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Saturday, January 27, 2007

World War III has already begun, says Israeli spy chief

World War III has already begun, says Israeli spy chief,7340,L-3357552,00.html
Former head of Israel's intelligence service tells Portuguese newspaper it
would take at least 25 years before battle against fundamentalist terrorism
is won; says nuclear strike by Muslim terrorists 'very likely'

AFP Published: 01.27.07, 20:32

A third World War is already underway between Islamic militancy and the West
but most people do not realize it, the former head of Israel's intelligence
service Mossad said in an interview published Saturday in Portugal.

'We are in the midst of a third World War,' former Mossad chief Efraim
Halevy told weekly newspaper Expresso.

'The world does not understand. A person walks through the streets of Tel
Aviv, Barcelona or Buenos Aires and doesn't get the sense that there is a
war going on,' said Halevy who headed Mossad between 1998 and 2003.

'During World War I and II the entire world felt there was a war. Today no
one is conscious of it. >From time to time there is a terrorist attack in
Madrid, London and New York and then everything stays the same.'

Violence by Islamic militants has already disrupted international travel and
trade just as in the previous two world conflicts, he said.

Halevy, who was raised in war-time London, predicted it would take at least
25 years before the battle against Islamic fundamentalist terrorism is won
and during this time a nuclear strike by Islamic militants was likely.

'It doesn't have to be something very sophisticated, It doesn't have to be
the latest nuclear technology, it can be something simple like a dirty bomb
which instead of killing millions only kills tens of thousands,' he said.

Halevy served as an envoy for former Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Shamir,
Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres and is a former Israeli ambassador to the
European Union.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Enlightenment fundamentalism or racism of the anti-racists?


Enlightenment fundamentalism or racism of the anti-racists?

Pascal Bruckner defends Ayaan Hirsi Ali against Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash, condemning their idea of multiculturalism for chaining people to their roots

"What to say to a man who tells you he prefers to obey God than to obey men, and who is consequently sure of entering the gates of Heaven by slitting your throat?" - Voltaire

"Colonisation and slavery have created a sentiment of culpability in the West that leads people to adulate foreign traditions. This is a lazy, even racist attitude." – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

There's no denying that the enemies of freedom come from free societies, from a slice of the enlightened elite who deny the benefits of democratic rights to the rest of humanity, and more specifically to their compatriots, if they're unfortunate enough to belong to another religion or ethnic group. To be convinced of this one need only glance through two recent texts: "Murder in Amsterdam" by the British-Dutch author Ian Buruma on the murder of Theo Van Gogh (1) and the review of this book by English journalist and academic Timothy Garton Ash in the New York Review of Books (2). Buruma's reportage, executed in the Anglo-Saxon style, is fascinating in that it gives voice to all of the protagonists of the drama, the murderer as well as his victim, with apparent impartiality. The author, nevertheless, cannot hide his annoyance at the former Dutch member of parliament of Somali origin, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a friend of Van Gogh's and also the subject of death threats. Buruma is embarrassed by her critique of the Koran.

Garton Ash is even harder on her. For him, the apostle of multiculturalism, Hirsi Ali's attitude is both irresponsible and counter-productive. His verdict is implacable: "Ayaan Hirsi Ali is now a brave, outspoken, slightly simplistic Enlightenment fundamentalist." (3). He backs up his argument with the fact that this outspoken young woman belonged in her youth to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. For Garton Ash, she has merely exchanged one credo for another, fanaticism for the prophet for that of reason.

This argument of equivalence is not new. It was used throughout the 19th century by the Catholic Church to block reforms, and more recently in France at the time of the "Islamic Headscarf Affair" by those opposed to the law. In the case of Hirsi Ali, herself subject to female circumcision and forced marriage, who escaped Africa to the Netherlands, the accusation is simply false. The difference between her and Muhammad Bouyeri, the killer of Theo Van Gogh, is that she never advocated murder to further her ideas.

"The Koran is the work of man and not of God," she writes. "Consequently we should feel free to interpret and adapt it to modern times, rather than bending over backwards to live as the first believers did in a distant, terrible time." (4) One searches this sentence in vain for the least hint of sectarianism. Hirsi Ali's sole weapons are persuasion, refutation and discourse. Far from the pathology of proselytism, she never transgresses the domain of reason. Her hope of pushing back tyranny and superstition does not seem to result from unsound or unhealthy exaltation. But in the eyes of our genteel professors, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, like the dissenting Muslims Taslima Nasreen, Wafa Sultan, (see her interview on al Jazeera), Irshad Manji, Seyran Ates and Necla Kelek, has committed an unpardonable offence: she has taken democratic principles seriously.

It is well known that in the struggle of the weak against the strong, it is easier to attack the former. Those who resist will always be accused by the cowardly of exciting the hatred of the powerful.

Not without perfidy, Ian Buruma denies Ayaan Hirsi Ali the right to refer to Voltaire. Voltaire, he writes, confronted one of the most powerful institutions of his time, the Catholic Church, while Hirsi Ali contents herself with offending "a vulnerable minority in the heart of Europe." (5) However, this statement disregards the fact that Islam has no borders: the Muslim communities of the Old World are backed up by a billion faithful. Crisscrossed by diverse currents, they can either become the advance wing of a fundamentalist offensive or exemplify a type of religiosity more in harmony with reason. Far from being a negligible affair, this is one of the major challenges of the 21st century!

It's not enough that Ayaan Hirsi Ali has to live like a recluse, threatened with having her throat slit by radicals and surrounded by bodyguards. She - like the French philosophy professor Robert Redeker who has also been issued death threats on Islamicist websites - has to endure the ridicule of the high-minded idealists and armchair philosophers. She has even been called a Nazi in the Netherlands. (6) Thus the defenders of liberty are styled as fascists, while the fanatics are portrayed as victims!

This vicious mechanism is well known. Those who revolt against barbarism are themselves accused of being barbarians. In politics as in philosophy, the equals sign is always an abdication. If thinking involves weighing one's words to name the world well, drawing comparisons in other words, then levelling distinctions testifies to intellectual bankruptcy. Shouting CRS = SS as in May '68, making Bush = Bin Laden or equating Voltaire to Savonarola is giving cheap satisfaction to questionable approximations. Similarly, the Enlightenment is often depicted as nothing but another religion, as mad and intransigent as the Catholicism of the Inquisition or radical Islam. After Heidegger, a whole run of thinkers from Gadamer to Derrida have contested the claims of the Enlightenment to embody a new age of self-conscious history. On the contrary, they say, all the evils of our epoch were spawned by this philosophical and literary episode: capitalism, colonialism, totalitarianism. For them, criticism of prejudices is nothing but a prejudice itself, proving that humanity is incapable of self-reflection. For them, the chimeras of certain men of letters who were keen to make a clean slate of God and revelation, were responsible for plunging Europe into darkness. In an abominable dialectic, the dawn of reason gave birth to nothing but monsters (Horkheimer, Adorno).

The entire history of the 20th century attests to the fanaticism of modernity. And it's incontestable that the belief in progress has taken on the aspect of a faith, with its high priests from Saint Simon to August Comte, not forgetting Victor Hugo. The hideous secular religions of Nazism and communism, with their deadly rituals and mass massacres, were just as gruesome as the worst theocracies - of which they, at least as far as communism goes, considered themselves the radical negation. More people were killed in opposition to God in the 20th century than in the name of God. No matter that first Nazism and then communism were defeated by democratic regimes inspired by the Enlightenment, human rights, tolerance and pluralism. Luckily, Romanticism mitigated the abstraction of the Enlightenment and its claims to having created a new man, freed from religious sentiment and things of the flesh.

Today we are heirs to both movements, and understand how to reconcile the particularity of national, linguistic and cultural ties with the universality of the human race. Modernity has been self-critical and suspicious of its own ideals for a long time now, denouncing the sacralisation of an insane reason that was blind to its own zeal. In a word, it acquired a certain wisdom and an understanding of its limits. The Enlightenment, in turn, showed itself capable of reviewing its mistakes. Denouncing the excesses of the Enlightenment in the concepts that it forged means being true to its spirit. These concepts are part and parcel of the contemporary make up, to the point that even religious fanatics make use of them to promote their cause. Whether we like it or not, we are the sons of this controversial century, compelled to damn our fathers in the language they bequeathed to us. And since the Enlightenment triumphed even over its worst enemies, there is no doubt that it will also strike down the Islamist hydra, provided it believes in itself and abstains from condemning the rare reformers of Islam to the darkness of reprobation.

Today we combine two concepts of liberty: one has its origins in the 18th century, founded on emancipation from tradition and authority. The other, originating in anti-imperialist anthropology, is based on the equal dignity of cultures which could not be evaluated merely on the basis of our criteria. Relativism demands that we see our values simply as the beliefs of the particular tribe we call the West. Multiculturalism is the result of this process. Born in Canada in 1971, it's principle aim is to assure the peaceful cohabitation of populations of different ethnic or racial origins on the same territory. In multiculturalism, every human group has a singularity and legitimacy that form the basis of its right to exist, conditioning its interaction with others. The criteria of just and unjust, criminal and barbarian, disappear before the absolute criterion of respect for difference. There is no longer any eternal truth: the belief in this stems from naïve ethnocentrism.

Anyone with a mind to contend timidly that liberty is indivisible, that the life of a human being has the same value everywhere, that amputating a thief's hand or stoning an adulteress is intolerable everywhere, is duly arraigned in the name of the necessary equality of cultures. As a result, we can turn a blind eye to how others live and suffer once they've been parked in the ghetto of their particularity. Enthusing about their inviolable differentness alleviates us from having to worry about their condition. However it is one thing to recognise the convictions and rites of fellow citizens of different origins, and another to give one's blessing to hostile insular communities that throw up ramparts between themselves and the rest of society. How can we bless this difference if it excludes humanity instead of welcoming it? This is the paradox of multiculturalism: it accords the same treatment to all communities, but not to the people who form them, denying them the freedom to liberate themselves from their own traditions. Instead: recognition of the group, oppression of the individual. The past is valued over the wills of those who wish to leave custom and the family behind and - for example - love in the manner they see fit.

One tends to forget the outright despotism of minorities who are resistant to assimilation if it isn't accompanied by a status of extraterritoriality and special dispensations. The result is that nations are created within nations, which, for example, feel Muslim before they feel English, Canadian or Dutch. Here identity wins out over nationality. Worse yet: under the guise of respecting specificity, individuals are imprisoned in an ethnic or racial definition, and plunged back into the restrictive mould from which they were supposedly in the process of being freed. Black people, Arabs, Pakistanis and Muslims are imprisoned in their history and assigned, as in the colonial era, to residence in their epidermis, their beliefs.

Thus they are refused what has always been our privilege: passing from one world to another, from tradition to modernity, from blind obedience to rational decision making. "I left the world of faith, of genital cutting (7) and marriage for the world of reason and sexual emancipation. After making this voyage I know that one of these two worlds is simply better than the other. Not for its gaudy gadgetry, but for its fundamental values", Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote in her autobiography (8). The protection of minorities also implies the right of individual members to extract themselves with impunity, through indifference, atheism and mixed marriage, to forget clan and family solidarities and to forge their own destinies, without having to reproduce the pattern bequeathed to them by their parents.

Out of consideration for all the abuses they may have suffered, ethnic, sexual, religious and regional minorities are often set up as small nations, in which the most outrageous chauvinism is passed off as nothing more than the expression of legitimate self-esteem. Instead of celebrating freedom as the power to escape determinism, the repetition of the past is being encouraged, reinforcing the power of collective coercion over private individuals. Marginal groups now form a sort of ethos-police, a flag-waving micro-nationalism which certain countries of Europe unfortunately see fit to publicly support. Under the guise of celebrating diversity, veritable ethnic or confessional prisons are established, where one group of citizens is denied the advantages accorded to others.

So it comes as no surprise that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is sanctioned by our intellectuals. Nothing is missing from the portrait of the young woman painted by Timothy Garton Ash, not even an outmoded machismo. In his eyes, only the beauty and glamour of the Dutch parliamentarian can explain her media success; not the accuracy of what she says. (9) Garton Ash does not ask whether the fundamentalist theologian Tariq Ramadan, to whom he sings enflamed panegyrics, also owes his fame to his Playboy looks. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, it is true, does elude current stereotypes of political correctness. As a Somali, she proclaims the superiority of Europe over Africa. As a woman, she is neither wife nor mother. As a Muslim, she openly denounces the backwardness of the Koran. So many flouted cliches make her a true rebel, unlike the sham insurgents our societies produce by the dozen.

It is her wilful, short-fused, enthusiastic, impervious side to which Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash object, in the spirit of the inquisitors who saw devil-possessed witches in every woman too flamboyant for their tastes. Reading their utterly condescending words, it becomes clear that the war against Muslim fundamentalism will have to be won first on a symbolic level, and by women. Because they represent the pivot of the family and social order. Liberating them, guaranteeing them equal rights in all fields, is the first condition of progress in Arab Muslim societies. Incidentally, each time a Western country has wanted to codify minority rights, it is the members of these minorities, mostly women, who have risen up in protest. The generous desire to be accomodating - like that of the Canadian province of Ontario which sought to judge Muslims according to the Sharia, at least for litigations of succession and family - or the proposition of a former German constitutional judge, Jutta Limbach, to create a minority status in the German Basic Law excusing Muslim girls from gym class, is experienced as a regression, a new imprisonment (10).

The mystique of respect for others which is developing in the West is highly dubious. Because etymologically, respect means looking on from a distance. Remember that in the 19th century native peoples were seen as so different from us that it was unthinkable that they should adopt the European model, or even French citizenship. Once considered inferiority, the difference is now experienced as an impassable distance. Pushed to the extreme, this eulogy of autarky is at the base of ill-starred political measures. What was apartheid in South Africa if not the respect of singularity pushed to the point that the other no longer has the right to approach me?

So the search for religious equilibrium may frustrate the desire for change in a confession, maintaining the minority status of part of the population, in general women, and condoning a subtle segregation camouflaged as diversity. Unabashed praise for the beauty of all the cultures may hide the same twisted paternalism as that of the colonialists of yesteryear. One may counter that since Islam appeared in the 7th century, it will inevitably be somewhat behind or, as Tariq Ramadan maintains, the faithful masses have not matured to the point where they can abandon practices such as stoning (he himself calls for a moratorium on stoning, not a full stop) (11). This flies in the face of "the impatience for liberty" (Michel Foucault) which seizes Muslim elites when faced with the spectacle of laicist nations, freed from the fetters of restrictive dogma and retrograde morals.

The Enlightenment belongs to the entire human race, not just to a few privileged individuals in Europe or North America who have taken it upon themselves to kick it to bits like spoiled brats, to prevent others from having a go. Anglo-Saxon multiculturalism is perhaps nothing other than a legal apartheid, accompanied - as is so often the case - by the saccarine cajolery of the rich who explain to the poor that money doesn't guarantee happiness. We bear the burdens of liberty, of self-invention, of sexual equality; you have the joys of archaism, of abuse as ancestral custom, of sacred prescriptions, forced marriage, the headscarf and polygamy. The members of these minorities are put under a preservation order, protected from the fanaticism of the Enlightenment and the "calamities" of progress. Those termed "Muslims" (North Africans, Pakistanis, Africans) are prohibited from not believing, or from believing periodically, from not giving a damn about God, from creating a life for themselves far away from the Koran and the rites of the tribe.

Multiculturalism is a racism of the anti-racists: it chains people to their roots. Thus Job Cohen, mayor of Amsterdam and one of the mainstays of the Dutch state, demands that one accept "the conscious discrimination of women by certain groups of orthodox Muslims" on the basis that we need a "new glue" to "hold society together." In the name of social cohesion, we are invited to give our roaring applause for the intolerance that these groups show for our laws. The coexistence of hermetic little societies is cherished, each of which follows a different norm. If we abandon a collective criterion for discriminating between just and unjust, we sabotage the very idea of national community. A French, British or Dutch citizen will be prosecuted for beating his wife, for example. But should the crime go unpunished if it turns out that the perpetrator is a Sunni or Shiite? Should his faith give him the right to transgress the law of the land? This is the glorification in others of what we have always beaten ourselves up about: outrageous protectionism, cultural narcissism and inveterate ethnocentrism!

This tolerance harbours contempt, because it assumes that certain communities are incapable of modernising. Could it be that the dissidence of British Muslims is not only a function of the retrograde rigorism of their leaders, but also stems from a vague suspicion that all the consideration show to them by the state is little more than a subtle form of disdain, basically telling them that they are just too backward for modern civilisation ? Several communes in Italy are planning to reserve certain beaches for Muslim women, so they may bathe unexposed to male eyes. And within a few years the first "Islamic hospital," complying in all points with the prescriptions of the Koran, may open in Rotterdam. Anyone would think we are reliving the days of segregation in the southern United States. Yet this segregation has the full backing of Europe's most prominent progressives! Theirs is a fight on two fronts: minorities must be protected from discrimination (for example by encouraging the teaching of regional languages and cultures and adapting the school calendar to religious holidays); and private individuals must be protected from intimidation by the community in which they live.

Finally, one last argument militates against Anglo-Saxon multiculturalism: on the government's own avowal it doesn't work. Not content to have serves as an asylum for Jihad for years on end, with the dramatic consequences known to all, the United Kingdom must admit today that its social model based on communitarianism and separatism doesn't work. Many people scoffed at French authoritarianism when parliament voted to foribid women and young girls from wearing headscarves in school and in government offices (news story). Timothy Garton Ash for his part, who starts his review in Seine Saint-Denis, demonstrates a Francophobia worthy of Washington's Neocons.

Yet now political leaders in Great Britain, the Netherlands and Germany, shocked by the spread of hijab and burqa, are considering passing laws against them (12). The facts speak against the appeasers, who enjoin Europe to fit in with Islam rather than vice versa. For the more we give in to the radicalism of the bearded, the more they will harden their tone. Appeasement politics only increase their appetite. The hope that benevolence alone will disarm the brutes remains for the moment unfounded. We in France also have our Jihad collaborators, on the extreme left as on the right: at the time of the Muhammad cartoon affair last year, deputies of the UMP proposed to institute blasphemy laws that would have taken us back to the Ancien Regime.

But modern France was forged in the struggle against the hegemony of the Catholic Church. And two centuries after the Revolution it will not support the yoke of a new fanaticism. That is why attempts by revanchist Islamic tendencies such as the Saudi Wahabites, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafists or Al Qaida to gain ground on European territory and reconquer Andalousia resembles a colonial enterprise that must be opposed (13). How did Europe and France become secular societies? Through an unrelenting struggle against the Church, and its hold on the right to regiment people's minds, punish recalcitrants, block reforms and maintain the people - primarily the poorest - in the stranglehold of resignation and fear. The fight was extraordinarily violent on both sides, but it brought about incontestable progress and eventually led to the law of the separation of Church and state being passed in 1905.

The superiority of the French model (copied by the Turkey of Mustafa Kemal) is a result of the victory over obscurantism and events like the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. How could we tolerate in Islam that which we no longer tolerate in Catholicism? Secularism, which incidentally is written into the Gospels, is based on a few simple principles: freedom of religious affiliation, peaceful coexistence, neutrality of the public space, respect of the social contract, and the common acceptance that religious laws are not above civil ones but reside in the hearts of believers. France, said the philosopher Hannah Arendt, treated its colonies both as brothers and subjects. Happily, the time of colonies is over. But the republican egalitarian ideal postulates that all human beings have the same rights, independently of their race, sex and confession. This ideal is far from being realised. It is even in crisis, as the riots of November 2005 proved. Nevertheless it seems to be a better guiding light than the questionable worship of diversity. Against the right to difference, it is necessary to ceaselessly reaffirm the right to resemblance. What unites us is stronger than what divides us.

The positions of Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash fall in with American and British policies (even if the two disapprove of these policies): the failure of George W. Bush and Tony Blair in their wars against terror also result from their focussing on military issues to the detriment of intellectual debate. The diehard sanctimoniousness of these two leaders, their blend of strategic bravado and starry-eyed naivete, prevented them from striking where it was necessary: on the terrain of dogma, on the reinterpretation of holy scriptures and religious texts (14). Yesterday the Cold War was caught up in a global combat against communism, where the confrontation of ideas, the cultural struggle in cinema, music and literature played a key role. Today we observe with consternation as the British government and its circle of Muslim "advisers" flirts with the credo: better fundamentalism than terrorism - unable to see that the two go hand in hand, and that given a chance, fundamentalism will forever prevent the Muslims of Europe from engaging in reform.

Yet fostering an enlightened European Islam is capital: Europe may become a model, a shining example for reform which will hopefully take place along the lines of Vatican II, opening the way to self-criticism and soul-searching. However we must be sure not to speak to the wrong audience, styling the fundamentalists as friends of tolerance, while in fact they practise dissimulation and use the left or the intelligentsia to make their moves for them, sparing themselves the challenge of secularism (15).

It is time to extend our solidarity to all the rebels of the Islamic world, non-believers, atheist libertines, dissenters, sentinels of liberty, as we supported Eastern European dissidents in former times. Europe should encourage these diverse voices and give them financial, moral and political support. Today there is no cause more sacred, more serious, or more pressing for the harmony of future generations. Yet our continent kneels before God's madmen, muzzling and libelling free thinkers with suicidal heedlessness. Blessed are the sceptics and non-believers if they can calm the murderous ardour of faith!

It is astonishing that 62 years after the fall of the Third Reich and 16 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, an important segment Europe's intelligentsia is engaged in slandering the friends of democracy. They maintain it is best to cede and retreat, and pay mere lip-service to the ideals of the Enlightenment. Yet we are a long way off the dramatic circumstances of the 1930s, when the best minds threw themselves into the arms of Berlin or Moscow in the name of race, class or the Revolution. Today the threat is more diffuse and fragmented. There is nothing that resembles the formidable peril of the Third Reich. Even the government of Mullahs in Tehran is a paper tiger that could be brought to its knees with a minimum dose of rigour. Nevertheless the preachers of panic abound. Kant defined the Enlightenment with the motto: Sapere aude - dare to know. A culture of courage is perhaps what is most lacking among today's directors of conscience. They are the symptoms of a fatigued, self-doubting Europe, one that is only too ready to acquiesce at the slightest alarm. Yet their good-willed rhetorical molasses covers a different tune: that of capitulation!


(1) Ian Buruma: "Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance", New York (Penguin Press) 2006

(2) "Islam in Europe" in: New York Review of Books, October 5, 2006

(3) Buruma too speaks of "Enlightenment fundamentalists", p. 27.

(4) Ayaan Hirsi Ali: "Infidel", Free Press, 2007

(5) Buruma, op. cit., p. 179.

(6) According to Ian Buruma, the well-known Dutch author Geert Mak compares Ayaan Hirsi Ali's film "Submission" with the anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda film "Jud Süß" ("Murder in Amsterdam", page 240).

(7) In France, 30,000 women of African origin have been subject to genital cutting, and another 30,000 women risk cutting in the future. France has long been the only country to prosecute genital cutting, and the law 4/04/06 has reinforced these measures.

(8) Ayaan Hirsi Ali, "Infidel".

(9) Timothy Garton Ash, in "Islam in Europe." For Garton Ash, Ayaan Hirsi Ali "is irresistible copy for journalists, being a tall, strikingly beautiful, exotic, brave, outspoken woman with a remarkable life story, now living under permanent threat of being slaughtered like van Gogh. (...) It's no disrespect to Ms. Ali to suggest that if she had been short, squat, and squinting, her story and views might not be so closely attended to."

(10) Jutta Limbach: "Making multiculturalism work", in:

(11) Ramadan reiterated this position during a debate with Nicolas Sarkozy on November 20, 2003 on French television. His brother, Hani Ramadan, also a Swiss citizen, defends stoning as punishment.

(12) According to various surveys, 87 percent of British Muslims feel primarily Muslim; in France it is 46 percent. So the majority of Muslims stand behind the republican ideal, puting their religious principles behind their loyalty to the French nation.

(13) Remember the communiques of Al Qaida on September 18, 2001: "We shall break the cross. Your only choice is Islam or the sword!" And in September 2006 after the declarations of Benedict XVI in his Ratisbonne speech on violence and religion, demonstrators in Jerusalem and Naplouse bore signs saying "The conquest of Rome is the solution." And Chiek Youssef Al-Quaradhawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and mentor of Tariq Ramadan, said in one of his most famous sermons that he was certain that "Islam would return to Europe as a victorious conqueror, after having been twice expelled. I maintain that this time the conquest will not come of the sword, but of preaching and ideology." Al Quaradhawi also condones suicide attacks.

(14) In 2004, Tony Blair printed up two Christmas cards, one of which was addressed to non-Christians and made no reference to the birth of Christ. What paternalism lurks behind this debauchery of good intent!

(15) On Tariq Ramadan's duplicity and deep-seated anti-Semitism: he believes the machinations of the deeply reactionary "Zionist Lobby" are responsible for the bad reputation of his grandfather, Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The very well-researched and convincingly argumented book "Frere Tariq" by Caroline Fourest (Paris, Grasset, 2004) is highly recommendable in this context. After it was published, the author was physically threatened on the webside of the friends of Ramadan, Subjected to a witch hunt, she had to be protected by the police for some time.


The article originally appeared in German in the online magazine Perlentaucher on January 24, 2007
Pascal Bruckner, born in 1948, counts among the best-known French "nouveaux philosophes". He studied philosophy at the Sorbonne under Roland Barthes. His works include The Temptation of Innocence - Living in the Age of Entitlement (Algora Publishing, 2000), The Tears of the White Man: Compassion As Contempt (The Free Press, 1986) The Divine Child: A Novel of Prenatal Rebellion (Little Brown & Co, 1994) Evil Angels (Grove Press, 1987)

Translation: jab.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Arab MK Tibi: "Holocaust denial is an immoral and twisted act"

Arab MK says Shoah denial immoral
Roee Nahmias YNET Published: 01.27.07, 15:05,7340,L-3357479,00.html

"The Holocaust was the worst crime against humanity in modern history,"
Deputy Knesset Speaker Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List -Ta'al) told his fellow
faction members during a visit to the Arab-Israeli town of Taybeh.

"Holocaust denial is an immoral and twisted act," he added.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Hamas suspends participation in unity talks in protest against "attempted coup"

Hamas suspends participation in unity talks in protest against "attempted
Date: 27 / 01 / 2007  Time:  12:41

Gaza - Ma'an - In the shadow of the bloody incidents between the Hamas and
Fatah movements, it seems that the national dialogue has been irrevocably
deterred from its former track.

The Hamas movement have announced that it has suspended its participation in
the national dialogue regarding the formation of the national unity
government, due to "the crimes committed by those who would overthrow us."

Spokesman of the Hamas movement, Ayman Taha, said that the intention of this
escalation can only be to ignite a civil war, and to drag Hamas into a
destructive war amongst the Palestinians.

The spokesman also said that Hamas "will not allow for those who would
overthrow us to drag Hamas into a civil war, which aims to serve only the
Israeli-American plans, and to implement the Rice-Livni strategy, which they
called for in Davos, over not forming a unity government."

Taha called for the Palestinian president to leave the summit of the World
Economic Forum in Davos, and return to the territories. He also called on
"the wise people of Fatah" to put an end to the turmoil.

The spokesman called on Palestinian factions to truthfully reveal who is
responsible for last night's escalation in the Gaza Strip, particularly in
the north.

Taha concluded that "Hamas will not succumb to the American-Zionist

The spokesman of the Fatah movement, Tawfiq Abu Khousa, stated "Fatah is
serious in making the dialogue succeed in order to extricate the
Palestinians from the current cycle of violence, and the removal of the
causes of the rivalry in the street, which Hamas is strengthening."

Abu Khousa accused Hamas of practicing "all forms of criminal acts." He
claimed that Hamas members besieged the home of Mansour Shlayel, a leader in
the Fatah-affiliated Al Aqsa brigades. "The house has been attacked with
rocket-propelled grenades, other projectiles and bombing devices. They
[Hamas] attacked the mass marches which went into the streets to lift the
siege imposed on the house, and killed and injured many".

He further accuses Hamas of "fabricating lies and accusations against Fatah,
causing an increase in the tension on the Palestinian street."

The spokesman accused "the bloody current in Hamas" of committing crimes
against Palestinians and the destruction of Palestinian properties. He
declared, "the bloody current in Hamas is executing the civil war plans and
igniting the civil war, in order to implement special agendas which have
nothing to do with the national interest."

At this time, there is a flurry of activity around the other Palestinian
factions, all trying their best efforts to stop the deterioration in the
Gaza Strip. Both the PFLP and the Islamic Jihad movements are busy
contacting all parties in order to reach an agreement to ends the bloody
cycle, and to bring the two largest movements back to the negotiation table.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Abbas to use taxes transferred from Israel to pay PA security forces

Abbas to use taxes transferred from Israel to pay PA security forces
By News Agencies update - 20:07 27/01/2007

A senior aide to Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday that the Palestinian Authority
chairman will use some of the $100 million in tax rebates recently
transferred by Israel to pay overdue salaries of the Palestinian security

The announcement came as fighting between the Abbas-allied security forces
and Hamas gunmen flared in the Gaza Strip over the weekend, leaving 17
people dead.

In all, Abbas is spending $152 million for salaries of the security forces
and other items, such as debt payment and welfare services, his aide, Rafiq
Husseini, told a news conference.

In addition to the Israeli tax rebates - money that was frozen after Hamas
came to power last year - Abbas has received $30 million from the United
Arab Emirates and $22 million from Qatar, Husseini said.

Since winning parliament elections a year ago, the Islamic militant Hamas
has had trouble paying 165,000 civil servants, including 80,000 members of
the security forces, because of an international aid boycott.

The international community has rerouted some of the aid to Abbas.

Husseini said the president's office disbursed $285 million in 2006, but
that it was not enough to cover salaries or maintain vital services.

Husseini reiterated that Abbas prefers the establishment of a new government
acceptable to the West, a coalition of Hamas and his Fatah movement.
However, the latest coalition talks were suspended because of the Gaza

If no agreement is reached, Husseini said, the president will go for early

Spain pledges 7 million euros in emergency aid for Palestinians

Spain pledged its support Friday for the efforts of Palestinian Authority
Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to form a national unity government in his country.

After a meeting with Abbas, Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez
Zapatero announced 7 million euros of emergency aid for the Palestinian
authority. The government in Madrid would also continue to push all
diplomatic efforts to open up the stalemated peace process this year,
officials said.

Zapatero and Abbas did not meet with the press. Rather, Spanish Foreign
Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat made
the announcement and called for an end to all violence.

They said common efforts of all those involved must produce a political

However, unity talks were suspended late Friday in the wake of ongoing

Earlier, Abbas said on it should take no more than three weeks to reach an
agreement with Hamas on forming a national unity government.

Abbas repeated his threat to call for parliamentary and presidential
elections if talks fail, but he did not say three weeks was a deadline for
requesting a new ballot.

"We are at a junction now, either yes or no. I would tell you, this doesn't
need more than two weeks, maximum three weeks," Abbas told a news conference
at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Palestinian factions resumed talks this week on forming a new coalition with
the aim of ending a Western aid embargo on the Hamas administration.
Sanctions are designed to force Hamas to recognize Israel, renounce violence
and accept past peace deals.

On Friday, as violence escalated between Fatah and Hamas in Gaza, the
clashes forced the postponement of unity government talks originally
scheduled to resume Friday.

"The entire dialogue could explode," Fatah spokesman Tawfiq Abu Khoussa
said, blaming Hamas for the tension. "How can dialogue go on when there is a
bomb underneath the table?" The talks were pushed back to Sunday.

Similar talks broke down last year between Abbas's Fatah and Hamas, which
won elections a year ago.

"If we fail to achieve a national unity government that allows us to lift
the siege, I will call for presidential elections," Abbas said.

Abbas also said he expects to hold talks with the United States and Israel
within a month on the framework for establishing a Palestinian state.

"I don't have a specific date. Maybe it needs a month, within a month,"
Abbas said.

Any agreement reached on the final borders for a Palestinian state, which
Abbas said must recognize the pre-1967 borders of Israel, would be sent to a
referendum of the Palestinian people, he said.

Indonesia eyes Hamas meeting to end infighting

Indonesia wants to hold a special meeting with Hamas this year, a Jakarta
official said on Friday, aimed at helping end internal rifts between the
Palestinian ruling group and other factions.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, wants Palestinian
factions to end their infighting and form a united government that could
open chances for the establishment of a Palestinian state that could
co-exist with Israel.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda would use a meeting with Hamas
leader Khaled Meshal in Damascus in early February to discuss convening an
Indonesia-Hamas conference in Jakarta, Indonesian foreign affairs spokesman
Kristiarto Legowo told a news briefing.

"The minister has said the timeframe was within three months. We need to
have agreement with the involved parties in this matter first," said Legowo.

Asked whether anyone from Fatah, the rival group to Hamas, would be invited
to the Jakarta conference, Legowo said: "We will only convene with Hamas

Last May, the Hamas government's foreign minister Mahmoud al-Zahar visited
Indonesia and called on Jakarta to take a role in the troubled Middle East
peace process.

Legowo said the Indonesian foreign minister planned to talk to Meshal about
the meeting. "They will brainstorm what methods are best to realize our

Indonesia is legally secular and its predominantly Islamic population is
largely moderate, but many Indonesian Muslims are passionately
pro-Palestinian and Jakarta has no formal ties with Israel.

Indonesia supports the Israeli-Palestinian "roadmap" peace accord sponsored
by the so-called "Quartet" of the United States, the European Union, Russia
and the United Nations.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Between the bad and the worse: Death toll rises to 19 as street battles continue in Gaza

What is worse: Chaos and death due to civil war in Gaza, or Fatah and Hamas unite and renew terror against Israel? Is there a peace horizon in here somewhere?  
Death toll rises to 19 as street battles continue in Gaza
Associated Press, THE JERUSALEM POST  Jan. 26, 2007

Gunmen exchanged fire near Gaza City's Islamic University on Saturday, killing two men on the third straight day of Hamas-Fatah factional fighting.
The deaths brought to 19 the number of Palestinians killed since late Thursday, and a least 66 people were wounded. The rival Hamas and Fatah movements traded angry accusations, and each held several supporters of the other side hostage.
Earlier in the day, Hamas and Fatah gunmen fired mortar shells and lobbed grenades at each other outside a security compound in Gaza City.
Fighting on Friday was among the deadliest in nearly two months and marred the first anniversary of Hamas' upset victory in Palestinian elections. After nightfall, the fighting showed no signs of slowing, as the sound of gunfire echoed throughout Gaza City.
The heaviest shooting was concentrated around the home of Mansour Shaleil, a local Fatah leader in the Jebaliya refugee camp just north of Gaza City.
Hamas gunmen surrounded the home early Friday to detain Shaleil, accusing him of involvement in a shooting that killed two Hamas supporters. After an hours-long standoff, dozens of Hamas gunmen stormed the house and exchanged fire with Shaleil and his supporter, according to witnesses and ambulance drivers.
They later withdrew, Palestinian media reported, leaving Shaleil unharmed. Two men identified as Hamas militants were killed.
"It looks like they forgot who the enemy is," said Maher Mekdad, a Fatah spokesman. "They forgot the Israeli occupation."
Fatah gunmen, meanwhile, kidnapped 19 Hamas militants and threatened to kill them if Shaleil was harmed, officials on both sides said. After Shaleil's rescue, Hamas and Fatah officials said they were working with mediators to arrange the hostages' release.
During the day, fighting also spread to the headquarters of the pro-Fatah Preventive Security agency in Gaza City. Four Hamas gunmen were killed in a battle outside a nearby mosque.
Hamas accused Fatah gunmen of starting the battle and wounding several worshippers in a drive-by attack. Mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades were fired during the melee, smashing windows on several homes.
In other incidents, fighting erupted outside the residences of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar of Hamas. Hamas officials said Zahar's home was damaged by two rocket-propelled grenades.
Hundreds of security forces loyal to Abbas, who was in Europe at the time, were sent into the streets to protect his compound and various security installations.
In all, 13 people were killed and 45 wounded throughout Gaza, medical officials said, in addition to two others killed just before midnight Thursday. Friday's dead included a 2-year-old boy who was shot while traveling in a car in the southern town of Khan Younis. Hamas and Fatah officials accused each other of firing the deadly shot.
Just before midnight, a Palestinian policeman was killed in a patrol car, and his partner was wounded in the legs, officials said.
Abbas has threatened to order early elections, but Hamas has said it would boycott a new vote.
Abbas' threat to call new elections, along with the deadlock in unity talks, has fueled the factional violence.
Both Fatah and Hamas officials said late Friday that unity talks would be suspended until the fighting ends. Both sides blamed each other for the breakdown.
"Following the awful massacres committed today ... we have decided to postpone all dialogue with Fatah," said Ismail Radwan, a Hamas spokesman.
In the West Bank city of Nablus, meanwhile, Fatah gunmen kidnapped a group of nine people, saying they were Hamas supporters. The group, consisting of a religious instructor and his teenage students, was freed after several hours.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Davos 07: the old showman takes a bow

 Davos 07: the old showman takes a bow

Speech of the day was Israel's Tzipi Livni, but it was Shimon Peres who cast a spell over the audience.

Alan Rusbridger

January 25, 2007 11:41 PM |

Best speech of the day I caught was from Tzipi Livni, the deputy Israeli prime minister, in the early evening session on the middle east.

The session began with three powerful little films from Tel Aviv, Ramallah and Jerusalem assembled by the OneVoice foundation, which brings together young people from both sides of the divide (its driving force in the UK is the charismatic United Business Media CEO David Levin). In each film the participants appealed directly to the grandees at Davos to use their influence to move things on from the current destructive stalemate.

The first response came from Mahmoud Abbas, president of Palestinian National Authority. In translation the speech was measured, if a touch heavy, formal and with only a glancing response to the films. Livni - her website records a few years working for Mossad as well as a law degree and two children - spoke simply, sympathetically and directly to the concerns of the young voices we'd heard. She gave a quiet assessment of where things stood. It was human and decent stuff.

And then the great charmer and showman himself. The organisers had been hoping for Olmert, but they got Shimon Peres. Is there anyone on the international stage who speaks English more beautifully? He may be 84. He may be the ultimate re-tread politician. English may be his second, or even third language. But he manages to speak in a stream of apparently effortless epigrams which few, if any, British or American leaders can match.

He nodded gracefully to Livni: "In spite of the fact we belong to the same government I believe in every word she says." On the difference between Hamas and and Fatah: " Fatah represents destiny, Hamas tradition." On government versus business: "Government must be conservative - they must defend what they have. Companies must take risks - they must make profits from things which don't exist...governments have budgets, they don't have money."

And so on. Some of the most elegant bon mots, inevitably, were less profound than they sounded. Some sounded gorgeous but were, on a second's reflection, meaningless. He still cast a spell on the audience - even if many of them must have gone away hoping that Livni might be a better pointer to a future promise of peace.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Druse MK next in line for presidency

Jan. 26, 2007 0:15 | Updated Jan. 26, 2007 7:52
Druse MK next in line for presidency
By GIL HOFFMAN         
With all due respect to the candidacy of Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, the next man in line to the presidency after Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik is not a rabbi.
He is not even a Jew.
The next time Itzik goes abroad, the acting president of the Jewish state will be Druse MK and Deputy Knesset Speaker Majallie Whbee of Kadima, a resident of the village of Beit Jann, near Acre.
Itzik postponed a trip to Spain on Wednesday, but is to go abroad next month. Whbee said he was looking forward to leading the country, even if it would only be temporary.
"I would rather it happened in other circumstances, but [my becoming president] proves that we Druse are partners in building this country," he said. "I served as an IDF officer for years and commanded many Jews. The responsibility will be on my shoulders to lead this country well."
Whbee would become the first non-Jewish leader of a Jewish state or monarchy since the death in 4 BCE of King Herod, a descendent of Idumean slaves whose father was converted to Judaism, but whose mother was a Nabataean.
Whbee said he would be proud to be Herod's successor. "I am glad that historically I am the first [non-Jewish leader]," he said. "I have the tools and ability to lead the country well. Herod built Jerusalem, and I hope I can follow in his footsteps and build the country well.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Netanyahu: Katsav should resign

Jan. 26, 2007 13:56 | Updated Jan. 26, 2007 18:16
Netanyahu: Katsav should resign
Netanyahu told Israel Radio that the "difference between Israel and Iran" was that President Moshe Katsav, facing criminal charges, would appear in court, whereas Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faced no consequences for violating "any laws, even international ones."
Asked if Katsav should have resigned following Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz's decision to indict him for rape, Netanyahu said that he had expected Katsav to resign and believed that it would have been the appropriate course of action.
However, Netanyahu stressed that Katsav deserved his day in court, and expressed hope that the hearing process would be over as quickly as possible.
Netanyahu also objected to proposals to change the vote for president from a secret to an open ballot, calling it "changing the rules mid-game." He said that any changes to the presidential election process should be implemented only after a new president has taken office.
He added that Israel's president should be chosen in a general election.
Meanwhile, Katsav attorneys Zion Amir and David Liba'i said Friday that it would take them approximately two months to review all the material pertaining to the president's case, only after which they would set a hearing date with Mazuz.
Mazuz is expected to publish his decision on the matter within a month from the conclusion of the proceedings.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Arafat took secrets to his grave, widow says

Arafat took secrets to his grave, widow says,7340,L-3357259,00.html
In rare interview Suha Arafat talks about her late husband's death, responds to suspicions of poisoning and allegations of her controlling Palestinian funds
Roee Nahmias Published:  01.26.07, 12:46

Suha Arafat, widow of the late Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat, admitted that she does not know whether her husband was poisoned to death.

"God only knows, because Abu Amar (Arafat) took all of the secrets to the grave," she told London-based Arabic language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat. 
Suha said she worked toward bringing her ailing husband for treatment in Tunisia as she 'trusted the doctors there,' but could not do so as former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) had already reached an agreement with French President Jacques Chirac to treat Arafat in Paris.
As to the Authority's investigation into Arafat's death, which was launched in an attempt to prove that Israel had poisoned its former chairman, Suha said, "No senior official has anything to say on the matter at this point. I do not want to get into the details, but I do want to say that Tunisia had planned on treating him (Arafat), and (Tunisian) President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali told me he would bring doctors from Germany and Italy toward this end."
The Arafat widow responded to allegations that she was in control of her late husband's money and indeed of all of the Palestinian Authority's funds, saying "one of these days the truth will come out without me having to respond of defend myself."

'Atmosphere in occupied Palestine is difficult'
Suha claimed that at first he daughter Zahwa received an allowance from the Authority, but this has been cut off for unclear reasons.

"All I care about now is my daughter Zahwa's education and guaranteeing her future, after having lost her father, president Arafat," she said.
Suha refuses to return to the Palestinian territories due to the difficult situation.
"I want to keep my daughter, and it's enough that I lost my husband; may God protect her, and God willing she will bring me president Arafat's grandchildren.
"The atmosphere in occupied Palestine is difficult, even more so that in Abu Amar's time," she said.

Today, Suha and her daughter live in a palace granted to them by Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, and she says that Ben Ali has offered her full citizenship in Tunisia.

