade and followed months of failed talks to form a unity government between the ruling Hamas Islamist faction and Abbas's once-dominant Fatah.

Hayya said Hamas would not agree to holding an early election or a referendum on the issue, a move that Abbas could announce in a speech planned for Saturday in an attempt to break the political deadlock.

Hayya did not say what Hamas would do if Abbas made such a dramatic announcement.

The violence broke out after Hamas, which controls the Palestinian Authority, accused a Fatah strongman and Abbas's presidential guard of trying to kill Haniya outside the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Hamas demands simultaneous prisoner swap with Israel

Hamas demands simultaneous prisoner swap with Israel
Fri Dec 15, 2006 9:34 AM ET

GAZA (Reuters) - The ruling Hamas movement said on Friday an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian gunmen in June would not be freed unless the Jewish state simultaneously released long-serving Palestinian prisoners and faction leaders.

While Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said late last month he would be willing to free many Palestinian prisoners, including those who had served lengthy terms, he indicated Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit had to be released first.

Senior Hamas leader Khalil Al-Hayya told a large Hamas rally in Gaza: "The Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will never be freed unless our hero prisoners, the long-serving and the faction leaders are freed in a reciprocal and simultaneous manner."

Shalit was captured by a group of Palestinian militants, including members of Hamas, during a June 25 cross-border raid. It triggered a crushing five-month long Israeli military offensive into the coastal strip.

Israel has said it agreed to freeing Palestinian prisoners only after Shalit is returned, because a simultaneous exchange could be seen as "rewarding terror".

Hamas has demanded the exchange of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

Israeli officials have said that there was no decision yet on which prisoners would be released and whether the number might include any with "blood on their hands".

Continued (Permanent Link)

Very British solution to Saudi problem

Very British solution to Saudi problem
By Paul Reynolds
World affairs correspondent, BBC News website

Eurofighter Typhoon jet
Eurofighter at heart of UK/Saudi relations
There will be a few wry smiles in foreign ministries around the world, particularly perhaps at the Quai D'Orsay in Paris and the state department in Washington, at news that the corruption investigation into a huge British defence contract with Saudi Arabia has been suddenly ended.

Foreign competitors will see another performance by 'perfidious Albion', as the British government holds its hand on its heart and promises that commercial interests have played no part.

British lectures on the "rule of law" will lose some of their force.

Other governments - and frankly, many of the British workers engaged on the project - will not believe that the size of the contract in question was not the determining factor. It is for 72 Typhoon Eurofighters from BAE.

BAE had reported that negotiations were at a standstill until the Saudis knew what was going to happen.

There was talk that Saudi Arabia might turn to the US and buy some F-15s instead, or to the French and its Eurofighter rival, the Rafale.

The fact is that the sale of fighters to Saudi Arabia has largely determined British relations with the kingdom for more than 20 years.

There was a mutual interest. The Saudis liked to have an alternative supplier to the US, and Britain certainly liked the work. It has been worth many billions of pounds over the years and has kept tens of thousands in employment, as well as maintaining an expertise within the British aircraft industry.

And in the current state of crisis in the Middle East, with Saudi help needed to fight al-Qaeda and with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair set to take a final tour of the region, now was not the time to upset one of Britain's traditional allies. And harm British interests into the bargain.

Classic example

It was all done with a typically British deftness. It is a classic of its kind in diplomatic and legal history.

Late in the afternoon, the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith got up in the House of Lords and announced that the Serious Fraud Office had decided to give up its inquiries.

The decision has been taken, he said, "following representations that have been made both to the attorney general and the director concerning the need to safeguard national and international security. It has been necessary to balance the need to maintain the rule of law against the wider public interest. No weight has been given to commercial interests or to the national economic interest".

The words were carefully chosen, as Britain has signed up to an international convention saying that "national economic interest" cannot stand in the way of stopping corruption.

In questions afterwards, he made a great deal of his belief that no successful prosecution was likely in any event. This was designed to overcome objections that the inquiry had some way to go (18 months at least, according to the SFO).

He also revealed that he had consulted the prime minister and the foreign and defence secretaries and the heads of MI5 and MI6. The British ambassador to Saudi Arabia (Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles), he said, had been brought in to talk directly to the director of the Serious Fraud Office and his officials.

Yet, the attorney general affirmed, the decision had been for the Serious Fraud Office alone, who had not been "under pressure in any sense."

The Conservatives, who started big defence sales to the Saudis under the Al Yamamah ("The Dove") contract won by Margaret Thatcher in 1985, were supportive.

"There the matter should rest," declared Lord Kingsland after the attorney general's statement.

The Liberal Democrats were critical. Lord Goodhart called it "blackmail" by Saudi Arabia.


Lord Goldsmith was accused by the Liberal Democrat Lord Thomas of violating the international convention.

Lord Thomas pointed out that a comment by the attorney general that "continuation of the investigation would cause serious damage to UK/Saudi security, intelligence and diplomatic co-operation" contradicted Article 5 of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

This says that states should "not be influenced by considerations of national economic interest [or] the potential effect upon relations with another state".

Twenty-two minutes later, the debate was over and the Lords moved onto to talk about the "Technology Strategy Board".

Cue cynicism from around the world.

And we have been here before. In 2001 the British parliament passed the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act, which banned the bribery of officials aboard. Payments made before that law was passed did not result in any prosecutions either.

Nobody anywhere is therefore surprised at this new decision

Continued (Permanent Link)

Violence follows Hamas accusation

Violence follows Hamas accusation
Clashes have erupted between rival Palestinian factions after Hamas accused Fatah of trying to assassinate Prime Minister Ismail Haniya of Hamas.

Hamas accused Fatah's Mohammad Dahlan of organising an attack on Mr Haniya as he crossed into Gaza from Egypt.

Hospitals in the West Bank town of Ramallah said 32 people were injured in clashes there. Fighting was also reported in Gaza City.

The clashes come as Hamas marks the 19th anniversary of its founding.

Tens of thousands of supporters gathered in a Gaza City football stadium to hear Mr Haniya speak.

Hamas gunmen patrolled the streets of the city as the group put on a show of strength following Thursday's attack on Mr Haniya.

"We tell all those who believe in the logic of assassination that this does not scare even little children in Hamas," he told the crowds.

"We did not join this movement to become ministers but rather to become martyrs."

One bodyguard was killed and Mr Haniya's son was among five injured in the gun battle at the Rafah border crossing.

'Grave threat'

The violence in Ramallah on Friday came as Hamas supporters attempted to march towards the centre of town, reports said.

Their path was blocked by security forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority (PA) president and head of Fatah.

Fighting broke out, with hospital officials saying that at least 32 people were injured by gunfire and stone-throwing.

Shooting also erupted in Gaza City between masked Hamas gunmen and PA police allied to Fatah.

Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan had earlier said the attack at Rafah was "an assassination attempt carried out by traitors led by Mohammad Dahlan".

Mr Dahlan is a former Palestinian Authority security chief and a fierce critic of Hamas.

In the 1990s he led a crackdown on militants who refused to acknowledge the new PA.

He has rejected the Hamas accusations, saying the governing party was trying to "mask its failures".

A Fatah spokesman said the attack was a "grave threat" to Palestinian unity, and called for an official investigation.

Mr Abbas said he regretted the attack, but Hamas said he had to share some responsibility.

Chaotic scenes

Inter-faction tensions have increased since the killing of three sons of a pro-Fatah security chief on Monday.

Mr Haniya had tried to cut short his first trip abroad as prime minister to deal with the crisis.

But Israel on Thursday closed the Gaza border, saying the reported $30m (£15.3m) Mr Haniya was carrying in donations as he returned from his foreign trip would fund "terrorist operations".

When Mr Haniya eventually crossed late in the evening, without the money, guards allied to Fatah exchanged fire with Mr Haniya's security forces.

Mr Haniya was shielded by his bodyguards, one of whom died after being hit.

Hamas, a militant Islamic group, won elections in January, but has faced a Western aid boycott after refusing to renounce violence and recognise Israel.

The Palestinian Authority has been unable to pay full salaries to its 165,000 workers.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Iraq - Arab-Israeli Peace Linkage - in which direction?


Almost everyone who knows, seems to agree that there is linkage between the Iraq fiasco and the Israeli-Arab conflict. There is linkage, but not in the direction that they think there is linkage.

The Iraq Study Group report proclaims, "The United States will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless the United States deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Like so much else in the report, the statement is backed by nothing more than the authority of the study group. No logical reasons are given as to why, if the Israeli-Arab conflict is solved, the Sunni and the Shia and the Kurds of Iraq will lie down together, and a little child shall lead them.

In the New York Times, Ethan Bronner tells us Israel Is Not Linked to Iraq, Except That It Is. Except that Bronner pulls a bait and switch ploy. His article doesn't hardly mention Iraq. All the linkage that is discussed is linkage to the Iranian problem:

... Mr. Olmert called for the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state and said he would seek the help of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other gulf countries to make that a reality.

For the first time he praised elements of a 2002 Saudi-sponsored plan calling for full diplomatic relations between all Arab states and Israel in exchange for such a Palestinian state (under certain conditions). Senior Israeli officials have met in recent months not only with Jordanians and Egyptians but - most notably - with Saudis.

The reason: Israel's overriding concern is the rise of Iran and its nuclear program, especially because Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has called often for Israel to be wiped off the map and has dismissed the Holocaust as a myth.
"The Saudis are saying to us, 'We are afraid of Iran and want to work with you
but the Palestinian issue has to be solved,' " a senior Israeli official said...

The unstated assumption is that Iran is behind the unrest in Iraq. But all the orthodox thinkers, and especially the Iraq Study Group, would be the first to protest that Iran is only a small part of the problem - they are taking advantage of the situation perhaps, but surely, they didn't cause the disaffection of the Sunni minority.

Continued here

Continued (Permanent Link)

Carter Movie - Truth is stranger and worse than fiction

15.12. 2006
Original content copyright by the author
Zionism & Israel Center

What could be worse news for Zionists than a defamatory, one sided, anti-Israel book by a former US President, Nobel prize winner and sainted hero of the downtrodden?

How about a defamatory, one sided, anti-Israel movie about the the book by a former US President, Nobel prize winner and sainted hero of the downtrodden?

When I wrote facetiously that the "Israel Lobby" of Mearsheimer and Walt would be turned into a movie, little did my sclerotic, unimaginative and slow-working brain imagine how dangerously close I was to the abysmal truth. The people who made Al Gore's movie are busy filming Jimmy Carter's book tour.
According to Reuters:

"He Comes in Peace," from "The Silence of the Lambs" director Jonathan Demme, is being produced by Participant Prods., the socially conscious firm behind the hit Al Gore documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."

Demme and his crew will join Carter on his book tour for "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," which hit shelves November 14. At the same time, Carter, who has written more than 20 books, will speak about how to achieve peace in the Mideast and his lifelong philosophy of human compassion.

Carter's book about Israeli "apartheid" and the oppressed Palestinians is already around #9 in the Amazon sales ranking. Carter is touring the country with the same "gentle" message, "I just wanted to provoke discussion." Indeed he did provoke discussion.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Analysis: Building up force is PA Chairman Abbas' top priority

Maybe so - but can he control it, and against whom will it be used??

Last update - 03:31 15/12/2006
Analysis: Building up force is PA Chairman Abbas' top priority
By Danny Rubenstein, Haaretz Correspondent

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is expected to deliver an important speech on Friday in which he will adopt aggressive language and issue a warning to Hamas that will stop short of threateningthe use of violence, sources close to him say.

Abbas is expected to raise the possibility that he will recommend new elections or a referendum on the current state of affairs in the Palestinian Authority and its Hamas-led government, which some Palestinian observers have described as one of the bleakest in the modern political history of the Palestinian people.

The incidents in Rafah on Thursday were further proof that Hamas and Fatah are in the midst of a violent confrontation that is one step away from spiraling into civil war. The incidents at the Rafah crossing and its subsequent closing by Israel in order to prevent Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh from transferring suitcases full of cash into the Gaza Strip, led to angry responses by the Palestinians.When news of the closure was broadcast this afternoon, a vendor at the New Gate in the Old City in Jerusalem cried out: "Do the Israelis want to starve us? Haniyeh is bringing in money for people who want to eat. Where else in the world is there such cruelty?"

The anger against Israel is undermining the political power of Abbas who is calling for negotiations with Israel and peaceful coexistence. Aides to Abbas from the Fatah leadership have already concluded that there is no way of avoiding a direct and violent confrontation with Hamas. But Abbas would first like to organize his military and political power. To thatend, he is trying to quickly raise large sums of funds
that will serve as a counterweight to the money Hamas received from Iran and other Muslim contributors.

Palestinian sources say that Saudi Arabia has promised Abbas funds that will allow him to pay salaries and build his military force. In view of the crisis there are also rumors that the jailed Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti, will be released as an Israeli gesture to bolster Abbas' standing, and prevent Hamas from reaping the political benefit of his release as part of a deal for Gilad Shalit.

Abbas will not order the dissolution of the current Palestinian government before he and his supporters are confident in their power to deal with Hamas, in the street and at the polls, and this will not occur for some months, sources close to the Palestinian leader say.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Saudi ex-ambassador urged no US talks with Iran

Saudi ex-ambassador urged no US talks with Iran
Agence France-Presse - 15 December, 2006

The US State Department said Saudi Arabia's former ambassador here recently
visited Washington, adding spice to reports he was involved in a power
struggle which caused his successor to quit.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, was the kingdom's top envoy to the United States
for 22 years until 2004. The Washington Post reported Thursday he was in the
US capital recently to counsel top officials against heeding mounting calls
for talks with Iran or Syria.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack reluctantly confirmed Prince
Bandar met Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, when pressed by reporters,
but refused to divulge the substance of their conversation.

"I can't tell you the last time that he and the secretary met," McCormack
said. "I'm sure that it's been within the past several weeks, but I can't
tell you exactly when."

The Post quoted diplomats as saying many Saudis believed Syria had betrayed
the Arab world by leaning closer to Iran in recent months.

Saudi Arabia has shown increasing signs of concern over Tehran's growing
influence with Iraqi Shiite leaders, and its nuclear showdown with the West.

Interestingly, the mission of Prince Bandar, current Saudi national security
advisor, seems to directly conflict, on Iran, at least, with recent
statements on Tehran by his successor as ambassador Prince Turki al-Faisal.

Prince Turki set off a diplomatic mystery on Monday by suddenly resigning
and leaving the United States for what were a Saudi official said were
"personal reasons."

Among several theories about his departure, was a report that he was locked
in a political feud with Bandar.

Signs of differences over Iran may hint at some of the reasons behind any
clash, as Prince Turki has publicly urged the United States to enter into
dialogue with Iran.

"Saudi Arabia talks to Iran frequently and frankly," Prince Turki said
during an an appearance at the Center for Strategic and International
Studies on October 4.

"I think for the United States not to talk to Iran is a mistake. We've found
in our experience that when we did not talk to Iran -- our relations were
broken for a period of a few years in the '90s -- we had more troubles with
each other.

"But since then, our relationship has improved dramatically and beneficially
for both our countries. So we think that negotiation and talking to people
is more important than shutting the doors on them."

The United States is at loggerheads with the Islamic Republic over a series
of issues, including Tehran's nuclear program, and also claims Tehran is
deliberately fanning extremism in Iraq and the wider Middle East.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Iran Holocaust Denial Conference Plans Berlin-Based Foundation

Special Dispatch-Iran/Antisemitism Documentation Project
December 15, 2006
No. 1397

Iran Holocaust Denial Conference Announces Plan to Establish World Foundation for Holocaust Studies - To Be Eventually Based in Berlin and Headed by Iranian Presidential Advisor Mohammad-Ali Ramin Who Has Said: "The Resolution of the Holocaust Issue Will End in the Destruction of Israel"

To view this Special Dispatch in HTML, visit: .

On December 14, 2006 the Iranian news agency IRNA reported, in English, that participants in the Iranian Holocaust Denial conference, dubbed "Holocaust: A Global Vision," had announced the establishment of a "world foundation for Holocaust studies" and appointed Presidential Advisor Mohammad-Ali Ramin as its secretary-general.

According to IRNA, Ramin said that "one of the plans of the foundation is to assign a committee to find out the truth about the holocaust [sic]," and noted that its main office will be in Tehran, and that it "will eventually be transferred to Berlin, once proper grounds are prepared." 

Ali Ramin was the subject of a June 15, 2006 Special Dispatch by MEMRI based on a June 9, 2006 article in the reformist online daily Rooz. It reported that during a visit with students at Gilan University in Rasht, Iran, Mohammad-Ali Ramin had discussed historical accusations against the Jews and questioned the Holocaust.

The following are excerpts from the Rooz article:(1)

"Throughout History, This Religious Group [i.e. the Jews] has Inflicted the Most Damage on the Human Race"

"On a visit to Gilan University, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's advisor Mohammad Ali Ramin said to a group of students in the town of Rasht: 'We Iranians are definitely not, and never have been, nationalistic, and we are not against any ethnic [group]. We certainly do not worship race, nor [are we] against any race, and we nave never perpetrated genocide. This is why Islam, which appeared and advanced [the notion of] equality among nations and among peoples, greatly appealed to us Iranians. We have accepted the [principle] of equality among nations since the days of the Achaemenids.(2) Antisemitism, therefore, has no place in our Iranian [culture]. I myself honestly fight for just treatment of Judaism. Ten years ago, [when] I first brought up the issue of the Holocaust in this country, my intention was to defend the Jews...

"'But among the Jews there have always been those who killed God's prophets and who opposed justice and righteousness. Throughout history, this religious group has inflicted the most damage on the human race, while some groups within it engaged in plotting against other nations and ethnic groups to cause cruelty, malice and wickedness.

"'Historically, there are many accusations against the Jews. For example, it was said that they were the source for such deadly diseases as the plague and typhus. This is because the Jews are very filthy people. For a time people also said that they poisoned water wells belonging to Christians and thus killed them,' Ramin said.

"Ramin also pointed that powerful people also concocted other plots to mislead public opinion around the world.'When the Islamic Revolution of Iran succeeded and attracted many people around the world, including Christians, the AIDS epidemic came about, and fear again overtook the world. After the September 11 attacks, the deadly epidemic broke out, which was destroyed when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. On the eve of the invasion of Iran, the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) illness broke out, but disappeared after the invasion,' he said."

"Nobody Asks How a Bird Infected with the Flu Could Fly From Australia to Siberia"

"Ramin also claimed that the spread of avian flu was a conspiracy plot cause[d] by the failure of America, Israel and Britain in the Middle East. Ramin pointed out that, to cover up and hide their failures, these countries have spread the news about the bird flu and thus preoccupied and distracted public opinion for some 5 to 6 months. 'Nobody asks how a bird infected with the flu could fly from Australia to Siberia,' he said, adding that even the Iranian minister of health had claimed to have stopped the disease at Iran's borders. He claimed the holocaust story and bird flu rumors are interrelated. He stated that the killing of millions of chickens was intended to control the price and amount [of] chicken in the market."

"In Order to Deny the Germans the Ability to Increase Their Power, the British and Americans Present Them as a Human-Burning Nation"

"While acknowledging not knowing the source of these events around the world, Ramin said, 'I only know that Jews have been accused of such conspiracies and sabotage throughout history and have not performed well.' Repeating the president's claims about the Holocaust, he presented four theories that can be brought in support of these claims:

"The first theory is that, in order to deny the Germans the ability to increase their power, 'the British and Americans present them as a human-burning nation.'

"The second theory is that the Americans and the British have cooked up this story along with the Zionists, so as to create the state of Israel in the middle of the Islamic world and thus control the Islamic world using the pretext of the Holocaust, while also getting rid of the Jews from Europe...

"The third hypothesis relates to the traditional animosity between Christians and Jews.'The U.S. and Britain, with the cooperation of France, Russia and Germany, and because of their Christian leanings and animosity towards the Jews, initiated the idea of the Holocaust after the Second World War in order to scare off the Jews and send them to what is now Israel in order to get rid of them in Europe and America,' he said. He further said that the movement that created Israel is in fact against the Jews.

"The fourth theory relates to covering up the crimes of the U.S. and Britain. Ramin claimed that Britain killed some 100 million Red Indians in the last 300 years, and the U.S. leveled Hiroshima - which, he said, were the real Holocausts...

"Ramin added that the aim of the Holocaust conspiracy was to facilitate the establishment of the state of Israel, which would, in turn, provoke the Muslims to rise up, confront the Jews, and massacre them. 'This [conspiracy],' he said, 'conducted by Europe and America, would lead to the total annihilation of global Jewry." Ramin added that 'as a religious Muslim, who believes in the equality of all nations, he must alert [people] to the fact that the state of Israel was established as the result of a conspiracy against the Jews...'"

"The Resolution of the Holocaust Issue Will End in the Destruction of Israel"

"Ramin claimed that the Holocaust was the main reason why Palestine was occupied, while Israel was the main cause of crises and catastrophe in the Middle East.'So long as Israel exists in the region,' he said, 'there will never be peace and security in the Middle East. So the resolution of the Holocaust issue will end in the destruction of Israel.'

"Turning to President Ahmadinejad's comments on the Holocaust, Ramin said that he criticized the president for making those comments. 'We do not know whether the Holocaust happened or not and so must find out in order to defend the injured party. My suggestion to him,' he said, 'was to set up an investigative committee on this to collect the supporting documents...

"He added that 'before [President] Ahmadinejad placed the issue of the Holocaust [on the global agenda], they [i.e. the West] were always the prosecutors, while we [Muslims] were always [in the position of] the accused. But now Ahmadinejad has enabled us to [take the position of] prosecutors, and challenge the West.

"Ramin also stated that 'many still fail to realize that Iran [now] has an unprecedented and extraordinary opportunity. Raising the issue of the Holocaust will give us a opportunity of global [proportions] to defend the rights of an oppressed nation - [either] the Germans or the Jews - and I hope that lecturers, intellectuals, students and all the Iranian citizens will be aware of this opportunity for change."

(1) , May 30, 2006. , June 9, 2006. Excerpts from the Rooz article in English have been lightly edited for style.
(2) The Achaemenid dynasty ruled Persia between 538 and 331 BCE.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East.  Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.

MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC 20038-7837
Phone: (202) 955-9070
Fax: (202) 955-9077
Search previous MEMRI publications at

Continued (Permanent Link)

Deep Roots of Holocaust Denial for Iran’s True Believer - Ahmadinejad

December 14, 2006
News Analysis
Deep Roots of Denial for Iran's True Believer

CAIRO, Dec. 13 — Iran's so-called Holocaust conference this week was billed as a chance to force the West to reconsider the historical record and, thereby, the legitimacy of Israel. But why would the Iranians invite speakers with so little credibility in the West, including a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and disgraced European scholars?

That question misses the point. Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, portrays participants like David Duke, the former Louisiana Klan leader, and Robert Faurisson of France, who has devoted his life to trying to prove that the Nazi gas chambers were a myth, as silenced truth-tellers whose stories expose Western leaders as the hypocrites he considers them to be.
Just as Soviet leaders used to invite Americans who suffered racial or political discrimination to Moscow to embarrass Washington, Mr. Ahmadinejad seems to enjoy pointing out that countries like Germany, France and Austria claim to champion free debate yet have made
Holocaust denial illegal.
He has also repeatedly tried to draw a moral equivalency between questioning the Holocaust and the decision in Europe last year to publish cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad. It wins him favor at home and across the Arab world for standing up to the West and allows him to present himself as morally superior to the West.
But there is another important point. Mr. Ahmadinejad actually seems to believe that the volumes of documentation, testimony and living memory of the Nazi genocide are at best exaggerated and part of a Zionist conspiracy to falsify history so as to create the case for Israel. As a former member of the Revolutionary Guards, he was indoctrinated with such thinking, a political analyst in Tehran said, and as a radical student leader, he championed such a view.
Now he has a platform to promote the theories — and to try to position himself regionally as the reasonable man who is asking hard questions.
The two-day meeting included no attempt to come to terms with the nature of the well-documented Nazi slaughter, offering only a platform to those pursuing the fantasy that it never happened. In addition, the organizers of the conference, a small circle around the president, have been building ties with neo-Nazi groups in Europe.
"He is connected to people in Iran who trust his way of doing things and who seriously believe the Holocaust did not take place," said Martin Ebbing, a German journalist in Tehran who has closely followed the president. "They seriously believe it."
Evidence of that came in a revealing interview last May with the German magazine Der Spiegel. The interviewer mostly wanted to discuss Iran's nuclear ambitions and the government's refusal to give up uranium enrichment, but the discussion kept returning to the Holocaust. At one point, the exasperated interviewer actually lectured the Iranian president on Germany's culpability.
"In our view, there is no doubt that the Germans — unfortunately — bear the guilt for the murder of six million," the interviewer said to Mr. Ahmadinejad.
The president gave little ground, saying Germans should rid themselves of such guilt. "I will only accept something as truth if I am actually convinced of it," he said.
Across the Middle East, contempt for Jews and Zionism is widespread and utterly mainstream. Many say the Holocaust has been wildly exaggerated and used to justify the creation of the Jewish state in 1948 at the expense of Palestinians, a move viewed as yet another example of Western imperialism.
Anti-Western rage fueled the 1979 Iranian revolution, and Mr. Ahmadinejad has tried to rekindle its energy by spreading Iran's influence beyond its borders. Battling Washington, chiding Arab leaders and claiming to promote the Palestinian cause have made him extremely popular on the
streets from Cairo to Morocco.
Such actions have also helped turn attention away from his inability so far to deliver on promises of economic populism, including a redistribution of wealth and greater social justice for the bulk of the country that is struggling to make ends meet.
The president's ideas do not resonate in all corners of Iran, though, and some political scientists there say they have embarrassed officials who, even if they agree, do not want to see a focus on Holocaust denial further isolate Iran from Europe.
"I raise two questions about this conference," said Ahmad Shirzad, a reformist politician and former legislator. "First, how much does this solve the problems our people are faced with? And secondly, which one of our goals were realized? It looks like he wants to make news and do provocative things."
Others see an even more ambitious post-Iraq agenda reflected in Mr. Ahmadinejad's high profile on the issues of Jews, the Holocaust and Israel.
"It is for public consumption in Arab countries," said Mustafa El-Labbad, editor of Sharqnameh, a magazine specializing in Iranian affairs and published in Cairo. "It is specifically directed toward deepening the gap between the people and their regimes and toward embarrassing the rulers so that the regional power vacuum, especially after Iraq, can be filled by Iran."
Mona el-Naggar contributed reporting from Cairo, and Nazila Fathi from Tehran.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Haniyeh bodyguard killed [by Fatah] as convoy comes under fire entering Gaza

Haniyeh bodyguard killed as convoy comes under fire entering Gaza
By Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff and Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondents, and
Last update - 01:24 15/12/2006

A bodyguard of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was shot dead Thursday night when Haniyeh's convoy came under fire as he returned to Gaza from Egypt, after spending hours waiting to cross the border.

The convoy came under fire as it passed the Rafah border crossing, and it was forced to speed away.

Hamas officials said the 24-year-old guard was shot in the head during intense gunfire from Fatah forces. "The bodyguard to Ismail Haniyeh was killed during an assassination attempt," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

The Palestinian prime minister had been delayed for hours on the Egyptian side of Rafah, after Israel prevented him from entering Gaza with $35 million in funds raised on a trip to Muslim states.

Arriving home around midnight after a long day at the crossing, Haniyeh appeared furious over the gunfire at his convoy. He blamed Israel for the delay but added, "we know the party that shot directly at our cars, injuring some of the people with me... and we also know how to deal with this."

About 50 gunmen greeted Haniyeh at his home in a refugee camp next to Gaza City, firing in the air and throwing candies.

Israel, which triggered the closure of the border to prevent Haniyeh's passage with the money, agreed Thursday evening to allow him to cross if he left the money in Egypt.

Security sources in Israel said that Hamas officials who will attempt in the future to bypass the economic embargo on the Palestinian Authority will also not be allowed to cross back into the Gaza Strip.

Maria Telleria, spokeswoman for European monitors at the crossing, confirmed Haniyeh left the funds in Egypt. Hamas sources said the money had stayed in Egypt with two delegation officials, who would sort out what to do with it.
Israel Radio said that the money would be transferred Friday to the bank account of the Arab League in Cairo.

The delay of Haniyeh's passage sparked gunbattles at the border as Hamas gunmen, enraged by the Israel-imposed ban, seized control of the terminal and exchanged fire with both Egyptian officers and guards of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

More than two dozen people, including the Haniyeh's son, Abed, 27, were wounded in the fighting, deepening factional violence that has pushed the rival Hamas and Fatah parties closer to civil war. An official said that the
son was not badly hurt.

Egypt said its border troops had fired in the air to prevent Palestinians from crossing from Gaza.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz had instructed the Israel Defense Forces to stop Palestinians entering Gaza via the Rafah border crossing, in order to prevent Haniyeh from crossing with the money.

"We are awaiting the return of the Europeans [monitors] so that we can cross tonight," Haniyeh told a Hamas radio station earlier Thursday evening. "Soon I will be with you."

Israeli security sources said that the decision to close the border was made to stop the cash transfer, not to prevent Haniyeh's return.

The head of Egypt's intelligence service, Omar Suleiman, had contacted Israeli officials in order to find a solution that would allow Haniyeh to return to the Strip.

Hamas has refused to meet the conditions for lifting an economic boycott imposed by the international community in the wake of its January election win, namely recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and accepting previously signed interim peace agreements.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Haniyeh's attempt to take the cash into Gaza "flies in the face of the will of the international community in terms of the rules that it has laid down."

Gunbattles on the border

Hamas militants burst into the Rafah border terminal Thursday evening, sparking a gunbattle with guards before taking control of the crossing.

Travelers at the terminal dove for cover and a top Hamas official furiously tried to persuade the militants to disperse.

Speaking on the radio, Haniyeh called on the gunmen to leave the area so the monitors could return.

In the chaos of the first attack, two loud explosions rocked the border area, and security officials said militants had blown a hole in the border fence about one kilometer from the terminal.

Hours later, gunfire erupted again at the border. Witnesses said Hamas gunmen were firing at the Egyptian side of the border, drawing return fire from the Egyptians and presidential guards from the rival Fatah movement.

During the battle, masked gunmen in three cars and a bulldozer stormed the terminal, witnesses said.

The gunmen went on a rampage inside the building, destroying computers and furniture insid and plunging the area into darkness, the witnesses said.

Palestinian official Hani Jabour, a coordinator at the Rafah crossing, said Israeli authorities closed the border after Haniyeh told Egyptian authorities he was carrying the money.

Haniyeh's premature return to Gaza midway through his first tour abroad since becoming prime minister came in the wake of rising tensions between Hamas and Fatah.

The economic boycott on the Palestinian Authority has forced the group to raise funds overseas in order to cover its ongoing expenditure.

Other senior Hamas officials have in recent months taken into Gaza millions of dollars raised overseas for this purpose.

On Wednesday, Haniyeh told a press conference in Khartum that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has pledged $10 million to the Palestinian government and the Palestinian people.

In addition, Iran made a pledge to Haniyeh earlier this week of $250 million for the Hamas government.

Israel concerned about Hamas ties with Iran

The security establishment has voiced its concern over the emergence of closer ties between Hamas and Iran, as Haniyeh's visit to Tehran this week is viewed by Israel as a possible step by them towards establish a strategic pact.

Israel considers the closer ties between Hamas and Iran as a move of defiance against the international community resulting in part from the
group's success in overcoming the international economic boycott.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel to refuse Egyptian troop request

Israel to refuse Egyptian troop request
yaakov katz and herb keinon, THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 15, 2006

Citing a lack of manpower as the reason behind the failure to curb weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip, Egypt plans to ask Israel to significantly increase the Border Police force along the Philadelphi Corridor in talks scheduled to be held between the sides in the coming weeks, The Jerusalem
Post has learned.

Israel, according to government sources, does not feel Egypt needs additional troops on the border, but rather needs to make more effective use of the troops already there.

"It's not a matter of more manpower," one official said, "it's a matter of being active, not passive."

According to defense sources involved in the talks with the Egyptians, IDF officers from the Southern Command will meet in the coming weeks with their Egyptian counterparts to summarize the past year, since Egypt deployed 750 border policemen along the 14-kilometer stretch of desert between Rafah and Sinai.

"We are not satisfied with the Egyptian conduct along the border and believe they can do more to stop the smuggling," said an official close to the talks.

At present the Egyptians are effective if given concrete intelligence information by Israel about where smuggling is taking place, sources said, but they don't take the initiative on their own. For instance, the sources said, the Egyptians will not make random patrols in certain neighborhoods on the Egyptian side of the border to stake out a presence and act as deterrence.

Unless there is an overall change in Egyptian policy, the sources said, this passive approach won't change, regardless of whether there are 750 additional troops near the border, or 1,750.

The Camp David Accords spelled out in great detail the number of security personnel and amounts of weaponry allowed into the demilitarized Sinai, and  Israel is very reluctant to let Egypt introduce additional troops in the region beyond the 750 security personnel that were allowed in last year.

Meanwhile Thursday - ahead of the deployment of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Presidential Guard at the Karni Crossing - defense officials blasted Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, the US security coordinator to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, for "not doing enough" to prevent Palestinian terrorism.

According to these officials, Dayton, who has been stationed in Israel for almost a year, has so far failed to "provide the goods" in helping to create a strong military force under Abbas's authority and capable of confronting the Hamas military wing.

Dayton, who oversees the US training of Abbas's forces, has explained that the PA leader's private army is supposed to be a counterweight to Hamas and to ensure the perpetuation of moderate forces in the Palestinian territories.

"The Presidential Guard is not doing anything in the Gaza Strip," said one senior defense official. "I hope Dayton can come up with a solution and increase the number of soldiers while getting the Palestinians to improve the level of security in Gaza."

While it wasn't Dayton's responsibility to enforce order in the Gaza Strip, the official said: "If Dayton is providing the Palestinians with weapons and equipment, then he should ensure that they use it against terrorists."

Continued (Permanent Link)

New UN chief denounces Iran for denying Holocaust, threatening Israel

Let's hope the UN is off to a new start with Israel. But this is not official (yet). Kofi Anna is still the Secretary General.

Last update - 22:11 14/12/2006
New UN chief denounces Iran for denying Holocaust,
threatening Israel
By Reuters

UNITED NATIONS - Incoming United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Iran on Thursday it was unacceptable to deny that the Holocaust took place or to call for Israel to be wiped off the map.

Ban was responding to a question asked at a news conference about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who since coming to power in August last year has caused an outcry by terming the Holocaust a "myth" and calling Israel a "tumor" in the Middle

Ahmadinejad just ended a two-day international conference on the Holocaust that was dominated by speakers who questioned the extermination of 6 million Jews by the Nazis in World War Two.
"Denying historical facts especially on such an important subject as the Holocaust is just not acceptable," Ban said.

"Nor is it acceptable to call for the elimination of states or people," Ban said. "I would like to see this fundamental principle respected in both rhetoric and practice by all the members of the international community."

A former South Korean foreign minister, Ban spoke to reporters after he took an oath of office in the UN
General Assembly as secretary-general to succeed Kofi Annan. He assumes his post on January 1.

Ban left open the possibility of visiting Tehran on a series of issues.

"Whenever and when the situation requires me to do, I am prepared to engage in dialogue with the Iranian people," he said.

But he avoided commenting on questions about Iran's nuclear ambitions, now the subject of a resolution before the UN Security Council.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Does UPS Deliver to Settlements? Yes, apparently

Does UPS Deliver to Settlements? Yes, apparently.
A statement that was supposedly made by a UPS customer representative claimed that UPS does not deliver to Jewish settlements.
This was denied by UP representatives in Israel and the USA, who insisted that UPS delivers just about everywhere.
A full statement from UPS is below.
December 13, 2006

UPS offers worldwide express service to and from Israel to both residential and business addresses and a domestic
service within Israel through its authorized service contractor, O.P.S.I. International Handling Limited.

Regrettably, information provided recently by UPS customer service representatives regarding UPS's service territory in Israel was incorrect.

This is currently being resolved.

Through O.P.S.I., UPS covers 99% of the population in Israel outside the West Bank, except for a few remote areas in the Golan Heights and the Negev Desert, where it would be cost prohibitive to provide service. Only remote areas in the West Bank with very low population density are not covered - on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides. In the West Bank, UPS's service reaches over 80% of the population and covers approximately 60% of the territory, including the Gush EtZion area.

All packages coming from abroad are delivered into all areas of Yehuda and Shomron. This includes Gush EtZion. Customers residing in this area DO NOT have to go to Jerusalem to pickup their shipments.

UPS does not tolerate any type of discrimination and would not associate with any parties who did not embrace UPS's concern for fairness and equality.

John Flick
Director, UPS International Public Relations

Continued (Permanent Link)

Hardliners turn on Ahmadinejad for watching women dancers

Hardliners turn on Ahmadinejad for watching women dancers

Robert Tait in Tehran
Tuesday December 5, 2006
The Guardian 
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, who flaunts his ideological fervour, has been accused of undermining Iran's Islamic revolution after television footage appeared to show him watching a female song and dance show.
The famously austere Mr Ahmadinejad has been criticised by his own allies after attending the lavish opening ceremony of the Asian games in Qatar, a sporting competition involving 13,000 athletes from 39 countries. The ceremony featured Indian and Egyptian dancers and female vocalists. Many were not wearing veils.

Women are forbidden to sing and dance before a male audience under Iran's Islamic legal code. Officials are expected to excuse themselves from such engagements when abroad but TV pictures showed Mr Ahmadinejad sitting with President Bashar Assad of Syria and Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, during last Friday's ceremony in Doha.
Religious fundamentalists, usually Mr Ahmadinejad's keenest supporters, are asking why he attended a ceremony that violated his own government's strict interpretation of Shia Islam.
The Baztab website, considered close to Mohsen Rezaee, a former revolutionary guard commander with links to powerful sections of Iran's political hierarchy, said Mr Ahmadinejad's presence had offended Shias in Iran and elsewhere. "The failure of Ahmadinejad to object and his constant presence has damaged the image of Iran's Islamic revolution and its commitment to Islamic rules in contrast with the Arab countries in the Gulf," it said.
The president's aides insist he was not present during the singing and dancing. His press secretary, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, claimed Mr Ahmadinejad had left for Doha airport before the performance.
However, Baztab posted footage which purported to show Mr Ahmadinejad in his seat after the show. Jalal Yahyazadeh, a rightwing MP, said: "We have heard from some sources that Ahmadinejad was in the stadium at the time. Those who created the conditions for his presence should be investigated as quickly as possible."

Continued (Permanent Link)

PA promotion of women terrorists - "Even our women are stronger than the Zionists"

Palestinian Media Watch Report - Dec. 14, 2006

"Even our women are stronger  than the Zionists." (PA TV)

Special Report:
Palestinian women terrorists glorified
as heroines and role models

by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
Palestinian Media Watch
p:+972 2 625 4140e:
f: +972 2 624 2803w:

The recent suicide terror attacks by two Palestinian women, including
57-year-old grandmother Fatima Najar, has brought the subject of women
terrorists to the forefront of Palestinian consciousness. This is part of a longstanding pattern in which PA society routinely turns terrorists into heroes and role models, naming schools, sporting events, streets and even poetry collections for terrorists.

TV programming and newspapers, controlled by both Hamas and Fatah,
enthusiastically cheer these terrorists and their murders, while endorsing
and encouraging women to follow in their terrorist footsteps:

"In Beit Hanun we gave the [world] the Palestinian women's revolution... the
Palestinian woman was not satisfied with what she gave, she gave her son and
her husband and her brothers - she was not satisfied with that. but she
wanted to be on the front lines, next to the man." [PA TV, November 14, 2006]

PA broadcast this interview with a man on the street:
"Our children, our women, our men - they are all potential Martyrs... I say
to the entire world - the Jews are weaker than you imagine. Even our women
are stronger than the Zionists." [PA TV, November 10, 2006]

The Hamas daily used the following headline to introduce one story:
"The Female Shahida (Martyr) 'Um Tha'ir' said to her sisters: 'Go forward,
go forward, as today is my wedding and the Shahada my desire!'" [Al-Risalah,
November 13, 2006]

The reference to her wedding is based on the Islamic teaching that the male
Muslim Martyr, the Shahid - is rewarded with 72 dark-eyed maidens, and a
repeated PA teaching that the female Martyrs will greet and marry a male

Click here to see the video:

The current actions by women have sparked articles recalling the names and
actions of past female terrorists. These earlier terrorists are featured as
the precursors to the new heroines, who in turn are being portrayed as role
models for the future.

Past female terrorists recently recalled as heroines and role models

Dalal al-Maghribi - Her bus hijacking killed 36 vacationing Israelis (1978)
Wafa Idris - First female suicide terrorist killed 1, wounded 90 (2002)
Ayaat al-Akhras - Youngest female suicide terrorist, age 17, killed 2 (2002)
Hanadi Jaradat - Suicide terrorist, killed 21, wounded 48 (2003)
Andalib Taqatiqah - Suicide terrorist, killed 6, wounded 60 (2002)
Re'em Al-Riyashi - Suicide terrorist, killed 4, wounded 10 (2004)
HibaDaraghimahSuicide terrorist, killed 3, wounded 50 (2003)

The repeating theme is that the actions of the new terrorists are a
continuation of the earlier feats of women terrorists, as well as an
inspiration and a precedent for the coming generations:

"In the streets of Beit Hanun, a side of the beautiful look of the
Palestinian woman was displayed. It is the look of resistance [terror].
Since beauty has power, as proven in the past by Dalal [Al-Mughrabi] and her
sisters, when they set the precedent for the Beit Hanun women of the
present." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, November 14, 2006]

Dalal al-Mughrabi

The more brazen and successful the attack, the more it is promoted as heroic
and exemplary. Dalal al-Mughrabi, mentioned above, holds a special place of
honor in Palestinian society. She participated in a 1975 terror attack that
killed 36, which remains one of the most murderous in Israel's history.

There are a number of girls' schools named for Mughrabi, and numerous TV
programs and quizzes for children have glorified her since the establishment
of the Palestinian Authority. This recent article glorified her
participation in the bus hijacking and admiringly credits her with the

". a hostage operation on the Palestinian shore. She [Dalal al-Mughrabi]
managed to get to the main road, leading to Tel-Aviv, she took over an
Israeli bus and its passengers, who were soldiers and held them hostage. a
real war took place, during which Dalal blew up the bus with all the
passengers inside. They were all killed." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, November 7,

Facts are often distorted to increase the heroism. In this case, the 36
killed on the hijacked bus were not soldiers, but families on a vacation
outing. Note also that the official PA daily still defines Israel's Northern
coast as "Palestine."

Wafa Idris

Wafa Idris, the first woman suicide terrorist, has a unique place among the
women's honor roll. Suicide terror was seen as something that young women
dreamed of but never attempted, until Wafa Idris broke the taboo in 2002 and
became the first woman suicide terrorist. She paved the way for others in
this "magnificent convoy":

"The Shahada dreams of young women kept coming into the mind of many of
them, until Wafa Idris trained this magnificent convoy during the Al Aqsa
Intifada in 2002. After that, Darin Abu Ishah followed in her footsteps in
2002. This is how the young women competed amongst themselves and in the
skies of Palestine their luster shined: Ayyat Al-Akhras, Andalib Taqatiqah,
Hibah Daraghimah, Hinadi Jaradat, Reem Al-Riyashi." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida,
November 7, 2006]

Palestinian women's terror today is said to be the model for all Arabs. The
actions of these female Palestinian terrorists are presented as a role model
for all Arabs, and the vanguard of new approaches to jihad:

"The Palestinian woman continues setting the example and model for preparing
Shahids and Jihad warriors. They [women of Beit Hanun] rushed, without even
thinking about their lives. or about the death or injury awaiting them. The
women left. to set an example and show another way in the art of Jihad and
resistance (terror)." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, November 7, 2006]
They are compared to Al Khansa, another heroine of Arab history, who
celebrated the deaths of her four sons for Allah:
"Oh, Arabs!... Did the Khansas of Beit Hanun not wake you from your deep
slumber? When will the Arab weapon appear. to announce the dawn of a new
era? The rust ate away at these Arab weapons, which are not displayed except
during marches. [Here] these are Zionist soldiers, well armed and well
trained, running away from the battle thwarted by the Khansas of Palestine,
who accomplished, with their courage and power an Arab victory to serve as
an example and model in this time of Arab self-abasement." [Al-Hayat
Al-Jadida, November 7, 2006]

Continued (Permanent Link)

PA foreign minister: Cease-fire just a liberation tactic 14-Dec-2006

PA foreign minister: Cease-fire just a liberation tactic 14-Dec-2006
14/12/2006 20:33:02
[Source: Israel MFA]

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Mahmoud a-Zahar declared this week that the present cease-fire (hudna) does not constitute recognition of Israel, but is rather one of a number of tactical steps on the way to the "complete liberation" of Palestine.

"We as Muslims are the owners of this land and we shall not give up a single handful of Palestinian soil," Zahar told students at Gaza City's Islamic University on Sunday (10 Dec).

He declared that a solution to the conflict is not the creation of a Palestinian state according to the 1967 boundaries, but the total liberation of "all Palestinian lands" -- a popular euphemism for the territory "occupied" by the State of Israel. The establishment of a Palestinian state would be followed by an "Islamic cultural enterprise."

Zahar told the students that Israelis have already begun to question whether Israel will continue to exist in the next few coming decades.

Zahar demanded that the PA renounce all agreements it signed with Israel, which he said have brought disaster upon the Palestinian people. In addition, he rejected any type of security coordination with Israel, which he termed "a betrayal of the homeland."

PA Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs Salah Alrakab told the students that Islam forbids signing a peace agreement with Jews, because "The conflict with the Jews is a religious, existential struggle and is not a conflict over borders." At most, he said, Islamic law permits signing a temporary hudna (cease-fire).

The Jews have no claim to a Land of Israel but that stated in the Torah, he continued, which has already been proven to be a forgery. Liberation of the land will be accomplished only by jihad through the general mobilization of the Islamic nation, he said, which is the shortest way to restore Palestinian rights and shrink "the greed of the Jews."

Continued (Permanent Link)

The Role of Holocaust Denial in the Ideology and Strategy of The Iranian Regime

Inquiry & Analysis-Iran/ Antisemitism Documentation Project
December 15, 2006
No. 307

The Role of Holocaust Denial in the Ideology and Strategy of The Iranian Regime

By Yigal Carmon* .

Today, December 14, 2006, a symposium titled "Holocaust Denial: Paving the Way to Genocide" was held at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. MEMRI President and Founder Yigal Carmon spoke at the symposium.

The following are his remarks:

The persistent Holocaust denial of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad raises a vital question that needs to be addressed: What function does this denial serve in the ideology of the Iranian regime and in its strategy? The answer to this question bears cardinal importance to the future of the State of Israel.

When we, at The Middle East Media Research Institute, collect and analyze the statements made by Ahmadinejad and others in the Iranian regime, we can distinguish two major goals, both of which lead to the same conclusion: the Iranian regime's Holocaust denial is not a manifestation of irrational hatred, but a premeditated and cold-blooded instrument to achieve its goals.

Denial of Israel's Legitimacy

The first of these goals is the attempt to deny any legitimacy to the creation and continued existence of the State of Israel as a safe haven for the Jews after the Holocaust. In order to achieve this goal, he proclaims that no Holocaust occurred, and that if Jews were indeed harmed in World War II - a claim that requires thorough and "objective" research - this was no different than the experience of others in World War II. At any rate, Ahmadinejad and other top Iranian officials claim that this "myth" cannot justify the establishment of Israel in Palestine.

Elimination of the Zionist Entity, i.e. Israel

The second goal is - as often proclaimed by Ahmadinejad - to "wipe Israel off the map." His Holocaust denial is therefore planned, intentional, and premeditated. He is aware that as long as the world remembers the Holocaust, it will resist any new attempt to perpetrate another genocide against the Jews. Thus, eradicating the memory of the Holocaust is essential in order to achieve his goal.


In order for Ahmadinejad to bring his plans to fruition, however, he has to demonize the Jews and the State of Israel. Demonization is a necessary precondition for genocide. As we well know, Hitler first engaged in a major campaign of demonization of the Jews before actually murdering them en masse. Ahmadinejad and the Iranian regime are taking the same path, and are conducting a similar virulent, antisemitic campaign of demonization.

To this end, Iranian state-controlled television produces various TV series dedicated to the demonization of Jews. These include classic blood libels, depicting Jews as using the blood of non-Jewish children to bake their Passover matzos, and as kidnapping non-Jewish children to steal their body parts. Jews are reduced to sub-human levels, depicted as pigs and apes. They are accused of persecuting the Prophet Muhammad in voodoo ritualistic scenes, and as tormenting a historic figure reminiscent of Jesus on the Cross. All these TV series exist alongside others that deny the Holocaust.

Again, it should be stressed that all these phenomena are interrelated, and are state-directed at the highest level. It is most indicative that Ahmadinejad's first public appearance after coming to power was made before television producers.

All this is done in order to achieve the goal of demonization of Jews and Israel, which, as I mentioned earlier, is vital for their elimination. However, it is not possible to demonize a people as long as it is viewed as a victim of the Holocaust. Therefore, as long as the Jews are perceived as victims of the Holocaust, this demonization cannot take root. Holocaust denial is thus vital, in order to wipe out the image of the Jews as victims.

This is the reason why these three elements - Holocaust denial, the elimination of the State of Israel, and demonization of the Jews - are constantly present in statements by Ahmadinejad and other senior Iranian officials.

Let us hear the Iranians in their own words. True, many of these statements have already circulated separately in the media. But hearing them together, in the context I have just outlined, will enable us to understand their function and significance within the ideology and strategy of the Iranian regime.

In his well-known speech at the Iranian "World Without Zionism" conference on October 23, 2005, Ahmadinejad laid out his views on the State of Israel. It is an absolute evil, a tool in the hands of the West to dominate the Muslims. In reply to those who ask if it is indeed possible to bring about a world without America and Zionism, he says: "You had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and can surely be achieved."

Later, he cites Khomeini: "The Imam said: 'This regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history.'" Commenting on this statement by his spiritual mentor, Ahmadinejad says: "This sentence is very wise. The issue of Palestine is not an issue on which we can compromise." Later he adds, "Very soon this stain of disgrace [i.e. Israel] will be purged from the center of the Islamic world - and this is attainable." This speech clearly announced the ultimate goal: the elimination of Israel.

At the Organization of the Islamic Conference meeting, which took place in Mecca in early December 2005, Ahmadinejad made statements that explicitly tied this goal with Holocaust denial: "Some European countries are insisting on saying that Hitler burned millions of oppressed Jews in crematoria. They insist so much on this issue that if someone proves the opposite, they convict him and throw him into prison. Although we do not accept this claim, let's assume that it is true, and we ask the Europeans: Does the killing of oppressed Jews by Hitler [justify] their support for the regime that is occupying Jerusalem?..."

This statement by Ahmadinejad is telling. The implication is that the Holocaust is the only justification for the existence of Israel. The line, therefore, is twofold: a) the Holocaust is a myth, and b) even if it is true, it cannot justify Israel's existence. In either case, Ahmadinejad's primary obsession is not with the Holocaust, but with Israel's very existence. If the Holocaust gets in the way of achieving this goal, it must be denied.

Later on in the same speech, he adds: "If you [Europeans] think that you committed an injustice against the Jews, why must the Muslims and the Palestinians pay the price for it? All right, you oppressed [the Jews]. So put some of Europe at the disposal of this Zionist regime..." Again, the guiding principle is that Israel cannot exist. Holocaust denial is important to Ahmadinejad because the Holocaust lends moral justification to the creation and continued existence of the State of Israel.

In the speech you saw earlier on the DVD, from December 14, 2005, Ahmadinejad once again linked these two elements together. He calls the Holocaust a "myth," but also adds: "If you [Europeans] are correct in saying that you killed six million Jews in World War II... If you committed a crime, it is only appropriate that you place a piece of your land at their disposal - in Europe, America, Canada, or Alaska..." Once again, Holocaust denial is important to Ahmadinejad first and foremost as a means of de-legitimizing Israel's existence, and since the goal is the elimination of Israel, the speech includes the necessary element of demonization as well.

Then the Iranian president takes pains to portray the Jews as the true oppressors, and not as victims. "Zionism itself is a Western ideology and a colonialist idea, with secular ideas and fascist methods, which was founded by the English. So far, with the help and direct guidance of America and part of Europe, [Zionism] is slaughtering the Muslims." Later on in the speech, he says: "An important question that the Western countries and media must answer clearly is: What crime did they [i.e. the West] commit at that time [i.e. WWII] that the Zionists are not committing today? In essence, Zionism is a new Fascism..."

This, therefore, is Ahmadinejad's truth: the Zionists are the true oppressors and murderers. But while at times Ahmadinejad claims to differentiate between Zionists and Jews in general, in truth, this campaign of demonization uses and abuses history to depict Jews throughout the ages - not Zionists alone - as oppressors and murderers.

As you have just seen in the DVD, the true Holocaust, as portrayed by Ahmadinejad, was committed by the Jews: for example, by the Jewish king of Yemen, Yosef Dhu Nuwas, who, he claims, burned the Christians in the early days of Christianity, and by the Iranian Jews, as described in the Book of Esther. Moreover, Jews in modern times are continuing their murderous ways: killing large numbers of Christian children in London and Paris - again, as you saw with your own eyes - in order to procure blood for Passover matzos.

To sum up, Holocaust denial is an inextricable part of demonization, on the way to the final goal: the elimination of Israel.

All these elements figure prominently in the identity and works of those invited by the Iranian regime to the Holocaust denial conference in Tehran. First and foremost is their explicit opposition to Israel's existence. This is why members of the anti-Zionist Jewish sect of Neturei Karta were invited, following the ongoing, strong ties maintained by the Iranian regime with them. Then comes the demonization of Jews in order to justify the agenda of elimination. Thus the invitation of Holocaust deniers, such as Frederick Toben, who not only denies the Holocaust, but also claims that the Jews intentionally spread the AIDS virus in the U.S.

In essence, the speech made by Ahmadinejad at the Holocaust denial conference best illustrates the role of Holocaust denial in the ideology and strategy of the Iranian regime. He begins his speech by addressing the Holocaust deniers participating in the conference: "Iran is your home, and here you can express your opinions freely, in a friendly manner and in a free atmosphere." Then, without batting an eyelid, he adds: "The life-curve of the Zionist regime has begun its descent, and it is now on a downward slope towards its fall... I tell you now... the Zionist regime will be wiped out, and humanity will be liberated."


* Yigal Carmon is President of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East.  Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.

MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC 20038-7837
Phone: (202) 955-9070
Fax: (202) 955-9077
Search previous MEMRI publications at

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel: Haniyeh can enter Gaza, but without millions in cash

Last update - 21:34 14/12/2006
Israel: Haniyeh can enter Gaza, but without millions in cash
By Amos Harel and Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondents, and Agencies

Israel agreed Thursday evening to allow Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to cross from Egypt into the Gaza Strip, but without the $35 million in cash he had brought from a tour of Muslim states.
Meanwhile, gunbattles raged at the border Thursday night, as Hamas gunmen, enraged by the Israel-imposed ban on Haniyeh, seized control of the terminal and exchanged fire with guards of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the rival Fatah movement and Egyptian guards. The gunbattles left 18 people wounded.
Egyptian officials said troops were firing in the air to  prevent Palestinians from crossing from Gaza.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz had earlier instructed the Israel Defense Forces to stop Palestinians entering Gaza via the Rafah border crossing, in order to prevent Haniyeh from crossing with the money.
"We are awaiting the return of the Europeans [monitors] so that we can cross tonight," Haniyeh told a Hamas radio station. "Soon I will be with you."
Israel Radio reported that the money would be left in Egypt, and on Friday be transferred to the bank account of the Arab League in Cairo.
Israeli security sources said that the decision to close the border was made to stop the cash transfer, not to prevent Haniyeh's return.
The head of Egypt's intelligence service, Omar Suleiman, had contacted Israeli officials in order to find a solution that would allow Haniyeh to return to the Strip.
Gunbattles at battles
Hamas militants burst into the Rafah border terminal Thursday evening, sparking a gunbattle with guards before taking control of the crossing.
Travelers at the terminal dove for cover and a top Hamas official furiously tried to persuade the militants to disperse.
Following the gunbattle, European monitors said the border would not be reopened Thursday, though it appeared that Haniyeh might still be able to cross from Egypt.
Speaking on the radio, Haniyeh called on the gunmen to leave the area so the monitors could return.
In the chaos of the first attack, two loud explosions rocked the border area, and security officials said militants had blown a hole in the border fence about one kilometer from the terminal.
Hours later, gunfire erupted again at the border. Witnesses said Hamas gunmen were firing at the Egyptian side of the border, drawing return fire from the Egyptians and presidential guards from the rival Fatah movement.
During the battle, masked gunmen in three cars and a bulldozer stormed the terminal, witnesses said.
The gunmen went on a rampage inside the building, destroying computers and furniture insid and plunging the area into darkness, the witnesses said.
Palestinian official Hani Jabour, a coordinator at the Rafah crossing, said Israeli authorities closed the border after Haniyeh told Egyptian authorities he was carrying the money.
Haniyeh's premature return to Gaza midway through his first tour abroad since becoming prime minister came in the wake of rising tensions between Hamas and Fatah.
The economic boycott on the Palestinian Authority, imposed by the international community on Hamas since its victory in the parliamentary elections last January, has forced the group to raise funds overseas in order to cover its ongoing expenditure.
Other senior Hamas officials have in recent months taken into Gaza millions of dollars raised overseas for this purpose.
On Wednesday, Haniyeh told a press conference in Khartum that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has pledged $10 million to the Palestinian government and the Palestinian people.
In addition, Iran made a pledge to Haniyeh earlier this week of $250 million for the Hamas government.
Israel concerned about Hamas ties with Iran
The security establishment has voiced its concern over the emergence of closer ties between Hamas and Iran, as Haniyeh's visit to Tehran this week is viewed by Israel as a possible step by them towards establish a strategic pact.
Israel considers the closer ties between Hamas and Iran as a move of defiance against the international community resulting in part from the group's success in overcoming the international economic boycott.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Will the earth continue to shake?

Will the earth continue to shake?
By Avraham Tal
A few days after the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee and the Mossawa Advocacy Center for Arab Palestinian Citizens of Israel presented their "visions" of the future of Israel's Arab minority, Channel 1 screened Julie Gal's documentary "October's Cry" (in Hebrew, "In October the Earth Shook"), which presents the events of October 2000 from the point of view of the family of one of those killed, Asil Asala.
Many perceive the events of that October as a catalyst, if not a major factor, in the tendency of Arab organizations to formulate a new position for the Arab population as a unique national minority, with autonomy in various areas, in the context of a binational state. This tendency reverberates in the film as well, in the words of Hassan Asala, Asil's father, among others: "I come to transmit a message to the Jewish people, that on October 2, all the rules were broken, and they must begin to think how to accept us as a unique national minority."
The film, which brings home the tragedy of that October by means of pictures and sound describes the frustration of the Asala family, whose mourning was intensified because none of the policemen who helped put down the riots stood trial. As we know, the Or Commission recommended investigating the deaths of at least five of those killed in the riots, but the Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Department (PID) did not find sufficient evidence for bringing even a single policeman to trial.
It is hard to watch the film, and not only because it describes a genuine tragedy. It's also hard to watch because it provokes thoughts of other families who know similar suffering; it is hard to watch because it does not present the background of the riots, with the impression being created that Israeli Arabs were joining the Al-Aqsa intifada that had just begun; and it is particularly hard to hear Hassan Asala speak about his struggle to bring those responsible for the killing to judgment: "We will not give up and will continue until we can receive justice. If not the murderers, then their children will bear the responsibility. Those who claim that this is their country must understand that today there is a large opening for living together. In the future, I don't know what will happen. I don't want to think about it." On the one hand, an opening for living together; on the other hand, blaming the sons for the sins of the fathers, and, above all, frightening uncertainty regarding the future.
After prolonged efforts, the state reached a compromise agreement with 11 of the 13 families - not including the Asalas - regarding compensation, an agreement given the validity of a court decision. The state did not assume legal responsibility for the deaths, but agreed to pay hundreds of thousands of shekels to each family, beyond the letter of the law.
The agreement said: "All the parties regret the tragic events of October 2000, the loss of life and the injuries to civilians and to members of the security services that occurred during the course of the events." (The agreement did not prevent the families from continuing the struggle to bring those responsible for the killing to trial.) But this small step toward reconciliation was nipped in the bud: A few days later, under pressure from those around them, the families changed their minds about accepting compensation.
The State Prosecutor's Office is continuing to prepare an appeal against the PID decision to close the files on the policemen allegedly involved, and even added to the material in the decisive report by Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. However, the organization refused to join in preparation of the appeal due to lack of confidence in the prosecutor's office. And what if the investigation, as fair as it may be, does not result, six years after the events, in sufficient evidence to bring any of the policemen to trial?
The zealousness with which those involved are conducting the struggle, like the desire to fulfill the "visions" presented by the Israeli Arab organizations, reinforce a fear the earth will continue to shake. We can only hold on to the hope that the mass of Arab citizens will understand the future does not lie in undermining the institutions and symbols of the state, but in realizing their right to civic equality without discrimination and without being shortchanged.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Qassam strikes Sderot, damaging buildings, cars

20:29 14/12/2006   

Qassam strikes Sderot, damaging buildings, cars
By Mijal Grinberg and Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and The Associated Press

A Qassam rocket fired from northern Gaza struck the Negev town of Sderot on Thursday evening, damaging buildings and vehicles.
Four people were also treated for shock.
Early Thursday morning, a rocket fired from Gaza hit the western Negev, damaging property on a local kibbutz but causing no injuries.
Since the cease-fire took hold on November 26, Palestinian
 militants have fired more than 20 rockets at Israel, according to the IDF's count, causing no casualties.
Israeli security orces on Thursday killed two Palestinians in separate incidents in the West Bank, leaving at least two bystanders wounded.
In the first incident, Special Police Unit troops dressed as civilians killed a 26-year-old Palestinian member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in the West Bank city of Nablus, Palestinian witnesses and medical officials said. A 10-year-old boy was one of at least two bystanders wounded.
Earlier Thursday, Israel Defense Forces troops killed a Palestinian during a confrontation with stone throwers in the West Bank, Palestinian security sources and hospital officials said.
The IDF said Wahib al-Deek, 27, was killed in the village of Kafr al-Deek, near the settlement city of Ariel. Al-Deek was shot while throwing stones, the army said.
He was wounded in the chest and died on the way to hospital, Palestinian officials said.
The army said soldiers in the village encountered a riot, with residents throwing stones and cinder blocks, but had no information indicating that troops had opened fire.
"There was a violent confrontation, and rocks and breeze blocks were thrown at our soldiers. We are still checking the report on the casualty," the spokesman said.
Israel has pressed its raids against suspected militants and patrols in the West Bank despite a truce declared last month in the Gaza Strip.
Troops thwart attempted terror attack
IDF troops discovered eight kilograms of explosives in the West Bank early Thursday, which were apparently intended to be used in a Fatah terror attack in Israel proper.
The troops discovered the explosives during a search of a car at a checkpoint east of Nablus. The four Palestinians riding in the vehicle were taken in for questioning.
Border Police sappers detonated the explosives in a controlled manner.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Top Tanzim Terrorist Killed During IDF Arrest Operation

November 14th, 2006
Attributed to "security sources" [Provided by the IDF Spokesperson]

Top Tanzim terrorist killed during IDF arrest operation

This afternoon ISA, IDF and special Border Police forces operated in Nablus
in order to arrest Muhammad Amin Muhammad Ramaha, head of Tanzim in the Ein
Beit Ilma refugee camp. The forces set up a roadblock in order to stop
Ramaha, but when Ramaha's vehicle arrived it bypassed the roadblock and
collided with another vehicle, injuring a number of civilians. As the forces
approached Ramaha's vehicle, he and one of his men opened fire at them. The
soldiers returned fire, killing the two, who had been armed with an M-16 and
a handgun.

Ramaha was involved in terror attacks and in attempted attacks in the Nablus
area and in Israel's home front. Ramaha continued to plan suicide bombings
during the recent ceasefire. He was planning a suicide bombing in the
immediate future which was being guided and funded by terrorists in the Gaza
Strip. An 8kg explosive device which was captured yesterday near Nablus had
been prepared by Ramaha and members of his infrastructure, and was intended
for use in a suicide bombing.

Following are a number of attacks planned by Ramaha's in the past months:

-A planned suicide bombing in Rehovot. The suicide bomber was arrested near
Nablus on July 30th while on his way to carry out the attack. The bomber
told investigators that Ramaha had recruited him for the attack and had
helped him to prepare for it.
-Mustafa Ramaha, arrested on July 9th, told investigators that Muhammad
Ramaha had appointed him to recruit potential bombers. Ramaha had also
presented him with an explosive belt and had offered that he serve as a
bomber himself.
-Amer Fahmawi was arrested on August 18th with 15,000 NIS in cash, which he
said was given to him by Ramaha in order to purchase weaponry.
-Hassan Taim, arrested on September 11th, told investigators that he had
bought 800 small metal parts to be used in explosive belts.
-Muhammad Galiz was arrested on October 22nd, a number of days before he was
due to carry out a suicide bombing. Galiz was instructed by Ramaha to carry
out the bombing against an IDF force in the Nablus area.

The Tanzim terror infrastructure in Ein Beit Ilma has carried out a number
of deadly terror attacks in the past few years and is continuing to plan
suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and daily attacks against IDF

Continued (Permanent Link)

Jimmy Carter talking "Peace" in new documentary

Jimmy Carter talking "Peace" in new documentary
12.05.2006 | Reuters
By Borys Kit and Nicole Sperling
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - President Jimmy Carter is the subject of a documentary that will follow him across the United States as he promotes his latest tome.
"He Comes in Peace," from "The Silence of the Lambs"director Jonathan Demme, is being produced by Participant Prods., the socially conscious firm behind the hit Al Gore documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."
Demme and his crew will join Carter on his book tour for "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," which hit shelves November 14. At the same time, Carter, who has written more than 20 books, will speak about how to achieve peace in the Mideast and his lifelong philosophy of human compassion.
Production began at Carter's home in Plains, Ga., on November 11 before the tour.
Demme is seeking what he calls an "experiential" approach, emphasizing spontaneity and veracity, and said he wants to avoid "talking heads."
"The president's book tour occurs at a crossroads where the world of religion intersects with global politics," Demme said. "This picture is just an extraordinary honor for me. I loved Carter when he was president, and I've loved him more and more since he left office. He makes me feel so proud to be an American."

Demme may be known for such dramatic works as "The Silence of the Lambs" and "Philadelphia," but he has taken detours into the documentary world with biographical portraits such as "Neil Young: Heart of Gold" and "The Agronomist."
Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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Poll Results: Rate Arab-Jewish relations of trust in Israel as bad - Jews: 83.1% Arabs 37.9%

[This poll was also reported in Jerusalem post]
Poll Results: Rate Arab-Jewish relations of trust in Israel as bad - Jews:
83.1% Arabs 37.9%
Dr. Aaron Lerner     Date:  14 December 2006

The following are the results of a telephone poll of a representative sample
of 500 Israeli Jews and 500 Israeli Arabs carried out by Market Watch
sponsored by the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel  for the upcoming Kedem Conference.  ICCI provided the
results to IMRA.

To what extent are you familiar with the principles of  (for Jews -
Islam/Christianity, for Arab - Judaism):

Greatly familiar 10.6% Considerably 14.2%
To an extent 35.6%
Little 19.1% Barely 3.5% Not at all 15.4%
Refuse reply 1.7%

Greatly familiar 3.6% Considerably 13.4%
To an extent 32.4%
Little 20.3% Barely 12.1% Not at all 15.2%
Refuse reply 3.0%

Does the lack of familiarity with the principles of  the religions cause a worsening of the Jewish-Arab conflict in Israel?

Absolutely yes 15.5% Yes 32.6%
Think no 28.0% Certain no 19.2%
No reply 4.6%

Absolutely yes 17.2% Yes 25.6%
Think no 25.1% Certain no 13.2%
No reply 18.9%

How would you describe the relationship of trust between Jews and Arabs in
the country today?

Very Good 1.3% Good 14.4% Bad 43.9% Very bad 39.2%
Refuse reply 1.3%

Very Good 5.4% Good 46.8% Bad 27.6% Very bad 10.3%
Refuse reply 9.9%

To what extent do you think that religious leaders can contribute to the
building of trust between Jews and Arabs in the country?

Very much 29.2% Considerably 23.5%
Middle 19.2%
Little 11.0% Very little 14.4%
Refuse reply 2.7%

Very much 15.7% Considerably 17.2%
Middle 35.2%
Little 9.1% Very little 6.8%
Refuse reply 15.9%

Do you support or oppose that education students and students in school
learn about members of other faiths?

Jews: Support 80.7% Oppose 17.8% Refuse reply 1.5%

Arabs: Support 85.0% Oppose 10.6% Refuse reply 4.4%

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Continued (Permanent Link)

Most Israeli Jews don't trust Israeli Arabs

Poll: Most Israeli Jews don't trust Israeli Arabs Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 14, 2006

Eighty-three percent of Jews in Israel don't trust Israeli Arabs, a poll
conducted by the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel ahead of an
interfaith conference Thursday revealed.

Slightly over half (52%) of Israeli Arabs said that they trusted Jews.

Approximately half of both Jews and Arabs said that the growing crisis
between religions resulted from a lack of religious tolerance, Army Radio

Continued (Permanent Link)

Poll of Labor Party members: 75%:19% Peretz should leave Defense Ministry

Poll of Labor Party members: 75%:19% Peretz should leave Defense Ministry
Dr. Aaron Lerner     Date:  14 December 2006

Telephone poll of a representative sample of 527 Labor Party members carried
out by Maagar Mohot Survey Institute (headed by Professor Yitzchak Katz for
Israel Radio's "Its all Talk" on 13 December 2006.  Statistical error +/-
4.5 percentage points.

Should Amir Peretz leave the Ministry of Defense and take instead a social
Yes 75% No 19% Other 6%

If Amir Peretz leaves the Ministry of defense, who among the following
should take his place?
Ayalon 45% Barak 25% Ben Eliezer 14% Other 16%

In the next Knesset elections, should the Labor Party run independently or
combined with Meretz-Yachad?
Independent 61% Joint list 31% Other 8%

In the next Knesset elections, should the Labor Party run independently or
combined with Kadima?
Independent 79% Joint list 13% Other 8%

Should the primaries for the head of the Labor Party and its candidate for
prime minister be held end March or end May 2007?
End March 37% End May 37% Other 26%

If primaries were held today  for the head of the Labor Party and its
candidate for prime minister who would you vote for?

Ayalon 26% Pines 19% Peretz 16% Barak 14% Braverman 9% Yatom 4% Other 12%

Ayalon 63% Peretz 24% Other 13%

Ayalon 48% Pines 36% Other 16%

Ayalon 63% Barak 21% Other 16%

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Continued (Permanent Link)

Victims of the failure of politics

Victims of the failure of politics
By Hilary Benn

Two conversations will remain with me as a result of my visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. One was with the mayor of Sderot, who told me how his town had seen 3,500 rocket attacks and 16 deaths in the last six years. The other, after a short journey to Gaza, was in Beit Hanun, where I met the family that tragically lost 19 members when a shell came through the roof of their home. A mother showed me where her 8-year-old son died as he slept. A father showed me photographs of his two daughters who also had been killed.
Sderot and Beit Hanun are terrible examples of the grim front line of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Two communities, both of which have suffered terribly, have been deeply affected, and are yearning for an end to the cycle of hopelessness.
They are the victims of the failure of politics. And it is very clear to me that ordinary people want their leaders to show them a way out of this terrible conflict.

For the people of Israel, the failure of politics means continued fear and uncertainty that no wall, checkpoint or road closure can prevent. For Palestinians, the failure of politics has crippled the economy and caused untold hardship. Agricultural exports cannot leave Gaza; revenues for public services have not been transferred. And the ongoing military activity causes grief and pain.
Furthermore, the failure of politics means that unless this terrible conflict is solved, it will continue to be a beacon and excuse for extremism and terrorism across the globe.
Peace is the only solution: a two-state solution that provides for a safe and secure Israel, recognized across the world, and a democratic and viable Palestinian state living in peace and prosperity with its neighbor.
This week, many people on both sides pleaded with me to have the international community broker this solution. We will do everything we can, but a solution cannot be imposed externally. Peace must come from within, with courage, vision and leadership on both sides. The international community will then do everything it can to support the process.
But such a peace is not possible while the elected leadership of the Palestinian Authority - Hamas - does not agree to renounce violence or to recognize Israel and prior agreements, including the road map. These Quartet principles are essential first steps.
At the same time, Israeli actions that fuel Palestinian resentment, such as settling on Palestinian land, withholding revenues and tightening restrictions on movement and access, must be addressed, too.
The UK remains committed to supporting all efforts toward peace. We welcome Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's speech on November 27, and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' attempts to to form a national unity government. Both leaders are trying to move in the right direction, and the UK stands ready to support them.
Prime Minister Tony Blair made it clear during his last visit here, and on many other occasions, that this remains a top UK priority. And while the UK and other donors cannot provide aid to the Palestinian Authority until it supports the Quartet principles, we will not abandon the ordinary Palestinians. The UK is one of the largest European Union donors, and provided a total of more than $120 million this year.
Some say that since Hamas came into power, the international community has cut its aid. This is not true. EU aid has actually increased this year by 27 percent, to $865 million. The UK helped design the Temporary International Mechanism, which channels money directly to the Palestinian people, and is backing it with $24 million plus what we provide via the European Community. This helps support the costs of health, education and social services, as well as electricity, water, fuel for generators and allowances for some 12,000 poorer Palestinian workers.
I also committed yesterday to more than $150 million to help support Palestinian refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the next four years. That's enough money to run clinics serving 4 million people or schools for 70,000 students. The point is that whatever happens politically, we will not walk away from the Palestinian people.
But aid alone is not the solution. The Palestinians are the most heavily-aided nation per capita in the world, yet their suffering continues. The solution is a lasting peace, so Palestinians can move freely, get their goods to market and enjoy the prosperity they are capable of achieving.
My discussions in Sderot and Beit Hanun proved to me that Israelis and Palestinians are no different. The doctors, nurses and patients at Shifa hospital in Gaza were the same; so were teachers and pupils at the school at the Qalandiyah refugee camp in the West Bank. The message from all of them is clear: They want what we all want - a decent job, the opportunity to raise a family, to lead a fulfilled life, to contribute to their community and to society.
Politics must help them achieve these ambitions, and it is the job of leaders to make politics work. I know this is not easy. But I also know that history has shown that violence cannot solve conflicts. Only negotiation, compromise - and above all - political leadership can end the pain and suffering experienced by both Palestinians and Israelis.
The writer is British secretary of state for international development.

Continued (Permanent Link)

At war with women

At war with women

14 December 2006

A FORTNIGHT after being signed into law, the Women's Protection Act is still
raising hackles among Pakistan's many fundamentalists. As cynical observers
had predicted, the holy fathers decided not to deprive our assemblies of their
austere presence by resigning their seats as they had threatened to after the
passage of the bill.

But this bitter controversy underlines yet again the problems most Muslims
have about the position of women in their society. Why should placing rape in
the category of crimes requiring internationally accepted laws of evidence
cause such a frenzy? For 25 years, Pakistani women have had to suffer from the
absurd requirement of providing four male witnesses of 'impeccable character'
to prove they had been raped. Failure to do so exposed them to jail sentences
if found 'guilty' of fornication. Apart from the agony and suffering this law, imposed by the military dictator Zia in 1979, caused thousands of women, it also encouraged rape as rapists were hardly ever sentenced....

Those supporting these repressive laws will be delighted to learn that they
have like-minded counterparts in Niger. According to a recent news item, this
West African country, with a 95 per cent Muslim majority, has already rejected
the Maputo Protocol. And yet fundamentalists there are protesting against any
attempt to implement this plan of action. Adopted by African leaders in
Mozambique in 2003, this Protocol addresses human rights abuses on the
continent, and has a separate section on gender issues. A far-ranging set of
proposals, it seeks to eliminate the worst kind of abuses against women.
Approved by 13 of the signatories, it has met resistance in Muslim-majority
countries, especially for its pro-women charter.

Ibrahim Oumarou, a Niger mullah, and one of the organisers of the protest,
probably reflected the opinion of most Muslim men when he said: "Ulema cannot
accept a man saying that his wife and he are equal in the sharing of their
heritage. It's unimaginable."

Not long ago, I received an email from a woman in the US with a Muslim name.
She wrote that she was 24, and asked why she should remain a Muslim, given the
low status she saw in the scriptures accorded to her gender. Normally, I never
enter into a discussion about somebody's faith, or the lack of it as I don't
think it's any of my business. But as she had asked me a specific question, I
replied that for its time, the Holy Quran signified a huge step forward for
women as it codified their rights in a manner no other religion or society had
at that point in history. She replied that this was all very well, but I was
talking about a stage 1,400 years ago, and the world had moved on since then.
Women in non-Muslim societies now enjoyed far more rights than their Muslim
sisters, so why should she follow a faith that made her inferior to men?

I had no easy answer, and our correspondence ended on this note. The truth is
that for many Muslim women today, several Islamic provisions regarding the
laws of evidence and inheritance do appear to disadvantage them. And as Islam
gives men authority over women, the former are naturally reluctant to
contemplate a change in this set-up. Indeed, the entire social order is tilted
in favour of men, and when one community or sex wishes to redress the power
balance, an intense struggle takes place. This happened in the West over the
last century, as women fought for, and won, equal rights. But although Western
women are equal under the law, pockets of discrimination and gender bias

Historically, Muslim societies were not the only ones to treat women unjustly.
Across the world, these attitudes have held women back for millennia. But as
mankind moved from hunting-gathering to farming to industry to a
knowledge-based economy, physical strength gave way to education and
intelligence in determining an individual's place in society. Especially in
the last fifty years or so, it became clear that to unleash a society's
potential, half the population could not be locked up at home. A major reason
why Muslim countries continue to lag behind the rest of the world is because
their women are not being allowed to make a full contribution to progress.

We need to remember that many archaic attitudes towards women are in fact
based on tradition, not religion. Thus, the practice of wearing a veil varies
from one Muslim country to another. Female circumcision or clitoral mutilation
has no sanction in Islam. In fact, it is a pre-Islamic tribal practice
confined to parts of Africa. It was inflicted to ensure that women derived no
pleasure from sex, and would therefore be more likely to remain chaste. And
yet, fundamentalist African Muslims insist on having this barbaric operation
performed on young girls on religious grounds.

This confusion between social practices and religious edicts has harmed women
greatly. In order to retain their control over women, Muslim clerics have
consistently favoured the most harsh and retrogressive interpretation of the
scriptures. And since this suits most Muslim men, they do not join their women
in their struggle to bring these laws into conformity with the requirements of
natural justice. Those women daring to question the status quo are branded
'Westernised' and 'secular', as though these labels somehow lessen the force
of their argument. And all the while, men continue maintaining with a straight
face that somehow, these repressive laws and practices protect women.

International opinion and foreign pressure to bring about change are countered
by the assertion that these anti-women laws and practices are sanctioned by
religion. In fact, few of them are. And in any case, Islam allows for 'ijtihad',
or consensus to change earlier rulings. While the Taleban were probably the
harshest in suppressing women, Saudi Arabia does not lag far behind. A couple
of years ago, several Saudi school girls were burned to death when their
hostel caught fire at night, and they were not allowed to escape by the
morality police as they were not properly dressed. Women are not permitted to
drive or work alongside men.

So apart from the larger questions of equality and justice, the plain fact is
that if the Muslim world wishes to catch up with the rest of the world, it
will have to emancipate its women.

Irfan Husain is an eminent Pakistani writer based in London. He can be reached

Labels: ,

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Hizbullah, Hariri Advisors Trade Accusations [about Israel war]

Hizbullah, Hariri Advisors Trade Accusations
MP Saad Hariri's spokesman has slammed as "phony" and "fabricated" Hizbullah charges that Hariri was seeking to disarm the Shiite group in exchange for an end to Israel's summer war on Lebanon.
Hani Hammoud, Hariri's press advisor, quickly replied to accusations made Wednesday by Hassan Khalil, the political consultant to Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
Khalil displayed at a press conference a letter he claimed was written by Wissam al-Hassan, head of the Internal Security Forces' intelligence section, who worked as a Hariri courier during the July-Aug war between Israel and Hizbullah.
In the unsigned, handwritten letter al-Hassan wrote that Hariri wanted an answer regarding the "pledge of honor" on the issue of Hizbullah weapons.
Hammoud hit back at Khalil's allegations, saying they were "full of forgery that aims at turning facts upside down."
He said that Khalil has misquoted the letter, accusing him of linking the content of two separate messages addressed to Nasrallah from Hariri.
Hammoud said that Hariri had sent a verbal message to Nasrallah informing him of a decision being taken by the U.N. Security Council regarding the deployment of international forces in Lebanon under Chapter 7.
It was in that verbal message that Hariri expressed fear that the U.N. move "is a dangerous issue," Hammoud said.
Hariri and Prime Minister Fouad Saniora were involved in diplomatic efforts at that time to prevent such a move, Hammoud said, adding that the main problem was the "lack of trust" in Hizbullah by the international community.
Hammoud said that Hariri was trying to separate the issue of Hizbullah's weapons from the implementation of U.N. Security Council resolution 1559 and put it back on the Lebanese internal dialogue track.
He clarified that Hariri wanted a "pledge of honor" from Nasrallah to go back to discussing the future of Hizbullah weapons.
Beirut, 14 Dec 06, 13:57

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Netanyahu wants Iran president tried for genocide

Netanyahu wants Iran president tried for genocide
By Mazal Mualem

Likud chair MK Benjamin Netanyahu has summoned about 70 foreign diplomats stationed in Israel to a meeting next Tuesday, at which he will urge them to end their complacency and join Israel in an effort to halt Iran's nuclear program, which he says is aimed at genocide of the Jews.
The meeting is to be the first event in an international public relations campaign. It will include a proposal to file a complaint in the International Court of Justice against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for war crimes, and his plans to commit genocide will be presented.
The initiative will be presented by MK Danny Naveh (Likud) and Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, both of whom flew to the U.S. this week for a series of meetings to promote the idea.
Netanyahu's independent campaign is expected to embarrass the Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry, since it expresses a public lack of faith in the state's public relations policy on the Iran issue.
In private conversations, Netanyahu has claimed that Israel's public relations policy has failed because it has not led to organized international action, such as significant economic sanctions, against Iran.
In the past several months, particularly during last summer's war in Lebanon, Netanyahu avoided blunt attacks against the government, preferring to adopt a responsible, statesmanlike image. Now, too, he is careful to avoid remarks that could rebrand him as a bible thumper, but he also knows that he will have to position himself as an alternative leader by making bold moves and exploiting his high public opinion marks. Next Tuesday's meeting is an expression of this strategy.
"We must cry Gevalt before the entire world," Netanyahu said recently. "In 1938, Hitler didn't say he wanted to destroy [the Jews]; Ahmadinejad is saying clearly that this is his intention, and we aren't even shouting. At least call it a crime against humanity. We must make the world see that the issue here is a program for genocide."
In his conversations, Netanyahu often complains about the lack of diplomatic and public relations initiatives to strengthen Israel's deterrence. "The biggest problem is that the Iranian program is progressing unheeded, with no supreme Israeli effort to stop it. All the options must be readied; this must be our greatest effort and we must not be surprised, but nothing is being done."
Netanyahu says Israel must get the Americans to take action, not just with words but through an act of Congress.
He also calls for lobbying European and Russian public opinion in order to push through economic sanctions, such as halting Iranian petroleum exports.
With regard to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Netanyahu says, "There is a general sense of slack, as if there were no government. All previous prime ministers felt a supreme responsibility; they had an agenda. They were committed to the future of the State of Israel, with the exception of the current prime minister, who said the prime minister doesn't need an agenda. So why is he there? In my opinion, this is the first time that Israeli citizens have encountered a prime minister who is there simply because he is there."

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Labor's moment of truth

Labor's moment of truth
By Haaretz Editorial

The Labor Party's constitution stipulates that after Knesset elections in which a party candidate is not chosen to form the government, the party will hold early primaries to elect its leader. Amir Peretz has recently said that he would adhere to the party's constitution to the letter and that anyone who wishes to replace him would have to wait for the leadership primaries, which will be held exactly when the constitution dictates.
However, as the date of the primaries began to approach, "sources close to Peretz" started making statements doubting the need for them. Indeed, the party's constitution was made to be upheld. But in view of the fact that the situation in other parties is worse, and some parties' institutions are mere props while one person decides on the list of candidates, Peretz's desire to put himself up for reelection in six months has also weakened.
It is saddening to see that despite the existing tools and rules, personal motives prevail and interested parties can always find an interpretation to justify changing the rules of the game at the suitable moment. Thus Shimon Peres managed to prevent early primaries after losing the elections to Ariel Sharon, and thus Labor's central committee may decide tomorrow whether to hold the primaries in May 2007, as the constitution requires, or postpone them until Peretz's chances of winning improve.
In the past week, several petitions were filed against holding the primaries, using Peres' precedent as an argument for putting off the leadership face-off by 35 months. Now the party's central committee will have to decide whether to change the constitution. Some say this is not the time for dispute and contention, and that the party's ministers must be given a chance to rehabilitate the country and the Israel Defense Forces after the war in Lebanon.
Labor's central committee members must understand that the primaries are not merely an internal party affair, precisely because of the need to rehabilitate the public's confidence in the Israel Defense Forces, replace the chief of staff and learn the lessons from the failure of the war, which Peretz initiated and led, among others. They must understand that the primaries are not an internal affair precisely because it is clear today that Peretz should not have been defense minister to begin with and it is doubtful whether he understands his mistake even in retrospect.
Labor under Peretz's leadership is not succeeding in making an impression because the public, the army and the prime minister have no confidence in its leader. It has recently transpired that he cannot, or will not, even evacuate illegal outposts. His agreement to add Avigdor Lieberman to the cabinet in a position dealing with security issues also reflects Peretz's lack of authority and presence in the areas he is in charge of. Peretz entered office with a false, unfounded feeling of security and is continuing to behave in this manner even after the war. If he manages to rehabilitate his political power by putting off the primaries and holding a new membership census in Labor, it will appear that political wheeling and dealing is all he is good at.
Labor's central committee meeting is a moment of truth and an opportunity, because it provides an occasion to shake the government out of the stagnation of war encompassing it. It is also an opportunity to treat the candidacy for defense minister more seriously.

Continued (Permanent Link)

On the verge

On the verge
By Ari Shavit

A man likely to enter the White House in January 2009 analyzed the new situation in the Middle East earlier this week in Washington. The promising candidate for the presidency exhibited knowledge, intelligence and conviction. He described in minute detail the various aspects of the American failure in Iraq and listed the mistakes of the Bush administration, along with its weaknesses. However, when he was asked about the urgent issue of Iran, he had very little of substance to say. It's too late, he said. Perhaps it's much too late.
This is the way the wind is blowing on the Potomac. The Democrats are rejoicing over the fall of their foes, and the Republicans are licking their wounds. The realists - the opponents of democratization - are invading the city with Baker-Hamilton in the lead, while the neo-conservatives are preparing to fend them off in a holding action. However, both are up to their necks in Iraq. Neither are able to pay any sort of attention to any issue that is not Iraq. The Americans are well aware that Iran is there. They know full well that its time has come. However, following 45 months of fiasco on the Tigris, they have no emotional, nor intellectual, strength left for dealing with Iran. The superpower of the 20th century is bleeding, battered and bruised. It is approaching the moment of truth on Iran without determination or willpower; without leadership or vision.
This is also the case in Israel. Since the summer of 2002, Israel has known what stands before it. For more than four years Israel has known that it is faced with the greatest existential challenge since May 1948. However, for a long time now, Israel has been unable to come to its senses. At first it knew about Iran, but did not comprehend. Then came comprehension, but it did not act. In the end it took action, but failed. And, instead of taking advantage of the disengagement as a way of rallying the world against Iran, it continued on its trip from disengagement to convergence.
Just like the Americans, who for the past four years have wasted their enormous national resources on a baseless belief in democratization in Iraq, Israel wasted its limited national resources on a baseless belief in the unilateral withdrawal from the Palestinian Authority. Like the great democracy on the Potomac, so the little democracy in Givat Ram faces the moment of truth with Iran, lacking determination and willpower; without leadership or vision.
It is not too late. It is late, very late, but not too late. By chance, or perhaps not, Iran is facing certain technical difficulties. Over and over, its efforts to enrich uranium are being delayed. This allows the failing decision makers in Jerusalem and Washington to correct their errors. They still have the rare privilege of a second chance.
However, this second chance is also the final one. If in the coming months Israel and the United States fail to rally the West in taking immediate dramatic diplomatic action - the only choice they will be left with is unacceptable: either attack or come to terms with it, a bad choice and a terrible one.
It is not yet too late. Iran has two souls - the mosque and the bazaar. The great failure of the West in recent years lies in the fact that it did not make the Persian bazaar pay for the craziness of the Shi'ite mosque. To date the Iranian public has not been presented with a dilemma. It has not had to pay the cost of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's uranium adventure.
This must be changed immediately. Instead of an Israeli-American dilemma (to attack or not to attack), the dilemma must become an Iranian one (to have nukes and become poor, or to give up on nukes and become wealthy). However, in order to impose such a dilemma on the Iranians, it is necessary to rally the West in an unprecedented way. This is the sort of effort that neither the battered President George W. Bush nor the vacuous Ehud Olmert can lead.
Olmert's slip of the tongue over Israel's nuclear arms is just the tip of the iceberg. The prime minister has been conducting a wanton policy since he came to power. However, at this critical moment, the time is not right for settling scores. If Olmert can overcome himself and set up an emergency cabinet that can lead the strategic campaign he himself is unable to lead, he will stay in his post. If he does not do this - he should step down immediately. When the United States is confused and at a loss for options, Israel must be at its best. Every additional minute the current government exists endangers its raison d'etre.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Ahmadinejad meets with Neturei Karta

Ahmadinejad meets with Neturei Karta,7340,L-3340082,00.html

After Holocaust denial conference, warm meeting takes place between Iranian
president, ultra-Orthodox representatives in his office. Chief Rabbi Yona
Metzger calls on world rabbis to boycott Neturei Karta members who took part
in Tehran conference

Dudi Cohen Published: 12.14.06, 13:31

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met Thursday with Neturei Karta
representatives who arrived at the Holocaust denial conference held in Tehran
this week.

In photos taken by AFP, the Iranian president is seen shaking their hands and
talking to some of them.

In the Tehran conference, different "experts" expressed their doubts that the
Holocaust took place.

Israel's Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger on Wednesday night called on world rabbis
to reject Neturei Karta members who participated in the

Holocaust denial conference in Iran , saying they "sabotaged Israel" and
should not be allowed entrance to Temples.

"They betrayed the Jewish people and their heritage and particularly disgraced
the Shoah and desecrated its memory. They tried to stain the Jewish people,
who shy away from this low behavior, with their shameful behavior," Metzger

Neta Sela contributed to the report

Continued (Permanent Link)

Qassam lands in western Negev kibbutz

How would you like this in your backyard?

Qassam lands in western Negev kibbutz
YNET Published: 12.14.06, 05:54,7340,L-3339854,00.html

A Qassam rocket launched from the northern Gaza Strip early Thursday morning
landed in a private backyard in the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council.

No further reports of injuries or damages were available, but windows of
several buildings were shattered.

Continued (Permanent Link)

MERIA Journal V.10, N.4 (December 2006) Gat: Britain and the Occupied Territories After the 1967 War


Published by the GLORIA Center,
Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya

Volume 10, No. 4, Article 4/7 - December 2006
Total Circulation 23,500

Moshe Gat*

This article discusses the change in British policy towards Israel following Israel's victory in the 1967 War. It examines how prior to the Six Day war Britain and Israel enjoyed a friendly relationship characterized by the former's absolute commitment to maintaining stability in the Middle East. Britain supplied Israel with arms and gave political support in the United Nations as well as in the international forums. The article studies how following the war, Harold Wilson's government sought ways to minimize the damage Israel's victory had wrought to Britain's economic interests. This policy change was manifested in support of the Arab position regarding the territories captured by Israel in the course of the war.

From the end of the 1950s until the 1967 Six Day War, relations between Great Britain and Israel were friendly, in particular regarding British support for Israel's right to secure borders. This policy was expressed in arms shipments and political support for Israel at the United Nations in the conflict between Israel and its neighbors. The two countries generally conducted an ongoing dialogue to find ways to prevent flare-ups between the armed forces of Israel and its neighbors, which could have a negative impact on British interests in the region. These interests included--among others--the flow of oil; development of economic relations with Arab countries; and, primarily, checking Soviet penetration of the Middle East.


The Six Day War ended with a smarting Arab defeat, but also a serious corresponding blow to British economic interests in the region. In order to curtail the economic damage, for a short period after the war, the British government under Harold Wilson sought to disassociate itself from Britain's pro-Israel image by supporting the Arab position vis-a-vis the territories captured by Israel during the course of the war. This British position led to tensions between the British and Israeli governments. This tension reached a peak when Israel's Prime Minister Levi Eshkol labeled British Foreign Secretary George Brown as an enemy of Israel and charged that British policy sought to deny Israel its gains in the war and, in essence, to undermine Israel's very existence.

The article at hand seeks to examine British policy led by George Brown in regard to the occupied territories that reached its peak in UN Security Council Resolution 242 in November 1967.


After the 1956 Sinai Campaign, it was clear to the British government that the de-colonialization process was inevitable. While the Campaign did not result in the immediate relinquishment of the United Kingdom's hold on the Middle East, it did indicate that Britain's withdrawal from the region was only a matter of time. It pointed out that for this reason steps should be taken to do this gradually, in a manner that would minimize damage to British interests--many of which were shared by the West as a whole.[1] Great Britain maintained a military presence in the region that was designed to check Soviet expansion and penetration of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East as a whole, in order to ensure the free flow of oil from the region to the UK and Western Europe.[2]

Prime Minister Harold Macmillan voiced British strategy for maintaining peace and stability in the region in a May 1963 speech before Parliament. He said that "...her Majesty's Government [is] deeply interested in peace and stability in this area, and are opposed to the use of force or the threat of force there as elsewhere in the world..."[3]

The British government viewed Israel's military power as an important component in maintaining peace and stability in the region. Consequently, it did not refrain from sending arms to Israel and viewed this support as a vehicle for preventing war, or as the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan chose to term it, to contribute to the consolidation of stability.[4] This was expressed by the British Ambassador to Israel in a communication to the Foreign Office in which he wrote:

We do not give the Israelis arms because they are pro-Western or because we admire their achievement. We give them arms because our interest in the Middle East is to keep the place quiet and to prevent war. Anything which makes war in the Middle East more likely is against the interests of Western powers.[5]

The stability that the British so keenly sought to maintain was not, however, long-lasting, due to the conflict over water resources between Israel and its neighbors, a conflict which threatened the relatively lengthy period of stability that had preceded it. In late 1963, neighboring Arab states learned that Israel had completed construction of its National Water Carrier, designed to carry water from the Sea of Galilee to the south of Israel. The Arabs viewed Israel's water program as an "existential threat" to the Arab nation, as dangerous to their existence as was the establishment of the State of Israel itself in 1948.[6] In an emergency conference convened in Cairo in January 1964 to address the prevention of exploitation of water from the Sea of Galilee by Israel, Arab leaders approved as countermeasures the diversion of the headwaters of the Jordan River and the establishment of a Unified Arab Military Command to prepare a program for a military build-up of all Arab forces.[7] In essence, the water dispute set in motion dynamic forces within the Arab-Israeli conflict that had a decisive impact on the relationship between Israel and its neighbors. It pulled the region towards a relentless rise in tension, which ultimately culminated in full-scale war.[8]

The British government supported the Israeli position on the issue. Great Britain was of the opinion that the actions of the Israeli government were in keeping with international law,[9] and that attempts by the Arab states to divert the headwaters of the Jordan River flowing into the Sea of Galilee was a patent attempt to sabotage Israel's future development.[10] Nevertheless, the British government did not make this position public. British interests were too important to jeopardize them by supporting the Israeli position, no matter how justified. The best policy, it was surmised, was to maintain a low profile, or in practice to continue a policy of not taking a position siding with either side in the dispute. Such a policy, the British government surmised, would help preserve British interests in the Arab world.[11]

Nevertheless, maintaining a low profile and refraining from taking sides was interpreted by the Arabs as support for the Israeli position. The Arabs were distrustful towards the British, and memories of the Suez Campaign--in which Britain, France, and Israel had secretly coordinated their attack on Egypt together--were still fresh in their minds. They were aware that Great Britain was secretly providing arms to Israel. The Arabs believed that fundamentally, British policy was pro-Israel and anti-Arab. One of the most salient expressions of Great Britain's support of Israel in Arab eyes was Great Britain's attempts in the days prior to the start of the Six Day War to organize an international maritime task force that would break the blockade on the Tiran Straits at the mouth of the Red Sea.[12] 

Furthermore, on June 2, 1967, three days before the outbreak of war, Prime Minister Harold Wilson met with President Lyndon Johnson in Washington in a last ditch attempt to open the Tiran Straits to Israeli shipping and thus to avoid war. The meeting, which was fruitless, was viewed with suspicion in the Arab world and as a sign of a Suez-like conspiracy. In their minds, the British prime minister appeared to be leading an attempt to establish an anti-Arab coalition designed to serve Israel's objectives. The Egyptians, who had learned of the trip of Mossad Director General Meir Amit to Washington on May 30, saw such meetings as a clear case of "a Suez type plot" being woven by Great Britain, the United States, and Israel.[13]

It is instructive that, in any case, the Wilson-led government preferred an Israeli victory in a war with the Arabs. While such a victory would have a negative impact on the standing and interests of Great Britain, an Egyptian victory would be far graver. An Egyptian victory would pave the way for the collapse of pro-Western regimes, oil supply was liable to be disrupted, and such an outcome would surely bolster Soviet influence in the region.[14] The 1967 War between Israel and its neighbors indeed ended in an Israeli victory, but it inflicted a high economic price on Great Britain. One could even go so far as to say that the magnitude of economic damage done to Great Britain was of the same magnitude that the defeat dealt the Arabs. The closure of the Suez Canal caused serious economic losses, along with the Arab oil embargo, forcing Britain to buy oil from other, more expensive sources. Finally, the oil-rich Arab states began to withdraw their money from Britain's banks.


As soon as hostilities ceased, the Wilson Government's policy was to find ways to preserve Britain's vital interests. The Foreign Office defined these interests as a large and very profitable share of the oil operation, large Arab investment in London, a growing export market, ensured communications by sea and air to the east, and the denial of effective control of the area and its resources to the Communist powers.[15]

The British judged that they must act simultaneously along two paths: a comprehensive solution between Israel and its neighbors and rapid improvement of its image and realization of a rapprochement with the Arab world.[16] The preferred path was a comprehensive settlement. In their assessment, the dismal Arab defeat created conditions that could possibly bring about a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The assumption was that although the Israeli government was "dizzy with victory," it would be willing to return all the territories occupied in the course of the war. In the context of a comprehensive settlement, there would be a need to deal with the refugee issue. A solution to this problem would help remove general Arab bitterness, it was surmised.[17]

Very soon it became clear to the British government that a comprehensive peace was not on the horizon. The Arab states had yet to recover from their humiliating defeat in order to consider negotiation, let alone the direct negotiations that Israel demanded. The two primary superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, who viewed the Middle East as a theater of the Cold War, could not reach an agreement on the nature of a comprehensive settlement. The USSR demanded categorically, prior to any discussion on any arrangement between Israel and the Arabs, that Israel withdraw its forces from all territory occupied in the course of the war. The United States, on the other hand, held that the war had created an opportunity to achieve a more fundamental settlement between Israel and its neighbors. The American administration's strategy was that the return of occupied territories would only take place in exchange for a peace agreement, and it did not consider territorial changes out of the question.[18]

From the British standpoint, as long as the two superpowers were locked in a struggle, the possibility of a comprehensive settlement looked distant.[19] Therefore, they put their sights solidly on one immediate goal: protecting the national interests of Britain. Their aspiration was to achieve the same status that the French enjoyed in the Israeli-Arab conflict. The policy of French President Charles de Gaulle, they believed, was the way to go. The French general had succeeded in positioning France as an unaligned party vis-a-vis Israel and the Arabs. To be more precise, de Gaulle succeeded in preventing his government from being identified with Israeli policy, even before the outbreak of the war.[20]

If Great Britain harbored any fears as to the security and survivability of the State of Israel as it had prior to the war, this concern dissipated in its wake. The outcome of the Six Day War surprised the British to a certain extent. All indications pointed to the fact that Israel had the ability to deal with the Arab states, but the stunning blow it delivered was far greater than they had expected. It was assumed that in the future, Israel would be able to defend its existence and ensure its rights to unfettered passage through the Tiran Straits. Moreover, Israel enjoyed the support of the Americans, and American policy guaranteed Israel's existence and its rights as a nation.[21] Under such conditions, the British surmised, "there is no serious danger that either of these rights will be threatened for the foreseeable future, whether there is a peace settlement or not."[22]

"Unless we succeed in disassociating ourselves convincingly from Israel's action," said British Foreign Secretary George Brown, Great Britain would remain constantly under the threat of punitive actions by the Arabs. Not only that, but there was a pressing need to establish good relations with the Arab states as soon as possible. In the first stage, such overtures were to be accomplished by giving declarative expression to British policy towards the war and its outcome, as an indication of Great Britain's attitude towards the Arab world. That is to say, the British Government was to promulgate declarations which would be comparatively pleasing to the Arabs.[23] Officials in the Foreign Office recommended, for instance, that in order to improve relations with the Arab world as soon as possible, to ensure the opening of the Suez Canal and the supply of oil, Great Britain should condemn Israel as "the aggressor" on June 5:

On the lines that we have now examined that evidence, have come to the conclusion that the Israelis fired the first shot, and take the view that it was reprehensible of them not to wait for the efforts we and others were making to extricate them from the admittedly impossible situation in which the UAR had placed them.[24]

In addition, they recommended that the differences in outlook between Great Britain and Israel vis-a-vis the status of Jerusalem should be made as prominent as possible. The officials cited that the safest points on which to concentrate might be the need to keep Jerusalem an open city.[25]

The British foreign secretary did not go as far as his advisors in the Foreign Office suggested, although a declarative dimension was needed to appease the Arab world. On June 17, 1967, a week after the end of the war, the foreign secretary declared that there should not be an imposed solution, and that the war should not be allowed to lead to territorial expansion.[26] A more compelling expression of this sentiment was made in Foreign Secretary Brown's speech before the United Nations General Assembly on June 21, 1967. The foreign secretary turned to the Arabs and clarified that his country had not participated in the war on the Israeli side and that accusations of this kind caused damage to Britain's relations with its Arab friends. As for the outcome of the war, Brown said that the war should not lead to territorial expansion, and in short, demanded an Israeli withdrawal from the territories that had been occupied. He warned the Israeli government from taking steps vis-a-vis Jerusalem that would be counter to this principle. He added that should the Israeli government annex the eastern part of the city, as it intended to do, Israel would not only isolate itself from world public opinion, it would also loose the affection it had enjoyed up to that point. The British foreign secretary underscored that any settlement had to include recognition of all states in the region to exist and ensure unfettered passage through international sea lanes, including the reopening of the Suez Canal. In order to work towards a settlement between Israel and its neighbors, Great Britain recommended that the United Nations appoint a special envoy to the region.[27] The speech was fundamentally pro-Arab. Indeed, the next day, the British cabinet cited in its minutes that the purpose of Brown's speech "...had been to make it clear that we had not given, and were not giving, full support to either party in the recent conflict and to begin the process of improving our relations with the Arab states, which was essential if our oil supplies from them were to be resumed."[28]

From Israel's standpoint, Brown's address was no more than an attempt to ingratiate the Arabs at Israel's expense--a case of pure betrayal. Great Britain's policy changed from support of the Israeli position--sometimes open, sometimes covert--prior to the war, to a leadership position among the countries seeking to deprive Israel of its victory in the war. This British zeal, in essence, encouraged the Arabs to ignore the reality of their defeat and fueled their demand that the situation be "reversed" to facts on the ground prior to the war. In the wake of Brown's speech at the United Nations, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Golda Meir minced no words, labeling the British foreign secretary "a Judas."[29]

The State of Israel did not bar withdrawal from the territories occupied in the course of the Six Day War. Rather, it declared its desire to achieve security in exchange for territories. The territories were viewed as a bargaining chip, which it fully intended to exploit in any future peace negotiations with the relevant Arab states and had no intention of relinquishing.[30] Indeed, on June 19, 1967, the Israeli government passed a decision, which was transmitted to the Americans, stating that Israel was prepared to: 1) withdraw to the international border with Egypt, subject to demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula and steps to guarantee unfettered navigation through the Tiran Strait and the Suez Canal; and 2) to withdraw to the international border with Syria subsequent to demilitarization of the Golan Heights, subject to a commitment that the headwaters of the Jordan in Syria would not be diverted. There would be separate negotiations regarding the future of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and a solution to the refugee problem.[31] The Israeli government was interested in establishing a peace based on direct negotiations between Israel and its neighbors, while keeping Jerusalem a unified city under Israeli control. From Israel's perspective, there was no pressure in timing, and all matters had to be weighed through the prism of security needs.

From the standpoint of the British government, Israel's position did not take into account the interests of its friends. Israel's position was viewed as rigid and uncompromising, and its military prowess had become a handicap rather than an asset. The British believed that instead of using its strength to be pragmatic towards the Arabs, Israel was using its power to take an extreme position.[32] Israel had undergone a metamorphosis--from a country fighting for survival to one that demonstrated an uncompromising attitude towards the Arabs. Israeli inflexibility was expressed in the question of Jerusalem. A short time after Israeli forces took control of East Jerusalem, Israel declared the unification of the city. In addition, Israel announced that the status of Jerusalem was a non-negotiable issue and ignored the United Nation's June 28 resolution calling for repeal of the city's unification. Prime Minister Eshkol said that Israel without Jerusalem "would be a country without a head."[33] The British government did not oppose unification in and of itself, but it was opposed to unification under Israeli control. Its preference was "to some form of internationalization."[34] However, beyond this, the British believed that annexation as the fruits of occupation was a dangerous precedent. Annexation would never be acceptable to the Arab world and would constitute an obstacle to any future negotiation. The British held that the future of Jerusalem "...will be a key issue in any settlement and would be likely to block any general settlement."[35] In essence, the British government took a leadership role among the countries fighting the unification of the city and warned the Israeli government that this step was liable to undermine good relations between the two countries.

In addition to Great Britain's opposition to the unification of Jerusalem and its demand that a solution be found to the refugee problem, expressed openly and emphatically, the most pressing and urgent matter from a British standpoint was the reopening of the Suez Canal. The closure of the canal caused tremendous losses to Great Britain, which impacted directly on Great Britain's balance of payments. Prime Minister Wilson clarified to Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Abba Eban that Britain paid an exceptionally heavy price for the closure of the canal. Great Britain's support for free navigation through the Tiran Straits prior to the war led to a Middle East oil embargo that forced Great Britain to buy oil from other sources at much higher prices per barrel.[36]

The British presumed that the Israeli government would take into account Britain's support prior to the outbreak of the war as well as the heavy price Britain had paid for its support in the aftermath and, therefore, would take into account and assist Britain in ensuring the opening of the canal as soon as possible. The Egyptians themselves were willing to open the canal to shipping, but they demanded that Israel withdraw its forces from the eastern bank. Despite Wilson's appeal to Israel's minister of foreign affairs and repeated appeals to the Israeli government requesting that Israel take steps to bring about the opening of the canal to shipping, Israel was adamant that only through direct negotiations with the Arab states was the Jewish state prepared to reach agreements about this and all other issues. The Israelis clarified to the British time and again that the Arabs must recognize that they would not achieve anything unless they negotiated directly with Israel. From an Israeli perspective, it seemed that time was on Israel's side, and all that Israel needed to do was to sit tight and wait for the Arabs to face reality. Alternatively, Israel could maintain the status quo or change it through negotiations.[37]

The British felt that it was totally unrealistic to expect the Arabs to agree to direct negotiations with Israel. The only hope for progress towards a settlement was to mobilize UN machinery by appointing a special envoy, and the effectiveness of the organization hinged to a great extent on agreement between the two superpowers. If the Israeli government were to rely solely on its military might, in the end it would be hesitant to embark on pragmatic motions towards the Arabs. The British stressed that "the longer the situation continues carrying with it the build up of new frustration and resentments on the Arab side, the harder it may be to reach a settlement which will hold."[38] In practical terms, circumstances would lead to Arab extremism, preparations for another war, and acts of terrorism against Israel.[39]


The Israelis remained staunch in their position. Moreover, in the course of time, the Israeli government went from talk about its willingness to give back territories occupied in the war in exchange for a settlement with the Arabs, to demands that the so-called de facto "border'" (that is, the 1948 Armistice Line, the Green Line) be adjusted in any final comprehensive settlement that would set secure and internationally recognized borders. In practice, the June 19 decision of the Israeli cabinet simple dissolved and ultimately was rescinded.

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol did not demonstrate leadership in cementing Israeli policy of territorial concession. Certain parties and political figures stepped forward to fill the void by putting into effect their own political outlook.[40] Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan declared that Gaza was part of the State of Israel and that under no circumstances should Israel agree to go back to the 1948 Green Line.[41] Minister of Foreign Affairs Abba Eban spoke of revision of the borders under which Jerusalem would remain one city, and the Syrians would no longer sit atop the escapement overlooking Israeli territory. Moreover, he clarified that Israel could not accept reestablishment of an Egyptian presence in the Gaza Strip.[42] Minister of Labor Yigal Allon, a respected strategist and heroic figure, argued that from a security standpoint, the Jordan River (and the middle of the Dead Sea) must be made Israel's eastern frontier with the Kingdom of Jordan. Therefore, an Israeli presence of urban and agricultural and military settlements should be established in the Jordan Valley basin.[43] Demands for border changes meshed with the rise of political forces within existing parties and beyond, which called for Israel to hold on to the territories taken in the war, based on religious grounds, historical and legal foundations, and security considerations. During this period, the term Greater Israel (Eretz-Israel Ha-Shleyma) was coined, and, indeed, the Israeli government took concrete steps in this direction, approving resettlement of the Etzion bloc in the West Bank and by the Banias tributary in the Golan Heights.[44]

Annexation of territories occupied in war constituted a dangerous precedent in the eyes of the British, who viewed this step as but another manifestation of Israeli intransigence. Israel's continued presence in the occupied territories was considered dangerous; all the more so given the influx of Jewish settlers into the territories (despite Israeli attempts to mask its intentions by defining the settlements as "military outposts"). The British were convinced that Jewish settlements were liable to trigger extremism and frustration in the Arab world, which would then blame the British and the Americans for Israel's actions.