Continued (Permanent Link)

As Sharq al Awsat - Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine; None Other Than Thugocracy

None Other Than Thugocracy
Tariq Alhomayed

Have you ever heard of an occupied country entangling itself in civil war, or the people of this occupied land killing each other instead of confronting the enemy? We all know that an enemy is a uniting factor. This is what is happening in Palestine and Iraq.
Have you ever heard of a country that emerges from a bloody civil war and to where investors come in order to rebuild the country and live there, whilst it awaits one million tourists and its opposition talks about debts; the country that finds itself, both nation and government, embroiled in a war with a merciless enemy, that is Israel, at the order of an organization that claims it is defending the country as it suffers from losses and debts that are more than it can bear? After all that, and instead of holding that organization to account, it took to the streets, placing the country on the brink of a new civil war, the pretext for which is holding the "agent" and "treacherous" government to account.
It is well known that it is impossible to see a picture of the organization's leader unaccompanied by the images of Khomeini or Khamenei, and that the organization defends the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, not the Syrian "presence" as the organization prefers to call it, as if two kinds of occupation exist; a commendable occupation and a devious occupation. The country is Lebanon, the organization is Hezbollah and the leader is Hassan Nasrallah!
All of the aforementioned has happened in Palestine, in Iraq and in Lebanon; all in the name of democracy.
Before them, Saddam Hussein rode the wave of democracy and emerged successful in elections winning 100% of the votes, telling us that this was democracy. The truth is that all that we witness has no relation to democracy but is rather 'thugocracy'. It is thuggery and corruption of the land, people and future.
Mistakes are repeating in our Arab world, and the region is continuously being subjected to thuggery. The former prime minister of Lebanon [a reference to Hariri] never shot one bullet throughout his life and built schools rather than a militia, yet Hezbollah and its supporters come out to argue that the International Tribunal to investigate the circumstances surrounding his assassination violates the sovereignty of Lebanon!
Within two years in Lebanon, assassinations of around twenty people have been carried out and not one person has been held responsible. The only concern that the opposition has is bringing down the government and we all know that those who were assassinated were fighting against one side and shared one common goal!
When we argue that there is a state of thuggery, there is no emotion involved. Rather, this is an accurate description of what is happening in our Arab world today; the world of repeated mistakes. Saddam Hussein had the Quran written in his own blood and Maliki says that God chose Iraq as the country to fight terrorism. We know that the roads in Baghdad today have divided according to sect and are either Sunni or Shia roads.
The Palestinians are fighting amongst themselves for leadership and the "Hamas Brotherhood" is now Iranian. The Lebanese are facing turbulent times, and after a fierce civil war, Beirut today is on the brink of a new civil war and if that surfaces, history will never forget Hassan Nasrallah, Syria or Iran. We are the farthest we could ever be from democracy, as what we are witnessing today is nothing but thugocracy. There is no rationality or sense of responsibility. All that we see is the permanent state of thuggery and of course, we are the victims.

Tariq Alhomayed
Tariq Alhomayed is the Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, the youngest person to be appointed that position. Mr. Alhomayed has an acclaimed and distinguished career as a Journalist and has held many key positions in the field including; Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, Managing Editor of Asharq Al-Awsat in Saudi Arabia, Head of Asharq Al-Awsat Newspaper's Bureau-Jeddah, Correspondent for Al - Madina Newspaper in Washington D.C. from 1998 to Aug 2000. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs including: the BBC, German TV, Al Arabiya, Al- Hurra, LBC and the acclaimed Imad Live's four-part series on terrorism and reformation in Saudi Arabia. He is also the first Journalist to conduct an interview with Osama Bin Ladin's Mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a BA degree in Media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, and has also completed his Introductory courses towards a Master's degree from George Washington University in Washington D.C. He is based in London.

Continued (Permanent Link)

IDF detonates 2 Hizbullah bunkers

IDF detonates 2 Hizbullah bunkers

Soldiers operating along northern border uncover bunkers apparently used by Lebanese terrorists to monitor IDF activity prior to war; battalion commander says there may be more Hizbullah outposts in area
Hanan Greenberg Published:  01.26.07, 12:23

Israel Defense Forces detonated two Hizbullah bunkers along Israel's border with Lebanon Friday Morning.
The bunkers, which were uncovered on the Israeli side of the security fence, were apparently used by the Lebanese terror group to monitor soldiers operating in the area, this according to Lieutenant Colonel Eran Faucker, commander of the Engineering Corps' 603rd Battalion.

Faucker said the bunkers were located some 300 meters (984 feet) north of the border in an area that remains under the IDF's control, which, according to him, is indicative of Hizbullah's close proximity to Israel.

The bunkers contained food and digging tools used by Hizbullah terrorists before the war; Faucker said there may be additional Hizbullah outposts in the area.

A number of weeks ago IDF soldiers uncovered weapons and additional military equipment that the army believes belong to the Hizbullah cell that kidnapped Israeli soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser six months ago.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Man killed, abductions resume in Gaza * Gaza death toll rises to ten with baby's death

Man killed, abductions resume in Gaza

Violent clashes between rival PA factions resume in Gaza; Hamas says Fatah sniper killed group member in Jabalia
Associated Press Published:  01.26.07, 15:24
Gunmen in the northern Gaza Strip shot dead a Hamas activist Friday after a night of tit-for- tat killings and kidnappings allegedly carried out by the Islamic militant group and its Fatah rivals. Gaza
Hamas, which blamed Fatah for the latest shooting, said a sniper firing from a house in the Jabalia refugee camp shot a Hamas man in a loudspeaker van who had been calling local residents to join a rally the group planned for later in the day.

Hamas gunmen later surrounded the house of the Fatah member from which the sniper shot came, calling on him to surrender, Hamas said. Fatah officials say the gunmen fired at the house and hurled grenades.

Shots were fired on Friday at the Gaza City home of Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar of Hamas, but he was not there at the time, an aide said. Gunmen also fired at the house Thursday night while al-Zahar was inside, but he was unharmed.

The latest factional violence erupted ahead of a new round of coalition government talks between Hamas and Fatah.

Fatah is led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who hopes the talks will produce a government moderate enough to induce the West to lift crushing economic sanctions it imposed after Hamas took power in March.
Western powers hope the sanctions will pressure Hamas into disarming and recognizing Israel's right to exist, but so far, Hamas has resisted.

Earlier Friday, Hamas militants killed a wounded Fatah fighter in a gangland-style slaying, Fatah officials said.
'Avoid Palestinian bloodshed'
On Thursday night, attackers killed a Hamas activist in a bombing the group blamed on Fatah. Both those attacks were also in Jabalia.

Fatah said a Hamas force firing rockets launched a predawn attack on the home of Nabil Jarjir, a member of the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, initially wounding him. As neighbors were taking the injured man to hospital the Hamas raiders stopped the car and killed him with a shot to the head, Fatah said.

After that attack local Al-Aqsa official Samih Madhoun vowed revenge. "Those who executed Jarjir will be punished," he said.
On Thursday night a roadside bomb was detonated as a squad of Hamas militiamen drove by. One militant was killed in that attack and seven were wounded, Hamas and hospital officials said. Hamas blamed Fatah for the bombing.
Earlier, Hamas charged that a Fatah unit fired a rocket at a house belonging to a commander of the Hamas force in the nearby town of Beit Hanoun.

A Hamas official, on condition of anonymity, said that during the night Fatah gunmen kidnapped seven Hamas members, while Hamas seized four Fatah members believed to be behind the roadside bombing. Fatah said six of its men had been snatched.

Hamas was scheduled to hold rallies in northern Gaza later Friday to mark one year since it ousted Fatah from power in parliamentary elections and to protest the latest attacks on its men.

 Gaza death toll rises to ten with baby's death,7340,L-3357321,00.html
Nine gunmen from both sides also dead, with some 30 wounded, as result of infighting; Representatives from both sides sent to meet with Palestinian Interior Minister to attempt to end conflict
Ali Waked Latest Update:  01.26.07, 20:54

A two year old baby was killed in the cross-fire of Hamas and Fatah bullets near Khan Younis late Friday evening, bringing the death toll from Palestinian infighting to ten in less than 24 hours.  Some 30 people have been wounded as a result of the clashes, several of them severely.
Representatives from the two sides were sent to meet with the Palestinian Interior Minister Friday evening, in an attempt to bring an end to the bloodshed.  No progress has been reported. 
Also late Friday evening, a Hamas operative was killed in exchanges of fire in northern Gaza.  An hour prior, two Fatah members, belonging to the Preventative Security Forces, were killed near their headquarters in Gaza by Hamas gunmen.
Witnesses said the Fatah-affiliated security forces were seen moving armored vehicles closer to the home of a Fatah operative, which is currently a scene of heavy infighting with Hamas in northern Gaza.  The vehicles have not been used by the Palestinian Authority for several years.
 The witnesses further reported that Hamas' special security forces, who surrounded the home, were exchanging fire with Fatah forces in the area and had called for back-up.
Two Palestinians, one of them only 16 years old, were killed while participating in a protest near the home earlier on Friday. Fatah officials reported at the time that the gunmen fired at the house and hurled grenades.
Hamas operatives claimed that a sniper shot had been fired from the home, killing one of their own, on Friday afternoon.  A Hamas man in a loudspeaker van - who had been calling local residents to join a rally the group planned for later in the day - had indeed been shot in the area.
 In response to the attack on the Fatah-affiliated house, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades - Fatah's military wing - in the West Bank threatened to execute nine Hamas operatives, whom they kidnapped from a village near Nablus.

The captives had been participating in a training exercise for the Hamas government's special security force at the time.
On Thursday night, two Palestinians – one operative from Hamas and one from Fatah - were killed in ongoing exchanges of fire between the two groups. An additional Hamas security official, injured earlier during one such exchange in Beit Lahiya, died of his wounds Friday afternoon.
The Associated Press contributed to the report

First Published:  01.26.07, 17:24

Continued (Permanent Link)

UN General Assembly condemns Holocaust denial

UN General Assembly condemns Holocaust denial

Resolution, co-sponsored by 103 member nations, approved by consensus; Iranian envoy says 'resolution an attempt to exploit past crimes as pretext to commit new ones'
Reuters Published:  01.26.07, 19:09

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on Friday condemning denials of the Holocaust.  The resolution, co-sponsored by 103 countries, was approved by consensus, without a vote. Iran disassociated itself from the action, calling the US-drafted resolution a political exercise.

The resolution "condemns without any reservation any denial of the Holocaust" and "urges all member states unreservedly to reject any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, or any activities to this end."
Iran is not mentioned in the resolution by name although the document is clearly aimed at the recent conference in Tehran, which attempted to cast doubts on the veracity of the Holocaust.
Although Iranian envoy Hossein Gharibi did not oppose the resolution, he told the assembly, "In our view there is no justification for genocide of any kind, nor can there be any justification for the attempt made by some -- particularly by the Israeli regime -- to exploit the past crimes as a pretext to commit new genocide and crimes."

In response, Israel's UN Ambassador Dan Gillerman said, "While the nations of the world gather here to affirm the historicity of the Holocaust with the intent of never again allowing genocide, a member of this assembly is acquiring the capabilities to carry out its own."

"The president of Iran is in fact saying, 'There really was no Holocaust, but just in case, we shall finish the job.'"

General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed al-Khalifa of Bahrain, told the 192 members that the resolution showed "we must strengthen our resolve to prevent such atrocities, whenever and wherever they might occur."

Continued (Permanent Link)

History: 50% of Israeli Jews don't know what the Lamed Heh convoy was

[The Lamed Heh convoy - 35 men of the Hagannah sent to the defense of Gush Etzion ]:
Poll: 50% of Israeli Jews don't know what the Lamed Heh convoy was

Dr. Aaron Lerner     Date: 26 January 2006

Telephone poll of a representative sample of 500 Israeli Jews carried out by
Geocartography for the Etzion Bloc regional Council and published in Haaretz
on 26 January 2007.

Background: The Gush Etzion area some 15 km. to the east was under
increasingly heavy local Arab attack in early 1948, and they depended upon
the Hagana supply convoys for their survival.
Under the command of Danny Mas, 35 Hagana members made their way on foot
from Har Tuv (near Beit Shemesh) on the night of January 15, but there were
not enough hours of darkness to get them to their destination. Arab
shepherds from Tzurif spotted them at dawn, and promptly summoned a large
group of armed locals to block their way. The battle lasted all the next
day; the last of the group was killed at about 4:30 p.m.

The Arab attackers mutilated the bodies of "the 35"; a British soldier who
took pictures of the mutilated bodies left his roll of film to be developed
in Jerusalem and never came back for it. Several decades later the negatives
were discovered, but it was decided not to publish the atrocities.


Don't know about the Lamed Heh (35) Convoy:
Total 50% Among young 65%

10% connected the Lamed Heh Convoy to the Lebanon War.

Of those who knew about the Lamed Heh Convoy, 68% did not associate it with
actions in the defense of the Etzion Bloc and Jerusalem.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Continued (Permanent Link)

Arafat took secrets to his grave, widow says

Ynetnews, 01.26.07, 12:46

Arafat took secrets to his grave, widow says

In rare interview Suha Arafat talks about her late husband's death, responds to suspicions of poisoning and allegations of her controlling Palestinian funds

by Roee Nahmias,7340,L-3357259,00.html

Suha Arafat, widow of the late Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat, admitted that she does not know whether her husband was poisoned to death.

“God only knows, because Abu Amar (Arafat) took all of the secrets to the grave,” she told London-based Arabic language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat.

Suha said she worked toward bringing her ailing husband for treatment in Tunisia as she ‘trusted the doctors there,' but could not do so as former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) had already reached an agreement with French President Jacques Chirac to treat Arafat in Paris.

As to the Authority’s investigation into Arafat’s death, which was launched in an attempt to prove that Israel had poisoned its former chairman, Suha said, “No senior official has anything to say on the matter at this point. I do not want to get into the details, but I do want to say that Tunisia had planned on treating him (Arafat), and (Tunisian) President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali told me he would bring doctors from Germany and Italy toward this end.”

The Arafat widow responded to allegations that she was in control of her late husband's money and indeed of all of the Palestinian Authority's funds, saying "one of these days the truth will come out without me having to respond of defend myself."

'Atmosphere in occupied Palestine is difficult'

Suha claimed that at first he daughter Zahwa received an allowance from the Authority, but this has been cut off for unclear reasons.

"All I care about now is my daughter Zahwa's education and guaranteeing her future, after having lost her father, president Arafat," she said.

Suha refuses to return to the Palestinian territories due to the difficult situation.

"I want to keep my daughter, and it's enough that I lost my husband; may God protect her, and God willing she will bring me president Arafat's grandchildren.

"The atmosphere in occupied Palestine is difficult, even more so that in Abu Amar's time," she said.

Today, Suha and her daughter live in a palace granted to them by Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, and she says that Ben Ali has offered her full citizenship in Tunisia.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel frees imam after court rules insufficient evidence

Israel frees imam after court rules insufficient evidence
Published January 26, 2007 [ From Lansing State Journal ]

Associated Press
JERUSALEM - Israel has released the deported former imam of Ohio's biggest mosque after a military court ruled there wasn't enough evidence to hold him on charges of ties to a Palestinian militant group, his lawyer said Thursday.

Fawaz Damra, from the West Bank town of Nablus, had been held in Israel for three weeks after American authorities deported him from the U.S. Damra was freed after his relatives posted a $2,400 bond, said his lawyer, Smadar Ben-Natan.

Damra, 46, served as imam at the Islamic Center of Cleveland, and has three American-born daughters. He was deported by U.S. authorities because he lied when applying for American citizenship in 1994 about his links to Islamic Jihad, a group classified by Israel and the U.S. as a terrorist organization.

Footage from a 1991 speech showed Damra raising money for a Palestinian holy war and saying Muslims should be "directing all the rifles at the first and last enemy of the Islamic nation and that is the sons of monkeys and pigs, the Jews."

Damra later apologized for the statements, but was deported in early January after spending a year in a Michigan jail. He was escorted by U.S. officials to Jordan and then to the West Bank, where he was transferred to the custody of the Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service.

Continued (Permanent Link)

A Palestinian-Israeli comedy tour? You must be joking!

Haaretz, Jan. 26, 2007
A Palestinian-Israeli comedy tour? You must be joking!
By Daphna Berman

A group of Palestinian, American and Israeli comedians has teamed up for a local comedy tour in English billed as an attempt to "solve the Middle East conflict in only six shows."

The group debuted in Jerusalem on Wednesday night to a packed crowd and has performances scheduled for the coming week in Tel Aviv and again in the capital.

"Humor is a great way to remind people that we are all human," said Ray Hanania, a Palestinian-American comedian who helped initiate the tour and is performing for Israeli audiences for the first time.

The comedy lineup also includes African-American Jewish Aaron Freeman and Israeli Shachar Chason (who acts as the emcee), as well as American-Israeli comedians Charley Warady and Yisrael Campbell.

Hanania, who complains that people confuse him with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, says this may be the first time Israelis and Palestinians have ever done a comedy tour together - "not including the peace negotiations."

The performance, which had the audience laughing nonstop for nearly two hours, explored politics and the conflict, along with the requisite Katsav jokes. But it also dealt with issues such as conversion to Judaism (Freeman: "I became a Jew to confuse Louis Farrakhan"), aliyah (Warady: "When I first drove up to a checkpoint, I threw some change and kept driving"), being Arab in the U.S. (Hanania: "I don't think of you as an audience, but as potential hostages"), and integrating into Israeli society (Campbell: "The Hebrew word for hell is ulpan").

"The tough part isn't getting Israeli and Palestinians to perform together, but convincing four headliners to cut down to 20 minutes each," Warady said. "That's when the real negotiations begin."

The five will perform tomorrow night at Tzavta Theater #3 in Tel Aviv and Wednesday at Kol Haneshema Synagogue, Jerusalem. More shows may be added to the lineup. For information and tickets, contact

Continued (Permanent Link)

My Problem with Jimmy Carter's Book


My Problem with Jimmy Carter's Book

by Kenneth W. Stein
Middle East Quarterly
Spring 2007

Jimmy Carter's engagement in foreign affairs as a former president is unprecedented in U.S. history. Because he regards the Arab-Israeli conflict as among Washington's most important foreign policy topics, he has written more than two dozen articles and commentaries about the conflict, eight in the past year alone. In these publications, Carter uses his credibility as a former president, Nobel laureate, and key player in the September 1978 Camp David accords and the Egypt-Israel peace treaty to unfold his set of truths and often to criticize U.S. policy. He relishes the role of elder statesman and believes that with his accrued wisdom and experience, he can contribute to solutions.

But Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,[1] Carter's twenty-first book and his second to focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict, is deficient. He does what no non-fiction author should ever do: He allows ideology or opinion to get in the way of facts. While Carter says that he wrote the book to educate and provoke debate, the narrative aims its attack toward Israel, Israeli politicians, and Israel's supporters. It contains egregious errors of both commission and omission. To suit his desired ends, he manipulates information, redefines facts, and exaggerates conclusions. Falsehoods, when repeated and backed by the prestige of Carter's credentials, can comprise an erroneous baseline for shaping and reinforcing attitudes and policymaking. Rather than bring peace, they can further fuel hostilities, encourage retrenchment, and hamper peacemaking.

"Remember Ken, Only One of Us Was President"

I first met Carter at a 1982 reception welcoming him to Emory University. He invited me to serve as the Carter Center's first permanent executive director, a position I held between 1983 and 1986, and as the center's Middle East fellow, an association I continued until December 2006 when I resigned that post over both the inaccuracies in Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid and its message, which contradicts the Carter Center's founding purposes.

My tasks as Middle East fellow included writing memoranda for Carter about Middle Eastern issues, taking notes at virtually all Carter meetings that addressed Middle Eastern issues, preparing a monthly analysis of events, coordinating major Middle East conferences, and planning Middle Eastern trips. I accompanied Carter as a political adviser and press liaison on three lengthy Middle Eastern trips in March 1983, March 1987, and March 1990.

As we collaborated on The Blood of Abraham,[2] Carter's first book about the Middle East, I witnessed Carter's passion, determination, and stubbornness. He was capable of absorbing vast amounts of information, and he had an extraordinary capacity to recall detailed points and concepts almost verbatim months after reading them.

Carter's preferred method in writing the book was to lay a brief and somewhat selective historical foundation for each chapter and emphasize the contemporary. I sought to anchor each chapter more deeply in history and political culture. He had little patience for precedent or laborious recapitulation of history. Too often it interfered with his desire to find action-oriented solutions, which befit his training as an engineer. For Carter, history and ideology bestowed unwanted moorings and unnecessary rigidities; they shackled the pragmatism and flexibility of the would-be negotiator.

Our relationship was honest. We established a mutual respect and capacity to criticize each other. He asked me not to hold back. I often pressed him on balance, especially when, throughout the 1980s, he criticized the Israeli government repeatedly for obstructing renewed negotiations. While writing The Blood of Abraham, we argued over word choice, phrases, and claims. Once, when I disagreed too strenuously, Carter impishly smiled and, with his blue-eyes twinkling, said, "Remember, Ken, only one of us was president of the United States." Still, he always listened.

While Carter is a regular guest lecturer in my classes, I last sat down with him for a substantive talk in June 2002. At that meeting, I showed Carter a map of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, emphasized the protective aspect of the separation fence that was then being constructed, and suggested that the ensuing division might contribute to the achievement of a two-state solution, something we both sought. Carter viewed the fence as proof that the Israeli government sought to wall in the Palestinians. Several days after our meeting, he wrote an op-ed condemning the U.S. government's alignment with Israel and Washington's unwillingness to pursue talks with Palestinian leaders.[3] His commentary came against the backdrop of White House demands to make engagement conditional upon a Palestinian cessation of terrorism.[4]

The Roots of Carter's Anger

Carter's grievance list against Israel is long: He believes the Israeli government's failure to withdraw fully from the West Bank is illegal and immoral; he condemns settlement construction; and he lambastes its current human rights abuse in the West Bank, which he labels "one of the worst examples of human rights abuse I know."[5] From the time he was president, he has criticized Israel's confiscation of Palestinian land, usurpation of water rights, and retaliatory bulldozing of Palestinian houses. Such policies, he has argued, are responsible for the moribund Palestinian economy. Carter holds particular animus toward the security barrier, first proposed by the late prime minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner Yitzhak Rabin,[6] as the latest example of what he believes to be a policy of de facto annexation of the West Bank.

Carter sees the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the root of both U.S. unpopularity in the region and the wider problem of Middle East instability. Once the historic injustice done to the Palestinians is resolved, he believes, other issues plaguing U.S. foreign policy will dissipate, if not disappear.

Carter believes the conflict's resolution to be simple: After the Israeli government agrees in principle to withdraw fully from the West Bank, a dedicated negotiator like himself can usher in an independent, peaceful Palestinian state. That this has not happened is, in Carter's view, primarily due to the legacy of late Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, not the fault of poor Palestinian decision-making or the Palestinian embrace of terrorism. The intransigence of Begin and his successors, Carter believes, was compounded by a failure of U.S. political leaders to pressure the Israeli government to correct its policy. Washington's failure to lead, he believes, is heavily due to the failure of American supporters of Israel to criticize the Jewish state.

Carter believes that if the U.S. government reduces or stops its support for Israel, then the Jewish state will be weakened and become more malleable in negotiations. His underlying logic is based upon an imperial rationality that assumes Washington to have the answer to myriad issues besetting Middle Eastern societies. This plays into the notion in Arab societies that the cause of their problems lies with Western powers and other outsiders. Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid will feed that belief.

In the book, Carter does not mention the counterproductive judgments made by Palestinian leaders or their embrace of terrorism over the last many years. While nineteenth- and twentieth-century European, Ottoman, Arab, and Zionist leaders all sought at various times to stifle Palestinian self-determination, the claim that the establishment of a Palestinian state rests only in the hands of Jerusalem and Washington is rubbish. By adopting so completely the Palestinian historical narrative, Carter may hamper diplomatic efforts enshrined in the "Road Map" and elsewhere that attempt to compel the Palestinian leadership to accept accountability for its actions. In pursuing this path, Carter violates the advice he gave eighty Palestinian business, religious, and political leaders on March 16, 1983, when, speaking to a gathering at the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, he said, "Unless you take your own destiny into your own hands and stop relying on others," you will not have a state.[7]

Carter's distrust of the U.S. Jewish community and other supporters of Israel runs deep. According to former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, "Carter's feelings on Israel were always ambivalent. On the one hand, he felt Israel was being intransigent; on the other, he genuinely had an attachment to the country as the 'land of the Bible.'"[8]

In a 1991 research interview with Carter for my book Heroic Diplomacy: Sadat, Kissinger, Carter, Begin and the Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace, [9] Carter recollected that:

[Vice president] Fritz Mondale was much more deeply immersed in the Jewish organization leadership than I was. That was an alien world to me. They [American Jews] didn't support me during the presidential campaign [that] had been predicated greatly upon Jewish money ... Almost all of them were supportive of Scoop Jackson—Scoop Jackson was their spokesman … their hero. So I was looked upon as an alien challenger to their own candidate. You know, I don't mean unanimously but ... overwhelmingly. So I didn't feel obligated to them or to labor unions and so forth. Fritz … was committed to Israel … It was an act just like breathing to him—it wasn't like breathing to me. So I was willing to break the shell more than he was.[10]

The gap between many American Jews and Carter grew during his presidency as Carter increased pressure on Jerusalem. In the 1980 general election, Carter received a lower proportion of Jewish votes than any Democratic presidential candidate since 1920.

The Ghost of Menachem Begin

Carter's animosity toward Begin has grown with time. He blames Begin for refusing to negotiate over the West Bank. Not only did this deny Carter a more complete peace deal, but, Carter believes, it also institutionalized itself in Israeli policymaking, worsening the Palestinians' plight. Since Begin took office on May 17, 1977, ending the Labor movement's hegemony in Israeli political life, Carter has repeatedly blasted Israeli prime ministers for what he terms the creation of a "horrible" and "terrible" state of affairs for the Palestinians in areas of east Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

The mistrust was mutual and began to surface before Begin's election. According to Eliahyu Ben-Elissar, then Begin's bureau chief, "Begin did not like [Carter's] March 1977 statement that the Palestinian refugees needed a homeland. None of us liked it. We resented it ... Begin considered it a major shift in U.S. policy."[11]

Indeed, skepticism of Carter's intentions may have convinced Begin to take a harder line about the West Bank, which, in line with biblical terminology, he called Judea and Samaria. During his tenure as prime minister, Begin forbade the negotiation agenda to include the West Bank and those portions of Jerusalem that the Israeli government annexed after the 1967 Six-Day war. This refusal to negotiate became Carter's core disagreement with Begin. Carter realized that with Begin adamant against further concessions, he had no tangible item to offer to the Palestinians or other Arab leaders to reach a broader peace agreement. With Begin not offering a fallback position, Carter could not initiate a conclusive Israeli-Palestinian negotiating process. He never forgave Begin.

Intertwined in the dispute over the West Bank was the issue of Israeli settlements. Samuel Lewis, U.S. ambassador to Israel at the time, explained, "Begin would never consider admitting that the [Israeli] right to settle wasn't a right, and Carter, basically, was asking him [Begin] to agree that settlements were illegal."[12] Begin refused. The subsequent expansion of settlements has further embittered Carter's relations with Israeli leaders and with Israel's supporters in the United States, whom he believes are willfully silent on the subject.

While Carter lauds Begin for his intelligence, a point he has repeatedly made when speaking to my students, his animus toward the late Israeli leader is limitless. This became evident when we were writing The Blood of Abraham, and Carter insisted on asserting that Begin "wanted to expand Israeli borders to both sides of the Jordan River." In fact, this is anachronistic. True, this had been Begin's view prior to Israel's independence in 1948, but it was not, as Carter implied, Begin's position after his twenty-nine years in the Knesset (parliament) or during his premiership. During chapter editing, I brought the error to Carter's attention. He declined to correct it.[13]

During the difficult negotiations between Egypt and Israel, Carter and his advisers tried to get Sadat to engage in a collusive scheme: They would encourage Sadat to make "deliberately exaggerated" demands. The White House would then intervene to "compel" Cairo to scale back its demands in exchange for Israeli concessions. Then-national security advisor Brzezinski explained that Washington would "apply maximum leverage on Israel to accommodate,"[14] by keeping the West Bank's political future on the table for future negotiations. That Carter risked possible Israeli-Egyptian peace in an effort to extract greater concessions from Begin underscores the tension in their relationship.

In 1983, the first time Begin met Carter after both had left office, Begin was icy toward the ex-president. Carter surmised that he may have "aggravated him [Begin] more than usual."[15] Begin's personal secretary later said Begin was angry with what he had learned in the books by Brzezinski and National Security Council staff member William B. Quandt about Carter's behind-the-scenes maneuvering. This anger grew after he read the claim in The Blood of Abraham regarding his alleged desire to expand Israeli borders across the Jordan River. [16] On our 1987 trip to Israel, Begin refused to see Carter, citing health reasons, but Begin's personal secretary told me it was because of the way Carter had treated Begin.

Carter also blames difficulties with Begin for undermining his re-election. In early 1980, with the critical New York Democratic primary looming, Mondale urged Carter to repudiate the U.S. vote for U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 465,[17] which had condemned Israeli settlement activity. According to Brzezinski:

Jewish voters swung heavily over to Senator [Edward] Kennedy, ensuring Carter's defeat. The set-back prolonged the Carter-Kennedy contest. Sadat did not want a final showdown on the Palestinian problem prior to the return of the Sinai to Egypt. Without pressure from Sadat, our own incentive to push Israel hard was much decreased. Begin proved himself to be a skilled manipulator ... adroit at delaying tactics and in diversionary public appeals ... by mid-June it was clear even to Mondale that Begin wanted Carter defeated.[18]

According to Brzezinski, Carter believed his disagreement with Begin to have both cost him critical primary victories and to have weakened his re-election bid.[19] But other issues—high inflation and mortgage rates, the Iran hostage crisis, a national sense of malaise, and the third party candidature of John Anderson—may have contributed more to Carter's loss.

Conflating Flexibility and Fact

Carter possesses missionary zeal. He believes that had he won re-election, he would have succeeded in ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Numerous times during the 1980s, Carter quipped after leaving meetings with Middle Eastern or U.S. officials that, if given a chance, he could "make this happen." In order to convey a sense that Middle Eastern leaders or Washington officials trusted him and wanted him to continue to mediate, he would open remarks to either of them with, "I was authorized to report ...."

Carter has come to scorn those who disagree with him. On his recent book tour promoting Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, whenever an interviewer disagreed with a premise or challenged Carter's views, he would respond, "It is obvious you did not read my book." This is Carter's way of chiding the interviewer for not accepting his wisdom. When Carter says, "Everything in the book is accurate; it is correct," he seeks acknowledgment that he possesses a privileged understanding of the conflict's fundamental truths and should, therefore, be accepted as someone qualified to apportion blame. In his 2005 book, Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis,[20] Carter speaks from a similar peremptory pulpit. [21]

But Carter is often wrong. Throughout Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, he allows his premises to supplant the facts. His book contains no footnotes, citations, or sources. It contains an appendix and a series of maps, some of which he seems to have mislabeled and taken from Clinton-era negotiator Dennis Ross' The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. [22] The maps are reconfigured to support Carter's statement that Israel's best offer in the final months of Clinton's presidency was to divide the West Bank into three non-contiguous areas, thus reinforcing Carter's claim of apartheid.[23] Carter dismissed the allegation that he appropriated the maps, saying that he had never seen Ross's book. [24] If true, Carter ignored the most important and detailed memoir yet published on 1990s-era Arab-Israeli negotiations.

In the book, Carter often uses selective remarks by others to advocate his preferences. He uses the literary device "many believe" or "many say" to avoid tying a statement to himself. While implying that the Israeli government practices apartheid vis-à-vis the Palestinians, Carter refrains from calling Israelis racist but highlights and leaves unanswered the late Syrian president Hafez al-Assad's opinion:

Assad asserted that the Jews of the world constitute one people, regardless of obvious differences in their identities, languages, customs, and citizenship, but deny that the Palestinians comprise a coherent people even though they have one national identity, one language, one culture, and one history. Many Arabs consider these distinctions to be a form of racism by which Israelis regard Palestinian Arabs as inferiors who are not worthy of basic human rights, often branding them as terrorists if they resist Israel's encroachments.[25]

Nowhere in The Blood of Abraham did Carter cite such an account of Assad's views. Perhaps Carter had an additional communication with Assad, but the notes I have of our three extensive meetings with Assad in 1983, 1987, and 1990 do not support such statements. Regardless, his new emphasis of Assad's views segues with publication of Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, "that Israelis regard Palestinian Arabs as inferiors." If Carter wanted to tar Israel as racist, this was a clever way of doing it.

Carter is frustrated with his successors' Middle East policies. He believes they did not share the concern (George W. Bush), intellectual competence (Ronald Reagan), determination (George H.W. Bush), or experience necessary to pull off a negotiated solution. He believes Bill Clinton could have done a better job at the 2000 Camp David summit between Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) chairman Yasir Arafat and Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak.

Conversely, Carter is convinced that he himself was the essential ingredient to enable the Egyptian-Israeli peace. [26] However, Carter does not understand how fortunate he was to have in Begin and Sadat two leaders who needed agreement. Each possessed vision and courage and faced a common adversary in the Soviet Union. This reality welded them into uncomfortable but necessary interaction. Had Carter continued his diplomacy into a second term, he would not have found Israeli and Palestinian leaders possessing any degree of urgency for a solution. There is no evidence that the Arafat of the early 1980s was more willing to compromise or abandon terror than the Arafat faced by Clinton. Nonetheless, Carter believes his negotiating skills could bear fruit where Clinton failed. His conviction is so great that he need not read Ross's account.

Errors of Revision

A survey of Carter's speeches and writings over the last quarter century reveals the evolution of his views. He has shifted from annoyance to exasperation, from frustration to anger, and from partial blame upon the Palestinians to their exculpation. In recent years, though, he has moved even further, using invented facts to support his desired conclusion.

Evidence of his slide from would-be mediator to unabashed advocate for the Palestinians appears in his partisan rendition of four U.N. resolutions: U.N. Security Council Resolution 465 (1980); U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 (1948); U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 (1967); and U.N. Security Council Resolution 338 (1973). Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid is the first Carter book to emphasize UNSCR 465, in which the U.N.:

Determines that all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel's policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Carter's use of UNSCR 465 is an example of how he uses accurate information but omits part of the story to bolster his presentation. He wants to show Israel to be in violation of international law by being present in the territories. While he cites the unanimous passage of UNSCR 465 to suggest that there was universal condemnation of Israel's position with regard to east Jerusalem,[27] he omits that two days after its passage, he himself disavowed the U.S. assent to the resolution. At the time, he said the resolution was a mistake which resulted from a "failure to communicate" between the State Department and Donald F. McHenry, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.[28]

Carter also omits the possibility that the vote may have certified for Begin his conviction that Carter could not be trusted. Just two hours before the vote, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance had assured the Israeli ambassador, Ephraim Evron, that all references to Jerusalem would be removed.[29]

Carter is also less than complete in his discussion of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194. Many Palestinians cite the resolution as an unequivocal endorsement by the international community of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in present-day Israel or be compensated if they choose not to exercise that right.[30] Carter accepts this view and implies its universality. He does not acknowledge the fact that five Arab states—Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria—voted against the resolution in protest of its implied recognition of Israel.

Having rarely mentioned this resolution—which has never been a part of U.S.-brokered peace agreements in the region—until the publication of his most recent book, Carter's endorsement of the Palestinian interpretation of Resolution 194 appears more motivated by a desire to position himself as a trusted negotiator for the Arab side than by epistemology.[31] However, in legitimizing a maximalist reading of Resolution 194, Carter flirts with the de-legitimization of Israel as a Jewish state. Hence, within Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, Carter is inconsistent about the right of return, at times suggesting it would apply only to the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem[32] while elsewhere suggesting the right of return would enable Palestinians to return to Israel proper. [33] On his book tour, Carter sidestepped the issue by endorsing the implementation of "all relevant U.N. resolutions."

Whereas Carter had earlier written that "Israel would decide unilaterally how many Palestinians" would be admitted to Israel "or could return to Palestine or receive appropriate compensation as a fulfillment of UN Security Resolution 194,"[34] his use of the indefinite article "a" in front of "fulfillment" suggests he may harbor multiple interpretations of Palestinian refugee settlement.

Palestinians are less flexible. By demanding Israeli adherence to Resolution 194, Carter ignores the Arabic-language writings of Palestinian officials who say that the Palestinian leadership will never give up the right of return to what is now Israel. In response to Clinton's proposals to allow Palestinian refugees the right to return only to a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinian Authority declared:

Resolution 194, which is the basis for a just settlement of the refugee problem, determines the return of the Palestinian refugees "to their homes" and not "to their homeland" or "to historical Palestine." The essence of the right of return is freedom of choice: The Palestinians must be given the right to choose where they live, and that includes returning to the homes out of which they were driven.[35]

Carter, however, scrubs clean Palestinian intransigence.

UNSCR 242 and 338 remain the resolutions around which diplomats center efforts to negotiate a settlement. In its preamble, UNSCR 242 notes "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war" and, in its operative portion, calls for "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict." Nowhere in the resolution does it stipulate what or where Israel's borders should be, nor does the resolution mandate Israeli withdrawal from all territories taken in the 1967 war. This is not a parsing of an arbitrary phrase; it took five months to negotiate and endorse the intentional ambiguity embodied in the language of the resolution.[36] Carter revises UNSCR 242, though, saying it "confirmed Israel's existence within its 1949 borders as promised in the Camp David Accords and Oslo Agreement" and that it states "Israel must withdraw from occupied territories."[37] Later, he writes that UNSCR 242 "mandates" and "requires" Israeli withdrawal. [38]

This reinterpretation is invention on Carter's part. He first adopted this revision of UNSCR 242 in his December 10, 2002 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech when he referred to "withdrawal from the occupied territories." Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations on March 2, 2006, he used a similar phrase and added the false claim that Begin had agreed to Carter's reinterpretation of UNSCR 242 at Camp David in 1978.[39] In effect, Carter is changing the "Land for Peace" formula into "Land for Negotiations." The idea that negotiations should only occur subsequent to Israeli withdrawal was the position held by the PLO at the height of its terrorist campaign in the 1970s.

UNSCR 338 receives similar treatment. Carter alters its call for "negotiations between the parties"—a formulation that would require recognition of Israel—into a call for international mediation, a position that would embolden continued Hamas and Islamic Jihad rejectionism.

Excusing Terrorism

Among the most troubling aspects of Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid is Carter's apparent willingness to condone the killing of Israelis. He is deliberate with words. When he writes, "It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel," [40] he leaves the impression that it is legitimate to engage in terrorism and suicide bombing against Israelis until Jerusalem accepts his interpretation of international law. In doing so, he ignores the fact that the performance-based formula for advancing Israeli-Palestinian talks, the so-called "Road Map" endorsed by the Quartet in 2003, required immediate cessation of terrorism.

To support Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid's central theme that Israel is intransigent, Carter recasts Hamas as a moderate partner ready to negotiate with Israel. He launders its reputation both with careful word choice and omission. He uses the past tense, for example, to describe Hamas as an "Islamic militant group that opposed recognition of Israel [and] perpetrated acts of violence." Carter adds that he "urged them …to forgo violence." [41] He omits mention that Hamas denies the right of a Jewish state to exist in the Middle East and the group's belief that historical Palestine belongs in its entirety to Muslims. Carter is incorrect when he writes that Hamas has not been responsible for any terrorist acts since August 2004.[42] Hamas on many subsequent occasions claimed responsibility for firing Qassam rockets into Israel and also claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in June 2006.[43]

Carter also claims that Hamas supports a 2002 Arab summit resolution which advocates a two-state solution, albeit one dependent on the right of return of Palestinian refugees. But Hamas rejects the two-state solution. Carter states that Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, "supports peace talks between Israel and [Palestinian Authority leader] Abbas … [and] accepts the Road Map in its entirety." He does not. Carter adds that Hamas would modify its rejection of Israel if there were a negotiated agreement that the Palestinian people can approve, "an important facet of the Camp David Accords,"[44] but the Camp David accords never specified universal Palestinian ratification.

Carter has defended Hamas against charges of intransigence during his Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid book tour. While visiting Tehran on December 8, 2006, Haniyeh said, "We will never recognize the usurper Zionist government and will continue our jihadist movement until Bayt al-Maqdis [Jerusalem] and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are liberated."[45] When asked by a Denver radio host on station KHOW 630 AM six days later about Haniyeh's statement, Carter answered, "No, he didn't. No, he did not do that. I did not hear that."

Carter's resistance to contrary evidence contrasts with the impatience some Palestinians and intellectuals have for Hamas's rejectionism. On June 4, 2006, for example, Palestinian analyst Muhammad Yaghi wrote:

The problem with Hamas' political platform is its rejection of the principle of the two states on the historical land of Palestine ... This position cannot be accepted internationally, and certainly Israel cannot accept it. On the contrary, this position gives the international community the justifications to turn its back to us and gives Israel enough pretexts to refuse withdrawal and continue its attacks and unilateral solutions. Hamas' political platform is political suicide and cannot constitute the basis for any political agreement.[46]

Inventing History

After reading Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, I was troubled by a passage recounting a meeting Carter and I had attended with Assad at his presidential office in March 1990. I revisited my notes and saw discrepancies between them and the story Carter recounts. When discussing the Syrian dispute with Israel, Assad, as always, chose his words carefully. The notes (see Figure 1) show the following passage:

JC: Your severest critics know you keep your word—would you accept demilitarization of [the] Golan Heights?

A: Today, Peres [Israel's foreign minister] said Syria would accept [a] demilitarized Golan. But we cannot accept this because we are sacrificing our sovereignty.

A: In the past we have said that things must be done mutually on both sides of the Golan—international forces, semi-demilitarization—on equal footing. If anyone can ask for additional measures, we should ask for a larger DMZ [demilitarized zone] from their part.

But, in Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, Carter wrote:

When I visited Damascus in 1990, President Assad informed me that he was willing to negotiate with Israel on the status of the Golan Heights. His proposal was that both sides withdraw from the international border, with a small force of foreign observers and electronic devices to monitor the neutral zone. When I asked him if each nation would have to fall back an equal distance, he replied that Syria might move its troops farther from the border because of the terrain. He also gave me permission to report his proposal to Washington and to the Israelis, which I did in Jerusalem three days later.[47]

Carter reworded the conversation to suggest that Assad was flexible and the Israelis were not. Assad did not say he would accept a demilitarized zone; to do so would be to sacrifice his sovereignty. Nor did he say he would withdraw deeper from his side of the border. This was not a slip of memory for Carter; Carter received a full set of my notes of the March 1990 trip after its conclusion. These were intentional distortions.

When the meeting with Assad ended, Carter held a press conference at the Sheraton Damascus Hotel. In response to a journalist's question about the substance of a possible Syrian-Israeli agreement to include the future of the Golan Heights, Carter said, "I don't think you could expect the Syrians to demilitarize five kilometers on their borders without an equal demilitarization on the Israeli side of the border. But with an equivalent, negotiated, mutual establishment of a demilitarized zone, I think there it would be feasible, yes. I don't think that you can expect one side to demilitarize an area and not have an equivalent demilitarization on the other side of the border. This is something that is a matter of national pride, of national prestige. But I don't think there is any alternative to what I have just proposed. Let me say again, I am not speaking for anyone except myself."[48]

What Carter stated as his personal opinion in the 1990 press conference, he transmits as fact in 2006 in his book. He puts words in Assad's mouth. Carter invented the substance of this meeting to indicate that Assad was leaning toward flexibility. Assad only considered demilitarized zones in his negotiations with the Israelis after the Soviet Union's collapse removed his greatest patron. Assad certainly did not say that Syria would withdraw deeper from his side of the border. These are intentional changes that Carter made for the apparent purpose of misrepresenting Israeli intransigence and Arab state flexibility.


Timing is everything. Had Carter always viewed the issue of settlements with the severity he does now, he might have told Begin privately, if not publicly, that aid to Israel would be conditioned upon the cessation of their construction. At the time there were fewer than 20,000 settlers in the West Bank. However unpopular such a policy would have been, Carter would have not caved in either to Israeli leaders or U.S. supporters of Israel. Carter believes or asserts he had won a five-year, rather than three-month, commitment from Begin not to build settlements, but there is no doubt that Begin only committed himself to three months.[49] In Sadat's eyes, Carter looked foolish because of Begin's build-up of settlements. By the time Sadat and Begin signed the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, Carter was focused on other foreign policy matters and how his policies toward the conflict would influence his support in upcoming primaries and the general election.