The British believed that there was an atmosphere of moderation in the Arab world that needed to be taken advantage of. The Arabs no longer seemed to believe that they would benefit from renewed fighting or that Israel could be destroyed. This assessment was based on the fact that the Arab states, convening in Khartoum in late August to early September 1967, were willing to renew the supply of oil to the West. Egypt's president himself was interested in patching up relations with the West and even expressed his willingness to open the Suez Canal, if Israel withdrew from the eastern bank, not the entire Sinai Peninsula. From a British perspective, Khartoum was a sign of a more rational approach to the problem of Israel and of seeking settlement. Israeli intransigence was likely to propel the Arabs back into an uncompromising position.[45]

Signs of moderation in the Arab world found expression in the forging of renewed ties between Great Britain and Egypt soon after the conclusion of the Six Day War. This was after years of severed ties between the two countries. Egyptian willingness to conduct talks in order to reestablish relations constituted an important high sign on the road to a settlement. In Brown's assessment, as the Arab state with the greatest influence in the Middle East, Egypt was a linchpin. Egyptian policy, he surmised, "will be crucial to a satisfactory Middle East settlement and to the reopening of the Suez Canal, which is of primary importance to us [Great Britain]."[46]

Indeed, the Khartoum Conference signaled moderation and realism among the Arab states (except for Syria and Algeria) towards Israel. While the Khartoum Conference resolved that there would be no peace with Israel--expressed in passage of what became known as "the Three Nos" (no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel)--the gathering did not discuss military action or any concrete steps towards destruction of the State of Israel. Rather it discussed only coordination of diplomatic work to bring about withdrawal of Israeli forces from Arab soil.[47] The Israeli government did not view the Khartoum Conference's deliberations and resolutions as an expression of moderation or realism. Rather, they had the opposite reaction. Minister of Foreign Affairs Abba Eban said that Khartoum slammed the door and the window that could lead to peace in the future.[48] The conference was perceived as an obstacle to realizations of Israel's best intentions after the war, expressed on July 19, 1967. Israel viewed the decisions as irresponsible and alienated from the genuine interests of the peoples of the region and contrary to the principles enshrined in the UN Charter.[49]

The British policy designed to cement close relationships with Egypt was viewed by Israel as but one negative component of British policy emerging in the wake of the war. Even if the policy was fueled by a clear British interest in reopening the Suez Canal and protecting the United Kingdom's economic interests,[50] it was contrary to the existential interest of the State of Israel.[51] Prime Minister Eshkol told the British ambassador to Israel angrily that the British government "...seemed to be taking the lead in every effort to whittle any Israeli position: First of all over Jerusalem and... in the United Nations generally, but Israel was not going to throw away her survival however great the pressure exerted on her."[52]

Eshkol placed full responsibility for this British policy, which was grossly detrimental from an Israeli perspective, on Foreign Secretary Brown, whom he viewed as an enemy of Israel. Parallel to this, the Israeli media conducted a sometimes harsh campaign against British policy, and Brown in particular. One of the Israeli papers went so far as to write that one was hard put to differentiate between Bevin and Brown.[53]

Materially, the personal attack on Brown was not justified, for the foreign secretary was merely presenting his country's policy. Wilson, who was considered a friend of Israel, was no different from Brown in protecting British interests. In fact, in a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Abba Eban, Wilson clarified unequivocally and with brutal frankness the urgent need to open the canal. Despite the declarative stance of the British officials in the UN, the British government wanted Israel to appreciate the economic damage Great Britain had sustained for supporting Israel before the war, and the economic difficulties it now faced as a result. The Israeli government, however, not only did not show any signs of understanding Britain's troubles, but also adopted an inflexible and uncompromising position.[54]

British eagerness on the declarative level (or as Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons Richard Crossman put it, "to make noises"[55]), the objective of which was to show the Arab world that Britain was not siding with anyone in the conflict, attempted to mitigate the economic damage and to do everything possible to reach a quick settlement. In fact, Brown read the situation correctly, for lack of progress spelled frustration, resentment, terrorism, and deterioration to renewal of open hostilities. Despite the declarative dimension adopted by British representatives in international forums such as the United Nations and beyond, the British policy of trying to get close to the Arab world was not, fundamentally, detrimental to vital Israeli interests. British policy was designed to work on behalf of a comprehensive settlement that would serve as the foundation for peace and stability. Its components were, among others, a withdrawal from territories occupied during the war, mutually recognized borders between Israel and its neighbors, an end to the state of war, the right of all countries in the region to live in peace, an international effort to solve the refugee problem, and respect for the right of all nations "through international waterways."[56]

Brown announced emphatically time after time to the Israelis that he would never be party to a proposal that did not safeguard Israel's security.[57] Indeed, the British succeeded in the end in bringing about a decision in the Security Council in the spirit of this British policy. Resolution 242, which was passed by all members of the Security Council, laid down principles for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

The resolution called for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territories and an end to belligerency. It also guaranteed freedom of navigation through international waterways and the dispatch to the Middle East of a special representative of the secretary general in charge of aiding the achievement of a peaceful settlement.[58]

The resolution was an expression of British diplomacy skills. There was no commitment to direct negotiations, a fact which raised the ire of the Israeli government. There was no demand for a complete withdrawal. The resolution was vague on purpose, because only in this manner would it be acceptable to all the parties, allowing each to give it their own interpretation. Abba Eban labeled the decision "a creative dead lock."[59] Nevertheless, it served as the foundation for all diplomatic efforts towards progress on a political solution between Israel and its neighbors.

*Moshe Gat is Head of Special Programs and Professor of Modern History at the General History Department and the Political Studies Department, Bar-Ilan University, Israel. Email:


[1] William Jackson, Britain's Triumph and Decline in the Middle East (London: Brassey's Press, 1996), p. 136; Anthony Gorst and Lewis Johnman, The Suez Crisis (London: Routledge, 1997), pp. xi, 151. John Darwin, Britain and Decolonisation (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1988), pp. 223, 227, 280-86.

[2] Foreign Office Records, London (FO), FO371/170165, Minutes by Hood, March 6 and 16, 1963; Cabinet Record, London (Cab) 148/3, Note by the Secretaries, October 13, 1963, March 3, 1965; Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons Official Report, 5th Series, Vol. 707, columns 1337-38.

[3] FO371/170537, FO to Tel Aviv, July 22, 1963, and Minute by Morris, August 28, 1963; Parliamentary Debates, 5th Series, Vol. 677, May 14, 1963.

[4] Prime Minister's Papers, London (PREM) 11/4933, de Zulueto to Prime Minister, November 21, 1961; FO371/170538, Macmillan to Eshkol, August 13, 1963.

[5] FO371/150857, Tel Aviv to FO, October 25, 1960.

[6] Fred J. Khouri, "The Jordan River Controversy," Review of Politics, Vol. 27 (1965), p. 43; Miriam R. Lowi, Water and Power: The Politics of a Scarce Resource in the Jordan River Basin (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1993), p. 119.

[7] FO371/175557, Arab Summit Conference, January 28, 1964; Yitzhak Rabin, Service Notes (Tel Aviv: Ma'ariv Library, 1979), pp. 119-20; al-Ahram (Egypt), January 18-19, 1964.  

[8] Cab133/247, Background Notes, January 31, 1964; FO371/175574, Minute by the FO, January 15, 1964.

[9] Foreign Relations of the U.S. Diplomatic Papers (FRUS), Near East, 1962-63, pp. 770-72; FO371/175574, Guidance No. 25, January 13, 1964; Daniel Hillel, Rivers of Eden: The Struggle for Water and the Quest for Peace in the Middle East (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 161.

[10] FO371/175574, Minute by Morris, January 22, 1964; Cab133/247, Minute by the FO, January 31, 1964.

[11] Israel State Archive (ISA), Hez/7/3526, Jerusalem to London, February 16, 1965; FO371/180666, Tel Aviv to FO, January 16, 1965.

[12] Harold Wilson, The Labour Government: A Personal Record (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1971), p. 395; Cab128/42, Conclusion of a Meeting, May 23, 1967; Peter Paterson, Tired and Emotional: the Life of Lord George-Brown (London: Chatto and Windus, 1993), p. 218.

[13] Herman F. Eilts, "The Six Day War in the Eyes of Egypt," Asher Susser (ed.), Six Days-Thirty Years: New Perspectives of the Six Day War (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1999), p. 95; Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London (FCO), 7/489, Cairo to FO, June 3, 1967.

[14] Cab128/42, Conclusions of a Meeting, May 30, 1967; Cab129/130, Memorandum by the Secretary of State, May 29, 1967.

[15] PREM13/1621, FO to Certain Missions, June 16, 1967; Cab128/42/2, 46th Conclusions, July 11, 1967.

[16] Cab128/42/2, 39th Conclusions, June 15, 1967, and 46th Conclusions, July 11, 1967.

[17] PREM13/1620, Moscow to FO, June 10, and FO to Certain Missions, June 16, 1967; FCO17/521, Brief by the FO, June 12, 1967; Fco17/522, Wilson to Johnson, June 15, 1967.

[18] FRUS, 1964-68, Vol. 19, pp. 563-64; Richard B. Parker, The Politics of Miscalculation in the Middle East (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1993), p. 127; Nitza Nachmias, Transfer of Arms, Leverage, and Peace in the Middle East (New York: Greenwood Press, 1988), pp. 22-23.

[19] PREM13/1621, Record of Conversation, June 20, 1967.

[20] FCO17/502, Brief by the FO, June 17, 1967.

[21] Cab129/133, Memorandum by Brown, July 7, 1967.

[22] Ibid. PREM13/1621, Record of Discussion, June 20, 1967; Paul Gore-Booth, With Great Truth and Respect (London: Constable, 1974), pp.367-68.

[23] Cab128/48/2, 46th Conclusions, July 11, 1967; Cab129/132, Memorandum by Brown, July 7, 1967.

[24] FCO17/34, Minute by Thomson, June 14, 1967

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ha'aretz (Israel), June 18, 1967.

[27] FCO17/600, Brown Speech, June 21, 1967, Ha'aretz, June 22, 1967.

[28] Cab128/42/2, 41st Conclusions, June 22, 1967; Frank Brenchley, Britain and the Middle East: An Economic History 1945-1987 (London: Lester Crook, 1989), p. 154.

[29] Ibid, p. 354, Note 16; ISA, Hez/17/1391, Jerusalem to London, October 15, 1967.

[30] Reuben Pedatzur, The Triumph of Embarrassment; Israel and the Territories After the Six Day War (Tel Aviv: Bitan, 1996), pp. 28-29.

[31] Rabin, Service Notes, p. 226; Abba Eban, Memoirs (Tel Aviv: Ma'ariv Library, 1978), p. 430; ISA, Prime Minister files, 10/6304, July 9, 1967.

[32] FCO17/502, Brief by the FO, June 17, 1967.

[33] FCO17/506, Brief for the Cabinet, September 7, 1967; FCO17/505, Memorandum by Brown, September 13, 1967; Moshe Gilbo'a, Six Years-Six Days; Origins and History of the Six Day War (Hebrew) (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1969), p. 259.

[34] Cab128/42/2 41st Conclusions, June 22, 1967; FCO17/521, Record of Conversation, June 21, 1967.

[35] PREM13/1621, FO to Tel Aviv, June 16, 1967; FCO17/541, Record of Meeting, August 30, 1967, and Meeting with Eban, September 15, 1967.

[36] Cab128/42/3, 57th Conclusions, September 28, 1967, and 58th Conclusions, October 11, 1967; ISA, Hez/4/1391, Remez to Lourie, October 18, 1967.

[37] PREM13/1623, FO to Tel Aviv, August 17, 1967; PREM13/1627, Record of Meeting, November 6, 1967; National Archives, Washington (NA), RG59/1803, Hughes to Acting Secretary, September 22, 1967.

[38] FCO17/541, Meeting with Eban, September 15, 1967.

[39] FCO17/508, Brief by the FO, November 15, 1967.

[40] Pedatzur, The Triumph of Embarrassment, pp. 70-71; Dan Bavly, Dreams and Missed Opportunities 1967-1977 (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Carmel, 2002), p. 33.

[41] Ma'ariv (Israel) and Ha'aretz, August 10, 1967.

[42] PREM13/1624, Record of meeting, November 6, 1967.

[43] Ma'ariv, August 15 and October 8, 1967; Bavly, Dreams, p. 41.

[44] Ha'aretz, September 26, 1967.

[45] Cab128/42/3, 54th Conclusions, September 7, 1967 and 55th Conclusions, September 14, 1967; ISA, Hez/4/1391, Record of conversation between Eshkol and Hadow, October 15, 1967. Brenchley, Britain and the Middle East, p. 150; George Brown, In My Way: The Political Memoirs of Lord George Brown (London: Penguin Books, 1971), p. 233; The Americans held a similar opinion, see FRUS, 1964-68, Vol. 19, p. 90.

[46] Cab128/42/3, 55th Conclusions, September 14, 1967, and 63rd Conclusions, November 2, 1967; ISA, Hez/4/1391, Remez to Jerusalem, October 21, 1967.

[47] Fred J. Khouri, The Arab-Israeli Dilemma, (New York: Syracuse University Press, 1985), pp. 313-14; David Schoenbaum, The United States and the State of Israel (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), p.162; Yoram Meital, Egypt's Struggle for Peace, Continuity and Change 1967-1977 (Gainsville: University Press of Florida, 1997) pp. 42-43.

[48] Eban, Memoirs, p. 439.

[49] Pedatzur, The Triumph of Embarrassment, p. 175.

[50] FCO17/548, Tel Aviv to FO, October 16, 1967.

[51] ISA, Hez/4/1391, Savir to Remez, October 16, 1967.

[52] FCO17/548, Tel Aviv to FO, October 16, 1967.

[53] Ma'ariv, November 2, 1967; ISA, Hez/4/1391, Record of conversation between Eshkol and Hadow, October 16, 1967; FCO17/548, Brown to Wilson, October 24, 1967.

[54] Ibid.

[55] ISA, Hez/17/1391, London to Jerusalem, July 19, 1967.

[56] FCO17/504, Brief for Talks with Lord Caradon, July 21, 1967; ISA, Hez/4/1391, Eban to Jerusalem, October 12, 1967, and Eban to London, October 13, 1967.

[57] FCO17/548, FO to Tel Aviv, October 24, 1967; ISA, Hez/4/1391, New York to Jerusalem, October, 12, 1967, and Remez to Jerusalem, October 21, 1967 and Record of Conversation between Eshkol and Hadow, October 25, 1967.

[58] Paterson, Tired and Emotional, pp. 220-21; Cab128/42/3, 68th Conclusions, November 23, 1967.

[59] Interview with Eban, Skira Hodshit, Vol. 3, No. 4 (1987).

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Continued (Permanent Link)

UN rights council stops short of condemning Sudan

UN rights council stops short of condemning Sudan

UN Human Rights Council, under pressure to act against Sudan atrocities,
refrains from criticizing Sudanese government Wednesday, compromises on
sending investigators to report on slaying of civilians, rapes, destruction,
mass flight

Associated Press Published:  12.13.06, 22:23,7340,L-3339769,00.html

Meeting in emergency session, the 47 nation council unanimously passed a
resolution expressing "concern regarding the seriousness of the human rights
and humanitarian situation in Darfur," and calling for a team of five "highly
qualified persons" plus the UN's expert on rights in Sudan to look into the

The resolution stopped short of mentioning any role of the Sudanese government
or the militias it is accused of supporting in attacks on civilians. The
government rejects accusations it supports the militias, who are accused of
some of the worst atrocities.

Luis Alfonso de Alba, the Mexican diplomat who chairs the council and will put
together the team, told reporters: "I can guarantee a good and balanced
composition." He said they would be impartial, "Highly qualified

 "The decision ... sends a united message that the ongoing violence and
killing in Darfur is unacceptable and must stop," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi
Annan said in a statement.

Amnesty slams UN
Amnesty International condemned the resolution's timidity in failing to
recognize the complicity of the Sudanese government in the serious and
systematic human rights violations taking place in Darfur.

"The assessment mission established by the Human Rights Council must put an
end to the shameless lies and denial of responsibility of the government of
Sudan for the situation in Darfur," The London-based rights campaigner said in
a statement.

Top UN officials and aid agencies on Tuesday were leading a wide assault of
strongly worded statements expressing frustration over how hard it has been to
help people suffering from nearly four years of bloodshed.

Jewish students call for action
A mission of Jewish students attended the meeting in Geneva and called upon
the international community to act immediately to save the people of Darfur

Daniel Translateur, Chairman of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) and
head of the delegation of Jewish students to the UN, said: "We, as Jews,
cannot stand aside and watch a people be submitted to the same genocide as we
have suffered."

"We, the youth of the Jewish world, who live with the memory of the trauma of
the Holocaust, feel that we have a moral, historical and personal commitment
to involve ourselves in the attempt to stop the mass murders of the people of
Darfur," he added.

"The lesson the Jewish people learned from the Holocaust is that we cannot
stand aside and watch genocide being carried out on another people. We will
always remember the lessons of our ancestors: 'To save one life is as if you
have saved the world', and 'Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to
repeat it'," Translateur said.


The Sudanese government is widely accused of unleashing the Janjaweed militia
to help its forces counter ethnic African groups who rebelled in 2003.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and some 2.5 million people have
fled their homes in the violence, according to UN Estimates.

The lack of blame for the Sudanese government was in stark contrast to the
council's resolutions on Israel which have condemned the Jewish state for many
practices, including "the systematic targeting and killings of civilians" in
Lebanon and "attacks on human life, property, critical infrastructure and

The council, which replaced the widely discredited Human Rights Commission in
June, has used its six previous sessions to pass eight resolutions denouncing
Israeli treatment of Arabs.

No other government has been accused of rights violations.

Resolutions by the rights council are nonbinding, but increase political
pressure on criticized countries.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Olmert meets Pope ahead of talks with Italian PM in Rome

Last update - 15:37 13/12/2006

Olmert meets Pope ahead of talks with Italian PM in Rome

By The Associated Press

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with the Pope at the Vatican on Wednesday, ahead of talks in Rome with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and other senior officials.

It is the second leg of Olmert's European tour after a stop in Germany, the country that takes over the European Union presidency on January 1.

The agenda of the visit is expected to be dominated by the crisis in Lebanon, with Italy being the largest contributor to a United Nations peacekeeping force in the country, the stalled peace process with the Palestinians, as well as how to deal with Iran and Syria.

During the private audience with the Holy See at the Vatican, Olmert was expected to invite the pontiff to visit the Israel.

Israel and the Vatican established diplomatic relations in the 1990s, and the late Pope John Paul II played host to Israeli prime ministers and other officials as part of his effort to build ties with Israel.

A day before the audience, the Vatican issued a statement to remember the Holocaust in connection with a conference of Holocaust deniers taking place in Iran.

"The Shoah [Holocaust] was a great tragedy before which we cannot remain indifferent," the Vatican statement said. "The memory of those horrible events must remain as a warning for people's consciences".

Italy and Israel have cordial relations. Prodi has recently praised a November 27 policy speech by Olmert in which the Israeli premier appealed to the Palestinians to accept the international conditions and re-enter peace negotiations.

However, there are some differing views. Italy believes that Syria and Iran should be involved in any negotiations if the Middle East is to be stabilized. Israel refuses the prospect, as Olmert has reiterated in comments this week.

"I certainly think there are perspectives in Italian policy that don't mesh with ours. But there is a good basis for dialogue," Olmert told Israeli reporters on Tuesday.

Rome is also expected to discuss with Israel the fate of the Shabaa Farms, a disputed plot of land along the border of Israel, Syria and Lebanon. Prodi will raise the prospects of putting the land under a temporary UN administration until the dispute is solved, said a diplomatic source close to
the premier.

Prodi has been active in Middle East diplomatic efforts since he took over at the helm of a center-left government in May. He contributed 2,500 Italian troops to the UN peacekeeping force monitoring the cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah militias after the conflict this summer in southern Lebanon.

The Italians are scheduled to take over command of the force from France in February.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Iranian Satirist Responds to Iranian President's Letter To The American People

Special Dispatch-Iran/ Reform Project
December 14, 2006
No. 1395

Iranian Satirist Responds to Iranian President's Letter To The American
People: Mr Ahmadinejad! With All The Problems Facing Your Country, You Are Not
Even In A Position To Advise Other People

To view this Special Dispatch in HTML, visit: .

Prominent Iranian satirist Ebrahim Nabavi is a known critic of Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as well as of members of the Iranian religious
establishment.(1) Last week, following Ahmadinejad's November 29, 2006 letter
to the American people, he took aim at him again, in an open letter posted on
the reformist online daily Rooz. In it, he responded to Ahmadinejad's letter,
point by point.

The following are excerpts from Nabavi's letter, in the original English.(2)

"Why Do You Do Things that Make the World Believe That a Simpleton is Iran's

"Dear Mr. Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran:

"If there were no history, and the letter you wrote to the American people
would not have been recorded in it, and the American people would not have
wondered how a person like you, with that rhetoric and discourse, is the
president of an ancient and historic country like Iran, perhaps it would not
have been necessary to respond to your letter. I read your letter, Mr.
Ahmadinejad! Stop it. Why do you do things that make the world believe that a
simpleton is Iran's president?

"Mr. Ahmadinejad! The world is bigger than these games; much bigger. I know
that you, wherever you go, have tried to be at the center of every picture and
interview, and will say anything to have your name repeated. But in a world in
which people are amused by alien beings and talking octopuses and driving
frogs for only one or two hours, these games do not last long. The game is
nearing its end. Please stop."

"Who Gives you the Right to Consider Yourself the Representative of Iranians,
But to Deny That Bush Represents the Americans?"

"The words that you use in your letter to the American people are appropriate
for the Iranian ministry of foreign affairs. If you think that you can play
with the Americans or Iranians or any other people through such empty and
repetitive words you are wrong. America itself is a place for games. They have
Hollywood. They create an Ahmadinejad in the morning and destroy him at night
at the end of the story. For these and every other people such games continue
only until you bury your head under the snow and think that others cannot see

"I ask you: When you were writing a letter to George W. Bush, one could say
that a president has written a letter to another president. But what is the
meaning of writing a letter to the Americans as a representative of the
Iranian people? Are you the representative of the Iranian people? Why and
since when did it dawn on you that you represent Iranians? Where is your
resemblance to the Iranian people? You are no better a representative of
Iranians that Bush is of Americans. I think that both nations are ashamed of
having such presidents.

"For this reason I ask you not to speak as the representative of Iranians.
Neither did you get any more votes in your rigged elections nor do you enjoy a
greater popularity in Iran than Bush does in America. Who gives you the right
to consider yourself to be the representative of Iranians but to deny that
Bush represents the Americans?"

"How Dare You Speak [in Your Letter] of Defending Human Ideals - in a Country
Where the Rights of Women, Ethnic Groups, Religious Minorities and the General
Public are Constantly Under Attack...?"

"In your letter to the American people, you wrote, 'Both our nations are
God-fearing, truth-loving and justice-seeking, and both seek dignity, respect
and perfection. Both greatly value and readily embrace the promotion of human
ideals such as compassion, empathy, respect for the rights of human beings,
securing justice and equity, and defending the innocent and the weak against
oppressors and bullies.'

"Mr. Ahmadinejad! A great number of the words you used are empty and
meaningless.... The Iranian people are not God-fearing, truth-loving and
justice-seeking, because if they were, you would not have been their

"Are you serious? Or you are playing with us? You support human ideals? Do
people like journalists even have any human rights in Iran? How can you call
yourself a defender of human ideals when your political faction shut down 150
publications in the past four years? How dare you speak of defending human
ideals in a country where the rights of women, ethnic groups, religious
minorities and the general public are constantly under attack, and where women
do not even have the right to gather in defense of their rights?"

"You Write... 'We, Like You, Are Aggrieved by the Ever-Worsening Pain and
Misery of The Palestinian People'... If the People of Palestine Are Homeless
it is Because [of] Iran, Syria And Hizbullah"

"You write in your letter, 'We, like you, are aggrieved by the ever-worsening
pain and misery of the Palestinian people. Persistent aggressions by the
Zionists are making life more and more difficult for the rightful owners of
the land of Palestine.'

"Mr. Ahmadinejad! The Palestinians are not the only people who are under
aggression in the world. And the people of America and Iran should naturally
be the last people to worry about the Palestinian problem. Why should the
Americans worry about the Palestinian people when the Palestinians' own Arab
brethren do not worry about them? If the Palestinians are under pressure, it
is because a terrorist group called Hizbullah is using Iran's financial and
military support to wreak havoc in the region. The people of Palestine are
aware that the only way they can survive is to live alongside Israel. If the
people of Palestine are homeless it is because Iran, Syria and Hizbullah are
the ones who have disrupted the peace process in the past two years."

"You [Tell the American People] 'I Consider it Extremely Unlikely That you...
Consent to the Billions... From Your Treasury for [the Iraq War] - [But] do
you Really Think That the Iranian People Consent to the Millions... That you
Take From Their Treasury [for] Every... Terrorist on Earth?"

"You tell the American people, 'I consider it extremely unlikely that you, the
American people, consent to the billions of dollars of annual expenditure from
your treasury for this military misadventure.' Do you really think that the
Iranian people consent to the millions of dollars that you take out of their
treasury to help Hizbullah in Lebanon, Hamas, the Supreme Council for the
Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Al-Dawa Party, Syria's Baath Party, the
Palestinian Liberation Organization and every other terrorist on earth? At
least in America it is evident who does what. In Iran this much is not known

"People [in the U.S.] Can Refuse to Vote for an Administration That Acts
Against Their Public Opinion... But What Can the Poor Iranians Do When They
Are Not Satisfied With an Administration?"

"In your letter, you referenced the recent elections in America [saying],
'Undoubtedly, the American people are not satisfied with this behavior and
they showed their discontent in the recent elections. I hope that in the wake
of the mid-term elections, the administration of President Bush will have
heard and will heed the message of the American people.' What you say is
correct. The United States is a country in which people can refuse to vote for
an administration that acts against their public opinion. In recent elections
too the American people voted for the Democrats because they were not
satisfied with Bush's performance.

"But what can the poor Iranian people do when they are not satisfied with an
administration? Does the Guardian Council allow the people to send their true
representatives to public office? Do dissidents even have the right to voice
their opinion in Iran? Why preach something that you do not practice?

"Mr. Ahmadinejad! With all the problems facing your country, you are not even
in a position to advise other people. As an Iranian writer who is embarrassed
of having you as his president, while apologizing to the American people for
your credulous letter, I call on you to be silent and not belittle our people
anymore with such letters."

(1) MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1175, "Following Ahmadinejad's Letter to Bush,
Iranian Satirist Writes to Ahmadinejad," May 26, 2006,; Special
Dispatch No. 1159, "Iranian Satirist Skewers Ahmadinejad," May 8, 2006,; Special
Dispatch No. 1041, "Iranian Clerics Invite Fidel Castro to Convert To Islam;
Iranian Satirists React," December 7, 2006,
(2) Rooz,
December 12, 2006.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit
organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East.
Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are
available on request.

MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with
proper attribution.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC 20038-7837
Phone: (202) 955-9070
Fax: (202) 955-9077
Search previous MEMRI publications at

Continued (Permanent Link)

President Bush's Statement on the Government of Syria

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 13, 2006
President's Statement on the Government of Syria

The United States supports the Syrian people's desire for democracy, human
rights, and freedom of expression. Syrians deserve a government whose
legitimacy is grounded in the consent of the people, not brute force.
The Syrian regime should immediately free all political prisoners, including
Aref Dalila, Michel Kilo, Anwar al-Bunni, Mahmoud Issa, and Kamal Labwani. I
am deeply troubled by reports that some ailing political prisoners are
denied health care while others are held in cells with violent criminals.

Syria should disclose the fate and whereabouts of the many missing Lebanese
citizens who "disappeared" following their arrest in Lebanon during the
decades of Syrian military occupation. The Syrian regime should also cease
its efforts to undermine Lebanese sovereignty by denying the Lebanese people
their right to participate in the democratic process free of foreign
intimidation and interference.

The people of Syria hope for a prosperous future with greater opportunities
for their children, and for a government that fights corruption, respects
the rule of law, guarantees the rights of all Syrians, and works toward
achieving peace in the region.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rabbi Moshe (Moishe) Aryeh Friedman in his element among Iranian Holocaust deniers
14.12. 2006
Original content copyright by the author
Zionism & Israel Center

Another installment in tales of the Rebbe from Hell. Moshe (Moishe) Aryeh Friedman had to show up, of course at the Iranian Holocaust deniers conference. He was in good company with KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, Neturei Karteh members, bona fide regular neo-Nazis and Iranian wannabe neo-Nazi Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Friedman is among his element with these progressive humanitarians, having previously allied himself with Austrian neo-Nazis and with the Hamas.
At the meeting, according to the German Stern journal, Friedman praised the Holocaust denial conference as advancing "knowledge" about the Holocaust, and claimed that the latest research shows that "only" a million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and not 6 million. The number 6 million, according to him, was taken from a prophecy by Theodor Herzl.

According to an English language report from the Iranian Republic of Iran Broadcasting Web site:

Rabbi Moshe Aryeh Friedman from Austria and chief of the Orthodox
Anti-Zionist society of Austria, French professor Robert Faurisson, David Reis a
member of anti-Zionist rabbis society in America, Ian Bernhoff a Swedish
researcher, Fredrick Toeben a prominent German-born Australian revisionist of
the Holocaust, David Duke a political science professor in Ukraine's university,
Leonardo De Chlirchi from Belgium, Kriptian Lindenz a professor from Denmark and
Alexander Baron from Britain.

12 rabbis membering the anti-Zionist rabbis society in America and Austria
are participating in the conference. (source:http://www. )

Well, not exactly English, but close enough. The report refers to the participation of these demented rabbis and Klan Wizard Duke as "Top researchers in Holocaust meeting."

The "anti-Zionist rabbis society in America" apparently refers to the Neturei Karteh, who got a hefty subsidy from Yasser Arafat, and who are accredited to the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) (see "The Question of Palestine"). Apparently, the inalienable rights of the Palestinians and the Iranians include Holocaust denial.

So tell me, Reb Holocaust Denier, what is the Halachic ruling for sucking the blood of your brothers? Is it kosher or not kosher?

With Jews like that, who needs Nazis?

The people really missing from this conference were the compilers of the Iran Study Group report, who should have been there to engage Mr. Ahmadinejad.

Ami Isseroff

Labels: , , ,

Continued (Permanent Link)

IDF kills gunman in Gaza for first time since truce

IDF kills gunman in Gaza for first time since truce

Givati force shoots, kills Palestinian armed with guns, grenades, north of
Karni crossing in northern Gaza Strip. Five Qassams fired at Israel Tuesday,
after five days of calm

Hanan Greenberg Published: 12.13.06, 20:42,7340,L-3339743,00.html

Restraint policy nearing its end? A Givati Brigade force killed an armed
terrorist near the security fence in Gaza Wednesday evening, north of the
Karni crossing in the northern Gaza Strip.

The troops opened fire at the Palestinian after they identified him as being
armed with guns and grenades. Wednesday's incident marks the first time the
IDF opened fire at gunmen since the ceasefire with the Palestinians was

Since the start of the ceasefire, the IDF has employed a cautious policy, and
aside from a few incidents in which troops fired at the lower bodies of
Palestinian suspects approaching the security fence, there have been no
unusual incidents.

The IDF has also refrained from preemptive strikes and targeting Qassam launch

IDF officials noted that the Wednesday evening strike was carried out because
forces assessed a real and present danger to the lives of the soldiers on the
Israeli side of the fence.

Against the backdrop of the ceasefire, military officials said that Hamas was
continuing to stockpile and develop weapons, and there were obvious signs the
group was advancing its capabilities, as Hizbullah did in south Lebanon.

No response?
On Tuesday, after five days of calm, five Qassam rockets were launched from
Gaza towards the Western Negev. The rockets landed in open fields near Sderot,
and caused no injuries or damage.

Sources in the Palestinian Authority said the Islamic Jihad was behind the
attack, but the organization refused to claim responsibility for the shooting.

According to the security forces, 23 Qassams landed in Israel since the truce
was announced.

Following Tuesday's attack, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that "it's getting
increasingly difficult not to respond." Speaking to reporters in Berlin, the
prime minister said that Israel was still holding back in order to prevent the
clashes from escalating further.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Syria Launches Al-Golan Weekly

Syria Launches Al-Golan Weekly
Wednesday, December 13, 2006 - 01:00 PM

Damascus, (SANA - Syria news agency)- Vice-President Dr. Najah al-Attar
emphasized the importance of the free word in embodying the struggle ways,
boosting the resistance will, rejecting the surrender and forming a front in
which features of the best future are depicted to liberate the land and the

In a word delivered yesterday on the occasion of launching the Weekly of
Golan issued by the executive office of al-Qunaitera governorate, southwest
Syria, Dr. Attar expressed a hope that the Weekly will translate on the

Attar underlined Syria's commitment to restore the occupied Golan pointing
out to Syria's main role in the Middle East.

Nawal / S.Younes

Continued (Permanent Link)

The vanished peace proposal - history remade

I could have sworn that Ehud Olmert made a far ranging and courageous peace offer last month, but apparently it is not so. It must not be so, because those paragons of Middle East commentary Akiva Eldar and Yossi Parizky tell us it is not so, and everyone else seems to feel the same way. Who am I to contradict all those people?

Experiencing Middle East history is like living in a historical novel written by a demented and evil genius, or a bad episode of Star Gate in which the Gouald erase Michael Jackson's memories and implant different ones. That is because much of written Middle East history is a historical novel written by demented SOBs and imaginative script writers. The authors are op-ed columnists, ignorant celebrities like Jimmy Carter and imaginitive folks like Professors Mearsheimer and Walt. They write what they please, no matter what happens, and whatever they write becomes "facts" or as good as facts, replacing whatever it was that you had the illusion really happened, and in turn, creating more facts.

We are getting used to the idea that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 was what caused the Arab-Israeli conflict. All history before that time has been erased. There was no war in 1948, no cries of "Drive the Jews into the Sea" and Hajj Amin El Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, never collaborated with Adolph Hitler in the murder of 6 million Jews. In fact, thanks to Mr. Carter and his book, it is now an established fact that all the trouble was started by Jewish terrorists in 1938. Thanks to Mr Ahmadinejad and his Holocaust Denial conference, 6 million Jews will now be erased entirely from the database, since the Holocaust never happened, there was no Warsaw Ghetto uprising and the gas chambers in Auschwitz were used for delousing Jews in this version of history.

The only parallel to the Middle East historical wonderland is the unlamented USSR, where devoted comrades periodically received letters that requested them to do things like: "Please remove pages 101 to 104 of volume 'Ka; of the Soviet Encycolpedia, entry Kaganovich, Lazar, Commisar and insert the replacement article Kagilevskaya, Alleluieva, Stakhanovite Milk Maid."

Events disappear from history, and people do not even notice. Or perhaps they never happened? I was sure that in several public appearances, PM Ehud Olmert offered to free numerous Palestinian Prisoners and to make peace based on the Arab peace initiative. I heard and saw and read -- or had the illusion -- that these offers were broadcast on the radio and television and appeared in the newspapers. I remember, in my fevered imagination, that Mr. Olmert made a controversial speech in memory of David Ben Gurion. I can even find references to these peace offers such as here and here. I can even remember bitter protests by right-wing Israelis against these offers, like this one, that says "Olmert Sold Out Country." Perhaps I am delusional, and the references were created too. After all, those clear gouald can do anything, no?

I must be delusional, because according to authorities like Akiva Eldar and Yossi Paritzki, there was no peace offer. The Palestinians want peace, but the stubborn and inflexible Israeli government doesn't budge. These people are authorities, so who am I to question them? Agreeing with that astute and unbiased commentator, Khaled Meshaal of the Hamas, Akiva Eldar explains that the reason for all the problems is that Israel is unwilling to make any diplomatic moves at all:

In other words, Meshal confirms that the diplomatic impasse, just like the
unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, constitutes the best public relations for the Palestinian rejectionist front. It can also be put this way: A diplomatic option is the last obstacle facing the Sunni-Shi'ite alliance that is being formed in the Gaza Strip and is sliding toward the West Bank. No panel of experts is necessary in order to know that even if Israel is not the reason for all the conflicts in the region, it is the one fueling the radicals. It will also be one of the first that they will seek to crush under
their wheels.

There you have it. Israel made no offer at all. Ehud Olmert is presumably not the Prime Minister of Israel, or he never made that speech in honor of David Ben Gurion. But wait, here is article written by Akiva Eldar, stating that Israel will offer to free a thousand prisoners in order to free Gilad Shalit! Imagine - a thousand prisoners for one soldier! Not good enough apparently. It won't break the impasse.

And here is Paritzky who insists that Israel and the USA are in a "Fundamentalist Alliance." Khaled Meshal, Moqtada Sadr and Osama Bin Laden are big liberals, while Ehud Olmert is a Fundamentalist according to Paritzky. We do not propose any diplomatic initiatives:

Foreign Minister Livni was right when she said the conflict in our region is between fundamentalists and moderates. The problem is that we haven't been on the side of the moderates for a long time now, but rather, on the side of the zealots and fundamentalists.

Every day that passes where we continue to do nothing instead of proposing and trying new, bold diplomatic initiatives, brings us closer to the Christian redemption.

Every day is precious, says Paritzky. Meshal and his friends are just waiting for a new peace initiative, but for some reason, Israel only offered a thousand prisoners for Gilad Shalit.

If you, like me, had the mistaken idea that Ehud Olmert made a broad ranging peace offer last month, you had better see your doctor, who can deprogram you properly. Eldar and Paritzky say it never happened. Jimmy Carter is still ranting about Israeli inflexibility. They must be right.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2006. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Document: Neturei Karta paid off by Arafat

Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special
Studies (C.S.S)

Allotments of large amounts of money to Rabbi Moshe Hirsch, the "foreign
minister" of the ultra-orthodox, virulently anti-Zionist Jewish sect known
as Neturei Karta. Two extraordinary payments of $25,000 ( January 13, 2002)
and $30,000 ( February 14, 2002), show that Arafat often gave payoffs to

Arafat uses Rabbi Moshe Hirsch as a tool for propaganda

Among the hundreds of documents (captured from the Muqata during Operation
Defensive Shield) dealing with money allotted by Arafat, two were found
which related to large sums paid to Rabbi Hirsch for "expenses for
activities." The payments in question, one after an other, were unusually
large ($25,000 on January 13, 2002, and $30,000 on February 14, 2002) and
may indicate that Arafat paid him monthly. It should be noted that the
amounts are significantly larger than those given to other cronies, which
varied between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars.

A meeting between Arafat and Rabbi Moshe Hirsch in Ramallah, December 17,

+ For several years Arafat has had regular meetings with Rabbi Hirsch, who
is known as Neturei Karta's "foreign minister." For Arafat Hirsch serves as
an indoctrination and propaganda tool which he uses to demonstrate the
cooperation between Palestinians and ultra-Orthodox Jews who hold the same
anti-Zionist world view. Thus his readiness to "invest" unusually large sums
of money in him.

+ In 1988, when the establishment of a Palestinian state was declared in
Algeria, Palestinian sources stated that Moshe Hirsch would become a
minister in the government in the future state. In a Palestinian Authority
document dated 1995, Rabbi Hirsch was described as "the Minister of Jewish
Affairs." In a speech given by Arafat in the Ramallah-Al Bireh district on
January 28, 2002, he noted the depth of the historical ties between all the
Semitic religions and gave as an example the fact that Rabbi Moshe Hirsch
was a member of the PLO's National Palestinian Council.

Document 1 - Translation
A payment of $25,000 to Rabbi Moshe Hirsch authorized by Arafat ( January
13, 2002)
[Palestinian seal]
The Palestinian Liberation Organization
Office of the President
January 13, 2002
I received the sum of $25,000 (twenty-five thousand dollars) exactly for
expenses for the activities of Rabbi Hirsch. ["Expenses for activities" was
added in Arafat's own hand, following the example of other documents.] Done
in accordance with the instructions of [our] brother the president and
commander general.
Name and signature of the recipient
[Written by Arafat:]
To be paid
[Signature of Arafat]
January 13, 2002
A payment of $25,000 to Rabbi Moshe Hirsch authorized by Arafat ( January
13, 2002)
Document 1 - Original

Document 2 - Translation
A payment of $30,000 to Rabbi Moshe Hirsch authorized by Arafat ( February
14, 2002)
[Palestinian seal]
The Palestinian Liberation Organization
Office of the President
February 14, 2002
I received the sum of $30,000 (thirty thousand dollars) exactly for
expenses for the activities of Rabbi Hirsch. [The Rabbi's name was written
in by hand.]
Done in accordance with the instructions of [our] brother the president and
commander general.
Name and signature of the recipient

[Written by Arafat:]
To be paid
[Signature of Arafat]
February 14, 2002
A payment of $30,000 to Rabbi Moshe Hirsch authorized by Arafat ( February
14, 2002)

Document 2 -- Original

Document 3 - Translation
A note from Rabbi Moshe Hirsch addressed to "Abu 'Amar, may he have a long
and happy life, amen!" in which he requests a meeting and reminds Arafat of
"something," apparently a reference to the receipt of money1

1. The letter was among the documents captured in Operation Defensive Shield
The Palestine Liberation Organization
The Palestinian National Authority
Office of the President
To brother president Abu 'Amar
Attached: [A letter for] his honor from Rabbi Hirsch
In re: Request for a meeting with his honor
Contents :
[Rabbi Hirsch] congratulates his honor on [the anniversary of] the
declaration of the founding of the independent state and [on] the month of
Ramadan, and also requests a meeting with his honor.
Gaza , November 18, 2001
The administration for political affairs
[Handwritten note in margin:]
The brothers in public relations
The brothers in the ceremonies (department)
The brothers in security
To be taken care of accordingly
[Three names appear,
two which are illegible and]
Dr. Ramzi
Note : Enclosed within the attached letter was a note written by Rabbi
Hirsch on November 15, 2001, addressed to "Abu 'Amar, may he have a long and
happy life, amen." In it he congratulates Arafat and the Palestinian people
on the first anniversary of the declaration of the Palestinian state and
asks to meet with him at the earliest possible opportunity [which in fact
took place on December 17, 2001, see the picture at the beginning of this
posting]. He also mentions something about a messenger who brought him
"something" from Arafat a short time before. It was apparently a reference
to payments brought to him by messenger.

Document 3 - Original (Attached letter)

Document 4 - Original (Congratulatory note)

Arafat addressed as "Abu 'Amar, may he have a long and happy life" in Rabbi
Hirsch's note.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Continued (Permanent Link)

'Distant threats' push Israel to boost warplanes' range

USA Today
Posted 12/11/2006 8:58 PM ET

'Distant threats' push Israel to boost warplanes' range
By Yaakov Katz, Special for USA TODAY

TEL AVIV — Israel's air force plans to enhance its air-refueling
capabilities, increasing the range of its warplanes. The changes
come as Iran emerges as an increasing threat.

Air force Brig. Gen. Yohanan Loker has said the program would
help Israel meet "emerging distant threats," though he did not
mention Iran.

Iran's border is more than 700 miles from Israel. The range of
Israeli F-16s without refueling is about 1,300 miles.

One option the air force is considering is the purchase and
development of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, to serve as
refueling tankers for attack jets and other aircraft used in
long-range missions.

The air force also could modernize its refueling fleet and
convert U.S.-manufactured executive jets, such as the Gulfstream
G550, into airborne fuel tankers.

"If you have fuel, you can reach distant targets, better utilize
your assets and carry larger amounts of weapons," Loker has said.

Israel has reached distant targets before. In 1981, eight F-16
fighters escorted by six F-15s flew nearly 650 miles each way to
bomb the Osirak reactor in Iraq, just south of Baghdad. The
attack eliminated Saddam Hussein's nuclear program at the time.

Aerial-refueling aircraft were not used in the Osirak strike. The
F-16s were fitted with extra fuel tanks, so the planes had to
carry less ammunition.

In 1976, Israeli air force C-130 transport planes carried
commandos 2,500 miles to the Entebbe Airport in Uganda and
rescued 248 hostages taken captive aboard an Air France flight.

If Israel attacked Iran's nuclear sites, it would be primarily an
airstrike, said retired brigadier general Asaf Agmon, a former
Israeli air force commander now at the Fisher Brothers Institute
for Air and Space Strategic Studies near Tel Aviv.

Israeli planes could reach Iranian airspace, but extra fuel would
be needed to allow planes to spend time over a target before

Iran's nuclear program is dispersed among a number of locations.

The planes might also be forced to use more fuel if neighboring
countries, such as Jordan and Iraq, refused to allow them into
their airspace.

"Osirak was a quick airstrike and was only one target," said
Yiftah Shapir, a former air force intelligence officer and an
analyst with the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies. "Iran's
nuclear program includes dozens of targets that would all need to
be completely destroyed."

The quickest route to Iran would be over Jordan and Iraq. But
that way would be diplomatically tricky, Agmon said. "Israel has
a peace agreement with Jordan and cannot just violate their
airspace," he said.

The advantage of unmanned refueling tankers is that they would
minimize the risk to pilots and would be harder for enemy radar
to spot because they are relatively small. They would also be
able to spend extended periods in the air — some can stay
airborne for 24 hours — without the need to refuel or land to
switch pilots.

"The UAVs can add tremendous capabilities to the piloted fighter
jets," Agmon said, referring to unmanned aerial vehicles.

Israel would be the first country to develop drone refuelers,
Agmon said.

Israel's current refueling fleet consists of three Boeing 707
air-refueling aircraft and three KC-130 tankers. All were
purchased in the 1970s.

The Israeli air force inaugurated in September its first AWACS
(Airborne Warning and Control System) flight in 14 years.

AWACS planes are equipped with advanced radar systems and serve
as a substitute to land-based command-and-control stations in
long-range operations.

The aircraft provide fighter pilots with a picture of enemy radar
and anti-air weapons before they reach the targets.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israelis warned not to go to Goa * Al-Qaeda threat looms over Goa » Israel » Article
Jerusalem Post
Dec. 13, 2006 17:01

Israelis warned not to go to Goa

The Foreign Ministry released an urgent terror alert Wednesday,
warning Israelis not to travel Goa, India.

The ministry said they had received concrete information
regarding an imminent Al-Qaida terror attack in the region.
Foreign Ministry officials said that the warning applied until
the end of December.

Goa, a popular tourist spot in India, is currently home to a
significant number of Israeli tourists.

Counter terrorism officials highly recommended that Israeli
citizens avoid sites in the Goa region for the "next few weeks."
They also said that crowds or attractions popular to Israelis and
Westerners should also be avoided.

The Foreign Ministry added that from the legal point of view,
Israelis were not forbidden from going to the region, and that
they could choose to ignore the warning.

The ministry stressed, however, that such a choice would be
highly ill advised.

NDTV [New Delhi Television]
Dec. 4, 2006

Al-Qaeda threat looms over Goa
by Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Monday, December 4, 2006 (New Delhi):

A few weeks ago the Union Home Ministry issued a terror alert
warning of Bali-like bombing in Goa, and the danger it seems is
far from over.

Sources tell NDTV that two Al-Qaeda terrorists, an Algerian and a
Yemeni, carried out a recce and dry runs of attacks in Goa some
time ago and are likely to return and carry out an attack,
possibly with help from modules in India.

Sources say that the two terrorists conducted recces of Goa's
beaches and even dry runs for attacks on popular hotels and
nightclubs like Tito's and Cabana.

Their likely targets are tourists from Israel and Western Europe.

A section of India's intelligence thinks that this was the first
confirmed Al-Qaeda presence in India.

But the government seems to want to downplay the evidence,
perhaps to keep up the pressure on Pakistan to reign in terror
groups operating out of its territory.

And also perhaps because it wants to avoid a scare among tourists.

Officially, the state government is still denying a terror
threat. But there's no denying the heavy security in Goa, even
though they're trying to be as unobtrusive as possible.

Nightclubs are under surveillance and hotel staff has been
specially trained to pick out possible terrorists.

A few weeks ago Goa was just one the many tourist spots put on
high alert but after this threat what is worrying security
agencies even more is that local or Pakistan-based groups could
be co-opted to carry out an attack.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Academia's Anti-Israel Imperative

Academia's Anti-Israel Imperative

By Ralph Seliger

Even when not explicitly on the agenda, knocking Israel seems to be a favorite
pastime in the academy nowadays. I recently attended two events at New York
University. One was a conference over the weekend of Dec. 2-3, honoring the
legacy of Hannah Arendt on the hundredth anniversary of her birth. The other,
which deserves a separate discussion, was a speech by the outspoken NYU
historian, Tony Judt.

Arendt was a controversial and complex character -- a political philosopher
and vocal social critic, whose most contentious work was probably "Eichmann in
Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil." It stemmed from her observations
at the momentous trial of Adolf Eichmann in Israel in 1963, which she covered
as a correspondent for The New Yorker magazine. She's probably been attacked
for the subtitle as much or more than the content of her book. She did not
regard Eichmann or evil as "banal"; but she saw this gray emissary of death as
shockingly ordinary, not a demonic "other" radically apart from the rest of
us. He was a bureaucratic careerist, who made sure that the trains ran on
time to the death camps and was possibly not even anti-Semitic in a personal

Arendt's book included an indictment of the Jewish Councils, the Jews trapped
by the Nazis into collaborating in the Holocaust. In placing them on the same
continuum of evil as Eichmann, she may have gone too far in blaming the
victims, but I'll have to read her more before passing judgment. The judgment
she passed on the Jews, however, was too harsh for some critics to bear. But
as someone who fearlessly (or brazenly) confronted us with the moral
imperative to take responsibility for our actions, she became an heroic figure
to many others who read her.

What doesn't help her with many stalwart Jews is that she is also on record as
a critic of Zionism. But, as the screening of an interview conducted with her
made clear, after leaving Nazi Germany for Paris, she worked with great
dedication and satisfaction for Youth Aliya, preparing young German and Polish
Jews to move to Palestine in the 1930s. Then she emigrated to the US where she
helped make the New School for Social Research (along with other exiled Jewish
academics) into a pioneering institution.

A number of great Jewish-refugee minds are honored in certain intellectual
circles, not only for their academic work, but also for supposedly being
critics or opponents of Zionism. Some of this is anti-Zionist wishful thinking
or exaggeration; for example, Albert Einstein may have preferred a dovish
stand toward the Arabs, but he was a renowned supporter of Zionism and Israel.
The same can be said of the famed theologian-philosopher Martin Buber, who
definitely was a peacenik, but spent nearly half of his long life as an oleh
in Palestine and Israel.

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl is a psychoanalyst who has written two books on Hannah
Arendt. She co-organized the Arendt program at NYU. I missed her presentation
early in the conference, but I did catch her later. She articulated a
psychoanalytic theory of "Israeli militarism" that Israelis obsessively repeat
the trauma of persecution or the Shoah with the goal of "getting it right this
time." I don't appreciate this reductionist and very hostile way of thinking
about Israel's predicament.

This statement was made at a session with Rony Brauman, the writer for a film
on the Eichmann trial, "The Specialist," whose main claim to fame is as
president of Medecins San Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) from 1982 to
1994, when he led MSF to withdraw from humanitarian efforts in Ethiopia and in
eastern Zaire/Congo -- both were situations that ensnared humanitarian
organizations in politically-induced crises. His discussion focused upon the
need for taking responsible decisions in morally difficult circumstances,
something that made him find inspiration in the work of Arendt. Somehow-- for
whatever reason -- Mr. Brauman had to add that he, a secular Jew, was "not
Zionist" (supposedly like Arendt). During his rambling presentation, in his
halting English, Brauman even gratuitously made the bizarre claim that the
1967 war was caused by Israel being a nuclear power.

At the following and final session, another difficult moment occurred for me
when Steven Wasserman, a literary agent in New York, recounted Arendt's
response to Gershom Scholem's accusation that she didn't "love the Jewish
people." Her response was that she couldn't love the Jewish people, or any
people, because loving an abstract entity makes no sense.

In the Q & A, I indicated that I knew what she meant logically, but that she
was ignoring the deep sentiment that Scholem expressed. Was he really wrong in
feeling "love" for his people? And, at any rate, he was simply a scholar of
Jewish mysticism; he didn't do anything wrong.

Wasserman responded that he wasn't such an innocent; he had tried to get the
refugee-intellectual Walter Benjamin to join him in immigrating to Palestine.
To which I quickly responded, "And this would have saved his life." Wasserman
had to admit that to be true.

On the panel with Wasserman was Walter Mosley, the famed writer of crime
stories. In responding positively to my complaint, he reminded the audience
that he's Jewish on his mother's side, as well as African-American via his
father. Mosley said that people have the right to identify as they want, but
sooner or later the reality of who you are tends to hit you in the face.

Now Wasserman is not exactly a cold non-Jewish Jew and he indicated that
Arendt was not either -- that she was actually proud to be a Jew. Wasserman
recommended a new anthology by Pantheon Books of Arendt's "Jewish Writings,"
due to be released in January. He also recalled seeing a seven-hour German
film on Hitler some years back in LA (he edited the Los Angeles Times Book
Review for a decade until last year) and going to the men's room to find
himself at a urinal next to Walter Matthau (the now deceased comedic actor) --
to whom he exclaimed in wonderment, "Nu, two Jews seeing a film about Hitler!"
Matthau explained that he never missed a film about Hitler; Wasserman's point
was that it's too bad that only Jews seem interested in Hitler.

But Wasserman still felt compelled to express a visceral hostility toward
Zionism, which emerged awkwardly as if he objected to people saving
themselves. Whether it's Mr. Wasserman or Hannah Arendt, intellectuals can be
so high-minded and lofty in their criticisms, that they are blind to the
realities on the ground.

Ralph Seliger is editor of ISRAEL HORIZONS, the magazine of Meretz USA, and
also of the Weblog at

Continued (Permanent Link)

Bolster the peace camp [by Gershon Baskin]

The Jerusalem Post
posted Dec. 11, 2006

Bolster the peace camp

Chaos and uncertainty seem to surround us throughout the region.
Lebanon may be on the verge of a new civil war, likewise the
Palestinians. Iran is posing a challenge to the international
community that, at least at present, it seems incapable of
confronting. Iraq is disintegrating in sectarian violence and the
White House doesn't seem to have an inkling of what to do,
despite the sound advice received from the Baker-Hamilton team.

The Baker-Hamilton report on Iraq makes the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict seem a lot less complex and challenging than what the US
is facing in Iraq. The end game for Iraq seems a lot more
illusive than anything the US administration can seriously
imagine possible at this time. Furthermore, the path toward the
desired end game in Iraq is completely unclear, and each policy
decision made in Washington could lead to an entirely different
course of outcomes on the ground.