Had Carter won re-election, he might have recommitted himself to the task of reaching an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. It is a historical "what if?" In Carter's mind, he would have succeeded. Historians are less sure. Negotiating over Jerusalem's future and the West Bank would have been more complex, if not impossible, than the discussions over Sinai. Arafat was not Sadat, and many Arab states remained opposed to Israel's right to exist. The Islamic Revolution in Iran bolstered radicalism. As for Begin, he did not regard the forfeiture of the West Bank, let alone the annexed portions of Jerusalem, as negotiable issues. The obstacles to progress, then, were virtually insurmountable.

Carter is correct that settlements complicate negotiations. Disputes over expropriated land increase in proportion to their numbers. Here, his position is consistent with that of his successors. Carter is also correct that if there is to be any long-term solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, there should be a two-state solution in which both Israel as a Jewish state and a Palestinian Arab state are independent on contiguous land and free from external intrusion. For this to happen, there must be courage, vision, leadership, and a willingness to abandon myths, fictions, and a cult of martyrdom.

Conflict resolution requires precision to supplant ambiguity. Both Israelis and Palestinians will have to abandon exclusive claim to all land west of the Jordan River. Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in August 2005, even if unilateral, was an important step. If the Palestinians are to have an independent state, they will have to forfeit support by radical states, abandon terrorism, and end their rejection of Israel.

The best option for peace is perhaps one that was offered thirty years ago when, on March 9, 1977, President Jimmy Carter said "recognized borders have to be mutual … where sovereignty is mutually agreed. Defense lines may or may not conform to those legal borders. There may be extensions of Israeli defense beyond the permanent and recognized borders."[50] Unlike the narrative in Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid , Carter at that time was accurate, temperate, and practical.

Kenneth W. Stein is professor of contemporary Middle Eastern history and political science and director of the Institute for the Study of Modern Israel at Emory University. He thanks Jonathan Schanzer, Bruce Maddy-Weizman, and Eran Lehrman for their advice.

[1] New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006 (288 pp., $27).
[2] Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985.
[3] Jimmy Carter, "Mideast Needs a New Mediator," USA Today, July 1, 2002.
[4] See, for example, "President Bush Calls for New Palestinian Leadership," Office of the Press Secretary, June 24, 2002.
[5] Interview with Jimmy Carter, "Hardball with Chris Matthews," MSNBC, Nov. 28, 2006.
[6] David Makovsky, "How to Build a Fence," Foreign Affairs, Mar./Apr. 2004, p. 52.
[7] Author's notes on Jimmy Carter's meetings with Palestinian notables, American Consulate, east Jerusalem, Mar. 12, 1983.
[8] Zbigniew Brzezinski, Power and Principle: Memoirs of the National Security Adviser, 1977-1981 (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1983), p. 83.
[9] New York: Routledge, 1999.
[10] Author interview with Jimmy Carter, Atlanta, Feb. 19, 1991.
[11] Author interview with Eliyahu Ben-Elissar, Jerusalem, Nov. 13, 1992.
[12] Remarks by Samuel Lewis, The United States Institute for Peace, minutes of a study group session on Lessons Learned from Fifty Years of Negotiating Experiences, Washington, D.C., Apr. 16, 1991.
[13] Carter, The Blood of Abraham, p. 42.
[14] Brzezinski, Power and Principle, pp. 242-7.
[15] Carter, The Blood of Abraham, p. 107.
[16] Author interview with Yahiel Kadishai, Begin's secretary (1977-83) and confidante, July 5, 1993, Tel Aviv.
[17] UNSC Resolution 465: "Territories Occupied by Israel," Mar. 1, 1980.
[18] Brzezinksi, Power and Principle, pp. 442-3.
[19] Ibid.
[20] New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005.
[21] John Derbyshire, "Nasty Piece of Work: Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis," National Review, Jan. 30, 2006.
[22] New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004.
[23] Dennis Ross interview by Wolf Blitzer, "The Situation Room," CNN, Dec. 8, 2006; Dennis Ross, "Don't Play with Maps," The New York Times, Jan. 9, 2007.
[24] Jimmy Carter interview, Fox News, Special Report with Brit Hume, Dec. 8, 2006.
[25] Carter, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, p. 77.
[26] Kenneth W. Stein, Heroic Diplomacy: Sadat, Kissinger, Carter, Begin and the Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace (New York: Routledge, 1999), pp. 40-1, 252-5.
[27] Carter, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, p. 52.
[28] Allan J. Mayer, "Newly Vulnerable Carter," Newsweek, Mar. 17, 1980.
[29] Ibid.
[30] Article XI states, "the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible."
[31] For a similar statement of Carter's attitude toward issues and negotiations, see Peter G. Bourne, Jimmy Carter (New York: Scribner, 1997), p. 495.
[32] Carter, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, p. 28.
[33] Ibid., p. 167.
[34] Carter, The Blood of Abraham, p. 168.
[35] Al-Ayyam (Ramallah), Jan. 2, 2001.
[36] The most detailed overview and analysis of UNSC Resolution 242's evolution may be found in U.N. Security Council Resolution 242: The Building Block for Peacemaking (Washington: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1993).
[37] Carter, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, p. 38.
[38] Ibid., pp. 207, 208.
[39] " Peace versus Democracy in Palestine: A Conversation with Jimmy Carter," Council on Foreign Relations, Mar. 2, 2006.
[40] Carter, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, p. 213. Emphasis added. Speaking at Brandeis University on Jan. 23, 2007, Carter acknowledged this sentence to be "worded in an absolutely improper and stupid way."
[41] Ibid., p. 144.
[42] Ibid., p. 184.
[43] The Washington Post, June 27, 2006.
[44] Carter, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, p. 186.
[45] Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran radio, Dec. 8, 2006, 07:50 GMT, in Persian, as transcribed by BBC Worldwide Monitoring.
[46] Al-Ayyam, June 4, 2006; Al-Ahram Weekly (Cairo), Oct. 19-25, 2006.
[47] Carter, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, p. 130-1.
[48] Jimmy Carter, Sheraton Hotel, Damascus, press conference, Mar. 16, 1990.
[49] Stein, Heroic Diplomacy, p. 255.
[50] Jimmy Carter, presidential news conference, The American Presidency Project, Mar. 9, 1977.

This item is available on the Middle East Forum website, at

Continued (Permanent Link)

Livni warns Abbas against striking deal with Hamas

Livni warns Abbas against striking deal with Hamas
By Ora Coren, Haaretz Correspondent Last update - 07:30 26/01/2007

DAVOS, Switzerland - Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni warned Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas Thursday that should he reach a compromise with Hamas, that would send the diplomatic process into a deep freeze.

"Compromising with extremists will not promote anything, but it can lead to further stagnation," Livni told Abbas during a session of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Abbas, though not mentioning Hamas by name, responded by saying that should the Islamic organization refuse to honor agreements signed by the Palestine Liberation Organization or to accept proposals that have the support of the Arab world - an apparent reference to the Arab League's Beirut declaration of 2002 - he will call new elections.

Any Palestinian government, he said, must accept previously signed agreements and ease the suffering of the Palestinian population. Thus if the various Palestinian factions cannot agree on such a platform, he will call new elections and let the Palestinian people choose their leadership and their platform.

Both Livni and Abbas stressed a desire for a two-state solution, but disagreements were evident on the subjects of borders and the Palestinian refugees.

Livni said that under any deal, the refugees should be resettled in the Palestinian state. This state, she explained, will be the national homeland of all Palestinians, including the refugees, and it is therefore the only appropriate solution for resettling them.

Regarding borders, Livni said this must be a subject for negotiations, and that while she did not want to outline her ideas now, she felt obligated to respond to Abbas' statement that a Palestinian state must be established "in the 1967 borders."

In 1967, she said, there was no Palestinian state, or any connection between Gaza and the West Bank; something new is being created. And while a Palestinian state is also an Israeli interest, she added, the borders must be the result of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Any Palestinian state must also recognize Israel's right to exist and renounce terror, Livni said.

Abbas, in contrast, insisted on the pre-1967 lines and a "just solution" to the refugee problem based on UN General Assembly Resolution 194. That resolution states that "refugees wishing to return to their homes ... should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date."

Abbas added that a comprehensive solution is needed, rather than another partial or interim solution, and he urged Israel to begin final-status talks now.

Vice Premier Shimon Peres, who also addressed the gathering, announced a trilateral Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian agreement to develop a joint economic zone in a 500-square-kilometer region of their mutual border, and urged all those attending the WEF to invest there.

Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh told Haaretz that Israel and the Palestinians have also agreed to establish a joint, $25 million venture capital fund that will invest in technology projects in Israel and the PA.

In a brief reference to Israel's domestic woes, Livni also said in her speech she hopes Peres will be the country's next president - a remark that drew a lengthy round of applause

Continued (Permanent Link)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Report: Russian listening posts in Syria track IDF movements for Hizbullah

[MEW - Existence of such posts was reported after the Lebanon war]
Report: Listening posts in Syria track IDF movements

Russia maintains listening posts along the Syrian border with Israel which it uses to follow IDF movements in the Golan Heights, it was revealed Thursday night.

According to a report on Channel 2, the posts are manned by Russian military officers who pass on information to Hizbullah in Lebanon. Israel, The Jerusalem Post learned, has known about the posts for over a decade since they were established.

Russia's involvement in the Iranian nuclear program, as well as various state-of-the-art arms sales it has periodically made to both Syria and Iran, has caused some friction over the last few years in Russian-Israeli ties.

Diplomatic officials said that the while Prime Minister Ehud Olmert discussed with the Russians during his visit to Moscow in October the advanced Russian arms that were found in Hizbullah's possession during the summer's war in Lebanon, the issue of the listening posts was not brought up.

Russia most recently drew Israeli ire after completing a sale of advanced anti-aircraft missiles to Iran earlier this month.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Dr. Mamoun Fandy: "What will Happen if Muslim Brotherhood Takes Control of Palestine?"

Special Dispatch-Palestinian Authority/Egypt
January 26, 2007
No. 1440
Scholar and Columnist Dr. Mamoun Fandy: "If the Muslim Brotherhood, i.e., Hamas Wins in Palestine - They Will Set the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt at the Top of Egypt's Political Pyramid"
To view this Special Dispatch in HTML, visit: .
In an article in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, titled "What will Happen if the Muslim Brotherhood Takes Control of Palestine?", Egyptian-born scholar and columnist Dr. Mamoun Fandy(1) writes about the possibility of a Muslim Brotherhood takeover in Egypt and Syria.(2) According to Dr. Fandy, the rise to power of Hamas, which is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, will strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
The following are excerpts from the article: 
"Palestine, as a Symbol, Remained the Monopoly of Arab Nationalism – Until Hamas Came to Power"
"Israel occupied and is still occupying the land of Palestine. Nevertheless, Palestine, in the symbolic sense, remained the monopoly of Arab nationalism – until the Hamas movement came to power. After the rise of Hamas – which, it must not be forgotten, is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood organization – the terms of the discussion on the [Palestinian] problem changed from pan-Arab nationalist terms to religious terms, in the Muslim Brotherhood version [of the religion].
"The struggle today has become a struggle over who will capture Palestine as a symbol – the Muslim Brotherhood, as represented by Hamas, or the nationalists, as represented by Fatah. The struggle for the liberation of Palestine as a territory has dropped to second place, after the struggle to liberate Palestine, as a symbol, from the pan-Arab nationalists and transfer this holy of holies of Arab politics to the Muslim Brotherhood.
"What, in effect, is the significance of the Muslim Brotherhood's conquest of Palestine as a symbol?
"For 50 years, the Arab people gathered behind the nationalist [pan-Arab] slogan 'No voice is louder than the voice of war' – [which refers to] the use of external [issues, such as the struggle against external enemies] – for defending the domestic [that is, for the defense of the regime at home]. In addition, [during] these 50 years, the Arab governments were extorted by some Palestinian leaders, who exported the Palestinian tragedy to [those government] in order to incite their peoples."
"Giving a Religious Character to the Palestinian Problem Will Transform It from a Resolvable Territorial Struggle to a Religious Struggle That Cannot Be Resolved"
"At that time, the incitement was nationalist [in character], while today – after the Muslim Brotherhood has conquered a significant part of the symbolic Palestine – the incitement has become Islamist, and the domestic has become commingled with the external. This is because the structure of the Muslim Brotherhood's ideological discourse is not based on the separation of the domestic and the external; this is because their ideology transcends the borders of [particular Arab] states. Hasn't the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt said that he had no objection to having [even] a Malaysian Muslim rule Egypt, as long as it was not ruled by a Coptic Egyptian? Likewise, the Muslim Brotherhood conquest of the symbolic Palestine means giving the [Palestinian] problem a religious character – and herein lies the danger.
"First of all, giving the Palestinian problem a religious character will lead to a Malaysian Muslim having more rights in Palestine than a Christian Palestinian. Likewise, it will transform [the Palestinian problem] from a resolvable territorial struggle into a religious struggle that cannot be resolved... With regard to the regional level, I would like to explain why giving the Palestinian problem a religious character is dangerous for two important countries in the Arab world, [namely] Egypt and Syria."
"Whoever Reads the Egyptian Press Today Cannot But Notice that Egypt is Living in the Muslim Brotherhood Era"
"The success of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine means turmoil in Egypt. Egypt is today witnessing a fierce battle pitched between the ruling National [Democratic] Party and the banned Muslim Brotherhood party, and it appears that the battle is going to the Muslim Brotherhood. In light of the storm of responses to Egyptian Culture Minister Farouq Hosni's statements about the hijab,(3) it became clear that [the number of] Muslim Brotherhood [supporters] inside the National Party might be greater than [the number of] members in the banned [Muslim Brotherhood] organization [itself], and that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated into all Egypt's state apparatuses.
"The Egyptian press is perhaps the best reflection of this infiltration: The front and back pages of Egypt's government papers belong to the ruling party, while the 20 inside pages of every paper belong to the Muslim Brotherhood – and they do what they want with them, [via] their correspondents, theoreticians, and propagandists. Whoever reads the Egyptian press today cannot but notice that Egypt is living in the Muslim Brotherhood era."
"The Muslim Brotherhood Has Taken Over Egypt's Domestic Arena"
"As was clarified to me by a member of the National Party, 'There is [only] one party in Egypt, and that is the Muslim Brotherhood.' For more than 30 years, the Muslim Brotherhood has been gaining control over Egypt's domestic arena, its streets, its institutions, and its press, and nothing stands between it and [full] control, except for foreign issues, the first of which is the Palestinian problem. If the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine [i.e. Hamas] wins, they will set the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt at the top of Egypt's political pyramid; when [Hamas leader, Palestinian Prime Minister] Isma'il Haniya comes to Egypt, he will go to the Cairo branch of the Muslim Brotherhood offices, instead of meeting with the senior officials of the Egyptian state. Likewise, we will hear Haniya defending from Gaza the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, bestowing upon them the legitimacy of the Palestinian problem – which in the Arab mentality is above all criticism."
"Syria is a Candidate for Takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood"
"Syria particularly is a candidate for takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood. The legitimacy of the ruling secular Ba'th party in Damascus is supported by two Islamist crutches: Shi'ite and Sunni. The first is embodied by Hizbullah. (In a way unprecedented in the history of Syria during the era of Assad Sr. and Assad Jr., Syrians today wave the picture of Hassan Nasrallah along with that of their president.) The second crutch is the Hamas movement, represented by [movement] leader Khaled Mash'al, who resides in Damascus.
"If the Palestinian problem is given a religious character, in accordance with the Muslim Brotherhood's ideas, Assad will lose both of these crutches. He may fall, and Syria will fall with him, into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, who went through blood-soaked periods during the era of Assad Sr., and who doubtlessly aspire [to capture power] in Damascus. Perhaps today the Syrian regime is gaining tactical advantages by means of Khaled Mash'al, but these [same advantages] may, in the short or medium term, [end up being] a reason for its collapse."
"Al-Jazeera is the Channel of the Muslim Brotherhood"
"The Muslim Brotherhood has at its disposal trans-border media, from newspapers to satellite channels, which have taken over the minds of millions – not only in Egypt and Syria, but throughout the entire Arab world. These are media that are tried and [ideologically] guided, that level accusations of heresy and treason against those who disagree with them...
"'[Al-Jazeera] is the channel of the Muslim Brotherhood," said the well-known Fatah [leader] Muhammad Dahlan, as he described Al-Jazeera TV, which is today incontestably the biggest Arab news channel. If the Muslim Brotherhood takes over the symbolic Palestine, the Muslim Brotherhood channel [formerly Al-Jazeera] will serve as a propaganda outlet for the new religious symbolism of the Palestinian problem.
"Al-Jazeera wastes no time, and it is already propagandizing for [Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader] Mahdi 'Akef and the [Muslim Brotherhood] organization, at the expense of the Egyptian state; for [Syrian Muslim Brotherhood leader Ali Sadr Al-Din] Al-Baynouni and his party, at the expense of the Syrian state; and for the Muslim Brotherhood in Algeria at the expense of the Algerian state. If you watch a debate program presented on [Al-Jazeera]  by a [certain] non-Muslim host, you will be amazed at the supreme effort he makes to defend the Muslim Brotherhood, and you'll think that by the time the program is over, he will be reciting the Muslim oath of allegiance.(4)
"The Muslim Brotherhood takeover of the symbolic Palestine will not liberate the land of Palestine – not before the Muslim Brotherhood subjugates the entire Arab world to its rule. The Muslim Brotherhood prefers to eliminate the nearby enemy [the existing Arab states] in order to prepare the means for facing the distant enemy [Israel]..."
(1) Dr. Fandy, who writes regularly for the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram, was a senior fellow at the Baker Institute; a senior fellow at The United States Institute of Peace; a professor of politics at Georgetown University; and professor of Arab Politics at the Near-East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. He is the author of several books, among them Saudi Arabia and the Politics of Dissent and America and the Arab World After September 11th.
(2) Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, January 22, 2007.
(3) In November 2006, Egyptian Culture Minister Farouq Hosni said that the hijab signified cultural regression and backwardness. Al-Gumhuriya, Egypt, November 18, 2006.
(4) The author is probably referring to Al-Jazeera's Faisal Al-Qassem, of Druze origin, who is a host of a popular debate program.

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Saudi Arabia's Export Of Radical Islam - Part One

Saudi Arabia's Export Of Radical Islam - Part One

Author: Adrian Morgan on Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 12:29 AM 
In this shocking three-part exposé, Adrian Morgan examines how the Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia is exported around the world, and studies the implications for societies affected by this pernicious ideology

By Adrian Morgan

Over the last week, several items in the world news have highlighted the problem of Saudi Arabia, a supposed ally in the War on Terror, funding mosques which promote the same extremism and calls for jihad which create terror. There is a certain hypocrisy about the Saudis exporting any form of Islam abroad, as the undemocratic kingdom prohibits any symbols of other faiths from being imported. Crucifixes, Bibles are forbidden. Guest workers proliferate in the kingdom, but if any of these attempt to hold Christian prayer and worship, they are jailed.

Saudi Arabia is listed by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom as one of the "countries of particular concern", for its violations. Under the terms of the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), Saudi Arabia is placed on a watch list by the US State Department. In September 2005, Eritrea became the first nation to be given sanctions under the terms of the IRFA yet Saudi Arabia, whose repression equals Eritrea, was given a 180 day "waiver", to allow it time for "continuation of discussions leading to progress on important religious freedom issues."

Even for Muslims in Saudi Arabia, strict Wahhabism denies people basic rights. A Salafist doctrine, it was originated in 1744 by Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792), who used violent enforcers called muttawa, mutawi or mutawi'oon to ensure obedience. Nowadays these muttawa, or religious policemen, enact the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice. The muttawa are draconian, causing 15 schoolgirls to die on Monday, March 11, 2002. A fire broke out at a girl's school dormitory. Several girls tried to escape the burning building, but were met my members of the muttawa. They found the girls were not dressed in appropriate attire, and beating the girls to send them back into the flames. The muttawa also prevented fireman from approaching to deal with the conflagration

The muttawa's powers were slightly reduced in May 2006, but their repression continues. On June 6, 2006 a 70-year old Saudi woman was placed in jail because she went into a shop where only a male shopkeeper was present. The elderly and disabled woman was arrested by muttawa because she had been "In close proximity to a man" (Khalwat).


The muttawa are involved in destroying national monuments which had survived since the time of Mohammed, lest they become places of pilgrimage. In 1998, the grave of Amina bint Wahb (Mohammed's mother) was destroyed. The house of Khadija, Mohammed's first wife, has been replaced with lavatories. Only 20 structures from the time of Islam's prophet now remain.

Saudi Wahabbism evolved with the expansionist ambitions of the al-Saud tribe, who now comprise the Saudi "Royal" family, and hold all the important positions in the so-called government. Were in not for Saudi oil reserves, the kingdom would be written off as a tin-pot dictatorship of the worst order. Yet this repressive apology for a nation, where the victim of a gang-rape was subjected to a punishment of 90 lashes in November 2006, exports its backwards ideology throughout the world.

In southern Adelaide, construction of Park Holme mosque halted this month, because the foreign minister, Alexander Downer ordered that the Saudi government should not be funding the building. The mosque had been a haunt of immigrant Warya Kanie, who was captured in Iraq last year, fighting against the coalition.

Downer said: "There has been concern internationally, not specifically to Australia, about some elements in Saudi Arabia which is the heartland of Wahhabism and Sufism... trying to spread that particular extremist interpretation of Islam. Historically the Saudi Arabian Government has provided funding (to overseas mosques), I'm not saying there's anything illegitimate about that... but we can obviously express a view to the Saudi Arabian government."

Downer appears to confuse Sufism, an apolitical form of Islam with Salafism, a rigid and orthodox expression of the faith.

This month, the government in Italy announced that it would be introducing monitoring of foreign donations to Islamic schools and mosques. Giuliana Amato, the interior minister said he had little control over money entering the country, particularly from foreign governments. He said: "There's something I don't like about it. In the future, I want to understand who is financing what."

In 2005 the Saudi royal family approved plans to construct 4,500 Islamic seminaries or madrassas in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The cost of this operation is an estimated $35 million. The aim of these madrassas is to promote "modern and liberal education with Islamic values".

An examination of Saudi Arabia's "modern and liberal" education was published in Spring, 2006 by Freedom House, entitled Saudi Arabia's Curriculum of Intolerance. This report analyzed textbooks in Saudi schools which maintained that "Jews and the Christians are enemies of the believer'' and that the "clash between the two realms is perpetual". Students were told not to greet, befriend, imitate or respect unbelievers. Spreading Islam through jihad was said to be a "religious duty". These textbooks are employed in the education of 5 million children in 25,000 schools in Saudi Arabia, and at hundreds of schools abroad.

Earlier, another report was published by Freedom House in the winter of 2004-5, entitled "Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Fill American Mosques". Volunteer researchers were sent to 15 US mosques, and gathered more than 200 books and publications. The majority of these tracts were written in Arabic. These told worshippers to reject Christianity, as "churches are houses of God and that God is worshiped therein is an infidel."

The publications also told people to hate their non-Muslim servants, demanded that women be shrouded in veils, and forbade Muslims from being employed in the service of an unbeliever. The mosques where such materials were gathered were in California, Illinois, Virginia, Texas, and Washington DC.

A report by terror analyst Jean-Charles Brisard, compiled for the UN Security Council in December 2002, stated that between 1992 and 2002, al-Qaeda received between $300 million and $500 million from Saudi businessmen and banks. This represented 20% of Saudi GNP.

According to Brisard, Abdullah Bin Abul Moshin al Turki, the secretary general of the Muslim World League (founded in Mecca in 1962), entered into business negotiations in Spain with Muhammad Zouaydi in 1999. Zouaydi was al-Qaida's main fundraiser in Europe. Abdullah al Turki was an adviser to the late King Fahd. In November 2003, Turki was awarded a prize by King Abdullah for his missionary work.

The Saudis have long encouraged almsgiving, or zakat, but even when these charity donations helped to fund terror, they seemed unwilling to take responsibility. In November 2002, Prince Salman, governor of Riyadh Province and brother of King Fahd, said: "If beneficiaries had used assistance for evil acts, that is not our responsibility at all."

Such attitudes have only helped to fog the issues of Saudi funding and influence in relation to extremism and terrorism. On December 22, 2003 a letter from the Senate Finance Committee was sent to the IRS, requesting information on 25 organizations operating on US soil, which were suspected of funding terrorism.

Among these were two Saudi-based charities, Al Haramain and the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO). The latter charity's funds were strictly controlled by Prince Salman, who in 2002 claimed not to care about the ultimate destinations of zakat. Documents recovered in Palestinian territories in 2002-3 under Israel's Operation Defensive Shield found that $280,000 had been sent by IIRO to charities run by the terrorist group Hamas. Prince Sultan, Saudi's defense minister, is a major contributor to IIRO funding.

The US Treasury has designated international branches of Al-Haramain and IIRO. Philippines IIRO (headed by Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law) and Indonesia IIRO were designated on August 3, 2006, but perhaps for diplomatic reasons, the Saudi branches have not been designated. IIRO has links with the Muslim World League. In December 2005, the head of the Virginia branch of MWL, Abdullah Alnoshan was deported. He had been arrested in July by immigration and FBI officials from the Joint Terrorism Task Force, accused of utilizing fake employment documents.

On Wednesday, July 13, 2005, US Treasury undersecretary Stuart Levey claimed that rich Saudi individuals were a "significant source" of global Islamist terror funding. Levey told a Senate committee hearing on terror financing that the Muslim World League and other Saudi charities "continue to cause us concern." The claims were denied by the secretary general of the Muslim World League. Dr. Abdullah Al-Turki has frequently condemned terrorism, but the MWL has a strong Wahhabist agenda.

According to the Jamestown Foundation, the MWL spreads "radical and vehemently anti-American" propaganda, and also has an agenda specifically targeting Europe. The Saudis began a policy of globally disseminating their brand of Sunni Islam during the 1980s, as a reaction to the Iranian (Shia) revolution. According to former CIA director R. James Woolsey, the Saudis have spent nearly $90 billion spreading their ideology around the globe since the 1970s.


One individual who was religiously educated for several years in Saudi Arabia was Abdullah al-Faisal (pictured). Faisal arrived in Britain in 1991, sponsored by Saudi religious authorities. For 12 years he preached up and down the country, preaching at mosques and Islamic centers. During this time he never did a day's honest work, and claimed welfare benefits. The costs of his extensive travel around Britain would not have been covered by state benefits alone. A friend of Abu Hamza, the hook handed Islamist who preached war against Jews and infidels, Faisal's sermons were no less inflammatory.

Faisal was born in Jamaica as Trevor William Forest, to devout Christian parents. He had left Jamaica aged 16, gone to South America and finally arrivved in Saudi Arabia. He studied Islam at university in Riyadh. On February 24, 2003 he was finally jailed on charges of "soliciting murder" and "racial incitement". These were the same charges with which Hamza was convicted on February 7, 2006. Outside the Old Bailey courtroom where he was convicted, Muslims denounced the sentence of nine years imposed upon Faisal. This sentence was later reduced to seven years.

Bizarrely, setting an uncomfortable precedent in British law, no Jews or Hindus were allowed to serve as jury members. It was also revealed that during the trial of the officially "poor" cleric, the judge, Peter Beaumont, had received a letter from Scotland, offering a £50,000 ($98,000) bribe.

Faisal's sermons took the Saudi Wahhabist ideology to extremes. The materials which appear shocking in Saudi textbooks and mosque guidebooks seem tame, compared to Faisal's utterances. He taught mothers to not bring up their sons as "wimps", but to prime the for jihad by buying them toy guns and weaponry.

He claimed that it was acceptable for Muslims to kill Jews, Hindus or Americans. These are a few of his statements:

  • "You all have to strike against America anywhere in the world you are. Is that clear? You have to learn how to shoot, to fly planes, to drive tanks and you have to learn how to load your guns and to use missiles."
  • You can use chemical weapons to exterminate the non-believer. If you have cockroaches in your house you can spray them, yes with chemicals, chemicals. Who has more dignity, the cockroach or the unbeliever? If you spray the cockroach, spray the Hindu."
  • Liberty can never be achieved by democracy. The way forward can never be the ballot; the way forward is the bullet. Islam was spread by the sword, today it has got to be spread by the Kalashnikov."
  • "When you have a legitimate target you strike at it. If women and children die they are collateral damage"
  • Christians and Jews will never accept you until you follow their evil and corrupted way of life.

    One statement he made ominously suggested that the Saudi royal family sponsored terror. He said: "Do you, like many, cry because you are poor? If so, wage jihad! Look at all the money stashed away in Swiss banks. There's bank in Brunei where King Fahd has deposited 30 million dollars. If you are suffering from poverty, wage jihad and see the money pour into your hands."

    Faisal said that Princess Diana and Prince Philip would be "tossed into the hellfire to abide forever". He claimed that British law was "put together by the henchmen of Satan, people who are gays and devil worshippers." He even suggested that power stations should be fueled with the bodies of slaughtered Hindus.

    After Faisal's conviction, his veiled Pakistani-born wife Zubaida's tried to justify her husband's statements. She said: "When he said, 'If you see a Hindu walking down the road you are allowed to kill him and take his money', he was talking about a war-like situation such as the problems between Muslims and Hindus in Kashmir." She continued: "When he said, 'How wonderful it is to kill a kaffir, he was quoting from holy scriptures. He is a man of God, a good father, and a very good husband. If he were a terrorist, he would not have chosen to speak in public."

    Though he may not have been a terrorist, Faisal's preachings were disseminated on audio cassettes and DVDs and his sermons were, like those of Abu Hamza, heard by people who went on to commit terror. He was also a friend of James Ujaama. Jermaine Lindsay, one of the 7/7 bombers, had a collection of Faisal's tapes at his home, which were found after he blew himself up. The leader of the four-man cell which killed 52 people on London Transport was Mohammed Sidique Khan.

    Khan, and also Shehzad Tanweer, another 7/7 bomber, had worshipped at the Al-Madina Masjid mosque in Tunstall Road, Beeston. Abdullah al-Faisal had preached at this mosque, and Khan had been in attendance. The senior imam at this mosque, Hamid Ali, has called the four bombers Faisal's "children". The imam recalled that when Abdullah al-Faisal preached, Mohammed Sidique Khan asked him several questions.

    Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorism unit, said after Faisal's conviction: "We will never know how many of those young, impressionable people whom El-Faisal spoke to then went abroad to areas of conflict or training camps and have never returned. We have very good grounds for believing that some people actually did go abroad as a result of listening to him."

    Whether Faisal continued to be funded by Saudi Arabia after he was paid to journey to Britain is unknown. But it is plain that it was in Saudi Arabia, exposed to the Wahhabist doctrines taught at the Imam Ibn Saud University in Riyadh, that Faisal became radicalized.

    Continued in Part Two.

    This article appeared originally in Family Security Matters and is reproduced with their permission.

  • Continued (Permanent Link)

    Summary of editorials from the Hebrew press 25-Janaury-2007

    **Summary of editorials from the Hebrew press 25-Janaury-2007

    Haaretz, Yediot Aharonot and Hatzofeh papers discuss various aspects of the controversy surrounding President Moshe Katsav:

    Yediot Aharonot believes that the President could have spared both himself and the country much anguish if he had resigned months ago. The editors assert that only someone of high standing, with unimpeachable morals, "can rehabilitate the presidency and rebuild its ruins."

    Hatzofeh refers to the President's press conference yesterday and says that the President, "blamed everyone possible - except himself." The editors doubt whether the President's charges of a conspiracy will convince very many people and suggests that he should have resigned months ago.

    Haaretz believes that now that the attorney general has decided to indict the president on rape charges, one could have expected the president to announce his resignation immediately. The Knesset does not need to lend a hand to this hypocrisy. If the president has decided not to resign, there is no choice but to oust him.

    Yediot Aharonot, in its second editorial, calls for the Justice Ministry and the Bar Association to hold a thorough discussion of lawyers' responsibility toward their clients.

    Yediot Aharonot, in its third editorial, refers to a recent case in which a mass murderer, who was out of prison on furlough, caused a deadly traffic accident en route to a holiday in Eilat with his family, and criticizes the fact that he was allowed out of prison at all.

    The Jerusalem Posts thinks that what the IDF needs is some good old-fashioned soldiering. With an emboldened Hizbullah on our border, a possible nuclear showdown with Iran looming and the conflict with the Palestinians anything but abated, the incoming chief of General Staff will face extraordinary tests. The vision, priorities and culture he carves out for the IDF will be central to Israel's well-being these next few years.

    [Eitan Haber and Nitzan Keidar wrote today's editorials in Yediot Aharonot and Hatzofeh, respectively.]


    Continued (Permanent Link)

    FM Livni speaks at Davos - West-Islam Dialogue - Jan 25, 2007

    Information Department, Israel Foreign Ministry - Jerusalem

    West-Islam Dialogue

    Special Address by Tzipi Livni
    Israeli Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs

    World Economic Forum
    25 January 2007

    (Note: This was a prepared speech. Check against delivery.)

    Dear Colleagues,
    Distinguished Guests,
    Ladies and Gentleman,

    Thank you for this unique opportunity to join this distinguished panel. It is an honor for me to be part of this special gathering.

    The topic of this event is West-Islam Dialogue.

    For me, both the notion of the "West" and the notion of "Islam" mean too many different things to be grouped together in this way. There are many Moslems in the West. Many followers of Islam have adapted themselves to the western values, and find no contradiction between the two.

    The real test is not the type of religion or location of the believer. The basis for the division today is the value system.

    People today are divided more by their values than by their national or religious identity. The principles of justice, co-existence and tolerance do not belong to any religion or national identity. They were proclaimed by Moses, by Jesus and by Mohammed. Similarly, radical approaches are not foreign to any of the three principal monotheistic faiths.

    In the context of possible clashes between different cultures, I come from a country which has a unique stake in the blending of such differences.

    First, we are a society in which the interaction between religious traditions and Western values takes place on a daily basis. Israel is a mosaic of cultures and customs. Our citizens can trace their origins from the salons of the European enlightenment, from the deserts of Ethiopia and from the heart of the Muslim world. Some received their education in the best of the orthodox tradition, some from the finest secular universities, and some from both.

    The cultural diversity of the people in Israel is matched by the richness of its historical landscape. The hilltops, valleys and streets of the Holy Land are overflowing with history and meaning for peoples of different origins and beliefs in a way that has no parallel anywhere else on earth.

    The State of Israel was created as a homeland for the Jewish people, and carries the values of Judaism and democracy. By decision, Israel is a democracy which implements the values of democracy in full, along with upholding the Jewish values. Although they could have been seen as clashing values, and there are those who seek this clash, we have managed to find the synthesis, in such a way that the values of Judaism and the Western values of democracy and freedom, complete each other. We did find the common denominator between two value systems.

    For example, honoring personal identity and respect to minorities are not just our obligation as a democracy, it is also an expression of essential Jewish values. According to the Bible, we, as the Jewish people, have to remember our status through history as minorities in society. As people, we must love the stranger as ourselves, and we must guarantee, in the words of the Book of Numbers, that there is but one law "for you and for the stranger that lives amongst you".

    Each day, we must try, in the face of enormous difficulties, to honor the identity of each of our citizens and create the space for that identity to find its peaceful expression.

    That is the task of the leadership. To find that harmony. To interpret and lead in a way that brings out the best of different cultures, and allows co-existence, over division and intolerance.

    Israel is still a young state, and we do not claim to be a perfect one. Our mission, to be the national homeland for an ancient people and a democratic society for all our citizens, is not an easy one. In a real sense, we are a living laboratory for the interface between different cultures and faiths and we have much to offer others from our experience - both from our successes and from our failures.

    But Israel's role in this debate is also unique in a second way. Since our establishment we have been on the front-lines of a conflict that many perceive to be a major flashpoint between Islam and the West.

    Some believe - mistakenly in my view - that resolving this conflict is the key to restoring harmony between Islam and the West. Others flip the order around and argue that the conflict will only be resolved when Islamic-Western harmony is achieved.

    Both these approaches are, in my opinion, simplistic and misleading.
    Increasingly, what we see is a world fragmented between forces of moderation, on the one hand, and forces of extremism, on the other. The one believes that differences should be tolerated and respected. The other rejects the legitimacy of any ideology but its own.

    This contest between extremists and moderates has taken place at different times and in different ways. But today this contest is most prominent among radical leaders who exploit religion for their purposes. This is mostly evident in the relations between Islam and the West, and within the Islamic world itself. This is especially evident in the attempt by extremists to exploit and transform political, social or economic grievances that are subject to equitable resolution, into religious wars that allow for no compromise or reconciliation.

    We see it in Iraq, in the clash between forces that wish to unite the country and those that seek to divide and destroy it. We see it in the Palestinian territories, in the struggle between those committed to creating a peaceful Palestinian State, and those committed to destroying the Jewish one. And we see it also in the neighborhoods of Europe where Muslim communities are sometimes divided over whether their religious identity and expression can be integrated into their lives in a modern, secular and democratic state.

    As to the Western world, it cannot dictate the outcome of this contest. But, it can decide how to relate to its different actors, and it can be clear about what each of these actors can expect from the West, now and in the future. If we are true to the principles of co-existence and tolerance upon which Western society is based, we cannot be indifferent to this situation.

    The internal debate influences the Islamic world itself, as well as its relations with the West. This is expressed clearly in the genocidal agenda of Ahmadinejad, and in the hate-filled propaganda of Al-Qaeda - which seek domination of one identity over another, while casting the outsider in the role of infidel. This type of extremism threatens the relations between Islam and the west, as well as the society in which it abides.

    The basis for coexistence between the West and Islam is to allow proper expression for one identity next to another, while casting the outsider in the role of neighbor. Our obligation to show tolerance and respect for all faiths does not include an obligation to endure attempts - in the name of a distorted interpretation of faith - to de-legitimize others, to incite violence or to endanger core democratic values.

    We have a responsibility to broadcast to the communities in which this debate is raging, through our actions and our words, that the path of extremism and rejection is a dead end. That it is a formula not for glory but for hopelessness and despair. It promises more hatred and more violence.

    For the West, it is a threat. For the Muslim world it is a tragedy.

    Every time we appease the radical forces, we will not only undermine the prospects for co-existence, we will also betray those moderate forces that are committed to it.

    But standing firm against the extremists is only one part of the equation. A message must also be conveyed to the moderates, and to the average person on the street, that if they have the courage to stand up to the radicals, they have partners.

    Moderate religious leaders within the communities have a significant role to play, in the way they interpret the religion and this message of moderation. Their voice must be heard loud and clear. Some have demonstrated the courage to fight for the rights too many of us take for granted. We must pay tribute to them.

    All in all, we must empower the moderates. We must demonstrate that we respect their faith and unique traditions and that we are ready to help them realize their legitimate aspirations, if they are ready to respect ours.

    Ladies and gentleman,

    This dynamic between extremists and moderates is played out forcefully in the Israeli-Arab context. And here I would like to use the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an example.

    For the ruling elite in Tehran, for Hizbullah and for Hamas, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not political and resolvable, but religious and irreconcilable. They are opposed to co-existence and to the two-State solution not just as a matter of policy but as a matter of ideology. The conflict is the consequence and not the cause of this ideology.

    But, the responsibility to do so does not rest on the shoulders of political leaders alone. Educators and business leaders, religious mentors and thinkers of the kind gathered in this room today have a special responsibility not only to advance dialogue and understanding but also to speak out against its opponents, and to make clear that incitement and violence are not an expression of faith but a perversion of it.

    Educational institutions need to create a generation of peace-makers not of martyrs. And the voice of the mosque, of the church and of the synagogue must be the voice of acceptance not incitement, of coexistence not hatred.

    Dear friends,

    The Bible teaches us that all human beings were created in the image of God. It may be true that every person is different from the other, but it is up to us, whether to highlight the differences, or stress the uniting factors. We can create a true harmony.

    Let us hope that we will all have the wisdom to find the perfect harmony, so that our different values complete each other, and not compete with each other. When we find that harmony, we will be living in a better world. After all, the most important of all, is what type of world we leave for our children.

    Thank you.


    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Haniyeh: One year on, Israel has failed to topple the Hamas government

    Haniyeh: One year on, Israel has failed to topple the Hamas government
    Date: 25 / 01 / 2007  Time:  14:54

    Gaza - Ma'an - One year after his Hamas party won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has stated that the Israeli occupation has failed to topple the Hamas-led government and force it to surrender their unchangeable principles.

    Haniyeh added, "Last year, the government wasn't able to implement its agenda. Yet, they have paved the way."

    "The siege," said Haniyeh, "has become useless since its perpetrators have failed to convince their people of its morality."

    These statements came during a conference on Thursday 25 January, organized in cooperation with the ministry of prisoners' affairs at the Al-Jazeera Hotel in Gaza City entitled "The Right of Return for Palestinian Refugees.In a Political and Religious Perspective."

    As for any achievements in regards to forming a national unity government, Haniyeh depicted the laying down of general principles on Tuesday as positive. He also confirmed that the government is endeavoring to ease the tension and break the siege. He added that he hopes a unity government will be accomplished in order to protect the national achievements and enhance political partnership.

    Haniyeh renewed his call for an end to confrontations and disputes. However, he added that the Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves and resist the occupation.

    Haniyeh affirmed that the Israelis have failed to break the steadfastness of the Palestinians, adding that the Israeli project is based on three pillars: targeting the religion, occupying land and displacing the people.

    In a different regard, Haniyeh called on the countries which can influence Iraq to intervene in order to stop the assaults against the Palestinian refugees who are being murdered or displaced every day in Iraq.

    With regard to the excavations under the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Israeli plans to build further synagogues in the old city of Jerusalem, Haniyeh called on all Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims to protect the Islamic holy places.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    7th Herzliya Conference : Prof. Israel (Robert) J. Aumann, Nobel Prize Laureate

    The 7th Herzliya Conference > Lecture Summaries
    Prof. Israel (Robert) J. Aumann, Nobel Prize Laureate; Center for the Study
    of Rationality, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

    First of all, I would like to thank the conference organizers for inviting
    me to speak at this important and central event. I was asked to speak about
    the existential dangers threatening the State of Israel. One danger known to
    all of us stems from Iran's nuclear armament program, which threatens to
    erase the State of Israel from the map. We cannot underestimate the
    importance of this danger.

    However, in my humble opinion, it is less threatening than it appears at
    first glance.

    Iran is a nation like all nations; it has an address-we know who it is and
    where it is. If the rumors are true-that the State of Israel has according
    deterrence capability, and no less importantly, means of delivering weapons,
    then there is indeed a danger, but it is a limited one. The rulers of Iran
    are often called lunatics, but there is no evidence that this is the case.
    Iran's rulers act very rationally. They have goals that indeed oppose our
    goals, but these are their goals, and they advance them very effectively.
    The destruction of central Iranian cities is not one of their goals. We
    certainly need to stand guard, but the fear of Iran's direct use of nuclear
    weapons against Israel seems minimal. I allow myself to speak freely because
    I don't know anything that's happening in the field-perhaps less than anyone
    in this hall.

    However, unfortunately, there is a different danger in Iran's nuclear
    armament-more tangible and more threatening, although more indirect. This
    danger is hidden in the possibility that nuclear technology will be
    transferred from Iran to terrorist groups such as Al Qa'ida or others-groups
    whose identities are indistinct, who have no address. Even these groups are
    not insane; they act consistently, rationally, and sophisticated in order to
    achieve their goals. But because they have no address, direct deterrence
    policy is not effective in their case. Thus, if they succeed in obtaining
    nuclear weapons, it is unclear how we will be able to deter them from using
    it against us.