THE SITUATION in Israel/Palestine, in comparison, is much rosier.
The current cease-fire, although not 100% in force, the Olmert
speech in Sde Boker, the change of secretary of defense in
Washington and the Baker-Hamilton report have ignited new hopes
for some progress over here. Unlike Iraq, we all know what the
end game to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, but like Iraq;
we have no idea of what process can lead us toward that end.

The Palestinians are entering into a kind of no-man's land in
terms of governance. The negotiations on national unity have thus
far failed and do not seem likely to succeed in the near future.
People around Mahmoud Abbas are pressing for new elections.
Others are pressing for the removal of the Hamas government and
replacing it with a technocratic government. Hamas, meanwhile, is
flexing its muscles on the street and around the Arab and Muslim

It is clear that the current situation in Palestine is untenable
and negative for the Palestinians themselves, and for Israel as well.

Israel and those states in the region and in the world who hope
for Israeli-Palestinian peace must take action now that can
support the peace camp in Palestine led by Mahmoud Abbas. Those
steps are both economic and political.

THESE are some steps that could be taken.

On the economic front:

# Israel is holding more than $600 million in revenues collected
on behalf of the Palestinian Authority from customs and VAT
clearances. That money is vital to the Palestinian economy, yet
it is quite clear that Israel will not turn those funds over to
the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. Recognizing that this money
is Palestinian money, and no one in the Israeli government says
otherwise, a mechanism must be found that will enable it to be
used by Abbas.

One suggestion raised by a former Palestinian minister in a
private meeting of Israeli and Palestinian business people and
economists was to place the money in an escrow account that Abbas
could use to borrow against. Abbas would then have the financial
resources to pay salaries to teachers, doctors and other civil
servants, and to cover debts of the PA to the private sector and
regain public confidence in his ability to govern.

# The plans designed by United States Security Coordinator Lt.
General Keith W. Dayton, including new technologies and the
deployment of Abbas's Presidential Guards, must be implemented
immediately in order to allow for the reopening and smooth and
efficient running of the Karni crossing, which is the main
lifeline of Gaza.

# A dedicated efficient and modern crossing for agriculture
should be established at Sufa crossing or elsewhere that would,
during the agriculture season, be open 24 hours a day. There is a
potential to create at least 100,000 new agriculture jobs in Gaza

On the political front:

# Amir Peretz has it right - the Arab League Peace Initiative
provides the best basis for moving Israeli-Palestinian
negotiations forward. The supporters of this initiative in Israel
and around the world would be well advised to design a program of
public outreach and education to explain and market this
initiative to the people of Israel and Palestine.

# While negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit are barely
progressing because the gaps between the sides are huge in terms
of both the quantity of Palestinian prisoners to be released and
the "quality" of those prisoners, an Abbas-Olmert meeting that
would end with a Palestinian prisoner release of significance,
not connected to the Shalit negotiations, would strengthen Abbas
at a time when support for Hamas is on the rise. Israel is
arresting tens of Palestinians everyday and the "bank" of
prisoners is full enough to allow for a "withdrawal" to Abbas
that would strengthen his assets.

# It seems that the dismissal of the Haniyeh government in one
way or another is inevitable. If the Palestinian internal
negotiations cannot produce a modus vivendi that will adhere to
the Quartet's demands, Abbas will have no other choice than to
take action - either elections, a referendum, or a temporary
government of experts, or something else. At that moment, the
internal situation in Palestine will become even tenser and
perhaps violent.

While there is no doubt to me that a Palestinian civil war or
civil strife will not serve Israel's interests, it is clear that
Abbas and his forces must come out on top, should it occur.

Israel should not interfere in any way that would delegitimize Abbas.

If Israeli and Palestinian strategists are not yet meeting in
secret to discuss these possibilities, they must do so
immediately. Allowing Abbas's troops greater freedom of movement
to deploy effectively now could make a critical difference at
some time in the future.

Continued (Permanent Link)

A US president named Hussein?

Dec. 12, 2006

A US president named Hussein?

Oh, what's in a name? Media and leftist darling Barack Obama may
learn answer soon as public debate shifts from his talent to his
politically-unfortunate middle name

by Yitzhak Benhorin
Published: 12.12.06, 21:31,7340,L-3339286,00.html

WASHINGTON - The youthful African-American senator from Illinois
has not yet officially announced his intention to contend for the
top spot on the Democrat's presidential ticket, but you couldn't
tell that fact from the hoards of supporters screaming Barack
Obama's name this weekend in New Hampshire – a key election state.

The energetic senator, aptly labeled a true media-darling,
continues however to stick to his 'testing the waters' routine no
matter how convinced everyone else is that he's already kicked
off his election campaign.

Touring New Hampshire under the official guise of touting his new
book 'The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American
Dream', it was clear that Obama was also using the opportunity to
seriously examine his chances at running against strong
Democratic candidates such as widely expected front-runner
Hillary Clinton.

Should he choose to announce a presidential bid on his part,
Obama is likely to face a wall of questions doubting his
eligibility for the job. The 45-year-old son of a Kenyan father
and American mother, has only two years of senate service under
his belt and no additional experience on the national level.

Obama also faces a difficult battle against various stereotypes,
namely the color of his skin and his middle name – Hussein –
which reminds many Americans of certain figures they would rather
forget, much less elect as president.

Obama's 'problematic' middle name does not appear on his official
Senate biography webpage, nor is there any mention of it on other
official sites. But apparently someone viewed this rising-star as
a threat in the political sky and pushed the name forward into
the public arena, perhaps in the hope of tarnishing Obama's image.

While it remains unclear who stands behind the revelation, it
left the considerably low-key internet political blogs and forums
and made its way to American households when New York Times
columnist Maureen Dowd dedicated last weekend's column to the

Liberal bloggers were seething. Obama is their sweetheart, the
alternative to Hillary Clinton and the only potential candidate
who objected to the war in Iraq besides Al Gore; who for now is
maintaining a low profile and even lower polling figures.

And so now instead of questioning Obama's capabilities - will
Americans be more busy wondering if they can live with a
president named Hussein?

Continued (Permanent Link)

Annan hints refugees should not be given right of return to Israel

Last update - 06:09 13/12/2006

Annan hints refugees should not be given right of return to Israel
By Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz Correspondent, and Agencies

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan hinted Tuesday that
Palestinians refugees should not be granted the right to return
to the State of Israel.

In his final address to the Security Council, Annan said, "The
two-state solution - Israel and Palestine - must respect the
rights of the Palestinian refugees, but only within the context
of preserving the character of states in the region."

Annan ends 10 years on the job on December 31, and will be
succeeded by South Korean Ban Ki-moon.

Annan warned that tensions in the Middle East were "near the
breaking point," saying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be
resolved in order to bring lasting peace to the region.

Annan also chastised supporters of the Palestinians for their
criticism of Security Council actions, where the United States
has vetoed most measures critical of Israel.

"Some may feel satisfaction at repeatedly passing General
Assembly resolutions or holding conferences that condemn Israel's
behavior," Annan said. "But one should also ask whether such
steps bring any tangible relief or benefit to the Palestinians."

Describing decades of resolutions and a proliferation of special
committees, Annan asked if this had any effect on Israel other
than to strengthen the belief "that this great organization is
too one-sided to be allowed a significant role in the Middle East
peace process."

"Even worse, some of the rhetoric used in connection with the
issue implies a refusal to concede the very legitimacy of
Israel's existence, let alone the validity of its security
concerns," Annan said. "What was done to Jews and others by the
Nazis remains an undeniable tragedy, unique in human history."

But he said that while "Israelis may reply that they are merely
protecting themselves from terrorism, which they have every right
to do ... Israel will receive more understanding if its actions
were clearly designed to help end an occupation rather than to
entrench it."

"Israel's democracy can thrive only if the occupation over
another people ends," he said.

Annan offered tough words for both the Israelis and Palestinians,
saying the two sides were equally responsible for bringing an end
to violence and making concessions toward reaching a two-state

Annan criticized the Israel Defense Forces' recent
five-month-long military operation in the Gaza Strip following
the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas-linked
militants, during which more than 300 Palestinians were killed,
mostly militants.

"The use of military force in densely populated civilian areas is
a blunt instrument that only produces more death, destruction,
recrimination and revenge," he said. "And as we have seen, it
does little to achieve the desired goal of stopping terrorist

Annan said, however, the Palestinians will not achieve their goal
of a forming a sovereign state without renouncing violent acts.
"No resistance to occupation can justify terrorism," he said.

He urged an immediate return to the stalled roadmap peace talks
backed by the so-called Quartet of Mideast mediators - the United
Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia.

"Tensions in the region are near the breaking point," he said.
"The opportunity for negotiating a two-state solution will last
for only so long. Should we fail to seize it, the people who most
directly bear the brunt of this calamity will be consigned to new
depths of suffering and grief."

But he said Quartet members needed to do more to restore faith in
its "own serious and effectiveness."

Israel's deputy UN Ambassador Daniel Carmon rejected the
assertion the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the "source of all
instability in our region," placing the blame instead on
extremism and radicalism. He cited as an example Iran's hosting
this week of a conference examining whether the Holocaust
actually occurred.

"Iran's denial of the Holocaust, its pursuit of nuclear weaponry
and its strategic backing of Hamas and Hezbollah - and who knows
what next - threatens peace and security," Carmon said.

Continued (Permanent Link)

One War We Can Still Win [by Anthony H. Cordesman]

The New York Times
December 13, 2006

Op-Ed Contributor
One War We Can Still Win


NO one can return from visiting the front in Afghanistan without
realizing there is a very real risk that the United States and
NATO will lose their war with Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the other
Islamist movements fighting the Afghan government.

Declassified intelligence made available during my recent trip
there showed that major Al Qaeda, Taliban, Haqqani Network and
Hezb-i-Islami sanctuaries exist in Pakistan, and that the areas
they operate in within Afghanistan have increased fourfold over
the last year.

Indeed, a great many unhappy trends have picked up speed lately:
United States intelligence experts in Afghanistan report that
suicide attacks rose from 18 in the first 11 months of 2005 to
116 in the first 11 months of 2006. Direct fire attacks went up
from 1,347 to 3,824 during the same period, improvised explosive
devices from 530 to 1,297 and other attacks from 269 to 479. The
number of attacks on Afghan forces increased from 713 to 2,892,
attacks on coalition forces from 919 to 2,496 and attacks on
Afghan government officials are 2.5 times what they were.

Only the extensive use of American precision air power and
intelligence assets has allowed the United States to win this
year's battles in the east. In the south, Britain has been unable
to prevent a major increase in the Taliban's presence.

The challenges in Afghanistan, however, are very different from
those in Iraq. Popular support for the United States and NATO
teams has been strong and can be rebuilt. The teams have created
core programs for strengthening governance, the economy and the
Afghan military and police forces, and with sufficient resources
the programs can succeed. The present United States aid efforts
are largely sound and well managed, and they can make immediate
and effective use of more money.

The Islamist threat is weak, but it is growing in strength —
political as well as military. The Afghan government will take
years to become effective, reduce corruption to acceptable levels
and replace a narcotics-based economy. As one Afghan deputy
minister put it to me during my trip: "Now we are all corrupt.
Until we change and serve the people, we will fail."

No matter what the outside world does, Afghans, the United States
team and NATO representatives all agree that change will take
time. The present central government is at least two or three
years away from providing the presence and services Afghans
desperately need. The United States' and NATO's focus on
democracy and the political process in Kabul — rather than on the
quality of governance and on services — has left many areas angry
and open to hostile influence. Afghanistan is going to need large
amounts of military and economic aid, much of it managed from the
outside in ways that ensure it actually gets to Afghans,
particularly in the areas where the threat is greatest.

This means the United States needs to make major increases in its
economic aid, as do its NATO allies. These increases need to be
made immediately if new projects and meaningful actions are to
begin in the field by the end of winter, when the Islamists
typically launch new offensives.

At least such programs are cheap by the standards of aid to Iraq.
The projects needed are simple ones that Afghans can largely
carry out themselves. People need roads and water, and to a
lesser degree schools and medical services. They need emergency
aid to meet local needs and win hearts and minds.

The maps of actual and proposed projects make it clear that while
progress is real, it covers only a small part of the country.
Even a short visit to some of the districts in the southeast,
near the border with Pakistan, suggests that most areas have not
seen any progress. Drought adds to the problem, much of the old
irrigation system has collapsed, and roads are little more than
paths. The central government cannot offer hope, and local
officials and the police cannot compete with drug loans and income.

The United States has grossly underfinanced such economic aid
efforts and left far too much of the country without visible aid
activity. State Department plans call for a $2.3 billion program,
but unless at least $1.1 billion comes immediately, aid will lag
far behind need next year.

Additionally, a generous five-year aid plan from both the United
States and its NATO allies is needed for continuity and
effectiveness. The United States is carrying far too much of the
burden, and NATO allies, particularly France, Germany, Italy and
Spain, are falling short: major aid increases are needed from each.

And United States military forces are too small to do the job.
Competing demands in Iraq have led to a military climate where
American troops plan for what they can get, not what they need.
The 10th Mountain Division, which is responsible for eastern
Afghanistan, has asked for one more infantry brigade. This badly
understates need, even if new Polish forces help in the east. The
United States must be able to hold and build as well as win — it
needs at least two more infantry battalions, and increases in
Special Forces. These increases are tiny by comparison with
American forces in Iraq, but they can make all the difference.

The NATO allies must provide stronger and better-equipped forces
that will join the fight and go where they are most needed. The
British fight well but have only 50 to 75 percent of the forces
they need. Canadians, Danes, Estonians, Dutch and Romanians are
in the fight. The Poles lack adequate equipment but are willing
to fight. France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Turkey are not
allowed to fight because of political constraints and rules of
engagement. Only French Special Forces have played any role in
combat and they depart in January. NATO must exercise effective
central command; it cannot win with politically constrained
forces, and it must pressure the stand-aside countries to join
the fight.

Finally, the United States and NATO have repeated the same
mistakes that were made in Iraq in developing effective Afghan
Army and police forces, rushing unready forces into combat. The
manning of key Afghan army battalions is sometimes below 25
percent and the police units are often unpaid. Corruption and pay
problems are still endemic, equipment and facilities inadequate.
Overall financing has been about 20 percent of the real-world
requirement, and talks with Afghan and NATO officials made it
brutally clear that the Germans wasted years trying to create a
conventional police force rather than the mix of paramilitary and
local police forces Afghanistan really needs.

The good news is that there is a new realism in the United States
and NATO effort. The planning, training and much of the necessary
base has been built up during the last year. There are effective
plans in place, along with the NATO and American staffs to help
put them into effect.

The bad news is the same crippling lack of resources that affect
every part of the United States and NATO efforts also affect the
development of the Afghan Army and police.

It was obvious during a visit to one older Afghan Army battalion
that it had less than a quarter of its authorized manpower, and
only one man in five was expected to re-enlist. At one police
unit, although policemen were supposed to be paid quarterly, they
were sometimes not paid at all, leaving them no choice but to
extort a living. (In one case, the officer in charge of pay
didn't even fill out forms because he had been passed over for
promotion because of his ethnicity.)

The United States team has made an urgent request for $5.9
billion in extra money this fiscal year, which probably
underestimates immediate need and in any event must be followed
by an integrated long-term economic aid plan. There is no time
for the administration and Congress to quibble or play budget
games. And, once again, the NATO countries must make major
increases in aid as well.

In Iraq, the failure of the United States and the allies to
honestly assess problems in the field, be realistic about needs,
create effective long-term aid and force-development plans, and
emphasize governance over services may well have brought defeat.
The United States and its allies cannot afford to lose two wars.
If they do not act now, they will.

Anthony H. Cordesman is a senior fellow at the Center for
Strategic and International Studies.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Ahmadinejad at Holocaust conference: Israel will 'soon be wiped out'

Ahmadinejad at Holocaust conference: Israel will 'soon be wiped out'

By Haaretz Service and Agencies

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday told delegates at an
international conference questioning the Holocaust that Israel's days were

Ahmadinejad, who has sparked international outcry by referring to the
systematic murder of six million Jews in World War II as a "myth" and calling
for Israel to be "wiped off the map", launched another verbal attack on

"Thanks to people's wishes and God's will the trend for the existence of the
Zionist regime is [headed] downwards and this is what God has promised and
what all nations want," he said.

"Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the
Zionist regime soon be wiped out," he added.

His words received warm applause from delegates at the Holocaust conference,
who included ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist Jews and European and American
writers who argue the Holocaust was either fabricated or exaggerated.

The White House on Tuesday condemned the gathering of Holocaust deniers in
Tehran as "an affront to the entire civilized world as well as to the
traditional Iranian values of tolerance and respect."

A statement from White House Press Secretary Tony Snow noted the meeting
coincided with International Human Rights Week, which renews the pledges of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights drafted in the wake of World War II

"The Iranian regime perversely seeks to call the historical fact of those
atrocities into question and provide a platform for hatred," Snow said.

He said the United States will continue to support those in Iran and elsewhere
who seek to promote human rights "and will stand with them in their efforts to
overcome oppression, injustice and tyranny."

On Monday the U.S. State Department dismissed the conference as "just awful."

Participants at the conference praised Iran's hard-line president Tuesday,
saying the gathering gave them the opportunity to air theories that cast doubt
on the Nazis' attempt to eradicate the Jewish people, something that is banned
in parts of Europe.

The government-sponsored conference in Tehran, which has drawn Holocaust
deniers from around the world, has continued to be the focus of international

British Prime Minister Tony Blair called the conference "shocking beyond
belief" and branded it "a symbol of sectarianism and hatred."

He said he saw little hope of engaging Iran in constructive action in the
Middle East, saying, "I look around the region at the moment, and everything
Iran is doing is negative."

Ahmadinejad initiated the two-day gathering in an attempt to bolster his image
as a leader standing up to Israel, Europe and the U.S. - an image he has used
to whip up support at home and abroad.

"Ahmadinejad's Holocaust comment opened a new window in international
relations on this issue. Twenty years ago, it was not possible to talk about
the Holocaust and any scientific study was subject to punishment. This taboo
has been broken, thanks to Mr. Ahmadinejad's initiative," Georges Theil of
France told conference delegates on Tuesday.

Theil was convicted earlier this year in France for "contesting the truth of
crimes against humanity" after he said the Nazis never used poison gas against

Michele Renouf, an Australian socialite supporter of "Holocaust skeptics,"
called Ahmadinejad "a hero" for opening a debate about the Holocaust. Renouf,
a blonde former beauty queen, addressed the audience wearing a green robe and
Islamic headscarf, abiding by Iranian law requiring women to cover their hair.

The 67 participants from 30 countries - who include some of Europe's most
prominent Holocaust deniers - were expected to meet Ahmadinejad later Tuesday.

"This conference has an incredible impact on Holocaust studies all over the
world," said American David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader and former
state representative in Louisiana.

"The Holocaust is the device used as the pillar of Zionist imperialism,
Zionist aggression, Zionist terror and Zionist murder," Duke told The
Associated Press.

In Germany, Austria and France, it is illegal to deny the Holocaust or
question some aspects of it, and several of the Tehran conference participants
have been prosecuted. They and the conference organizers have touted the
gathering as an expression of academic free speech.

Participants milled around a model of the Auschwitz concentration camp brought
by one speaker, Australian Frederick Toben, who uses the mock-up in lectures
contending that the camp was too small to kill mass numbers of Jews. More than
1 million people are estimated to have been killed there.

Toben, who was jailed in Germany in 1999 for questioning the Holocaust, has
toured Iranian universities in the past, delivering lectures.

Also among the participants are two rabbis and four other members of the group
Jews United Against Zionism, who were dressed in the traditional long black
coats and black hats of ultra-Orthodox Jews. Members of the delegation,
representatives of the Neturei Karta group, say the existence of the state of
Israel violates Jewish law and argues that the Holocaust should not be used to
justify its founding.

Many of the speakers at the conference insisted the extent of the Holocaust
had been largely exaggerated, some contending Jews had exploited it to win
backing for the creation of Israel.

In response to the forum, the Vatican issued a statement calling the Holocaust
an "immense tragedy before which we cannot remain indifferent ... The memory
of those horrible events must remain as a warning for people's consciences."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, "we reject with all our strength the
conference taking place in Iran about the supposed nonexistence of the

"We absolutely reject this; Germany will never accept this and will act
against it with all the means that we have," Merkel said at a news conference
alongside visiting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

The gathering coincided with an independently convened academic conference on
the Holocaust in Berlin, Germany, where historians affirmed the accuracy of
the Nazi genocide data and questioned the motives of those behind the Tehran

Continued (Permanent Link)

Conference in Iran to debate Holocaust sparks outrage

Conference in Iran to debate Holocaust sparks outrage
Blair calls conference in Iran 'shocking'

By Christine Hauser
Published: December 12, 2006

A gathering in Iran billed as a conference to "debate" the Holocaust continued
to spark outrage Tuesday, drawing fierce criticism from Western leaders.

The conference in Tehran, which began Monday, has attracted Holocaust deniers
from around the world who made presentations questioning the historical record
of the Holocaust, including whether Nazi Germany used gas chambers to
exterminate millions of Jews and other "undesirables."

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany condemned the conference Tuesday and said
Germany would never accept it. Germany also summoned the Iranian chargé
d'affaires in Berlin to express its anger over the conference.

In several European countries, including Germany, denial of the Holocaust is a

While many Western countries have recently urged that Iran and Syria be
included in negotiations to deal with conflicts in the region, including the
violence in Iraq, some have pointed to the conference as indicative of the
extremist nature of the current Iranian government.
Related Articles

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has frequently voiced a view held by
many in the Muslim world that the crimes of the Nazis were exaggerated to
justify giving Palestinian land to Jews, ultimately leading to the creation of

Iran held a contest over the summer for cartoons about the Holocaust, in
reaction to a controversy over cartoons published in Denmark that lampooned
the Prophet Muhammad.

The White House said that it recognized that not everyone in Iran agreed with
the most extreme elements in the regime there, and that the United States
would stand with those who sought "to overcome oppression, injustice and

During his monthly news conference Tuesday, Prime Minister Tony Blair of
Britain held out little hope of engaging Iran in constructive action in the
Middle East and expressed revulsion at the Holocaust conference, calling it
"shocking beyond belief."

"It's not that I'm against the concept of reaching out to people," Blair was
quoted by Reuters as saying, in a reference to efforts to include Iran in
peace efforts. "The trouble is, I look around the region at the moment, and
everything that Iran is doing is negative."

Calling the Holocaust an "immense tragedy" for humanity, the Vatican issued a
statement admitting of no doubt that the mass murder of Jews took place. The
statement used the Hebrew word for the Holocaust, Shoah, and expressed "great
compassion" for what happened to the Jews of Europe during World War II,
according to Agence France-Presse.

The White House said in a statement that the gathering of Holocaust deniers in
Tehran was an "affront to the entire civilized world, as well as to the
traditional Iranian values of tolerance and mutual respect."

Franco Frattini, vice president of the European Commission, the executive arm
of the European Union, expressed "shock" that the conference had been

The French foreign minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, also condemned the

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said that 67 people from 30 countries were
participating in the two days of meetings.

On Monday, Rasoul Mousavi, head of the Foreign Ministry's Institute for
Political and International Studies, said it would provide an opportunity to
discuss the Holocaust "away from Western taboos and the restriction imposed on
them in Europe

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel-Bashers' Refrain - "We aren't saying this because we aren't allowed to criticize Israel"


There is an old joke about the Englishman who explains that their way of answering the telephone is much better:

"We say 'Are you there?' If you're not, there's no sense in continuing the conversation, is there?":

The same logic underlies a popular refrain that seems to accompany every recent Israel bashing publicity gig. No matter that it is totally prima facie illogical, it is now a permanent repetitive feature of every article, book and interview relating to anyone who wants to criticize Israel. You can read it in the morning paper, you can hear it on the radio, and you can see it on television. Jimmy Carter does it. Professors Walt and Mearsheimer do it. Everyone's doing it. I am referring of course, to the whining complaint that "nobody is allowed to criticize Israel" that is heard as the contrapuntal refrain to the crashing resonance of every trumpet blast of Israel-bashing, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

Jimmy Carter just wrote what is by all accounts an execrable book about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that will make Israel hate respectable. Given the author, it is inevitably a best-seller. This shoddy, one-sided account is ranked #9 in the Amazon sales charts. Carter is feted in media interviews across the United States. And in all of them, everywhere, he tells the same impossible story: "Nobody is allowed to criticize Israel." Here is Carter himself, badmouthing Israel in a favorable story in the LA Times:

The many controversial issues concerning Palestine and the path to peace for Israel are intensely debated among Israelis and throughout other nations - but not in the United States. For the last 30 years, I have witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts. This reluctance to criticize any policies of the Israeli government is because of the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American-Israel Political Action Committee and the absence of any significant contrary voices.

...What is even more difficult to comprehend is why the editorial pages of the major newspapers and magazines in the United States exercise similar self-restraint, quite contrary to private assessments
expressed quite forcefully by their correspondents in the Holy Land.

As Carter asserts that nobody in the USA is allowed to criticize Israel, it seems Los Angeles is not in the United States.

Here is the same Carter with the same complaint in of the purposes of the book was to provoke discussion, which is very rarely heard in this country. And we can find Carter badmouthing Israel in Democracy Today and on Israel radio and just about everywhere else, always with the complaint that nobody is allowed to criticize Israel.

Continued at

Continued (Permanent Link)

Merkel: It's time to impose sanctions against Iran

Merkel: It's time to impose sanctions against Iran

By Yossi Verter, Haaretz Correspondent and The Associated Press

BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, after meeting here with Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert, that the time has come to work vigorously to impose
sanctions on Iran that will lead Tehran to stop enriching uranium, but
rejected the military option.

Merkel said at a press conference after the meeting that "for me, a military
solution is not on the table - I have said that."

"It is all the more important for me that we explore every possibility - from
offers to sanctions - to truly exhaust the diplomatic possibilities for a
solution," she said.

Olmert said that Israel is not necessarily calling for a military operation
either, and both stressed the need for Tehran to be prevented from developing
nuclear weapons.

If current international efforts "are consistent and firm, there is a good
chance of bringing about the outcome that we seek," Olmert said. The prime
minister said he has long preferred a compromise, as long as it prevents Iran
from crossing the technology threshold that would allow it to produce a
nuclear bomb.

In a briefing for Israeli journalists, Olmert said the United States was
already taking economic steps that don't require United Nations approval, like
limiting international credit lines and making foreign trade with Iran
difficult. And as a result of the steps Germany has taken, trade between it
and Iran decreased by 12 percent in the past year, he said.

"If we can have a negative impact on the Iranians' quality of life, it will
bring us closer to the result we hope for," said Olmert. "There is no time. We
must act all the time to foil any possibility that Iran will attain nuclear
capability. The lack of time is inherent to the scope of the threat."

Merkel and Olmert also mentioned Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. "Israel is
making an exceptional effort to launch a serious dialogue with the
Palestinians, and for this the principles of the road map are the basis for
this dialogue," Olmert said at the press conference.

Merkel praised Olmert for his recent Sde Boker speech, in which he called for
negotiations with the Palestinians, and said she was disappointed that
Germany's efforts have not yet led to the release of the two Israeli soldiers
kidnapped by Hezbollah last summer. She also said she sent the German foreign
minister to Syria a week ago - a move Olmert has criticized - in the hope that
his visit would yield positive results, but that the signs from Damascus are
not cause for optimism.

Olmert said Israel has received a clear sign that captive soldier Gilad
Shalit, who was abducted near Gaza, is alive, but has not received any such
signs regarding the two soldiers kidnapped in the North.

Merkel criticized both Iran and Syria for failing to play a constructive role
in wider attempts to find a lasting, peaceful solution for the Middle East.
Germany, along with the UN Security Council's five permanent members, has led
efforts to persuade Iran to halt uranium enrichment. The six powers are
currently trying to agree on proposed sanctions against Iran, which insists
its nuclear program is peaceful and has resisted efforts to pressure it to
modify it so it can't produce arms.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Annan: Time is Running Out in Middle East

Annan: Time is Running Out in Middle East

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned Tuesday that tensions in the Middle
East were "near the breaking point" and said the Israelis and Palestinians
were equally responsible for fueling the conflict.
In his last address to the Security Council as head of the world body, Annan
offered tough words for both the Israelis and Palestinians, declaring that
time was running out to negotiate a two-state solution to avoid a greater
outbreak of violence.

Annan's criticism of Israel focused on its five-month-long military operation
in the Gaza Strip, during which more than 300 Palestinians were killed. Israel
launched the offensive after one of its soldiers was captured by Hamas-linked
militants in June.

"The use of military force in densely populated civilian areas is a blunt
instrument that only produces more death, destruction, recrimination and
revenge," Annan said. "And as we have seen, it does little to achieve the
desired goal of stopping terrorist attacks."

He said, however, the Palestinians will not achieve their goal of forming a
sovereign state without renouncing violent acts. "No resistance to occupation
can justify terrorism," he said.

Annan's speech was notably balanced in its criticism of both sides.

He noted that the Security Council has been accused of a "double standard" in
applying sanctions to Arab and Muslim countries but not to Israel. But he
warned those critics not to hold Israel to standards they wouldn't be willing
to apply to other states.

Annan, whose 10-year stewardship of the United Nations ends Dec. 31, said the
solution was an immediate return to talks on the stalled roadmap to a
two-state solution backed by the so-called Quartet of Mideast peacemakers -
the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia.

"Tensions in the region are near the breaking point," he said. "The
opportunity for negotiating a two-state solution will last for only so long.

"Should we fail to seize it, the people who most directly bear the brunt of
this calamity will be consigned to new depths of suffering and grief. And
extremists the world over would enjoy a boost to their recruiting efforts."

The Islamic militant Hamas group, which controls the Palestinian government,
and President Mahmoud Abbas' moderate Fatah party have failed in recent
attempts to form a national unity government, dimming hopes for renewed
negotiations with Israel.

Hamas has thus far refused Israeli and Quartet demands to renounce violence,
recognize Israel and honor past peace agreements. Prime Minister Ismail
Haniyeh hardened the Hamas line on Friday when he said in Iran that his group
will never recognize Israel or give up its "jihad-like movement until the
liberation of Jerusalem."

However, in his speech to the Security Council on Tuesday, Palestinian U.N.
observer Riyad Mansour said Abbas and senior PLO officials remain committed to
the peace process with Israel.

"This is the cornerstone to solving any crisis in the region," he said.

Mansour, an Abbas supporter, attempted to downplay Hamas' role in peace talks
by stressing they are the sole responsibility of the PLO, which is made up of
Fatah members. A member of the PLO Executive Committee said Saturday the
largely dormant group was reactivating its department that deals with Israeli

A presidential statement adopted by the Security Council Tuesday also called
for renewed peace talks between the two sides, but didn't refer directly to

Beirut, 13 Dec 06, 10:27

Continued (Permanent Link)

Man given 3 years in jail for role in bombing at Nazareth church

Last update - 15:43 13/12/2006

Man given 3 years in jail for role in bombing at Nazareth church

By Eli Ashkenazi, Haaretz Correspondent

The Nazareth Regional Court on Wednesday sentenced Haim Habbibi to three years
imprisonment for detonating explosives within the Church of the Annunciation
in Nazareth last March. His wife Violet Habbibi was given a six-month
suspended sentence for her role in the crime.

The Habbibi couple was convicted in September of conspiring to commit a crime,
incitement, general mayhem, and unruly behavior in a public place.

Last March, the couple and their daughter Odelia, entered the Church of the
Annunciation in Nazareth carrying dozens of firecrackers and other explosive
devices, including 19 gas containers and bottles full of flammable liquid.

The couple then detonated several explosive devices within the church, leading
to intense riots around the church as Nazareth residents rushed to the church
fearing an attack on a Christian holy site was taking place.

After several hours, police were able to get the crowds under control and
spirit the couple out of the church.

In the original indictment, the couple and their daughter were charged with
attempted property damage through the use of explosives, a charge that was
later dropped of part of a plea bargain. A charge of assault leveled against
Violet and all charges against the daughter were also dropped in the plea

Continued (Permanent Link)

Haniyeh curtails foreign trip after Hamas activist killed in Gaza

Haniyeh curtails foreign trip after Hamas activist killed in Gaza

By Avi Isaacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent and Associated Press

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh announced Wednesday that he was
cutting short a month-long foreign trip, hours after a prominent member of
Hamas was shtot dead in the southern Gaza Strip.

The man, a judge and senior =member of the Hamas military wing, was shot dead
Wednesday morning by armed men outside a courthouse in Khan Yunis in the
southern Gaza Strip.

Palestinian security officials identified the dead man as Bassam al-Fara, 30,
a judge at the Islamic court and a member of the largest clan in Khan Yunis.

Witnesses said four gunmen ambushed al-Fara, opening fire as he emerged from
his car and began walking into the courthouse. Hospital officials said
al-Fara's body was riddled with several bullets.

Haniyeh, also of Hamas, said in Sudan he would return to Gaza on Thursday.
When he left Gaza on November 28 Haniyeh had planned to travel for a month,
but this drew criticism because of the need to conclude negotiations on a new
unity government and the political violence raging in the Palestinian

"We need the prime minister to be here now to resolve the internal problems,"
Haniyeh's political adviser, Ahmed Youssef, said in Gaza on Wednesday.

Haniyeh dismissed fears of the violence in Gaza escalating to a civil war.

"We want to assure you that words such as 'civil war' don't exist in our
dictionary. They don't exist in our makeup, in our culture," Haniyeh told
reporters in Khartoum.

"We don't have time for internal feuds. We will protect the national unity of
the Palestinian people and we will thwart any attempt to instigate an
inter-Palestinian struggle."

The drive-by shooting came two days after the killing of the three young
children of a Fatah-allied Palestinian intelligence officer, sparking renewed
clashes between the rival Hamas and Fatah factions and raising the specter of
a civil war among Palestinians.

Fauzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, condemned the killing and promised to bring
the perpetrators to justice.

"This is an ugly crime committed against one of the field commanders of Hamas'
military wing and one of the prominent figures in Hamas.

"The fingers that shot him are the same fingers that were involved in the
killing of previous Hamas leaders," he said, adding that "Hamas is not going
to forget the blood of its members, it is going to pursue and bring those who
were involved in today's crime to justice".

Fatah spokesman Tawfik Abu Khoussa rejected the accusations. "We condemn all
acts of anarchy whatever may be behind them, we call on the brothers in Hamas
to stop firing accusations before the investigation," he said.

But other Fatah officials noted that al-Fara had been involved in previous
attacks against Fatah members.

Dozens gathered at the point of the shooting and Palestinian security set up
roadblocks. Hamas militants also set up their own roadblocks throughout town,
searching for the gunmen.

Continued (Permanent Link)

55% of all Israelis Are Prepared to Invest time in Activities Designed to Strengthen Ties with World Jewry

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

55% of all Israelis Are Prepared to Invest time in Activities Designed to
Strengthen Ties with World Jewry

The results of the survey will be presented at a national convention of the
Jewish Agency as part of the 'Partnership 2000' program which works to
create partnerships between Jewish communities worldwide and communities in

About 55% of Israel's residents are willing to take an active part and
invest their time to strengthen ties with world Jewry. This emerges from a
survey conducted by the Jewish Agency as part of the Partnership 2000
program that bonds between Jewish communities worldwide and communities in
Israel. The survey was conducted by the 'Elixir' Research Institute among a
random national sample of 1,830 homes.

The Partnership 2000 program of the Jewish Agency creates partnerships
between Jewish communities worldwide and communities in Israel. Today there
are 45 partnerships which take place between 550 Jewish communities
worldwide and dozens of regional councils and communities in Israel. The
program serves as a 'living bridge' between tens of thousands of Jews
worldwide and the residents of Israel and aids in promoting social and
educational projects. The Orlando Jewish Community has recently joined the
Partnership 2000 program, and will be the partner community of Kiryat

The survey reveals that 39% of those interviewed are willing to take an
active part in strengthening ties with world Jewry and are willing to invest
7 hours a month on average for this purpose. An additional 16% were willing
to invest even more time on the issue. Furthermore, 74% of those questioned
noted that they view reinforced ties with world Jewry as significant to very
significant. Almost half of those questioned were aware of the Partnership
2000 program that works to strengthen the ties between Israel and world

The results of the survey will be presented at a national convention of the
Partnership 2000 program that will take place this week in Israel, in the
presence of chairmen of partnerships and subcommittees, volunteers and
activists from partnerships all over Israel.

During the convention, four partnerships will be presented with awards for
excellence on behalf of the Jewish Agency: The Great Britian and
Confrontation Line partnership for the 'Study the Galilee' program; The
Afula-Gilboa and the UJC Southern New England Consortium (SNEC)for their
Young Emissaries program - 'Shinshinim'; The Tel-Aviv and Los Angeles
partnership for the Twin Schools program; and the Western Galilee and UJC
Central Region Consortium partnership for a program training US medical
squads to handle emergency situations.

The convention will be held on Thursday 14.12, between 10:00-17:00 at Kfar
Maccabiah,Ramat Gan in the presence of the Chairman of the Jewish Agency,
Zeev Bielski and the Treasurer of the Jewish Agency, Hagai Meirom.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Continued (Permanent Link)

Five Qassams fired at western Negev despite Gaza cease-fire

Last update - 19:25 12/12/2006

Five Qassams fired at western Negev despite Gaza cease-fire
By Mijal Grinberg and Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondents and Haaretz Service

Five Qassam rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at the western Negev on
Tuesday, despite a Gaza Strip cease-fire declared last month.

Two rockets were fired at approximately 7 P.M. Earlier, three rockets hit open
areas in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, causing no injuries or damage.

In recent months, security forces have arrested roughly 50 Islamic Jihad
members in the South Hebron Hills, the Shin Bet announced Tuesday.

Among those arrested were seven operatives suspected of expressing a
willingness to carry out suicide bombings.

On Monday, an Israel Defense Forces soldier was moderately wounded when
Palestinians opened fire on an IDF convoy in the West Bank town of Qabatiyeh,
south of Jenin.

The convoy was en route to the scene of a Jeep accident, to assist in rescue
efforts. The jeep had flipped over, lightly wounding four soldiers.

The Palestinians opened fire at the convoy from a relatively far distance,
wounding the soldier in his head. The soldier was evacuated in an Israel Air
Force helicopter to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. The army has not yet
located the gunmen.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Ahmadinejad at Holocaust conference: Israel will 'soon be wiped out'

Last update - 02:10 13/12/2006

Ahmadinejad at Holocaust conference: Israel will 'soon be wiped out'

By Haaretz Service and Agencies

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday told delegates at an
international conference questioning the Holocaust that Israel's days were

Ahmadinejad, who has sparked international outcry by referring to the
systematic murder of six million Jews in World War II as a "myth" and calling
for Israel to be "wiped off the map", launched another verbal attack on

"Thanks to people's wishes and God's will the trend for the existence of the
Zionist regime is [headed] downwards and this is what God has promised and
what all nations want," he said.

"Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the
Zionist regime soon be wiped out," he added.

His words received warm applause from delegates at the Holocaust conference,
who included ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist Jews and European and American
writers who argue the Holocaust was either fabricated or exaggerated.

The White House on Tuesday condemned the gathering of Holocaust deniers in
Tehran as "an affront to the entire civilized world as well as to the
traditional Iranian values of tolerance and respect."

A statement from White House Press Secretary Tony Snow noted the meeting
coincided with International Human Rights Week, which renews the pledges of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights drafted in the wake of World War II

"The Iranian regime perversely seeks to call the historical fact of those
atrocities into question and provide a platform for hatred," Snow said.

He said the United States will continue to support those in Iran and elsewhere
who seek to promote human rights "and will stand with them in their efforts to
overcome oppression, injustice and tyranny."

On Monday the U.S. State Department dismissed the conference as "just awful."

Participants at the conference praised Iran's hard-line president Tuesday,
saying the gathering gave them the opportunity to air theories that cast doubt
on the Nazis' attempt to eradicate the Jewish people, something that is banned
in parts of Europe.

The government-sponsored conference in Tehran, which has drawn Holocaust
deniers from around the world, has continued to be the focus of international

British Prime Minister Tony Blair called the conference "shocking beyond
belief" and branded it "a symbol of sectarianism and hatred."

He said he saw little hope of engaging Iran in constructive action in the
Middle East, saying, "I look around the region at the moment, and everything
Iran is doing is negative."

Ahmadinejad initiated the two-day gathering in an attempt to bolster his image
as a leader standing up to Israel, Europe and the U.S. - an image he has used
to whip up support at home and abroad.

"Ahmadinejad's Holocaust comment opened a new window in international
relations on this issue. Twenty years ago, it was not possible to talk about
the Holocaust and any scientific study was subject to punishment. This taboo
has been broken, thanks to Mr. Ahmadinejad's initiative," Georges Theil of
France told conference delegates on Tuesday.

Theil was convicted earlier this year in France for "contesting the truth of
crimes against humanity" after he said the Nazis never used poison gas against

Michele Renouf, an Australian socialite supporter of "Holocaust skeptics,"
called Ahmadinejad "a hero" for opening a debate about the Holocaust. Renouf,
a blonde former beauty queen, addressed the audience wearing a green robe and
Islamic headscarf, abiding by Iranian law requiring women to cover their hair.

The 67 participants from 30 countries - who include some of Europe's most
prominent Holocaust deniers - were expected to meet Ahmadinejad later Tuesday.

"This conference has an incredible impact on Holocaust studies all over the
world," said American David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader and former
state representative in Louisiana.

"The Holocaust is the device used as the pillar of Zionist imperialism,
Zionist aggression, Zionist terror and Zionist murder," Duke told The
Associated Press.

In Germany, Austria and France, it is illegal to deny the Holocaust or
question some aspects of it, and several of the Tehran conference participants
have been prosecuted. They and the conference organizers have touted the
gathering as an expression of academic free speech.

Participants milled around a model of the Auschwitz concentration camp brought
by one speaker, Australian Frederick Toben, who uses the mock-up in lectures
contending that the camp was too small to kill mass numbers of Jews. More than
1 million people are estimated to have been killed there.

Toben, who was jailed in Germany in 1999 for questioning the Holocaust, has
toured Iranian universities in the past, delivering lectures.

Also among the participants are two rabbis and four other members of the group
Jews United Against Zionism, who were dressed in the traditional long black
coats and black hats of ultra-Orthodox Jews. Members of the delegation,
representatives of the Neturei Karta group, say the existence of the state of
Israel violates Jewish law and argues that the Holocaust should not be used to
justify its founding.

Many of the speakers at the conference insisted the extent of the Holocaust
had been largely exaggerated, some contending Jews had exploited it to win
backing for the creation of Israel.

In response to the forum, the Vatican issued a statement calling the Holocaust
an "immense tragedy before which we cannot remain indifferent ... The memory
of those horrible events must remain as a warning for people's consciences."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, "we reject with all our strength the
conference taking place in Iran about the supposed nonexistence of the

"We absolutely reject this; Germany will never accept this and will act
against it with all the means that we have," Merkel said at a news conference
alongside visiting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

The gathering coincided with an independently convened academic conference on
the Holocaust in Berlin, Germany, where historians affirmed the accuracy of
the Nazi genocide data and questioned the motives of those behind the Tehran

Continued (Permanent Link)

PM Olmert's 12.12.06 Speech at the Memorial Ceremony at the Grunwald Train Station in Berlin

PM Olmert's 12.12.06 Speech at the Memorial Ceremony at the Grunwald Train
Station in Berlin,frameless.htm?NRMODE=Published

I stand here, in the name of the sovereign State of Israel and as Prime
Minister of Israel, silently listening to distant voices. All around are
numerous witnesses, seemingly mute: the same platform, the same railway, the
paving stones, the land, the skies. They were here then, and they are now
reverberating with a resounding echo: I hear a mixture of incomplete words,
a suffocated cry, a child wailing, a mother pleading, an old man groaning.
Above them bursts a screeching command - cold, cutting, brutal - and in the
background an engine shrieking, a piercing screech, congested coaches
slammed shut, sealing a cry of horror; and then the echo subsides in a
metallic crunching of wheels speeding into the distance.

Everything resurfaces again and again, ceaselessly: the sights, sounds,
horrors. There is no escaping them. They will not be obliterated from our
memories, and they will forever be remembered. This is our vow.

Exactly 200 years separated the entry of a 14 year old Jewish boy into the
Rosenthal Gate at the Berlin wall (the gate intended for Jews and animals)
and the transport to the death of the Jews of Berlin by the Nazi oppressor.
The entry of Moshe Mendelssohn in the fall of 1743 marked the dawn of a
Jewish-German cultural alliance and a magnificent and tremendous creative
contribution by Jews to the spiritual life, the philosophy, literature,
poetry, music, arts, science and medicine in Germany - a contribution which
was unproportionate to the number of Jews in the population. Exactly two
hundred years, sealed for eternity, here, at dock number 17, at the Gr?nwald
Train Station.

If only they had been deported. If only they had been given the option of
leaving this country, which they so loved, for some reason, despite the
boiling lava of hatred of Jews, which constantly rustled under their feet.
If only they could escape and save themselves. But the roads were all
blocked, sealed at every turn; above all - so was the road to the Land of
Israel, the object of their dreams, the land of their hopes and prayers. The
Jews did not have a State then, and the shores of the land - like the shores
of all countries of the world - were sealed and bolted to them. There was
only one road for those who had been forcibly herded at this station: the
road heading east, from which there was no return.

A hundred years prior to these events poet Heinrich Heine wrote about the
disaster his people faced, which sound as if they were written about his
bothers and sisters who were to die:

"Outbursts of bitter lament,
The song of those who sanctify G-d,
Burning I carried you
For years in my silent heart.

The old man and the child cry,
Those with hardened hearts cry,
Women and flowers in the woods,
In the sky, a star weeps---"

The Holocaust left a question in the depths of the soul of the human race
which the heart and mind are incapable of handling, a question which cries
to the heavens and plunges to the depths. It does not have one great answer,
only countless partial answers. One of them is that the Jewish people did
not have one single harbor, to be used as a safe haven. They did not have
one single lighthouse to illuminate the darkness of the storm. They did not
have a sheltered home, with an open door to welcome them with love. They did
not have these until the establishment of the State of Israel.

We have learned and memorized the lesson: the weak and defenseless are
doomed. Doomed are they who do not believe those who threaten to eradicate
them. Doomed are they who remain complacent and do not prepare themselves to
thwart the danger. Doomed are they who entertain the false illusion that
they could escape harm and that they could rely on the mercy of strangers.

This is the legacy of our six million dead: to do everything in our power to
make certain that the Jewish State will be the complete and furthermost
opposite of the Nazi evil; to base our nation on the eternal values of the
Torah and the prophets of Israel, the freedom and dignity of man, social
justice, human morality, the sanctity of life and the dedicated pursuit of

Poet Avraham Shlonsky wrote in one of his poems:

Even here, even today, it follows me
The enemy image of a dreadful exile
Always, the train always seems to me
As murder in the middle of the day.

And the razor of the night slashes and slashes
The travel coaches - the coffins
I do not know, I do not know
Why I remembered my home today".

Indeed. The echo, the lesson is always with us. The memory train follows
every Jew, any place, any time. I, who was born in my homeland after the
Holocaust, know full well why, here and now, I remember my home, Israel. I
know full well why my home is so precious and so dear to me.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Israel-Bashers' Refrain - "We aren't saying this because we aren't allowed to criticize Israel"


There is an old joke about the Englishman who explains that their way of answering the telephone is much better:

"We say 'Are you there?' If you're not, there's no sense in continuing the conversation, is there?":

The same logic underlies a popular refrain that seems to accompany every recent Israel bashing publicity gig. No matter that it is totally prima facie illogical, it is now a permanent repetitive feature of every article, book and interview relating to anyone who wants to criticize Israel. You can read it in the morning paper, you can hear it on the radio, and you can see it on television. Jimmy Carter does it. Professors Walt and Mearsheimer do it. Everyone's doing it. I am referring of course, to the whining complaint that "nobody is allowed to criticize Israel" that is heard as the contrapuntal refrain to the crashing resonance of every trumpet blast of Israel-bashing, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

Jimmy Carter just wrote what is by all accounts an execrable book about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that will make Israel hate respectable. Given the author, it is inevitably a best-seller. This shoddy, one-sided account is ranked #9 in the Amazon sales charts. Carter is feted in media interviews across the United States. And in all of them, everywhere, he tells the same impossible story: "Nobody is allowed to criticize Israel." Here is Carter himself, badmouthing Israel in a favorable story in the LA Times:

The many controversial issues concerning Palestine and the path to peace for Israel are intensely debated among Israelis and throughout other nations - but not in the United States. For the last 30 years, I have witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts. This reluctance to criticize any policies of the Israeli government is because of the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American-Israel Political Action Committee and the absence of any significant contrary voices.

...What is even more difficult to comprehend is why the editorial pages of the major newspapers and magazines in the United States exercise similar self-restraint, quite contrary to private assessments
expressed quite forcefully by their correspondents in the Holy Land.

As Carter asserts that nobody in the USA is allowed to criticize Israel, it seems Los Angeles is not in the United States.

Here is the same Carter with the same complaint in of the purposes of the book was to provoke discussion, which is very rarely heard in this country. And we can find Carter badmouthing Israel in Democracy Today and on Israel radio and just about everywhere else, always with the complaint that nobody is allowed to criticize Israel.

Carter was not the first to voice this lie of course, and he won't be the last. Everyone's doing it. Iranian President Ahmadinejad, with his Holocaust denial conference, also claims that "the Zionists" won't let anyone discuss whether or not the Holocaust happened, even while he holds his macabre show conference and attracts media attention from around the world. Mearsheimer and Walt, whose shoddily done "study" of the Jewish conspiracy - oops, I mean "Israel Lobby" - was discussed around the world in every media and every language, also insist that nobody allows them the to criticize Israel, and the list goes on and on and on.

The sheer gall of this absurd and blatantly self-contradictory complaint is amazing. It is a good indicator of the integrity, logic and quality of the rest of the message served up by such people.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2006. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Continued (Permanent Link)

ADL: Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid - The facts

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid


Mr. Carter's book ignores several basic facts

  • In 2000 at Camp David, Israel supported the creation of a Palestinian state, withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and elected Ehud Olmert in 2006 on a platform to withdraw from much of the West Bank.

  • In exchange for Israel's offer, what it got in return was Palestinian terrorism and suicide bombings, the election of the terrorist organization Hamas and the launching of rockets into southern Israel.

  • It is not the Jewish lobby that is responsible for US policy, though supporters of Israel in America do express their democratic right to advocate on behalf of the only democracy in the region, but the American people and their representatives who understandably support Israel, an ally of the US that is eager for peace.

  • There is, in fact, a full-blown discussion in America, in the media, in politics and on campuses concerning US policy. The notion that intimidation prevents this is merely one more conspiracy theory.

  • The Palestinians are the ones who suffer from the kind of one-sided presentation made by Mr. Carter because it reinforces their illusions that they do not have to change - all the pressure will fall on Israel.

If only former President Carter would spend a fraction of his time and energy on getting the Palestinians to abandon their self-destructive policies, maybe then there could be some hope for the people of the Middle East

Continued (Permanent Link)

Conference in Iran to debate Holocaust sparks outrage

Conference in Iran to debate Holocaust sparks outrage
Blair calls conference in Iran 'shocking'

By Christine Hauser
Published: December 12, 2006

A gathering in Iran billed as a conference to "debate" the Holocaust continued
to spark outrage Tuesday, drawing fierce criticism from Western leaders.

The conference in Tehran, which began Monday, has attracted Holocaust deniers
from around the world who made presentations questioning the historical record
of the Holocaust, including whether Nazi Germany used gas chambers to
exterminate millions of Jews and other "undesirables."

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany condemned the conference Tuesday and said
Germany would never accept it. Germany also summoned the Iranian chargé
d'affaires in Berlin to express its anger over the conference.

In several European countries, including Germany, denial of the Holocaust is a

While many Western countries have recently urged that Iran and Syria be
included in negotiations to deal with conflicts in the region, including the
violence in Iraq, some have pointed to the conference as indicative of the
extremist nature of the current Iranian government.
Related Articles

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has frequently voiced a view held by
many in the Muslim world that the crimes of the Nazis were exaggerated to
justify giving Palestinian land to Jews, ultimately leading to the creation of

Iran held a contest over the summer for cartoons about the Holocaust, in
reaction to a controversy over cartoons published in Denmark that lampooned
the Prophet Muhammad.

The White House said that it recognized that not everyone in Iran agreed with
the most extreme elements in the regime there, and that the United States
would stand with those who sought "to overcome oppression, injustice and

During his monthly news conference Tuesday, Prime Minister Tony Blair of
Britain held out little hope of engaging Iran in constructive action in the
Middle East and expressed revulsion at the Holocaust conference, calling it
"shocking beyond belief."

"It's not that I'm against the concept of reaching out to people," Blair was
quoted by Reuters as saying, in a reference to efforts to include Iran in
peace efforts. "The trouble is, I look around the region at the moment, and
everything that Iran is doing is negative."

Calling the Holocaust an "immense tragedy" for humanity, the Vatican issued a
statement admitting of no doubt that the mass murder of Jews took place. The
statement used the Hebrew word for the Holocaust, Shoah, and expressed "great
compassion" for what happened to the Jews of Europe during World War II,
according to Agence France-Presse.

The White House said in a statement that the gathering of Holocaust deniers in
Tehran was an "affront to the entire civilized world, as well as to the
traditional Iranian values of tolerance and mutual respect."

Franco Frattini, vice president of the European Commission, the executive arm
of the European Union, expressed "shock" that the conference had been

The French foreign minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, also condemned the

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said that 67 people from 30 countries were
participating in the two days of meetings.

On Monday, Rasoul Mousavi, head of the Foreign Ministry's Institute for
Political and International Studies, said it would provide an opportunity to
discuss the Holocaust "away from Western taboos and the restriction imposed on
them in Europe

Continued (Permanent Link)

Investment in Israel sets new record

Investment in Israel sets new record
All time record overseas investments, Straight from The Jerusalem Boardroom,
Dec. 10, 2006
10.12.2006 (18:45)

TOM HOGAN, HP's senior VP: HP's three acquisitions in Israel constitute HP's
winning card. Mercury, which was acquired for $4.5BN has become HP's most
significant R&D center in the world (Globes Nov. 20).

2006), a 72% growth over the entire 2005! Direct overseas investments totaled
$9.25 during the first ten months of 2006, a 65% increase over the whole of
2005 (Globes, Nov. 6).

TOM HOGAN, HP's senior VP: HP's three acquisitions in Israel constitute HP's
winning card. Mercury, which was acquired for $4.5BN has become HP's most
significant R&D center in the world (Globes Nov. 20).

STANLEY GOLD, SHAMROCK'S PRESIDENT: $550MN have been invested in Israel during
the last 19 years yielding an IRR of 31% (GLOBES, Nov. 29).

THE I.M.F. has submitted a report, praising the all time high overseas
investments and the overall performance of Israel's economy, especially in
view of regional unpredictabilities: 5% surplus in the balance-of-payments,
reduced inflation, lower interest rates and low budget deficit (Nov. 7, 2006).

CITIGROUP-Israel's CEO, Ralph Shaaya: Israel has become a technological giant,
and therefore should expect a growing wave of overseas direct and financial
investments (The Marker, Nov. 6).

2. APAX-ISRAEL has won a $1BN bid for the acquisition of Israel's Tnuva (The
Marker, Nov. 21). ENGLAND's ROYAL & SUN ALLIANCE INSURANCE has acquired 50%
of Israel's Direct Insurance real estate operations in East Europe for $340MN
(Globes, Nov. 28). $14BN NETWORK APPLIANCE has acquired Israel's Topio for
$160MN in cash. AOL has acquired Israel's Relegence for $60MN in cash, its
second acquisition in Israel (Globes, Nov. 9). US-based NEUSTAR acquired
Israel's FollowUp for $139MN (The Marker, Nov. 29). NDS, a global leader in
the area of TV digital software and hardware acquired Israel's Jungo for
$108MN (The Marker, Nov. 30). $1BN INFORMATICA acquired Israel's ItemField
for $50MN (The Marker, Nov. 26). SHAMROCK acquired 66% of Israel's Teva Naot
for $14MN (The Marker, Nov. 19). US-based FuturaGene acquired Israel's CBD
for $14MN (Globes, Nov. 27). A US investment bank acquired 20% of Giga Spaces
for $11MN (Globes, Nov. 28).

3. $78MN raised on NASDAQ by Israel's Allot. $47.5MN raised on NASDAQ by
Israel's R.R. Satellites. $729MN have been raised in the US, by Israeli
companies, since Jan. 2006: Incredimail - $19MN, Saifan - $133MN, Ormat
Technologies - $143MN, Omerix - $$40MN, Delek - $184MN, Israel Growth - $51MN,
Fortissimo Acquisition - $27MN, RRSat - $$47.5MN, Allot - $78MN (Globes, Nov.
17, 2).

round by Israel's Galil Medical, the largest round of private placement since
Jan. 2006: Chiasma - $44MN, Zend - $20MN, Transtech - $18MN, TransPharma -
$18MN, PortAuthority - $18MN, GamidaSal - $16MN, UltraShape - $15MN,
MetaCafe - $15MN, FlashNetworks - $15MN and MobilEye - $15MN$2BN (Globes, Nov.
23). US-based MPM VC Fund led a $44MN 3rd round by Israel's Chiasma (Globes,
Nov. 16). KLEINER PERKINS VC FUND led a $15MN 3rd round by Israel's 3DV
Systems (Globes, Nov. 23). SEQUOIA VC FUND leads an $11MN 2nd round by
Israel's Pontis (Globes, Nov. 7). INTEL CAPITAL and WALDEN-ISRAEL led a
$10.5MN 4th round private placement by Israel' s Epos (Globes, Nov. 15).
PHILIP FROST, former CEO of IVAX, invested $9MN (in addition to his initial
$15MN investment) in Israel's Protelix (Globes, Nov. 20). BENCHMARK CAPITAL
led a $7MN 1st round by Israel's Clarizen (The Marker, Dec. 5). INTEL CAPITAL
and WALDEN-ISRAEL led a $5MN round by Israel's CableMatrix (The Marker, Nov.
21). US-based HIGHBRIDGE and ZMED led a $5MN 2nd round by Israel's
NeuroSurvival Technologies (The Marker, Nov. 21). SEQUOIA invested $5MN in
Israel's Scent Detection Technologies (The Marker, Nov. 30). US-based 21st
Ventures invested $3MN in Israel's Bio Petro Clean (Globes, Dec. 7).

Continued (Permanent Link)

Tehran's Holocaust Lesson [by Anne Applebaum]

Washington Post
Tuesday, December 12, 2006; Page A27

Tehran's Holocaust Lesson
By Anne Applebaum

Yesterday the Iranian Foreign Ministry held an international
conference. Nothing unusual in that: Foreign ministries hold
conferences, mostly dull ones, all the time. But this one was
different. For one, "Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision"
dealt with history, not current politics. Instead of the usual
suspects -- deputy ministers and the like -- the invitees seem to
have included David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader; Georges
Theil, a Frenchman who has called the Holocaust "an enormous
lie"; and Fredrick Toeben, a German-born Australian whose
specialty is the denial of Nazi gas chambers.

The guest list was selective: No one with any academic eminence,
or indeed any scholarly credentials, was invited. One Palestinian
scholar, Khaled Kasab Mahameed, was asked to come but then barred
because he holds an Israeli passport -- and also perhaps because
he, unlike other guests, believes that the Holocaust really did

In response, Europe, the United States and Israel expressed
official outrage. The German government, to its credit, organized
a counter-conference. Still, many have held their distance,
refusing to be shocked or even especially interested. After all,
the Holocaust ended more than six decades ago. Since then,
victims of the Holocaust have written hundreds of books, and
scholarship on the Holocaust has run into billions of words.
There are films, photographs, documents, indeed whole archives
dedicated to the history of the Nazi regime. We all know what
happened. Surely Iran's denial cannot be serious.

Unfortunately, Iran is serious -- or at least Iran's president,
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is deadly serious: Holocaust denial is his
personal passion, not just a way of taunting Israel, and it's
based on his personal interpretation of history. Earlier this
year, in a distinctly eerie open letter to the German chancellor,
Angela Merkel, he lauded the great achievements of German culture
and lamented that "the propaganda machinery after World War II
has been so colossal that [it] has caused some people to believe
that they are the guilty party."

Such views hark back to the 1930s, when the then-shah of Iran was
an admirer of Hitler's notion of the "Aryan master race," to
which Persians were said to belong. Ahmadinejad himself counts as
a mentor an early Muslim revolutionary who was heavily influenced
by wartime Nazi propaganda. It shows.

Of course, Holocaust denial also has broader roots and many more
adherents in the Middle East, which may be part of the point,
too: Questioning the reality of the Holocaust has long been
another means of questioning the legitimacy of the state of
Israel, which was indeed created by the United Nations in
response to the Holocaust, and which has indeed incorporated
Holocaust history into its national identity. If the Shiite
Iranians are looking for friends, particularly among Sunni Arabs,
Holocaust denial isn't a bad way to find them.

But this week's event has some new elements too. This is, after
all, an international conference, with foreign participants,
formal themes (example: "How did the Zionists collaborate with
Hitler?") and a purpose that goes well beyond a mere denunciation
of Israel. Because some countries once under Nazi rule have
postwar laws prohibiting Holocaust denial, Iran has declared this
"an opportunity for thinkers who cannot express their views
freely in Europe about the Holocaust." If the West is going to
shelter Iranian dissidents, then Iran will shelter David Duke. If
the West is going to pretend to support freedom of speech, then
so will Iran.

Heckled for the first time in many months by demonstrators at a
rally yesterday, Ahmadinejad responded by calling the hecklers
paid American agents: "Today the worst type of dictatorship in
the world is the American dictatorship, which has been clothed in
human rights." The American dictatorship, clothed in human rights
and spouting falsified history: It's the kind of argument you can
hear quite often nowadays, in Iran as well as in Russia and
Venezuela, not to mention the United States.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that this particular
brand of historical revisionism is no joke, and we shouldn't be
tempted to treat it that way. Yes, we think we know this story
already; we think we've institutionalized this memory; we think
this particular European horror has been put to rest, and it is
time to move on. I've sometimes thought that myself: There is so
much other history to learn, after all. The 20th century was not
lacking in tragedy.

And yet -- the near-destruction of the European Jews, in a very
brief span of time, by a sophisticated European nation using the
best technology available was, it seems, an event that requires
constant reexplanation, not least because it really did shape
subsequent European and world history in untold ways. For that
reason alone it seems the archives, the photographs and the
endless rebuttals will go on being necessary, long beyond the
lifetime of the last survivor.

Continued (Permanent Link)

ISG fallout continues with query: Is Israeli-Arab peace the linchpin?

ISG fallout continues with query: Is Israeli-Arab peace the linchpin?
By Ron Kampeas
Jewish Telegraph Agency
December 10, 2006
WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 (JTA) - Officials of the American and Israeli governments
agree on two things: Iraq has nothing at all to do with Israeli-Arab issues.
Except when it does.

>From President Bush and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on down, the leaderships of
the Israeli and American governments are simultaneously embracing and
rebuffing last week's conclusions of the congressionally mandated Iraq Study
Group, which makes Israeli-Arab peace progress a linchpin of a successful
outcome in Iraq.

The crux of their argument is that while it is wrong to blame the Israeli-Arab
impasse for any part of the crisis in Iraq, actors in that crisis - chief
among them Iran and its allies - are successfully using Israel as a
justification for raising the stakes in Iraq.

"We do this not because we are persuaded by some linkage or another, but
because it is in the U.S. national interest," David Welch, the top U.S. State
Department envoy to the Middle East, said Friday of U.S. involvement in
Arab-Israeli peace when he addressed the Saban Forum, an annual colloquy of
U.S. and Israeli leaders.

Another Bush administration official put it more bluntly: " 'Palestine' is not
a relevant issue to Iraq, but it is an issue exploited by Iran and extremists
throughout the region," the official told JTA, speaking on condition of

Arab-Israeli peace talks would have a "positive, emboldening effect," the
official said. "If progress among Israel and the Palestinians is manifested,
then moderates throughout the region win and extremists lose."

Conversely, the official said, "We believe that a success in Iraq, a success
for moderates against forces of extremism, whether secular or religious, will
have a very significant impact in the region, in Syria, in Lebanon, as well as
in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

The Bush administration has welcomed Olmert's recent overture to the
Palestinians in which he promised a release of prisoners and increased
mobility should a cease-fire hold and the Palestinians prove themselves able
to present a negotiating team that renounces terrorism and recognizes Israel's

Mahmoud Abbas, the relatively moderate Palestinian Authority president, has
all but given up on such concessions from the Cabinet, led by the terrorist
Hamas group, and has proposed new elections.

Tzipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister, said at the Saban Forum that Israel
and the West should encourage alternatives to the Hamas government, although
she did not elaborate.

Bush launches a weeklong review of the Iraq Study Group's recommendations on
Monday, starting with meetings with top State Department officials. Later in
the week he meets with outside experts, top U.S. diplomats in the region and
top military brass.

His primary concern about the report is its deadline for a withdrawal of U.S.
combat troops by the first quarter of 2008. Bush has steadfastly resisted
timetables until now.

But after meeting with Tony Blair, the British prime minister who is about to
tour the region, Bush suggested that he embraced its Iraq-Israeli-Palestinian
linkage, counting it as one of three ways to move the Iraq process forward.

"The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is important to be solved," the president

That's music to the ears of Blair and other Europeans, who enthusiastically
welcomed the recommendations of the commission, headed by James Baker,
secretary of state to Bush's father, and Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic
congressman from Indiana.

"The German government shares many of the political observations in the
report," a statement from the German Embassy in Washington said last week on
the eve of a visit here by the German foreign minister, Frank-Walter
Steinmeier. "The entire Middle East region must move into the international
community's scope. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is of central importance."

Such views were hardly welcome at the Saban Forum, where the ISG's report lent
an anxious irritability to the weekend proceedings at Washington's Ritz
Carlton hotel. The Saban Center, a Brookings Institution subsidiary funded by
American-Israeli entertainment mogul Haim Saban, attracts top names to its
annual colloquies. Last year's was in Jerusalem.

"The Iraqi conflict has very little to do with the Israeli-Palestinian
crisis," Yuli Tamir, Israel's education minister, told JTA during a break
from the conference's closed sessions. "I don't think it's relevant - it's a
good justification but not a reason."

On Sunday, Olmert, who had earlier suggested that he disagrees with the report's
conclusions, ordered his Cabinet not to comment on it, saying it was an
internal American affair.

Livni did not mention the Baker-Hamilton report by name, but its conclusions
were clearly the focus of her keynote address at a gala State Department
dinner last Friday night.

"There is a commonly mistaken assumption that I sometimes hear that the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the core of the trouble of the Middle East,
that somehow if this conflict could be resolved, so the situation could be
different, and we can face a totally different region," she said. "So, this is
wrong. This view confuses symptom and cause. The truth is that the conflicts
in the Middle East are a consequence, not a cause, of radicalism and

That may be the case, but Livni in the same speech was nonetheless preoccupied
by how Iran would fare in the Iraq crisis - and what a success by its Shi'ite
Muslim proteges in Iraq would bode for Israel and the region.

"The idea of spreading Shi'ism all over the region is a threat not only to
Israel but the region itself," she said, citing efforts this week by the
Hezbollah terrorist group to topple Lebanon's Western-leaning government.

Bush expressed wariness about the commission's recommendations to engage Iran
and Syria. He was adamant that those countries were out of bounds until they
stopped backing terrorists.

If Syria and Iran are "not committed to that concept, then they shouldn't
bother to show up" to a regional conference on Iraq, he said after meeting
with Blair.

Iran's ambitions dominated much of the Saban Forum. Shimon Peres, the vice
prime minister, spoke darkly of the possibility of war in a Saturday-night
panel with former President Clinton.

"Iran's strength derives from the weakness of the international community," he
said. "If there was an international coalition, there would be no need to go
to war against Iran, and Iran would return to its natural dimensions."

Israel backs U.S. and European efforts to sanction Iran until it gives up
enriching uranium, a step toward manufacturing a nuclear weapon.

Peres described a range of options to prevent Iran's nuclearization:
monitoring its missiles with nuclear warhead capability; economic sanctions;
limiting its oil production; and assisting regime change.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Increasingly radical, Israeli Arabs want end to Zionist vision of state

Dec. 11, 2006

Increasingly radical, Israeli Arabs want end to Zionist vision of

By Leslie Susser
December 11, 2006

JERUSALEM, Dec. 11 (JTA) — Increasingly alienated from the Jewish
state in the wake of the recent Lebanon war, Israeli Arabs have
produced a radical document demanding cultural autonomy and the
right to veto government decisions that concern them.

The document, titled "The Future Vision of Palestinian Arabs in
Israel," could prove to be a watershed.

Drafted by representative mainstream organizations and not by
extremists, it constitutes an unqualified rejection of the
Zionist model of Israel as a Jewish state in which Israeli Arabs
are integrated as equal citizens with full rights.

Instead, the document proposes a model of Israel as "the state of
all its citizens," in which two ethnic groups, Jews and Arabs,
both enjoy a degree of autonomy in a binational state. That would
be next to a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip
that would be entirely Arab.

The rift between the Jewish majority and Arab minority in Israel
has been widening steadily for years. Pre-existing tensions
between the two communities were exacerbated by the Oslo process,
the lethal clashes between Israeli Arabs and police in October
2000 and, most recently, by the second Lebanon war.

A last-ditch attempt by moderates on both sides to draft a
conciliatory Jewish-Arab covenant collapsed in 2001. The
protocols of their meetings, released recently, show that the
main sticking point was the Arab side's refusal to recognize
Israel as a Jewish state.

The new document takes this rejection further. It has eight
chapters dealing with sensitive issues like land policy, economic
development, education and the nature of the Israeli state. The
drafters do not recognize Israel's essential Jewishness, and see
it instead as a "joint homeland" for Jews and Arabs. That paves
the way for the Arab side to demand not only individual rights
but rights as a group.

From this basic position, the drafters derive their insistence
on cultural, religious and educational autonomy. It also
underpins their demands for separate representation in
international forums and a veto right on domestic issues that
concern them as a group.

The significance is far reaching: Israel would forfeit its Jewish
character. Indeed, the drafters of the document urge Israel to
forego its Jewish symbols of state — for example, the flag with
the Star of David and the"Hatikvah" anthem, which expresses the
Jewish yearning through the ages for a return to Zion.

The new document would seem to have widespread Israeli Arab
support: It was drafted by the Supreme Arab Monitoring Committee
and endorsed by the Arab Local Authorities' Committee, two bodies
that represent a wide spectrum of Israeli Arab opinion.

Many Israeli Jews were stung and deeply disappointed by the
document. For them, the raison d'etre for the establishment of
the state was to create a national homeland for the Jewish
people. Few would be willing to consider, far less to discuss,
forfeiting its Jewish character.

In a bitter article in Ma'ariv, journalist Dan Margalit captured
the widespread frustration at the direction Israeli Arab thinking
seems to be taking.

"It's very sad and a great pity," he wrote. "We were wrong to
harbor illusions. They [Israeli Arabs] are impossible."

Israeli intellectuals point out that if the thesis of a
binational Israel were adopted, it would mean that in a two-state
solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — Israel and
Palestine living side-by-side in peace — the Palestinians would
have one-and-a-half states, the Jews only half a state.

Why are Palestinians entitled to full statehood and Jews not?
they ask.

A recently published book, "Whose Land is This?" edited by
veteran Ha'aretz columnist Uzi Benziman, tells another sad story:
How leading thinkers on both sides, aware that Jewish-Arab
relations were on a collision course, failed to formulate a
common basis for dialogue and coexistence.

Between January 1999 and January 2001, 12 Israeli Jews led by
Hebrew University Law Professor Mordechai Kremnitzer and eight
Israeli Arabs led by Adel Manna, director of the Jerusalem-based
Van Leer Institute's Center for the Study of Arab Society in
Israel, made a Herculean effort to draw up a Jewish-Arab covenant
that would take the sting out of ties between the two communities.

Both sides showed goodwill and significant progress was made. But
the Israeli Jews threw up their hands in despair when the Arab
side refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, in precisely
the same way as the drafters of the new document are refusing to
do today.

Disillusionment about Jewish-Arab ties in Israel was exacerbated
by the recent Lebanon war, which underscored the huge disparity
in basic sensibilities. Many Israeli Arabs accused Israel of a
"disproportionate response" to Hezbollah attacks, and they openly
sided with the Lebanese militia, even though they often bore the
brunt of its haphazard rocket attacks.

"During the recent war, a line was crossed: Arab Israelis did not
hesitate to openly express their support for the enemy and
preferred their ties to the enemy over their obligations to the
state of which they are citizens," Benziman wrote in Ha'aretz,
arguing that the main reason for this was "their refusal to
recognize the legitimacy of the Zionist idea — a refusal that is
nourished by the foolish and evil policy of discrimination
adopted by all Israeli governments."

Arab intellectuals acknowledge that the core of the argument is
indeed over the legitimacy of the Zionist idea. Manna says even
if there were no discrimination, the Israeli Arab demand for
autonomy would remain.

The growing alienation from the Jewish state has been accompanied
by increasingly radical statements and actions by Israeli Arab
political leaders. Soon after the Lebanon war, Knesset member
Azmi Bishara led a delegation to Syria and Lebanon to express
solidarity for the Arab side in the war.

Riad Saleh, leader of the Israeli Arab Islamic Movement's radical
northern wing, declared that Jerusalem soon would be the capital
of an Islamic caliphate. Saleh often attempts to whip the Israeli
Arab public into a frenzy by warning of imaginary Jewish plots to
destroy the Muslim holy places on Jerusalem's Temple Mount.

Shawki Katib, head of the Supreme Arab Monitoring Committee,
maintains that the aim of the eight-chapter document is not to
present an ultimatum, but rather to spark debate on how the two
communities can best live together.

Some Israelis take heart from this approach. Likud Party
legislator Michael Eitan, who was one of the 12 Israelis who
failed to draft a Jewish-Arab covenant, said he remains
optimistic precisely because "the debate has not yet begun."

In any such dialogue, Eitan said, the sides tend to present tough
opening positions as a bargaining ploy. If serious talks take
place, Eitan said he was confident the two sides would be able to
reach agreement within the basic parameters of Israel as a Jewish
and democratic state.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel Is Not Linked to Iraq, Except That It Is

Israel Is Not Linked to Iraq, Except That It Is
By Ethan Bronner
New York Times
December 10, 2006
THE day after the Baker-Hamilton report on Iraq was released, Israeli leaders,
including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, rejected the part that urged the United
States to refocus on the Israeli-Arab conflict because all Middle East issues
were, it said, "inextricably linked."

Mr. Olmert responded, "The U.S.'s problems in Iraq are entirely independent of
the problems between us and the Palestinians."

Yet Mr. Olmert's own recent statements and actions belie his argument. Partly
in anticipation of an American shift in policy and partly out of longstanding
and growing concern over Iran, he has been pursuing an approach to Israeli
interests that involves reaching out to the Palestinians and Iraq's neighbors.
It could almost have been taken from the playbook written by James A. Baker

In a speech late last month at the grave of Israel's founding prime minister,
David Ben-Gurion, Mr. Olmert called for the establishment of a sovereign
Palestinian state and said he would seek the help of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi
Arabia and other gulf countries to make that a reality.

For the first time he praised elements of a 2002 Saudi-sponsored plan calling
for full diplomatic relations between all Arab states and Israel in exchange
for such a Palestinian state (under certain conditions). Senior Israeli
officials have met in recent months not only with Jordanians and Egyptians
but - most notably - with Saudis.

The reason: Israel's overriding concern is the rise of Iran and its nuclear
program, especially because Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has called
often for Israel to be wiped off the map and has dismissed the Holocaust as a

The Sunni states of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt share Israel's concern
about Shiite Iran and worry about its eventual influence in an Iraq that is
spinning out of control. So they have made modest gestures toward Israel and
the United States and urged them to move ahead with a Palestinian state. Both
countries are listening.

"The Saudis are saying to us, 'We are afraid of Iran and want to work with you
but the Palestinian issue has to be solved,' " a senior Israeli official said,
insisting on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. "To
some extent this is an excuse but to some extent it is genuine. This is partly
what motivated Olmert's speech."

He added that the growing domination of Palestinian politics by Hamas, the
militant Islamist group that calls for Israel's destruction and has received
Iranian aid, is a threat to secular Arab rulers just as it is to Israel. So
they want to boost the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, who favors
negotiations with Israel - and that, too, coincides with Israel's view.

The war last summer between Israel and the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah
falls into a similar category. Hezbollah, which is sponsored and armed by
Iran, is seeking to take over the Lebanese government.

The three current or potential civil wars in the Middle East, then - in
Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian areas - are therefore all interlinked in
Israel's logic, with Iran as the common denominator.

The result is that Israeli leaders, while publicly complaining about Mr. Baker's
linkage of all Middle Eastern problems, are acting as if there is a
connection, and seeking common cause with Arab states over Iran and the
Palestinian question.

In fact, this is not new. Michael B. Oren, an Israeli historian with a book
coming out next month on American involvement in the Middle East, said he was
at a meeting with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1993 as peace talks with the
Palestinians under Yasir Arafat were starting.

"He said to the group, 'Why am I embarking on this, taking a risk of talking
to Arafat?' " Mr. Oren recalled. " 'The answer is Iran. We have to stabilize
our relations with the Arab world in order to deal with the real threat, which
is Iran.' So already then, Israel understood that the peace process with the
Palestinians begins with Iran."

There are two other reasons Mr. Olmert and other Israelis spoke out against
the report's call for linkage: They don't want others to define linkage for
them; they want any linkage to be on their terms, out of their own mouths. And
they never liked Mr. Baker, whom they considered hostile when he was secretary
of state in the early 1990's.

That said, most Israelis and many independent analysts see a straight linkage
between the Palestinian question and Iraq as something of a mirage. As Daniel
Kurtzer, the former American ambassador to Israel and now a professor at
Princeton, put it: "If the United States brokered peace talks between Israel
and the Palestinians, do you think a single Iraqi gunman would put down his
weapon? Not a chance."

And a senior Israeli official made another point. "Why would we want to link
our own problem to a nightmare like Iraq? It's a terrible mess there. We don't
want it to be thought that until it is solved we can't solve our problem."

Continued (Permanent Link)

After divestment fight, relations with Presbyterians remain strained

December 11, 2006

After divestment fight, relations with Presbyterians remain strained
By Jacob Berkman

NEW YORK, Dec. 11 (JTA) — Leaders of the Presbyterian Church
(USA) apparently still have a long way to go before regaining the
trust of the Jewish community — and even of some Presbyterians.

In 2004, the Presbyterians' General Assembly passed a resolution
calling on the church to start the process of divesting its $7
billion pension fund from companies that do more than $1 million
of business with Israel.

Israel's occupation of territories the Palestinians claim, the
resolution said, "has proven to be at the root of evil acts
committed against innocent people on both sides of the conflict."

The resolution, which also called on Congress to end all military
aid to Israel until the occupation ends, passed by a vote of
432-62, with seven abstentions.

Seen as one of the more difficult divestment threats to date,
American Jews and many within the Presbyterian Church rallied
against it, holding scores of focus groups and conference calls
with parties on both sides.

Two years later, meeting in Birmingham, Ala., this June, the
General Assembly took a more balanced approach, asking its
Mission Responsibility Through Investment group to seek what it
called "affirmative investment opportunities" in Israel, Gaza,
eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The group targeted five companies for divestment: Motorola,
United Technologies, ITT Industries and Caterpillar for working
closely with the Israeli military, and Citigroup for handling
accounts allegedly used to transfer funds to Palestinian terrorists.

Under the new resolution, even if the word "divestment" will no
longer be used, the Presbyterians still could try to pressure
companies to cut business ties to Israel's military.

The resolution passed 483-28, with one abstention. It included an
apology to Jews and Presbyterians who were offended by the 2004
resolution, saying, "We are grieved by the pain that this has
caused, accept responsibility for the flaws in our process, and
ask for mutual understanding and dialogue."

Even after a recent meeting of Presbyterian and Jewish leaders in
Louisville, the reconciliation seems far from complete.

On Nov. 29, the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, clerk of the church's
General Assembly; Rabbi Jerome Epstein, executive director of the
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism; Carl Sheingold,
executive vice president of the Jewish Reconstructionist
Federation; and Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for
Reform Judaism, met and drafted a statement that said their
communities would continue to consult with each other, support
each other and work on social service issues together.

But some of those involved suspect the meeting may have been
primarily intended to explain what has happened since the June
General Assembly in Birmingham.

Critics say that when the church has communicated the outcome of
the Birmingham resolution through its internal newsletter,
"Assembly in Brief," and elsewhere, it describes the resolution
as merely a clarification of the 2004 resolution rather than a

Immediately after the Birmingham resolution, Ethan Felson,
associate executive director of the Jewish Council for Public
Affairs, wrote an Op-Ed for JTA saying that the handling of the
2004 conflict should be a model for future anti-divestment fights.

But the Presbyterian leadership's reluctance to acknowledge a
significant change in divestment policy has raised serious
questions inside and outside the church, especially among
Presbyterians on the Peacekeeping Committee that put together the
new resolution and Jewish leaders who engaged the Presbyterians
in dialogue after 2004.

"I have seen and experienced great disappointment in what has
happened since Birmingham," Felson told JTA. "The church took
extreme pains to say that nothing had changed — and pain is the
right word because we felt pain."

Felson was not invited to the reconciliation meeting in
Louisville last month — nor were Orthodox groups — but he was
skeptical of it.

"It's not too late, but the hope for a new beginning in
Birmingham has yet to be realized," Felson said. "What was passed
in Birmingham has yet to be evident in deed and not just in word."

Within the church there appears to be a disconnect between
ministers in the pulpit and those in the seminaries and the
church's central offices.

Those on the ground have a more even-handed approach to the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict because they need to reflect their
congregations. But among the church hierarchy, there is a
distinctively pro-Palestinian bent, according to Gary Green, an
ordained Presbyterian elder and executive director of End
Divestment Now, a Presbyterian group started after the 2004
divestment overture.

After the intifada began in September 2000, a concerted effort
was launched to sway the church toward the Palestinian side and
delegitimize Israel, Green said. This was evidenced by the
election of the Rev. Fahed Abu-Akel, a Palestinian-born minister,
as moderator of the 2002 General Assembly.

Many delegates at the 2004 General Assembly were blindsided by
the divestment resolution, unaware that it would even be on the
docket, Green said. They voted for it based on longstanding
church policy not to profit from companies that make money from war.

"It sounded good, and they trusted that people had done their
work, but they had the wool pulled over their eyes," Green said.

However, polls after the 2004 General Assembly showed
Presbyterian ministers that those in the pews overwhelmingly did
not support the resolution. More than 20 overtures were written
and presented at the 2006 General Assembly as alternatives to the
2004 resolution.

"There are a significant number of people in the Presbyterian
Church, just like in other places, who have moved from a balanced
position," said the Rev. John Wimberly, pastor of Western
Presbyterian Church in Washington and head of Presbyterians
Concerned for Jewish and Christian Relations. "There was a core
group of staff people in several committees who were definitely
on a page that was different from where the vast majority of the
church was."

That rift displayed itself after the Birmingham General Assembly,
as those on the pro-Palestinian side tried to claim that the new
resolution represented only a change of language, not policy.

"I think they were minimizing the changes in their Mideast policy
that took place in Birmingham," Mark Pelavin, director of the
Reform movement's Committee on Interreligious affairs, told JTA
after sitting in on the reconciliation meeting in Louisville.

Even last week the Rev. Jay Rock, coordinator of interfaith
relations for the Presbyterian Church (USA), told JTA, "What
happened in 2006 corrected what they thought rightly maybe was
some lack of clarity. They wanted to make it really clear where
the church stood, so they spelled out the policy."

In 2004, Rock said, the press misreported and misunderstood the
General Assembly's resolution. In 2006 as well, initial reportage
of the new resolution was based on misunderstanding, he said.

"The reporting in the press was that the Presbyterian Church
reverses itself and backs away from this position," he told JTA.
"The language that was in the press that the church was reversing
itself was not accurate. It confused supporters here and in the
Palestinian territories."

Those involved in the five-and-a-half-hour reconciliation meeting
last month, however, say it wasn't just a photo opportunity.
Kirkpatrick spent a long time trying to explain the reaction
within the church to the new resolution.

"It was about speaking candidly, I hope, about how the actions
since Birmingham have affected both communities and identifying
how we can work together," Pelavin said.

Asked to characterize how far apart the Jewish and Presbyterian
establishments were, the Conservative movement's Epstein said,
"If when they voted on divestment was a one, and the ideal is a
10, my guess is we are at a six or a seven. We have certainly
crossed the 50-yard line. Whether we are in field-goal range, I
don't know."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Christians Worldwide Urged to Visit Bethlehem this Christmas

The Associated Press
Mon, Dec. 11 2006 06:49 PM ET

Christians Worldwide Urged to Visit Bethlehem this Christmas
By The Associated Press

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) - Bethlehem's mayor called Monday for
the Christian world to support Palestinians in the beleaguered
town by visiting Jesus' traditional birthplace this Christmas.

Speaking at a press conference in his office across from the
Church of the Nativity, Mayor Victor Batarseh said the town of
30,000 has been hard hit by Israel's West Bank separation
barrier, which cuts Bethlehem residents off from jobs, studies,
medical facilities and relatives in nearby Jerusalem.

"With the closure of Jerusalem to Palestinians and the limitation
of permits granted by the Israeli authorities, unemployment has
soared to 65 percent, which simply means that 65 percent of the
people of Bethlehem live under the poverty line," he said.

Israel says the wall, which blocks the main entrance to Bethlehem
from the north, is necessary to stop Palestinian attacks into
Israel. Several Palestinian suicide bombers from Bethlehem have
blown themselves up in Jerusalem in recent years. Foreign
passport holders are able to cross freely in both directions, but
most Palestinians are forbidden to pass through, as are Israelis,
including Christian Arab visitors to local shrines.

The drop in local tax revenues resulting from unemployment and
the dive in tourism has been exacerbated by a freeze on
international aid imposed on the Palestinian government since the
radical Islamic Hamas movement rose to power in January
elections, the mayor said.

"In light of the prevailing acute financial crisis in which we
are living, the municipality couldn't pay the salaries of its
employees for more than three months now," Batarseh said. "There
will be no new clothes for the employees' children this year, and
Santa will not visit them."

There was not much sign of Christmas cheer in Bethlehem on
Monday, although the Israeli tourism ministry has hung a banner
reading, "Peace be Upon You" underneath one of the armor-plated
military watchtowers atop the battleship-gray concrete wall that
looms over the town's northern neighborhoods.

Palestinian workmen were stringing a few lights in the shape of
reindeer and stars across a downtown street, and some shops had
Christmas trees or lights in their windows, while one boasted a
life-size nativity scene.

But the streets, shops and cafes were mostly empty, and dozens of
taxi drivers idled by the Palestinian side of the wall, waiting
for the occasional group of tourists to pass through the
turnstiles from Israel-controlled Jerusalem.

"My message this year is addressed to the world in general and to
the Christian world in particular, not to forget Bethlehem,"
Batarseh said. "Contribute in breaking this oppressive siege
imposed upon it, through your visits, though pilgrimage to its
holy sites."

Before the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising in 2000,
Bethlehem drew more than 90,000 pilgrims a month, but only 2,500
foreign visitors came last Christmas.

"We pray that the star of the nativity will shine on Bethlehem
once again and guide all people of goodwill toward our little
town, to restore its former glory as place of dignity, a
pilgrimage destination and an open city for peace, " Batarseh said.

A churchgoing Catholic from a leftist party, he said the election
of Hamas makes no difference to Palestinian observance of the
Christmas festival.

"Nothing has changed," he said. "The tradition will go on,
whatever government comes, whatever its face. Any Palestinian
government respects the values of Christmas, respects the
Christian Palestinians, because we are one people, not Muslims or
Christians." However, there is evidence of a steady exodus of
Christians from Bethlehem, because of economic difficulties as
well as pressure from Muslims.

Despite its cash crisis, the Hamas government has pledged $50,000
to decorate Bethlehem for Christmas, although Batarseh said the
city has yet to receive a cent.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The
information contained in the AP News report may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written
authority of The Associated Press.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Ending Arab-Israeli war would help in Iraq -Annan

Mon 11 Dec 2006 4:07 PM ET

Ending Arab-Israeli war would help in Iraq -Annan
By Irwin Arieff

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 11 (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi
Annan, contradicting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said on
Monday that trying to end the Arab-Israeli war would help cool
other Middle East hot-spots like Iraq and Lebanon.

In his final report on the Middle East before stepping down on
Dec. 31, Annan also said the quartet of international Middle East
mediators appeared increasingly powerless to help move down the
path toward peace, due to internal divisions, and needed a fresh

He said the quartet members -- the United States, Russia, the
European Union and the United Nations -- had to join together to
revive the peace process and involve Israel and Arab states
directly in its work, as promised in September.

"Overall, the instability that prevails in the Middle East is the
greatest regional challenge to international peace and security,
and needs to be addressed far more thoroughly than it has been to
date," Annan said in a report to the 15-nation Security Council
to be presented on Tuesday.

After 10 years as secretary-general, Annan hands over to South
Korean Ban Ki-Moon on Jan. 1.

"I am convinced that the search for stability in Iraq, Lebanon
and elsewhere will be greatly served by a concerted effort" to
achieve a Middle East peace, Annan said.

"A regional approach is needed to resolve the various crises and
conflicts in the Middle East today, not least because progress in
each arena is to a large extent dependent on progress in others."

The Iraq Study Group, led by former U.S. Secretary of State James
Baker, told the Bush administration last week it must launch a
"renewed and sustained commitment" to solve the Arab-Israeli
conflict as part of an effort to address broader regional
tensions in Iraq and elsewhere.

Olmert, however, said it was wrong to link the Arab-Israeli war
with wider Middle East concerns, saying the region "has a lot of
problems that are not connected to us."

Annan urged the council and the quartet to make a fresh start by
working together to strengthen a cease-fire in Gaza, extend it to
the West Bank and deploy international observers or some other
mechanism to monitor it and protect civilians.

The two should also promote unconditional and open-ended talks
between the Israeli prime minister and Palestinian President
Mahmoud Abbas and set out an updated, credible political
framework for those negotiations, he added.

Annan pressed Syria to show its immediate neighbors -- which
include Lebanon and Iraq -- that it is committed to regional
peace and security. He also told Israel there could be no peace
until it returned the Golan Heights to Syria.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Stephen Hawking opens up to Israelis on popular TV talk show

The Jerusalem Post
Dec. 12, 2006

Stephen Hawking opens up to Israelis on popular TV talk show
by Simeon Cohen

Stephen Hawking, professor of mathematics at Cambridge
University, author of the best-selling A Brief History of Time
and the world's foremost celebrity scientist, amused an Israeli
television audience when he appeared on Channel 2 on Monday night.

The renowned astrophysicist, who arrived in Israel last Thursday
for an eight-day visit, was interviewed on the Yair Lapid talk show.

Hawking discussed his severe case of ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease,
his celebrity status, his perspective on God, the
Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and of course, quantum physics with

The interview opened with a clip of Hawking on the popular
American cartoon show, The Simpsons. It became much more solemn,
however, when Lapid questioned Hawking about his disease and how
it had impacted both his life and career.

Hawking was diagnosed with ALS at 21 and given only two or three
years to live. Yet miraculously, he defied the odds, and today is
a 64-year-old professor at one of the world's preeminent academic

Yet the disease did take its toll. As time progressed, Hawking
gradually lost the use of his arms, legs, and voice, and is now
almost completely paralyzed. He has a computer system attached to
his wheelchair, which allows him to function normally. He also
lost his natural ability to speak and thus, uses an electronic
voice synthesizer to communicate.

Incidentally, Hawking's synthesizer speaks with an American
accent, despite the fact that he is British. When Lapid asked him
why this is, he said that the synthesizer is a very old model
from 1986 which is no longer made. He can't bear to part with it,
as it is the voice he is now internationally identified with.

Hawking discussed the fact that he became interested in physics
prior to becoming physically disabled, which worked to his
advantage as his field is one of the few in which his work would
not be seriously impaired by his condition.

"It was fortunate that I was a physicist so I could continue my
profession," he told Lapid.

Despite his condition, Hawking has been able to marry twice and
has had "three attractive children." Hawking stressed that family
was very important to him and they helped him to thrive, despite
his debilitating illness.

The high point of the interview came when Lapid asked Hawking
about the positive aspects of his disability. "I don't have to
sit on many boring committees," Hawking replied wittily,
soliciting a laugh from the audience.

Hawking said he was rather distraught at the current
Israeli-Palestinian situation. He was last here in 1990, and said
he felt the situation had deteriorated substantially over the
past 16 years.

When asked the purpose of his visit, Hawking said he wanted to
see what the situation was like now with his own eyes. "It is
very different on the ground than what you read about in the
papers." He said he hoped that a solution to the conflict could
soon be reached.

When asked whether or not he believed in God, Hawking replied by
saying that the laws of science determine the evolution of the
universe and that God "may or may not have created those laws,
but he cannot intervene, or else they wouldn't be laws."

In a frank discussion of his unique celebrity status, Hawking
happily divulged that his name is more recognized than the names
of most film actors "The downside of my celebrity is that I
cannot go anywhere in the world without being recognized," said
Hawking, poking a bit of fun at himself. "It is not enough for me
to wear dark sunglasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away."

The interview closed on an optimistic note, with Hawking
addressing his viewers. "However bad life may seem, there is
always something you can do and succeed at. Where there is life,
there is hope."

On Sunday, he met with teenaged scientists at the Bloomfield
Museum of Science in Jerusalem, where he discussed black holes
and the nature of the space-time continuum. Later that day, he
met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Hawking and Olmert discussed
the ever-present issues between Israel and the Palestinian
Authority, and how those issues could be most efficiently resolved.

Since his arrival, Hawking has also held a video conference in
east Jerusalem which was broadcast to science students in the
Palestinian Authority and has had dinner with representatives of
the National Academy of Sciences.

On Thursday he will speak about the origins of the universe to an
audience of over 1,000 at Hebrew University at an the event that
will be broadcast over the Internet. Hawking will also visit both
the Weizmann Institute and Tel Aviv University, will meet with
representatives of the Israel Academy of Sciences and will give a
public lecture at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Supreme court rejects appeals of Bat Ayin gang members

Jerusalem Post
Dec. 12, 2006

Supreme court rejects appeals of Bat Ayin gang members

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the appeals of three men
from the settlement of Bat Ayin in Gush Etzion who were convicted
of attempted murder and sentenced to between 12 and 15 years in jail.

The appeals had been submitted by Ofer Gamliel, Shlomo
Dvir-Zeliger and Yarden Morag. They were found guilty in
Jerusalem District Court of planting a bomb in a cart adjacent to
an Arab girl's school in the A-Tur neighborhood on the Mount of
Olives. The bomb was timed to explode in the morning, when the
students were on their way to class.

Gamliel and Dvir-Zeliger, who first came up with the idea of the
terrorist attack, were sentenced to 15 years each. Morag, who,
after being detained for questioning at the site of the planned
attack told police that he and Dvir-Zeliger had planted a bomb
and helped the sapper defuse it, was sentenced to 12 years in jail.

Morag appealed against the sentence, while Gamliel and
Dvir-Zeliger appealed both the conviction and the sentence.

Gamliel and Dvir-Zeliger claimed in court that they had
deliberately attached a defective battery to the bomb so that it
would not explode. They said they had not meant to kill anyone
but to use the incident to deter Palestinian terrorists and
attract media attention.

A panel of three Supreme Court justices - including retired
Supreme Court president Aharon Barak, Supreme Court President
Dorit Beinisch and Deputy Supreme Court President Eliezer Rivlin
- upheld the lower court's decision to reject the argument. The
court ruled that the conspirators did not know the battery was

They added that the prosecution had provided sufficient evidence
to prove that both the actions of the defendants and their
conscious intent had been to kill and wound Palestinians as an
act of revenge for the deaths of Jews at the hands of Palestinian

Beinisch, who wrote the decision, also rejected Gamliel's
additional argument for acquittal on the grounds that he had
regretted his earlier actions and had refused to participate in
the actual planting of the bomb. She ruled that even after
Gamliel had informed Dvir-Zeliger and Morag that he would not
come with them to plant the bomb, he had provided them with oral
and written instructions as to how to arm the device.

"The aim of the appellants, which miraculously was not achieved,
was to cause the deaths of innocent school students and
passers-by for no other reason than that they were Arabs," wrote
Beinisch. "They did everything they could to fulfill their
criminal aim... The punishments meted out to them are not light
but they are also not too harsh given the deeds for which they
were convicted."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Group accuses state, police of violating settlers' human rights

Last update - 04:29 12/12/2006

Group accuses state, police of violating settlers' human rights
By Nadav Shragai, Haaretz Correspondent

In a report published on Monday to coincide with Human Rights
week, a group calling itself "Human Rights in Yesha" maintains
that "the settler public" suffers "blatant violations of its
human rights."

The group, based in Kiryat Arba and headed by Orit Struck,
charges in its report that the settlers receive nearly no backing
from human rights organizations operating in Israel.

The authors of the report describe six areas in which "the
violation of the human rights of the settler public in Yesha [the
territories] goes beyond what is reasonable and acceptable in the
State of Israel."

The report also focuses on two main events.

The first is the "the expulsion of settlers from Gaza and
northern Samaria," as part of the unilateral disengagement in
2005, and a series of laws legislated in parallel with the
pullout from the evacuation of the settlers.

The report writes that until the passing of those laws, "the
expulsion of human beings from their home was considered a war
crime and a crime against humanity."

The second event is the evacuation of the illegal outpost of
Amona, earlier this year, in which the security forces clashed
with settler youth.

'Organized and planned violence'

The authors of the report charge the police with exercising
"organized and planned violence," and list a series of acts, such
as the breaking of windows, beating passive protesters, crowding
the protesters along a corridor of officers that beat them,
charging protesters with mounted officers, attacking the injured,
those offering first aid, MKs and public figures, etc.

Drawing a parallel with Palestinians being held in administrative
detention on orders of the security services, the authors of the
report complain that "more than 20 settlers were evicted from
their homes," also on orders by the Shin Bet.

However, they point out that unlike the Palestinian Arabs who
were termed "terrorists" by the authorities, and who are not
Israeli citizens, the settlers in question are full-fledged
citizens whose rights are being violated.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Rice warns Syria and Iran over Lebanon protests

Rice warns Syria and Iran over Lebanon protests
Rice makes it clear that US, international community couldn't ever tolerate
"reassertion of Syrian authority in Lebanon." She adds that Syria and Iran
must not think that Lebanon's future is up for negotiation. On Iran she says
she is optimistic about UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on
nuclear-aspiring state
AFP Published: 12.12.06, 06:08 YNET,7340,L-3338880,00.html

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Syria and Iran in an exclusive
interview with AFP that the "future of Lebanon is not an issue for

In an exclusive interview with AFP, Rice rejected mounting calls to deal
directly with Damascus and Tehran as part of efforts to end the crisis in
Iraq and said the two states should have no doubts about Washington's
commitment to the embattled government of Lebanon.

"In no way is the US going to get into a situation where it is even a
conceivable notion on the part of Syria or Iran that the future of Lebanon
would somehow be compromised for other interests of the US," she said.

"I want to make it very clear that the future of Lebanon is not an issue for
negotiation with anybody," she said.

Massive street protests organized by the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Shiite
movement Hizbullah have been seeking to topple the government of Prime
Minister Fouad Siniora for the past week.

The protracted deadlock has paralyzed the Western-backed government as
opposition Shiite and Christian protesters have clogged the capital in an
escalating campaign to force a new national unity administration.

"It's just extremely important that we be very clear: we understand who
Lebanon's enemies are and those that are trying to bring down the Siniora
government," Rice said.

"There is no way that the United States or the international community could
ever countenance a reassertion of Syrian authority in Lebanon," she said.

'Optimistic' about resolution against Iran

Rice said she was "optimistic" the resolution aimed at convincing Iran to
suspend its nuclear enrichment program, would pass soon, though she stopped
short of predicting a final vote before the end of the year.

"It has to be voted soon. I think this has gone on long enough," she said.

The six major powers dealing with the issue -- Britain, China, France,
Russia, the United States and Germany, have been negotiating for weeks over
the terms of a sanctions resolution. But agreement proved elusive as Russia
and China objected to an earlier European draft as too harsh, while
Washington felt it did not go far enough.

But Rice said on Monday that she was satisfied with the latest version,
notably because it will be voted under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which
makes the measures mandatory for all UN members.

"It establishes Chapter 7, which to my mind is the most important element
here," she said.

"It would make very clear to the Iranians that they are not going to be able
to pursue this program and remain integrated into the international system
and I would hope would give them pause so they might consider coming back to
negotiations," she said.

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Casino magnate, wife to fund 2,000 birthright trips to Israel

Last update - 13:12 12/12/2006

Casino magnate, wife to fund 2,000 birthright trips to Israel

By Haaretz Service

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his physician wife Miriam have announced
that they will pay for 2,000 young Jewish adults to take part in the
Taglit-birthright israel program, an initiative which gives Diaspora Jews a
chance to visit Israel for free.

The donation comes on the heels of the Adelsons' October announcement that
they will donate $25 million to Yad Vashem, the largest donation in the
Holocaust memorial museum's history. The couple plans to start a foundation
next year which will donate $200 million a year to Jewish and Israeli causes.

Each individual birthright trip is estimated to cost the organization some

As the birthright project has become more popular over the years, space for
applicants has become limited, the organization said. The Adelson's donation
will be used to allow waitlisted potential participants to go on the trip this

Participants tour Israel for 10 days, meeting Israeli peers, mostly members of
elite IDF units.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Hamas men shoot 4 Fatah demonstrators in Gaza

Last update - 14:13 12/12/2006

Hamas men shoot 4 Fatah demonstrators in Gaza

By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service, and news agencies

Hamas security forces opened fire on stone-throwing Fatah demonsrators in the
southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis, wounding four Fatah activists on
Tuesday, one day after the killing of three children of a Fatah-linked
official raised the specter of civil war.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas ordered security forces to deploy
across Gaza on Tuesday after the killing of the young sons of one of his
loyalists shocked Palestinians.

A senior official from Abbas's Fatah faction, Hussein al-Sheikh, said Tueasday
that the Hamas government bore responsibility for the drive-by shooting.

"Of course people very close to Hamas to say the least are behind the
killings. We hold the government and the interior minister directly
responsible," Sheikh said. "These are mafias, killer gangs," he added,
referring to the perpetrators of the drive-by shooting.

Senior Hamas lawmaker Mushir al-Masri angrily denied the militant movement had
anything to do with the attack.

"It seems some Fatah leaders are exploiting the blood of innocent children to
earn political gains. We hold those leaders fully responsible for the grave
consequences that may result from the fabrication and lies they are making."

Abbas deploys heavily-armed forces
Early on Tuesday, heavily-armed members of Abbas's security forces took up
positions around key installations and road junctions in Gaza City.

"Palestinian security forces deployed in all streets of Gaza City to prevent
crime. This was upon orders from President Abbas," said one Palestinian
security source.

A force loyal to the Hamas government also strengthened its positions. There
was no immediate sign of friction between the Abbas and Hamas loyalists, but
fear of fresh clashes deepened sharply on Monday.

It was the first time that children have been targeted in such an attack.
Angry mourners firing guns stormed the parliament compound during the funeral
for the boys, aged 6 to 9.

A senior Palestinian intelligence official in the occupied West Bank said it
was unclear who was behind the attack on Colonel Baha Balousha's children.

Besides internal political unrest, Gaza is riven with clan fighting and a
surge in crime following a Western aid embargo on the Hamas government that
has deepened poverty.

Political tension has been rising over the failure of Hamas and the formerly
dominant Fatah movement to form a unity government that Palestinians hope
might end the Western boycott.

Abbas aides said on Saturday the chairman planned to call early elections
after talks on a unity government foundered.

Hamas accused Abbas of trying to topple the government.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Arab-Israeli taken captive in Gaza released after 46 days

Last update - 14:27 12/12/2006

Arab-Israeli taken captive in Gaza released after 46 days

By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent

Riad Al-Luah, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, was released on Tuesday after
spending 46 days in captivity.

Al-Luah was kidnapped in Gaza on October 27th, while visiting family members
there. On the last day of his visit, armed gunmen stopped him on his way to
the border crossing with Israel, took him hostage and fired on his wife.

On Tuesday morning, he was driven to the Erez checkpoint on the border of Gaza
and Israel, and handed over to Palestinian police.

Al-luah is a resident of Tire, in Israel. Born in Gaza, he married an Israeli
woman and received Israeli citizenship years later.

Al-luah's brother-in-law, Muafak Mansour, said on Tuesday that in the previous
weeks it became clear who committed the kidnapping, and strenuous efforts were
launched in order to secure his release.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Steinitz, Beilin: Olmert unfit for premiership

Steinitz, Beilin: Olmert unfit for premiership
Lawmakers from left and right slam prime minister after says Iran aspires to
obtain nuclear weapons like Israel. MK Beilin: Olmert's astonishing
statement puts his eligibility for premiership in great doubt
Attila Somfalvi YNET Published: 11 December 2006,7340,L-3338835,00.html

After the US defense secretary, it was Prime Minister Ehud Olmer t's turn to
dissolve the long-maintained ambiguity surrounding Israel's nuclear
capabilities. As he kicked off his European visit with a stop in Berlin,
Olmert granted an interview to the German SAT1 television network in which
he said that Iran wants nuclear weapons like Israel .

While it remains unclear if this admission was intentional or not, it is a
clear deviation from the 50-plus year old policy of nuclear ambiguity.

Former Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee MK
Yuval Steinitz (Likud) called on Olmert to resign his post following "a
series of problematic security-related slips of the tongue."

A senior cabinet minister told Ynet, however, that there was nothing
exciting about Olmert's statement as "everyone knows what we do have and
what we don't have."

"His unfortunate statement in Germany damages 50 years of Israel's policy of
ambiguity," said MK Steinitz, "and that only joins other irresponsible slips
like the wretched report on the conditions of the kidnapped soldiers. A
prime minister who cannot control his statements on sensitive matters of
security must resign and leave the keys."

Minister: Everyone knows we have nuclear arms
Vice Premier Shimon Peres, a major player in Israel's nuclear program, is
currently in Paris and declined to comment on Olmert's statement.

A senior cabinet minister told Ynet on Monday that he doesn't understand why
there is such a commotion over Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's admission that
Israel has nuclear weapons.

"It's as if the world is hearing about this for the first time," said the
minister. "Everyone knows we have nuclear weapons. Israel has never admitted
to it, but everyone knows what we do have and what we don't have."

Former defense minister and current National Infrastructure Minister
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer also addressed the subject: "Israel has always had a
policy of ambiguity. We have always strived to lead a policy of ambiguity."

Meretz-Yahad Chairman MK Yossi Beilin called Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's
comments Monday on the nuclear issue "reckless bordering on abandon".

"I doubt if this is someone who deserves to serve as prime minister," he

MK Arieh Eldad (National Union-National Religious Party) addressed the
comment made by PM Olmert confirming that Israel has nuclear weapons.

MK Eldad said that "If Olmert indeed meant to forgo Israel's policy of
ambiguity there should be a clear message to the world from us - if you
don't stop Iran, we will, at any price."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Arab Politics: Back to Futility

Arab Politics: Back to Futility
by Barry Rubin
Middle East Quarterly Winter 2007

After Iraq's military defeat in 1991, many in the West and in Arab states
hoped that changes in the world and region would produce a new Middle East
of pragmatism, reform, democracy, and peace. Given the Soviet Union's
collapse, growing democracy elsewhere, and U.S. emergence as sole
superpower, a better world seemed imminent. A generation of Arabs had
experienced defeat, tragedy, and stagnation. Surely, they would recognize
what had gone wrong and choose another path.

But, increasingly, they show they have not. The euphoria of the 1990s-in
light of Saddam's defeat in Kuwait, the Oslo process, and the growth of Arab
civil society-was short-lived. For much of the current decade, events have
pointed to a backward trend. First, there was Palestinian and Syrian
rejection of peace with Israel in 2000 and then re-embrace of terrorism in
the intifada. This was followed in quick succession by the fallout from the
September 11 attacks, glorifying insurgency and terrorism in Iraq, crushing
of internal liberal reform movements, and electoral advances by Hamas,
Hezbollah, and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

But it was the summer 2006 war in Lebanon that reversed the new era back to
the old. The possibility of a negotiated Arab-Israeli peace and widespread
Arab progress toward democracy is dead; Islamism sets the agenda, whether it
is in or out of power. Arab dynamics now parallel those dominant in the
region between 1950 and 1990. The Arab world, now joined in spirit although
not in ethnicity by Iran, has re-embraced a previous era and is extolling
the same ideas and strategies which have led the Middle East repeatedly to
catastrophe. "It is my pleasure to meet with you in the new Middle East,"
said Syrian president Bashar al-Assad on August 15, 2006. He declared his
goal to replace the "cherished Middle East" of the West, moderate Arabs, and
Israel with "a sweeping popular upsurge . characterized by honor and
Arabism," of struggle and resistance.[1] There are many reasons to think
that Assad's vision is prevailing.

The New Old Middle East

Why revitalize a world-view and program that led the Arab world into years
of defeat, wasted resources, and dictatorship and caused the region to sink
behind all but sub-Saharan Africa in most socioeconomic categories?

A large part of the answer is that this new state of affairs serves the two
groups that matter most in Arab politics: Arab nationalist dictators and the
Islamist challengers who seek to displace them. Arab regimes rejected
reforms because change threatened to unseat them. Demagoguery enabled these
regimes to continue as dictatorships, whatever their failures, while still
enjoying popular support. Radical Islamist forces, on the other hand, found
the motif of resistance and anti-Israel rhetoric useful to expand their
influence and gain power. The new Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas axis seeks
regional hegemony, the destruction of Israel, and the expulsion of Western
influence. These are the same goals of the old pan-Arabism, albeit under a
modified slogan of resistance to aggression. This new alliance's emergence
represents a sharp break with the past only
regarding two issues: unprecedented levels of Iranian involvement in Arab
politics accompanied by a limited ability to bridge the Sunni-Shi'ite
sectarian divide.

There are four major factors that repeat: first is the concept of resistance
against foreign powers; second is self-deception about the adversary's
strength; third is the belief in a political superhero who will lead Arabs
and Muslims to victory; and fourth is the new "resistance" axis which
promises easy and quick solutions, albeit through large-scale bloodshed. Why
compromise if total victory is achievable?