    These groups, or some of them, are very close in their goals and ideology to
    Iran. Therefore, this is a great danger in the transfer of nuclear
    technology and the necessary materials from Iran to these groups. One
    possibility is that such a transfer would be intended and approved by the
    Iranian authorities. Another possibility, which is more likely, is that the
    transfer will not be intended or planned; this is a case of infiltration of
    radical terrorist elements into the Iranian nuclear system or of a lack of
    sufficient caution of the Iranian authorities or of a leak or of deliberate
    smuggling in the lower echelons of the Iranian system-leaks and smuggling
    that are unauthorized and even unknown to the higher echelons.

    If such a transfer occurs in one of these two ways, then we will in fact be
    in substantial trouble. We will not be able to directly prevent these groups
    to execute their schemes.

    Therefore, we must act indirectly by offering appropriate incentives.

    In my opinion, there are two ways to do this. One is to create strong and
    tangible motivation for the government of Iran to prevent at all costs the
    transfer of nuclear technology and materials to groups that do not function
    under its auspices. The second and less effective way is to give strong and
    tangible motivation to these terrorist groups we have mentioned not to use
    nuclear weapons against Israel, even if they have obtained such weapons. As
    we have said, this type of deterrence is not easy because these groups have
    no address, but they have goals and they have an ideological identity, and
    it is possible to create adequate incentives on this backdrop.

    We mentioned two existential threats facing the State of Israel-the direct
    nuclear threat and the indirect nuclear threat. As we have said, the second
    danger is greater, and now a few words about a third threat, which is
    perhaps the greatest of all. It does not come from Iran, nor from terrorist
    groups, nor from any external source. It comes from within us. "We have met
    the enemy, and it is us."

    Esteemed ladies and gentlemen, your humble servant makes his living from
    game theory-among other things, very serious games: games of life and death
    and of existence and annihilation. The name of the game in game theory is
    motivation, incentives. Earlier, we discussed the motivations of those
    standing on the opposite side. Motivating ourselves is the most important
    thing, and the thing we are losing the most. Without motivation, we will not
    endure. What are we doing here? Why are we here? What are we aspiring to
    here? We are here because we are Jewish, we are Zionist, because of our
    ancient bond to this land; we aspire to realize our 2000-year-old hope of
    becoming a free nation in our land, the Land of Zion and Jerusalem. Without
    this profound understanding, we will not endure. We will simply no longer be
    here; Post-Zionism will finish us off.

    About half a year ago in Petra, Jordan, the prime minister said that we are
    tired. He was right. He was elected by the nation, and he expresses the
    sentiments of the nation. We are like a mountain-climber that gets caught in
    a snowstorm; the night falls, he is cold and tired, and he wants to sleep.
    If he falls asleep, he will freeze to death. We are in terminal danger
    because we are tired.

    I will allow myself to say a few unpopular, unfashionable words: our
    panicked lunging for peace is working against us. It brings us farther away
    from peace, and endangers our very existence. I think it was Churchill who
    said, "If you want peace, prepare for war." The preparation includes
    material preparation, a fantastic army, effective tools of war, but above
    all, we are talking about spiritual preparation, about spiritual readiness
    to go to war.

    Roadmaps, capitulation, gestures, disengagements, convergences,
    deportations, and so forth do not bring peace. On the contrary, they bring
    war, just as we saw last summer. These things send a clear signal to our
    "cousins" that we are tired, that we no longer have spiritual strength, that
    we have no time, that we are calling for a time-out. They only whet their
    appetites. It only encourages them to pressure us more, to demand more, and
    not to give up on anything. These things stem from simple theoretical
    considerations and also from straight thinking.

    But it's not just theory: it has been proven and re-proven in the field over
    thousands of years. I returned today from a trip to India, where we heard
    about historical stories that illustrate the same. Capitulations bring about
    war; determination and readiness bring about peace.

    Ladies and gentlemen, we must tell our cousins that we are staying here. We
    are not moving. We have time; we have patience; we have stamina. Understand
    this and internalize it. And we must not simply say it to our cousins but
    feel it within ourselves. This and only this will bring peace. We can really
    live in peace and unity and cooperation with our cousins. But only after
    they understand and internalize that the Zionist state will be here forever.
    Thank you very much.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    7th Herzliya Conference: Prof. Ephraim Yaar 0 Israeli patriotism

    The 7th Herzliya Conference > Lecture Summaries
    Prof. Ephraim Yaar, Head, Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution, Tel
    Aviv University

    I wish to start by making two comments about the term "patriotism". My first
    comment is that patriotism is a sensitive term, which rouses both positive
    and negative feelings. When I look at the patriotism phenomenon as an
    academic and not only as a citizen, I think that  precisely because of the
    controversy surrounding the term of patriotism, it is essential that we
    examine it in the most  objective and academic way possible. My second
    comment is that patriotism is an abstract term, exactly like liberalism and
    democracy, and no wonder that academics cannot agree on its definition. But
    I believe that on the basic intuitive level, we all understand what
    patriotism is all about.

    Even in Israeli terms, the past year was very intensive, and posed many
    challenges for Israeli society. For this reason, the "Patriotism Survey" has
    become even more important this year, because it can be compared to the
    survey which was initiated last year. The basic assumption underlying this
    survey is that the strength of the state cannot be assessed without
    addressing the patriotic component of its citizens. Thus there is an
    essential and immediate need for comprehensive assessment of Israeli
    patriotism in order to understand the moral.

    The conclusions which arise from the survey carry both good and bad
    messages, and we will have to cope with that. The good message is that
    despite of the difficult events of the past year, events which include not
    only the Lebanese war but also other difficult events such as the
    Disengagement Plan, not only did the degree of patriotism of Jewish public
    not weaken, the emotional affinity to the state even strengthened. I will
    refer to the patriotism issue in the Arab public separately, and I agree
    with Prof. Rubinstein that we cannot relate the Arab and Jewish public the
    same in regard to Israeli patriotism.

    The bad message is an unprecedented decline was measured in regard to the
    public's confidence in the government and the Knesset. Previous researches
    that I made have shown that the public's confidence in governmental
    institutes wasn't high before, but now it has reached its lowest point.
    Moreover, there is steep decline in the confidence in the defense forces,
    which have always enjoyed a high level of support. There is complete
    contradiction between the high assessment of the steadfastness of the
    civilian population, and the low estimation of the leadership. The public
    draws a line between the society and the state, especially the leadership.
    The public says - we are patriotic, we love our country, don't get us
    involved in your failures, and we need to rectify the situation. Because of
    the public's emotional attachment to the Israeli state, there is a need to
    handle the crisis. I use the word "crisis" because it refers to a structural
    problem. Today the situation is more severe than it was after Yom Kippur
    War, since back then the criticism was related to what happened before the
    war, but today there is a breach in confidence. The importance of the survey
    findings derive from this crisis.

    I would like to present some of the empirical findings, which will support
    all I have said till now:

    A significant majority defines themselves as patriotic Isrealis (67%),
    similar to number last year. In international perspective, we are not the
    most patriotic but we in a good place in the middle. The percentage of the
    patriots in Israel is quite similar to percentage in the United states and a
    few European countries.

    Also there is almost full consensus in regard to the values and activities
    that express patriotism. The overwhelming majority of the Jewish public
    declares it would be ready to go to battle if required to do so. The Jewish
    public also attributes great importance to the Hebrew language, Jerusalem,
    living in Israel and the love of the land of Israel.

    More than 80% of the Jewish public are proud to be Israelis. The Jews are
    most proud of the scientific and technological achievements and achievements
    in arts and literature. These are achievements that made by talented
    individuals or by non-governmental bodies as universities and research
    institutes. On the other hand, it is less proud of the government and the
    Knesset, to put it mildly.

    The most significant decline was recorded in the level of pride in the
    security forces. Nevertheless, they stand in the third place in the ladder
    of pride. They haven't experienced the same erosion as the government and
    the Knesset have. Last year, 88% were proud of them, compared to 64% today.

    An important dimension of patriotism is rootedness, and the rootedness of
    the Jewish public is indeed very strong. 89% prefer the Israeli citizenship
    more than any other citizenship. 87% will encourage their children to live
    in Israel. But the strength of affinity for Israeli citizenship and the
    desire to encourage the kids to live in Israel eroded in 7% approximately.
    77% are not willing to move and live in another country. Among those who are
    ready to give positive consideration to leaving, two principal motives were
    found for emigration from Israel: the economic situation and the security

    I want to refer to the Arab public briefly. It's essential to understand
    that the Arab minority is in a unique situation. Therefore, no wonder that
    there is an increase in Palestinian patriotism. But the Arab population
    prefers first and foremost to identify itself as an Arab patriot. But we
    cannot ignore the fact that in certain area, 30%-40% are loyal to the state
    of Israel as a democracy, and for it provides higher standard of living than
    the Arabs countries. This minority cannot be ignored. It's a silent
    minority, that its viewpoints weren't reflected in the "Future vision of the
    Arab Palestinians in Israel". I belong to those who believe that although
    the disparity between the Jewish and Arabs communities is understandable,
    since it's a ethnic, national, religious and cultural split, we shall not
    give up and dismiss ourselves from doing something to reduce the gap.

    Paradoxically, the Lebanon war affected the Jewish residents of Haifa and
    the North more positively than the residents in other regions of Israel. The
    residents of Haifa and the North are more patriotic, and their emotional
    attachment to the state strengthened to a greater extent. It congregates
    with what Prof. Rubinstein said - when you threaten a society, you
    contribute to increasing its level of cohesion.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Where will the border cross?

    Where will the border cross?
    Syrian territorial stance accepted in private talks; Israeli public wasn't informed
    Shlomo Avineri Published:  01.24.07, 20:41

    Public debate over negotiations with Syria is usually passionate and ideological, but often ignores the simple facts outlining the history of our ties with Syria thus far. This matter also applies to the way the details of recent private talks between Dr. Alon Liel and an American-Syrian figure were presented to the public.
    The primary bone of contention in prior negotiations with Syria focused on the future border. The most generous proposal Israel offered the Syrians thus far was readiness to relinquish the Golan Heights, while expressing a willingness to withdraw – while at the same time determining security measures, but I shall not relate to them here – to the international border between Syria and pre-State Israel.
    This is the only border in the area with international legitimacy, and return to the international border also constituted a cornerstone for a peace agreement with Egypt and Jordan. Syria's stance is different: It does not relate to the international border, but rather, is calling for the return to the armistice line that existed until Jun 4th, 1967.
    Many view the dispute between the two stances as an argument over a few kilometers or meters – this is not the case.
     The armistice line with Syria highlighted its achievements and conquests during the War of Independence. Despite the Syrians ultimately being pushed back in their incursion attempt into Israel in 1948, Syria succeeded in holding on to three enclaves inside pre-State Israel: Adjacent to the source of the Jordan River near the Dan River; in a short stretch west of the Jordan River near Moshav Mishmar HaYarden; and in the eastern part of Lake Galilee including the Mevo Hama area.
     Despite these areas being demilitarized, they were not handed over to Israeli rule and for years constituted the source of infinite disputes. As a result, Israel had no access to the northeastern beaches of the Galilee or to the Mevo Hama area. The Syrian stance is not only that Israel should withdraw from the Golan Heights, territory that is undoubtedly Syrian - Syria is also calling for a return to the line that left it with three areas (albeit small, yet significant) inside pre-State Israel that were supposed to be included in Israeli territory before the partition plan.
     Map tells the real story
    There is reason to assume that an approach that does not recognize international borders in the area stands behind the Syrian perception, according to which Arab-national ideology was dictated by Western imperialism following World War I: After all, Syria does not recognize the border with Lebanon as a real international border just as it doesn't - to this day - recognize Lebanon's independence and sovereignty.
     It would be reasonable to assume that this would also be the fate of the international border with pre-State Israel. Therefore - and not only for territorial reasons – Syria is insisting on the June 4th borders. This is where its refusal to explicitly declare that the village of Ghajar falls within Lebanese territory stems from.
    On another level, this implies that Syria, which does not accept the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights in 1967, contends that its conquests in 1948 are legitimate.
    A report on what was ostensibly agreed on in private negotiations involving Dr. Liel laconically noted the relinquishment of the Golan and return to Jun 4th borders.
     From the map attached to the reports, it became apparent that the area surrounding Mishmar HaYarden, situated west of the Jordan River, would also be transferred to Syria: This does not just constitute "descending the Golan" but much more – namely, a Syrian hold west of the Jordan River and inside pre-State Israel including what belongs to Mevo Hama.
    Perhaps there are those who would agree that this is a fitting price in exchange for peace with Syria: This is a matter open to debate. What is not open to debate is that in private talks conducted by Dr. Liel and his proponents, the Syrian territorial stance was completely and unquestionably accepted. The Israeli public should have been informed of this.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Not the modern Dreyfus

    Nahum Barnea 
    Not the modern Dreyfus

    All the president's options lead to resignation
    Published:  01.24.07, 20:54

    Two top attorneys, David Libai and Zion Amir, sat in a small room packed to the gills with cameras and microphones on Tuesday afternoon while squirming about uncomfortably in their seats. Both are experienced in defending lost cases but never before had they defended such an embarrassing case.
    The president will resign, if not today than tomorrow, if not tomorrow than the day after. His resignation, not his temporary suspension or any other smart way out, is what is required to save what is left of the presidential institution and bring the affair back to proportion. In so doing Moshe Katsav will be rendering a great service, perhaps his last, to Israeli society and its sanity. The country would be eternally grateful.
    In the name of fairness, it should be noted that the decision to step down is by no means an easy one. The attorney general's announcement that he is considering indicting Katsav has placed national interests against the legitimate interests of Moshe Katsav as a suspect and as the accused.
    His resignation strips him of his immunity. Any police officer can summon him for questioning whenever he feels like it. Remaining in office is his only asset if he wishes to negotiate some deal with the prosecution. One doesn't relinquish such assets easily.
    Nonetheless, the insistence on temporary suspension exposes him to a great deal of mudslinging. There is no mercy in this story: Knesset members, journalists, comedians and satirists, will give him the full brunt of their big mouths.
    The Knesset Committee, which he must turn to for approval for temporary absence, will not comply with his request before leveling harsh verbal abuse at him. Yet there is still a chance that the Knesset will launch an impeachment process against him, or that the Supreme Court will show him the way out.
     Not the modern Dreyfus
    On Tuesday afternoon, when Katsav arrived at attorney David Libai's office at the courthouse in Tel Aviv, all the pros and cons regarding his resignation and temporary suspension were weighed. The discussion focused on tactics, not on strategy. It is clear to all those involved in defending the president that an indictment will be forthcoming.
     The hearing will allow him to gain time, perhaps even result in an easing of the charges, but they will not be dropped completely.
     Katsav says he is a victim of conspiracy. "I have not committed any of the things I have been attributed with." This is his public stance, and no less important, this is what his children are saying as well.
     It's difficult to see how this man, Moshe Katsav, can face the court and present another stance. People in his situation prefer being convicted by law and receiving harsh punishment rather than admitting guilt. Upon conviction, they can tell their families and the public that they suffered an injustice.
     "I am Dreyfus," Katsav says, drawing a parallel between Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a French army officer who was unjustly accused and convicted of treason on anti-Semitic grounds. With this comparison Katsav, hopes someone the likes of Emile Zola will rise up and bring the truth of the case to light and pardon him just as Dreyfus was eventually exonerated, pardoned and rehabilitated.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Survey:71 percent of Israelis think Katsav should resign* Settlers: Public supports Katsav

    [Settlers Web site Arutz 7 insisted that Israelis support President Katsav. The Dachaf poll below is one of many which show that most people do not support him. Katsav is accused of rape and of taking bribes to grant clemency. ]
    Media Mounts Counterattack; Public Supports President´s Speech
    10:00 Jan 25, '07 / 6 Shevat 5767
    by Gil Ronen
       Israel's media outlets were quick to mount a counteroffensive against President Moshe Katzav, who sharply criticized them in his speech Wednesday night. The Israeli public expresses its support.

    The President's spokesperson, Hagit Cohen, said Wednesday morning that the outpouring of support for the President is unprecedented. "In my three years in this position as spokesperson, I have never seen such a deluge of expressions of support as now. The switchboard at the president's residence is collapsing from calls of solidarity, as is the fax machine."
    Cohen further noted that the president's words entered the hearts of the public. "Many citizens particularly identify with President Katzav's criticism of the Israeli media," she noted.
    In his speech, Katzav directly confronted Channel 2 – Israel TV's leading, semi-private channel – and its newscasters.
    Obviously shaken by Katzav's offensive, media anchors made no attempt to feign objectivity, as they launched their counter attack. For close to an hour on prime time TV, the media had been under attack, and they had no way of cutting off the President, ganging up on him or censoring him as is custom on talk shows or pre-recorded reports.
    The President, who was in control on his home turf at the official President's Residence, successfully managed to shut up an attempt by Channel 2's lead anchor Sukenik to interrupt his speech. In a dramatic verbal clash, Katzav silenced Sukenik's outbreak and when Sukenik continued interrupting, a member of the President's staff wrestled with the Channel 2 crew over control of their microphone.
    Channel 1 TV's lead anchor Geula Even expressed indignation in a prime time panel featuring ultra-leftists Talia Sasson, formerly a top official in the State Prosecution, and MK Zehava Galon (Meretz). Geula Even chastised the President for "terrible incitement against the media" and "talking above the heads of the media for an entire hour and bypassing the journalists and Sukenik."
    Geula Even asked Yossi Bar Muha, head of the Israel Journalists Union, if the president hadn't "lynched the media", and expressed shock by Katzav's hints that some of Israel's media members were less successful in maintaining their family life than his "37-year successful marriage." Bar Muha said Katzav was a liar, and declared that he knew for a fact that Katzav was guilty of the sexual charges against him.
    The main editorial in the ultra-leftist Haaretz news service calls for the forced removal of the president Thursday morning. Ynet, Israel's most popular Hebrew news site, features a commentary quoting anonymous sources saying the president's speech was "riddled with untruth" and an opinion piece entitled "The Protocols of Moshe" by Guy Banyuvich. "In a horror show presented in broken Hebrew," wrote Banyuvich, "the President laid a row of explosive devices along the avenues of law and justice in Israel and set them off one by one." Banyuvich went on to compare Katzav's speech to the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
    Baruch Gordon contributed to this report.
    71 percent of Israelis think Katsav should resign

    Poll finds most Israelis demand president resign immediately in light of his imminent indictment; public wants to see Vice Premier Peres replacing Katsav
    Ynet Published:  01.25.07, 08:25

    A majority of Israelis think President Moshe Katsav must resign his post and not settle for a temporary suspension from office. A poll performed by Yedioth Ahronoth and the Dahaf Institute Wednesday revealed that 71 percent of respondents demand the president resign immediately.

     Ynet Poll
    Ynet readers say Katsav must resign / Ynet
    Eighty-nine percent say Katsav should immediately leave President's Residence following decision to indict him
    Full Story
    The Dahaf poll, which was conducted among 516 participants (with a 4.4. percent margin of error), also focused on the question of the president's successor, and showed that 45 percent of the public prefer to see Vice Premier Shimon Peres elected to the top position.

    President indicted – full coverage

    Peres' associates said Wednesday that the vice premier plans to run 'no matter what," namely –regardless of the type of vote and even if the race is to be decided by a secret ballot.

    Kadima members confirmed that the Prime Minister's Office decided to "throw all their weight behind Peres and do everything to help him win."

    The first runner up in the race, according to the poll, is Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Israel's former chief rabbi, who enjoys a 22 percent approval rate.

    Knesset Member Reuven Rivlin follows with a 15 percent approval rate. Although he is a member of the Likud, Rivlin is supported by MKs from across the political spectrum.

    Collette Avital, the Labor Party's candidate for president, was supported by only eight percent of the poll's participants. Some 10 percent preferred not to pick any one of the candidates.

    The full survey will be published in Yedioth Ahronoth Friday.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Would Iran's Mullahs Use the Bomb?

    Would Iran's Mullahs Use the Bomb?
    by Amil Imani
    Jan 24, '07 / 5 Shevat 5767
    There is so much smoke around the Iranian Mullahs' bomb that it makes Tehran's smog feel like a fresh ocean breeze, by comparison. Here is a partial list of views about the Mullahs, their capabilities and intentions about the bomb affair. The Mullahs:
    * Will never dare to use the bomb, even if they had it. To do so would be suicidal.
    * Are years away from anything resembling a credible bomb, in any quantities.
    * They lack the technological skills needed to make a workable bomb.
    * Don't have the means of hitting Israel with the bomb, their professed favorite target.
    * Want the bomb for defensive purposes only.
    * Would never hand the bomb over to proxy terrorists.
    * Are using this whole bomb thing as a ploy to rally the populace and survive.
    * Are visionary patriots planning for a future when the oil dries up.
    * Are environmentalists aiming to curb global warming caused by the use of fossil fuel.
    * Are striving to join the nuclear club for its prestige.
    And on, and on, and on, goes the litany. I believe, based on facts rather than wishful thinking, that every one of the above assertions, as well as all other similar dismissive arguments are both false and fraught with danger, because all the above arguments are confounded by various amounts of denial.
    Psychological denial is a common quirk of the human mind. People use denial to distort, even refute reality, when accepting it is too threatening for them. Alcoholics are habitual users of denial, a major tranquilizer of the mind. The alcoholic will adamantly deny having any problem with alcohol and continue to drink, even in the face of irrefutable contrary evidence. Denial is resorted to by both individuals and groups, and can be just as deadly for both.
    Perhaps the most compelling dismissive argument is that the Mullahs would never dare to use the bomb, since it would be suicidal to do so. This argument is just as flawed as the rest. The "mutual deterrence" argument may work in state-to-state confrontations. It apparently has worked in the past and the hope is that it will work in the future. However, the mutual deterrence argument fails when a non-state entity is the adversary. The Mullahs don't have to lob a bomb at Israel or at anyone else to inflict huge harm. They can pursue their cause of death and destruction by simply providing their killers with dirty bombs in a suitcase. Given the Mullahs' fanaticism and Machiavellian nature, they would come up with a myriad of clever schemes to achieve their objectives.
    Consider dirty bombs. They are easy to make, are portable, can kill as well as make a city uninhabitable, without leaving a "finger print." The Mullahs can go to work then turn "innocently" to the international community to help them find a group of rogue radicals who, the Mullahs could later claim, had penetrated their facilities and made off with a loot of radioactive stuff.
    It is not as if events like this have never happened in the past. Deadly stolen radioactive materials have found their way to the black market on a number of occasions. The world would respond in panic, yet with its usual arthritic sluggishness, searching for the miscreants. Given how clumsy and disorganized the world's intelligence community is, the prospect of acting expeditiously, much less apprehending the "thieves" is not very encouraging. This is particularly the case when the Mullahs themselves would have a short leash on the "thieves," to hide them and deploy them only with the greatest of care.
    Iran's ruling Mullahs are clustered around major factions such as the conservatives, the moderates, and the so-called reformists. Yet, the differences among these factions are tactical rather than strategic. One and all share the same overarching goals: defeating the "Crusader-Zionists" by any and all methods possible; bringing about the "end of the world" Armageddon; and, thereby creating the requisite conditions for the appearance of the "Hidden Imam", the Mahdi, to assume his rule of the world.
    Therefore, it is Carterisque (foolish risk-taking a la Jimmy Carter's throwing the nation's lot with the Mullahs during the 1979 Iranian Revolution) to overlook the fact that it is Islam, irrespective of any and all considerations, that poses a deadly threat to the world. Choosing one faction over another is no choice at all.
    What is the likelihood that the ruling Mullahs will actually use the bomb? If they remain in power long enough to have it, they are very likely to use it, in one form or another. At the very least, they would use the bomb for blackmail and intimidation in the region. Not even the all-out nuclear exchange can be ruled out. Islam is a religion centered on death with the faithful eyes fixed on the afterlife and its promised eternal pleasures. If the faithful kills, he goes to Allah's paradise; if he gets killed, he goes to Allah's paradise.
    The Mullahs' claim of are pursuing the nuclear program merely to meet the country's energy need could only fool the most gullible-denial type. Why is it that the Mullahs invest nothing at all in stopping the leak of more than six percent of the precious oil they pump out? For every 100 barrels, six barrels of Iran's irreplaceable national treasure dissipates at the wellhead. Yet, they spend billions of dollars to harness nuclear energy. Just as troubling is the fact that Iran sits on one of the world's most dangerous earthquake fault lines. Building nuclear plants on sites such as the one in Bushehr is absolute insanity.
    The Mullahs are proven vicious mass killers. They summarily executed tens of thousands of Iranian dissidents. They had no qualms at sending thousands of children to clear the minefields ahead of their tanks during the 80-89 war with Iraq; and, they have thousands of "martyrs" brainwashed and prepared to serve as bomb mules to be dispatched to any place in the world.
    Sadly, once again it is the peak of "Me First" time with American politicians. Like sharks, they are circling the "bleeding" lame President, busily snipping at him and hoping to take his place. In the meantime the real enemy, Islamofascism is forging ahead toward its goal of dominating the world.
    I have been warning that it is a deadly miscalculation to engage in infighting, and sit and wait out this emerging catastrophe. It is little more than an exercise in denial to believe that nothing bad will happen and that the corrupt, 'inept', Mullahs will likely shoot themselves in the foot instead of wreaking havoc on the world. I also keep pleading that we should forthwith help the Iranian democratic oppositions send the death-bearer Mullahs back to their mosques. It is the free world's best and most urgent option.
    What sane person would want to take a chance to wait and see if the mad Mullahs, once they have the bomb, would use it or not?
    Amil Imani is an Iranian-born American citizen and pro-democracy activist residing in the United States of America. He maintains a website,

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Ex-CIA Director: PA Arabs Don't Deserve State

    Ex-CIA Director: PA Arabs Don't Deserve State
    17:34 Jan 24, '07 / 5 Shevat 5767
    by Hillel Fendel
       James Woolsey, former Director of the CIA, told IsraelNationalRadio's Alex Traiman that a Palestinian state should wait "many decades" until they stop teaching their children to hate and murder.
    Traiman asked about Woolsey's choice of terminology in calling the present conflict between the West and Islam as World War Four.
    Woolsey explained that shortly after 9/11, "I saw an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Eliot Cohen of Johns Hopkins University where he wrote that the Cold War was World War III, and that the war against what I call Islamist totalitarianism is World War IV... We have a situation where democracies in the west such as Israel and the US, and Japan and others too, are at war with a group of Islamist totalitarianism ideologies and movements - very loosely analogous to the movements of the 20s and 30s - Fascism, Nazism, Communism, and Japanese imperialism..."
    Woolsey said that it could take the West "decades to win this war; the Cold War took us four decades to win, and I see no reason to expect this one to be less than that."
    Traiman asked, "Iran is actively working on a nuclear bomb and calls for Israel's destruction. How long can Israel afford to wait before taking action? And how long can the US afford to wait?"
    Woolsey did not offer a direct answer, but rather some background:
    "We can only hope that the Israeli and American governments have a better handle on the precise details of the Iranian nuclear program... The Persians [precursors of today's Iranians -ed.] invented chess, and they are playing it well. Hamas and Hizbullah and other groups are their pawns, and the Syrian government is a rook, and their most precious piece - their queen - is their nuclear weapons program. They are moving the pieces around quite cleverly, this week using Hizbullah to overthrow the government of Lebanon; next week it may be something else. They are moving their pieces with skill, and they're a very serious adversary."
    PA State - Not in the Coming Decades
    Asked his opinion on the establishment of a Palestinian state, the former CIA director recommended that it not happen in the coming decades. He said that though the Jewish presence in this region precedes the Moslem claim - "for some Muslims like Arafat to deny that Jews were ever present here is idiotic" - the Moslems also have national rights in the area.
    Openly avoiding the question of the nature or borders of a Palestinian state, he emphasized his opinion that "the Palestinians should not be granted the right to statehood until they start to treat Israeli Jews who settle in the West Bank as fairly as Israel treats its Muslim citizens."
    "An Arab Muslim living in Jaffa," Woolsey said, "enjoys freedom of speech, religion, and expression, and can vote for his representatives in the Knesset, and doesn't go to sleep worrying that some government element might come and kill him. I think that once the Palestinians start treating Jewish settlers with that same degree of humanity - and they're very, very far from doing that now - at that point I think we have to seriously consider how they could have some degree of self-governing. I won't get into the question of borders, but what I think is that the Palestinians must be held to the same standards as Israel regarding how they treat the other. I am sure this will be many decades from now, though, because their children are taught the Wahhabi doctrine of being suicide bombers and the like."
    Disengagement Was a Mistake
    Traiman: "There are continuous calls for American troop withdrawals from Iraq; the unilateral withdrawal idea is back on the table here in Israel; and talks with Syria are again being pushed. Why are we playing the appeasement card?"
    Woolsey: "Appeasement isn't called playing a card - it's just folding. I think those steps that you just mentioned are most unwise. Talking to Syria and negotiating should be done only when one has leverage... Unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank would not be a wise step for Israel to take; when one sees what happened in Gaza, and sees the political advantage that Hamas has taken of the situation to claim unilateral victory and now to be part of the PA government - how many failures do you need before you recognize that it's a failure?"
    Woolsey said that this past summer's war between Israel and Hizbullah was a lost opportunity for the United States and Israel to jointly decide on Syrian targets to be attacked. This type of mistake must not be repeated, he said:
    "We ought to make sure that if there is another legitimate and reasonable occasion for us to use force in this part of the world against Syria or Iran, we must not waste it. We should move towards encouraging peaceful regime change there; but if we are absolutely forced to use force against Iran, for instance, in order to stop its nuclear program, that should not be the limit of our use of force - it ought to be used also to break the power of the terrible Iranian regime and give the people of Iran a chance to live under a better one."
    Asked his opinion on Jonathan Pollard, Woolsey said that though he has favored a significant punishment for Pollard in the past, "now that he has served [over] 20 years in prison, my view is that 20 years is enough. I also think that the close relationship between the US and Israel is also of some consideration, and at this point I think he's served long enough. I won't go any further than that."

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Carter's speech gets mixed grades from students at Brandeis

    Carter's speech gets mixed grades from students at Brandeis
    Jessica Freiman,
    THE JERUSALEM POST  Jan. 25, 2007

    The morning after a much-publicized appearance on campus by former US president Jimmy Carter about his controversial new book brought with it what some said were new possibilities for dialogue at Brandeis University.
    Shayna Weiss, 21, of Florida said Wednesday that the Carter visit "has the potential to change the climate" on what many assume to be a totally pro-Israel campus, where about half the students are Jewish. "A president voiced views that Jewish students here have thought about but never expressed.
    "It's true that there hasn't been much debate about Israel at Brandeis, but people who have thought differently [than the vocal pro-Israel students] might have seen yesterday that there were a lot of people like them," Weiss said. "Wherever you fall on the spectrum, it's important to see the human consequences of your political decisions."
    Carter addressed those human consequences on Tuesday afternoon in his address to the 1,750 Brandeis students and faculty in a gymnasium filled to capacity.
    Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid has caused an uproar in the American Jewish community for seeming to imply that the situation in Israel is parallel to South Africa's former racist policy of apartheid, and the book has triggered the recent resignation of 14 members of the Carter Center's advisory board in Atlanta.
    Carter, 82, told the audience that using "apartheid" in the title was his deliberate choice, "knowing that it would be provocative."
    However, he stressed, the word denotes conditions not in Israel but in the West Bank, where "the choice hilltops, vital water sources, and productive land have been occupied, confiscated and then colonized by Israeli settlers."
    Life for Palestinians in the West Bank is "almost intolerable," Carter said, because of "spider-web-like" connecting roads between settlements, often for the exclusive use of Israelis, as well as the 500-odd checkpoints and "a huge dividing wall."
    After Carter's speech, Ido Givon, 26, of Givatayim told the former president that he had guarded roadblocks as a soldier and asked how Israel could possibly abandon a policy so "vital" to its security. Carter responded by repeating that Palestinians are forbidden to use the highways in their own territory.
    "Carter answered my question like a politician," Givon told The Jerusalem Post. "Thousands of terrorists have been stopped on their way to murder innocent Israeli civilians by the roadblocks. He didn't really address what I was talking about, but if you look at the statistics, the numbers don't lie."
    Heather Klein, 21, of Connecticut, said that she agreed with the president that the Palestinians are suffering but did not see why the burden rested upon the IDF to fight its own people during settlement evacuations like during the 2005 disengagement from Gaza. "UN troops should be doing the pullouts. Why should it be the Israeli people fighting themselves to create peace?"
    Originally invited to Brandeis to debate Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, an outspoken critic of Carter's book, the former president agreed to speak at the school only without conditions.
    Dershowitz addressed the crowed in rebuttal after Carter had departed, noting that Carter worked very closely with Yasser Arafat during the 1990s. "It seems extremely likely, therefore, that Arafat sought the advice of president Carter when he had to make the decision whether to accept or reject Camp David and Taba," Dershowitz said.
    Was Carter asked to advise Arafat about Camp David, Dershowitz wanted to know, and if so, did he tell Arafat that, "as you have subsequently said, there is no possibility that any Palestinian leader could accept such terms and survive - did you advise Arafat to turn down the offer of statehood at Camp David and Taba? If the answer to that question is yes, then president Carter has to look himself in the mirror and ask, to what extent is he responsible for the problems of the Palestinians today in the West Bank and in the Gaza?"
    A certain four-letter word was left out of Carter's speech, Dershowitz noted: Iran. "Not a single mention [was made] of a nuclear power threatening to annihilate Israel and having the enormous support of Palestinians on the ground."
    "How can you talk about Israel's vulnerability without mentioning Iran? Carter made it sound so simple," Dershowitz later told The Jerusalem Post.
    Looking to move dialogue forward, the Brandeis Student Union planned a "Reflect and Connect" discussion to be held Wednesday evening for a respectful forum on Tuesday's speakers.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Archive: The end of Zionism

    Archive: The end of Zionism
    Amotz Asa-El,
    THE JERUSALEM POST  Jan. 25, 2007

    Editor's Note: In his dramatic address on Wednesday night, President Moshe Katsav quoted a dramatic headline that appeared on a front-page analysis piece in The Jerusalem Post at the time of his election, "The end of Zionism." Contrary to the implication Katsav sought to create, however, this article was not a personal attack on him; writer Amotz Asa-El was arguing that there had been a "spit in the face of a Zionist icon" - Shimon Peres, the defeated candidate - "by non- and sometimes anti-Zionist small-time politicians."
    The following is the original analysis from August 1, 2000:
    Moshe Katsav's election, when removed from its flabbergasting circumstances, should provoke no one. Though hardly a revolutionary, the humbly born and softspoken man, who at 24 wrested a remote local council from Labor's oligarchs, was later a young, diligent, and relatively responsible, if lackluster and unimaginative, cabinet minister.
    Unfortunately, the circumstances are indeed there, and they add up to a spit in the face of a Zionist icon by non- and sometimes anti-Zionist small-time politicians. All portrayals of Katsav's victory as a reflection of non-Ashkenazi Israel's social emancipation, or of a disenfranchised Right's rally against the Camp David saga, miss the point, which is Shimon Peres's grand betrayal by the Knesset's entire haredi wing.
    Katsav would not possibly have won if not for the blanket support he received from Shas and United Torah Judaism, neither of which would candidly concede its intention in advance.
    Never mind that Ehud Barak and Peres delivered them all they could ever desire, from wholesale military-service exemptions to Yossi Sarid's ouster from the Education Ministry. What matters is that the haredi parties repeated their stab-in-the-back act of 1990, when they promised Peres the premiership only to break their promises in broad daylight.
    Why did they do this to him? During more than half-a-century of public activity Peres was never a secularist crusader. At least in part, Peres was cursed not because of what he really was, but because of what he was identified with, whether justly or not.
    Whatever their psychology might have been, Shas and UTJ have dealt Peres so humiliating a blow that the secular, veteran, Ashkenazi, productive Israelis who served lengthy years in the military and pay taxes more than anyone else in the West, will now wonder: In the future, will Moshe Gafni, Eli Yishai, Meir Porush, and rest of the haredi politicians who so nonchalantly decapitated a political monument like Peres do the equivalents of nuclearizing Israel, building an aerospace industry and defeating hyperinflation, to mention but a few of Peres's claims to fame? And if not, who, in their view, will?
    Shimon Peres has nothing to be ashamed of. The man who spent his life developing Israel's industry, science, military, and peace process was defeated not by the Likud and the NRP - who work and do army service and never concealed their opposition to Peres - but by cowards who lied to him in the face about their vote and who otherwise spend their time promoting non-work, non-service and non-peace at the expense of those who do work, serve, and seek peace.
    The Zionist idea was first and foremost about ending the Ghetto Jew's dependence on others for his livelihood and security. The circumstances of Peres's downfall are merely details in the broad, colorful, and increasingly alarming picture depicting the threat from within to a century of Zionist achievement.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    End presidency institution 45%:36%, legislate defending home from burglar self defense 76%:8%

    Poll: End presidency institution 45%:36%, legislate defending home from
    burglar self defense 76%:8%

    Dr. Aaron Lerner     Date:  25 January 2007

    Telephone poll of a representative sample of 515 Labor Party members carried
    out by Maagar Mohot Survey Institute (headed by Professor Yitzchak Katz for
    Israel Radio's "Its all Talk" on 24 January 2007.  Statistical error +/- 4.5
    percentage points.

    Should president Moshe Katzav continue his position as usual, take temporary
    leave or resign immediately?
    Continue 14% temporarily leave 19% Resign 61% Other replies 6%

    If president Katzav does not resign should the Knesset expel him with a vote
    by 90 MKs?
    Expel 67% No 18% Other replies 15%

    Do you favor ending the institution of the presidency in Israel?
    Yes 45% No 36% Other replies 19%

    Do you favor the proposal that president Katzav resigns in return for
    closing the case and granting him clemency?
    Against 67% For 20% Other replies 13%

    Of the following who would you like to be the president?
    Peres 52% Rivlin 18% Avital 7% Other replies 23%

    And if there were two candidates, Peres and Rivlin?
    Peres 54% Rivlin 23% Other replies 23%

    Do you think that the many investigations of corruption signals the
    beginning of a "house cleaning" process cleansing Israeli society from
    Yes 37% No 45% Other replies 18%

    Do you support or oppose a law according to which citizens have the right to
    defend their homes against burglars and defending the home be considered
    self defense?
    Total: Support 76% Oppose 8% Other replies 16%
    Voted Kadima: Support 66% Oppose 15% Other replies 19%
    Voted Likud: Support 94% Oppose 2% Other replies 4%
    Voted Labor: Support 78% Oppose 11% Other replies 11%
    Voted Yisrael Beiteinu: Support 96% Oppose 3% Other replies 1%

    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

    For free regular subscription:
    Subscribe at no charge:

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    message to:

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    President Katzav making mistake 74%, President should be elected by public 75%

    Poll: President Katzav making mistake 74%, President should be elected by
    public 75%
    Dr. Aaron Lerner      Date: 25 January 2007

    Telephone poll carried out by "Brain Base" ["Maagar Mochot"] of a
    representative sample of 511 adult Israelis (including Israeli Arabs) under
    the direction of Prof.Y.Katz for Channel 2 Television's morning program on
    24 January 2007.

    President Katzav today asked the Knesset to grant him temporary leave and
    does not intend to resign. Do you think he is doing the right thing or
    making a mistake?
    Right thing 11% Mistake 74% Other replies 15%

    Should the candidates for president be politicians or eminent people from
    the world of science, law, philosophy, arts and business?
    Politicians 16% Eminent people 69% Other replies 15%

    Should the president be elected by the Knesset (as now) or by the general
    Knesset 16% Public 75% Other replies 9%

    Of the following candidates who do you prefer to be president?
    Peres 34% Rabbi Lau 13% Prof. Rubenstein 8%
    Aharon Barak 7% Rivlin 7% Shamgar 6%
    Moshe Arens 5% Amos Oz  4% Avital 3% Other replies 13%

    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)

    Traffic fatalities in Israel at 21 year low (39 year low counting West Bank)

    Traffic fatalities in Israel at 21 year low (39 year low counting West Bank)
    Moti Bassok Haaretz 25 January 2007

    A total of 413 people were killed in traffic accidents in 2006 - the lowest
    number of fatalities in the past 21 years. In 17,048 accidents involving
    casualties that were reported to the police, 35,311 people were injured,
    including 2,242 seriously, in addition to the fatalities. The number of
    fatal accidents dropped by 2 percent compared to 2005, while the decrease in
    fatalities represented a 7-percent drop. When traffic fatalities in the West
    Bank are included in the police and Central Bureau of Statistics data, the
    number of fatalities last year reached a 39-year low.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Hamas-controlled Executive Force threatens to prosecute any biased media outlet

    Executive Force threatens to prosecute any biased media outlet
    Date: 25 / 01 / 2007  Time:  10:57

    Gaza - Ma'an - The Executive Force has said that it will prosecute any media
    outlet that does not broadcast or publish 'neutral' news.

    The media office of the Executive Force, which is an armed group under the
    control of the Hamas-controlled interior ministry, announced that it will
    take any media outlet that employs "lying and deception, and ignores the
    obvious realities" to court. In particular, the Executive Force promised to
    pursue any outlet that provokes incitement against members of the Executive
    Force and puts their blood in danger.

    In a statement sent to Ma'an, the Executive Force's media office accused
    some local radio stations and websites of apparently providing truthful
    news, accurately and objectively, but, in their words, "we find that the
    reality is [that they are] exposing allegations, thereby losing credibility
    in the eyes of our people."

    The media office also called on the Palestinian people not to believe the
    so-called "salaried trumpets" which, the office says, do not allow other
    parties an opportunity to explain their position. They also accuse these
    "trumpets" of only presenting one side of the story.

    The office also called on the print media, radio and television to deal
    professionally with the statements from the Executive Force's media office
    and its spokesman, Islam Shahwan, which the office says serves the interests
    of the Palestinian people.