It is like a 2006 revival of a 1966 play: the old parts have been cast anew
with great faithfulness. Iran has taken over Syria's former role of
revolutionary patron although Damascus has played the role of terror sponsor
so well that it has retained this part for an amazing 40-year run, however,
with a shifting chorus. Hezbollah and Hamas are the new Palestine Liberation
Organization (PLO), promising to destroy Israel through non-state violence.
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has assumed the role of Egyptian
president Gamal Abdel Nasser, threatening the West and toying with war while
promising easy victory to followers inside and outside his country.

Rhetoric repeats. Both the United States and Israel are demonized. There is
expectation of imminent revolution and unprecedented Arab-Muslim unity. As
there is also no victory but total victory, diplomatic compromise is
treasonous. Conspiracy theories blaming "the Zionists" and "arrogant powers"
run supreme.

The most major difference between the new and the old concepts is that what
was formerly expressed in Arab nationalist terms is now stated in Islamist
ones. The idea is that Islamism can succeed where Arab nationalism failed.
But aside from obvious differences in the content of the two ideologies and
the lack of a great power patron along the lines of the Soviet Union to
sponsor and cultivate pan-Islamists, their basic perceptions and goals are
quite parallel.

Both the Arab nationalists of a half century ago and the Islamists today
justify almost any violence. Both legitimize terrorism as just, especially
when directed against a satanic foe. Both seek Israel's destruction and an
expurgation of Western influence to create a just and even utopian society.

But Israel and the West are not the only enemies. Moderate Arab leaders are
a secondary enemy whose restraint reveals them to be traitors. Only those
who preach struggle uphold proper Arab and Muslim values. In the 1950s and
1960s, this distinction pitted Egypt, Syria, and Iraq against "reactionary"
Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and other monarchies. Today, it is Iran and Syria
against Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Still, the Jordanian and Saudi
monarchies remember more than they let on. Just as Nasser and Saddam
threatened them in the past, so now do the forces unleashed and encouraged
by Ahmadinejad and Assad. Just as they did in the 1960s, moderate leaders
accommodate new ideas but seek to blunt their edge so as not to fall victim
to the new order. Liberalism and reform become distractions if not enemy
tricks to be resisted.

While Arab commentators sometimes complain of the West's lack of historical
memory, there is selective amnesia among many in the region-even those
critical of the new dynamics. They refuse to recognize today's parallels
with the recent past. To acknowledge repetition of past patterns would
suggest that they are again likely to fail. Today, Islamists and Arab
nationalists may compete for power, often violently, but they both reinforce
the intellectual system and world-view that locks the Arab world into the
very problems which both ideological movements purport to remedy.

The Eve of Glory

A recurring feature of both the old and new era is a millenarian expectation
that dramatic change is imminent. This was in evidence during the period
beginning with the 1952 coup in Egypt and particularly after the 1956 Suez
war catapulted Nasser into a pan-Arab hero with followers spanning national
borders. Nasser asserted Egypt's pride and strength, ridiculed Western
powers, smashed opposition, intrigued intellectuals, and intimidated Arab
regimes that opposed him. "We would clap in proud surprise," recalled the
liberal Egyptian intellectual Tawfiq al-Hakim, discussing the 1950s and
1960s, "When he delivered a powerful speech and said about [the United
States] which had the atomic bomb that 'if they don't like our conduct, let
them drink from the sea,' he filled us with pride." The irony, he continued,
is that such rhetoric did not end economic deprivation. "Masses of people
wait for long hours in front of consumer cooperatives for a piece of meat to
be thrown to them," he remarked. Rather than strengthening Arab unity,
Nasser's sponsorship of coups, meddling, and military intervention in the
Yemeni civil war (1962-70), undercut it.[2]

At the time, few paid attention to such critiques. Nasser's nakedness was
only revealed in the 1967 war and after his death in 1970. Today, many have
forgotten this outcome. It is also instructive to recall that Nasser's
victorious reputation rested mainly on the 1956 Suez war, which was actually
a military humiliation for Egypt. Only U.S. and Soviet diplomatic
intervention saved Nasser-a situation paralleling the Lebanon war "victory"
of Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah-rescued by international pressure for a
cease-fire that left Hezbollah armed and in place.

The comparison of Nasrallah and Nasser often plays on the similarity of both
men's names to the Arabic word for "victory." In Cairo, demonstrators carry
their pictures together, even though their views on political Islam were
opposite. That the Lebanese "victory" took place fifty years after the Suez
one did not escape many Arab commentators. What they did not mention,
though, was that a half-century had not brought much progress to Egypt and
that even the return of the Sinai Peninsula required American patronage and
a peace treaty with Israel.

Consistent across decades has been the search for the charismatic leader who
can produce victory. In the 1950s and 1960s, there was Nasser; in the 1970s,
Arafat and Syrian president Hafez al-Assad; in the 1980s and 1990s, it was
Saddam Hussein, then Osama bin Laden, and, perhaps now, Ahmadinejad. All
failed; all were defeated. The outcome, however, has not been to reject this
spurious hope but rather simply to seek another candidate.

Dedication over Technology

Another returning concept is that the spirit of man can overcome the balance
of forces or technology-military, industrial, or electronic. This is the
concept behind the celebration of Hezbollah, the suicide bomber, and the
rock thrower as capable of achieving victory against overwhelming odds. The
analytical emphasis on "resistance" rather than reform builds on a strong
foundation: a half-century-long indoctrination that all problems in the Arab
world are caused by Israel, the United States, and the West. The concept of
noble resistance also makes people feel good. It is an opium for the masses,
especially those
masses that only vicariously experience battle by watching others-Lebanese,
Iraqis, Palestinians-getting killed.

The "resistance" paradigm is particularly dangerous and difficult for
reformers to face because its promoters accuse anyone who questions them of
being agents of the Zionists or the West. "In a state of war," wrote the
Egyptian playwright Ali Salem whose works are banned in his own country, "no
one argues ... or asks questions. They are told that this is not the right
time to talk about free speech, democracy, or corruption, then ordered, 'Get
back to the trench immediately!'"[3]

And when, in March 2001, Baath party members asked Syrian vice-president Abd
Halim Khaddam at a public meeting why the regime did not do more to solve
the problems of corruption, incompetence, and the slow pace of reform, his
answer was that the Arab-Israeli conflict permitted no changes at home.
"This country is in a state of war as long as the occupation continues," he
said.[4] While the Syrian leadership uses the continuation of the
Arab-Israeli conflict to justify its domestic failures, it has shown little
interest in ending that conflict, in large part because anti-Israel
invectives are so useful for purposes of regime maintenance.

The rhetoric also stigmatizes alliance with the West. Bashar often attacks
the Egyptian and Jordanian governments as lackeys of the West.[5] Sometimes
that taboo is broken-such as when Kuwait and Saudi Arabia accepted Western
military assistance against Saddam Hussein in 1990. But the cost of breaking
this taboo can be high. The U.S. deployment to Saudi Arabia fueled bin
Laden's rise.[6] Rejectionists assassinated Jordan's King Abdullah I in 1951
for considering peace with Israel, murdered Egyptian president Anwar Sadat
in 1981 after he made peace with the Jewish state, and killed Lebanese
president Amin Gemayel the next year for the same reason.

Bashar, Nasrallah, Ahmadinejad, and their predecessors cite many precedents
to argue that resistance will triumph over the United States. The Chinese
"people's war" alongside the Cuban and Vietnamese "heroic guerrillas" live
on in the Arab world as if in a time capsule. Many Arabs compare Nasrallah
now-as they once did Arafat-to Che Guevera. Like the failed Latin American
revolutionary leader, Nasrallah did not overthrow governments but was a boon
to the T-shirt industry.

Islamists justify their people power rhetoric with examples ranging from the
victory over the Soviet superpower in Afghanistan (conveniently ignoring the
U.S. role in that conflict), the 9-11 attacks, and the Iraqi insurgency.
They also claim Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip
as triumphs. The Iranians can add their own revolution, the U.S. embassy
hostage crisis, and their stalemate of Saddam Hussein.

Islamists say that their victory is inevitable. An Egyptian Islamist wrote
less than a month after the September 11 attacks that the Americans are
cowards while the Muslims are brave. "The believers do not fear the enemy .
yet their enemies protect [their] lives like a miser protects his money.
They . do not enter into battles seeking martyrdom,"[7] he explained. That
such commentary appeared in a state-controlled Egyptian newspaper shows how
Arab nationalist institutions collude to promote "Islamist" ideas that feed
the resistance mentality.

There is, however, a good reason why weaker states do not provoke or go to
war against stronger ones: they lose. History is full of examples of
high-spirited, ideologically-motivated states that simply could not overcome
the odds of reality. The United States defeated Japan in World War II
despite the ideological fervor of Japanese troops and their kamikaze pilots.

Deception and Amnesia

While the defeat of Saddam Hussein in 1991 eroded the Arab belief in Western
weakness throughout the 1990s, the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000,
the 9-11 attacks, and the intensifying Iraqi insurgency have restored the
belief that the United States and Israel are weak and vulnerable. If Arabs
and Muslims are willing to martyr themselves, victory is possible. In this
respect, Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah, Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal,
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
sound eerily like Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, Egyptian president Gamal
Abdel Nasser, and Syrian president Salah Jadid in the 1960s. Such thinking
led ultimately to the Arab defeat in the 1967 war.

Among the most potent recent Arab political memories are those of losing
wars in 1967, 1973, and 1982. The losses reflect the suffering, waste,
dictatorship, and squandered resources of the second half of the twentieth
century. This history was a potential resource, demonstrating the failure of
radical methods, intransigence, and violence. In the 1990s, many Arabs faced
this history and began to reconsider strategy. If Israel could not be
destroyed, then perhaps a deal was preferable. If the United States was so
powerful, perhaps alliance would be more productive than antagonism. If
Arabs were flagging in every economic, scientific, and social category,
perhaps comprehensive reform was necessary.

Such introspection has now been reversed. A new generation has adopted a new
ideology that discounts the applicability of the Arab nationalist
experience. New populists argue that the Arabs made no mistakes but simply
did not struggle with sufficient fervor nor follow the proper ideology. Once
a resistance mentality shreds this memory of experience, it may be necessary
to proceed down a decades-long ordeal of relearning lessons the hard way
before there is another opportunity for real progress.

In contrast to the resistance mentality, any consideration of the balance of
forces suggests the West would achieve a lopsided victory in a conflict with
Arab or Muslims states. But what if such an assessment of military hardware
were an illusion? As Winston Churchill said of the Soviet Union in his
famous 1946 speech in Fulton, Missouri, marking the beginning of the Cold
War, "I do not believe that Soviet Russia desires war. What they desire is
the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and
doctrines."[8] Many Islamists may consider the West in general and the
United States in particular too craven to fight and stupid enough to be

Such was the argument Saddam Hussein made before invading Kuwait in 1990 and
up to his 2003 downfall. Still, the fate of Iraq's dictator has not
prevented Ahmadinejad from calling America a "superpower made of straw."[9]

Saddam's analysis rested on a series of examples. Speaking at the Royal
Cultural Center in Amman, Jordan, on February 24, 1990, he explained that
the Americans had run away from Vietnam and Lebanon (in 1983) and abandoned
the shah of Iran. He argued that they would not fight or at least would not
have staying power. Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
agreed with him on this point, if on nothing else, noting on November 7,
1979, in connection with the hostage crisis, that the United States "could
not do a damn thing"[10] to stop the Islamist revolution.

Bin Laden himself explained, "[Those whom] God guides will never lose .
America [is] filled with fear from the north to south and east to west .
[Now there will be] two camps: the camp of belief and of disbelief."[11] He
designed the September 11 attack to puncture the myth of American power, to
show U.S. vulnerability, and in terms of Muslim perception, the attack was a

The basic approach of Bashar's new Middle East has already permeated
throughout the Arab world, from Yemen's president advocating immediate war
with Israel,[12] to Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir boasting that he would
rather fight the U.N. than let its forces into Darfur. "We've done the
math . We've found out that a confrontation is a million times better for
us,"[13] he explained. Bashir calculates that despite his military weakness,
not only does the West lack the will to back its rhetoric with force, but
his own demagogic response will win him support at home and among other Arab
and Muslim countries. His goal is not war but the fruits of war.

Perceptions of Israel

Regarding Israel, though, it is not so easy to separate brinksmanship from
actual fighting. The strategists of the new resistance strategy, like their
earlier predecessors, believe that big talk, terrorism, and proxy attacks
will bridge the gap. This reflects a dangerous misreading of Israeli
society. When Nasrallah and other radical Islamists today speak about
Israel, they echo verbatim what Arafat and Arab nationalists said in the
1960s. Basically, their speech boils down to a belief that with sufficient
resolve, the Muslims can triumph. Failure to date reflects the cowardliness
of Arab leadership unwilling to press the fight.

Such thinking produced four decades of disaster for the Arab world. It began
when Arab leaders announced in the 1960s that they soon would defeat Israel
and throw the Jews into the sea, only for the Arab states to lose
overwhelmingly in the Six-Day war. Thereafter, Arafat and others bragged
that guerrilla warfare would do the trick, a parallel to Hezbollah's
thinking today.
In the 1970s, this dynamic resulted in civil wars in Jordan and Lebanon,
repeated battlefield defeats, suffering, and waste of billions of dollars in
resources. Such thinking has laid waste to the Gaza Strip three times
between 1989 and 2006. The Arab world is alone in the world in the near
monopoly of dictatorships since generations of rejectionists argued that
only authoritarian governments could defeat Israel and expel Western

Consistent across all these flights of fantasy and failure has been, except
perhaps for brief periods in the 1990s, incomprehension of Israel. Arab
nationalists and Islamists misinterpreted newspaper columns and public
debate for discord. Since they did not want Israel to exist, they treated it
as an illusion. Israel was weak, divided, and cowardly; it would crumble.
Just as Egypt and Syria once used Jordan and Lebanon as launch platforms for
PLO proxy attacks, today the Iranian government is using Lebanon and
Hezbollah in the same way. Both the PLO and Hezbollah analyze Israel
incorrectly. In 1968, Arafat explained, "The Israelis have one great fear,
the fear of casualties."[14] In 1970, a PLO official said that internal
division would fragment Israel and force the Jews to leave. "Zionist efforts
to transform them into a homogeneous, cohesive nation have failed," he
said.[15] The parallels with today's Islamist rhetoric are striking. On July
29, 2006, Nasrallah declared, "When the people of this tyrannical state
loses its faith in its mythical army, it is the beginning of the end of this
entity."[16] Had Nasrallah understood that Israel suffered heavier losses
fighting PLO terrorists in the 1960s when the country's population was far
smaller without political or social upheaval, he may not have initiated
what, for the Lebanese, was so reckless a fight.

Yet, Nasrallah says, as Arafat did over his four decades atop the PLO, that
their fighting demonstrated Israel's army to be "helpless, weak, defeated,
humiliated, and a failure."[17] Of course, such propaganda is aimed to win
the masses' cheers and the cadres' steadfastness, but the leaders, too,
believe it. After all, they base their strategy and tactics on it. Both the
PLO then, and Hamas and Hezbollah now, see terrorism as the key to victory.
They use terrorism not because they are evil but rather because they believe
terrorism will work against Israel. By attacking civilian targets, Arafat
said in 1968, the PLO would "weaken the Israeli economy" and "create and
maintain an atmosphere of strain and anxiety that will force the Zionists to
realize that it is impossible for them to live in Israel."[18]

In the 2006 war, Hezbollah fired rockets into northern Israel in an attempt
to damage that country's economy and create such an atmosphere by displacing
so many Israelis or forcing them into bomb shelters for two weeks. Zaghlul
an-Najjar, a columnist for the flagship Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, wrote,
"Imagine what would [happen] to this oppressive entity [Israel] if an oil
embargo was imposed on it, if its air force was destroyed in a surprise
attack, and if all the Arab countries around it fired rockets on it
simultaneously and decided to put an end to its crimes and its filth. [If
this happens], this criminal entity which threatens the entire region with
mass destruction will not continue to exist on its stolen land even one more
The column was no fluke. Two weeks later, the same paper carried a similar
article arguing that Hezbollah had changed
history by demonstrating Israel's weakness.[20] The Egyptian government does
not want war with Israel, but such demagoguery inoculates the Egyptian
regime against radical criticism although only at the expense of
legitimizing rejectionist incitement to the point where, collectively, it
can be difficult to step back.

Transforming Defeat into Victory

The Arab reaction to the 2006 Lebanon war follows a tradition whereby Arabs
transform military defeats into victories. The 1956 Sinai war is a case in
point. Another superb example is what happened at Karama, Jordan, in March
1968. The Israeli army crossed the Jordan River and destroyed the main Fatah
camp there. Israel lost 21 men while Fatah lost 150.
But Arafat argued that Karama was a great victory for Fatah. He juxtaposed
Fatah's supposed heroism against the Arab armies' incompetence and apparent
cowardice the previous year during the Six-Day war. Ironically, it was the
Jordanian army that resisted the Israel Defense Forces at Karama, not Fatah.
Nevertheless, Palestinians embraced the illusion. Thousands begged to join
Fatah; Nasser invited Arafat to come to Cairo to be his protיgי, and Arafat
cemented his career. [21] Thirty-five years of bloodshed and political
failure followed.

The Egyptian government used the 1973 Yom Kippur war in the same manner.
While the initial Egyptian offensive was brilliant and its use of new
antitank weapons successful, the Israeli military rallied and Egypt lost the

The PLO provides another example. After its 1982 defeat in Lebanon,
culminating in the group's expulsion from the country, Arafat declared
victory and his colleague, Khalid al-Hasan, proclaimed, "We should not
become arrogant in the future as a result of this victory."[22] There was
some introspection. Isam Sartawi, the PLO's leading moderate, sought an
investigation of the poor PLO military performance. He urged the PLO to
"wake up" and leave the "path of defeat" that had led to the 1982 debacle.
Sartawi ridiculed the organization's victory claims. "Another victory such
as this," he joked, "and the PLO will find itself in the Fiji Islands."[23]
Two months after voicing his complaints, Palestinian terrorists murdered
Sartawi.[24] Criticism can be silenced, and imagination can persuade people
that defeat is victory, but imagination is never enough to produce military

Another repeating feature of the resistance mentality is the idea that wars
redeem Arab honor. Whether at Karama in 1968, in the Sinai in 1973, or after
both Palestinian intifadas, Arabs have claimed redemption of honor through
violence. Claims that Hezbollah forced Israel out of southern Lebanon and
Hamas expelled Israel from the Gaza Strip reinforce the trend. The
problem is that the quest for honor is insatiable. No sooner is honor
restored then there are demands for further redemption.

During the 1990s, reformers stated that the true way to raise Arab dignity
was not through fighting Israel or the West, but by prioritizing building of
a productive economy, higher living standards, equality for women, an
independent judiciary, honest media, and good educational and health
systems. The re-embrace of resistance, though, has pushed these items off
the agenda, bringing resistance not only to Israel's existence, but also to
changes the Arab world needs.

In 1966, a revolutionary Baath faction ruled Syria. Headed by Salah Jadid,
it was willing to take great risks in its struggle against imperialism and
Zionism. With the Six-Day war, the regime got its wish. And, again, for
decades later, such willingness to sacrifice was lauded. Yusif al-Rashid, a
columnist for the Kuwaiti daily Al-Anba, illustrated this paradox in an
August 2006 column. "The Lebanese people may have lost a lot of economic and
human resources" in the 2006 war, he writes, but such calculations aside,
"They have achieved a lot of gains. Heroic resistance fighters have proven
to the world that Lebanese borders are not open to Israeli tanks without a
price. Lebanon was victorious in the battle of dignity and honor."[25]
Accordingly, suffering, death, the return of Syrian suzerainty, the
possibility of augmented sectarianism and civil war, and stripping Lebanon
of all its recent financial gains were, to this non-Lebanese Arab,
worthwhile because it made Arabs feel better about their dignity and honor.


Today, Islamism repeats the history of Arab nationalism in remarkable detail
whether with exaggerated promises of victory, intoxication with illusionary
triumphs, or misapplication of resources. Popularity derived by the
demonization of Israel, the United States, and the West by Iran, Syria, and
Hezbollah is little different from the demonization by Arab nationalists in
the past.

In some ways, a world-view so out of touch with reality is collective
insanity, but there is much method to those who promulgate such madness. The
resistance paradigm is an excellent tool for regime preservation, as it was
earlier for Arab nationalist movements, and it is a useful tool to mobilize
support for radical Islamist groups. But the cost of such a paradigm is
clear: no reform and squandered resources.

Resistance propaganda is so pervasive-in schools, mosques, the media, and
both government and opposition rhetoric-that it takes the greatest courage
and strength of character to stand against it. Those willing have, for the
time being, lost.

"Oh, Master of Resistance," wrote the Syrian state-run newspaper Tishrin on
August 3, 2006, in an ode to the man who set Lebanon back twenty years, "You
have cloaked yourself in honor merely by writing the first page in the book
of deterring and defeating the Zionist-American invaders, along with all
those who are hiding behind them. No one thinks that the [war] will be won
today, tomorrow, or [even] next year-but it is the beginning of the end, and
the road towards victory has begun." And so we are at the start of a long,
long road of conflict, just as Arabs stated in the 1950s. Perhaps some time
around 2035, a new opportunity will emerge.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs
Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs. His
book, The Truth about Syria, will be published by Palgrave-Macmillan in
April 2007.

[1] Syrian television, Aug. 15, 2006, in Foreign Broadcast Information
Service, U.S. Department of Commerce (hereafter FBIS).
[2] Tawfiq al-Hakim, The Return of Consciousness (New York: New York
University Press, 1985), p. 50.
[3] Ali Salem, "My Drive to Israel," Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2002, pp.
[4] The New York Times, Mar. 12, 2001.
[5] See, for example, Bashar al-Assad, speech at the Fourth General
Conference of the Syrian Journalists Union, Damascus, Aug. 15, 2006; Syrian
television, Aug. 15, 2006.
[6] Uriya Shavit, "Al-Qaeda's Saudi Origins," Middle East Quarterly, Fall
2006, pp. 3-13.
[7] Al-Jumhuriya (Cairo), Oct. 7, 2001.
[8] Winston S. Churchill, "Iron Curtain Speech," Mar. 5, 1946, Internet
Modern History Sourcebook, accessed Sept. 18, 2006.
[9] Islamic Republic of Iran News Network (IRINN) television, Feb.1, 2006,
speech in Bushehr, Iran, translation in Middle East Media Research Institute
(MEMRI), Special Dispatch Series, no. 1084, Feb. 2, 2006.
[10] Speech at Isfahan University, FBIS, Nov. 8, 1979.
[11] Al-Jazeera television (Doha), Oct. 7, 2001.
[12] Al-Jazeera, Aug. 1, 2006, translation in MEMRI, clip no. 1217.
[13] Al-Jazeera, Aug. 29, 2006, translation in MEMRI, clip no. 1255.
[14] "Yassir Arafat," Third World Quarterly, Apr. 1986; South, Jan. 1986, p.
[15] Al-Anwar symposium, Mar. 8, 1970, cited in Yehoshafat Harkabi, The
Palestinian Covenant and Its Meaning (London: Frank Cass, 1979), p. 12
[16] Al-Manar television (Beirut), July 29, 2006, in MEMRI, Special Dispatch
Series, no. 1224, Aug. 1, 2006.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Interview, International Documents on Palestine, 1968 (Washington,
D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1968), p. 300.
[19] Al-Ahram (Cairo), Aug. 14, 2006.
[20] Al-Ahram, Aug. 29, 2006.
[21] See Barry Rubin and Judith Colp Rubin, Yasir Arafat: A Political
Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 38-45.
[22] Al-Madina (Medina), Aug. 31, 1982, in FBIS, Sept. 9, 1982.
[23] Muhammad Anis, "An Interview with 'Isam Sartawi," Al-Musawwar (Cairo),
Mar. 25, 1983.
[24] Ibid.; Al-Hawadith (Baghdad), Mar. 4, 1983.
[25] Associated Press, Aug. 17, 2006.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israeli Soldier Moderately Wounded by Palestinian Gunfire in West Bank

December 11th, 2006

Israeli soldier moderately wounded by Palestinian gunfire south of Jenin

An Israeli soldier was shot in the head and suffered moderate injuries
earlier today, when Palestinian gunmen opened fire at an IDF force south of
Qabatiya, south of Jenin.

The gunmen opened fire at an IDF rescue force which came to assist soldiers
whose vehicle had rolled over during routine activity in the area.

An initial inquiry shows that the vehicle rolled over while trying to avoid
a head-on collision with another vehicle.

The wounded soldier was evacuated to a hospital for medical treatment.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Editor of Arabic Reformist Website AAFAQ Criticizes Iraq Study Group Findings

Special Dispatch-Iraq
December 12, 2006
No. 1387

Editor of Arabic Reformist Website AAFAQ Criticizes Recommendations of the
Iraq Study Group

To view this Special Dispatch in HTML, visit: .

The following is the translation of an editorial titled "The Poisonous Report"
that was posted on the Arabic reformist website on December 8,
2006. It was written by website editor Omran Salman.(1)

"We may summarize the Iraq Study Group's report chaired by former secretary of
state James Baker in one sentence: 'Handcuff the hands and free the tongue.'
This conclusion went hand in hand with the common wisdom that says: 'When
people sit to talk to one another, they forget their fighting.' This can be
explained by realizing that the Iraq Study Group wanted to divert the conflict
from the military and security side to the diplomatic and political side, in
the hope that this diversion will reduce the pressure on the U.S. and allow -
with the passage of time - the redistribution of power in Iraq.

"The report, which was made public Wednesday [12/6/06] after keeping everyone
guessing about its content, did not say how this diversion could solve the
security and military conflict in Iraq. Surely the report was unable to answer
this question, simply because no one knows the answer. If any of the Group's
members knew the answer, he or she would have whispered it a long time ago to
the U.S. administration or to its adversaries. But the transition to what the
Group referred to as 'The Political and Diplomatic Combat,' which aims at
involving Iran and Iraq in the determination of Iraq's destiny, would require
a price which the U.S. will have to pay.

"Here lies the essence of this whole report. The price is to completely
abandon the spreading of democracy in the Middle East, and to begin a dialogue
with the dictatorial regimes of Damascus and Tehran.

"In other word, the cost of bringing the Syrians and Iranians to the
negotiating table on Iraq and of making them participate in finding a solution
to its crisis is to grant them the honor of partnership in finding a
solution - while they are conspiring and allowing militants and weapons to
pass through into Iraq.

"This partnership means equity and the freedom of exchange of ideas and
information, and possibly cooperation on other issues. If this happens, the
current and any future administration won't be able to demand that these two
regimes change their behaviors.

"The Study Group on Iraq realizes that this price is very high, and that
President Bush will not accept it. Therefore, to make it a more comprehensive
report about the Middle East, they proposed solutions with other issues, such
as the peace negotiations between Israel and each of Syria, Lebanon and
Palestinians, with the hope that this will make the deal relatively acceptable
by making its expected advantages more attractive.

"The other possibility, about which the Group did not think deeply, was the
extent to which the other side would accept the deal, particularly Iran. And,
if Iran accepted it, what would its conditions be? The report attempted to
respond to this point by indicating that if Iran rejects the deal, it will be
proof that Tehran is not cooperating, and is involved intentionally in
sabotaging the situation in Iraq - and this will expose and further isolate it
internationally! Oh, really? God only knows what the Iranians thought when
they read those words. For sure they laughed out loud about the naiveté of the
report and its authors.

"What the authors of the report did not know, or may have neglected, is the
fact that the moment they started talking about the U.S.'s need for Iranian
assistance in containing the Iraqi situation, they in fact handcuffed the Bush
administration, depriving it of any cards to pressure Iran, now and in the

"It took the U.S. and the international community a decade to rectify the
mistake (and it is still not yet rectified) of the previous Bush (the father)
administration, which had James Baker as one of its pillars, of handing
Lebanon over to the Syrian regime in exchange for Syrian participation in the
Gulf War of 1991.

"It's true that the situation in Iraq is bad. All agree that the previous
policy has failed and that it must change. But it is important that such
change should not be allowed to cause new catastrophes.

"In this context, three catastrophes are looming on the horizon:

"The first is accepting the Syrian and Iranian regimes as part of the solution
to the Middle East problems, after everyone including the American political
establishment has indeed considered them part of the problem. This change
simply means the total failure of the American policy in the region.

"The second is putting Iraq's destiny in the hands of these regimes, which, at
the least, are considered criminals, and have no credibility or moral values.

"The third is the total abandonment of the goal of spreading democracy and
reforms in the region. It was striking to note that the report, with its 142
pages, did not mention democracy at all.

"In other words, the report of the Study Group on Iraq, besides the fact that
it did not present any real solution to the Iraq's problem, throws the baby
out with the bathwater. The report's final outcome is the solution of the
Syrian and Iranian regimes' problem - not America's problems. Therefore, this
report is more poison than cure."

(1) For more articles by Omran Salman see, MEMRI Special Dispatch No 1202,
July 12, 2006, "New Arabic Reformist Website: 'The Arab World Doesn't Have to
Choose Between Islamists and Dictators; There is a Third Way - the Way of
Reform, Liberalism, and Democracy,'" ;
MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1140, "Bahraini Reformist: 'In the Beginning There
Was Man not Religion," April 12, 2006, ;
MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1016, "Liberal Bahraini Journalist: 'Who Hates
America in the Arab and Muslim World, and Why,' November 2, 2005, ;
MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1010, October 21, 2006, "Bahraini Journalist: Not
Since the Nazi Era Has There Been Anything Like Al-Qaeda's Declaration of War
on the Shi'ites in Iraq," .

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit
organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East.
Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are
available on request.

MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with
proper attribution.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC 20038-7837
Phone: (202) 955-9070
Fax: (202) 955-9077
Search previous MEMRI publications at

Continued (Permanent Link)

Gazans speak out on early poll

Gazans speak out on early poll


Laila El-Haddad in Gaza

The Palestinian president has threatened to call early elections, having failed in talks with
the ruling party, Hamas, to secure agreement on forming a unity government. But what do ordinary Gazans think about this
action by Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah movement was trounced by Hamas in January, and have events since those elections
changed their allegiances?

"The least we can
do is support them

in these dire times"

Mervet Naim, 34, English teacher (government schools)

"I am completely against the idea of early elections. President Abbas and Fatah in general must give
Hamas a chance and let them serve the full four years. Even if we are not being paid, we are still behind our government
one hundred per cent.

"They are fair individuals and they feel with the suffering of our society because they are from the
people. We cannot just judge them from the first nine months.

"The whole world is against them - so the least we can do is support them in these dire times. I voted
for Hamas before, and I would vote for Hamas again."

"We have to do
something for the sake of the

people, not for the sake of the factions"

Yousef AlHelou, 27, radio producer/translator

"I am with any solution which can lead us away from this crisis. Even if there is no law that allows
for early elections to be called, one must be created.

"We have to do something for the sake of the people, not for the sake of the factions. Hamas says its
popularity will increase if early elections are called but they are also opposed to the idea, so there is a
contradiction there.

"At the same time, Fatah should not impose its opinions on Hamas since it is, after all, in the
minority now.

"I oppose the idea that the government is somehow responsible for the situation we're in - it's
clearly collective punishment by the West.

"At the same time, Hamas should be flexible. The ministry of the interior and finance should be run
independent of any faction. I voted for Hamas in January's elections to punish Fatah because of its corruption, but I'm
not sure how I would vote again."

"I think every
citizen knows what it is we

need in a government now"

Salim Sbayta, 30, waiter

"I am for early elections. Our living conditions are unbearable and, God willing, early elections will
solve the crisis because I think every citizen knows what it is we need in a government now.

"We need a government that can deal with foreign and Arab governments and understand our reality. We
are a society that survives on foreign aid.

"There has to be a pragmatic solution to the problem. I didn't vote in the previous elections, but if
new elections are held, I will certainly vote for Fatah."

"We need both
players in the government. I'm

still hopeful a unity government can be formed"

Reem Akram, 20, university student

"Even though I'm a Fateh supporter, I'm against new elections. They will only lead to more chaos and
infighting and instability. If Hamas is voted out, it will return to fighting and resistance.

"At the same time, Fatah and the PLO need drastic reform in their ranks and this has not yet happened.

"We need both players in the government. I'm still hopeful a unity government can be formed. I voted
for Fatah in the previous election and would vote for them again. But I think this government should be allowed to serve
out its term."

"There is no
military solution to our problem:

it's a lose-lose proposition for us, and Israel"

Maher Khateeb, 45, taxi driver

"I voted Hamas in January's elections even though I was a staunch supporter of Fatah, but now I'm
divided. I would either vote for an independent or a mix of candidates on the district levels if new elections were

"But don't come and tell me that you are going to release all the prisoners or tear down the wall
[Israel's separation barrier] or liberate Jerusalem - I want realistic promises and have modest expectations.

"I think the current government must be dissolved in order to support the people. Israel is a reality
we have to accept and negotiate with.

"There is no military solution to our problem: it's a lose-lose proposition for us, and for Israel.
And we are the biggest losers of all.

"I think new elections should be held first and foremost for economic reasons. People are starving and
everyone is simply searching for their day's bread. They aren't thinking about anything else."

"I have ten kids
and I don't know how to feed

them. That is my priority"

Fouad Tamboora, 51, farmer

"I voted for a mixture of candidates in the previous elections - some Hamas, some Fatah, some
independents - and Hamas on the national level. But they haven't done anything for me - I haven't benefited from either
Fatah or Hamas.

"I have ten kids and I don't know how to feed them. That is my priority. I'm still hoping for a unity
government to be formed, though, and oppose early elections. It's simply unlawful and unprincipled. They should be
allowed to serve out their full term, even if that is 20 years.

"I'm undecided how I would vote if elections were to be held again. I would either abstain or vote for

"Everybody voted
for Hamas to get rid of the

other regime, but nobody thought they'd win"

Nafiz Warshagha, 37, shopkeeper

"I'm for early elections-because of the unbearable humanitarian situation. Everyone is for new
elections no matter who wins, simply so people can live again. Things are getting scarcer and scarcer.

"I cast mixed ballots - but voted mainly for Hamas. Everybody voted for Hamas in order to get rid of
the other regime, but nobody really thought they would win.

"I can't say who I'd vote for again if elections were held, but I do think I think Hamas would serve
us best as a strong opposition.

"New elections will certainly create a lot of problems, but there is no other way out and people
desperately need a way out. So they are willing to cling to any option that provides them with even a shred of hope of
getting out of this crisis we're in."

"Were it not for
neighbourly charity, people

would be out on the street begging"

Rasmiyah Shamiya, 60

"I am for holding early elections. I voted Fatah in January and would vote Fatah again. The situation
is very bad and cannot be allowed to continue - it is simply a catastrophe.

"If they [Hamas] could pay the employees, agree to recognise Israel, or even create a government of
national unity, things might be OK. But none of those options is realistic.

"Were it not for neighbourly charity, people would be out on the street begging - they can't feed
their children. My son doesn't even have half a shekel on him to give his children. What else can we do?"

"If we start with
new elections, we should

start from the top"

Maha Salama, 28, communications engineer

"I am staunchly against early legislative elections, but do think we should call for new presidential
elections. The current parliament was only recently elected, and not by any small percentage. They [Hamas] won by a high
enough margin so as to render the mere idea of new elections moot.

"However, it's been a while since we voted for the presidency and when we did vote, people only chose
Abbas for a lack of realistic alternatives.

"If we start with new elections, we should start from the top and based on this we can accept a new
legislature. We just elected them yesterday, after all.

"There might have been hope for an agreement between the factions, but as long as Abu Mazen [Abbas] is
in the executive, and Hamas is in the PLC [Palestinian Legislative Council], there will be no unity government. The
answer is presidential elections.

"I voted for Hamas and will vote for Hamas again. The issue is not about them being unable to
establish foreign relations or provide for the people, it's about local, regional, and international factors standing in
their way."

"We gave this
government a chance and they

have been unable to provide what's necessary "

Raed Thaher, 34, carpenter

"I am for new elections. We gave this government a chance for six months and they have been unable to
provide what's necessary for the people _ such as food, work, or money.

"I am working part-time jobs and my father is now unemployed.

"I realise it's not in Hamas's hands and I don't necessarily blame them, but I do think a new
government should be established to resolve the crisis.

"I voted for Hamas but am now unsure who I would vote for in new elections."

"If new elections
are held, it will be under

severe economic duress"

Azza Hakeema, 41, head nurse (government clinic)

"I am against holding early elections. It hasn't even been a year since the previous elections. And
people's opinions are swayed now by the unusual circumstances we're in.

"If new elections are held, it will be under severe economic duress, and at a time when employees are
going unpaid, so naturally the response will not be indicative of their true feelings.

"Holding new elections is simply illogical, even if we as health workers are not being paid. We want a
solution, it's true, but this should come in the form of a unity government. We should keep trying for this no matter

Your Views
"Abbas has lost everything because of his policy
inside and outside Palestine ... and any wrong decision [he takes] will cost him and the Palestinians an internal civil

Alkhalili, Nrtingen, Germany

Send us your views

"I voted Hamas and I would still vote for them. It's a matter of principles. This siege has been forced upon them, but
otherwise they fulfilled their duties.

"Under the previous government, the situation deteriorated, and the society was split between those
who considered themselves aristocrats and the rest of the people who they considered sub-human.

"But this new Hamas government does not distinguish in that way. We suddenly feel there is a
government that is accountable and which respects us as individuals, not just respects the children and wives of those
in power."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Whose War Crimes?

Wall Street Journal:REVIEW & OUTLOOK

Whose War Crimes?

Evidence from Lebanon about how terrorists use civilians.

A few scenes from modern warfare:

Mohammad Abd al-Hamid Srour moved missiles across southern Lebanon under cover
of a white flag. Hussein Ali Mahmoud Suleiman used the porch of a private home
to fire rockets. Maher Hassan Mahmoud Kourani dressed in civilian clothes, hid
his Kalashnikov in a tote bag and stored anti-aircraft missiles in the back of
a green unmarked Volvo. The three men, all members of Hezbollah, were captured
by Israel during last summer's war.

Now their videotaped interviews form part of a remarkable report by retired
Lieutenant Colonel Reuven Erlich of Israel's Intelligence and Terrorism
Information Center. Relying heavily on captured Hezbollah documents, onsite
and aerial photography and other first-hand evidence, the report shows how the
Shiite group put innocent civilians at risk by deliberately deploying its
forces in cities, towns and often private homes.

Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, has accused
Israel's military of "indiscriminate warfare" and "a disturbing disregard for
the lives of Lebanese civilians." Mr. Erlich demolishes that claim, and in the
process shows the asymmetric strategy of Islamist radicals.

The most persuasive evidence here is photographic, so we urge readers to
access the report itself on the Web site of the American Jewish Congress ( ).


The report:



Hezbollah's headquarters in Aita al-Shaab, for instance, sits in the heart of
the village. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah's office and home are in a
densely built neighborhood of Beirut. In the town of Qana--site of an Israeli
bombing on July 30 that killed 28 and that Hezbollah's apologists were quick
to label a "massacre"--an arms warehouse can be seen adjacent to a mosque.
There are photographs of rockets in the back seats of cars, missile launchers
adjacent to farm houses, storage bunkers hidden beneath homes. There is also a
trove of before-and-after photography demonstrating the precision of most
Israeli bombing.

The report also shows how the use of civilian cover was explicitly part of
Hezbollah's strategy. "[The organization's operatives] live in their houses,
in their schools, in their churches, in their fields, in their farms and in
their factories," said Mr. Nasrallah in a TV interview on May 27, several
weeks before the war. "You can't destroy them in the same way you would
destroy an army."

Exactly what Mr. Nasrallah means is illustrated in the testimonials of the
captured fighters. Asked why Hezbollah would risk the destruction of civilian
areas by firing from them, Mr. Suleiman replied that while in theory private
homes belonged to "the residents of the village . . . in essence they belong
to Hezbollah."

Perhaps that's true; if so, then Human Rights Watch has no grounds to accuse
Israel of atrocities when Mr. Nasrallah has effectively declared everyone and
everything in southern Lebanon to be his fief. Our sense, however, is that not
all southern Lebanese were delighted to have their livelihoods appropriated
for Hezbollah's political purposes, even if they were too intimidated to
register a protest. Either way, it is Hezbollah, not Israel, that is guilty of
war crimes here.

Beyond the war in Lebanon, these images suggest how Islamists seek to use the
restraint of Western powers against them. They shoot at our civilians from the
safety of their own civilian enclaves that they know we are reluctant to
attack. Then if by chance their civilians are killed, they call in CNN and
al-Jazeera cameras and wait for the likes of Mr. Roth to denounce America or
Israel for war crimes.

None of this means the U.S. shouldn't continue to fight with discrimination
and avoid civilian casualties. But it means our political leadership needs to
speak as candidly as Israelis now are speaking about this enemy strategy, so
the American people can understand and be steeled against this new civilian

Continued (Permanent Link)

An Interview With Al-Jazeera Editor-in-Chief Ahmed Sheikh

World Politics Watch
07 Dec 2006

An Interview With Al-Jazeera Editor-in-Chief Ahmed Sheikh
by Pierre Heumann

Pierre Heumann of the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche spoke with
Al-Jazeera Editor-in-Chief Ahmed Sheikh in Doha. This revealing
interview appears here in English for the first time.


Mr. Sheikh, as the Editor in Chief of Al-Jazeera, you are one of
the most important opinion-makers in the Arab world. What do you
call suicide bombers?

For what is happening in Palestine, we never use the expression
"suicide bombing."

What do you call it then?

In English, I would describe it as "bombings."

And in Arabic?

Literally translated, we would speak of "commando attacks." In
our culture, it is precisely not suicide.

But instead a praiseworthy act?

When the country is occupied and the people are being killed by
the enemy, everyone must take action, even if he sacrifices
himself in so doing.

Even if in so doing he kills innocent civilians?

That is not a Palestinian problem, but a problem of the Israelis.

You're avoiding the question.

Not at all. When the Israeli Army attacks, it kills civilians. An
army should be able to distinguish between military and civilian
targets. But how many innocent people did it kill in Beit Hanoun?
And then they justify this in saying that the grenade went
astray, that there was a technical problem or something. But who
believes that?

There's a difference between Palestinian "commando actions" and
Israeli military operations. In the one case, the aim is to kill
as many civilians as possible; in the other, it is exclusively a
matter of military targets.

Oh really? If the Israelis made such mistakes only once or twice
a year, I would agree with you and say that it didn't happen
intentionally. But such mistakes happen every week. There are
three possible explanations for this: either the military
equipment is not up to date or the soldiers are badly trained and
do not know how to use their weapons or they do it intentionally.
Now, we know that the Israelis get the best weaponry from the
American arsenal and that the soldiers are well trained. That
leaves, then, only one conclusion: they do it intentionally.

You come originally from Nablus: a city that was occupied by the
Israelis in 1967. In 1968 you left your homeland to study in
Jordan. When you say that, is it the Palestinian in you speaking,
who regards Israel as the enemy, or the journalist, who is
dedicated to finding the truth.
Articles on this Issue

The journalist.

So your personal background has no influence on your work?

When I'm in the newsroom, I forget my personal background. I set
aside my political convictions. The news story is sacred for me.
One cannot change it. One has to broadcast the story, as it is.

Still, I have trouble believing that you leave out your personal
history in assessing a story.

You're right. It's not always possible at work completely to
separate oneself from one's personal background. For example, in
the newsroom one evening I received the images of the poor little
girl whose parents were killed on the beach in Gaza and who was
screaming in such a heartbreaking way. I went into my office,
closed the door, and cried. Then I decided to broadcast the
images of the girl screaming, but without commentary. In this
case, you could, of course, say to me that it was the Palestinian
in me who acted. Nonetheless, I do believe that one can separate
oneself from one's personal background provided one works hard
enough at it. In the newsroom, an editor has to set aside his
personal feelings. Otherwise, you lose credibility.

How did you report on Beit Hanoun, where 19 Palestinians were killed?

We interviewed people on location. We even spoke with the
Israelis. We wanted to know from them if they had done it
intentionally, which, of course, they denied. We had to ask them
that. As professional journalists, we can't afford only to speak
to Palestinians. Even if you hate the Israelis that doesn't mean
that you shouldn't speak with them. They are, after all, a party
to the conflict.

Did you show all the images from Beit-Hanoun or did you censor
particularly gruesome bloody scenes?

We didn't show close-ups of what was too brutal. We don't want to
turn the spectator's life into a nightmare.

Evidently, for your coverage of Iraq other standards apply. You
have repeatedly shown beheadings of western hostages. In the
U.S., you are accused of using Al-Jazeera to incite the Iraqi
population against the American troops.

The U.S.A. is occupying a country and one has not only to expect,
but also to accept that the people there resist. You see
yourself: in the end, the American Secretary of Defense, Donald
Rumsfeld, had to resign. Because everyone in the White House and
in Washington understood that the man was a catastrophe. In fact,
I am sorry about his resignation. (Laughs.) With his attacks
against us, he was a very good promoter of Al-Jazeera. But
seriously: now even Tony Blair, in his interview with Al-Jazeera
[November 18], has admitted that the war in Iraq is a disaster.
The British now say that he misspoke, that he didn't mean it like
that. But I ask you: can one justify the American policy and
America's actions in Iraq? My opinion is clear. The Americans
should stop accusing us of putting the lives of their soldiers in
Iraq in danger with our reports.

Is that why you again and again broadcast tapes of Osama bin
Laden that your station receives?

You are a journalist and you must know actually that if somebody
offers you a tape or an interview with bin Laden, you don't
hesitate to accept the offer -- even if it will get you sent to

It's striking, of course, that Al-Jazeera has a quasi-monopoly on
information coming from the milieu of bin Laden. Obviously, you
are close to them. On conservative blogs, your network is even
called "Osama TV."

Because the Americans are in a difficult situation in Iraq, they
are looking for scapegoats and they've found one in Al-Jazeera.
In the last five or six years, we've received maybe two or three
tapes per year. That's news that we cannot hold back from our
public. Besides, we're not the only ones to get mail occasionally
from bin Laden. In the past, CNN was also in the mailing list,
and news agencies like the AP or broadcasters like Al-Arabiya
also receive messages from al Qaida. It's true, though, that we
receive such tapes more often than the others. Then we put this
information in a news context. When, for example, bin Laden
offers a 90-day ceasefire or when he takes responsibility for the
bombings in Madrid, we have, of course, to report on it. It's news.

It's not only in Washington that you have few friends among those
in power. It's also the case in the Arab world.

We are not aiming to overthrow any regime. It is part of our code
of honor, however, that we value people's right freely to express
their opinions. We provide information, nothing else. We see
ourselves as a pluralistic forum dedicated to the search for the
truth. If in the process we manage to help to push through
reforms, of course we're happy about that.

Al-Jazeera has been broadcasting for ten years now -- but there
is precious little democracy or reform to be found in the Arab world.

We don't say to the Egyptians "Overthrow the regime!" That is not
our job. But if the people should vote out Hosni Mubarak one day
at the ballot box, we will report on it of course. We are always
uncovering cases of corruption -- like just recently in Egypt. If
one disseminates such information, sooner or later it has to have
an effect. People begin to pose questions.

You don't only target the Egyptian regime, but practically all
the Arab regimes in the region. As consequence, the editorial
offices of your network are always being shut down. In what
countries are you blacklisted at the moment?

Saudi Arabia has never allowed us to work. Just once, we were
allowed to report on the Hajj and I went there to shoot a film.
Tunisia and Algeria have stopped us; Iraq banned us temporarily;
for a time our reporters were also not allowed into Syria,
Jordan, and Kuwait. We also have problems in Sudan, because we
report on the atrocities in Darfur, where innocent people are
being killed. In Khartoum, they weren't happy that we broadcast a
report on this subject and they threw us out. Later, however, the
Sudanese thought better of it and they let us work in the country
again. We never make compromises, because we don't want to put
our credibility at risk. The Iranians also shut down our bureau
for a time, after we broadcast a report on the oppressed Arab
minority in Iran. The report provoked demonstrations in Iran and
the Iranian government held us responsible. We don't want to
serve as the mouthpiece of those in power -- as, unfortunately,
so many of our competitors do.

You describe yourself as independent. Since the amount of
advertising on Al-Jazeera is limited, one has to wonder who is
financing such a costly news channel.

The Qatari government covers 75 percent of our expenses. The
remaining 25 percent we cover ourselves through our commercial
activities. But we take no instructions from the Qatari government.

One hears it said, of course, that your independence ends where
criticism of the royal family of Qatar, your financiers, begins.

What nonsense! Whoever says that obviously does not follow our
broadcasts very carefully. We do criticize the government of Qatar.

For example?

We criticize the large presence of the American air force in the
country. We also criticize the fact that the Israelis are
permitted to have a diplomatic representation in Doha. But,
besides that, I have to ask you: what happens in Doha that would
be worth reporting about? Qatar is a small country. Apart from
the skyscrapers -- which spring from the ground like mushrooms
and nobody knows why they're needed -- absolutely nothing happens
here. It is impossible to compare Qatar with Saudi Arabia and the
social unrest there or with Iran or Iraq. Our situation at
Al-Jazeera is comparable to that of the BBC. This highly
respected network is also financed by the government. If the BBC
is independent -- and nobody doubts that it is -- why don't
people accept that this is also the case for us?

Of course, the BBC is financed via taxes. . . . Up to now, one
could only hear Al-Jazeera in Arabic. Since mid-November, an
English-language news channel is also part of your group. Does
this represent competition for you?

Not at all. Our new channel is the perfect complement for us.

Let's do a test. Suppose that your bureau uncovers a corruption
scandal. Who reports first on it and thus gets the praises for
their investigative work: you or your colleagues with the
English-language channel?

It would be destructive to create a situation of competition at
the interior of the Al-Jazeera group. So, we would bring out the
revelation simultaneously, in Arabic and in English. After all,
we belong to the same organization and we work together in
perfect harmony. If, however, we send out two reporters and in
the end our man comes back with a worse story than his colleague
at the English-language channel, I'd give him a slap. I couldn't
accept that.

But it's possible that you will have to accept that your budget
could be restricted by the new channel, since the investor is the

I hope that won't be the case. I hardly believe that the investor
will permit budget cuts at the Arabic channel. I'm convinced that
it will remain the most important part of the organization.

How can you be so sure?

The influence of the Arabic channel in the Arab world is
enormous. Go to Amman or Jerusalem or Cairo or Casablanca: With
around 50 million spectators, we are the most important source of
information in the Arab world and the most important
opinion-maker. In Palestine, for example, we are seen by 76
percent of the population.

What are you expecting from the English-language channel?

We are hoping to contribute with it to the mutual understanding
of cultures. Above all in a time of crisis, it is important to
clear up misunderstandings in order to defuse conflicts.

Of course, often you stir up conflicts. For example, in the case
of the Mohammed cartoons.

I can't accept this accusation. For example, we interviewed the
editor of the Danish newspaper that first published the cartoons.
In doing that, we helped to reduce tensions.

Of course, many people claim that you outright staged the conflict.

Nonsense. We never even showed the cartoons. It was not us, but a
news agency that first reported about the cartoons. It was a good
story, a very important piece of news. It had consequences. There
were demonstrations, there were debates. It was a subject of
conversation. And, of course, we had to report on all that. It is
not, after all, the responsibility of a news organization to
decide whether to play up a particular story or to cool things
down. That's not our job. We have to report and in as unpartisan
a manner as possible. If the situation does not calm down, that's
not my fault. I only have to guarantee that my sources are
reliable, credible and precise.

Did you abide by this rule in your coverage of the Pope's speech?

When the Pope claimed in public that Islam and the Prophet
Mohammed only use the sword and accused Muslims of being
ignorant, our editor did not really grasp the significance of
this text. Until I explained to him that it was a highly
important speech and that he should make a headline out of it.

Was it right and was it necessary to give so much weight to a
speech that the Pope gave in the context of an academic ceremony?

Of course. We have to report, after all, what the highest
authority of the Church thinks about Mohammed and Islam.

But the Pope merely cited a medieval scholar.

But why did he do that? Normally, one cites someone in order to
support one's own point of view.

You have become one of the most important opinion-makers in the
Arab world and you play in the major leagues of the international
media. What is your journalistic credo?

I am not a big fan of the CNN motto to try always to be the first
with news. I consider scoops that are obtained at the cost of
truth and precision to be dangerous. In order to avoid only one
mistake, I prefer that the competition gets to a story faster
than me ten times. Because a mistake costs us our credibility. Of
course, we still do strive to be fast. We always have a suitcase
available with $150,000 dollars in cash in it. Whenever we want
to send a reporter to a war zone, we hand the suitcase over to
him, so that he can pay his expenses underway in an
unbureaucratic manner. That gives us flexibility.

Mister Sheikh, as a young man you had to leave your homeland.
What effect did this have on your personality?

If I had stayed in Nablus, I probably would have turned out
differently. But deep within you there is something that never
changes; and that is the formative influence of one's childhood.
We always remain children. If the child in you dies off, then
you're finished. So, it is a blessing for humanity, if the child
in you is kept alive.

What do you remember for example?

I still remember clearly how the Israelis invaded our town in
June 1967. We were expecting them from the West, but they
attacked from the East. Since I wanted to study, after that I
went to Jordan. Of course, that was important for my later
development. If I had remained in Palestine, I would see the
death and the problems every day. I would have to witness how
Palestinian land is confiscated. I would even have to put up with
having to speak with the enemy at road blocks. I would have to
put up with the daily humiliations of the occupying power, but
also to observe how Israelis are killed by suicide bombers.

How do you see the future of this region in which news of wars,
dictators and poverty predominates?

The future here looks very bleak.

Can you explain what you mean by that?

By bleak I mean something like "dark." I've advised my thirty
year old son, who lives in Jordan, that he should leave the
region. Just this morning I spoke with him about it. He has a son
and we spoke about his son's education. I'd like my grandson to
go to a trilingual private school. The public schools are bad. He
should learn English, German, and French -- Spanish would also be
important. But the private schools are very expensive. That's why
I told my son to emigrate to the West for the sake of my grandson.

You sound bitter.

Yes, I am.

At whom are you angry?

It's not only the lack of democracy in the region that makes me
worried. I don't understand why we don't develop as quickly and
dynamically as the rest of the world. We have to face the
challenge and say: enough is enough! When a President can stay in
power for 25 years, like in Egypt, and he is not in a position to
implement reforms, we have a problem. Either the man has to
change or he has to be replaced. But the society is not dynamic
enough to bring about such a change in a peaceful and
constructive fashion.

Why not?

In many Arab states, the middle class is disappearing. The rich
get richer and the poor get still poorer. Look at the schools in
Jordan, Egypt or Morocco: You have up to 70 youngsters crammed
together in a single classroom. How can a teacher do his job in
such circumstances? The public hospitals are also in a hopeless
condition. These are just examples. They show how hopeless the
situation is for us in the Middle East.

Who is responsible for the situation?

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most important
reasons why these crises and problems continue to simmer. The day
when Israel was founded created the basis for our problems. The
West should finally come to understand this. Everything would be
much calmer if the Palestinians were given their rights.

Do you mean to say that if Israel did not exist, there would
suddenly be democracy in Egypt, that the schools in Morocco would
be better, that the public clinics in Jordan would function better?

I think so.