    The Executive Force called on all media to convey the facts and events in
    the Palestinian arena with responsibility and professionalism.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Mary in Bethlehem and the real "Ethnic Cleansing" story

    This past Christmas saw a several instances of ugly propaganda implying that Israel is persecuting Christians in Bethlehem. Likewise, there is incessant agitation to the effect that Israel undertakes "ethnic cleansing."
    What is the truth? Judge for yourself.
    For the first time, Palestinian Arab Christians are saying out loud what they have said quietly for a long time. They tell of beatings and land theft, not by Israeli settlers, but by Muslims and Fatah party officials. And that is only the tip of the iceberg...
    Bethlehem Christians claim persecution
    Khaled Abu Toameh,
    THE JERUSALEM POST  Jan. 25, 2007

    BETHLEHEM - A number of Christian families have finally decided to break their silence and talk openly about what they describe as Muslim persecution of the Christian minority in this city.
    The move comes as a result of increased attacks on Christians by Muslims over the past few months. The families said they wrote letters to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the Vatican, Church leaders and European governments complaining about the attacks, but their appeals have fallen on deaf ears.
    According to the families, many Christians have long been afraid to complain in public about the campaign of "intimidation" for fear of retaliation by their Muslim neighbors and being branded "collaborators" with Israel.
    But following an increase in attacks on Christian-owned property in the city over the past few months, some Christians are no longer afraid to talk about the ultra-sensitive issue. And they are talking openly about leaving the city.
    "The situation is very dangerous," said Samir Qumsiyeh, owner of the Beit Sahur-based private Shepherd TV station. "I believe that 15 years from now there will be no Christians left in Bethlehem. Then you will need a torch to find a Christian here. This is a very sad situation."
    Qumsiyeh, one of the few Christians willing to speak about the harsh conditions of their community, has been the subject of numerous death threats. His house was recently attacked with fire-bombs, but no one was hurt.
    Qumsiyeh said he has documented more than 160 incidents of attacks on Christians in the area in recent years.
    He said a monk was recently roughed up for trying to prevent a group of Muslim men from seizing lands owned by Christians in Beit Sahur. Thieves have targeted the homes of many Christian families and a "land mafia" has succeeded in laying its hands on vast areas of land belonging to Christians, he added.
    Fuad and Georgette Lama woke up one morning last September to discover that Muslims from a nearby village had fenced off their family's six-dunam plot in the Karkafa suburb south of Bethlehem. "A lawyer and an official with the Palestinian Authority just came and took our land," said 69-year-old Georgette Lama.
    The couple was later approached by senior PA security officers who offered to help them kick out the intruders from the land. "We paid them $1,000 so they could help us regain our land," she said, almost in tears. "Instead of giving us back our land, they simply decided to keep it for themselves. They even destroyed all the olive trees and divided the land into small plots, apparently so that they could offer each for sale." When her 72-year-old husband, Fuad, went to the land to ask the intruders to leave, he was severely beaten and threatened with guns.
    "My husband is after heart surgery and they still beat him," Georgette Lama said. "These people have no heart. We're afraid to go to our land because they will shoot at us. Ever since the beating, my husband is in a state of trauma and has difficulties talking."
    The Lamas have since knocked on the doors of scores of PA officials in Bethlehem seeking their intervention, but to no avail. At one stage, they sent a letter to Abbas, who promised to launch an investigation.
    "We heard that President Mahmoud Abbas is taking our case very seriously," said Georgette Lama. "But until now he hasn't done anything to help us get our land back. We are very concerned because we're not the only ones suffering from this phenomenon. Most Christians are afraid to speak, but I don't care because we have nothing more to lose."
    The couple's Christian neighbor, Edward Salama, said the problem in the city was the absence of law and order. "We are living in a state of chaos and lawlessness," he said. "The police are afraid of the thugs who are taking our lands."
    Salama expressed deep concern over the conditions of Christians in Bethlehem, noting that many were leaving the country as a result of the deterioration.
    "When I see what's happening to Christians here, I worry a lot for our future," he said. "They are targeting Christians, because we are seen as weak."
    The Lamas said they decided to go public with the hope that the international community would intervene with the PA to halt the land-grab. "We will fight and fight until we recover our land," Fuad Lama said. "We will resort to the courts and to the public opinion for help.
    "Unfortunately, Christian leaders and spokesmen are afraid to talk about the problems we are facing. We know of three other Christian families - Salameh, Kawwas and Asfour - whose lands were also illegally seized by Muslims."
    A Christian businessman who asked not to be identified said the conditions of Christians in Bethlehem and its surroundings had deteriorated ever since the area was handed over to the PA in 1995.
    "Every day we hear of another Christian family that has immigrated to the US, Canada or Latin America," he said. "The Christians today make up less than 15 percent of the population.
    People are running away because the Palestinian government isn't doing anything to protect them and their property against Muslim thugs. Of course not all the Muslims are responsible, but there is a general feeling that Christians have become easy prey."

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Naomi Ragen fights segregated bus lines

    Naomi Ragen fights segregated bus lines
    Dan Izenberg, THE JERUSALEM POST  Jan. 25, 2007

    The Egged bus company operates 30 mehadrin (haredi) bus lines throughout the country where women are forced to enter the bus from the rear doors and sit in the back rows and are barred from boarding unless they wear "modest" clothing, according to a group of women who petitioned the High Court on Wednesday against the Egged and Dan bus companies and the Transportation Ministry.
    The petitioners included author Naomi Ragen and the Israel Religious Action Committee of the Progressive (Reform) Movement.
    The five women who petitioned the court recounted personal experiences riding on the mehadrin lines.
    Ragan, for example, was riding on the No. 40, a municipal route connecting Strauss St. in downtown Jerusalem with her home in the Ramot Gimel neighborhood. On the occasion in question, the bus was empty and Ragen took a single seat towards the front of the bus.
    As the bus began to fill up, several men approached her and demanded that she move to a seat at the back. Ragen replied that there was no sign posted in the bus stating that she had to do so. She also told them that as an observant woman, she knew that there was no halacha (Jewish law) preventing her from sitting where she was.
    She then reportedly suffered insults and physical threats, including a scolding from a haredi man that lasted the duration of the trip. According to Ragen, the bus driver did not intervene to guarantee her safety or order the male passengers to leave her alone.
    One of the other petitioners, a woman who is serving in the army, was returning to Kibbutz Revadim from Jerusalem on mehadrin No. 494 late one night when the driver ordered her to get off the bus in the middle of the highway after haredi passengers complained that she was dressed provocatively. The woman said she had been wearing a skirt that came to just above her knees.
    A third petitioner was barred by the driver from entering the bus because she was wearing trousers.
    The first mehadrin lines were introduced in 1977, after a committee appointed by the Transportation Ministry recommended introducing bus routes that would attract haredi customers. According to the plan, all passengers were to be allowed to alight from any door and the bus and drivers would not prohibit any passenger from sitting where he or she wanted. It would be up to the haredi community itself to "persuade" male and female passengers to enter the bus and take their seats separately.
    There were originally four pilot routes, two in Jerusalem and two in Bnei Brak, all of which served haredi neighborhoods. After a certain period had elapsed, the Transportation Ministry and the bus companies were supposed to review the situation and decide whether or not to expand the lines.
    No such review ever took place, but the number of mehadrin lines has been increasing ever since.
    Today, 23 of the segregated Egged lines are intercity, meaning that they are not used exclusively by haredim. In some cases, the mehadrin line is the only one traveling directly between two destinations. Passengers who do not want to abide by the mehadrin restrictions must often take two buses, travel for longer, and pay more to get to the same place from the same starting point.
    The petitioners demanded that the Transportation Ministry stop running the mehadrin lines until they operate in accordance with the law and that it conduct a study to assess the demand for mehadrin routes, rather than acceding automatically to the requests of haredi rabbis and communities for more segregated bus lines.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Israelis aren't 'racist' - they're worried

    Israelis aren't 'racist' - they're worried
    Isi Leibler, THE JERUSALEM POST  Jan. 24, 2007

    When Defense Minister Amir Peretz designated MK Ghaleb Majadle for a ministerial post, in order to garner Arab support for his position in Labor, Israel Beiteinu faction chairwoman Estherina Tartman branded the appointment "shameful and pitiful," "a huge ax poised over the neck of Zionism," and damaging to "Israel's character as a Jewish state."
    Granted Tartman's outburst was contemptible. But that does not detract from the reality that increasingly hostile, even treasonable outbursts by Israeli Arabs against the state have created enormous resentment among Jewish Israelis. Some are beginning to regard their Arab neighbors as fifth columnists.
    In large measure it is the radical Israeli-Arab politicians who compete against each other to undermine the legitimacy of the Jewish state who must shoulder the blame for this.
    For example, it was treason, pure and simple, when MK Azmi Bishara and two other Balad MKs last year traveled illegally to Beirut and Damascus and proclaimed their solidarity with Hizbullah. "Hizbullah won, and for the first time since 1967, we tasted the taste of victory," Bishara stated, adding that demonstrating "solidarity with these heroes is the least we can do." Bishara also supported Syria's struggle to free "occupied Arab land" and praised Syrian support for "resistance."
    Balad MK Wasal Taha described the abduction of IDF soldiers as legitimate and said that "resistance is not terror but a moral value." MK Taleb a-Sanaa was forced to resign from the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee after conducting illegal meetings with Hamas leaders.
    During the Lebanon war an Arab survey found that 78% of Israeli Arabs believed that Israeli leaders should be tried for war crimes. At funerals of Arab children killed by Hizbullah missiles, some parents went so far as to blame Israel, praise Hizbullah, and refer to Hassan Nasrallah as their "brother." At a rally of his followers, Sheikh Raed Salah, an Islamic Movement leader, urged Hizbullah and Hamas not to release kidnapped Israeli soldiers.
    More recently, in greetings extended to Fatah supporters in Gaza, MK Ahmed Tibi praised them for having nurtured "the first martyrs who fell and the first prisoners arrested." He urged them to "continue the struggle" until a Palestinian state is established.
    In the religious arena, the mufti of Jerusalem and other Islamic leaders openly support Hamas, and call for the establishment of a caliphate on Israeli territory. MK Ibrahim Sarsour warned that any attempt to build a synagogue on the Temple Mount would plunge Israel into a bloodbath. "Muslims and Arabs would not stand by idly while representatives of Satan on earth try to launch their insane plots." Arab schoolchildren are taught about the Nakba, the "catastrophe" of Israel's creation and encouraged to despise the Jewish state.
    ANOTHER DISCONCERTING development was a report from the National Committee of the Heads of Arab Local Councils titled "The Future Vision of Palestinian Arabs in Israel." Backed by Arab leaders and intellectuals, the report effectively calls for the dismantling of the Jewish state and its replacement by a binational entity. It demands the abrogation of the Law of Return unless a Law of Return for Arabs is promulgated, replacement of the current Israeli flag and national anthem, and total autonomy in Arab education. It also requires that Israel acknowledge responsibility for the 1948 Nakba and take steps to "rectify the damage inflicted on the Palestinians."
    Clearly the radicalization of Israeli Arabs already poses a genuine threat to the security of the nation. In fact, some Arab citizens of Israel have been arrested for spying on behalf of Hizbullah and the Iranians, and others for direct involvement in suicide bombings and terrorist attacks. As of now such incidents are not widespread, but with Israeli Arab MKs calling on their followers to identify with shaheeds, it is inevitable that more youngsters will move in this direction.
    To offset these trends the government must introduce a twin-track approach. Israeli Arabs enjoy a higher standard of living than Arabs in any Arab country. One merely has to enter hospitals or universities in Jerusalem or Haifa to appreciate this. But despite this, they are among the lowest-income earners in the country, and still experience discrimination at various levels. The government must commit itself to granting Israeli Arab citizens genuine social and economic equality. Decent Israelis must publicly support this goal.
    But in turn, Arab-Israelis must accept the fact that Israel will remain a Jewish state. Those unwilling or unable to do so should join their Muslim kinsmen a few kilometers across the border and live in a future Palestinian state. Of course most would undoubtedly choose to remain in a Jewish state rather than become citizens of Hamasland.
    The government is now belatedly reviewing the situation and the Knesset has even begun drafting legislation which will invariably impose limits on freedom of expression.
    But we are a nation at war and must defend ourselves. The Knesset was able to outlaw Meir Kahane's party, which posed no threat to the security of the state but was allegedly promoting racism. It should therefore not be difficult to take similar steps against actions which undermine our security.
    As a nation surrounded by enemies pledged to our destruction, we must become far more vigilant. This is not a lapse into McCarthyism. It is common sense and self-defense. If British-born Muslims can be transformed into suicide bombers in London mosques and schools, similar situations will inevitably ensue here unless we take firm action in advance.
    This should in no way detract from our determination to ensure that Israel remain a Jewish democratic state. Most of us always dreamt of having an Arab minority that would live with us in peace and friendship and possibly even act as a bridge for reconciliation with the Arab world. Alas, at least in the short term that is not on the horizon. But this dream becomes even more distant if we continue burying our heads in the sand and fail to take determined action to bring a halt to the ongoing encouragement of substantial numbers of our citizens into undermining the state in which they live and hating their Jewish neighbors.
    The writer chairs the Diaspora-Israel relations committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and is a veteran international Jewish leader.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Olmert calls on Katsav to resign

    Olmert calls on Katsav to resign

    Prime minister urges Katsav to leave President's Residence owing to rape allegations against him. Earlier, president proclaims his innocence, angrily slams media for leading 'brainwashing campaign' against his good name
    Yaakov Lappin Latest Update:  01.25.07, 00:49
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has called on President Moshe Katsav to leave the President's Residence.
    Speaking at the Herzliya Conference Wednesday evening, Olmert said, "I cannot open my speech tonight without addressing the events of the past 24 hours and the attorney general's decision to conduct a hearing to the president, in light of the possibility of filing a severe indictment against him."
     "Under such circumstances, I have no doubt that the president cannot continue fulfilling his role and will have to leave the President's Residence. This is a sad day to for the State of Israel ," Olmert said. His remarks were met with applause.
    Earlier Wednesday, President Katsav angrily proclaimed his innocence against rape allegations and emotionally slammed the media and political echelons for leading a "brainwashing campaign against my good name."
    Katsav promised to resign without delay only if the attorney general decides to file an indictment against him for rape or sexual harassment charges.
     "I have tired of this hunting expedition against me. I yield my immunity so an indictment can be filed against me, but the law does not demand I resign, and the attorney general is not demanding that I resign," Katsav said at special press conference at his Jerusalem residence.
    "For six months, my family and I have faced an unprecedented assault – with despicable information sullying my honor, using false information which has reached every home in Israel, ruining my name and describing me as a rapist," Katsav said.
    "Despite the pressures and humiliation, I respected the law for the past six months. I refrained from bringing forward my version of events, I have refrained from speaking out in order to not pervert the course of the investigation," he added.
    "In these most difficult days, I don't plan lower my head. I'll fight with all my soul. Even if there is a need for a world war to prove my innocence. I'll fight to clear my name," a furious president vowed.
    On the verge of tears, Katsav added, "My family stands by my side. As time passes, each and every one of you, citizens of Israel, will learn of the size of the injustice that took place. Citizens of Israel, don't believe these lies, these libels, this frame-up."
    "There is only one truth: I am the subject of an attack that the worst elements of moral society can absorb… I assume you also, Israeli citizens have been pained, as well as Jews around the world by these reports. In recent months, there has been brain washing like never before. Decision makers also surrendered to the media lynch. You heard, every evening, every hour, for six months, details on the terrible acts by the president of Israel."
    'Police working hand-in-hand with media'
    Katsav furiously censured the media for unjustly "issuing a verdict" against him.
    "I survived because the truth is on my side. In the court of the media, there is no need for evidence, facts or proof," he said. "The media's verdict was issued and implemented before I could give my side. There is no evidence or proof of the vicious allegations against me.
    "When the truth is made known, the citizens of Israel will be in shock," he said. "I wouldn't dare risk making such a decisive statement if I didn't know the truth – which you don't know."
    He accused the police of working hand-in-hand with the media to ensure his downfall. "The police did everything to spoil evidence in my favor," he charged.
    The president argued that there was absolutely no evidence to back the accusations, before returning to attack the press. "The media pressure has been hard to bear every day. In 2007, every person can go to police to make libelous claims, out of vengeance or another motive, an they will receive a headline to frame their victim. This happened to me, it could happen to anyone."

    "I bit my lip. I didn't understand how such terrible allegations could be made without asking for my reaction. You didn't let the facts confuse your aims. Your sense of justice, of truth, have been overridden. You didn't stop for a minute to ask, maybe this is after all, a libel. None of you looked directly at the simple facts. None of you made a single investigation into the claims. Not a single newspaper, TV station, radio station investigated the claims. You crossed every ethnical journalist line," Katsav said.
    He added: "I know what hurts you. You wrote when I was elected as president, that this is the end of Zionism."
    Citing media comparisons between his election and the murder of late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Katsav said: "Do you comprehend, citizens of Israel, how they can compare this (my election) with the murder of a prime minister?' With deep pain, my family has been forced to hear accusations which have no link to reality. When the truth comes out, citizens of Israel, you will be in shock."
    The president also lashed out at "an elitist clique," saying: "I saw myself as a symbol of all those who don't belong to the same clique, elite, rich, closed to others. And only they have right to represent Israel. I managed through citizens of Israel. I don't understand, I can't understand, from where this hatred comes from, of the media. To my great sorrow, I couldn't stop the desires of revenge and anger by people who worked next to me for many years. Revenge by people fired by me or who didn't get what they wanted from me, turned into an indictment against me."
    'I won't resign'
    "Believe me citizens of Israel, its comfortable for me to resign. I'm tired, what's the point of continuing. I've given up immunity… But the law doesn't demand I resign. The attorney general doesn't demand that I resign. I am not willing to surrender to blackmail, to lies. I know the truth. I know what I wasn't asked in investigations. The proof is on my side. The truth is on my side. If the attorney general decides to indict me, and he has not yet decided, I will resign without delay."
     "One of the biggest dangers is the cooperation between the media and the police. Even in a totalitarian regime, the media is the defender of basic rights… In a democratic country, when the police and media cooperate with one another, and trample on the rights of people, natural justice disappears completely. Where are the 'do gooders'? Why do they not raise their voices against this injustice?"

    Earlier, Katsav's attorneys appealed to Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, asking that he be granted a temporary suspension.
    According to Israeli law, the president can proclaim an inability to fulfill his duty and ask to receive a three-month leave of absence. The authority to approve such a request lies with the Knesset House Committee.
    If a temporary suspension is granted in this case, Katsav's political immunity would remain protected, thus delaying his indictment.

    First Published:  01.24.07, 19:23


    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Professors call Katsav's conduct despicable

    Professors call Katsav's conduct despicable

    President's behavior during speech closely resembled that of a common criminal, eminent law professor tells Ynet
    Oren Rice Published:  01.25.07, 00:20

    Prominent professors of law watched in shock as President Moshe Katsav delivered a frantic speech Wednesday evening in which he venomously attacked all of Israel's institutions, including the police, attorney general, government and media.
    Dean of the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Professor Yoav Dotan, told Ynet, "In my opinion he acted more like a criminal caught in the act than like a public figure behaving responsibly and respectably to prove his innocence."

     President's Defense
    "In light of the fact that he is still serving as the nation's president, this whole situation is humiliating. His pathetic insistence on holding onto his post is despicable in every sense, and is especially demeaning to the presidential institution.

    "I can't seriously believe that the president's attorneys believe something significant will change at the hearing. If it was one episode, or a minimal offense, or an unambiguous factual situation – then the hearing might change things," Dotan said. "But after the attorney general and the state prosecutors examined the evidence, I can't believe they would believe that the tables might turn."
    'Katsav's conduct doesn't suit a public figure'
    He called Katsav's attempt to incite the public against the law enforcement system and buy time "a cynical trick."

    "This type of conduct better suits an ordinary criminal than a public figure," he stated.

    According to Dotan, the president should resign, and if he fails to do so, the Knesset must dismiss him.
    Emanuel Gross, Professor of Criminal Law at Haifa University, told Ynet he was severely disappointed in Katsav's speech and called it "an unbecoming and even cynical exploitation of his
    official position to attack law enforcers and the complainants against him without giving them the chance to respond. "

    Gross said he found it hard to believe he was hearing such a spray of venom from the president's mouth.

    "I would have expected him to resign before making such statements. This is a test for the Knesset, a test for democracy. I expect the Knesset to dismiss the president, and that seems obvious."

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Wednesday, January 24, 2007

    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Address at the 2007 Herzliya Conference

    Translation - Israel Government Press Office
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Address at the 2007 Herzliya Conference
    January 24, 2007

    Distinguished Guests,

    I cannot speak tonight without referring to the events of the past day, and
    the Attorney General's decision to hold a hearing for the President in light
    of the possibility that serious charges may be filed against him.  In these
    circumstances, I have no doubt that the President cannot continue to fulfill
    his role and he should leave the President's Residence.  This is a sad day
    for the State of Israel.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, exactly one year ago less one day, I had the privilege
    to stand at this podium, at the final session of the Herzliya Conference as
    Acting Prime Minister, in place of Ariel Sharon, who days earlier had fallen
    into a coma from which he has yet to awaken.  In that speech, I expressed my
    profound prayer, and that of all those present, as well as the entire
    nation, that Arik Sharon would return to us. I have carried this hope and
    this prayer since then.

    Today, I would like to focus on a subject which I believe is the most
    important one, and which was one of the main points of discussion during
    this Conference over the past few days.  This subject is one with
    significant repercussions for the State of Israel and the region in the next
    decade.  I will present you with a report of the state of the Iranian

    Today, there is not one among us who does not sense the dangers inherent in
    this threat, not only to Israel, but also to the future of the region and to
    the stability of the world order.

    Every Israeli government over the past decade acted vigorously to improve
    our ability to track Iran's intentions, increase international awareness of
    the threat, mobilize international support to stop external assistance of
    the Iranian plans and prepare appropriate options in the event that these
    efforts prove unsuccessful in the end.

    We achieved considerable accomplishments in each of these areas; however let
    us not delude ourselves: the primary goal which must be realized still lies

    For many long years, we have followed Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear
    weapons, in the guise of a civilian nuclear program.  They are working
    through secret channels in a number of sites spread out across Iran.  In the
    past few years, we have been witness to especially intense Iranian activity
    on two tracks - the overt and the covert.

    Iranian support of Palestinian terror - through financial support, provision
    of weapons and knowledge, both directly and through Syria - Iranian
    assistance of terror in Iraq, the exposure of the capabilities which reached
    the Hizbullah from Iran during the fighting in Lebanon and the assistance
    which they offered just recently to Hamas, have demonstrated to many the
    seriousness of the Iranian threat.

    This activity has created an opposing front, which includes, in varying
    intensities, all the permanent members of the UN Security Council; Arab
    states such as Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Egypt and Jordan; and other
    key countries in the West, such as Germany and Japan.  This front is acting
    to unite forces and prevent this threat from becoming a reality.

    Recently, I returned from an important visit to China, and thus ended a
    round of diplomatic visits.  I met with all the leaders of countries which
    serve as permanent members in the Security Council, and other key countries.
    The Iranian topic was at the top of our agenda and at the core of the
    meetings I held, and which various ministers and other professional
    officials regularly hold.

    In all the contacts I have had, there has been clear agreement that Iran
    cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons or the material to produce

    The Security Council's discussion of the Iranian situation and its
    acceptance of Resolution 1737 are important steps, which brought together
    all the members of the Security Council.  The Resolution was achieved
    following intense and complex diplomatic efforts.  Many parties took part in
    it, including several agencies in the State of Israel, both on a political
    level and at a professional level.  We know that our efforts contributed
    greatly to the result.

    It is clear to everyone that a diplomatic solution to the Iranian issue is
    the preferred solution.  We also prefer such an outcome.  The direction
    which the majority of the international community leans towards is a
    solution which can bear fruit, as long as it is done with the necessary
    ingenuity and determination, while meticulously adhering to the minimum
    requirements on which there can be no compromise.

    Assuming that all the steps which will now be taken (and those which are
    already being taken) by the international community are sharper, more
    significant, clearer and more vigorous, the need to adopt more demanding and
    harsher solutions in the future will be reduced.  Those who believe, as we
    do, that a diplomatic solution is preferable, must now muster their strength
    to exert pressure on Iran and thus stay the course until change is achieved.

    To turn a blind eye now, while ignoring reality, dragging one's feet, and
    attempting to reach dangerous compromises while avoiding taking clear steps,
    those of us who wish to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power will,
    down the road, not be left with any choice but to take much more severe
    steps in the future.

    I wish to clarify - Iran is very vulnerable and sensitive to international
    pressure, despite its defiant, arrogant and provocative stance, and it is
    already paying the ever increasing price of this behavior, a price which
    will only increase if it continues in its policy.  As serious as the Iranian
    threat is, the threat of nuclear attack on Israel is by no means imminent.

    At this stage, there is still time, while not unlimited, to stop Iran's
    intention of becoming a nuclear power which threatens its adversaries, first
    and foremost, Israel.  We are not complacent, we cannot be complacent, and
    we are responding to the Iranian threats with the necessary seriousness.

    Israel is not spearheading the struggle against the Iranian threat.  This
    threat must be dealt with seriously and responsibly, first and foremost by
    the major powers and by other key nations.

    We are at the forefront of the fight to place this issue on the top of the
    agendas of world leaders and international public opinion.  It is our duty
    to point out the dangers and help in finding solutions.

    The Jewish people, on whom the scars of the Holocaust are deeply etched,
    cannot allow itself to again face a threat against its very existence.  In
    the past, the world remained silent and the results are known.  Our role is
    to prevent the world from repeating this mistake.

    This is a moral question of the highest degree.  There is a moment during
    which any rule among the routine diplomatic rules becomes irrelevant.  When
    the leader of a country announces, officially and publicly, his country's
    intention to wipe off the map another country, and creates those tools which
    will allow them to realize their stated threat, no nation has the right to
    weigh its position on the matter.  This is an obligation of the highest
    order, to act with all force against this plot.

    We have nothing against the Iranian people, we are not the enemy of the
    Iranian people and we have no interest in conflict with Iran.  In the past,
    before the takeover by the radical factions of the country with its
    exceptional tradition and impressive abilities, we had close and friendly

    The Iran of today, whose leadership is motivated by religious fanaticism and
    ideological extremism, has chosen a policy of confrontation with us and
    threatens to wipe Israel off the map of nations.  It supports terror and
    undermines stability in the region.  The Iranian regime, in its aspiration
    to regional hegemony, bears responsibility for the riots perpetrated by the
    Hizbullah today to bring down the Lebanese government.

    Threats, hostility and fighting are not our way.  Our aspiration was, and
    will always be, to live in peace with our neighbors, near and far.  We will
    never reject a hand, offered in all sincerity, towards genuine peace, by any
    nation.  For this we yearn.

    At the same time, our desire for peace should not be interpreted as
    weakness, but rather as a source of strength.  Anyone who threatens us, who
    threatens our existence, must know that we have the determination and
    capability of defending ourselves, responding with force, discretion and
    with all the means at our disposal as necessary.  We will not place the
    lives of our people, the life of our country, at risk.

    We have the right to full freedom of action to act in defense of our vital
    interests.  We will not hesitate to use it.  I do not suggest that anyone
    mistakes our restraint and responsibility, or presume that it will harm our
    determination and capability to act when necessary.

    The Iranian issue preoccupies me and my thoughts constantly.  I am
    coordinating the handling of this matter and follow up on it on a daily
    basis, of one mind with the ministers involved in the matter and in
    coordination with the relevant agencies and ministries.

    Faced with the Iranian threat there is not, never was and will never be any
    difference between opposition and coalition, between right, center and left.
    We are all united in this regard and the people stand behind us, united and
    ready to face the dangers lurking at Israel's doorstep.

    There is no human experience we have not undergone.  There is no affliction,
    threat, hatred, jealousy, envy, persecution, violence and bloodshed which
    have not been seared into our flesh.  With unparalleled strength, we built
    our lives and established a glorious country.

    No force in the world can destroy us - and there will never be.  We refuse
    to be dragged into an atmosphere of collective, self-induced fear.  We will
    not allow the people to sink into depression and insecurity.  We have
    immense strength.  We have nothing to fear and we will not be afraid.

    All of us understand the weight of responsibility and the importance of the
    hour related to this sensitive subject.  Together, through joint internal
    effort, by joining forces with the world and by speaking in one, responsible
    voice at home - not overly excited, but rather clear and determined - we
    will stand up to nuclear threats and prevail.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Fatah spokesperson doubts the current round of dialogue will prove a success

    Fatah spokesperson doubts the current round of dialogue will prove a success
    Date: 24 / 01 / 2007  Time:  17:05

    Bethlehem - Ma'an - The spokesperson of the Fatah movement, Ahmad
    Abdul-Rahman, issued a statement in which he expressed doubt that the
    current round of dialogue will reach the desirable end since no agreement
    has been reached over the future government's agenda.

    He stated three conditions for a solution: A single authority, one security
    service and one rifle and rule of law. He added that political rivalry has
    been complicated because of the Hamas-affiliated Executive Force, which he
    claims, has no legitimacy and no one knows where the decision to establish
    it came from.

    Abdul-Rahman affirmed that there should be one political agenda, agreed upon
    by the government, the presidency, the Legislative Council and all
    Palestinian forces.

    He blamed the responsibility for the frequent failure of dialogue on Hamas'
    insistence on addressing solely their agenda inquiring: "How long shall we
    keep talking about national dialogue and reach a deadlock only to start
    again? If we are supposed to follow the Hamas agenda, we'll reach an impasse
    anew. If they can rule, they have all the means."

    IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

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    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Waiting for the Mahdi: Official Iranian Eschatology Outlined in Public Broadcasting Program in Iran


    Special Dispatch-Iran

    January 25, 2006

    No. 1436

    Waiting for the Mahdi: Official Iranian Eschatology Outlined in Public Broadcasting Program in Iran .

    The website of the governmental Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has posted a lengthy document titled "The World toward Illumination." The document is a transcript of an IRIB series on the imminent arrival of the Mahdi, the Twelfth or Hidden Imam, awaited by Shi'ites as the Messiah.(1)

    The program describes in glowing terms the messianic age to be inaugurated by the Mahdi. He is to begin his uprising in Mecca, and then march on Iraq, where he will establish his "seat of world government" in the city of Kufa and subjugate the current world powers. This will be an age of unparalleled happiness; there will be completely new technologies at mankind's disposal, and "corruption, war, and rebellion will no longer exist." Neither will "liberal democratic civilization."

    Various days of the year are mentioned as being propitious for the appearance of the Mahdi, though the program says that the precise date cannot be known.

    The series also includes, in parts not reproduced here, a lengthy polemic against the West, focusing on Evangelical Christians, Zionism, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Hollywood. It also gives a historical survey of Western thinking, from Saint Augustine to Francis Fukuyama.

    The following are excerpts from the transcripts of the World Toward Illumination program from the IRIB website, in the original English:(2)


    (1): "Miracles of the Messiah Will Soon Be Here"

    "...Where is man moving to? What will happen in his future? What fate will today's nations and civilizations have in the future? Will they destroy one another? Will a power, nation or civilization prevail? And finally to what direction will the speed of technology and modernity take man?...

    "In the current era new interpretations of happiness and prosperity for man have been brought up. In these interpretations there is talk about welfare and worldly tranquility. Some believe that science and material progress automatically bring about prosperity, and man can attain sublimity on earth... But the world's reality shows that man more than any other time is searching for prosperity and tranquility. The daily increasing production of destructive weapons, domineering tendencies, racist wars, genocide and instability of world markets, all threaten the world's security and tranquility. Now western rulers under the slogan of liberal democracy are tyrannically and oppressively looting the capital of oppressed nations. The weakness of the family foundation, crime, violence, narcotics, human trafficking, anxiety and depression have faced the world's future with serious danger...

    "...We invite you to tune in to our next programs to see how the future will turn out to be. And we invite you to listen to an inspiring poem.

    "Be joyous my heart, miracles of the Messiah will soon be here

    "The scent of breaths of the One we know comes from near

    "Grieve not of sorrow and melancholy, as assured I was... last night

    "That a Savior will come, it's clear."

    (3): "How Beautiful and Auspicious Will Be the Day when the World is Cleansed of Deceit"

    "How beautiful and auspicious will be the day when the world is cleansed of deceit and mischief and the government of justice is established throughout the world. On that day the perfume of life will begin to circulate within humans and the aroma of narcissus, irises and chrysanthemums will fill their soul. Undoubtedly such a day is nigh.

    "Seeking pure water so thirsty am I,

    "Moonlight surely appeals to my eye

    "Oh bright dawn I desire you as I sigh

    "The luminous sun I seek or I die..."

    (6): "We Must Get Ready to Search for the Liberal Democratic Civilization in History Museums"

    "...The West due to a lack of spirituality and morality is not able to respond to man's needs. Lack of attention to man's sublime needs in these societies has created social and cultural crises. Thus this civilization like those of many other Western theoreticians is just an unreal theory. It seems that in the same way that the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini predicted the fall of communism we must get ready to search for the liberal democratic civilization in history museums."

    (12): "Everything Will Be New and Fresh Like Spring"

    "Undoubtedly, history will not end with the memory of man's failures; man's ultimate fate is not weakness and inability; and the sun will undoubtedly not spare its vital rays from anyone. Many Iranian poets have spoken of the rise of the sun at dawn and consider man to be worthy of living in a bright and beautiful world full of the aroma of spirituality, where there is justice and equality...

    "Contrary to the views of western theoreticians, who usually depict an ambiguous and dark future for mankind, Muslim experts believe human history, despite its many ups and downs, has a very auspicious fate, and with the appearance of the Imam of the Age, Hazrat Mahdi (may God hasten his reappearance), finally the world matters will gain order. Muslims believe hopes for the realization of such a happy ending for the world, are called 'Awaiting Redemption', and means waiting for man's problems to be solved by the Savior at the end of time. This awaiting influences many, and inspires them with activity and enthusiasm in confronting darkness and oppression for changing the existing situation...

    "When that Promised Person who is the direct descendent of the Prophet rises up, the sun of justice and freedom will shine on the hearts and he with his kind hands will extend friendship throughout the world. His face will be attractive and his look charismatic. He is humble before God's greatness. He is a manifestation of God's glory and beauty. Imam Mahdi is the perfect human being. His behavior is praiseworthy and his manners immaculate. He is the embodiment of justice. His torch of guidance is for all mankind...

    "In short, when he reappears, peace, justice and security will overcome oppression and deceit and one global government, the most perfect ever, will be established. He will make the earth prosper in a way in which no ruins will remain. Man's maturity will reach its height, full equality will be established among the people, and no one will be arrogant toward the other and will not try to dominate others. Finally, corruption, war and rebellion will no longer exist and everything will be new and fresh like spring."

    (13): "Pure and Sincere People Must Be Trained to Help the Savior in His Implementation of Global Justice"

    "Sometimes incidents that occur in the world are like an insignificant but infectious pimple that suddenly explodes. Some theoreticians support this view and believe that nothing should stop this volcanic explosion and we should allow corruption to extend so much that the prevailing system would disintegrate. But the uprising of Imam Mahdi... is not like this. This uprising is like a fruit that must pass through stages till it is ready to be picked. Thus, if the Savior has not yet appeared it is not because the world is not full of oppression, but because the time must come for the people to be wise enough and ready to accept justice. Pure and sincere people must be trained in order to help the Savior in his implementation of global justice..."

    Monday November 20, 2006: "The Seat of the Mahdi's Global Government Will Be the City of Kufa" in Iraq

    "He will appear as a handsome young man, clad in neat clothes and exuding the fragrance of paradise. His face will glow with love and kindness for the human beings and because of this reason a famous hadith from the Prophet of Islam... has referred to him as Inn-al-Mahdi Tavous ahl al-Jannah, which means 'Indeed the Mahdi will be like a Peacock among the People of Paradise.' He has a radiant forehead, black piercing eyes and a broad chest. He very much resembles his ancestor Prophet Mohammad... Heavenly light and justice accompany him. He will overcome enemies and oppressors with the help of God, and as per the promise of the Almighty the Mahdi will eradicate all corruption and injustice from the face of the earth and establish the global government of peace, justice and equity.

    "Imam Mahdi (may God hasten his reappearance) will appear all of a sudden on the world scene with a voice from the skies announcing his reappearance at the holy Ka'ba in Mecca. The cloak and other special belongings of Prophet Mohammad... will be with him. He is the essence of all good and the mirror reflecting the characteristics of the 124,000 Prophets sent by God for the guidance of mankind since creation. He calls on all and says I am Baqiat-Allah or the Repository of God on earth. The Prophet had said: Mahdi will appear with a cloud moving above his head. From the sky it will be announced that the hands of the oppressors have been cut and the best of men from the progeny of Mohammad has taken over the leadership. Then the birds will lay abundant eggs and the fish will exceedingly reproduce, the rivers will flow in all their glory and the springs will gush forth from the earth, and the fruits will be multiplied."

    "In our discussion of the world in the last days of the earth we had said in our previous editions of this program that no source has pointed to the exact date when the Savior will appear and only God knows about the exact timing of the reappearance of Imam Mahdi... The Prophet had said: He will certainly appear and if only a day were to be left to the end of the world God will make that day so long for Mahdi to appear and rise. There are various versions of the exact day of his reappearance. Some say it would be Friday and the date will be Ashura or the 10th of Moharram, the heart-rending martyrdom anniversary of his illustrious ancestor, Imam Husain... Others say the date will be the 25th of the month of Zil-Qa'dah and may coincide with the Spring Equinox or Nowrooz as the Iranians call [it]. A saying attributed to the Prophet's 6th infallible heir, Imam Ja'far Sadeq... says the Mahdi will appear on the Spring Equinox and God will make him defeat Dajjal the Impostor or the anti-Christ as the Christians say, who will be hanged near the dump of Kufa....

    "Then he will be joined by 313 of the most devoted believers, equivalent to the number of those that had accompanied the Prophet at the Battle of Badr, the first armed encounter imposed by the infidels on the Muslims. Imam Mahdi and steadfast devotees will gather in Mecca; the people of Mecca will be surprised at the presence of so many faithful. These enlightened individuals will pledge allegiance to the Mahdi...

    "After his appearance the Imam would remain in Mecca for some time, and then go to Medina. According to narrations, Sofyani, a descendant of the Prophet's archenemy Abu Sofyan, will seize Syria and attack Iraq and the Hejaz with the ferocity of a beast. The Sofyani will commit great crimes against humanity in Iraq, slaughtering people bearing the names of the infallible Imams, and his army will lay siege to the city of Kufa and to Holy Najaf. Of course, many incidents take place in this line and finally Imam Mahdi sends troops who kill the Sofyani in Beit ol-Moqaddas [i.e. Jerusalem], the Islamic holy city in Palestine that is currently under occupation of the Zionists. Soon a pious person from the progeny of Imam Hasan Mojtaba... meets with the Imam. He is a venerable God-fearing individual from Iran. Before the Imam's appearance he fights oppression and corruption and enters Iraq to lift the siege of Kufa and holy Najaf and to defeat the forces of Sofyani in Iraq. He then pledges allegiance to Imam Mahdi.

    "Another beautiful moment of the Savior's appearance is the coming down of Prophet Jesus... from heaven. Hazrat Mahdi receives him courteously and asks him to lead the prayers. But Jesus says you are more qualified for this than me. We read in the book Tazkarat ol-Olia, 'the Mahdi will come with Jesus son of Mary accompanying him.' This indicates that these two great men... complement each other. Imam Mahdi will be the leader while Prophet Jesus will act as his lieutenant in the struggle against oppression and [for the] establishment of justice in the world. Jesus had himself given the tidings of the coming of God's last messenger and will see Mohammad's ideals materialize in the time of the Mahdi. The seat of the Mahdi's global government will be the city of Kufa, where his headquarters will be the Sahla Mosque, presently outside the city that was the home of Prophet Idrees or Enoch long before the great deluge of the times of Prophet Noah. From here he will dominate the east and the west to fill the earth with justice...

    "God will enliven the earth through the Mahdi after the corruption and vice wrought by the oppressors and sinner[s]. Thus his appearance will take place when morality and humanity have reached a dead end. The people's yearning for justice in the midst of all the oppression allows him to carry out his mission. In our time, many pray for his appearance and each day they renew their allegiance to him. "O God, make me one of his companions, show me his respected and bright visage, and hasten his reappearance."

    Monday November 27, 2006: "After His Uprising from Mecca, All of Arabia Will Submit to Him, and Then Other Parts of the World as He Marches on Iraq"

    "When the sun of freedom and justice shines, the sounds of a rider coming from afar will be heard. The winds obey him, and in his presence the turbulent seas and fiery storms will reach the shore of calmness. The appearance of the Savior will make the fragrance of eternal justice embellish the soul of the earth. The Mahdi... himself will say, my existence is the cause of security and peace for the world people.

    "There are various narrations on the global government of peace and justice of Imam Mahdi (may God hasten his reappearance and cleanse the Planet of all vestiges of sin and corruption). Narrations on the global government of justice, the universal government, the government of the deprived, the government of welfare and security, and each of these indicates one aspect of the Savior's government. The justice-spreading universal government encompasses all these. Prophet Mohammad... has been quoted as saying: I give you the good tidings of the Mahdi. He will rise in my Ummah [i.e. the Muslim nation], while my Ummah is entangled in differences and deviations. He will fill the earth that is immersed in oppression, with justice. And all those in heaven and earth will be content with him...

    "...One of the first measures of Imam Mahdi... is fighting all centers of domination and power-mongering. In this way, Global Arrogance [i.e. the West headed by America] and its minions puffed up by their economic and military might will try to create problems but they will not be able to change anything in their favor. The Mahdi considers his programs within the framework of conventional criteria, and says: Fear God and surrender to us and hand over the affairs to us. It is up to us to quench your thirst from the spring, as we are the one[s] who take you to its source.

    "The Mahdi's far-sightedness and firmness in the face of mischievous elements will strike awe. After his uprising from Mecca, all of Arabia will... submit to him and then other parts of the world as he marches upon Iraq and established his seat of global government in the city of Kufa. Then the Imam will send 10 thousand of his forces to the east and west to uproot the oppressors. At this time God will facilitate things for him and lands will come under his control one after the other. The Prophet's 5th infallible successor, Imam Mohammad Baqer... says: It is as if I see the Mahdi who has taken control of the east and the west, and all obey him.

    "Thus, as is clear, in the justice-seeking government the clouds give way to bright sunshine, as the Promised Savior spreads his radiance on the earth. God's infinite kindness will give refuge to mankind and the brightness of truth and justice will be seen in all dimensions of life."

    Monday December 11, 2006: "The Idea of Placing Humanity Under One Religion... is a Gift Given by Islam to Humanity"

    "... Regarding the Islamic goal of the perfect and ideal state, it should be noted that the world desired by Islam is not a far-fetched idea like the utopia of the West in which the realities of today's society have no effect. Since the natural growth of man is toward sublimity, dedicated Muslims in each and every era strive to materialize the characteristics of the promised society to the best of their ability... The Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (may his soul rest in peace) used to emphasize this and would say: We, of course, cannot fill the world with justice now. If we could we certainly would. But since we cannot, he, the Savior must come. The world is full of oppression and if we can prevent oppression we will have carried out our part of the duty..."

    "With the reappearance of Imam Mahdi... conflicts, differences and discriminations that stem from lack of faith and atheism in the society will be eliminated. The shortcomings of religions and schools of thought will be clarified and Islam will prevail as the perfect pinnacle of faith. In other words, methods will become one and oneness will appear in people's beliefs. The Mahdi will materialize the call of the holy Qur'an, which throughout its text has urged mankind to unite and worship the One and the Only God without associating partners to him. The writer of the book Imamate and Mahdaviyat, says: the idea of placing humanity under one religion irrespective of their color, gender, language, class and ethnicity is a gift given by Islam to humanity..."

    Monday December 25, 2006: "The Unjust System of Distribution and Denial of the Rights of Nations Will End with the Reappearance of Imam Mahdi"

    "... In the weird system of today's powerful count[r]ies, moral and spiritual values have no place and are seen as undesirable liabilities that prevent these powers from reaching economic welfare and what they call true prosperity. However, the exploitation of the weak, the unjust system of distribution and denial of the rights of nations, will end with the reappearance of Imam Mahdi...

    "One of the characteristics of the global government of the Mahdi is the astounding growth of science and technology. There will be an explosion of science. As we said last week, knowledge is made of 27 letters and up to now whatever man has discovered is within the confines of only 2 letters. But when the Mahdi appears the other 25 letters of knowledge will be at the service of mankind, which is something not imaginable with the limited knowledge that we have today despite the seemingly great progress in science and technology. The Mahdi will correct man's scientific mistakes and bring up new and astonishing methods that had never occurred to man before... The Mahdi will also regain the wealth and properties that have unrightfully been usurped by invaders and oppressors and distribute divine blessings among the people. Imam Baqer... says he will divide them with such equality that there will no longer be any poor person. In Islam's logic justice and good relations among people will lead to the flow of abundant divine blessings from the sky. Since people will have the best of qualities vital rains will pour down and all the earth will be filled with greenness and freshness. The Prophet had said in this regard: in my Ummah, the Mahdi will rise and people will gain such welfare as never seen before. The sky will repeatedly rain and the earth will hide none of the things it can grow."



    (1) It is not stated if and when the series was broadcast or at what venue. The document posted on the website is divided into 18 parts; the final segments are dated January 1, 2007, December 25, 2006, December 11, November 27, and November 20; the other segments are undated. The January 1, 2007 segment, however, states that it is "the end of the 25th and last edition of our program The World Towards Illumination." For more on Iranian eschatology, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 897, "Ayatollah Nouri-Hamedani: 'Fight the Jews and Vanquish Them so as to Hasten the Coming of the Hidden Imam,'" April 22, 2005:

    (2) "The World Towards Illumination," .

    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)
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    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Report: "N Korea helping Iran with nuclear testing"

    N Korea helping Iran with nuclear testing;jsessionid=J2O0LZIRG2UZZQFIQMGCFGGAVCBQUIV0?xml=/news/2007/01/24/wiran24.xml
    By Con Coughlin
    Last Updated: 3:23pm GMT 24/01/2007

  • North Korea is helping Iran to prepare an underground nuclear test similar to the one Pyongyang carried out last year.

    Under the terms of a new understanding between the two countries, the North Koreans have agreed to share all the data and information they received from their successful test last October with Teheran's nuclear scientists.

    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong il; Iran and N Korea are said to be collaborating over a nuclear test
    Nuclear partners? Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong il of N Korea

    North Korea provoked an international outcry when it successfully fired a bomb at a secret underground location and Western intelligence officials are convinced that Iran is working on its own weapons programme.

    A senior European defence official told The Daily Telegraph that North Korea had invited a team of Iranian nuclear scientists to study the results of last October's underground test to assist Teheran's preparations to conduct its own — possibly by the end of this year.

    There were unconfirmed reports at the time of the Korean firing that an Iranian team was present. Iranian military advisers regularly visit North Korea to participate in missile tests.

    Now the long-standing military co-operation between the countries has been extended to nuclear issues.

    As a result, senior western military officials are deeply concerned that the North Koreans' technical superiority will allow the Iranians to accelerate development of their own nuclear weapon.

    "The Iranians are working closely with the North Koreans to study the results of last year's North Korean nuclear bomb test," said the European defence official.

    "We have identified increased activity at all of Iran's nuclear facilities since the turn of the year," he said.

    "All the indications are that the Iranians are working hard to prepare for their own underground nuclear test."

    The disclosure of the nuclear co-operation between North Korea and Iran comes as Teheran seems set on a collision course with the West over its nuclear programme, although it insists it is entirely peaceful.

    Both countries were named in President George W Bush's famous "axis of evil" State of the Union speech in 2002.

    The United Nations Security Council has unanimously authorised the imposition of "smart" sanctions against Iran.

    This is because of its refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment programme, which most Western intelligence agencies believe is part of a clandestine nuclear weapons programme.

    France expressed concern yesterday over an Iranian decision to bar 38 UN nuclear inspectors from Iran, claiming that Teheran appeared to be singling out westerners from the inspection team.

    Intelligence estimates vary about how long it could take Teheran to produce a nuclear warhead. But defence officials monitoring the growing co-operation between North Korea and Iran believe the Iranians could be in a position to test fire a low-grade device — less than half a kiloton — within 12 months.

    The precise location of the Iranian test site is unknown, but is likely to be located in a mountainous region where it is difficult for spy satellites to pick up any unusual activity.

    Teheran successfully concealed the existence of several key nuclear sites — including the controversial Natanz uranium enrichment complex — until their locations were disclosed by Iranian dissidents three years ago.

    Western intelligence agencies have reported an increase in the number of North Korean and Iranian scientists travelling between the two countries.

    The increased co-operation on nuclear issues began last November when a team of Iranian nuclear scientists met their North Korean counterparts to study the technical and political implications of Pyongyang's nuclear test.

    The Iranians are reported to have been encouraged by the fact that no punitive action was taken against North Korea, despite the international outcry that greeted the underground firing.

    This has persuaded the Iranian regime to press ahead with its own nuclear programme with the aim of testing a low-grade device, which would be difficult for international inspectors to detect.

  • Labels: ,

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    [Palestinians] National unity talks reach agreement to fulfil five goals, including formation of a united resistance

    National unity talks reach agreement to fulfil five goals, including
    formation of a united resistance
    Date: 24 / 01 / 2007  Time:  09:56

    Bethlehem - Ma'an - The national unity dialogue between rival delegates from Fatah and Hamas, which kicked off on Tuesday in Gaza, has already yielded results, according to sources in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).

    Salih Nasser from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) informed that Tuesday's meeting led to an agreement on five issues. These are the formation of a national unity government, the activation of the role of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), the formation of a national security council, the formation of a united resistance front, and the democratization of the unions in general.

    Palestinian sources also said that participants agreed on the agenda for the dialogue sessions.

    Nasser added that the participants had agreed to form a committee who "will prepare the platform [of the national unity government] within the coming 48 hours". He also said that this national dialogue committee will convene at 6pm on Wednesday.

    According to the newspaper 'Al-Sharq Al-Awsat' (meaning 'The Middle East' in Arabic), the meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas' politburo chief Khalid Mash'al on Sunday in Damascus was key in enabling an agreement on a national unity government to be announced.

    However, the newspaper, which is an Arabic-language daily based in London, said that Abbas did not want to give the Syrians the honour of achieving such an agreement. The newspaper quotes Abbas as saying that he did not want to "give the Syrians the [honour of] completion of this agreement on their land; I prefer the agreement to be announced in Gaza."

    The paper also claims that a draft paper was presented at the Damascus meeting which hopes to bridge the gap between the two sides. This paper is reported to include a commitment of the new government to the previous agreements signed with the Israelis.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Left-wing rabbis split on anti-IDF group

    [Note - The shelling of the UN compound took place in 1996 and should not be confused with similar incidents in the recent Lebanon war]
    Left-wing rabbis split on anti-IDF group
    Matthew Wagner,
    Jan. 23, 2007

    Rabbis for Human Rights Israel (RHRI) is at odds with its sister organization in North America over an issue that goes to the heart of the debate over Zionism's use and misuse of military might to defend itself.

    During a board meeting Monday in Jerusalem, some leading members of RHRI strongly criticized Rabbis for Human Rights North America (RHR-NA) for honoring a New York-based legal advocacy group that sued two senior Israeli security officials for perpetrating "war crimes."

    On December 11, RHR-NA honored the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) with the Raphael Lemkin Award for its work combating purported torture and abuse of suspected terrorists held by the US authorities on Guant namo Bay, Cuba.

    But the CCR is the same organization that issued class action suits on behalf of Palestinians and Lebanese against Avi Dichter, former director of Israel's General Security Service, and Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Ya'alon, former head of the Intelligence Branch and former chief of General Staff of the IDF.

    One board member of RHRI said he and other board members were appalled by the decision to honor the CCR.

    "This incident demonstrates the ideological rift that exists between us and our sister organization in North America," said the rabbi.

    Executive director of RHRI Rabbi Arik Ascherman said in response that the board reached a decision not to discuss the issue with the press before notifying RHR-NA of its decisions.

    But Ascherman did comment on his organization's stand on the issuing of class action suits against IDF commanders for perpetrating war crimes.

    "Our organization is fairly wary about these things," said Ascherman. "But I can tell you as an individual that the Israeli courts have a mixed record on prosecuting human rights violations."

    Rabbi Kalman Levi-Weiman, leader of the Kol Haneshama congregation, who was also present at the board meeting, refused to comment on the criticism voiced by members of his organization against RHR-NA, but admitted that the two organizations had different ideological leanings.

    "The very fact that we live here has an impact on how we see things," said Levi-Weiman. "Rabbis in North America have very different issues to deal with."

    On December 8, 2005, the CCR sued Dichter for war crimes and other "gross human rights violations" in connection with the targeted killing of Saleh Shehadeh, head of Hamas's military arm in Gaza. On July 22, 2002, the  one-ton bomb that was dropped on Shehadeh also killed 14 civilians.

    On December 15, 2005, the CCR slapped Ya'alon with a legal suit that included charges of war crimes, extrajudicial killing, crimes against humanity and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The
    charges were in connection with Ya'alon's role in ordering the shelling of a United Nations compound in Kfar Qana, Lebanon that resulted in the deaths of more than 100 civilians. The IDF said it was reacting to Hizbullah missile fire near the compound.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Exchange of letters with Deb Reich: Speaking out on Carter and tales of genocide

    Exchange of letters with Deb Reich: Speaking out on Carter and tales of genocide

    [Note to readers - this is a continuation of the exchange begun at

    - - This material is all public and may be circulated.  The latest letter is at the top, the reply to my initial post is at the bottom. Interested readers may comment at the Web log]
    Dear Deb,
    With your permission I am forwarding our exchange both to the Web log and to our e-group.
    Trying to simplify. Those who claim that transfer ideology is a part of mainstream Zionist ideology are not supported by the facts. A cursory acquaintance with mainstream Zionism would convince you that it is so. Even were they right, there is nothing in Israeli government actions or decisions today that would indicate that there is any phased plan for ethnic cleansing, and there is no evidence whatever of genocide being carried out. There was nothing in your reply to excuse your use of language about "genocide" or the invention of a phased plan for genocide, or the promotion of a book you did not read, other than an appeal to more inaccurate scholarship. You have heard half a message, dimly, removed from historical context, and then invented a story to fit your perceptions.
    You wrote:
    I did NOT say there was "a plan" for phased genocide. I said that is what is de facto taking place on the ground and if you are a Palestinian in WB&G, that certainly is what it feels like. People like Martin Buber articulated a different way, but they were outvoted.

    What you had actually written was this:
    The paramount priority right now is to put a stop to the phased genocide taking place at this moment in the West Bank and Gaza. The eventual "cleansed" (of Palestinians) state that the Israeli army and successive governments of Israel are in the process of achieving for us will be an abomination to any morally normal person, but by then it will be too late.
    Indeed, you did not state that there was only a plan. You stated that the plan is being implemented right now, and in this letter below you tried to distort what you wrote.  You did not write originally that Arabs think there is genocide. You wrote that there is genocide and it must be stopped. There is no genocide. It is not taking place de facto or otherwise. It is a vile invention. You have repeated the charge again.
    Arabs may think many things. In Damascus, the Defense Minister wrote a book insisting that Jews slaughter Christian children to make Matzoth. On that basis, would Deb Reich be justified in writing that right now the priority is to stop the Jews from murdering Christian Children to bake Matzoth?
    The Palestinian authority spread stories that Jews are injecting Palestinian children with AIDS, handing out poisoned candies and irradiating people at checkpoints with dangerous  carcinogenic X-rays. Not a word of it was true. You had better write that the Jews should be stopped from spreading AIDS and using carcinogenic X-rays.  The genocide "perception" is the same. There is no good purpose by disseminating such things.
    What you wrote in your article was a falsehood, and what you wrote below is another. There is no genocide going on. It is a fact. There is no ethnic cleansing. Nablus and Jenin and Ramallah and Qalqilia and East Jerusalem and Hebron and Gaza are all full of Palestinians. No Jews are being moved in to replace hypothetical departing Palestinians in Gaza. In fact, it is Palestinians who replaced Jews, using abandoned settlements as bases for launching rockets at Israel and as the termini of arms smuggling tunnels. In Jerusalem, where Betselem and others have repeatedly charged "ethnic cleansing," the Arab population is the largest it has ever been in recorded history.   
    You wrote:
    The research into Zionist archives, I understand from reading (accurate? inaccurate?) reports, shows that the idea of running off the Arabs, having as few here as possible, has deep historical roots in mainstream Zionist thinking and writing.
    There were, and are, Zionists of virtually every political persuasion, including unfortunately, some who supported Mussolini and others who supported Stalin. Anti-Zionists have insisted on this basis, that all Zionists are communists, or that all Zionists are fascists.
    If I believed that genocide or ethnic cleansing were part of mainstream Zionism, I would not be a Zionist, and neither would most other Zionists. Zionists are not people with horns and tails. An idea that is repugnant to the majority of Zionists could hardly be a part of mainstream Zionist, no matter what some Zionist figures might have been thinking. Therefore, whatever was said in secret procedings of the Zionist executive, and we will come to that in a moment, those secret deliberations could not be mainstream Zionist ideology if they supported genocide or ethnic cleansing.
    What is "mainstream" ideology? Do you believe in the America of Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson? Surely you do. Tom Jefferson owned slaves. He had illegitmate offspring by one of them. In his inaugural speech, Lincoln contemplated the transfer of "negros" to Africa. One could thus say that transfer is a part of mainstream American ideology. Barry Goldwater represented a large segment of US public opinion. I believe he wanted to use nuclear weapons in Vietnam. Is nuking Vietnam a part of mainstream American ideology? It is an ambiguous and loaded phrase, that can be used to inflame and to obscure understanding.   
    The idea that transfer was a part of mainstream Zionism has been propagated by extreme right-wing racists who want to legitimize their ideas, as well as by anti-Zionists. Transfer in any case is not genocide or ethnic cleansing. Those who conceived of the idea were thinking of paying sums of money for people to leave voluntarily. Such a population exchange -- without compensation -- was contemplated recently as a humanitarian solution to the Cyprus problem. In 1947, a population exchange on a huge scale took place when India and Pakistan were created. There too, there was no compensation. Nobody called it genocide or ethnic cleansing. However, I am not defending or supporting the idea of transfer, much less that of genocide or ethnic cleansing. Palestinian Arabs have the same right to self determination as Jews, if they wish for it. They cannot, and you cannot, deny the right of self determination to the Jews while advocating this right for the Palestinian Arabs, and Zionists cannot claim the right of self-determination for themselves and deny it to others. This right is Jus Cogens in international law. It takes precedence over most other rights. Even the Germans were not denied the right to self-determination following World War II, after committing the greatest genocide and aggression the world has ever known.
    Herzl was a dreamer and writer and fantasist. At one time, when Zionists were considering a plan to settle in Uganda or Cyprus as a temporary night refuge, he apparently wrote in his diary that "we will spirit away the penniless natives" and this quote has been used, out of context as the first proof that transfer was a part of mainstream Zionism. But Herzl also wrote Altneuland, a utopia about a future Israeli state - a pluralistic state in which Arabs and Jews enjoyed equal rights. You can click the link and read the entire book online. That was public and that was mainstream Zionist ideology.
    In the 1920s, the Arabs of Palestine, led by the Grand Mufti, began to propagate a genocidal plan to rid Palestine of its Jews. They rioted against Jewish communities in Hebron and Jerusalem that had been in Palestine for hundreds of years. Later, the same Mufti fled to Germany and contributed to the final solution by organizing SS units for Hitler. Zionists had not really understood the magintude of Arab opposition to Jewish presence in Palestine. The Zionist response to problem was two fold. The first phase was the Brit Shalom movement, which was founded by ardent mainstream Zionists like Arthur Ruppin, and which favored a binational state. This movement fell apart when the riots of 1929 made it clear that the Arab leadership was not interested in coexistence.
     Some fantasized about offering Arabs money to move to Iraq. It was not genocide or ethnic cleansing, but it certainly does not accord with current day perceptions of political morality. At the time, such solutions seemed perfectly acceptable.
    Another response was to begin to agitate for partition. I believe such plans were presented to the British in the early 1930s. Since there were only a tiny number of Jews in Palestine at the time, the only way to create a viable state would be to partition it into a very small Jewish state and a much larger Arab one, and to transfer Arabs out of the Jewish part of Palestine using monetary incentives. This plan was presented by the British, not by the Zionists, as the Peel Plan in 1937. The plan was presented against the background of Arab riots that paralyzed Palestine, and had caused the British to cut off immigration and trap the Jews of Europe forever. That was the context. The choice was getting a tiny state and transferring Arabs, or imminent annihilation of the Jews of Europe. What would you chose?
    Under the plan, the Jews would get about 15% or 25% of the area of Palestine. There are maps and a discussion of this plan and its successors here.  I quote from it: 
    Those areas, therefore, should be surveyed and an estimate made of the practical possibilities of irrigation and development as quickly as possible. If, as a result, it is clear that a substantial amount of land could be made available for the re-settlement of Arabs living in the Jewish area, the most strenuous efforts should be made to obtain an agreement for the transfer of land and population. In view of the present antagonism between the races and of the manifest advantage to both of them for reducing the opportunities of future friction to the utmost, it is to be hoped that the Arab and the Jewish leaders might show the same high statesmanship as that of the Turks and the Greeks and make the same bold decision for the sake of peace.
    Transfer was an accepted and acceptable solution in international politics at the time. It had been practiced by the Turks and Greeks, as noted.  The proposal for transfer of Arabs caught many Zionist leaders by surprise, though others accepted it. They debated the plan in closed sessions of the Zionist executive, but they also talked about it in public. They concluded that the plan, whatever its drawbacks, was the only way to get a Jewish state, lift the immigration ban imposed by the British, and save the Jews of Europe, whom they rightly believed to be in danger of very real genocide. Some of the most potentially damaging remarks about "transfer" especially when taken out of context, were made in public. It was the British who proposed the plan, however. This open speech by Berl Katnelson is about as "damaging" as any other admission, and it is not necessary to pretend that information in secret Zionist archives changes anything:
    "The matter of population transfer has provoked a debate among us: Is it permitted or forbidden? My conscience is absolutely clear in this respect. A remote neighbour is better than a close enemy. They [the Palestinians] will not lose from it. In the final analysis, this is a political and settlement reform for the benefit of both parties. I have long been of the opinion that this is the best of all solutions.... I have always believed and still believe that they were destined to be transferred to Syria or Iraq."
     (At the World Convention of Ihud Po'alei Tzion, August 1937. Al Darchei Mediniyutenu: Mo'atzah 'Olamit Shel Ihud Po'ali Tzion (c.s.)-Din Vehesbon Maleh, 21 July-7 August [1938], [Full Report of the World Convention of Ihud Po'alei Tzion, C.S.] (Tel Aviv,: Central Office of Hitahdut Po'alei Zion Press, 1938).
    I have only the above quote. In order to judge if it is accurate, we would need to see what was left out, and what was the context. I would dearly love to see what was in those elipses, but we shall content ourselves with the above. All he is saying is that that he favors population exchange to make possible a Jewish state. He was a mainstream Zionist. In that context and setting, the idea was supported by a majority for different reasons.
    It is quite a long stretch to get from that proposal for voluntary transfer, accepted by Zionists in the specific context of the Peel plan, to a phased program of genocide and ethnic cleansing carried out supposedly by the Israel government. If we evil Zionists had such a plan, we were singularly inept in carrying it out. Between 1922 when the British took over Palestine, and 1947, the Arab population of Palestine grew from about 660,000 to 1.2 million or more, including high birthrate and at least some in-migration of Arabs.
    Nobody denies that during the war of Independence and in 1967 Arabs were forced to flee. This happens often to enemy belligerents in time of war, and usually they are not allowed to return, as is the case of the Sudetens Germans in Czechoslovakia.
    In his books about the refugees, Benny Morris makes much of the transfer notion, and of the rantings of some extremists, but he can never find evidence that there was a government plot to evict the Arabs. But Morris weaves a tangled tale and contradics himself on every other page, given the impression that the flight of Arabs was planned by Zionists, stating that it was not, stating that it was due to the weakness of the Arab community, implying  that it was due to activities of transfer activists like Weitz and Alon on one page, and noting on another page that Zionist officials in Haifa tried to prevent the flight of the Arabs. One can draw many different from Morris by selective quotes. Those who read only excerpts from his work published by anti-Zionists were very surprised when Morris came out with fairly right wing opinions. It pays to read the original.
    In 1967, the Zionists had an opportunity for ethnic cleansing. Yigal Alon proposed that all the Arabs of Gaza should be forced into Egypt. Alon was of the same Labor Zionist Achdut Avoda faction as Berl Katznelson if I am not mistaken. He was certainly one part of the "Zionist Mainstream." This proposal was rejected by Moshe Dayan and the government as a cruel and inhuman expedient. There are lots of rivers in the Zionist Mainstream, and Alon's opinion was in the minority. Undeniably, about 100,000 Palestinians were helped to leave the West Bank in 1967, though there was no government decision on this, and it served no good purpose. Had there been a transfer and genocide plan, had it been a real part of mainstream Zionist ideology, then there would have been not a single Arab left in all the West Bank and Gaza after 1967.  Such was the fate of the Jews of Jerusalem in 1948. That was real ethnic cleansing, rather than imagined genocide.
    For its part, Egypt did not hesitate recently to push all the Palestinians living in Rafia into Gaza by force.
    Today, there are more Arabs living between the river and the sea than there ever were at any time in all of the history of this land. It is a fact. How can that be reconciled with tales of Zionist plots for genocide? How did you get from acceptance of population exchange in 1937 to a plot for genocide and ethnic cleansing in 2007?  
    You wrote:
    Where I am today:  All the simple people, the ordinary families, and especially the women and children, including me, and my children, are used and abused, directly and indirectly, in established patterns --  by ideologues, politicians...
    Indeed it is possible that you are being abused and manipulated, as evidence by the falsehoods you believe. You are also abusing Israel and manipulating others. It is not possible to reconcile falsehood and incitement such as those you perpetrated in your article with any ideas of justice or peace. They cannot be excused as "wake up calls" because no Zionists and no advocates of settlement will be swayed by them. They are only fuel for anti-Zionist propaganda.

    From: Deb Reich

    Trying to simplify, if possible:

    Results must speak for something.

    The research into Zionist archives, I understand from reading (accurate? inaccurate?) reports, shows that the idea of running off the Arabs, having as few here as possible, has deep historical roots in mainstream Zionist thinking and writing. It's not that one person sat down and wrote a "phased genocide plan" like the plan to "Judaize the Galilee" that launched the mitzpeh era. I did NOT say there was "a plan" for phased genocide. I said that is what is de facto taking place on the ground and if you are a Palestinian in WB&G, that certainly is what it feels like. People like Martin Buber articulated a different way, but they were outvoted.

    Ami, I began my adult life as a bourgeois person with no particular political stance and have been gradually "radicalized" (if you like) by watching what is happening and trying not to lie to myself about it. All the research, discourse, study, articulation, etc. in the world cannot cast what is happening in a favorable light.

    There is no "ism" -- most certainly including Zionism -- that can induce me to put ideology before human beings -- any human beings, not just Jewish human beings. If in hindsight, the only way to win a Jewish state, and a collective Jewish political autonomy as a modern nation-state, has come at the cost of what is happening now, both to Israelis and to Palestinians -- if today's reality is the outcome of Herzl's dream -- I am not persuaded that it was worth it, or that it deserves my support. Your stance is evidently that others are mainly to blame, and Israel is mainly the victim. That is an opinion, not a fact.

    But the State of Israel is here, at whatever price; and we need to think about the future! We cannot save ourselves unless we save the Palestinians too; we will all save each other or we will all go down together, and right now the lifeboat is taking on water.

    The customary rigid "either-or," "them or us" worldview is partly to blame for this mess. I offer a very different worldview -- and direction for resolving the conflict -- in my essay "Calling All Semites." (It's on the Web.) I do not apologize that my proposed solution goes counter to some 10,000 or so years of human social history. In another ten thousand years, let them look back at our era and say, the shift to a new paradigm began there. (And if the correct figure is 12,000 years, or 8,000 years, it's not terribly important to the point I am making.)

    Where I am today:  All the simple people, the ordinary families, and especially the women and children, including me, and my children, are used and abused, directly and indirectly, in established patterns --  by ideologues, politicians, arms merchants, and others -- on both sides -- on all sides -- who rarely pay a personal price themselves. I will not buy the sacred "ism" any more; you can't sell it to my any more. I'm not buying.

    As a Jew, having grown up in the USA as a member of a minority, I identify viscerally today with the mom who is a Palestinian Arab citizen in Umm el Fahm or a Palestinian in Nablus and who has to figure out how to explain to her adolescent child what it means that a Jewish Israeli professor refers to him or her as a "demographic time bomb." I also identify with the Jewish Israeli mom whose kid is endangered by guerrilla warfare on civilians. But the Jewish Israeli mom whose writing most closely resonates with my own inner convictions is that of Nurit Peled Elhanan, who already lost a child to a suicide bomb, and still wants to make common cause with her Palestinian counterpart; an Israeli Jewish opinion cannot get more legitimated than that.

    I think we are speaking different languages, you and I, so maybe there's no point. Anyhow thanks for trying to communicate.

    You can publish it all! No problem.

    On 1/24/07, Ami Isseroff  wrote:
    Dear Deb,
    First - Your public letter was sent to a closed e-group of dovish Zionists, most of whom were aghast at what you wrote. Your letter and my reply to it are puplished here
    I would like your permission to do the same with this exchange. Please let me know.
    At least, I would like to post both letters to this closed group.
    You promoted and defended a best-selling book that is apparently at least anti-Israel in intent, and probably anti-Semitic. Carter's book did not need your defense to be a best seller. Since you didn't read the book, it was certainly incautious to write a defense of it. It is not bad scholarship, but non-existent scholarship. Why defend something if as you claim, you know nothing about it?
    You also presented a diabolical fictional phased plan of genocide that is supposedly being perpetrated by Israel. I don't think that is in Carter's book. It is taken from Electronic Intifada or perhaps from RadioIslam or stormfront Web sites, based on an embroidery of creative leaks and imaginative Israeli journalism. It is a fake from start to end.  
    In your defense you say that you wanted to wake people up and that it was perhaps a poor choice of words and poor scholarship, and that you operate on emotions. What emotion is expressed by blood libels against Jews and invented Zionist plots? Is Jew hate a worthy emotion?
     Is there a limit to what people will accept in fooling themselves and rationalizing their actions? I don't know.  The tragedy is that you mean well and seem to have the best intentions.
    That is the whole thing in a nutshell. Since you replied at length, so will I.
    Let's start from the bottom. You wrote that I am "operating" at the cognitive level, while you are working on emotions. I think that the only emotions your article evoked in most Zionists are revulsion and sorrow at your stand, and at the confabulations you chose to disseminate about a "phased plan" for genocide and ethnic cleansing.
    If, as you seem to say, you are trying to manipulate emotions regardless of the truth, it is not something of which you can be proud. I am sure that is not what you meant, but that is the meaning of what you wrote, and that is what your article did.
    I am "operating" on all levels. I want people to love peace, and love truth, to speak peace and truth in a way that is effective and constructive, rather than blacken each other with scare words and invented plots. 
    I am for peace because I am a Zionist. I see no future for Israel without peace, and I see no future for Israel as the conquerers of another people. If that message is made to penetrate into the Israeli polity, we have a good chance of mobilizing opinion against the occupation and of legitimizing the peace camp.
    As you may know, I have written extensively on the use of words to distort facts and manipulate emotions in the Middle East conflict. For example -
    "The words are meant to program violence in human computers."
    The people who do it are despicable. They are fueling the conflict and act as a barrier to peace. "Terrorist" "Ethnic Cleansing" "Holocaust" "Genocide" "Apartheid" are all scare words designed to make people stop thinking and murder each other. Carter is in that camp. He joined it when he wrote "apartheid" in the title of his book, and manipulated facts to blacken Israel. He supports it by ranting about the Israel lobby that controls America.
    You wrote that Carter's intent was apparently to wake people up. Carter's intent can only be judged by his actions. The whole trip is about Carter. His book, his appearances, his publicity. He wrote a book that slanders Israel. He took money -- a lot of it -- from Arab governments. He goes around the country appearing on national television and repeating over and over the same messages - the "Israel Lobby" runs America, "they are not letting me talk," only "Jewish organizations" criticize my book. It is classic 1930s America First anti-Semitic propaganda. It is absurd for him to get nationwide publicity for saying that he can't get publicity, isn't it? Anti-Semitism for fun and profit.
    The only thing he is making American Jews wake up to, is the feeling that there is a real and present danger of anti-Semitism in the United States, and that they have been betrayed by someone whom they trusted implicitly. He has brought anti-Semitism into the mainstream and it will not go away very easily. Mearsheimer and Walt's article, Scott Ritter's book, and Carter's book are building a momentum and a  movement that may have terrible consequences if not checked. Don't kid yourself. When they say "Jews" they don't mean just those other Jews whom you don't like. When they say "Israel Lobby" they mean anyone who supports the legitimacy of Israel. They are aiming at your family and your friends in the USA as much as they are aiming at fictive "Jewish neocons" who supposedly dragged the US into the Iraq war and prevent an "evenhanded" policy in the Middle East.
    You did more than just use scare words. You refered a Zionist plot, a phased plan to expel Palestinians, which exists only in the imagination of the evil degenerates who invented it. They have been saying the same thing since about 2001, and yet they have absolutely no evidence for it whatever. Israel did not kick the Palestinians out of Gaza and take it over, as they predicted. Instead Israel withdrew from Palestine. The "phased plan" accusation is not "poor wording" - it is a lie. A libel that has been repeated over and over.
    If you want to change behavior and perceptions of the occupation, this is the wrong way to do it. Jewish society had many defects in the 19th century - it was provincial, closed, dominated by reactionary rabbis. However the corrective for that was not the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" forged by the tsarist police, and that document did not make Jews change their ways.
     Israeli Jews and American Zionists are not going to change their views about the occupation because of Carter. On the contrary, those who support the occupation are outraged by this unfair attack, and are more than ever convinced that only enemies of the Jewish people are for peace. Inside the Zionist movement Carter's book has been a boon to extremist supports of the occupation and neocon bloggers. In Israel, nobody paid much attention to it at all. The conclusion was that the book is just another concoction of rot, that was aimed primarily at promoting anti-Semitism. Like Lindbergh, Carter reiterates in his appearances that America is controlled by the Jews or "Israel Lobby." He does not leave this theme.
    The people who write about Israeli genocide and apartheid, and phased plans for ethnic cleansing,  people like Carter, and Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada are not "humanists."  They are not interested in "fixing Israel." Many of them, like Jeff Halper, say so quite openly. There are dozens of "peace and Justice" groups. All of them want to destroy my country and throw me out of my home.
    They are anti-Zionists and espouse ideologies that were always anti-Zionist, ranging from Jewish Bundism and Netueri Karteh Holocaust deniers to PLO "secular democratic state" to Hamas genocide. Those are your "progressive" allies. That is their peace and that is their "justice." Few Israeli Jews are going to sign up for that program, and few in Israel will believe you when you publish outright falsehoods about phased plans for ethnic cleansing and genocide. It is not that you exaggerated in that paragraph. It is not that you played on emotions a bit.  The entire paragraph is a false accusation from beginning to end. There is no genocide, there is no phased plan. It is all a blood libel. That is not a bad choice of words. It is a deliberate slanderous confabulation.
    The Israeli peace movement was alive and well in 1998. It was murdered by two related events. The first was the Intifadeh, which stabbed the Israeli peace movement in the heart by demonstrating the danger of the peace process, just as the most reactionary foes of Oslo predicted. The second was the proliferation of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist movements who claim to be part of the "peace camp" and thereby discredit the peace camp, and lend credibiilty to the thesis of the right that only anti-Zionists are against the occupation.
    Since this propaganda would not convince Israelis to end the occupation, we have to ask who it is aimed at. It is aimed at the American public at large, and the purpose is to end Israel, not to end the occupation. It is intended to convince people that Zionism is racism, and that Zionists are monsters who are committing ethnic cleansing on helpless Palestinians. These aims are not secret. They are stated quite openly by Palestinian advocates and by anti-Zionists like Jeff Halper. They are the people who invented this fictional phased genocide plan.
    When you write a letter in a public place, you need to think about what language you use and what message you are delivering.  It is not a matter of scholarship. If I call someone a murderous sex maniac SOB it is not just a poor choice of words. If your command of the language is so poor, then refrain from writing. Nobody would say to a friend, even in anger "you are plotting murder and genocide" and then explain that it was a poor choice of words. You are telling me that you were less careful in the choice of words for a public article then a normal person would be in speaking to their friend in private. Is it credible?
    Your words and the words of others are not just words and emotions and "compassion." They result in real events - deaths of actual peoople. They are serious business . They are part of a propaganda war, which is part of a real war, and you have put yourself on the wrong side. That is not the "peace" camp.
    Carter's book is apparently bad enough. Nobody should promote trash about the Middle East that has mislabeled maps and garbled accounts of history. Lies are not moral or ethical and they don't help anyone to understand anything. Not only did you promote the book, you added your own confabulation about Zionist plots of genocide.
    You, like Carter, disqualified yourself as a spokesperson for peace.  Few Israeli Jews or American Zionists will listen to what you say after you spread these inventions, so if your aim is to show people the reality of the occupation, you are subverting your own aim. You are only providing an easy target for right wing extremists to insist that all people who favor peace and oppose the occupation are enemies of Israel.  
    You have said your piece in public, and therefore you must either retract your accusations in public or stand on them. If you made a mistake, you need to say so in public. 

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: DEB REICH
    Dear Ami,

    Thanks for your thoughtful letter. You have earned much respect for your work and I'm sur eit is deserved. I am sure you are right that my scholarship is sloppy and/or my expressions are not precise. I hear Carter's book is like that, too. I said in the first sentence that I hadn't read it, so it would be clear.

    My intent is to wake people up and I imagine (no way to prove it, one way or another) that that was Carter's intent, too.

    You're right that, all other things being equal, better scholarship makes a better case. And maybe it really is necessary each time I write something to mention the existential threats that are wielded against Israel and Jews. Personally I think our government's choices over the years have aggravated, rather than diminished, those threats -- and I blame human greed and stupidity more than I blame "the Arabs" or the existential threat to Israel.

    However -- while we argue the merits of "apartheid" vs. some other term for it, and "ethnic cleansing" vs. some other term for it, the insanity continues, and the longer we rely on brute force instead of creative policy initiatives, the deeper we dig our own grave here, as far as I can see.

    I believe if successive Israeli administrations had been less expansionist, we would have a different situation today: not because the rejectionist front would have become friendlier to us, but because we would still have some kind of moral high ground to stand on and the rest of the world be unable to deny that. Unwise exercise of brute force -- our own exercise of it -- has taken away our best protection. That's how it seems to me.

    Meanwhile, as we debate, thousands of Palestinians whose home villages are surrounded by parts of the Separation Wall, and who have no viable way to earn a living, are contemplating uprooting themselves -- what would you call that? Economic self-transfer? To me, it is truly diabolical because the policy seems designed to achieve this very end: We will not put anyone on busses en masse; they will leave "voluntarily."

    Without an overly long rant, I will relate to one other point -- about democracy and government in Israel, and the Palestinians' place in that picture. The same democracy that is proud of the appointment of a (first or second) token Arab as minister, after only 58 years!, has 1.1 million Palestinian ordinary citizens of whom the vast majority live in all-Arab towns (de facto residential segregation, and no room to build houses for their kids - the state holds nearly all the land, etc.). Surely you already knew that.

    But did you know that the vast majority of Arabs towns have no home addresses on people's homes, and no street signs with names of the village or town streets? Hence, in lieu of voter registration by home address, these citizens are registered to vote at polling places organized by their family name -- nicely perpetuating the medieval situation of gross hamoula / clan influence on voting patterns. This situation, apparently designed to enable bigwigs to continue to "deliver" blocs of votes, is therefore attractive also to Jewish politicians who benefit from the status quo.

    This situation functionally disenfranchises the weaker Arab citizens, especially women, who are more vulnerable to pressure by the powerful. Meanwhile, in Arab towns, since there are no home addresses, private citizens who really want to receive mail have to get post office boxes or risk non-delivery of their mail. When friends from elsewhere visit, the hosts have to wait and meet the guests at the entrance of their town or village because there is no map with street names like in any normal town in Jewish Israel and the rest of the developed world. --Did you know this? Lots of people active in civil rights in Israel don't know this.

    I give this as just one example of a sad fact: The depth of the asymmetry in our vaunted democracy is not only huge, but often invisible.

    I always said, my position always has been, that the declaration of independence of Israel was great, that the extent to which the equality envisioned there for all Israeli citizens had been achieved was something to be proud of, and the extent to which it had not been achieved was something to work on together. But over the years, in civil rights terms, there has been negative progress, in my opinion -- within and certainly outside the Green Line. Attributing all that to the Arabs and the existential threat is convenient but, in my opinion, unwarranted.

    We are all, Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, victims together of the unintended or even intended consequences of various social-geographic engineering programs that have proven untenable in the long run. I'm sorry, Ami, but I no longer feel that I have a "side" in the traditional sense. I say "us" and mean Israelis, or Jews, but mainly I side with the mothers and children, all of them.

    Anyway -- if someone as serious and committed as you are thinks that what I wrote was counterproductive, I will genuinely try to be more careful next time. I think part of the issue between us might be that you operate in pure cognitive mode -- trying to wring truth and justice out of facts -- and I don't see any salvation there anymore. Facts are too slippery.


    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Hawking helps out

    Hawking helps out
    Stephen Hawking, holder of the Cambridge mathematics chair that once was Isaac Newton's, visited Israel last month.
    In a program organized by the British Council, Hawking met with students, scientists and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. He lectured in Jerusalem and answered questions on a popular Israeli television interview show. He talked with Palestinian students and spoke in Ramallah.

    One item that does not appear on the official schedule released by the British Council is Hawking's starring role in a public-service television announcement aimed at raising awareness of efforts to help disabled people in Israel.
    Hawking delivers the message in his familiar synthesized voice:
    "In 20 years, Man may be able to live on the moon.
    "In 40 years, we may get to Mars.
    "During the next 400 years we may be able to leave the solar system and head for the stars.
    "But meanwhile ---
    "---meanwhile, we would like to be able to go to the supermarket, the cinema, and restaurants."
    Short and to the point, less than 40 seconds, it began appearing on Israeli television channels last week. You can watch it at YouTube or via the site of Access Israel, the non-profit group for which Hawking made the video.
    The video results from an initiative of Geller-Nessis Leo Burnett, a Tel Aviv agency which approached Hawking and asked him to help out on behalf of Access Israel.
    Tali Milchberg, art director of the project, said Hawking's script was Israeli-written. A local photographer made the still pictures of Hawking that appear in the video.
    After the taping, the agency published a newspaper advertisement stating, "Thank you, Professor Hawking."
    "One need not lose hope," Hawking has written on his own website. He has lived for more than 40 years with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disabling disease which so far has no cure. He discussed this and other personal matters in a television interview with Yair Lapid on Israel Channel 2, also available on YouTube.
    -- Joseph M. Hochstein, Tel Aviv

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Arabs practise slavery

    Arabs practise slavery

    Christian Solidarity International (CSI)

    (AWEIL, Southern Sudan) Last week, 102 Black African slaves were liberated from Baggara Arab masters and returned to their homeland in Southern Sudan in an action supported by Christian Solidarity International (CSI).

    Most of the liberated slaves - mainly boys and young men - had been captured by Sudanese government-sponsored Arab militias during two decades of civil war, pitting the Arab-Muslim dominated Government of Sudan against the predominantly Black African Sudan People's Liberation Front (SPLA).

    Interviews reveal a strong pattern of physical and psychological abuse. The overwhelming majority of the liberated slaves had been subjected to beatings, racial and religious insults, forced labor and denial of the freedom to practice any religion other than Islam. Most of the girls and women had been subjected to sexual abuse. Among the slaves were:

      16-year-old Agor Deng: Agor was repeatedly raped by her master, Adam Abakir and his associates. Adam Abakir and his wife excised her finger nails with a knife after she failed to obey an order to grind grain. They also forced her, using death threats, to pray like a Muslim.

      30-year-old Garang Akot Wiir: Garang's right arm and leg were partially paralyzed after having been beaten and tied up tightly for 24 hours as punishment for attempting to escape. He was renamed Abdelrazik Ezzadin by his master.

      45-year-old Achol Loc Wiel: Achol was shot in her leg during a slave raid. She also lost her husband and three children during the slave raid and forced march to Northern Sudan. Achol was gang raped by her master's friends. She was also forced to abandon the practice of her Christian faith and pray like a Muslim.

    The liberation and documentation of the 102 slaves was the result of cooperation between Arab-Dinka Peace Committees, the civil authorities in Aweil State, local churches and CSI.

    The Sudanese Episcopalian priest, Rev. Tito Athian - a longstanding local CSI partner – expressed joy at the liberation and repatriation of the slaves, stating: "Thank you for helping bring back our people from slavery. Now they are free to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ and choose their own religion."

    After witnessing several CSI slave liberation actions, including last week's, anti-trafficking consultant and author of The Jubilee Prophecy, Aaron Cohen, said: "I have seen first hand, in 23 countries, the positive changes good programs can have in the lives of enslaved people. CSI has created in Sudan a sustainable and effective program which has liberated thousands of slaves, inspired anti-trafficking legislation, and brought hope to people in bondage. CSI's pioneering work in Sudan is an excellent example to all abolitionists."

    CSI has been in the forefront of the campaign to eradicate slavery in Sudan since 1995, and is commemorating this year the 30th anniversary of its foundation and the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the British slave trade.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Again, Israeli gloom is misplaced

    Again, Israeli gloom is misplaced

    Claims Israel failed in Lebanon are premature - just as was similar condemnation 30 years ago, says edward luttwak

    In the immediate aftermath of the 1973 October War there was much joy in the Arab world. The myth of Israeli invincibility had been shattered by the surprise Egyptian crossing of the Suez Canal and the Syrian offensive that swept across the Golan Heights. In Israel, there was harsh criticism of political and military chiefs alike, who were blamed for the loss of close to 3,000 soldiers in a war that ended without a clear victory. Prime Minister Golda Meir, Defence Minister Moshe Dayan, the Chief of Staff David Elazar and the chief of military intelligence were all discredited and soon replaced.

    It was only later that a sense of proportion was regained, ironically by the Egyptian and Syrian leaders before anyone else. While commentators in Israel and around the world were still mourning (or gloating over) Israel's
    lost military supremacy, both Egypt's President Anwar Sadat and Syrian President Hafez Assad soberly recognized that their countries had come closer to catastrophic defeat than in 1967, and that it was absolutely imperative to avoid another war. That led to Sadat's peace and Assad's 1974 ceasefire on the Golan Heights, which remains unviolated.