Can you please explain to me what the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict has to do with these problems?

The Palestinian cause is central for Arab thinking.

In the end, is it a matter of feelings of self-esteem?

Exactly. It's because we always lose to Israel. It gnaws at the
people in the Middle East that such a small country as Israel,
with only about 7 million inhabitants, can defeat the Arab nation
with its 350 million. That hurts our collective ego. The
Palestinian problem is in the genes of every Arab. The West's
problem is that it does not understand this.


Pierre Heumann is the Middle East correspondent of the Swiss
weekly Die Weltwoche. His interview with Ahmed Sheikh originally
appeared in German in Die Weltwoche on Nov. 23, issue 47/06. The
English translation is by John Rosenthal.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Mourners storm Gaza parliament

Mourners storm Gaza parliament

Mourners firing automatic weapons have stormed into the compound of parliament during a funeral procession for three boys killed earlier by unidentified attackers. The children, sons of a Palestinian intelligence official loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the president, were shot dead in a car outside their school in Gaza on Monday.

Witnesses said the mourners fired at the Palestinian Legislative Council Headquarters building. It was unclear whether anyone was hurt. About 2,000 people took part in the funeral march, including the boys' father, Colonel Baha Balousha, who was heavily guarded by armed men.

As children were going to school in the Ramal district of Gaza City, armed men fired on a car killing the sons of Colonel Balousha, a senior Palestinian intelligence officer and Fatah loyalist. There were no claims of responsibility. The boys were aged between six and eight.

Relatives carried the boys, whose bodies were wrapped in sheets, in their arms. The mourners marched through the streets of the city escorted by hundreds of pro-Fatah security officers.

A senior Palestinian intelligence official in the occupied West Bank condemned the latest attack. He said it was unclear who was behind it.

Besides internal political unrest, Gaza is also riven with clan fighting and a surge in criminal violence since the imposition of a Western aid embargo on the Hamas government that has increased poverty.

An adult was also killed and four other people were wounded in Monday's drive-by shooting.


Fadwa Nabulsi, 12, who witnessed the scene, said: "I was walking with my young brother, Wael, when shooting took place... We started screaming and children started running.

"I lost Wael ... but I found him hiding in a falafel shop. I'm trying to find my father to take us back home."

Palestinian police tried to calm children at the scene. After news of the shooting spread, hundreds of parents went to Gaza City's Shifa hospital.

After the incident, Fatah supporters tried to close Palestine Street, which has nine schools on it, shouting: "God help us take revenge against the killers."

Elsewhere in the city, other Fatah supporters were blocking off main roads with burning tyres. Some have called for a general strike.

While Gaza has regularly suffered violence, a direct attack on children is unprecedented.

Tension in Gaza has heightened in recent weeks after Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, raised the possibility of calling early parliamentary and presidential elections.

Official reaction

Khalid Abu Hilal, a spokesperson for the Palestinian interior ministry, has described the killing of the children as "ugly and cruel".

He said: "The only thing we can understand from Monday's cruel crime, which targeted innocent Palestinian children, is that those who carried it out targeted the internal security and wanted to spark strife, security disorder and chaos in the country."

Abu Hilal said the interior minister has ordered internal security and interior ministry paramilitary forces to arrest the culprits and open an investigation.

Regarding the attack by mourners on the parliament building in Gaza City, Abu Hilal said: "It is clear that, over the last few days, a lot of criminals have been targeting the Palestinian street.

"During this period, the interior minister has achieved success in such areas as storming drugs dealers' dens, ending attacks on Palestinian citizens' lands, and dissolving car-stealing gangs

Continued (Permanent Link)

Tutu mission to probe Beit Hanoun deaths cancelled

11 December 2006

Tutu mission to probe Beit Hanoun deaths cancelled

GENEVA — A United Nations (UN) mission to be led by Nobel Peace
laureate Desmond Tutu to probe last month's deaths of 19
civilians in Gaza under Israeli shelling has been called off
because Israel did not authorise the trip, spokeswoman Sonia
Bakar said today.

Tutu, who was asked to head the team by the Geneva-based Human
Rights Council, had other engagements and could not wait any
longer for Israeli permission, she said.

"It has been cancelled. We were supposed to go yesterday
(Sunday)," Bakar said.

The United Nations' top human rights body condemned the November
8 deaths at Beit Hanoun and last month voted to send a mission to
investigate the incident.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokeswoman Miri Eisin said Israel
had investigated and acknowledged its mistakes in the incident,
seeing no role for the UN mission.

"The commission was sent on the premise that Israel targets
civilians and it did not take into account the daily rocket fire
targeting Israeli civilians."

The 47-state Human Rights Council, which in June replaced the
UN's discredited Human Rights Commission, has already passed
seven resolutions condemning Israeli actions in Palestinian
territory and in Lebanon and held three special sessions
dedicated to Israel.

Although Israel, which is not a member of the Council, has
accepted visits by special UN investigators on human rights, it
has never agreed to any mission of inquiry from either the
Commission or its Council successor.

Tutu, the former archbishop of Cape Town, was awarded the Nobel
prize in 1984 for his fight against apartheid. He had been due to
report back to the council by the end of this week.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Peretz: Saudi initiative must serve as basis for talks with Palestinians

Last update - 03:28 11/12/2006

Peretz: Saudi initiative must serve as basis for talks with
By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent

The Saudi peace initiative, which calls for a two-state solution
along the 1967 borders, must be used as a basis for negotiations
between Israel and the Palestinians, Defense Minister Amir Peretz
said on Sunday.

Israel has thus far avoided official consideration - at least
publicly - of the 2002 initiative which calls on Israel to
withdraw to the 1967 borders in return for a comprehensive peace
agreement with the Palestinians and other Arab states.

The proposal also calls for an "agreed and just solution" to the
Palestinian refugee issue, in accordance with UN Resolution 194.
Resolution 194 says, among other things, that "refugees wishing
to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors
should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date."

Speaking to delegates from the Israel Business Conference, Peretz
said Israel must present a "real political horizon" to
Palestinian leaders if it intends to enter successful
negotiations. Israel "must deal with the Saudi initiative as a
basis for negotiations," Peretz added.

Peretz made a similar comment in October in an address to an
academic conference at Tel Aviv University, when he said "We
could see the Saudi initiative as the basis for negotiation,"
adding, "this does not mean that we are adopting the Saudi
initiative, but it can serve as a basis."

Former Shin Bet chief, MK Ami Ayalon, made a similar statement in
support of the initiative on Sunday in an address to a closed
session of the Saban Forum in Washington, which he attended
alongside Minister Avigdor Lieberman

"The war in Lebanon created an opportunity that obligates Israel
to motivate a new political process on the basis of the road map
and the Saudi initiative, which recognizes Israel's right to
exist," Ayalon said.

Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz told U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman in
Washington that Israel must consider the initiative under certain
conditions, especially given the fact that the Hamas-led
Palestinian government is refusing to accept the international
conditions for the resumption of negotiations, leading to a dead
end in the relations with the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert alluded to a change in Israel's policy
two weeks ago in an address at Kibbutz Sde Boker. "The voices
emanating from those [Arab] states regarding the need for
recognition and normalization of relations with the State of
Israel - including, for example, some parts in the Saudi peace
initiative - are positive," he said, adding, "I intend to invest
efforts in order to advance the connection with those states and
strengthen their support of direct bilateral negotiations between
us and the Palestinians."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Hamas Government Promises to Spruce Up Jesus' Birthplace for Christmas

Associated Press
Sunday , December 10, 2006

Hamas Government Promises to Spruce Up Jesus' Birthplace for

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Islamic militants may be in charge, but
that doesn't mean there won't be Christmas this year.

The cash-strapped Hamas government is promising $50,000 to dress
up Jesus' traditional birthplace for the holiday, more than twice
the amount spent in previous years.

Yet even the extra cash — if Hamas pays up — may not be enough to
bring Christmas cheer to Bethlehem, hit hard by the last six
years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting. The biblical town is now
walled in by Israel's West Bank separation barrier, poverty is
deepening and Christians are leaving Bethlehem in droves.

Palestinian Tourism Minister Joudeh Morkos has modest expectations.

Last year, only about 2,500 foreign visitors came on Christmas,
but he's counting on the usual busloads of Christians from Arab
towns in Israel to boost turnout. Before the outbreak of the
Palestinian uprising in 2000, Bethlehem drew more than 90,000
pilgrims a month.

With just two weeks until Christmas, Bethlehem is only sparsely

Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh, a churchgoing Catholic from a
leftist party, said Saturday he will not start decorating until
he has the money in hand.

A few neon stars are nailed to storefronts on the main streets.
The only decoration on the Lutheran Christmas Church in a busy
market area is spray-painted graffiti below the pointed steeple
that reads "Islamic Jihad" — a Muslim militant group.

In Manger Square, next to the Church of the Nativity built over
Jesus' traditional birthplace, only two of six souvenir shops and
a small cafe were open on a recent afternoon. Many other nearby
shops were closed as well. A few tourists who sat outside a cafe,
braving the dreary weather, were thronged by peddlers trying to
sell olive wood crucifixes.

Abir Karram, who sells traditional hand-embroidered Palestinian
dresses, can no longer afford to pay the $115 monthly rent for
her workshop. Two years ago, she had 30 women working part time
for her, designing and embroidering gowns using ancient patterns.
Now she has no workers.

Karram and other merchants say six years of economic hardship
during the violence, including Israeli travel bans, have been
compounded by an international economic boycott of the government
imposed 10 months ago when Hamas came to power. The militant
group has struggled to pay salaries to 165,000 public servants,
who are the backbone of the economy.

"The wall stopped tourists and Arabs from Israel," she said,
referring to the separation barrier, which is meant to stop
Palestinian suicide bombings, but also cuts across Bethlehem's
main trade artery.

"Now people here have no salaries. It's like a well that finished
drawing water," Karram said.

The economic squeeze has driven away growing numbers of
Christians, already a minority of 35 percent in this town of 30,000.

Mike Salman, a Bethlehem resident and amateur chronicler of
Christian affairs, said about 20 percent of the town's 1,000
Catholic families have left in the past six years. Salman said
he's seen a similar rate of emigration from other Christian

A 2004 U.N. report estimated about 10 percent of Christians had left.

Amal Bandak, 39, a Christian, said her family of five wants to
return to Chile, their home until two years ago. The Bandaks had
come back to Bethlehem because her husband needed a back
operation, more affordable in the West Bank.

Amal's daughters, 13 and 17, will have what should be a storybook
Christmas, marching in the traditional Girl Scouts parade and
attending services at the Church of the Nativity.

Yet they enjoyed the holiday more in Chile, she said.

"I used to tell the children of all the wonderful things that
happen here at Christmas, how everybody comes to town, the family
visits. But last Christmas, they went to sleep weeping. They said
it was the saddest Christmas they ever had. It broke my heart,"
she said.

Hamas' generous promise of funding has drawn mixed reactions
among local Christians.

Some said they suspect the Islamic militants hoped to score a few
points with the international community.

Salman, a Palestinian Catholic, said Hamas should have given the
money to the poor, but it was a sign of goodwill.

"I appreciate it, because Bethlehem is the symbol of peace," he said.

The acting finance minister, Samir Abu Eisha, said he will write
the $50,000 check in the coming days.

Last year, the outgoing government run by Hamas' archrival Fatah,
did not give Bethlehem any money and the town had to rely mostly
on international donations. The year before, it received $20,000
from the government.

"We don't fund any Islamic celebrations, but we want to fund this
Christian festival, which is a special part of Bethlehem," said
Abu Eisha. "As a Palestinian government, we hope our Christian
brothers have a happy celebration. They are an integral part of
Palestinian society."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Hot item among Palestinians: tourist visa to Cuba

Associated Press
December 10, 2006

Hot item among Palestinians: tourist visa to Cuba
BY SARAH EL DEEB,CST-NWS-meast10s1.article

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Travel agents report a brisk demand for
visas to Cuba, one of the few places that welcomes Palestinians.

Driven by fear of civil war and increasingly bleak economic
prospects, Palestinians are fleeing their violence-wracked lands
in growing numbers. Many are skilled and educated, and are
leaving behind an increasingly impoverished and fundamentalist

Many countries make it difficult for the stateless Palestinians
to obtain even tourist visas, because they often overstay them.

Two popular destinations for Gazans are Canada, which still
offers legal immigration, and Cuba, which imposes few
restrictions on Palestinian travelers.

Those with tourist visas to Cuba often don't plan to go there.
Instead, they get off in transit at a European airport, rip up
their Palestinian travel document and seek asylum.

Fictitious trips
Travel agencies in Gaza arrange for fictitious invitations, hotel
bookings and Cuban visas for their clients, a Palestinian
security official said. The cost of the service has gone up from
$200 to $1,500 because of the high demand and increasing risk,
the official said.

Palestinian, Egyptian and European officials have begun to
tighten restrictions in an attempt to stem the flow. Travel agent
Mohammed Mouin said 65 of his clients with Cuban visas were sent
back from Egypt, but that many more are trying. "Traveling to
Cuba has become a fad," he said.

The emigration is hurting Palestinian prospects for statehood,
says pollster Nader Said. ''What Israel couldn't do by force,''
he said, ''we were able to do with internal dispute, lack of
leadership, accompanied by economic pressure and the siege on Gaza.''

10,000 emigrated
About 10,000 Palestinians emigrated between June and October and
another 45,000 have made preparations to leave, said Ahmed Suboh,
a Palestinian Foreign Ministry official, citing reports from
Palestinian missions abroad.

Emigration from Gaza, in particular, has picked up. The World
Bank estimates 70 percent of Gaza's 1.4 million people live in
poverty, defined as living on less than $2.30 a day.

Although Palestinian society tends to stigmatize its emigrants as
deserters, a recent poll indicated the number of young
Palestinians willing to leave if given a chance has jumped from
25 percent to 44 percent over two years.


Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or

Continued (Permanent Link)

Three children shot dead in Gaza * Son of senior Palestinian intelligence officer killed in drive-by shooting at Gaza school

Monday, 11 December 2006, 09:48 GMT

Three children shot dead in Gaza

Gunmen in Gaza City have shot dead the three sons of an
intelligence chief linked to the Palestinian party Fatah.

One adult was also killed in the attack which took place in a
street crowded with children on their way to school.

The boys' father was named as Baha Balousheh, who led a crackdown
on the now-ruling Hamas movement 10 years ago.

The BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza says the motive is unclear but Mr
Balousheh's position means he would have made many enemies.

Tensions between Fatah and the Hamas government have frequently
led to gun battles in the streets of Gaza that have killed dozens
of people.

The attack came a day after gunmen shot at Interior Minister
Saeed Seyam's convoy in Gaza. Mr Seyam, who is a senior Hamas
leader, was unharmed in that incident.


The attack happened as children were arriving at nine schools
which line Palestine Street in Gaza City's central Rimal district.

The gunmen fired more than 70 bullets at the vehicle in which Mr
Balousheh's children, aged between six and 10, were travelling.
At least two other children were hurt.

Inside the white vehicle with its blacked out passenger windows,
the seats and a school bag were covered in blood.

There were scenes of pandemonium as hundreds of children and
parents ran for cover from the gunfire.

Fatah supporters gathered in the streets vowing revenge for the

Fadwa Nabulsi, a 12-year-old interviewed by the Associated Press,
said she was outside a school with her nine-year-old brother,
Wael, when the shooting started.

"We saw fire coming from one car. We started screaming and
children started running.

"I was crying, and I lost Wael for about half an hour. Then I
found him hiding in a falafel shop. I'm trying to find my father
to take us back home," she said.

'Ugly crime'

Palestinian police in the area have been trying to help children
locate their parents and Gaza City's Shifa hospital has been
flooded with inquiries from concerned families.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum condemned Monday's attack as an
"awful, ugly crime against innocent children".

He blamed elements who wanted to undermine Palestinian interests
by creating chaos and confusion.

Hamas won a landslide victory in elections in January but its
funding has been choked off by Western donors because it refuses
to renounce violence and recognise Israel.

Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
has been considering a request by his allies to hold early
elections to resolve an impasse in efforts to form a unity

Hamas denounced the proposal to hold another election as a "coup
against democracy".

Associated Press
Dec. 11, 2006

Son of senior Palestinian intelligence officer killed in drive-by
shooting at Gaza school

Gaza City, Dec. 11 (AP): Palestinian gunmen on Monday killed the
9-year-old son of a senior Palestinian intelligence officer in a
drive-by shooting in a street packed with hundreds of school
children, an unprecedented attack at a time of heightened tension
between rival militias.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The dead boy was identified as Osama Balousheh, son of
intelligence officer Baha Balousheh, a loyalist of Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement. A decade ago, Balousheh
was one of the lead interrogators in a crackdown on the
now-ruling Islamic militant Hamas movement.

The shooting attack took place in a street lined with nine
schools. The gunmen pumped dozens of bullets into the car Osama
Balousheh was riding in, Palestinian security officials said. The
driver was seriously wounded. The boy's father was not in the area.

In all, seven people were wounded, including two adults and five
children, all in serious condition.

As the shots rang out, children dropped to the ground or fled,

``I was walking with my young brother, Wael, who is 9, and we
just crossed the street in order to take him to the school when
shooting took place,'' said 12-year-old Fadwa Nabulsi, still
shaken by the bloody scene.

``We saw fire coming from one car. We started screaming and
children started running. I was crying, and I lost Wael for about
half an hour. Then I found him hiding in a felafel shop. I'm
trying to find my father to take us back home,'' she said.

Dozens of Palestinian police in the area where trying to calm the
children and help them locate their parents.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Olmert trip seeks European support

Olmert trip seeks European support

Ehud Olmert, Israel's prime minister, will seek to bolster
European support for Israel during a trip to Berlin and Rome, amid fears that
the United States may soon shift course in the Middle East.

In Israel, the defence minister has said that any
Palestinian peace initiative must be based on the Saudi plan, which calls for
a two states solution.

In addition to hopes for new peace momentum, Olmert's trip
will address concerns that Europe might soften tough sanctions on the
Palestinians' Hamas-led government and show more tolerance for Iran's nuclear
ambitions, analysts say.

Olmert will meet Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, in
Berlin on Tuesday and Romano Prodi, the prime minister of Italy, on Wednesday
in Rome.

'European role'

He is also expected to talk to Italian and German leaders
about a US panel's recommendations for revising America's Middle East policy,
as well as on developments in Lebanon, where Italian and German peacekeepers
are monitoring the truce that ended Israel's month-long war with Hezbollah

It is Olmert's first visit to the two countries since taking
office last May. Following his meeting with Prodi, Olmert is to be received at
the Vatican by Pope Benedict XVI.

Israel is ready to recognise a "European role" in reviving
the peace process, dormant for six years, provided Europe continues to boycott
the Hamas-led Palestinian government, said Miri Eisin, a spokeswoman for

"Germany, Italy and Europe in general have a role to play to
advance the peace process," Eisin said. "But there cannot be any recognition
of the Hamas government as long as this movement does not recognise Israel and
does not give up its mission to destroy it."

Olmert's spokeswoman said he will ask the European
heavyweights to back economic sanctions against Iran if the Islamic republic
continues its nuclear programme, which Tehran says is for civilian purposes,
but which the West says is a cover for atomic weapons ambitions.

Peace talks

Europe has been seeking a larger role in Middle East
politics, and last month, Spain, France and Italy put forth an independent
initiative meant to get peacemaking back on track. Israel rejected that plan.

The Israeli government "does not like stray peace proposals
that don't involve Israel," Eisin said. "I'm sure that will come up."

Olmert revived the notion of peacemaking after Palestinian
rocket fire and Israel's summer war in Lebanon discredited his major
diplomatic initiative, a large-scale West Bank pullback that was widely
expected to be unilateral.

In one of the first times an Israeli official has publicly
considered the plan, Amir Peretz, Israel's defence minister, said at the
Israel Business Conference that any Palestinian peace initiative must be based
on the 2002 Saudi peace plan. The statement came two weeks after Olmert hinted
at a major policy change.

The Saudi peace initiative calls for an Israeli withdrawal
to the 1967 borders and the establishment of a Palestinian state, with
Jerusalem as its capital.

In exchange, Israel would receive peace agreements and full
diplomatic relations with Arab countries.

Continued (Permanent Link)

What did Jimmy Carter Mean?

Washington, DC, December 8, 2006 | Issue # 301
What did Jimmy Carter Mean?
Israel's Minister of Education, Yuli Tamir, has gotten herself into hot water
with the far right by declaring that maps in Israeli textbooks will, from now
on, show the Green Line, the armistice line that separated Israel from the
West Bank and Gaza Strip before 1967. In other words, the West Bank will not
be depicted as part of Israel but rather as territories whose final status
remains in dispute which is, of course, nothing more than a reflection of

This seems like no big deal. But, of course, the extremists are fuming. A
group of rabbis from "Headquarters to Save the State of Israel" went so far as
to threaten Tamir's life. "The Education Minister has joined the enemies of
Israel. She should remember what happened to Ariel Sharon, after he damaged
settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza."

The reference to Ariel Sharon reflects the view among Israel's religious
radicals that Sharon, like Yitzhak Rabin, suffered divine retribution for
endorsing territorial compromise. Likud Chair Binyamin Netanyahu did not go
that far. He merely said that putting the West Bank behind a dotted line on a
map is "scandalous."

Scandalous? I guess scandals in Israel are not what they used to be!

One could argue, I suppose, that this map controversy is of no significance
and can safely be ignored. But I don't see it that way. Hysteria over a map
is symptomatic of the larger hysteria about the territories that is not
limited to extremists.

The hysteria results from the dangerous conflation of the State of Israel and
the West Bank. For some people in Israel and here in the United States,
criticism of the occupation is an attack on Israel's right to exist.

But conflating the legitimacy of the occupation with the legitimacy of the
Jewish state is dangerous. The simple fact is that most people in the world
want the occupation to end and believe that the West Bank does not belong to
Israel. Most believe that ultimately a Palestinian state will govern the West
Bank and Gaza, with a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. It is not only
Arabs and Europeans who believe this but a clear majority of Americans and

The last thing friends of Israel should suggest is that the West Bank has the
same status in our eyes as Israel. That idea serves not to advance Israel's
hold on the territory, which cannot be sustained anyway, but to weaken the
Jewish claim to Israel itself. It should stop. The West Bank is not Israel.
Nablus is not Tel Aviv. Israelis who demand that maps show Israel controlling
the entire area of historic Palestine are no different than Arabs whose maps
do not show Israel at all. Worse than that, they fuel anti-Zionism by
perpetuating the lie that Israel is imperialistic, with designs well beyond
its borders.

The map controversy is odd, but not radically different from the arguments
taking place now over Jimmy Carter's use of the loaded term apartheid to
describe conditions on the West Bank.

Carter does not say that Israel is an apartheid state. He says explicitly that
it is not and that, when he uses the term apartheid, he is not referring to
Israel. "I am," he says, "referring to Palestine and not to IsraelS.Arabs
living in Israel are citizens of Israel and have full citizenship, voting, and
legal rights, and so forth. "

David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, correctly
points out in a column that Carter's use of the term apartheid is "false
advertising" because Carter "never claims that Israel is engaging in racially
motivated policies and rightly argues for a two-state solution to the
conflict." Harris recognizes that Carter's apartheid indictment is not about
Israel but about the occupation.

Others are not as careful. Martin Peretz and Alan Dershowitz both say that
Carter specifically calls Israel an "apartheid state," which Carter does not
do. Alan Dershowitz says Carter is "simply wrong." In Israel, Dershowitz
says, "majority rules; it is a vibrant secular democracy, which just
recognized gay marriages performed abroad. Arabs serve in the Knesset, on the
Supreme Court and get to vote for their representatives, many of whom strongly
oppose Israeli policies."

All that is absolutely correct. And Carter agrees with every word. His
argument is that Arabs in the West Bank do not have those rights. That isn't
so much an argument as a fact. West Bank Palestinians are not citizens of any
country and do not have the rights of citizenship anywhere.

And that is why most Israelis are eager to divest themselves of the West Bank.
They understand that precisely because Israel is not an apartheid state, if it
holds on to the territories, it must eventually grant Palestinians the same
rights Israelis enjoy. But that, if it does, Israel would be transformed from
a Jewish state to a bi-national one in which an Arab majority could outvote
the Jewish minority. The term apartheid is offensive to me, although not to
everyone. The popular and provocative conservative Ha'aretz columnist, Shmuel
Rosner, sees nothing wrong with the term. "Arguing about apartheid is
pointless," he writes. "There is enough material evidence to prove that
apartheid exists in the occupied territories in one form or another. If you
argue about the use of this word, you lose. If you argue that Israel is
blameless you also lose. The only argument you can make against Carter is
about context and the bigger picture."

Rosner is exactly right. Argue the facts. Argue the context. Argue the big

One last point. There is a disturbing trend in the pro-Israel community in
which the usual suspects react to any and all criticism of Israeli policies by
assaulting the critics, demanding that they either shut up or be prohibited
from speaking at a particular venue. This has to stop.

Americans should be free to discuss any subject they choose without being
subjected to hit jobs from self-appointed monitors of Middle Eastern political

A former President of the United States is immune to those attacks.

But other writers, professors, and journalists are not immune to pressure.
And that pressure stifles discussion.

If the Iraq Study Group is free to dissect the conduct of a war while it is
going on, any American should feel free to criticize any aspect of foreign
policy including US policy toward Israel. That should go without saying.

In Israel, not an apartheid state but a beleaguered democracy, everyone from
Knesset members, to journalists, to cab drivers feel free to express views on
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would cause conniption fits here.

It makes no sense. You should not have to take a 10 hour flight just so you
can watch an open and free-wheeling debate about the Middle East. You should
be able to do it here.

It's a free country. Right?

Continued (Permanent Link)

Ideas: Presidential Provocation

Ideas: Presidential Provocation

Dec. 18, 2006 issue - President Carter has a new book out, his 23rd since leaving office and his most controversial. "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" has drawn fire for its use of the word "apartheid," and a former associate, Kenneth Stein, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Emory University, is raising questions about the book's accuracy. (Disclosure: NEWSWEEK's Christopher Dickey was one of the people asked to comment on an early draft of the book.) President Carter spoke to Eleanor Clift:

You've created quite a stir. I suspect it was partly intentional.
Well, it was. But one of the purposes of the book was to provoke discussion, which is very rarely heard in this country, and to open up some possibility that we could rejuvenate or restart the peace talks in Israel that have been absent for six years.

The word apartheid—did you agonize about that?
Not really, because I knew that's an accurate description of what's going on in Palestine. I would say that the plight of the Palestinians now—the confiscation of their land, that they're being suppressed completely against voicing their disapproval of what's happening, the building of the wall that intrudes deep within their territory, the complete separation of Israelis from the Palestinians—all of those things in many ways are worse than some of the aspects of apartheid in South Africa. No one can go there and visit the different cities in Palestine without agreeing with what I have said.

Why do you think you're under attack for the book and the title?
You and I both know the powerful influence of AIPAC, which is not designed to promote peace. I'm not criticizing them, they have a perfect right to lobby, but their purpose in life is to protect and defend the policies of the Israeli government and to make sure those policies are approved in the United States and in our Congress—and they're very effective at it.

You're obviously aware of your main critic, Mr. Stein, who used to be with the Carter Center.
Thirteen years ago! He hasn't been associated with the Carter Center for 13 years.

He says that he was a third party in some meetings and his notes don't jibe with yours.
He was a third party in some of the meetings, I can't deny that. And a lot of those meetings took place when I was still president and an exact transcription was kept and it's in the official files. So the reports that I gave in the book are completely accurate.

He also has a veiled hint of plagiarism, saying you took from other sources.
The only source that I took anything from that I know about was my own book, which I wrote earlier—it's called "The Blood of Abraham" ... Somebody told me this morning [Stein] was complaining about the maps in the book. Well, the maps are derived from an atlas that was published in 2004 in Jerusalem and it was basically produced under the aegis of officials in Sweden. And the Swedish former prime minister is the one who told me this was the best atlas available about the Middle East.

To bring it up to the here and now, the Iraq Study Group report recommends ...
Exactly what I did—that the peace talks recommence.

Continued (Permanent Link)

New Nuclear Programs in the Middle East:What do they mean?

December 11, 2006 No. 3

New Nuclear Programs in the Middle East:

What do they mean?

Emily B. Landau

One of the greatest risks associated with Iran's apparent drive to acquire a
nuclear weapons capability is that it will spark further nuclear proliferation
in the region. According to recent reports, six new states in the Middle East
are considering developing nuclear programs - the IAEA has named Algeria,
Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia and noted that Tunisia and the UAE have also
shown interest in this regard - which seems to suggest that the risk is now
becoming a reality.

In fact, these states want to proceed down a path that could prove to be very
similar to the one taken by Iran. They have expressed their desire to develop
legitimate civilian nuclear programs, but the case against Iran today hinges
on the dangerously close relationship between civilian and military nuclear
programs: a civilian program can be used as a cover for or forerunner of a
military program. The prospect of additional states exploiting the weakness of
the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty - which allows for the development of
potentially problematic civilian programs - is unsettling to say the least.
And the fact that six states have expressed such interest at the same time
raises strong suspicions that this is a reaction to the perceived danger of a
nuclear capable Iran and may be tied to plans to develop an Arab nuclear bomb.

While these are very serious concerns, it is far from clear whether these
states have really made a decision to go nuclear. At this early stage, they
may well want to create the impression that they will not remain on the
sidelines in the face of Iran's challenge, but there are no clear indications
that they (individually or collectively) have made up their minds actually to
embark on the same path as Iran.

For example, Egypt - one of the more serious potential proliferators - is
undoubtedly most troubled by the prospect of Iran becoming a nuclear state and
has begun to voice its concerns more openly than in the past. Moreover, some
statements made by Egyptian officials working in the nuclear realm in recent
years have established that Egypt regards civilian nuclear technology as
something that can later be applied to a military program, if a decision to do
so is taken. But while Egypt certainly wants to signal its potential
capabilities, it is less likely at this stage to move in the direction of
nuclear weapons development. Egypt is not talking about an indigenous uranium
enrichment capability and it remains a major advocate of nonproliferation
efforts in the Middle East. Moreover, through the global nuclear energy
partnership (GNEP) launched in early 2006, the US has been encouraging states
in the direction of nuclear energy programs, and some argue that this may help
explain Egypt's interest, especially as US State Department Spokesman Sean
McCormack said last month that the US had no objection to Egypt's nuclear
program. In Morocco there are also contradictory signals which make it
difficult to support a conclusion that this state is interested in achieving a
military capability: Morocco has reportedly made plans to develop a nuclear
program but it has also joined a US-led effort to prevent the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction - the first North African country to do so.

There are other indications of an emerging desire for coordination and
cooperation among moderate Arab states as a means of confronting the negative
implications of Iran's nuclear ambitions. In late October, three Gulf states
joined others in a day-long exercise in the Persian Gulf, in which they
practiced intercepting and searching ships suspected of trafficking in
unconventional weapons. The exercise was carried out under the Proliferation
Security Initiative (PSI), a US-led nonproliferation initiative. This was the
first such exercise to take place in the Persian Gulf (near Bahrain, just
across the Gulf from Iran), and it signaled to Iran that its neighbors will
not stand idly by while it develops nuclear weapons.

Regional states can pursue two different routes in attempting to confront
Iran's nuclear ambitions: they can participate in arms control efforts geared
to enhancing their regional security, or they can attempt to join the nuclear
club. In light of failing international efforts to stop Iran, these states
appear to be pursuing both avenues and it is not clear which they will
ultimately choose, nor is it surprising that they want to keep their options
open. While they would like to participate in efforts to stop Iran, they feel
that they can not risk being left on the sidelines if all efforts to stop or
curb Iran ultimately fail.

Enhancing arms control efforts and encouraging regional security dialogue
could be critical for lowering the motivation of states to strive for their
own nuclear options. Creating frameworks within which their security concerns
can be raised, recognized and addressed would be an important first stage.
Initial agreement to cooperate in areas of clear mutual concern is already on
the agenda, as evidenced by the PSI exercise. It is also underscored by a
meeting that was held in Aqaba, Jordan in late September in which Palestinian
Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli General Security Service head Yuval
Diskin, and heads of intelligence services from Jordan, Egypt, and two states
in the Persian Gulf all took part. At the meeting, Jordan expressed its
willingness to host meetings geared to advancing the peace process and
fighting terrorism. Significantly, the need to coordinate and cooperate among
all sides and exchange information among them in order to fight terror in the
region was emphasized.

Creating alternative routes for states to enhance their mutual security could
help them resist the conclusion that the only way to ensure their individual
security in the face of a nuclear Iran is to develop their own nuclear bomb.
Given that most states will need a lot of time to acquire a military nuclear
capability, their incentive to explore alternative routes is likely to be

Continued (Permanent Link)

Walid Salem's incoherent peace strategy

Walid Salem seems to think that the whole war is between Hamas and Fatah. Therefore, if Hamas and Fatah make peace, that is, if Fatah gives in to Hamas, then there will be "peace."
However, the war of course is between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and peace must be made between Palestinians and Israelis. Hamas has stated repeatedly that there will never be peace. So how, one may ask, could Hamas policy be part of a coherent "peace" strategy.??
Ami Isseroff

The Palestinian – Israeli Arenas

What a Coherent Strategy for Peace Would Look Like?

Special to Safe Democracy

Walid Salem


Different strategies exist dealing with the Palestinian – Israeli current conflict realities. One of them is characterized by adopting the traditional approach of supporting the Palestinian moderates led by the Palestinian President Abu-Mazen, including rebuilding the Presidential Guards Units, and the other security departments that are linked to him.

The second opposite strategy is that one supporting Hamas government in order to promote the path leading to the Islamization of Palestine and the region.

In between these two contradictory trends, there is a third seeking to work with both Abu-Mazen and Hamas in order to get to a breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian relations.

The first trend is creating a tense situation of polarization trying to push Abu-Mazen in one hand in the path of dissolving the Palestinian Hamas led government with the justification of its failure to meet with the conditions of the Quartet. Indeed such position if taken by Abu-Mazen will be a recipe for civil war, as also Mahmmoud Al-Zahhar the Palestinian's Minister of Foreign Affairs indicated lately. The armament of the Presidential Guards Unit is understood to be one of the methods used in order to push the Palestinians towards civil war with the hope to crush Hamas in such a war!

The second strategy look like as gaining more ground in the last month, by the success of Hamas to lift the Arabic and Islamic commitment to the sanctions against the government. This development to be sure was an outcome not only of Hamas diplomacy, but more importantly an outcome of the indirect help that Hamas got from the Israeli government via the crimes against the Palestinian civilians in Beit-Hanoun in Gaza. This crime created Arabic-Islamic reaction, leading the Arabs and Islamic Countries to lift the sanctions imposed on the Palestinian Government.

With these sanctions lift Hamas felt encouraged. They felt at that moment that they don't need the President Abu-Mazen anymore in order to help them lift the sanctions. Therefore, they decided to stop the dialogue with Abu-Mazen about the composition of National Unity Government, and to preserve their current government as it is, while trying at the same time to get more support to that government through the Arabic and Islamic door, that was opened to them after Beit-Hanoun crime.

With this shift in Hamas tactics, Hamas made new signals about its future moves including (but not excluded to) the following: Giving Abu-Mazen the green light to have reciprocal ceasefire in Gaza with the possibility to be extended to the West Bank later on. Addressing the Egyptians in order to handle the indirect Hamas-Israel negotiations about the conditions of releasing the Israeli kidnapped soldier Gila'ad Shalit (Read: Mashal visit followed by Hanieh visit to Cairo in the last ten days of the previous month). Mashal-Hanieh initiative to give the world six months (the period was extended later on through statements by both of them) in order to bring a state to the Palestinian people. Then Hanieh repeatedly statements that he allows the Palestine ministers to meet with their Israeli colleagues in order to discuss the life daily issues. Then Hanieh travel abroad aiming for more breaking in the sanctions.

This Hamas tactical shifts leads to the following conclusions:

First: That Hamas is promoting now its already two years Mumana'ah line (an Abstaining from making any concessions) as an alternative to the Muqawamah (Resistance) line.

Second: With that Hamas is also running indirect negotiations with the Israeli Kadima government. The released information tell that it is about the release of Gila'ad Shalit, but Mashal and Hanieh talks in Cairo about a Palestinian State might indicate that these indirect contacts might went further to issues beyond Gela'ad Shalit matter. The Israeli declaration of decreasing the attacks against Palestinians in West Bank in December the 4th, might give also another indication in that direction, supported by the news about possible Israeli withdrawal from five cities in West Bank, and the stoppage of chasing the wanted people, lifting checkpoints and the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Third: That Hamas want to use the Arabs (mainly now Egypt). In order to get to a political breakthrough in its relations with the West (Hanieh said in Cairo last week that the Palestine government will be looking for Egypt and Jordan help in order to lift the political sanctions against the Palestinian government as he called them.

Fourth: With these successes of Hamas, Abu-Mazen and Fatah will pay the price in both the short term and the long term. In the short term Fatah already surrendered through Saeb Ericat statement this week stating that "If Hamas government succeeded in lifting the sanctions there will be no reason to dissolve it by the President". In the long term it is also became clear that Hamas is getting back (At least for the time being) to its traditional strategy, as a Muslim-brotherhood movement between 1967 to 1987 when it was concentrating on the internal Palestine issues more than the issues of fighting against Israel. In the specifics of the current realities which are different than the period of 1967 to 1987, Hamas will implement its new internal strategy through becoming more harsh with Abu-Mazen and Fatah, preparing to get the position of the President in the next elections, and from there move to take over the PLO.

In order to succeed in this strategy Hamas is trying to show some political flexibility in order to get the Arab and the international legitimacy. Mashal said few months ago: "If somebody will suggest me as a heir of Yaser Arafat leading the Palestinian people, I will accept such a suggestion". He means that and he knows what the political price that he might need to pay in order to get to such a position.

If this analysis proved to be right, then the conclusion will be that Hamas will prevent Abu-Mazen from negotiating with Israel, while it will in the other hand try to conduct these negotiations directly with the Israelis when it comes to the daily matters (Including the ceasefire issues also), and indirectly via Egypt when it comes to the political negotiations, with the hope that also Jordan might help in this, while Jordan is still abstaining from doing that, saying that they support the Palestinian President Abu-Mazen.

This process if continued will mean in one hand Hamas move from the field of fundamentalism to the field of real politics, but in second hand the secular and semi secular politics of Fatah will be defeated and ousted. A coherent strategy to deal with that will not be through supporting Abu-Mazen financially and by security means in a way that will help Hamas showing him as a "collaborator" with the West against his own people, and therefore, he will lose the civil war that is supposedly will be planned in order to crush Hamas!

In the opposite a workable strategy will require assisting Abu-Mazen by a permanent status agreement that will bring something tangible to the Palestinian people, and therefore lead them to abstain from continuing supporting Hamas, that a lot of them support only because they do not see a hope in the horizon. The last "offer" of the Prime Minister Olmert can be considered a starter if it is a first step, but if it will be presented as a proposal for a final status agreement, it will not help moving along on the path of strengthening the moderates and weakening the maximalists, that is because it does not include solutions to the Jerusalem and refugee issues, and also the issue of full withdrawal from West Bank, or the swap as an alternative.

If a real process for permanent status will be initiated with Abu-Mazen, accompanied with a track for the moderation and democratization of Hamas, then a coherent strategy will be on leading to a real solution. In order to do that it will be an urgent need to move from the two polarization positions to the third of positive communication.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Carter's Palestine-Israel Book: It's Even Worse Than They Say

Tough dove Gidon Remba of Chicago Peace Now gives some straight talk about Carter's vicious, shoddy and unwise book.

Carter's top 10 misrepresentations reveal systematic
anti-Israel bias and a Manichean view of the Palestinian-Israeli


Gidon D. Remba

December 11, 2006

A close reading of Carter's Palestine-Israel book leads to the inescapable conclusion: it's even worse than the critics say. The book is replete with major errors of fact, all systematically biased against Israel. Carter never makes a single factual error that works in Israel's favor, or against the Palestinians. He offers an abundance of misstatements and distortions that paint Israel black. Some of the most egregious have already been highlighted by others. But Carter's approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is as one-sided as that of the Israel haters. Though Carter himself is no Israel hater, at times he does an uncanny impersonation of one, serving up a morality tale of Israeli demons and Palestinian angels forced to descend to hell by the depredations of the evil Israelis. Throughout the book Carter unfailingly shows deep sympathy for Palestinian perceptions, while displaying little understanding for Israeli attitudes or needs. The book suffers from a deep and uncritical pro-Palestinian bias that makes a mockery of Carter’s pretensions to fair arbiter and peacemaker.

Despite his grotesque misdiagnosis of the conflict, Carter advocates many of the same constructive policies endorsed by moderates on the Zionist left and center in Israel and the American Jewish community. This is hardly surprising. Even the Presbyterian Church managed to endorse the Geneva Initiative as a model for a final peace treaty while advocating their morally objectionable, unhelpful and one-sided divestment policy against Israel, while taking no concrete steps at first—and only token steps later—against those who support Palestinian terror. The Presbyterian embrace was by no means a discredit to the Geneva concept. It simply showed the Presbyterian leadership’s failure to grasp the spirit of Geneva, which calls for a Palestinian-Israeli dialogue based on mutual respect, not the demonization of one side and the use of economic boycotts against them. Carter's book reminds us that people come to pro-peace policy positions from very different places, and sometimes these places are not very sympathetic, even quite unfriendly, to Israel. Many others, after all, come to similar conclusions from of a robust and deeply held commitment to Zionism and to Israel's security and well-being—including many who have devoted their entire lives and careers to Israel. Policies should be judged on their merits, not on guilt by association.

In what follows, I present ten major errors in Carter's book—serious distortions and misrepresentations of fact which add up to a systematic anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian bias and a Manichean view of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Peacemakers finesse the art of being at once pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian. Carter fails to live up to his self-appointed mission.

1. Carter Misreads International Law, Treating Palestinian Suicide Bombing and Israel's Targeted Killings with Moral Parity

Carter habitually cites international law as a basis for a just peace. But when he talks about the war conduct of the parties to the conflict, he ignores the laws of war, including the Geneva Convention, which he is happy to cite when useful for condemning Israeli conduct, but never when it is at odds with his own prejudices. He cites international law when it serves his purpose, casting it aside when it doesn't. This might be bearable had Carter offered a cogent (or any) moral argument for doing so, for rejecting the laws of war as morally inadequate. But he fails to do so. He simply side-steps whatever might be inconvenient for his case. Here is an example of the kind of pacifistic false parity of which Carter is fond: "The killing of noncombatants in Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon by bombs, missile attacks, assassinations, or other acts of violence cannot be condoned." This lumps together as morally equivalent all Israeli targeted killings of suspected terrorists with Palestinian suicide bombings of Israeli civilians. It fails to distinguish real ticking bombs—like Qassam launch squads in Gaza or Lebanon preparing to fire rockets into Israeli cities from in or near Palestinian or Shiite residential areas, guerrillas who, by their deeds, have lost their civilian noncombatant immunity—from Palestinian, Lebanese and Israeli civilians who do not participate in combat and who therefore qualify for protection under the laws of war. Carter further conflates accidental unintended deaths of innocents which are permitted under the laws of war if the combatant is making reasonable efforts to attack a military target or combatant, and to minimize harm to civilians, as Israel often does, with deliberate targeting of civilians with the aim of maximizing harm to them, which Palestinian suicide bombers always seek.

2. Carter Misrepresents Israel's Plan for the Route of the Barrier, Painting Israel as Seeking to Encapsulate Palestinians into Bantustans in a Truncated Non-Viable State

Carter writes that "the area along the Jordan River, which is now planned as the eastern leg of the [Israeli] encirclement of the Palestinians, is one of Palestine's most lucrative and productive agricultural regions." (p. 195) American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris has noted that Carter's claim that Israel plans to build an eastern fence in the Jordan Valley to completely surround the Palestinian areas on all sides and turn them into Bantustans is false. The Israeli government never approved the early proposal for an eastern fence. The plan was unceremoniously tossed out some years ago, emerging still-born, as reported widely in the Israeli and international media. Yet Carter pretends that the eastern barrier is an approved and operative Israeli government plan, just like the barrier now going up in the western portion of the West Bank. He uncritically repeats common Palestinian propaganda, which I heard from many Palestinians when I visited the West Bank and East Jerusalem this past summer. Apparently no fact checking on this all-important point was necessary for Carter, as the noble innocent Palestinian victims of Israeli oppression and apartheid told him so, and that is always proof enough for him.

3. Carter's Evil Israeli "Segregation Wall"

Carter calls the separation barrier "the segregation wall" and accuses Israel of "imposing a system of partial withdrawal, encapsulation and apartheid on Muslim and Christian citizens of the occupied territories"—but he acknowledges that the "driving purpose for the forced separation of the two peoples is unlike that in South Africa—not racism, but acquisition of land." We should object first to the racial and racist connotations of calling the barrier a "segregation wall" (or "apartheid wall" as many Palestinians have dubbed it, but Carter does not use this actual term, even though the latter term is more than implied by his text). "Segregation wall" bears clear overtones from the terrible policy of racial segregation against blacks in the American south, belying Carter’s denials that Israeli apartheid in the West Bank has nothing to do with racism. Since Carter thinks Israel's barrier is equally unjust, representing ethnic-religious segregation against Muslim and Christian Palestinians by Israeli Jews, he has no problem with using this prejudicial term. "Separation barrier" is more neutral, whereas "segregation wall" is highly pejorative and implies a harsh moral absolutist condemnation of Israel's barrier. A well-informed and fair-minded view of the barrier would be more nuanced, and less black and white.

Carter continues to regard all Israeli withdrawal plans from the West Bank which fall short of a complete withdrawal, or something close to it, as bad faith Israeli schemes to impose apartheid-like inequality and to encapsulate the Palestinians in a suffocating Bantustan state. For Carter, the Israeli government cannot possibly have good intentions; nor might political and other constraints make a phased West Bank withdrawal necessary. Partial withdrawals always attest to the Israeli government’s nefarious schemes to subjugate the Palestinians and deprive them of their rights. Nor is Olmert proposing only to withdraw from 40% - 50% of the West Bank, and to annex the rest, as Sharon was in the early plan that bears his name, which would indeed have frozen the Palestinians for the long-term into a fragmented space, with little freedom.
Carter says that "the wall is designed to complete the enclosure of a severely truncated Palestine, a small portion of its original size, compartmentalized, divided into cantons, occupied by Israeli security forces, and isolated from the outside world." (p. 195) Carter ignores the fact that Israeli moderates and left-wing Zionists—in Meretz, Peace Now and among Labor doves and Kadima—favor the separation barrier (albeit in a route closer to the Green Line), but do not intend—nor will they allow—it to do any of the awful things Carter charges. Any actions taken by Israel to prevent arms smuggling and terror attacks against its citizens are not well-intentioned or apparently justified in Carter’s eyes; they exist only to isolate the Palestinians from the rest of the world. Peace can't be built around a better balance between Israeli and Palestinian rights, because only Palestinian rights really matter for Carter. For Carter, the barrier is evil incarnate. Carter is as much of a simplistic Manichean moralist as George W. Bush, and his preaching Sunday school moralism stems from the same religious zeal. In Carter's case that zeal is informed by different premises which lead him in a generally progressive direction rather than the militaristic path towards which Bush's religiosity leads him. But Carter's "progressivism" reminds us how, as the French say, les extrêmes se touchent; immoderate, zealous passion for the rights of just one side in a conflict (typically the side the moralist identifies as the underdog) can become oppressive, posing new obstacles to peace and reconciliation.

Carter continues with the certainty of a man to whom the Lord has spoken and who has no need of empirical fact: “It is obvious that the Palestinians will be left with no territory in which to establish a viable state,” he sermonizes, “but completely enclosed within the barrier and the occupied Jordan valley.” Nor does Carter trouble himself with checking such claims with those he accuses, or with affording them a fair chance to tell their side of the story. What is truly obvious is that for Carter the Israeli government—including the center-left government now led by Kadima and Labor—has nothing but ignoble intentions towards the Palestinians. That would be the Israeli government that the majority of Israeli citizens elected on a platform to end Israel's occupation of some 90% of the West Bank. Like Mearsheimer and Walt, Carter distinguishes, unpersuasively and artificially, between ordinary Jews and Israelis on the one hand, who are largely liberal and oppose such outrages, and their leaders—in Israel it's the government, in the US it's the Jewish organizational heads—who do little but place obstacles in the way of peace.
Carter misrepresents American Judge Thomas Buergenthal's dissent from the near-unanimous International Court opinion against Israel's separation barrier, claiming that the lone American dissent was based largely on "procedural grounds." In fact, Buergenthal had many substantive objections to the opinion rendered mostly by judges from countries who are unsympathetic to Israel and pro-Arab. Indeed, Buergenthal objected to the Court's wholesale denial of Israel's right to take action in defense of its citizens against acts of terrorism. Prominent international human rights experts, including Doug Cassel, Director of the Center for International Human Rights at the Northwestern University School of Law, and Buergenthal, have said that the opinion is “one-sided and imbalanced,” that it “virtually ignores the terrorist attacks on Israel, which led to the construction of the barrier,” and that its dismissal of Israel’s right to self-defense against terrorist attacks is “legally dubious” and based on an unreasonable construal of the rights of states to defend themselves that is inconsistent with the UN Security Council’s own resolutions. Carter further overlooks the fact that what Cassel terms the International Court's "lack of evenhandedness prompted protests by four of the 15 judges--from Britain, Japan, the Netherlands and the United States." (Doug Cassel, Chicago Tribune, July 25, 2004) The resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on Israel’s barrier is more balanced, calling on the Palestinian Authority “to undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt and restrain” terrorist individuals and groups, and recognizes the right of all states including Israel “to counter deadly acts of violence against the civilian population.” Cassel notes that "The one-sidedness of the [International Court's] opinion thus undermined its effectiveness, not only in the U.S. and Israel--where reaction has been sharply critical--but even in Europe." The fate of Carter's book is likely to be much the same.

Carter claims that there are 375,000 Palestinians stuck on the "Israeli" side of the "wall." In fact, the modifications to the barrier's route that Israel is currently making as a result of a dozen lawsuits working their way through Israel's High Court will reduce the 20,000 - 40,000 West Bank Palestinians now left on the Israeli side to just 2,500 (according to statements made to me and an Americans for Peace Now delegation by Israel's Justice Minister in June 2006). One must add to that the 175,000 Palestinians with East Jerusalem Israeli resident identity cards; but the total number is significantly less than what Carter claims.

4. Carter's Blame-Israel-Only Approach: Palestinian Misdeeds Are Merely Reactions to Israeli Oppression

Here is Carter's Manichean analysis of the entire Palestinian-Israeli conflict in a nutshell. In his concluding summary, he states that "there are two interrelated obstacles to permanent peace in the Middle East"--as if the Palestinian-Israeli conflict were the only source of conflict in the entire region; forget the Sunni-Shia civil war in Iraq or in Lebanon, or Iran's role in promoting hatred, terror and extremism. Carter's two obstacles to peace are as follows:

"1. Some Israelis believe they have the right to confiscate and colonize
Palestinian land and try to justify the sustained subjugation and persecution of
increasingly hopeless and aggravated Palestinians; and

2. Some Palestinians react by honoring suicide bombers as martyrs to be
rewarded in heaven and consider the killing of Israelis as victories.

In turn Israel responds with retribution and oppression, and militant
Palestinians refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Israel and vow to destroy the

Israel's occupation, in Carter eyes, is the primary cause of the conflict, and Palestinian suicide bombings are simply a reaction to Israeli injustice. Even Palestinian rejectionism sounds here as if it is merely a response to Israel's evils. This way of thinking had been roundly criticized when it infused the divestment resolution of the Presbyterian Church, which identified the Israeli occupation as "the root of evil acts committed." At the time, Rabbis for Human Rights published a strong response to this Manichean mindset, which is equally appropriate in response to Carter:
"Your resolution purporting to support the Geneva Initiative declares without
reservation that the 'occupation…has proven to be at the root of evil acts
committed against innocent people on both sides of the conflict.' Like you, we
hate the Occupation, condemn it and work for its speedy end in a peace
accord...Your simplistic declaration is inaccurate and inadequate to explain the
situation in all its tragic moral complexity. It is not just that your
resolution ignores the homicidal ideologies that have so sadly taken hold among
some of our Palestinian neighbors. Nor is the problem that it averts its eyes
from the attempts to destroy our country that transcend the Occupation and
precede it by decades...You passed a resolution directed as a 'call …on the
Israeli government,' describing the Occupation in a way that profoundly places
Israeli sin alone at the heart of the situation....You ignore the
incontrovertible fact that this catastrophe is the product of many causes and
that there is guilt enough to share between all parties."

This rabbinic statement reminded us that Palestinian rejectionism preceded Israel's occupation and is an independent cause of the conflict. Nor will Palestinian rejectionism evaporate when the occupation ends, though it will be easier to combat if the moderates have won the day. As this Presbyterian-Jewish exchange unfolded, Carter clearly was not listening.

5. Carter Misrepresents Israeli and Palestinian Positions on the Road Map--Painting Israel as the Sole Obstacle to Peace

Carter says that "the Palestinians have accepted the road map in its entirety, but the Israeli government announced fourteen caveats and prerequisites, some of which would preclude any final peace talks." He prints Israel's reservations in an appendix, offering none of the many hateful screeds produced by extremist Palestinian groups, Hezbollah or Iran. But that would only overcomplicate Carter’s morality play and its easy plot line. (One of my favorites is a recent quote from a Palestinian militant in Gaza in the international media who confessed that the goal in firing rockets at the Israeli city of Sderot was to turn it into a “ghost town.” Had an Israeli made such a statement about using force against Palestinians, Carter would surely have accused Israel of threatening ethnic cleansing. Then there are the many peace-loving speeches of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promising to “eliminate the Zionist regime” and that Israel is but a “temporary country” that “should be wiped off the map,” a “rotten, dried tree” that will be annihilated by “one storm.” No room for these in Carter’s book.) After enumerating some of Israel's key reservations in the main text, Carter concludes that "the practical result of all this is that the Road Map for Peace has become moot." (p. 160) Once again it is Israel that is the entire obstacle to peace; the Palestinians contribute nothing to this outcome, and any contribution they make is merely a function of Israel's bad acts, which once stopped, would magically cease on the Palestinian side as well.
Not only is this one-sided blame-Israel-only style morally and politically objectionable, it is based on a perverse misreading of the facts. The claim that the Palestinians have accepted the Road Map in its entirety is quite simply false. Carter, with remarkable naïveté, takes at face value the claims of Palestinian spokespeople at the time the Road Map was announced. Such claims enabled the Palestinians to gain a short-lived propaganda victory, while the Israeli government was busy issuing reservations. But no one took such statements seriously, as if they represented the entire story--no one, that is, other than Carter and other unashamed shills for the Palestinians. The rest of us looked also at the conduct of both sides, at other things they said and did.