    Only in retrospect is it easier to read the 1973 war. Israel had been caught by surprise because perfectly good intelligence was misinterpreted in a climate of arrogant over-confidence. The fronts, left almost unguarded, were largely overrun. The Egyptians had an excellent war plan and fought well, Syrian tanks advanced boldly and, even where a lone Israeli brigade held out, they kept attacking in wave after wave for three days and nights. Within 48 hours, Israel seemed on the verge of defeat on both fronts. But as soon as its army was fully mobilised, as soon as the reservist brigades that made up nine-tenths of its strength were ready to deploy for battle, it turned out that they could  stop both the Egyptian and Syrian armies in their tracks, and start their own advance almost immediately.
    The war ended with Israeli forces 70 miles from Cairo, and less than 20 miles from Damascus. As for the Israeli air force, its strength over the battlefields was certainly blunted by concentrated anti-aircraft missiles and guns, but its air-combat supremacy prevented almost all attacks by the large Egyptian and Syrian air forces, while allowing it to bomb heavily almost at will. That was the real military balance of the 1973 war, which was obscured at the time by an over-reaction to Israel being taken by surprise and the usual fog of war.
    The situation today, with the Lebanon war just ended, is the same. Future historians will no doubt see things much more clearly, but some gross misperceptions are perfectly obvious even now. That even the heaviest and best protected of tanks are sometimes penetrated by the latest anti-tank missiles should really not surprise anyone - they cannot be invulnerable, but still did well enough in limiting Israeli casualties. Likewise, the lack of defences against short-range rockets with small warheads is unsurprising. Such weapons are just not powerful enough to justify the expenditure of many billions of dollars for laser weapon systems the size of football fields.
    Many commentators repeated and endorsed Nasrallah's claim that his Hezbollah fighters fought much more bravely than the regular soldiers of Arab states in previous wars with Israel. In 1973 after crossing the Suez Canal, Egyptian infantrymen by the thousand stood their ground unflinchingly against advancing 50-ton Israeli tanks, attacking them successfully with their puny hand-held weapons. They were in the open, flat desert, with none of the cover and protection that the Hezbollah had in their stone-built villages in Lebanon's rugged terrain. Later, within the few square miles of the so-called "Chinese farm" near the Suez Canal, the Israelis lost more soldiers against the Egyptians in a single day and night than the 116 - including the victims of accidents and friendly fire killed in a month of war in Lebanon. Hezbollah certainly did not run away and did hold their ground, but their mediocrity is revealed by the casualties they inflicted, which were very few. When an Israeli reconnaissance company attacked the mountain town of Bint Jbail losing eight men in one night, that number was perceived in Israel and broadcast around the world as a disastrous loss. Any Allied veteran of the second world war's 1943-1945 Italian campaign must have been amazed by this reaction. There too it was one stone-built village and hilltop town after another and, though the Germans were outnumbered, outgunned and poorly supplied, a company that went against them would consider the loss of only eight men fortunate; attacking forces could suffer massive casualties. Israeli casualty figures in this month's war in the Lebanon demonstrate that Hezbollah did not fight as fiercely as the Egyptians in 1973 or the Jordanians in 1967.
    What is perfectly true is that the Israelis lacked a coherent war plan, so that even their most purposeful bombing came off as brutally destructive, while the ground actions were hesitant and inconclusive. There was, of course, a fully developed plan in the contingency folders - a sophisticated blend of swift amphibious, airborne and ground penetrations to reach deep behind the front, before rolling back, so as to destroy Hezbollah positions one by one from the rear, all the way to the Israeli border.
    That plan was not implemented because of the lack of casualties among Israeli civilians. It had been a fair assumption that thousands of Hezbollah rockets fired in concentrated barrages would kill many civilians, perhaps hundreds of them each day. Barrages compensate for the inaccuracy of unguided rockets, and produce powerful compound blast effects. That would have made a large-scale offensive by more than 45,000 soldiers a compelling necessity, politically justifying the hundreds of casualties that it would cost.
    Hezbollah, however, distributed its rockets to village militias, which were very good at hiding them from air attacks, and sheltering  them from artillery and probing Israeli unmanned air vehicles, but quite incapable of launching them effectively, in waves against common targets.
    Instead of hundreds of dead civilians, the Israelis were therefore losing one or two a day; and even after three weeks, the grand total was less than that caused by some one-man suicide bombings. That made it politically unacceptable to launch the planned offensive: which would have incurred many more casualties and would not have eradicated Hezbollah anyway since it is a political movement in arms, and not just an army or a bunch of gunmen.
    For that very reason, the outcome of the war is likely to be viewed in the long term as more satisfactory than many now seem to believe it. Nasrallah is not another Arafat, who was fighting for eternal Palestine rather than the present generation of Palestinians (whose prosperity and safety he was always willing to sacrifice for the cause). Nasrallah has a political constituency, and it happens to be centered in southern Lebanon. Implicitly accepting responsibility for having started the war, Nasrallah has directed his Hezbollah to focus on rapid reconstruction in villages and towns, right up to the Israeli border. He cannot start another round of fighting because that would destroy everything again. Yet another unexpected result of the war is that Nasrallah's power-base in southern Lebanon is now a hostage to Hezbollah's good behaviour.



    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Knesset members call on president to resign

    Knesset members call on president to resign

    'A sad day for Israel and its citizens,' says MK Orlev; Meretz party threatens to move for Katsav's impeachment should he fail to resign
    Ynet Published:  01.23.07, 18:30
    Officials from both ends of the political spectrum called on President Moshe Katsav to resign immediately, following Attorney General Menachem Mazuz's decision on Tuesday to charge him with a series of sexual offences, including rape. 
    Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich, who has repeatedly censured Katsav since the beginning of the affair, called the indictment filed against Katsav "extremely serious." She urged the Knesset to oust the president immediately.
    "The Knesset must remember the president's victims who were the target of heinous slander throughout the past months...This should prove a sign for any complainant that she should not be afraid," she said.

    MK Zevulun Orlev (National Union-NRP) called Tuesday a "sad day for Israel and its citizens, as well as for the institution of the presidency."
    "I hope that the president will know to put the interests of the institution of the presidency first by resigning, as is befitting of his role as a representative," said Orlev.
    MK Menahem Ben-Sasson (Kadima), who heads the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, expressed his support for the law enforcement bodies for handling the investigation in an "unbiased manner." Ben-Sasson also expressed his appreciation of Attorney General Menachem Mazuz who filed a "brave" indictment. Ben-Sasson said that the case proved that "even the number one citizen isn't above the law. I call on the president to reconsider the continuation of his term."
    Meretz: 'If he doesn't leave, we'll impeach him'

    Meretz Party leader Yossi Beilin also urged Katsav to resign in order to "save the institution of the presidency."
     "The damage that has been done to this institution over the last few months is so great that only his immediate resignation can assist the institution's immediate recovery," Beilin said, adding that if Katsav did not resign on his own Meretz would lead a motion to impeach him.
     Meretz faction Chairman Zahava Gal-On said: "The Attorney-General's decision is courageous and will put an end to the slanderous campaign that he and his contacts in the underworld waged against the complainant."
    MK Itshac Galantee (Gil) announced that following the indictment he would consider renewing the proposed bill that would allow the Knesset House Committee to declare the president temporarily suspended. This initiative was raised during the first days of the affair but never passed the legislative process.
    Attorney Talia Livni, chairman of the woman's rights organization Na'amat, also called on Katsav to resign, thereby ending "the debasement of the honor of the institution of the presidency and preserving the honor of the citizens of the state of Israel."


    Continued (Permanent Link)

    3 French nationals held by gunmen in Nablus

    3 French nationals held by gunmen in Nablus
    Associated Press Published:  01.23.07, 18:48
    Palestinian gunmen on Tuesday seized three French citizens in the West Bank, freeing them after several hours. The men were apparently a French diplomat and his two bodyguards.
    A few hours after the kidnap, gunmen handed the diplomat and his bodyguards over to another French envoy. A reporter saw them leave a building a short time later.
    A spokesman for al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, affiliated with President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction, said weapons carried by the bodyguards had initially raised suspicions about the men.  He added that the men had claimed they were French tourists.
    The kidnapping
    Prior to their release, an Associated Press reporter managed to enter the house in Nablus Old City where the three men were being held. He said they were speaking French, unmasked and appeared unharmed as they sat on a couch. Dozens of gunmen were inside the house and had surrounded the area.
    Witnesses said the French men had been eating in a restaurant when they were captured. They said shots were fired in the air as the men, with their heads covered, were led away by gunmen through the winding alleyways of Nablus' Old City.
    Palestinian armed groups have kidnapped a string of foreigners in the Gaza Strip in recent months, but
    abductions in the West Bank have been rare. Last November, gunmen seized an American volunteer English teacher, releasing him unharmed the next day.
    In February, during the storm over the Danish newspaper caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, a German volunteer was abducted and held for several hours.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Tuesday, January 23, 2007

    Speaking out on Carter - An open letter to Deb Reich

    Dear Deb Reich,
    As editor and director of Mideastweb for Coexistence, I have been accused more than once of being a self-hating Jew. Therefore I can sympathize with your statement:
    "P.S.: My new slogan: I am not a self-hating Jew. I'm a self-loving human."
    Name calling is really ugly isn't it? It hurts.
    I am not worried about such epithets, because I know they are absurd. I live in Israel, and the epithets generally come from self-appointed Zionists abroad. I have tried  to make sure that all my public statements for peace or for Israel or against the occupation are non-inflammatory, and are based on solid irrefutable facts. By trying to tell the truth and understand the truth in a calm way, we can help people think rationally and bring them together. If we use scare words and falsify reality, we are contributing to the Israeli-Palestinian tragedy.
    In your letter about Carter published in the Baltimore Chronicle, January 22,
    you wrote:
     The paramount priority right now is to put a stop to the phased genocide taking place at this moment in the West Bank and Gaza. The eventual "cleansed" (of Palestinians) state that the Israeli army and successive governments of Israel are in the process of achieving for us will be an abomination to any morally normal person, but by then it will be too late.
    Without in any way justifying the occupation, I submit that there is not a single word of truth in the above. Isael withdrew from Gaza and would leave Gaza alone if Palestinians were not smuggling weapons, shooting rockets and kidnapping soldiers. There is an argument between left and right in Israel. The left insist there are about 3.6 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, whereas the right insist there are only 2.4 million. If there are 3.6 million, or even 2.4 million, there is no evidence of genocide in any sense of the term, and nobody is being "cleansed." The Israeli right claim, with considerably hyperbole, that the 8,000 Jews removed from Gaza were "ethnically cleansed." There is not much truth or constructive thought in either proposition.  
    You wrote:
    My job is not to fix what the other party is doing wrong, but what my group is doing wrong in my name, and with my tax dollars.
    You will not "fix" anything by disseminating falsehood and gratuitously inflammatory statements. It is not your business to fix what is wrong with the Palestinians, but it is your business to recognize the clear and present danger to Israel from terror, and the open and announced genocidal intent of the Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as the evils of the occupation, and to make it clear to Palestinians that they will not destroy Israel. It is your duty to defend you home from attack - physical or verbal. If there is no Israel, there will be nothing to fix.
    Carter's book, which you praised without reading, is apparently replete with falsehoods, beginning with the title. A state that is about to appoint an Arab minister (actually the second one to serve) cannot be an apartheid state. Apartheid was a regime for separating citizens of a country, not for administering belligerents in occupied territory. Carter's book mislabelled maps, made false setatements about UN Resolution 242 and about the negotiations in 2000 and built a generally false case against Israel.
    I hope that you love truth and peace more than you love yourself, and will in future work for peace and for an end to the occupation in suitable ways. The end does not justify the means. If you want to love yourself and sleep well at night, stick to the truth.
    Ami Isseroff  

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Discover the Arab Lobby "Network"
    Discover the Arab Lobby "Network"
    By John Perazzo | January 17, 2007
    As Western civilization faces the threat of a radical Islamic foe that seeks to annihilate it, the collective self-assurance of the Western psyche continues to wither under the relentless, low-grade assault of the political Left. This assault presents itself in the form of constant criticism aimed at America's allegedly vast array of societal defects — with the intent of expunging every last shred of self-respect from the Western mind and heart, and of thereby convincing Western man that his irredeemably sinful culture is unworthy of his defense. The key operatives in this assault are leftwing organizations describing themselves as defenders of such righteous-sounding ideals as "civil liberties," "human rights," "peace," and "social justice." Allied with them is a growing cabal of pro-Arab, anti-Israel groups that, both jointly and independently, characterize the U.S. and Israel in particular as nations that routinely inflict immense suffering on Arab populations all over the world. By portraying Arabs as victims of American and Israeli transgressions, these groups aim — through their press releases, official statements, publications, and direct actions — to shape public opinion regarding such issues as the war on terror and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

    While focusing on Arab concerns, by no means is this lobby composed exclusively of Arabs. The lobby is defined by its ideology, not the ethnicity of its active constituents. And that ideology tends to be, as noted above, pro-Arab on the one hand, anti-Israel on the other.

    To be sure, the Arab lobby does not speak for all Arab Americans. According to the Arab American Institute, there are approximately 3.5 million people of Arab heritage in the U.S. today, about half of them concentrated in five states — California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York. Nearly 40 percent of these Arab Americans are Lebanese, mostly Christians, who are largely unsympathetic to the Arab lobby's anti-Israel perspectives. By contrast, only about 70,000 Palestinian Americans reside in the United States — a small percentage of the Arab American population. But because of their high level of political activism, their views and concerns have received hugely disproportionate attention from political leaders and the media alike. Indeed, the Palestinian cause heads the Arab lobby's list of concerns.

    In an effort to expose the agendas and tactics of the Arab lobby, has added a new "Arab Lobby" section to its ever-expanding database. This section profiles not only those pro-Arab organizations and individuals (both in the U.S. and abroad) that lobby to affect specific legislation, but also those that engage in what might be defined, more precisely, as advocacy on behalf of Arab interests anywhere in the world. (There is technically a distinction between advocacy and lobbying. Advocacy is a broader term, connoting efforts to influence some aspect of society, be it individual behavior, public opinion, public policy, or legislation passed by elected government officials. Lobbying can be described as a subset of advocacy, referring specifically to efforts to convince legislators to vote in a certain way.)

    The roots of the Arab lobby in America can be traced back to 1951, when King Saud of Saudi Arabia asked U.S. diplomats to finance a pro-Arab lobby to serve as a counterweight to the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs (later renamed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC).

    While the pace of the Arab lobby's growth was initially slow, there were nonetheless signs of increased assertiveness. After the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, for example, the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO) set up a fund to present the Arab perspective on the conflict. In May 1970, ARAMCO representatives warned Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Sisco that American military sales to Israel would harm U.S.-Arab relations and jeopardize American oil supplies.

    Driven by oil revenues, the Arab lobby's leverage in affecting American policy was demonstrated in early 1973 when Mobil published a pro-Arab advertorial in The New York Times. In July of that year, the chairman of Standard Oil of California (now called Chevron) distributed a letter asking the company's 40,000 employees and 262,000 stockholders to pressure their elected representatives to support "the aspirations of the Arab people." In a similar spirit, the chairman of Texaco urged the U.S. to reassess its Middle East policy.

    When another Arab-Israeli war broke out in October 1973, the chairmen of the ARAMCO partners issued a memorandum warning the White House against increasing its military aid to Israel. Shortly thereafter, the OPEC oil embargo (enacted in retribution for Western support of Israel) ushered in an era where the Arab lobby became much more prominent and visible than ever before. "The day of the Arab-American is here," declared National Association of Arab Americans founder Richard Shadyac. "The reason is oil." Prior to October 1973 the price of oil had stood at $2.60 per barrel; within three months the price quadrupled to about $12 per barrel. Since then, it has risen to more than $60 — for a commodity whose production costs are, at present, only $1.50 per barrel.
    In 1977 President Jimmy Carter noted, in his diary, that the Arab lobby had pressured him mightily while he was involved in the peace negotiations between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. "They [Arab Americans] have given all the staff, Brzezinski, Warren Christopher, and others, a hard time," wrote Carter.
    Among the more notable individual members of the Arab lobby in recent decades was the late Clark Clifford (died October 1998), who The New York Times described as a key adviser to four U.S. presidents, and as an influential paid lobbyist for Arab sources. In his memoir, Counsel to the President, Clifford wrote that he advised his clients: "What we can offer you is an extensive knowledge of how to deal with the government on your problems. We will be able to give you advice on how best to present your position to the appropriate departments and agencies of the government."
    Another key figure in the Arab lobby has been Fred Dutton, former Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs and special assistant to President John F. Kennedy. On July 19, 2005, The Hill reported that Dutton (a lobbyist for Saudi Arabia) had worked assiduously to persuade Congress to approve two major arms sales to that nation.
    Axis Information and Analysis (AIA), which specializes in information about Asia and Eastern Europe, rated Prince Bandar Bin Sultan — a Saudi ambassador to the U.S. from 1983 to 2005 — as the single most influential foreigner in America. With links to high-ranking officials in the State Department, Pentagon, and CIA, Sultan was a key participant in many clandestine negotiations pertaining to U.S. interests in the Middle East. According to AIA, in 1990-91 it was Sultan who pushed President George H.W. Bush to launch the military campaign to drive Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. Moreover, his father — Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz al Saud — was a leading figure in the ruling Saudi dynasty. As such, he helped determine the extent of his nation's military cooperation with the U.S. in the Persian Gulf.

    During a January 1998 U.S. Congressional Delegation briefing in Damascus, Syria, Congressman Nick J. Rahall (D – West Virginia), who is of Lebanese descent, said: "Our [Arab] lobby in the United States is growing in its influence and its participation in political campaigns across the spectrum. Our trip [was] sponsored by the Arab American Institute — one of those most effective lobbying groups of the Arab groups in Washington — and a relatively new group, the National Arab American Businessmen's Association. [Through] these groups … we are increasing our influence, and we are increasing our participation."

    Some members of the Arab lobby in America are heavily financed with money from the Arab world. As Jacob Laksin recently detailed in FrontPageMagazine, for instance, the Atlanta-based Carter Center (founded by Jimmy Carter in 1982) has been a longtime recipient of Arab funding. Before his death in 2005, Saudi Arabia's King Fahd made several large donations to the Center, including a 1993 gift of $7.6 million. As of 2005, the king's nephew, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, had given at least $5 million to the Carter Center. In 2001 the United Arab Emirates (UAE) gave the Center $500,000. The previous year, ten of Osama bin Laden's brothers had jointly pledged $1 million, as did Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman in 1998. The Saudi Fund for Development has been another major contributor, as has the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. And Morocco's Prince Moulay Hicham Ben Abdallah has collaborated with the Carter Center on various initiatives.

    According to terrorism expert Steven Emerson, "Assessing the influence and breadth of the Arab/Muslim lobby would be a difficult thing to do, since the metrics for assessing such things are not easily available. The lobby's real strength is felt on the local level, where its members receive community awards, participate in human relations councils, change the local educational curricula, persuade school districts to give them holidays off, and get local police and statewide officials to attend their events. Nationally, their influence is felt at the State Department in terms of their being invited to briefings, sponsored on road trips abroad, etc. The one recent time where they actually exacted an influence on President Bush was in persuading him to drop the use of the term 'Islamo-fascism.'"

    While the Arab lobby has a few friends in Congress today, its effect is felt mainly as a result of its joint efforts with organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union to dilute anti-terror measures. The lobby, says Emerson, "is mainly in the process of building up a grassroots network around the United States, with the anticipation that, abetted by growing demographics, it will be in a position of political influence in the future."

    Following are brief summaries of a number of U.S.-based organizations that lobby on behalf of Arab interests. Each of these groups is profiled, in greater depth, by

    * The American Muslim Alliance is a political action committee that works to get Muslims elected and/or appointed to policy-influencing positions at all levels of political governance in the United States. AMA currently has 98 chapters in 31 states, and aspires eventually to have chapters in all 435 U.S. congressional districts. 

    * The American Muslim Association of North America is a self-described "civil rights" group that offers help to Muslims needing guidance in applying for food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare. AMANA views the United States as a nation rife with bigotry and injustice aimed at Muslims and Arabs. In an effort to confront this allegedly pernicious problem, the organization's website features a complaint form where people can report instances of perceived discrimination they encounter in the housing market, the business world, or elsewhere.

    * The American Muslim Council was once among the most prominent Islamic organizations in the U.S., though its importance has declined since its founder and former chairman Abdurahman Alamoudi was imprisoned in October 2003 on terrorism-related charges. In November 2002, AMC publicly urged American Muslims to give money to Islamic relief organizations to aid refugees who had fled their homes in response to America's post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan. Included in AMC's list of preferred charities was the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, whose assets had recently been seized by the FBI and the Treasury Department because of its activities as a fundraising front for Hamas. AMC is a member organization of the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom, established in 1997 by Sami Al-Arian to litigate against U.S. counter-terrorism laws, to provide legal counsel to terrorist suspects, and to help overturn terrorist convictions.

    * The American Muslim Union views the post-9/11 anti-terror legislation passed by the U.S. government — particularly the Patriot Act — as a coordinated assault on the civil liberties of Americans, especially those of Arab and Muslim heritage. AMU Executive Director Waheed Khalid has called the Patriot Act "an extremely dangerous piece of legislation" that, "under the guise of 'national security,'" tramples on the Constitution.

    * American Muslims for Jerusalem has been characterized by terrorism expert Steve Emerson as an organization that "routinely involves anti-Zionist campaigns and has featured calls at its conferences for the killing of Jews." AMJ frequently publicizes stories about Christians and Muslims being discriminated against by Israel in Jerusalem.

    * The American Task Force on Palestine blames Israel for most, but not all, Palestinian suffering, and favors the formation of a Palestinian state. "As America continues the defense of its citizens and its freedoms in the global War on Terrorism," ATFP explains, "a final and satisfactory resolution of the Mideast conflict, which is the single greatest source of anti-American sentiment throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds, would be an invaluable asset." "The ill will directed at the United States by its perceived support for Israeli conquests and for corrupt authoritarian regimes," adds ATFP, "has created serious security risks for our country, as demonstrated so horrifically on 9-11." ATFP also asserts that: "As part of any comprehensive settlement ending the conflict, Israel should accept its moral responsibility to apologize to the Palestinian people for the creation of the refugee problem."

    * The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee accuses the Bush administration of seeking to deprive Arab Americans of their civil liberties, and has depicted most Justice and Treasury Department anti-terror efforts as manifestations of ethnic discrimination and persecution. Lamenting that the Patriot Act "fails to respect our time-honored liberties," and "severely dilute[s] … many basic constitutional rights," ADC endorses the Community Resolution to Protect Civil Liberties campaign, which tries to influence city councils to pass resolutions of non-compliance with the Patriot Act. ADC also endorsed the Civil Liberties Restoration Act of 2004, which was designed to roll back, in the name of protecting civil liberties, vital national-security policies that had been adopted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Between 2002 and 2005, ADC received more than $250,000 in foundation and corporate grants.
    * Americans for Justice in Palestine exhorts the U.S. government to cut off all economic funding to Israel, and to help force the latter into a "one-state solution" whereby Israel would become a secular country called "Palestine-Israel," or simply "Palestine." AFJP was founded by filmmaker Wendy Campbell, a veteran of the 1960s anti-war movement who contends that suicide bombers' actions "are taken out of context" by their critics, and that "one of the reasons that 9/11 happened was because of the injustices happening in the Middle East, most specifically the Israeli Occupation." Characterizing Israel as a "racist country" ruled by an "apartheid regime," Campbell calls hopes of achieving a two-state solution "obsolete."

    * The Arab American Action Network seeks "to empower Chicago-area Arab immigrants and Arab Americans … [and] to be an active agent for positive social change." This organization was founded by Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi (the former Director of the PLO press agency and onetime moderator of the PLO Advisory Committee) and his wife, Mona Khalidi. AAAN is "committed to speaking out" against what it calls the pervasive "biased reporting, media stereotypes, and the criminalization of Arabs and Muslims." In early 2005, AAAN co-sponsored an art exhibit whose central theme was "the compelling and continuing tragedy of Palestinian life ... under [Israeli] occupation ... home demolition ... statelessness ... bereavement ... martyrdom, and … the heroic struggle for life, for safety, and for freedom." AAAN's hostile view of the Jewish state is further manifest in the organization's reference to Israel's creation in 1948 as Al Nakba ("The Catastrophe"). Between 2002 and 2004, AAAN received $95,000 in foundation grants.

    * The Arab American Institute was established in 1985 to promote "Arab American participation in the U.S. electoral system" and to advocate for the "domestic and policy concerns" of that demographic. Toward that end, AAI developed a strong reputation for organizing "voter-education" campaigns and acting as a liaison between the Arab American community and the major national political parties. Following 9/11, however, the tone of AAI's public pronouncements underwent a striking change; with ever-increasing frequency, the Institute denounced its opponents as racists, extremists, and Zionist agents. According to Islam scholar Stephen Schwartz, the organization "moved from the center to the extreme left of the American public square." AAI portrays Israel as a brutal oppressor of the Palestinian people, and denounces what it depicts as widespread civil liberties violations directed against Arab Americans in the post-9/11 period. "The USA Patriot Act and initiatives launched by the Attorney General in the aftermath of September 11," says AAI president James Zogby, "have endangered basic constitutionally protected rights of due process and judicial review." Between 2002 and 2005, AAI received more than $495,000 in foundation grants.

    * The Center for Economic and Social Rights identifies "the discrimination and brutality inherent in the Israeli occupation" as "the root cause" of Palestinian hardship, calling for "alternatives that recognize and promote equal rights for all people living under Israeli rule." Established on a grant of just over $100,000 from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Echoing Green Foundation, CESR currently operates on an annual budget of more than $500,000. Between 2002 and 2006, this organization received foundation grants totaling more than $2.6 million.

    * The Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine claims that Israeli transgressions and human rights violations are entirely to blame for that nation's ongoing state of war with the Palestinian people. At the organization's 2003 winter conference — entitled "Israel's Policy of Apartheid and Ethnic Cleansing" — CPAP Chairman Hisham Sharabi set the tone for the seminar with his opening remarks: "In the face of relentless Israeli force, the only weapon the helpless and desperate have is to fling their bodies against the beast. Suicide bombings are no longer the lone act of desperate fanatics, but have become a conscious weapon of resistance and war. The culture of death and self-sacrifice is spreading in many Arab and Muslim countries. With unprecedented force being unleashed [by Israel] against helpless people, the task of recruiting hundreds, if not thousands of men and women willing to die has become a routine organizational matter in the resistance process."

    * The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy seeks "to contribute to the promotion of democracy, good governance, freedom, and human rights in the Arab and Muslim world." "Most of CSID's Muslim personnel are radicals," wrote Islam scholar Daniel Pipes in March 2004. One such individual is CSID fellow Kamran Bokhari, who, according to Pipes, "also happens to have served for years as the North American spokesman for Al-Muhajiroun, perhaps the most extreme Islamist group operating in the West." Some CSID Board members are agents of the Saudi Arabian government, which spends enormous sums of money to spread Wahhabism, a radical and intolerant form of Islam, all around the globe. One of the Center's founding directors was Taha Jabir al Alwani, a founder of the Council of the Muslim World League in Mecca, perhaps the most influential distributor of Saudi Arabian money on earth.

    * The Committee for Justice in Palestine, based at Ohio State University, opposes what it calls Israel's "occupation" of "Palestine." The organization's ongoing Divestment Campaign exhorts university officials to sever all financial ties to Israeli corporations and interests. In July 2006, CJP co-signed a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, which stated: "[T]he inexorable march of Israeli human rights violations continues with renewed savagery. … [Israeli] forces continue illegally to arrest and detain thousands of Palestinians, confiscate Palestinian land, demolish homes, impose a deadly economic blockade, and build an annexationist Apartheid wall. … We therefore call upon the United Nations to intervene to defend the Palestinian people ..."

    * The Council for the National Interest enumerates among its organizational goals the "total withdrawal of Israel from all occupied territory"; "American recognition of a totally independent state of Palestine"; and "an elimination of all unaudited U.S. aid to Israel."

    * The Council on American-Islamic Relations is the preeminent Arab lobby group in the U.S. today, describing itself as "similar to a Muslim NAACP." CAIR was co-founded in 1994 by Ibrahim Hooper, Nihad Awad, and Omar Ahmad, all of whom had close ties to the Islamic Association for Palestine, which was established by senior Hamas operative Mousa Abu Marzook and functioned as Hamas' public relations and recruitment arm in the United States. CAIR opened its first office in Washington, DC, with the help of a $5,000 donation from the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which the Bush administration shut down in December 2001 for collecting money "to support the Hamas terror organization." Today CAIR receives considerable funding from Saudi Arabia. Writes Islam scholar Stephen Schwartz: "CAIR should be considered a foreign-based subversive organization, comparable in the Islamist field to the Soviet-controlled Communist Party USA, and the Cuban-controlled front groups that infiltrated 'Latin American solidarity' organizations in the U.S. during the 1980s. It has organized numerous community branches and has had immense success in gaining position as an 'official' representative of Islam in the U.S." From 2002 to 2005, CAIR received more than $230,000 in foundation grants.

    * Focus on American and Arab Interests and Relations was established by two Iraqi expatriates, Mohammed Alomari and Muthana al-Hanooti, "to promote fair policies and a better understanding of the issues pertaining to the Arab World." Alomari authored a book titled The Secrecy of Evil: The Qabala and Its Followers, which denounced Jews and their alleged scheme to create a New World Order. He has also charged that the U.S. and Israel "organized" the 9/11 attacks.

    * The Free Palestine Alliance is a pro-Hamas organization that supports the dissolution of "the racist Apartheid State of Israel" and the "unconditional liberation" of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and in Israel proper. It is a member of the International ANSWER steering committee, and its contact information is identical to that of Ramsey Clark's International Action Center. Many individuals involved with FPA are also members of the Marxist-Leninist Workers World Party.

    * Grassroots International (GRI) states that it "was born out of a commitment to justice for Palestinians." Since its founding in 1983, it has disbursed at least $20 million to its partner organizations and engaged in what it characterizes as "campaigns for positions on equality, development, independence, and self-reliance." In 2004, GRI was a signatory — along with more than 200 other leftist groups — to a letter exhorting members of the U.S. Senate to oppose Israel's construction of an anti-terrorist security fence in the West Bank, a barrier that GRI condemns as an illegal "apartheid wall." Between 2002 and 2005, GRI was the recipient of foundation grants totaling nearly $750,000.

    * If Americans Knew describes itself as a "research and information-dissemination institute, with particular focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, U.S. foreign policy regarding the Middle East, and media coverage of this issue." The organization was founded in 2001 by freelance journalist Alison Weir to counter what she perceived to be a pro-Israel bias coloring U.S. media coverage of Mideast events. Calling for an end to U.S. aid to Israel, IAK states: "Empowered by American money, Israel is occupying land that doesn't belong to it, is breaking numerous international laws and conventions of which it is a signatory, and is promulgating policies of brutality …" 

    * The International Solidarity Movement describes itself as "a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land." Though professing a commitment to nonviolence, ISM members openly advocate the "liberation" of Palestinians "by any means necessary," including "legitimate armed struggle." Led by Palestinians working closely with American recruiters, ISM invites American volunteers to travel to the Palestinian territories and disrupt the actions of the Israeli Defense Force, which is engaged in anti-terror operations in the region.

    * The Islamic Assembly of North America was created in 1993 to spread the "correct knowledge of Islam" and "to serve the Islamic presence in North America." In February 2003, four individuals associated with IANA were indicted for illegally sending millions of dollars to Iraq through a Syracuse, New York charity called Help the Needy. According to court papers filed by Idaho prosecutors in 2003, IANA's mission included the "dissemination of radical Islamic ideology, the purpose of which was indoctrination, recruitment of members, and the instigation of acts of violence and terrorism." In National Review Online, IANA has been described as a "glorified al Qaeda recruitment center." According to a New York Times interview with former IANA Director Mohammed al-Ahmari, approximately half of the organization's funding derives from the Saudi government, and the other half from mostly Saudi private donors.

    * The Islamic Circle of North America strongly condemned the Oslo accords which sought to establish peace between the Palestinians and Israel. In a joint statement with a number of other Arab/Muslim lobby groups, ICNA charged that Israel's creation in 1948 "had involved the unjust and illegal usurpation of Muslim and Christian lands and rights," and declared that "to recognize the legitimacy of that crime is a crime in itself, and any agreement which involves such recognition is unjust and untenable."

    * The Islamic Society of North America calls itself the largest Muslim organization on the continent. Its annual convention draws more attendees — usually over 30,000 — than any other Arab or Muslim gathering in the Western Hemisphere. ISNA devotes much of its energy to providing Wahhabi theological indoctrination materials to some 1,100 of the approximately 2,500 mosques in North America. Many of these mosques were recently built with Saudi money and are required, by their Saudi benefactors, to strictly follow the dictates of Wahhabi imams. Through its affiliate, the North American Islamic Trust — a Saudi government-backed organization created to fund Islamist enterprises in North America — the Saudi-subsidized ISNA reportedly holds the mortgages of between 50 and 79 percent of all mosques in the U.S. and Canada. Thus the organization can exercise ultimate authority over the mosques and their teachings.
    * The Israel Policy Forum describes itself as "a central clearinghouse for policymakers seeking to more effectively engage the United States in the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." IPF has consistently urged the U.S. government to press Israel into making ever-greater concessions to Palestinian militants — in the belief that such a course of action would help bring peace to the region.

    * The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace believes that security for Israel "can only be achieved through the establishment of an economically and politically viable Palestinian state, necessitating an end to Israel's occupation of land acquired during the 1967 war and an end to Palestinian terrorism." At the heart of JAJP's efforts is its call for the evacuation of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories, and for the withdrawal of Israeli military forces from the West Bank. Whereas some Arab lobby members in the U.S. demand divestment from Israel and the withholding of monies from that country, JAJP instead advocates giving such funds directly to the Palestinian people.

    * Jews Against the Occupation describes itself as "an organization of progressive, secular, and religious Jews of all ages throughout the New York City area advocating peace through justice for Palestine and Israel." Says JATO: "We … reject the Israeli government assertion that it is 'necessary' to subjugate Palestinians for the sake of keeping Jews safe"; "[t]he Israeli military fires bone-crushing rubber bullets and live ammunition at unarmed Palestinian civilians engaged in peaceful protest, failing to distinguish between peaceful and violent resistance"; "[t]he U.S. government provides more aid to Israel than to any other country — the vast majority of this is for military purposes. … [t]his aid must end"; "t]he Israeli government has attacked the Palestinian economy …"; and "[t]housands of Palestinians were driven out of their houses and off of their farms during and after the creation of Israel. They must be allowed to return to their homeland."

    * Jews For a Free Palestine is composed of nominally Jewish activists who support what they call "Palestine liberation solidarity efforts." In conjunction with its partner organization, Renounce Aliyah, JFFP says: "[W]e denounce the continued racist and inhumane policies of the Israeli government. There can be no safety for Jews internationally as the Israeli government continues in the role of occupier and oppressor, while falsely claiming to represent us all."

    * Mercy Corps provides humanitarian assistance to people living in regions beset by war, internecine violence, and natural disasters. From 1981 through 2006, this organization provided $1 billion in assistance to people in 82 nations. With regard specifically to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Mercy Corps places all blame for Palestinian poverty and suffering directly on Israel. 

    * The Middle East Children's Alliance claims that since its inception it has "brought over $8 million of much-needed relief to besieged communities in Iraq and Palestine through emergency medical aid and direct aid to families and communities." "Our work in the United States," says MECA (which accuses the U.S. of "purposefully" targeting civilian areas), "is centered … on educating North Americans about … the role of U.S. policy in maintaining and perpetuating instability and conflict in the Middle East. … We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people as they seek freedom from oppression and we support the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes."

    * The Muslim Alliance of North America was founded in February 2001 by Siraj Wahhaj and Ihsan Bagby. MANA is part of the American Muslim Task Force on Civil Rights and Elections, a national coalition of some of the largest Muslim organizations in the U.S., whose common objectives are to "[m]ainstream the American Muslim community" and work for "the empowerment of [that] community and for the protection of its rights."

    * The Muslim American Society (MAS) describes itself as "a charitable, religious, social, cultural and educational, not-for-profit … Islamic organization." In May 2005, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross reported in The Weekly Standard that MAS is a U.S. front group for the Muslim Brotherhood and, as such, wishes to see the United States governed by Sharia, or Islamic law. MAS is described by Stephen Schwartz, author of The Two Faces of Islam, as "a major component" of the "Wahhabi Lobby" that channels money from, and advances the policies of, Muslim-fundamentalist Saudi Arabia.

    * The Muslim Public Affairs Council's traditionally centrist public image unraveled after the September 2000 launching of the Second Palestinian Intifada, when MPAC severed its ties to the Jewish community and issued one-sided condemnations of Israel's response to the Arab violence. The Council also actively opposed President Bush's military incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as his "excesses" in the war on terror. In July 2002, MPAC National Director Ahmed Younis stated that "if Thomas Jefferson or Madison or the like were alive today, they would go to [Attorney General] John Ashcroft's house and just shoot him." MPAC asserts that Hezbollah "could be called a liberation movement" similar to American "freedom fighters hundreds of years ago whom the British regarded as terrorists." According to MPAC: "Israel was established by terrorism"; its founding "involved the unjust and illegal usurpation of Muslim and Christian land and rights"; and it is a "racist, chauvinistic and militaristic" state that is prosecuting "a war to steal land from Palestinians, to decimate their leadership, to humiliate the Palestinian people." A few hours after the 9/11 attacks, MPAC co-founder Salam Al-Marayati told a Los Angeles radio audience: "If we're going to look at suspects, we should look at the groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list because I think this diverts attention from what's happening in the Palestinian territories so that they can go on with their aggression and occupation and apartheid policies."
    * The Muslim Students' Association of the United States and Canada currently has chapters on some 150 college campuses across North America. According to Stephen Schwartz, MSA is a key lobbying organization for the Wahhabi sect of Islam. From its inception, MSA had close links with the extremist Muslim World League, whose chapters' websites have featured not only Osama bin Laden's propaganda, but also publicity-recruiting campaigns for Wahhabi subversion of the Chechen struggle in Russia. MSA once solicited donations for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, whose assets the U.S. government seized in December 2001 because that organization was giving financial support to the terrorist group Hamas. Charging that U.S. foreign policy is driven by militaristic imperialism, MSA steadfastly opposes the American military incursions into both Afghanistan and Iraq. The organization is also harshly critical of Israel's allegedly oppressive policies vis a vis the Palestinian people residing in the West Bank and Gaza.
    * The National Council of Arab Americans is a consortium of grassroots organizations professing a desire to help Arab Americans assert their "national presence as a community from coast to coast."  "Our belonging in the United States," says NCAA, "can only be complete if our Arab heritage, culture, and identity are fully respected and cherished." The Council's 2003 anti-war manifesto calls for the immediate, unilateral withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq, and exhorts the U.S. to renounce its "militarism and colonial expansions." This manifesto is also decidedly hostile to Israel — advocating the suspension of all forms of economic, political, and military support for that nation, and demanding that Palestinians be granted a full "right of return" without further delay.

    * The National Council of Churches claims a membership of 36 Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox Christian denominations, and some 50 million members in more than 140,000 congregations. Of the seven human rights criticisms the organization issued from 2000-2003, Israel received four, the United States two, and Sudan one. NCC was a signatory to a November 1, 2001 document ascribing the 9/11 hijackers' motives to alleged social injustices against which they were protesting, and calling on the United States to begin "to promote fundamental rights around the world." Citing the counsel of the New Testament —  "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God" (Matthew 5:9) — NCC played a central role in opposing the first Gulf War in 1991, claiming that the risks of such an action were "out of proportion to any conceivable gain."  Its assessment of the second Gulf War was identical. In February 2005, NCC declared that "[t]he crushing burden of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory contributes to deep anger and violent resistance, which contributes to fear throughout Israeli society."

    * The New Israel Fund's mission is to "strengthen Israel's democracy and to promote freedom, justice and equality for all Israel's citizens." From its 1979 inception through 2005, NIF granted over $120 million to more than 700 Israeli organizations that share its political and social objectives — which focus heavily on the redistribution of wealth and the radical transformation of an allegedly oppressive Israeli society. Between 2002 and 2005, NIF received foundation grants totaling more than $37 million.

    New Jersey Solidarity: Activists for the Liberation of Palestine demands "an immediate end to the Israeli occupation of all Palestinian territories, the recognition of the full, non-negotiable human right of return for all Palestinian refugees, and full political, social and economic equality under law for all people in historic Palestine." Moreover, it condemns "the existence of the apartheid colonial settler state of Israel, as it is based on the racist ideology of Zionism and is an expression of colonialism and imperialism."

    * The Palestine Children's Relief Fund states that its founders were "concerned people in the U.S. [wishing] to address the medical and humanitarian crisis facing Palestinian youths in the Middle East." Considered a "Partner Organization" of Al-Awda, PCRF is headed by Stephen Sosebee, who depicts Israelis as murderous terrorists that Palestinians must resist by means of "armed struggle" (i.e., suicide bombings). Sosebee charges that the U.S. government, citizenry, and media are manipulated by a "Zionist lobby" and "Zionist influence."

    * Palestine Media Watch seeks to "help media outlets [gain] access to pro-Palestinian points of view and voices for interviews, op-eds, or background discussions." The organization aims to minimize media references to Palestinian terrorism and corruption, while promoting images of Palestinians as victims of Israeli oppression.
    * The Palestine Solidarity Movement is the North American student arm of the International Solidarity Movement. In 2002 it adopted a resolution affirming unreserved support for the Palestinian Intifada: "We, the national student movement for solidarity with Palestine, declare our solidarity with the popular resistance to Israeli occupation, colonization, and apartheid." PSM members demand that their respective colleges and universities "divest from Israel all financial holdings until Israel ends its system of occupation and apartheid in Palestine." Moreover, the organization calls for "ending U.S. aid to Israel"; supports "the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees"; and endorses "education, public demonstrations and rallies, and non-violent direct action for the purpose of encouraging awareness of Palestine issues and of the above campaigns."

    * Partners for Peace is a Washington, D.C.-based, Palestinian-allied nonprofit group that generates publicity for Palestinian causes. PFP President Jerri Bird wrote in 2002: "It may come as an unpleasant surprise for many of you to learn that for over 30 years, Israel has repeatedly detained, tortured and incarcerated Americans of Arab origin, without suffering any sanctions or even a public reprimand from Washington. Of course the Palestinians have been suffering this torture for 35 years on a scale that is truly unimaginable." Key PFP officials include Adam Shapiro, who also heads the International Solidarity Movement, and George McGovern, the former Democratic presidential candidate.

    * Students for Justice in Palestine originated on the University of California, Berkeley campus in 2001. Since then, SJP cells have spread to some 25 major campuses throughout the United States. The organization's mission is to pursue "freedom and self-determination for the Palestinian people," a goal predicated on ending "[t]he Israeli military occupation, with its daily humiliation, abuse and brutal violence"; ensuring "[t]he right of return and repatriation for Palestinian refugees of war and ethnic cleansing"; and "[t]he cessation of settlement activity and the dismantling of settlements built outside of Israel's pre-1967 border." Toward the advancement of these objectives, SJP demands "[d]ivestment … from companies that invest or do substantial business in Israel," and an "end to U.S. tax-funded aid to Israel."

    * Stop U.S. Tax-funded Aid to Israel Now (SUSTAIN) describes itself as "a non-hierarchical, grassroots organization committed to supporting and sustaining the Palestinian movement for justice, human rights and self-determination." "We are committed to building a campaign against U.S. military and economic aid to Israel so that U.S. tax-dollars do not support the [Israeli] abuse of human rights," SUSTAIN asserts. Two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, SUSTAIN organized a "Global Justice Intifada" in Washington, D.C. to condemn "U.S. imperialism," and to demand justice on behalf of "Palestinians resisting Israeli occupation" and "Iraqis fighting genocidal sanctions."

    * The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is a coalition of groups working together "to change those U.S. policies that both sustain Israel's … occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem, and deny equal rights for all." In November 2002 the Campaign published an article titled "Seeing Clearly Through a Veil of Blood," which asserted that Israel owed Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization a debt of gratitude for their supposedly invaluable "support for a two-state solution." The article further stated that much anti-Jewish hatred "is fueled by the injustice of Israel's occupation of Palestine."

    * The Union of Arab Student Associations describes itself as "a student-based organization that seeks to connect and unify local Arab-American university groups and … educat[e] the Arab community and the general public about the culture, language, and history of the Arab world while promoting vital issues that pertain to Arabs in the United States." The Union currently has several thousand members representing more than 40 universities across the United States. In 1999, the UASA website directed its viewers to visit the website of its affiliate "Students for Palestine," which featured a map of Israel completely covered by a Palestinian flag.

    * The United Association for Studies and Research is an Islamic think tank professing a commitment to "the study of ongoing issues in the Middle East, such as the Arab-Israeli conflict." It also promotes the ideology of Hamas. Mohammad Salah, a Hamas operative who the U.S. government identified as a "specially designated terrorist," was an employee of UASR in the early 1990s. In 1993 Salah revealed that UASR served as the base for the political command of Hamas in the United States, and he identified Hamas official Ahmed Yousef as UASR's Director. "UASR is a front organization for a terrorist group," says George Mason University professor Peter Leitner, President of the Higgins Counterterrorism Research Center. Leitner calls UASR "part of a shell game of international terrorism — phony organizations that are really terrorist cells [and] part of the international terrorist network." Former CIA operative Brian Fairchild asserts that "organizations like UASR" can advance the global terrorist agenda by "recruiting new members, raising funds to support international terrorism, and ... actually support[ing] a terrorist attack in the U.S."