I agree with Carter that Israel's objections to the Road Map were intended to prevent it from being implemented so that Sharon could proceed with his unilateral plans. But the Palestinians also had major objections to the Road Map, and have completely failed to live up to its most central near-term (Phase I) requirement on their conduct--making a sustained effort to disarm terror groups and enforce a truce when renegade militias violate it. The Palestinians never intended to fulfill this element of the Road Map before the creation of a Palestinian state in the equivalent of 100% of the West Bank and Gaza and the realization of their other demands. They have regularly made clear, in both word and deed, that they objected to this obligation imposed on them by the Road Map. As the US has stated many times, both sides are obliged to fulfill their commitments under the Roadmap regardless of the performance of the other. Israel must dismantle the illegal West Bank settlement outposts regardless of whether the Palestinians have disarmed the terror groups, and the Palestinians cannot use Israel's failure to take serious action against the outposts as an excuse for inaction in fulfilling their security obligations. But Carter simply wishes all this away. For as Carter tells the tale, the Palestinians are good and noble, the Israelis are wicked—but only when they cross the Green Line—and the poor Palestinians do wrong only when the villainous Israelis force them to.

6. Carter Misrepresents Israeli Acceptance of the Clinton Peace Proposal

Carter claims that Barak gave "no clear response" to President Clinton's "final proposal," "but he later stated that Israel had twenty pages of reservations. President Arafat rejected the proposal"--a position which Carter regards as justified, on the grounds that "no Palestinian leader could accept such terms and survive." (pp. 150-2) Carter here misrepresents Israel's response to Clinton's proposal.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer interviewed former chief US Mideast negotiator Ambassador Dennis Ross on Carter's claims.

BLITZER: On that point, [Carter] told me that he understands better what happened at Camp David [II], where you were one of the principal negotiators, than the former president himself. I want you to listen to this exchange that we had the other day, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARTER: I hate to dispute Bill Clinton on your program, because he did a great and heroic effort there. He never made a proposal that was accepted by Barak or Arafat. BLITZER: Why would he [Clinton] write that in his book if he said Barak accepted and Arafat rejected it?
CARTER: I don't know. You can check with all the records, Barak never did accept it. (END

ROSS: That's simply not so.

BLITZER: Who is right, Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton on this question which is so relevant as to whether or not the Israelis at Camp David [sic: these proposals were made 5 months after Camp David] at the end of the Bill Clinton administration accepted the proposals the U.S. put forward?

ROSS: The answer is President Clinton. The Israelis said yes to this twice, first at Camp David, there were a set of proposals that were put on the table that they accepted. And then were the Clinton parameters, the Clinton ideas which were presented in December, their government, meaning the cabinet actually voted it. You can go back and check it, December 27th the year 2000, the [Israeli] cabinet voted to approve the Clinton proposal, the Clinton ideas. So this is -- this is a matter of record. This is not a matter of interpretation.

BLITZER: So you're saying Jimmy Carter is flat wrong.
ROSS: On this issue, he's wrong.

Yossi Beilin, one of the architects of the Oslo Accords, served in Barak's cabinet at the time. He reports that "On December 28 [2000], at a meeting of the government, the [Clinton] plan was endorsed in principle together with permission to send reservations that had not been presented to the government for endorsement...From that moment, the Clinton Plan embodied Israel's stance on the Palestinian-Israeli issue." (p. 223, The Path to Geneva: The Quest for a Permanent Agreement 1996-2004.) Ross reports this as well in his memoir, The Missing Peace (pp. 754-5), as does Shlomo Ben-Ami, Israel's foreign minister at the time (see his Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy, p. 272). Ross adds there that Israel's reservations were "within the [Clinton] parameters, not outside them."

On January 2, 2001 Clinton and Arafat met at the White House, and Arafat told Clinton, according to Ben-Ami: "'I accept your ideas,' but and then he proceeded to tick off a number of reservations, each of which completely vitiated those ideas. He never formally said no, but his yes was a no." (Ben Ami, Scars of War, Wounds of Peace, p. 273). Both Ross and Clinton felt that Arafat's reservations were outside the Clinton parameters, and Ross describes them as "deal killers." (Ross, p. 756) Ross reports that Arafat rejected "the Western Wall part of the formula on the Haram...the most basic elements of the Israeli security needs...and our refugee formula." Ben-Ami describes the Clinton proposal as representing "the outer limits of our capacity for compromise as Israelis and as Jews." (Ben-Ami, p. 276) Clinton reminds us that nearly a year after he had left office, "Arafat said he was ready to negotiate on the basis of the parameters" he had presented (Bill Clinton, My Life, p. 944). But Carter is, as Ross says, flat-out wrong when he claims that Barak, like Arafat, did not accept the Clinton ideas.

Carter, who should know better from his own experience as a negotiator at Camp David, ignores the fact that Clinton never asked Arafat or Barak to accept his plan unconditionally. Arafat was not obliged to accept its terms and risk his survival, as Carter suggests, misappropriating a line Arafat used at Camp David about an earlier proposal. In December 2000, Clinton simply asked both leaders to accept his plan as a basis for further negotiations towards a peace treaty.

7. Carter Does Not Call for an Unconditional End to Palestinian Suicide Bombings and Terrorism; Palestinian Terror Must Stop Only When Israeli Oppression Ends
Despite his well-deserved reputation as a humanitarian and an advocate of peace, Carter, remarkably, does not call for an unconditional end to Palestinian "suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism." (p. 213) Instead he says that "It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel." In short--forget about Palestinian confidence-, trust- or peace-building measures. Carter does not require the Palestinians to declare an end to suicide bombings until Israel stops "oppressing them." To be sure, Carter does condemn suicide bombings as morally reprehensible and politically counterproductive for the Palestinians. But he is not prepared to demand a cessation of such heinous acts, which are war crimes, until Israel ends its own violations. Carter's position however is itself in violation of the laws of war, which do not permit one party to commit war crimes on the grounds that the other party is already committing them, or in response to political injustice. Under international humanitarian law, both sides have an independent and unconditional duty to refrain from breaches of the laws of war. But Carter can't bring himself to place any such expectation on the poor, victimized Palestinians, who can keep massacring Israeli children until Israel commits to stopping its evil apartheid oppression in the West Bank and Gaza. When it comes to human rights and peace, Carter grades the Palestinians on a curve.

There are also errors of omission in Carter's book which are invariably biased against Israel. For example, Carter's chronology omits any mention of the firing of more than 600 rockets by Palestinian militants into Sderot and southern Israel during the months between Israel's Gaza disengagement and the abduction of Gilad Shalit. In describing Hezbollah's acts of aggression on July 12, 2006 which prompted Israel's military operation in Lebanon, Carter completely omits mention of the dozens of rockets that Hezbollah fired on Israeli civilian communities in the northern Galilee as a diversion from its ambush on the Israeli soldiers. He shows no understanding for Israel's justified claim that the Lebanese government bore responsibility for permitting Hezbollah attacks on Israel from its sovereign territory: "Surprisingly, [Israel] declared that it had been assaulted by the entire nation of Lebanon, and launched an aerial bombardment that eventually included 7,000 targets throughout the country." (p. 201) Surprisingly? Here again, international law favored Israel, but Carter will have none of it. Israel, for Carter, is always in the wrong, ever the serial violator of international laws and human rights.
8. Carter Misrepresents Hamas as Having Accepted a Two-State Solution, International Law, and Peace with Israel in the Prisoners' Document
Carter claims that the famous Palestinian Prisoners' National Reconciliation Document "endorsed a two-state proposal". He says that "the prisoners' proposal called for...acceptance of Israel as a neighbor within its legal borders. It endorsed the key UN resolutions regarding legal borders..." (p. 214) This too is pure fantasy on Carter's part. As anyone who bothered to read the prisoners' document knows, it did nothing of the kind--it did not so much as mention Israel let alone recognize it or UN Resolution 242 or the Arab League Peace Proposal. Hamas has made repeated statements denying that its willingness to accept a Palestinian state in all of the West Bank and Gaza, as called for in this document, was tantamount to a readiness to make peace with Israel or recognize it. But Carter ignores these inconvenient facts. Because the Palestinians, including those nice religious Hamas boys, are the good guys, and must always be given the benefit of the doubt, even when they publicly deny that they mean what Carter wishfully ascribes to them.

Here is Americans for Peace Now's analysis of the prisoners' document on this crucial point: "On the question of recognizing Israel , the Prisoners' Document states that Palestinians have the 'right to self-determination, including the right to establish their independent state with al-Quds al-Shareef as its capital in all territories occupied in 1967.' Fatah activists point to this statement as a victory for moderation, since it could be interpreted as Hamas implicitly recognizing Israel's right to exist inside the Green Line.

"However, in the introduction of the revised document—which the paper says
must be considered as part of the whole initiative—it is stated that the
document is being put forth 'on the basis of no recognition of the legitimacy of
occupation.' Given that Hamas has considered all of Israel to be occupied
territory, in addition to the West Bank and Gaza, it's unclear that the
moderates have achieved any sort of compromise on this matter from Hamas.
Ha'aretz correspondent Zvi Bar'el pointed out that the phrasing 'could either
mean the Israeli occupation of the territories or the 'Zionist occupation of all
of Palestine.'' Indeed, one Hamas legislator, Salah al-Bardawil, told Reuters,
'We said we accept a state in 1967—but we did not say we accept two states.'

"Along the same line, another section of the document says that the PA
'is committed to the Arab consensus and to joint Arab action.' Fatah leaders
point to these words as indicating that Hamas has now agreed to the Arab League
proposal adopted in Beirut , which offers pan-Arab recognition of Israel in
return for a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories.
Therefore, they argue, this is another example of Hamas implicitly recognizing
Israel. But the document goes on to say that the PA is committed to such action
'that supports our just cause and the higher Arab interests,' a vague qualifier
that could allow Hamas to say that it has not agreed to the Arab League peace

That indeed is what Hamas proceeded to say about the Prisoners' Document, denying that they had accepted the Arab League Peace Proposal. But Carter ignores all of this well-established recent history. It gets in the way of his good Palestinian/bad Israeli morality tale.

9. Carter Misstates What UN Resolutions and International Peace Plans Say About the 1967 Borders

Another misrepresentation in the book which has been noted by others is Carter's belief that "Withdrawal to the 1967 border [is] specified in UN Resolution 242 and ...promised in the Camp David Accords and the Olso Agreement and prescribed in the Roadmap of the International Quartet." Again, this is pure fantasy and willful misreading of key documents. It is widely known that UN Resolution 242 omitted the definite article in its English version, referring to "occupied territories" so as not to imply that Israel would be required to make a complete withdrawal to the 1967 borders in exchange for peace. Moreover, the resolution called for an eventual Israeli withdrawal to "secure and recognized borders" in exchange for peace, which would be the outcome of negotiations, not simply a restoration of the pre-war status quo ante. The Oslo Accords actually say nothing about what the final borders will be, and the Roadmap's call for a final peace treaty that will "end the occupation which began in 1967" does not mean that the withdrawal will be to the 1967 boundaries. In a final peace accord in which the parties agree to define the final borders, the parties will agree that the occupation which began in 1967 has ended. But those borders will not be identical to the 1967 lines. And Carter knows this: he talks of "mutually agreeable exchanges of land, perhaps permitting significant numbers of Israeli settlers to remain in their present homes near Jerusalem." Carter chose his words carelessly here, in ways that are meant to impose his political preferences onto key documents. He's not wrong on the big picture--the 1967 borders must be the basis for a negotiated land swap--but he fudges important details.

10. Carter's Systematic Bias Against Israel: Blame Israel First and Last

Time and time again Carter identifies Israel as the primary cause of the conflict--it's refusal to accept the Road Map, its "colonizing the internationally recognized Palestinian territory" (p. 162). There can only be peace once Israel reverses these immoral and illegal policies, and once the Palestinians then respond "by accepting Israel's right to exist, free of violence." (162) The Palestinians have no burden to initiate peace with Israel, to accept its legitimacy, as Hamas has refused to do, or to demonstrate nonviolence and a commitment to a sustained truce, during which Israelis and Palestinians would have the opportunity to negotiate in a favorable atmosphere. The onus, for Carter, falls exclusively on Israel. And nothing Israel does is legitimately motivated by Palestinian terror and rejectionism, always a mere epiphenomenon that will evaporate with the disappearance of Israel's colonial, expansionist segregation regime imposed on blameless Palestinian victims.

The book concludes with the same one-sided blame-Israel-only dissonant refrain that sullies it throughout: "The bottom line is this: Peace will come to Israel and the Middle East only when the Israeli government is willing to comply with international law, with the Roadmap for Peace, with official American policy, with the wishes of a majority of its own citizens--and honor its own previous commitments--by accepting its legal borders." After Israel solves the problem for which it is solely responsible, then "all Arab neighbors must pledge to honor Israel's right to live in peace under these conditions." (p. 216) The onus to make peace falls solely on Israel; when it ends its oppressive behavior, then the good, innocent and noble Palestinians and Arabs will have to make some lovely pledges in a treaty. Carter places no other demands on them. Palestinian militants can continue to wage terror against Israeli civilians until Israel mends its evil ways. Palestinians, for Carter, bear no responsibility for initiating the conditions necessary for successful peacemaking. After all, they are the hapless and helpless victims of the Israeli iron fist; how can one expect anything of them?

Carter believes that the US must play the role of an honest broker trusted by both parties to the conflict. But Carter's inveterate anti-Israel bias is as unhelpful to Israel's quest for peace and security as the unconditional "pro-Israeli" bias of George W. Bush. Once a great Mideast peacemaker, Jimmy Carter has become a two-bit Palevangelist and propagandist.

Gidon D. Remba is co-author of the forthcoming The Great Rift: Arab-Israeli War and Peace in the New Middle East. His commentary is available at He served as senior foreign press editor and translator in the Israel Prime Minister’s Office during the Egyptian-Israeli peace process from 1977-1978. His essays have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, the New York Times, the Nation, the Jerusalem Report, Ha’aretz, Tikkun, the Forward, the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, Chicago Jewish News, JUF News, and the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle.

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Arab-Israeli touts Holocaust as tool for peace

Arab-Israeli touts Holocaust as tool for peace

By Agence France Presse (AFP)

Monday, December 11, 2006

NAZARETH, Israel: With a clear vision on how to end the decades old Middle
East conflict, Arab-Israeli Khaled Kasab Mahameed heads for Iran Sunday to
warn fellow Muslims not to deny the Nazi Holocaust. "I have ideas on how to
bring peace within months. There is nothing more powerful than the Holocaust
to bring about peace," he says.

The 44-year-old lawyer is unique among fellow Arab-Israelis - he has created a
small memorial to the Holocaust in his office in Nazareth, drawing the ire of
both Palestinians and Jews.

Rows of black-and-white photographs hang from his office walls, showing images
of the Nazis' slaughter of six million Jews during World War II.

Mahameed inaugurated the mini-museum in March 2005 with pictures he bought
from the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem. He then translated
the captions into Arabic.

He says he did so to counter increasing calls in the Arab and Muslim world
denying the existence or scale of the Holocaust.

When Iran announced last month that it would hold an international conference
in Tehran, due to begin on Monday, to examine the Holocaust without any
"preconceived ideas," Mahameed knew he had to be there.

"The Holocaust denials by Muslims justify the denial of the rights of the
Palestinian people. I want to tell them they should recognize the Holocaust,"
he says.

Mahameed is steadfast in his conviction that if Palestinians were to
appreciate the meaning of the genocide of the Jews, they would understand what
led to their misfortune and so ultimately could bring about the yearning for

"When you talk about the pain the Holocaust involves, you unite people
together. But you must make the Palestinians understand how important the
Holocaust is and what it symbolizes for the Jews." Like all Palestinians,
Mahameed's family was affected by the nakba, or catastrophe - the creation of
millions of Palestinian refugees dispossessed from their land after Israel was
created in 1948 in the Holocaust's wake.

Israel's categorical rejection to recognize the Palestinians' "right of
return" to those lands has been one of the main stumbling blocks in efforts to
reach a peace deal.

During the 1948 war, Mahameed's father had to leave his village of Ilajoun, or
Armageddon, which today stands ruined in the Jazreel valley.

In his small office, he has a Palestinian flag and posters showing rusty keys,
symbolising dispossession, with the words below "it's either return ... or

"The Palestinians are always talking about the nakba and injustice. The
average Arab has no information about the Holocaust. If they stop and think
about the Jewish trauma they would realize violence only hurts them."

Mahameed says that so far he has been snubbed by most Palestinians. Most
Arab-Israeli MPs refuse to make any comment on his ideas. - AFP

Continued (Permanent Link)

There is no Darfur peace plan, so ponder this one

There is no Darfur peace plan, so ponder this one
By Julie Flint
Commentary by
Friday, December 08, 2006

Andrew Natsios, America's special envoy to Sudan, has warned that the Bush
administration will resort to an unspecified "Plan B" if the Sudanese
government does not agree to an expanded international peacekeeping force for
Darfur by January 1, 2007. Natsios and other US officials have refused to say
what Plan B is. The whisper in Washington, and in US embassies in the region,
is that there isn't one: "Plan B" is merely the latest in a series of empty
threats that have failed to make any impression at all on the people
responsible for most of the killing in Darfur.

But "What is Plan B?" is the wrong question. So, too, is: "Is there a Plan B?"
The question that really needs asking is: "What was - is - Plan A?"

The bitter truth is that there has never been a Plan A. In common with the
rest of the international community, the United States has never had a plan
that looked more than a few weeks ahead. The fate of Darfur and its 7 million
inhabitants has been left in the hands of the hopelessly under-resourced and
inexperienced African Union (AU). This has resulted in woefully inadequate
protection for the people of Darfur and a peace agreement that is rejected by
most of the people and most of the rebel factions. Last but not least, it has
meant that there has been someone else to blame when things go wrong.

We are witnessing what is arguably the most critical moment in the history of
independent Sudan. The conflict in Darfur has spread not just to Chad, but
also to the Central African Republic, threatening to destabilize the entire
region. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended two decades of war in
southern Sudan is coming apart at the seams and, with it, hopes - and
promises - for democratization across Sudan. In Darfur itself, Khartoum is
once again attempting to defeat the rebels by military force directed against
the tribes accused of supporting them. Four million people - more than half
the region's population - are reliant on aid for their survival. Another half
a million are beyond the reach of aid.

So here's a plan: First, ensure the rapid appointment of the joint AU-United
Nations special representative for Sudan decided upon at last week's meeting
of the AU's Peace and Security Council. The AU has been headless in Sudan
since the departure of its first special representative, Baba Gana Kingibe,
more than two months ago. Kingibe's successor must have what Kingibe didn't
have (largely through his own fault): a functioning secretariat and support
from political and strategy advisors with real understanding of Darfur.

Second, get a cease-fire. Debating which peacekeeping force should assume
responsibility for Darfur is an exercise in futility as long as there is no
peace to keep. After the Darfur Peace Agreement was signed in Abuja on May 5,
the Darfur Cease-fire Commission was transformed into an implementation
committee for the DPA and non-signatories were thrown off it. The Cease-fire
Commission must now be reconstituted, from all those involved in the fighting,
and sit permanently. Both sides could see an advantage in this today. Despite
massive reinforcements in recent months, Khartoum has suffered a string of
battlefield defeats that have left large amounts of arms and ammunition in
rebel hands and weakened the morale of the Sudan Armed Forces. With President
Idriss Deby's regime in Chad ripe to fall at any moment, rebel factions who
enjoy Chadian support may well welcome a way back into the political game from
which they have been excluded ever since Abuja shut up shop.

Third, support a meeting - in Darfur - of commanders from the factions that
have not endorsed the DPA, to enable them to come up with a common platform
for fresh talks and to staunch the splintering of the rebel movement. This is
playing into government hands by weakening the opposition. The all-important
rebel groups who are fighting government forces in North Darfur are adamant
that they will not engage in new talks without first forging a common position
among themselves. (A first attempt, in the Bir Maza area in mid-November,
failed after the government attacked the area.) Salim Ahmed Salim, the AU's
special envoy for Darfur, said last week that Khartoum wants to address the
concerns of the non-signatories of Abuja in order to "bring them all on
board." This is putting the horse before the cart. The commanders' conference
must precede Abuja II - whoever hosts it this time around.

Fourth, go back to the DPA. Forget semantics. If "reopen" and "renegotiate"
offend, speak of "additional protocols." Use whatever language is necessary to
remedy the errors and omissions of the agreement and to significantly broaden
support for it. Its power-sharing provisions at the regional level are abysmal
and time pressure at Abuja cut short a number of key discussions on how to
disarm militias. Darfur is not a homogenous lump. Not all the militias in
Darfur are what are commonly referred to as Janjaweed - fully fledged
government proxies. Some are purely tribal and owe no allegiance whatsoever to
the government. To make Darfur safe, what is needed is a longer process of
voluntary, reciprocal disarmament in which all tribal leaders have a say.

Fifth, pay (long overdue) attention to the Arabs of Darfur. The Abbala, the
Arab camel nomads of North Darfur, have always been the most vulnerable, the
most neglected, of Darfur's many communities. For many, recruitment into the
Janjaweed, which carries with it monthly remuneration, has been a survival
mechanism carried to genocidal extremes. Woo impoverished Abbala away from
dependence on a government that has always despised them with development
projects and livelihood strategies.

Sixth, let the International Criminal Court take care of the bad guys. Support
it in all possible ways.

That's for starters. There is no quick and easy answer to the tragic mess
Darfur has been allowed to become, while cries of "Never again!" stand in for
solutions. Be sure that Khartoum knows a red herring when it sees one. "Plan
B" is not keeping it awake at night.

Julie Flint has written extensively on Sudan. She is the author, with Alex de
Waal, of "Darfur: A Short History of a Long War." She wrote this commentary

Continued (Permanent Link)

4 notes in midst of winter : End to fiasco in Iraq passes through Jerusalem, Golan

Eitan Haber
4 notes in midst of winter

End to fiasco in Iraq passes through Jerusalem, Golan
Published: 12.10.06, 17:57,7340,L-3338158,00.html

Do you remember the heart-wrenching stories told by tsunami survivors two
years ago? How they had felt the slight trembling of the earth and how the
waves suddenly rose and then drew back while they were still sitting on the
golden sands surrendering their bodies to the sun's rays? They recounted how
everything was so magical, so quiet, tranquil, and then.

Close examination of the ambitions and recklessness of the US president, any
American president, to enter the annals of history by doing something
extraordinary, makes it clearly apparent that the next two years of George
Bush's term in office are likely to create a tsunami in the Middle East.

It appears that the price for Bush's glory will be paid by Yehuda Harel,
Yehuda Walman and Avi Zeira and their friends living in the Golan Heights (it
should be noted: This is not what I hope for.) Had I currently been living in
Katzrin, Ramat Magshimim or Merom Golan I would be concerned.

>From the luscious green Golan one can only see the small waves rising and hear
the silence, and those warning against the rising waves of the crushing ocean
are castigated. But it's coming.

The first sign is the Baker-Hamilton report that is attempting to save Bush
from the Iraqi quagmire via Syria, the Land of Israel and Palestine. Baker and
Hamilton have turned the tables, and their findings are currently far removed
from Bush's intentions.

However, a few more American fatalities in the Iraqi alleyways of Baghdad and
it will be George Bush the hero who will inch closer to Hamilton and Baker,
not the other way around.

As far as these two are concerned, the best way to end the fiasco in Iraq
passes through Jerusalem and Katzrin, even if not stated explicitly. Is Iraq
still a member of the axis of evil? If so, so what? The change can come about
overnight: In Israel too, people were once shot for waving the PLO flag.

Meanwhile, the palms are swaying peacefully in the summery breeze of winter
2006. It's so beautiful on the Golan Heights right now.


Last week I attacked the argument set out in the state comptroller's report
that IDF commanders had not been trained in a military college and therefore
failed the test of the recent war in Lebanon. My argument was based on media
reports - and I was wrong, boy was I wrong.

The state comptroller's report, compiled by Major General (res.) Mandy Or,
clearly states that overall training was lacking and it elaborates in depth
the reasons for the painful shortcomings of the war: The absence of a common
language (Tower of Babel,) substandard courses, annulment of training and
exercises, faulty implementation of commands, if any, and of course, lack of
operational experience - not the fault of the commanders.

The findings clearly indicate that the state comptroller's report is alright,
while the IDF isn't. Between us, I would prefer it to be the other way around.

Send the referee home

A short review of the High Court's response to the petition requesting the
disbanding of the Winograd Committee of Inquiry probing the shortcomings of
the second Lebanon war, shows that all seven judges, even the four who
rejected the petition and ordered the continuation of the committee's
deliberations, are not at all comfortable with the committee and its
activities, to say the least.

In my own words, seven of the High Court's panel of judges would like to send
their colleague Judge Winograd home.

If this is the opinion of all the judges, members of the Winograd Committee
should have taken the courage to throw in the towel and go home. It is
impossible and incomprehensible that they would do their job while the opinion
of the High Court is hovering above their heads.

West Bank miracles and wonders

Last week Colonel Nissim Solomon (res.) passed away. Had the settlers of the
West Bank ten or twenty years ago paused for a brief moment from the momentum
of flattery and admiration towards Arik Sharon to read Solomon's writings,
they would have known what was in store for them.

But they sang in Sharon's praise and their loud voices drowned out Solomon's
words. He was an honorable officer who was removed from his post as the head
of the IDF history department because he wrote the truth and wouldn't succumb
to distorting it with tales of Sharon's battles.

Yes, Nissim Solomon, deceased, was an honorable officer. Perhaps too

Continued (Permanent Link)

Zizek and the Zionist-Nazi alliance

Sever Plocker

Zizek and the Zionist-Nazi alliance

Leading intellectual's baseless theories enjoy broad international attention
Published: 12.09.06, 19:51,7340,L-3337805,00.html

What was the most important event in the history of modern-day anti-Semitism,
the event that "anyone interested in anti-Semitism research" must recall? The
day Auschwitz was established? The day it was liberated? The day top Jewish
intellectuals were killed by Stalin? Not at all.

The deciding date in the history of anti-Semitism is September 26 1937. On
that date, Adolf Eichmann boarded a train in Berlin en route to Palestine, in
order to meet Haganah underground activist Feivel Polkes and discuss with him
the "mass immigration of German Jews to Palestine."

The meeting ultimately took place in Cairo because of decrees by the British
Mandate. And still, this event apparently serves as the utmost testament to
the common interest between the Nazis and Jews: to implement a type of ethnic
cleansing that would fundamentally change the proportion of ethnic groups in
the population.

here you have it, the ultimate match-making of history, and the key to
finding out the secret of the Jewish state: The dark alliance between the Jews
and Nazism.

As opposed to the initial impression, the words above are not found in the
speeches delivered by Iran's president; they are included in the new book by
fashionable leftist philosopher Slavoj Zizek, a favorite among the
post-post-modernist crowd.

The 440 page book is titled "The Parallax View" and attempts to revive
dialectic thinking, may it rest in peace. A whole section of the book is
dedicated to "anti-anti-Semitism's dead-end."

Anti-anti-Semitism, according to the Slovanian Zizek, is one of the gravest
dangers hovering above free thinking wherever it is, because is does not
allow - or so the philosopher believes - to harshly criticize Israel without
being accused of anti-Semitism.

Yes, this even happened to Slavoj himself, as he notes in his book, but not a
man like him shall capitulate.

He has freed himself from the chains of anti-anti-Semitism and in his book we
can find the following declarations: Modern day Zionism, as manifested by the
State of Israel's' policy, is already anti-Semitic, that is, premised on
anti-Semitic ideological fundamentals.

More specifically: It is a fact that Zionism is one of the types of
ant-Semitism. What we should be slamming the Zionists with is the genuine
Jewish cosmopolitan spirit. Isn't the idea of establishing a nation-state by
the Jewish akin to putting an end to Judaism? Therefore, it isn't surprising
the Nazis supported this plan.

Identifying Zionism with anti-Semitism and Nazism is not unique to Zizek. The
comparison was raised in Stalinist trials in Eastern Europe in the 1940s and
1950s, and in the 1968 events in Poland.

What is surprising is the new verbal-philosophical veneer of this baseless
thesis, brought to ZIzek's loyal readers coated in complex wording with double
and tripe meaning and covered with the poison of artificial words formed by
surprising combinations.

Israel born in sin

Yet behind the veil of philosophical expressions and historical quotes
selected, a familiar statement emerges: Israel is a country born in sin and
continues to exist through crime.

(In order to clear any doubts, the above-mentioned "meeting" between Eichmann
and the Haganah emissary failed miserably and did not lead to anything writes
professor Saul Friedlander in his classic book "Nazi Germany and the Jews."

On the Jewish side, the meeting's aim was to implement the agreement that
allowed 20,000 wealthy Jews to take out of Nazi Germany a bit of their assets,
by paying a ransom.)

In the past, Slavoj ZIzek did not hold on to such radical anti-Israel
positions. In a collection of articles translated to Hebrew, he still preached
for a two-state solution and wrote that Arabs will have to not only reconcile
themselves to the existence of the State of Israel, but also to its existence
as a Jewish state.

Yet in the last article in the compilation, Zizek already expressed harsher
views, noting that seemingly it appears that Israel only responds to
Palestinian terror attacks, but under the surface continues its "colonialist"

In his next political book, "Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle," Zizek already moved
closer to the idea of a bi-national state, raised Eichmann's visit to
Palestinian to the level of a crucial event, and argued that the only genuine
loyalty to the memory of the Holocaust is found in recognizing the injustice
done to the Palestinians.

An aggravated Israeli reader may ask here: Why are you wasting my time talking
about this Slavoj ZIzek? Why do I care what he thinks about us?

Here's my answer: Slavoj ZIzek is one of the most prominent intellectuals who
affect ideological and cultural discourse in the world. His words are closely
read by his loyalists and students.

He influences the perceptions of students, lecturers, and members of the elite
at many universities in developed and developing countries.

What to Israeli ears sounds like a combination of absurd, false curses,
resonates as the words of a living-and-breathing God within the intellectual
universe of 2006.

Continued (Permanent Link)

UK home secretary: Israeli-Palestinian conflict spawning terror

UK home secretary: Israeli-Palestinian conflict spawning terror,7340,L-3338541,00.html
British Home Secretary John Reid warns that 30 terror plots are being planned
in his country, saying Christmas period is very dangerous

Ynet Published: 12.11.06, 12:09

The fight against Muslim terrorism will last at least 30 years and it is
"highly likely" that Britain will witness terror attacks over Christmas, Home
Secretary John Reid told the Daily Telegraph on Monday.

Reid said British security services are handling 30 terror plots being planned
in the country, warning that although the MI-5 is doing its best to ensure the
public's safety he cannot guarantee 100 percent success.

"We can never guarantee that we will get 100 percent success but we do get 100
percent effort from the security services."

Reid said the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians was fueling
"international terrorism," urging its resolution.

"The aim of the terrorists is to divide the community, to pretend that this is
a war between Muslims and everyone else, when it isn't. In a funny way they
reflect the views of the extreme Right of politics who argue the same thing -
that the big division is between Islam and everyone else. It isn't - it's
between the terrorists and everyone else and only with that unity can we
ultimately defeat them."

MI-5 head, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, warned recently that her agency was
monitoring 200 terror cells operating on British soil, most of which are
affiliated with al-Qaeda.

She said terrorists were recruiting teenagers to carry out terror attacks and
could use chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

Continued (Permanent Link)

End the boycott of Arab parties

End the boycott of Arab parties

By Haaretz Editorial

The issue of the Arab citizens of Israel has returned to the headlines. This
is partly due to the release of the book "Whose Country is This?", which
chronicles the failed attempt to develop a new pact between Jews and Arabs,
and even more so to a series of new documents setting forth demands formulated
by various Arab groups.

There is no need for a sweeping rejection of these demands; they include
legitimate ones for equal rights, along with unacceptable ones for
fundamentally changing the identity of the State of Israel as the state of the
Jews. The inclusion of both types of demands in the same documents is actually
a serious mistake, since it reinforces the prevailing suspicion among the
Jewish population that demands for equality are nothing but a stage leading
toward the goal of undermining the Jewish character of the state.

It is fitting to say something about the timing of these documents as well,
which came out precisely during a period when the Jewish population in any
case feels it faces an existential threat from a coalition of Arab and Muslim
countries and organizations. It is not clear whether those who developed the
documents intended them to go public specifically now, but in any case it
would have been appropriate for them to take the timing into account. As it
stands, the timing is liable to lead to emotional and harsh negative reactions
that will actually weaken the standing of Arabs in Israel instead of
strengthening it.

The response to the new demands must therefore focus on a clear separation
between equal rights and the question of the overall character of the state.
The status quo with regard to the state's Jewish character must be maintained,
meaning that the Jews don't need to demand that the Arabs formally recognize
the Jewish character of the state - and so there is no need to despair of the
failure of the pact, which apparently stemmed from the Jewish attempt to
demand such recognition. In addition, all Arab demands regarding such a change
must be rejected.

On the other hand, when it comes to civil status, it is fitting not only to
advance the equality of rights and resources, but also to take an additional
step that has a chance of changing the trend of radicalization spreading among
part of the Arab population and its political representatives. This means
ending the boycott, which exists in practice, of Arab parties in Israeli
coalitions and governments. The Arab parties must be invited to coalition
talks like every other party, and the positions they present will be what
determines whether they participate in the government.

Such a move has two advantages: the removal of the primary symbol of the
policy of excluding Arabs from public life in Israel, and the creation of an
incentive to Arab parties to moderate their positions. As long as they are
ineligible from the outset, the Arab parties have no reason for moderation.

Those who research the Arab sector have repeatedly noted that the Arab public
is generally more moderate than its current political representatives. The
possibility of Arab parties joining the government can therefore generate a
fruitful debate within the Arab public, between a discourse of militant
identity and a pragmatic approach that deals with individual and sectarian
life within the state. In such a situation, it is possible that the parties
now in the Knesset might become more moderate, or else over time, new
political frameworks will be established that will express the desires of the
Arab citizens more faithfully and more effectively.

Continued (Permanent Link)

IDF zig-zags, says Syria not girding for summer war

Last update - 08:40 11/12/2006

IDF zig-zags, says Syria not girding for summer war

By Amos Harel and Gideon Alon, Haaretz Correspondents

The Israel Defense Forces has no intelligence regarding Syrian plans to
initiate a war against Israel next summer, the army announced Sunday night in
an official statement.

This followed a day of contradictory statements regarding reports originating
from Military Intelligence and the Northern Command.

IDF sources made it clear that assessments of the situation in the north are
continuing, and preparations for a possible scenario involving the outbreak of
war there next summer are part of a "working assumption" on the basis of which
the forces' readiness can be improved.

The head of research at Military Intelligence, Brigadier General Yossi
Beiditch, presented the government with a report on the situation along the
northern border during the cabinet's weekly meeting.

Beiditch told the ministers that Syria's President Bashar Assad "is preparing
the Syrian army for the possibility of a military confrontation with Israel,
but on the other hand does not discount the possibility of a diplomatic

The head of research stressed that the Syrian leader has issued orders to
expedite the production of long-range ballistic missiles and to move
air-defense missiles closer to the border with Israel and the Golan Heights.

The senior intelligence officer added that from Assad's point of view, there
is no contradiction in operating on both levels.

During the past two weeks, Assad has been involved in intensive diplomatic
activities, Beiditch said, because he feels that a window of opportunity on
the international level is available to Damascus, and he is trying to take
advantage of this.

In meetings of the intelligence community in Israel in recent weeks, the view
of most participants is that Assad is in no rush for war. They have also
concluded that he is trying to find a way to move closer to the West and the
United States - even if this drives a wedge between Syria and Iran.

The news that emerged from Sunday's cabinet meeting gave the impression that
the army is expecting a war with Syria in the near future.

Senior military sources were quick to clarify that MI's head of research was
addressing "trends," not specific events, and claimed that the grapevine
exaggerated his statements.

Later Sunday, the IDF Spokesman announced that the army had no operational
intelligence on aggressive intentions by the enemy, but added that "the IDF is
conducting an orderly process of improving readiness and operational
preparedness by the summer 2007."

Also Sunday, a senior officer of the Northern Command met with journalists and
said that reports in recent weeks regarding the possibility of war with Syria
are "irresponsible statements that are not based on intelligence."

The officer said that setting a target date is for internal army use, and is
not based on solid intelligence information.

Describing the date as a point of departure, he added that the IDF was
intensifying training with emphasis on the readiness of the Northern Command.

In addition to the training of reservist units, the IDF has also bolstered its
forces in the north.

The officer said that on the Syrian side of the border there have also been
movements of forces, particularly on the Syrian side of Mount Hermon. However,
the IDF interprets the Syrian moves as defensive in nature.

However, Israeli sources say that Syria is continuing to permit the flow of
arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon, in an effort to replenish the arsenal of the
Shi'ite organization.

While there are no apparent preparations by Hezbollah to initiate a campaign
against Israel in the near future, most of the focus is placed on the
possibility that other elements may try to cause a conflagration in in the

Attention is given to the possibility that groups affiliated with Al-Qaida -
global jihadists - will target United Nations peacekeepers, or that terrorists
belonging to radical Palestinian organizations would try to attack along the

The situation along the border has changed radically since the days before the
outbreak of war in July. In place of the Hezbollah forces are four brigades of
Lebanon's armed forces, deployed south of the Litani River, and bolstered by
more than 10,000 peacekeepers of UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in

However, the IDF is concerned about the failure of the Lebanese army to
prevent the rearmament of Hezbollah, especially the possible cooperation
between Shi'ite soldiers in the Lebanese army and the radical Shi'ite group.

The IDF praised the work of the French and Spanish battalions in the United
Nations force, noting that in some cases the European troops had destroyed
Hezbollah bunkers and arms caches.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Jimmy Carter: Israel's 'apartheid' policies worse than South Africa's

Last update - 10:44 11/12/2006

Jimmy Carter: Israel's 'apartheid' policies worse than South Africa's

By Haaretz Service
Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said in remarks broadcast Monday that
Israeli policy in the West Bank represented instances of apartheid worse even
that those that once held sway in South Africa.

Carter's comments were broadcast on Israel Radio, which played a tape of an
interview with the ex-president, but did not specify to whom Carter was

"When Israel does occupy this territory deep within the West Bank, and
connects the 200-or-so settlements with each other, with a road, and then
prohibits the Palestinians from using that road, or in many cases even
crossing the road, this perpetrates even worse instances of apartness, or
apartheid, than we witnessed even in South Africa."

Carter said his new book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" was meant to spark
U.S. discussion of Israeli policies. "The hope is that my book will at least
stimulate a debate, which has not existed in this country. There's never been
any debate on this issue, of any significance."

The book has sparked strong criticism from Jewish figures in the United
States. Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League,
has said that some comments from the former president border on anti-Semitism.

"When you think about the charge that he has made that the Jewish people
control the means of communication, it is odious," Foxman was quoted as saying
last week. "If the Jews controlled the media, how come he is traveling around
the country speaking about this book on talk shows?"

Carter has rejected the criticism of the book and its use of the word

"I feel completely at ease," said Carter, about his commitment to the book,
which accuses Israel of oppressing Palestinians. "I am not running for office.
And I have Secret Service protection."

"The greatest commitment in my life has been trying to bring peace to Israel,"
Carter told the Atlanta Press Club last week.

"Israel will never have peace until they agree to withdraw [from the

Continued (Permanent Link)

Three children shot dead in Gaza

Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2006, 09:48 GMT

E-mail this to a friend Printable version

Three children shot dead in Gaza

Gunmen in Gaza City have shot dead the three sons of an intelligence
chief linked to the Palestinian party Fatah.
One adult was also killed in the attack which took place in a street
crowded with children on their way to school.

The boys' father was named as Baha Balousheh, who led a crackdown on the
now-ruling Hamas movement 10 years ago.

The BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza says the motive is unclear but Mr
Balousheh's position means he would have made many enemies.

Tensions between Fatah and the Hamas government have frequently led to
gun battles in the streets of Gaza that have killed dozens of people.

The attack came a day after gunmen shot at Interior Minister Saeed
Seyam's convoy in Gaza. Mr Seyam, who is a senior Hamas leader, was unharmed
in that incident.


The attack happened as children were arriving at nine schools which line
Palestine Street in Gaza City's central Rimal district.

The gunmen fired more than 70 bullets at the vehicle in which Mr
Balousheh's children, aged between six and 10, were travelling. At least two
other children were hurt.

Inside the white vehicle with its blacked out passenger windows, the
seats and a school bag were covered in blood.

There were scenes of pandemonium as hundreds of children and parents ran
for cover from the gunfire.

Fatah supporters gathered in the streets vowing revenge for the attack.

Fadwa Nabulsi, a 12-year-old interviewed by the Associated Press, said
she was outside a school with her nine-year-old brother, Wael, when the
shooting started.

"We saw fire coming from one car. We started screaming and children
started running.

"I was crying, and I lost Wael for about half an hour. Then I found him
hiding in a falafel shop. I'm trying to find my father to take us back home,"
she said.

'Ugly crime'

Palestinian police in the area have been trying to help children locate
their parents and Gaza City's Shifa hospital has been flooded with inquiries
from concerned families.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum condemned Monday's attack as an "awful,
ugly crime against innocent children".

He blamed elements who wanted to undermine Palestinian interests by
creating chaos and confusion.

Hamas won a landslide victory in elections in January but its funding
has been choked off by Western donors because it refuses to renounce violence
and recognise Israel.

Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been
considering a request by his allies to hold early elections to resolve an
impasse in efforts to form a unity government.

Hamas denounced the proposal to hold another election as a "coup against

Continued (Permanent Link)

Iran Holocaust conference opens

Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2006, 09:55 GMT

E-mail this to a friend Printable version

Iran Holocaust conference opens

A two-day conference which says it will examine whether the
Holocaust actually happened has opened in Iran.
Organisers insist the event will offer a chance to discuss
"questions" about the Holocaust without taboos.

Several countries have condemned the conference, including
Germany - where Holocaust denial is a crime.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who backs the event, has
publicly questioned the scale of the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were

According to the Foreign Ministry in Tehran, 67 researchers from
30 countries are attending the conference in Iran, which is home to 25,000

Participants include a number of well-known "revisionist" Western
academics. American David Duke, former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, is to
present a paper.

But a number of Jewish rabbis are also there. One, British Rabbi
Ahron Cohen, said he had come to the conference to put the "Orthodox Jewish
viewpoint" across.

"We certainly say there was a Holocaust, we lived through the
Holocaust. But in no way can it be used as a justification for perpetrating
unjust acts against the Palestinians," he said.

'Express views freely'

Opening the conference, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said
the aim of the conference was "not to deny or confirm the Holocaust".

"Its main aim is to create an opportunity for thinkers who cannot
express their views freely in Europe about the Holocaust," he said.

But earlier, a spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, Manouchehr
Mohammadi, said the conference would examine fundamental questions about the

"The first question to be posed is: did the Holocaust actually
happen or not? And the second one is: if it did happen, what was the scale of

"The allegation that six million Jews were killed or burnt in this
event, is it true or not?"

The Iranian president has repeatedly downplayed the extent of the
killing, describing it as a myth used to justify the existence of Israel and
oppression of the Palestinians. He has called for Israel to be dismantled.

'Negative impression'

Iran knows this conference is going to cause outrage abroad but it
says it wants to test the limits of the West's commitment to freedom of
speech, says the BBC's correspondent in Tehran, Frances Harrison.

Iran is drawing a parallel with the Danish cartoons depicting the
Prophet Muhammad, which provoked outrage in the Islamic world but were
defended by Western liberals, she adds.

The US state department described the conference as "yet another
disgraceful act on this particular subject by the regime in Tehran".

Khaled Kasab Mahameed, an Israeli Arab who plans to attend the
conference and runs a small museum about the Holocaust in his home in
Nazareth, told the BBC that the concept was flawed.

"I think the Iranian president acknowledges the importance and the
centrality of the Holocaust in shaping policies in the world.

"He thinks that Israel gets support because of the Holocaust, so
his only weapon is to deny it, and that's not good."

Iran's one Jewish MP, Morris Motamed, told the BBC he opposed the

"Holding this conference after having a competition of cartoons
about the Holocaust has put a lot of pressure on Jews all over the world and
it can give nations and governments a very negative impression of Iran," he

Continued (Permanent Link)

Haniyeh in Tehran: Iran gives us 'strategic depth'

Haniyeh in Tehran: Iran gives us 'strategic depth'
By Avi Issacharoff Haaretz 10 December 2006

Iran constitutes the Palestinians' strategic depth, Palestinian Prime
Minister Ismail Haniyeh declared on a visit to Tehran this weekend.

He also reiterated that Hamas would never recognize Israel or accept past
Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

Speaking to thousands of students at the University of Tehran on Friday,
Haniyeh said: "The braggart of the world [the United States] and the
Zionists ... want us to accept the theft of Palestinian lands, stop the
jihad and the resistance and accept the agreements signed with the Zionist
enemy. We will never recognize the Zionist government. We will continue the
jihad until Jerusalem is liberated."

He also said that Iran provides the Palestinians with "strategic depth" in
their fight against Israel.

Then, last night, he met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Following the meeting, Ahmadinejad said that Iran would stand shoulder to
shoulder with the Palestinians until Jerusalem was liberated and urged: "The
Palestinian government must not give in to international pressure; it must
continue to fight the Jewish state."

Haniyeh thanked Ahmadinejad for his support and replied: "My government has
no intention of recognizing the occupation government. We support the
Palestinian people's right to resistance [the standard Palestinian term for
terror attacks] and its right to cancel the cruel agreements that were
signed in the past with the occupation regime."

He added that his government would never accept the three conditions set by
the Quartet (the U.S., European Union, United Nations and Russia):
recognizing Israel, accepting previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements and
abjuring violence.

Khaled Meshal, who heads Hamas' political bureau, took a slightly different
tack over the weekend, saying that "if Israel and the U.S. want to end the
bloodshed in the region, they must accede to the Palestinians' demands."
Specifically, he said, Israel must withdraw to the pre-1967 armistice lines,
release all Palestinian prisoners, accept a "right of return" for
Palestinian refugees and dismantle all settlements. Otherwise, Hamas will
wage open war against it, he warned.

Meshal, who was speaking in a Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus, said
that all the Palestinian factions agree that a Palestinian state must be
established based on the pre-1967 borders, and on this there can be no
compromise. However, he added, "our long-term goal is the liberation of
Palestine. Israel and the U.S. are deluding themselves if they think that we
are not capable of doing this."

Meanwhile, the Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee
recommended yesterday that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas call
early elections, thereby further escalating the Fatah-Hamas confrontation.

The recommendation is not binding; it merely authorizes Abbas, whose Fatah
faction dominates the PLO, to call new elections if and when he so desires.
Senior PLO officials said Abbas would address the Palestinian public later
this week and announce his decision on whether to continue efforts to form a
unity government with Hamas.

However, he may not announce new elections in this speech: Many Palestinian
analysts view yesterday's decision as merely another stage in the ongoing
Fatah-Hamas feud.

In Gaza yesterday, Fatah-affiliated members of the PA security services
demonstrated against the nonpayment of their salaries, resulting in
exchanges of fire between Hamas and Fatah gunmen that wounded one policeman.
The day before, thousands of Hamas supporters demonstrated in Gaza to urge
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh not to resign.

Continued (Permanent Link)

What Would Jimmy Do?

What Would Jimmy Do?
A former president puts the onus for resolving the Mideast conflict on the

Reviewed by Jeffrey Goldberg

By Jimmy Carter
Simon & Schuster. 264 pp. $27

Jimmy Carter tells a strange and revealing story near the beginning of his
latest book, the sensationally titled Palestine Peace Not Apartheid. It is a
story that suggests that the former president's hostility to Israel is, to
borrow a term, faith-based.

On his first visit to the Jewish state in the early 1970s, Carter, who was
then still the governor of Georgia, met with Prime Minister Golda Meir, who
asked Carter to share his observations about his visit. Such a mistake she
never made.

"With some hesitation," Carter writes, "I said that I had long taught lessons
from the Hebrew Scriptures and that a common historical pattern was that
Israel was punished whenever the leaders turned away from devout worship of
God. I asked if she was concerned about the secular nature of her Labor

Jews, in my experience, tend to become peevish when Christians, their
traditional persecutors, lecture them on morality, and Carter reports that
Meir was taken aback by his "temerity." He is, of course, paying himself a
compliment. Temerity is mandatory when you are doing God's work, and Carter
makes it clear in this polemical book that, in excoriating Israel for its
sins -- and he blames Israel almost entirely for perpetuating the hundred-year
war between Arab and Jew -- he is on a mission from God.

Carter's interest in the Middle East is longstanding, of course; he brokered
the first Arab-Israeli peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in 1979, and he
has been rightly praised for doing so. But other aspects of his record are
more bothersome. Carter, not unlike God, has long been disproportionately
interested in the sins of the Chosen People. He is famously a partisan of the
Palestinians, and in recent months he has offered a notably benign view of
Hamas, the Islamist terrorist organization that took power in the Palestinian
territories after winning a January round of parliamentary elections.

There are differences, however, between Carter's understanding of Jewish sin
and God's. God, according to the Jewish Bible, tends to forgive the Jews their
sins. And God, unlike Carter, does not manufacture sins to hang around the
necks of Jews when no sins have actually been committed.

This is a cynical book, its cynicism embedded in its bait-and-switch title.
Much of the book consists of an argument against the barrier that Israel is
building to separate Israelis from the Palestinians on the West Bank. The
"imprisonment wall" is an early symptom of Israel's descent into apartheid,
according to Carter. But late in the book, he concedes that "the driving
purpose for the forced separation of the two peoples is unlike that in South
Africa -- not racism, but the acquisition of land."

In other words, Carter's title notwithstanding, Israel is not actually an
apartheid state. True, some Israeli leaders have used the security fence as
cover for a land-grab, but Carter does not acknowledge the actual raison
d'etre for the fence: to prevent the murder of Jews. The security barrier is a
desperate, deeply imperfect and, God willing, temporary attempt to stop
Palestinian suicide bombers from detonating themselves amid crowds of Israeli
civilians. And it works; many recent attempts to infiltrate bombers into
Israel have failed, thanks to the barrier.

The murder of Israelis, however, plays little role in Carter's understanding
of the conflict. He writes of one Hamas bombing campaign: "Unfortunately for
the peace process, Palestinian terrorists carried out two lethal suicide
bombings in March 1996." That spree of bombings -- four, actually -- was
unfortunate for the peace process, to be sure. It was also unfortunate for the
several dozen civilians killed in these attacks. But Israeli deaths seem to be
an abstraction for Carter; only the peace process is real, and the peace
process would succeed, he claims, if not for Israeli intransigence.

Here is Carter's anti-historical understanding of the conflict. He writes:

"There are two interrelated obstacles to permanent peace in the Middle East:

"1. Some Israelis believe they have the right to confiscate and colonize
Palestinian land and try to justify the sustained subjugation and persecution
of increasingly hopeless and aggravated Palestinians; and

"2. Some Palestinians react by honoring suicide bombers as martyrs to be
rewarded in heaven and consider the killing of Israelis as victories."

In other words, Palestinian violence is simply an understandable reaction to
the building of Israeli settlements. The settlement movement has been a
tragedy, of course. Settlements, and the expansionist ideology they represent,
have done great damage to the Zionist dream of a Jewish and democratic state;
many Palestinians, and many Israelis, have died on the altar of settlement.
The good news is that the people of Israel have fallen out of love with the
settlers, who themselves now know that they have no future. After all, when
Ariel Sharon abandoned the settlement dream -- as the former prime minister
did when he forcibly removed some 8,000 settlers from the Gaza Strip during
Israel's unilateral pullout in July 2005 -- even the most myopic among the
settlement movement's leaders came to understand that the end is near.

Carter does not recognize the fact that Israel, tired of the burdens of
occupation, also dearly wants to give up the bulk of its West Bank settlements
(the current prime minister, Ehud Olmert, was elected on exactly this
platform) because to do so would fatally undermine the thesis of his book.
Palestine Peace Not Apartheid is being marketed as a work of history, but an
honest book would, when assessing the reasons why the conflict festers, blame
not only the settlements but also take substantial note of the fact that the
Arabs who surround Israel have launched numerous wars against it, all meant to
snuff it out of existence.

Why is Carter so hard on Israeli settlements and so easy on Arab aggression
and Palestinian terror? Because a specific agenda appears to be at work here.
Carter seems to mean for this book to convince American evangelicals to
reconsider their support for Israel. Evangelical Christians have become
bedrock supporters of Israel lately, and Carter marshals many arguments, most
of them specious, to scare them out of their position. Hence the Golda Meir
story, seemingly meant to show that Israel is not the God-fearing nation that
religious Christians believe it to be. And then there are the accusations,
unsupported by actual evidence, that Israel persecutes its Christian citizens.
On his fateful first visit to Israel, Carter takes a tour of the Galilee and
writes, "It was especially interesting to visit with some of the few surviving
Samaritans, who complained to us that their holy sites and culture were not
being respected by Israeli authorities -- the same complaint heard by Jesus
and his disciples almost two thousand years earlier."

There are, of course, no references to "Israeli authorities" in the Christian
Bible. Only a man who sees Israel as a lineal descendant of the Pharisees
could write such a sentence. But then again, the security fence itself is a
crime against Christianity, according to Carter; it "ravages many places along
its devious route that are important to Christians." He goes on, "In addition
to enclosing Bethlehem in one of its most notable intrusions, an especially
heartbreaking division is on the southern slope of the Mount of Olives, a
favorite place for Jesus and his disciples." One gets the impression that
Carter believes that Israelis -- in their deviousness -- somehow mean to keep
Jesus from fulfilling the demands of His ministry.

There is another approach to Arab-Israeli peacemaking, of course -- one
perfected by another Southern Baptist who became a Democratic president. Bill
Clinton's Middle East achievements are enormous, especially when considering
the particular difficulties posed by his primary Arab interlocutor. Jimmy
Carter was blessed with Anwar al-Sadat as a partner for peace; Bill Clinton
was cursed with Yasser Arafat. In his one-sided explication of the 1990s peace
process, Carter systematically downplays Clinton's efforts to bring a
conclusion to the conflict, with a secure Israel and an independent Palestine
living side by side, and repeatedly defends the indefensible Arafat. Carter
doesn't dare include Clinton's own recollections of his efforts at the
abortive Camp David summit in 2000 because to do so would be to acknowledge
that the then-Israeli prime minister, the flawed but courageous Ehud Barak,
did, in fact, try to bring about a lasting peace -- and that Arafat balked.

In a short chapter on the Clinton years, Carter blames the Israelis for the
failures at Camp David. But I put more stock in the views of the president who
was there than in those of the president who wasn't. "On the ninth day, I gave
Arafat my best shot again," Clinton writes in My Life. "Again he said no.
Israel had gone much further than he had, and he wouldn't even embrace their
moves as the basis for future negotiations." Clinton applied himself
heroically over the next six months to extract even better offers from Israel,
all of which Arafat wouldn't accept. "I still didn't believe Arafat would make
such a colossal mistake," Clinton remembers, with regret. According to Carter,
however, Arafat made no mistakes. The failure was Israel's -- and by
extension, Clinton's.

Carter succeeded at his Camp David summit in 1978, while Clinton failed at his
in 2000. But Clinton's achievement was in some ways greater because he did
something no American president has done before (or since): He won the trust
of both the Palestinians and the Israelis. He could do this because he seemed
to believe that neither side was wholly villainous nor wholly innocent. He saw
the Israeli-Palestinian crisis for what it is: a tragic collision between
right and right, a story of two peoples who both deserved his sympathy. In
other words, he took the Christian approach to making peace. ?

Jeffrey Goldberg is a staff writer at the New Yorker and the author of
"Prisoners: A Muslim and a Jew Across the Middle East Divide."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, December 10, 2006