    * Wheels of Justice is a bus tour that canvasses the United States with activists who give "eyewitness accounts" of the suffering they have witnessed during visits to Iraqi and Palestinian villages. They identify Israeli and American militarism and oppression as "the root injustices" that give rise to such phenomena as the Iraqi insurgency and Palestinian terrorism. From 2003 through 2006, WOJ activists addressed audiences in hundreds of cities and thousands of venues, including more than 1,500 middle schools, high schools, colleges, and universities. WOJ charges that virtually every social, economic, medical, and spiritual ill afflicting the Palestinian people can be attributed to Israel's policies of "colonization, occupation, displacement, [and] apartheid." With regard to the war in Iraq, WOJ asserts: "The cultural, political and economic institutions of Iraq belong to the Iraqis, not to Washington; the hijacking of Iraq's culture and resources by a foreign power exacerbates and prolongs the consequences of the ... U.S.-led war …"

    * The World Assembly of Muslim Youth is headquartered in Saudi Arabia but maintains satellite chapters in 55 additional countries and is affiliated with some 500 other Muslim youth groups on five continents. WAMY is one of the vehicles through which the Saudi Wahhabi government funds Islamic extremism and international terrorism. WAMY was co-founded by Kamal Helwabi, a former senior member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and by Osama bin Laden's nephew, Abdullah bin Laden. WAMY raises funds for Hamas, and in October 2002 made Hamas leader Khaled Mash'al an "honored guest" at a Muslim youth and globalization conference held in Riyadh. WAMY also helps finance the Kashmir insurgency against India, characterizing it as a "liberation" movement. A Saudi opposition group reports that WAMY disseminates literature encouraging "religious hatred and violence against Jews, Christians, Shi'a and Ashaari Muslims." As WAMY puts it, this literature is expressly designed "to teach our children to love taking revenge on the Jews and the oppressors, and teach them that our youngsters will liberate Palestine and Jerusalem when they go back to Islam and make jihad for the sake of Allah." Islam scholar Stephen Schwartz calls WAMY "the Saudi equivalent of the Hitler Youth: a hate-mongering, ultra-extremist group preaching, among other niceties, that Shia Muslims are not real Muslims, but products of a Jewish conspiracy." The website Militant Islam Monitor characterizes the organization as "part of the Saudi Wahhabist 'Jihad through conversion' drive."

    To learn much more about these and many hundreds of other leftist organizations, visit


    Mitchell Bard, "The Israeli and Arab Lobbies," Jewish Virtual Library.

    Maurice Ostroff, "The Arab Lobby."

    Jacob Laksin, "Jimmy Carter and the Arab Lobby," (December 18, 2006).

    Arab American Institute, "Arab Americans: Population."
    Dave Eberhart, "Carter's Arab Funding May Color Israel Stance," (April 29, 2002).

    "Transcript: U.S. Congressional Delegation January 7 Briefing in Syria" (January 8, 1998)., "Arab Lobby (Groups)."

    John Perazzo is the author of The Myths That Divide Us: How Lies Have Poisoned American Race Relations. For more information on his book, click here. E-mail him at

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Iranian Domestic Criticism of Iran's Nuclear Strategy



    Inquiry & Analysis-Iran

    January 24, 2007

    No. 317

    Iranian Domestic Criticism of Iran's Nuclear Strategy

    By Y.Mansharof* .


    U.N. Security Council Resolution 1737, of December 23, 2006, which imposed sanctions on Iran, has intensified the domestic debate in Iran regarding the nuclear program. Criticism of the program had been expressed, even before the passing of the resolution, in reformist circles and among members of the former nuclear negotiations team that took part in nuclear negotiations with the EU in Khatami's time. Now, however, criticism is heard even from conservatives, who are calling on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to adopt a more sophisticated and reasonable policy that will better defend Iran's right to develop nuclear technology.

    In light of the growing pressure on Ahmadinejad in the lead-up to the upcoming Security Council meeting, scheduled for February 13, 2007, which will discuss expanding the sanctions, and in light of the intention of Majlis members to summon him to the Majlis to explain his nuclear strategy, on January 21 Ahmadinejad appeared at the Majlis and said: "Even 10 sanctions resolutions of this sort would have no effect on Iran's economy and policy... Developing nuclear technology is a lofty ideal and a sacred goal for Iran, since it will change Iran's status in the global arena and [cause a shift in] the global relations and power balance..."(1)  

    It should be emphasized that this domestic criticism is focused mainly on the strategy of Ahmadinejad and his supporters, and on the way they have chosen to fight for Iran's nuclear program. Itdoes not call into question the nuclear project itself, or Iran's right to develop nuclear technology.   

    Criticism in Conservative Circles

    *Jomhouri-ye Eslami: "Let the Officials [in Charge] of the [Nuclear] Dossier Take a Stand Vis-à-Vis... the Americans and the Westerners..."

    In a January 9, 2007 editorial, the conservative daily Jomhouri-ye Eslami, which is close to the religious seminaries in Qom, attacked Ahmadinejad's handling of the nuclear dossier, and called upon him to let the professionals handle the dossier and to cut back to a minimum his incendiary statements on the issue. The daily also criticized his incorrect assessment of the impact of the sanctions, and called upon him to use greater prudence and not to hide their true effects from the people. The editorial emphasized Iran's right to develop nuclear technology, but also expressed the concern that, given Ahmadinejad's incorrect handling of the dossier, the Iranian people would be forced to pay too high a price on the way to acquiring this technology:

    "...President Ahmadinejad, we appreciate your desire to do justice [to] Iran [by developing] nuclear [technology], and we thank you for your efforts. However, we have a number of points to make about your methods:

    "It is true that the national [i.e. the nuclear] dossier must occupy a place [of pride] in the heart of the nation. Therefore you generally evoke it in your speeches, and rightly so, in order to [ensure] the nation's dedication [to this issue]. However... the fact that you see fit to evoke nuclear technology in all your speeches and in all [of your visits to Iranian] cities... – that is not a correct strategy.

    "In your speeches in various cities, you mention in particular certain important decisions regarding the nuclear dossier, which were made without the necessary thought and planning. Why is it that in his speeches the president feels the need to explain his policy regarding every phase of nuclear development? One day you announce the installation of 3,000 centrifuges, and several days later [the installation of] 60,000 centrifuges... It seems to us that [these] speeches are not well thought-out, and that there is no precise calculation behind them. If there was planning [of any sort], your pronouncements indicate that it has no professional basis.

    "Your statements on the nuclear issue, which are so aggressive and [include] inappropriate words, indicate that you have taken an obstinate position on the nuclear conflict. But what a country needs in the process of becoming nuclear, is expertise and confidence, in accordance with the [guidance] of the Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei]. Why do we need pronouncements of this sort, which give those aggressors [i.e. the Western countries] an excuse to increase the pressure [on us], and which [lead] the people to think that their president... is handling the nuclear issue in an extremist fashion?... The president needs to explain the country's nuclear [policy] calmly and rationally, to the necessary extent, and in most cases it is others who should do the talking, not [the president].

    "By referring to the nuclear conflict in your speeches, you have turned it into the symbol and motto of your government. This is not right... since governments come and go while the national issues remain. Just as Iran's territorial integrity, the Persian language, and our Islamic identity are not linked to any particular government, neither is the nuclear issue.

    "We emphasize that you... highlight the [nuclear] issue in order to cover up your government's failings and problems... This is damaging to you and to your government. The government needs to address the country's various needs, [like] inflation, employment, and hundreds of other issues... If the people think that the government is emphasizing the nuclear issue in order to divert [attention from other issues], you will actually lose national support in handling the nuclear [issue].

    "The nuclear issue has diverse aspects. The most important of them is technological progress, in which much effort [has been invested] during your presidency. However, diplomacy is also part of the nuclear dossier... Sometimes there is need for negotiations, and sometimes [there is need for] a strong stance, or for various tactics that calm [the situation], or for obstinacy or for flexibility. In any event, an important dossier such as this requires sensible diplomatic handling. There is also the task of informing the public... You believe that this can be done [simply] by making speeches and dealing with the media...

    "Nuclearization and unyielding dedication are indeed required and necessary, but the president must not raise the national price [that we must pay for] carrying out this task. The nation should not have to pay... for your approach [to the nuclear issue].

    "Another point: The people need to feel that the president intends to resolve this issue in a sensible manner. The fact that you attach no importance to whether or not the sanctions resolution is passed – that is not the right approach, in our opinion. The people are resilient and patient, [but] the current sanctions resolution undoubtedly does damage to the country, and now, in light of your [attitude, the West is acting] to considerably broaden the sanctions... When the sanctions are broadened, will we say that [the new sanctions resolution] is also an [insignificant] piece of paper?

    "In any event, this sanctions resolution creates problems, and it would behoove the president to speak to the people in a proper fashion. The Iranian people is sensible and is always ahead of its leaders. Do not be [afraid] that if you tell the people the truth they will no longer defend you. Know that they will withdraw their support for you if you cover [things] up. The sanctions resolution was unjust, and will create certain difficulties... What would be better for the people than to hear [words of] moderation and understanding from their president?

    "In light of this, [we] suggest that the honorable president devote time to the nuclear issue only at large national ceremonies. You should not speak too much about this issue in your speeches in the various districts, and should leave it to the officials [in charge] of the dossier to take a stand vis-à-vis the hooliganism of the Americans and the Westerners, if needed... For every issue... there are officials [who are in charge of it, and there is no need for you] to deal with the nuclear issue on a daily basis..."(2)


    *Iranian Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezai: "We Must Act Reasonably – And At the Same Time Prevent America from Accomplishing Its Goals – One of Which Is to Block Our Progress"

    Referring to the increasing U.S. pressure on Iran, and noting that because of it there was a need for a sane and measured policy so as not to play into the hands of the U.S., Mohsen Rezai, secretary of Iran's Expediency Council, said: "America is trying to provoke Iran so that Iran will respond forcefully. But [now], unlike in the past, we are not adventure-seekers. This time, we must act reasonably and at the same time prevent America from accomplishing its goals – one of which is to block our progress..."(3) On another occasion, Rezai said: "We must not make concessions to the enemy for no reason, but [at the same time] we must not underestimate the enemy's [strength]... Statesmanship in Iran requires reason, wisdom and steadfastness..."(4)

    Further, in a January 17, 2007 editorial titled "[Hassan] Rouhani [chief nuclear negotiator under former Iranian president Khatami] or Ahmadinejad – Who Is to Blame?" the Baztab website, which is affiliated with Mohsen Rezai, analyzed the nuclear crisis. The editorial pointed out that it was deviation from the policy of wise steadfastness, dictated by Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and the failure to maintain any diplomatic process with the West, that had led Iran to the direst strategic situation it had ever known. Following are the main points of the editorial:(5)

    "In half the time it took for the U.N. Security Council to pass the sanctions resolution, Iran managed to arrive at a particularly dire security and strategic situation, and it is facing grave threats from the West, particularly from America and Israel...

    "Naturally, these conditions, and the consensus of the world powers against Iran, are an undesirable phenomenon for the top officials of the [Iranian] regime. Had there been any diplomatic [effort], we would not be where we are now. One of the questions that might arise in public opinion in the current situation is: Who is responsible for getting Iran into the current situation?

    "Reformists and officials formerly in charge of the nuclear dossier... deem [Ahmadinejad's policy] as the main cause of the deepening of the nuclear crisis and of the sanctions. This group sees the measures being taken by the new government as the cause of the deepening concerns regarding Iran's capability [in face of the West's pressure], [and as the cause of] the West's interference in Iran's sensitive affairs, and of the escalation of the pressures on Iran.

    "This group believes that the loss of the trust built with Europe... the failure to present [an Iranian answer] to the [5+1] proposal in time, and the transformation of the nuclear dossier into a propaganda and media matter in Ahmadinejad's [speeches] in the various districts and forums... are among the factors that have led Iran into the current situation. This group is placing the responsibility for the current situation on the Ahmadinejad government, and particularly on Ahmadinejad himself...

    "The position of Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei] is 'wise steadfastness' in the fullest sense of the term: The state is not seeking adventure, but neither is it willing to surrender..."

    Criticism by Members of the Previous Negotiating Team and the Khatami Administration

    *Hassan Rouhani: "Those Who Said that the Referral of [Iran's] Nuclear Dossier to the Security Council is Nonsense Must Now Explain Why They Thought This Way"

    In an interview with the reformist daily Etemad-e Melli, former Supreme National Security Council secretary Hassan Rouhani, who was in charge of the nuclear dossier in Khatami's administration and is now the representative of Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei in the Supreme National Security Council, criticized the nuclear policy of Ahmadinejad's government. He stated that, unlike the Khatami government, the Ahmadinejad government has not managed to formulate a prudent policy that includes cooperation with the IAEA but also allows Iran to continue its nuclear activities in spite of the West's opposition. Following are excerpts from the interview:(6) 

    "[During Khatami's time], there were those who scoffed and said that the referral of [Iran's nuclear] dossier to the Security Council was nonsense [because it would never happen]. They wrote in editorials that '[the reformists] were scared and had lost [their nerve], and that [the referral of the nuclear dossier] to the Security Council was no longer on the agenda'... But if we had not done our job prudently, [the dossier would have been referred] to the Security Council [much earlier], and now it has unfortunately happened... Those [who scoffed at the danger] back then must now explain why they thought this way...

    "When we say that we have the right to enrich uranium, [we base this on] Article 4 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which guarantees us that right. But the treaty also [states] that nuclear activity must be for peaceful purposes [only]. If we cannot prove that our nuclear activity is for peaceful purposes, our legitimate right [to develop nuclear technology] will be called into question... [In Khatami's time], we proved legally that our [nuclear] program is for peaceful purposes... We said that through cooperation with [IAEA] and through negotiations we can make achievements, and indeed we attained all our [goals]..."


    *Hossein Mousavian: "Security Council Resolutions Take Precedence over NPT Articles"       

    Criticism of the current government's nuclear strategy was also expressed by Hossein Mousavian, former chairman of the Foreign Policy Committee in the Supreme National Security Council, who was a member of the nuclear negotiating team during Khatami's time, and now heads the International Relations Research Department of the Expediency Council. Participating in a January 3, 2007 panel on U.N. Resolution 1737, he warned that the sanctions could be broadened, and called upon the regime's leaders to adopt a more sensible strategy, based on a more realistic view of the international balance of power:(7)

    "...Saying that the sanctions resolution is illegitimate and illegal does not solve the problem of the nuclear dossier. According to the U.N. Charter, Security Council resolutions take precedence over commitments of governments to international forums, and they are binding for all U.N. member states. So if we say that Article 4 of the NPT guarantees our absolute right to [develop] nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, we must bear in mind... that Security Council resolutions take precedence over NPT articles. [Furthermore], Iran is bound by the U.N. Charter, and as long as it continues to be a member of this organization it cannot act in total opposition to [this Charter]...

    "The Security Council is the highest global-level authority, and its resolutions cannot be appealed before any other body. We must understand the international laws... We have our own [Iranian] position, [but] we must understand the international laws as well... If we reject [the Security Council resolution],.. it will only deepen [the crisis]. Therefore... we must think rationally [about how to] put an immediate end [to the crisis], and start negotiating in any way possible, since negotiations are our only option... Future Security Council resolutions may broaden the sanctions...

    "If Russia and China are forced to choose between Iran and the West, their crucial interests will compel them to choose Europe and America [over Iran]... We must understand international power relations and the interests [of the various countries]. China and Russia attach supreme importance to their relations with Iran, but if forced to choose, they will choose America. So we must not bring them to [a situation] in which they are forced choose..."


    *Expediency Council Member: "We Need Skilled, Experienced and Moderate Individuals to Save Our Country from Crisis"

    In an interview for the conservative news agency Aftab, Expediency Council Member Mohammed Hashemi of the reformist Kargozaran party said that since he assumed power, Ahmadinejad had been unable to thwart U.S. plans regarding Iran:(8)

    "... A year ago, there were those who believed, on the basis of statements by certain countries [i.e. China and Russia], that America could not refer Iran's nuclear dossier to the Security Council, and that if this did happen, there still would be no sanctions imposed on Iran... But unfortunately, we have seen that America realized its aspirations, step by step... [China and Russia] have no clear position, since on the one hand, they are defending Iran's right to [develop] nuclear technology, and on the other, they are supporting America and are partners to its moves. It is unfortunate that the local media in Iran has not publicized the latter half of their position...

    "In the past year, during which the current government has taken charge [of the nuclear dossier], we saw the [sanctions] resolution passed [by the Security Council]. I believe that with its next steps, America will realize all its aspirations [with respect to Iran]. Therefore, we need skilled, experienced and moderate individuals to save our country from crisis..."


    *Advisor to Former Iranian Defense Minister: "Why Are We Openly Revealing Our Weak Points to the Enemy?"       

    In an interview for the Iranian news agency ISNA, Ali Reza Akbari, who was advisor to former Iranian defense minister Ali Shamkhani, likewise criticized Ahmadinejad's policies. He said that the Holocaust cartoon exhibition recently held in Tehran, as well as Ahmadinejad's provocative statements, were not serving Iran's interest in maintaining political and security calm – which would allow it to develop its nuclear technology:(9)

    "...Today, one of the things that Iran needs the most in order to realize its nuclear rights is to control its political and security environment – that is, [to create] a safe zone [for itself] in the global security arena, and to control the situation in a way that serves our interests... The more heated our environment and the [prevailing] atmosphere, the further we get from our goals... Raising issues like the Holocaust and [other] matters that provoke our adversaries... runs counter to our interests...

    "[U.N.] Resolution 1737 is essentially a destructive and threatening resolution... which runs counter to international laws and rights and which makes problems for Iran. Why do some of [our] leaders claim that it is an ineffectual resolution that has no impact on us? Doesn't this sound as though we are asking the West to pass another, harsher [sanctions] resolution that will affect us more severely?

    "Why are we openly revealing our weak points to the enemy? Why don't we protest forcefully against the harmful repercussions of this resolution, and at the same time reject it in a reasonable manner?...

    "Our nation is too strong to stray from its positions [because of] one [single] sanctions resolution, but it makes no political sense to say that the resolution is nothing more than an [insignificant] piece of paper, [just] to scorn our adversary...

    "Articles 24 and 20a of resolution 1737 advise the 5+1 [i.e. the five permanent Security Council members + Germany] and the IAEA to handle the Iranian [nuclear] issue by diplomatic means... [but only if] Iran freezes its [nuclear] activities... The logical conclusion is that Iran, as a country which relies upon itself and its own abilities, and which believes in negotiations and dialogue... must first of all achieve its goal [of attaining] nuclear capabilities for peaceful purposes as soon as possible with [the minimum] obstacles and difficulties, so that freezing [the program] will no longer have any meaning. At the same time, in order to render articles [24 and 20a of Resolution 1737] ineffective, it must initiate a new diplomatic process and make progress in it..." 


    Criticism by Reformists

    *Former Reformist MP Mohsen Armin: "If This Policy [of Ahmadinejad] Continues, There Is No Doubt That it will Fail and Bring About Harmful Consequences"

    At a November 15, 2006 seminar at Tehran University on "Foreign Policy, National Interest, and Ideological Interests," Mohsen Armin, who in the Sixth Majlis was spokesman of the reformist party Mojahedin-e Enqelab-e Eslami and a member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said that Russia and China would not be able to withstand the U.S. forever, and that Iran's leaders must respond to Europe's demand to freeze uranium enrichment. Following are his main points:(10)

    "...Ahmadinejad has said several times in his speeches that the Europeans asked us to suspend [our uranium] enrichment, if only for a few hours, and was proud [of the fact] that we would not do this. If this is so, and the Europeans were [really] so meek, why is Iran [now] on the brink of sanctions only [for want of] a few hours of suspension? This makes no sense... China and Russia do not have the ability to confront America to the end. It appears that regarding [our] nuclear dossier, there is no way but to return to the strategy of the Khatami government.

    "With the change in the American [Congress] and the defeat of the Republicans by the Democrats, a good opportunity has been created for Iran [to advance its national interests]. If the diplomats employ the policy necessary to exploit this opportunity and to manage [Iran's] nuclear dossier in accordance with national interests, it will be possible to negotiate with America on preserving Iran's right [to develop nuclear technology]..."

    After the passing of the sanctions resolution, Armin added, "There is no doubt of Iran's absolute right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes... [but] if before the sanctions resolution [was passed] we could have retained this right and voluntarily suspended [our] nuclear activity, [now] with the sanctions, we must halt all nuclear activity... The Security Council sanctions resolution is a clear indication of the defeat of Iran's new politicians [i.e. Ahmadinejad's cabinet] and their diplomacy. If this policy continues, there is no doubt that it will fail and bring about harmful consequences."(11)

    *Reformist Mosharekat Party: "Iran's Citizens Have Additional Inalienable Rights That Cannot and Must Not Be Sacrificed for One Single Inalienable Right"

    In a January 4, 2007 communiqué, the Iranian reformist party Mosharekat expressed apprehension about the ramifications of Iran's current nuclear policy, and advised the regime to go back to the nuclear policy of the Khatami era. While stressing its unqualified support of Iran's right to develop nuclear power, the communiqué focused on fears for the fate of the Iranian people under the current policy. It advised the launching of negotiations with the U.S. and with the U.N. Security Council member countries with the aim of dispelling their fears of Iran's intentions, and preventing continued or stricter sanctions. The communiqué also expressed the authors' reservations about Ahmadinejad's provocative statements on nuclear issues, and about the holding of a Holocaust denial conference at this particular time.

    The following are the main points of the communiqué, as it appeared on the reformist website Emrooz on January 6, 2007:(12) 

    "...Unfortunately, since the beginning of the activity of the Ahmadinejad government and of the new team [in charge of Iran's] nuclear dossier, the previous policy has been abandoned, and a new path has been chosen. Narrow-mindedness and hasty rejection of every divergent opinion has taken over the decision-making [process]...

    "As we noted in the past, we link [Iran's] nuclear dossier and the way [it is handled] with the fate of the Iranian people. Thus, we think that this issue should be [discussed] openly with the public, and especially that the media should be able to discuss the matter, in all its details and dimensions, by actively involving clear-sighted individuals [in the debate, since] the people must be well informed about the country's nuclear issue, and about its costs and benefits...

    "In our view, the opinion that [Iran's] national interests are best served by preventing... any type of criticism and public debate is wrongheaded, mistaken, and contrary to national interests... We remind the ruling branch of the Majlis and the government that [they] rose to power on slogans of development, welfare, and improvement of living [conditions] and the economy. It should not be forgotten that Iran's citizens have additional inalienable rights, that cannot and must not be sacrificed for one single inalienable right. Alongside [the right to develop nuclear technology], these rights too must be taken into account...

    "We too are opposed to the oppression and authoritarianism that prevails in the international arena, and we do not doubt the aggression and unilateralism, and the double standards, of America (and of the other world superpowers). But we believe that within the framework of these relations and this reality, [Iran] must act with planning and forethought...

    "In light of the threats against the country's national interests and territorial integrity, we must be sure to take no actions that could be used [against us] by the superpowers...

    "We stress that that [Iran] has the right to... attain nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. However, at the same time, it is clear that the current policy and modus operandi will not lead us to [developing] this capability... [Moreover], we fear that [Iran's] other inalienable rights are being undermined, and that the fundamental interests of the country and of the nation will be affected by [this policy], and that we will forever be denied our rights as a state...

    "The opportunity to review [Iran's nuclear] policy and to prevent exacerbation of the situation still exists... We recommend the following steps:

    "In light of the fact that steadfastness in the face of the U.N. Security Council resolution is steadily placing us in a more difficult and isolated position... and in order to break the international comprehensive consensus [against us], exit the crisis and begin a new round of negotiations and confidence building, we advise announcing a return to the previous policy [of the Khatami era]...

    "Talks on this subject must begin with the countries that influence the Security Council members, particularly America... [otherwise,] the implementation of repeated sanctions may make the situation worse and the circumstances  more problematic, and Iran's position will weaken day by day while America's will become stronger. Resuming negotiations... can clear the way for us to exit the crisis.

    "Under current conditions, and in the negotiations and the confidence-building process, we must refrain from any kind of declaration of adventurous policy that exacerbates the crisis, or from executing any kind of action likely to arouse suspicion and doubt about Iran in the international arena (such as leaving the NPT or holding a Holocaust [cartoon] exhibit)..."

    *Hamshahri: "As Long as It's Not Too Late, the Country's Top Officials Must Choose an Effective Strategy so as to Lead to Greater Progress in The Country, and to Prevent [Iran from Paying] a Higher Price"

    In a January 9, 2007 editorial, the Tehran reformist paper Hamshahri wrote that Ahmadinejad's nuclear policy was damaging to Iran, had increased the world's fears regarding the nature of Iran's nuclear activity, and had led to sanctions against Iran. Following are the main points of the article:(13)

    "...The current period, [when] debate is underway in the country about Iran's nuclear dossier and its future, is the best opportunity to assess the results of the activity of [the regime's] top officials... Since around May 2006, an initiated nuclear policy has been formulated, which endangered the gains [made by Iran's previous nuclear negotiating team]... This [new] policy, which has been especially set out in President Ahmadinejad's many speeches... has encountered [opposition]. Just when [Iran's] nuclear dossier was about to be  taken away from the Security Council by a [positive Iranian] response to the package of incentives – [Iran] again became the object of suspicion because of [Ahmadinejad's] inflammatory speeches, and the two sanctions resolutions were given to Iran 'as a gift.' The shapers of this diplomacy did not anticipate and did not believe that they would have to deal with such turns of events..."

    Criticism by Top Religious Authorities

    *Ayatollah Montazeri: "Have We No Other Rights and Obligations [to Our People]?"

    In a memorial ceremony for former Iranian prime minister and Iranian liberal leader Mahdi Bazargan, Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri expressed his fears that President Ahmadinejad's fixation on the nuclear issue was denying Iranian citizen's other rights.(14) Following are the main points of the report, as it appeared January 22, 2007 in the online reformist daily Rooz:(15)

    "... We repeat every day that this thing [i.e. Iran's right to nuclear technology] is our inalienable right. Great! It is [indeed] our right! But it must be obtained in a way that will not create other problems, and without giving others an excuse [to harm us]. Is our only inalienable right the one that the masters [i.e. Ahmadinejad and his supporters] speak of? Have we no other rights and obligations [to the public]?... 

    "Did we elect the government just so it can spout slogans? In spite of all [Iran's] oil and gas, we worry about other countries, but not about our own people... The government and its top officials must refrain from pointless expenditure and trips that do not benefit the people or the country [this alludes to Ahmadinejad's trips to South America and across Iran]... The oil and gas belong to the entire [Iranian] people, not only to a specific group..."


    *Y. Mansharof is a research fellow at MEMRI.    


    (1) ILNA news agency (Iran), January 21, 2007. For statements by Ahmadinejad and his supporters declaring that Iran will continue its nuclear activities, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1409, "'The Straw Powers Must Accept the Undeniable Reality: In Today's World There is a Rising Power Challenging Their Baseless Ideologies' - Iranian Reactions to U.N. Sanctions Resolution 1737," January 4, 2007,

    (2) Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Iran), January 9, 2007. In response to this article, columnist Qassem Ravanbakhsh, who is a disciple of Ahmadinejad's mentor Ayatollah Mesbah-e Yazdi, published a January 17, 2007 article in Yazdi's weekly Parto-ye Sokhan in which he rejected the criticism published in Jomhouri-ye Eslami.  Ravanbakhsh wrote: "Ahmadinejad's conduct in the nuclear dossier shows that this cabinet has handled the nuclear issue with the utmost wisdom. It managed to save the country from the crisis of freezing the nuclear [activity]... and on the practical level, in managed to attain a uranium enrichment level of 3.5%.   

    (3) ISNA (Iran), January 19, 2007.

    (4) Mehr news agency (Iran), January 20, 2007.

    (5) Baztab (Iran), January 17, 2007.

    (6) Etemad-e Melli, December 5, 2006.

    (7) ILNA news agency (Iran), January 3, 2007.

    (8) Aftab news agency (Iran) December 26, 2006.

    (9) ISNA news agency (Iran) December 26, 2006.

    (10) ISNA (Iran), November 15, 2006.

    (11) Emrooz (Iran), December 26, 2006.

    (12) Emrooz (Iran), January 6, 2007.

    (13) Hamshahri, (Iran), January 9, 2007.

    (14) Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri, one of the founders of Iran's Islamic Revolution, was designated by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as his successor, but the appointment was withdrawn in 1988, after Montazeri criticized the regime's repression and human rights violations. In 1997, Ayatollah Montazeri was put under house arrest for six years by Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for his criticism of the latter's absolute rule. For more on Montazeri's criticism of the Iranian regime, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1171, "Iraqi News Agency Aswathura's Exclusive Interview with Grand Ayatollah Montazeri: [Iran's] Rulers Say: The Mosques are Our Political Parties... Elections are a [Mere] Formality... If a Citizen Expresses Dissent, He is Persecuted... Security Forces and Military Have the Last Word... Iran Should Establish Good Relations With America, [Based on] Mutual Respect," May 24, 2006, .

    (15) Rooz (Iran), January 22, 2007.

    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.

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    Continued (Permanent Link)

    [Lebanon] Saniora Wants Extraordinary Session to Contain Mounting Violence

    Saniora Wants Extraordinary Session to Contain Mounting Violence
    Premier Fouad Saniora called for an urgent parliamentary session to discuss the deteriorating security situation after mushrooming riots between anti and pro-government factions claimed three lives and wounded 62 people on Tuesday.
    Saniora told a news conference "I demand an immediate extraordinary meeting by the parliament to settle issues within the constitutional institutions."
    Saniora said the general strike called by the opposition has developed into "provocations that went beyond all limits."
    "Blocking roads…is an aggression on the people and their freedoms. It is an attack on social order and it involves risks that are hidden to nobody."
    However, he stressed that "our hands remain stretched to facilitate dialogue and settle problems and renew confidence between the Lebanese."
    The premier said the March 14 parliamentary majority that supports his government "will not fail to listen to the opinions of others."
    He urged for "quick treatment that would take differences away from the street to be discussed within the framework of legitimate institutions, topped by the parliament."
    Saniora concluded by stressing that "we will always remain together against intimidation. We will be together against internal disputes to safeguard Lebanon."
    Saniora's news conference followed daylong confrontations between anti and pro-government factions throughout Lebanon which security sources said killed three people and wounded 50.
    "Two people were killed in clashes in the northern city of Tripoli, and a third person was killed in Batroun," also in the north, a senior police official said.
    Security sources told Naharnet most of the casualties suffered bullet wounds in the running confrontations that spread across most of the country after the army and security forces failed to re-open roads blocked by the Hizbullah-led opposition.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Fatah accuses Hamas of corruption

    Fatah accuses Hamas of corruption
    Date: 23 / 01 / 2007  Time:  17:07

    Ramallah - Ma'an - Spokesman for the Fatah movement, Jamal Nazzal, has
    revealed some documents in which he accused the government of corruption.

    The report which he prepared said "according to official documents and
    correspondents, the Hamas government continues the appointments and
    promotions of employees, which puts more pressure on the budget, especially
    after thousands of contracts were signed for employing members of Hamas in
    the different posts in the government."

    The report which Ma'an also has a copy of, said the correspondent of the
    ministry of the interior since the 21st of November 2006 "revealed that he
    was calling for the employment of nine persons with school graduate
    qualifications only, as managers, and in another letter he asked for the
    employment of nine others in the degrees [levels of employment] of two and

    The statement spoke about other appointments, which were against the law and
    mentioned the names and posts of many people that were assigned in an
    illegal way. The statement named 17 individuals, which it said were
    appointed in advanced positions despite not being qualified for such

    Nazzal said that the Fatah movement informed the president about these
    breaches of the law, in addition to the prime minister and the finance
    minister. He condemned the appointments and said that the government ignored
    the proper procedures in the appointments of the employees in government

    The Hamas movement condemned the accusations of Fatah, the spokesman for the
    movement of Hamas, Fawzi Barhoum, told Ma'an, "Up to this moment we did not
    hear any part of Fatah standing with the government, they only accuse it in
    every thing, instead of helping it to build the county," he also said that
    "this is not the right time, this is the time for the fighters not the

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Israeli politician suggests handing control of the Palestinian territories to a European force

    Israeli politician suggests handing control of the Palestinian territories
    to a European force
    Date: 23 / 01 / 2007  Time:  17:16

    Bethlehem - Ma'an - A member of the Israeli Knesset from the right-wing
    Kadima party, Shlomo Breznitz, has suggested that the control of the
    occupied Palestinian territories be handed over to the Europeans.

    Breznitz' plan, which he has described as revolutionary, has been revealed
    in the Israeli media.

    The plan is based on an Israeli withdrawal from most of the Palestinian
    territories and the dismantling of dozens of settlements in the occupied
    territories. These territories will then be handed over to a European force,
    which Breznitz described as an "important force [which will] control the
    situation in preparation for the establishment of a Palestinian state".

    Breznitz also revealed that he is going to present this plan on Wednesday at
    the ongoing Herzliya conference, taking place outside Tel Aviv. He believes
    that this plan is the way out of the current dilemma, and would offer a
    solution similar to south Lebanon, or Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    According to Israeli sources, the plan, which is being dubbed the
    "international greenhouse" plan, will make the international community in
    charge of the issue rather than the USA specifically, which has lost its
    position as a mediator after its involvement in Iraq.

    The plan also says that the European forces would replace the Israeli forces
    gradually and would take up positions on the settlements which are to be
    evacuated according to Olmert's ' convergence' plan.

    The international force would also work on rehabilitating a Palestinian
    force. This military move will be paralleled with a new 'Marshal Plan' by
    the Europeans, similar to the aid package given by the USA to Europe after
    the Second World War.

    According to this plan, the Palestinian new force, which would include army
    and police forces, would work in coordination with the Israeli army and
    intelligence in order to end the so-called terrorist organizations.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    [Israeli President] Katsav charged with rape

    Katsav charged with rape
    Attorney General Mazuz decides to file indictment Tuesday afternoon against president
    Aviram Zino Published:  01.23.07, 16:36
    President Moshe Katsav will be charged with a series of sexual offenses, including rape, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz decided Tuesday.
    A number of complainants had accused the president of sexual harassment, coercion and rape.
    In addition, the president will also be charged with fraud, breach of trust, harassing a witness and obstruction of justice.
    The president had been accused of pardoning prisoners and illegal wiretapping. However, these allegations were dropped due to lack of evidence.
    In November, Katsav has said he would resign if indicted .
    Attorney Kineret Barashi, who represents A, who leveled the charge of rape against the president, said: "The facts of the indictment speak for themselves."
    Katsav's attorneys have said they will hold a press conference on Tuesday evening.

    The beginning of the affair

    The affair began in July when Katsav complained to the attorney general that he was being blackmailed by A who, he said, was falsely accusing him of sexual wrongdoing.

    Mazuz ordered an investigation, which was closely monitored by the attorney general and State Prosecutor Eran Shendar. The investigatory team, headed by top police officer Yoav Segalovitch, submitted its findings in October..

    The indictment had been delayed for several weeks as a number of state prosecutors believed that there was not enough evidence to charge Katsav with rape and that the prosecution would have to settle for lesser charges. Others argued that there was sufficient evidence, and this was the position ultimately accepted by Mazuz.
    A senior state prosecutor said that he believed that the existing evidence, in the form of letters and tapes, would compensate for the lack of a "smoking gun" and prove solid enough to substantiate a rape charge.
    In cases like this, said the prosecutor, the string of continuous testimonies and complainants will suffice. The prosecutor added that there was a more solid base for the prosecution than in the case against former justice minister Haim Ramon, where it was a matter of one person's version of events against another's.
     Attorney Zion Amir, a leading member of Katsav's defense team, said before news of the indictment broke: "We believe that this case is full of holes."

     The Katsav Affair
    A history of the affair, from Katsav's complaint of blackmail to Mazuz's decision to indict
    Ynetnews Published:  01.23.07, 18:03

    Moshe Katsav was elected president in a surprise upset over Shimon Peres in the summer of 2000. Some six years later, he surprised the nation again, this time with a sex scandal.
    Ironically, the president brought the matter to the public's attention. He complained to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz that he was being blackmailed by A who, he said, was falsely accusing him of sexual wrongdoing.

    Mazuz opened an investigation to determine the veracity of A's complaints. As the investigation progressed, more women came forward, claiming that Katsav had harassed them at various times throughout his public career.
    Additionally, the investigation led to suspicions against the president of fraud, breach of trust, harassing a witness and obstruction of justice.

    Although Katsav continued to refute all of the complaints, the tide of public opinion against the president grew.

    Many people, including Knesset Member Shelly Yacimovich, called on Katsav to resign, or at least suspend himself from public appearances. The president suspended himself temporarily for the induction ceremony of Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch in September.
    But this temporary suspension only increased tensions. In October, several MKs announced they would boycott the opening ceremony of the Knesset's winter session, if Katsav were to attend.
    A day before the opening ceremony, police investigators and state prosecutors issued a joint statement alleging that there was enough evidence to support numerous charges against Katsav, including rape.

    Nonetheless, some prosecutors believed that there was not enough evidence to indict the president on a charge as severe as rape. It was this internal dissent that delayed Mazuz's final decision.
    The decision finally arrived Tuesday evening, when Mazuz announced his intention to indict Katsav on several charges of sexual misconduct, including rape.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Lecture Summary: FM Tzipi Livni: Tzipi Livni, Vice Prime Minister; Minister of Foreign Affairs; Minister of Justice

    The 7th Herzliya Conference > Lecture Summaries
    Tzipi Livni, Vice Prime Minister; Minister of Foreign Affairs; Minister of

       I believe that every person should have and indeed has a personal goal in
    life - his own personal motto. Every company and corporation has business
    goals, means to achieve these goals, its own business agenda and motto.
    Every society has a common goal and vision it strives to achieve, and this
    is the social motto. The existence of this common goal is an essential
    element to the endured security of the state of Israel, alongside military
    might and its enduring hope for peaceful relations with our neighbors.

     The state of Israel is itself an expression of a common vision and goal,
    and it in its base are the common democratic values shared by the citizens
    of Israel, however recently we have encountered a need to rephrase and
    reaffirm our goals, a need to reaffirm the creation of our common creed and
    motto to unite Israel as a society. I do not live above the people and I
    hear the voices, crying out in anger or in sadness, coming at times from
    indifference - and I can understand where these feelings are coming from,
    but we must not allow this to become the norm.

    The ongoing conflict with the Palestinians has yet to be resolved, yet I
    have faith in the Israeli society and country, as Israel is a strong country
    that has endured tougher times before, and it is important to remember that
    alongside every new threat that surfaces, there is a hidden opportunity. It
    is true that the last war resulted in a large gap between our expectations
    from the military to win and the actual results: the dead that did not
    return home and the prisoners that are yet to return. The war in Lebanon
    uncovered harsh truths and revealed a need to repair that which we thought
    had no need to repair - our source of pride, our own military. Nevertheless
    I have no doubt the military is capable of regrouping and reforming itself
    properly. The war caused us to release the limitations of the use of
    military might, however let us not forget what we have gained from the war:
    The Lebanese military now controls the South of Lebanon, and the weapons
    embargo imposed on Lebanon from Syria. These developments have resulted in a
    favorable situation for Israel. There is a feeling of difficulty stemming
    from fundamental flaws in several places, including several places where we
    did not expect to be fallible. Some of these cases are flawed with apparent
    corruption. In the name of maintaining the proper separation of powers, I
    will not offer my opinion on which suspicions are founded and which are
    unfounded, however I will say that the process of exploration in itself is a
    healthy process. The police is interrogating in the most sensitive of
    places, however this is part of the Israeli fortitude. If we discover that
    corruption has not spread to those places, we shall all sigh with relief.
    However if we discover corruption - it is better to investigate and deal
    with problems than to ignore them and turn a blind eye to problems - for
    this investigation strengthens and invigorates the public servants in the
    system who still perform their duties loyally. Trust in the civil service is
    one of the cornerstones of democracy.

    If we are to assume these trends to be the loss of our common goals, then we
    must find a way to rephrase them. The vision still stands. It was present in
    the declaration of independence. However we must reaffirm public awareness
    regarding it and we must rephrase it, and I believe that this is the common
    goal of the state of Israel: To exist and promote the state as a home to the
    Jewish people as a Democratic nation, with those two values co-existing and
    not contradicting, a country we can consider ourselves privileged to live
    in, a country existing in safety with its neighbors.

    In light of this goal we must set practical, viable goals we can accomplish
    at home, and protect from foreign influences - and that as well depends on

    Our common goal must be the writing on the wall, not as a warning - but in a
    positive sense. It should be on the wall of every school. It should be on
    the wall of the offices of parliament, and decisions should be taken in
    light of it. It should be on the wall of every command post and control
    center - and it should guide every order into battle, if necessary. This
    goal must be protected by a constitution. The state of Israel has yet to
    establish an official constitution, and as a result there are understandable
    fears and tension between the various sections of society. The lack of a
    constitution creates dispute regarding the balance of power. The future
    constitution must determine our common goal, and grant viable context to the
    words "a national Jewish home" that coexists with the principle of
    democracy. The constitution must be headed by the law of return (assuring
    citizenship to Jews everywhere). The constitution must determine the civil
    rights of the citizens of Israel, and denote the limitation of the
    government's reach of power. By that we can show social solidarity,
    regardless of social standings, class and religion. Social activities can
    not and should not substitute governmental responsibility, and it is still
    obligated to give equal opportunities in the fields of education, and the
    deployment of a "safety net" that allows us an honorable existence - and
    that too depends entirely on us.

    Our common goal dictates the national logic of the state of Israel in the
    face of its different challenges. IF we translate this to a practical realm,
    in the resolution of the Palestinian conflict we must first determine our
    principles and then enact them into action - these are principles according
    to which we act, and these are the principles we will safe guard in every
    step we take.

    The understanding of the national interest in the existence of the state of
    Israel as a national state for the Jewish people requires us to accept the
    principle of "Two Lands for Two Peoples". The state of Israel is the
    national home of the Jewish people, and the Palestinian nation is the one
    and only solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees. The state of
    Israel, after having accepted this partition, has the right to define its
    Arab citizens as minority citizens in the Jewish Nation - and the
    Palestinian nation has the right to define her citizens as Palestinian

    In every political process we decide to undergo, it is our duty to look
    after the security of our citizens and to prevent the establishment of a
    terrorist state alongside Israel. The national safety is a key ingredient in
    the security of the state of Israel, and we must work towards maintaining
    areas where there is a majority of Israelis in Israeli hands. We must take
    into consideration these two steps in every political maneuver.

    I believe that these goals are common to the entire public. In this context,
    there is no clear distinction between left and right save for with the
    politicians who have a vested interested in maintaining this artificial
    partition. Even they know deep inside that these are the key elements in
    every process, and just as those coming from the supposed right are now
    realizing that the conflict cannot be solved by force alone, those on the
    left are coming to the realization that the resolution of the conflict does
    not depend solely on Israel. The differences are not in the vision and not
    in the goal - they are only in the way to achieve this goal. Despite these
    differences we must always maintaining our common vision and goal as a
    beacon guiding the way, a goal worth fighting wars for and a goal worth
    persisting in negotiations for.

    When discussing the political topic there is a constant confusion between
    the vision and the road to it. The titles we call the different turns in the
    road are irrelevant - as we must decide what the right path to reach our
    goals is, but before that we must do two things:

    The first is to define the national interests of the state of Israel, the
    same interests we want to maintain in every political process. Whichever
    path we decide on, we must question whether it maintains these values.

    The second, we must question whether the timing and external circumstances
    allow us to walk down the path we've decided on, or if we must wait.

    The security of the state of Israel is based on military might; however the
    interests we are discussing are much more than just operational commands for
    a time of need. They deal with the planning of the day after military

    Before entering any sort of procedure we must first define these interests,
    dealing not only with terms of lands and borders, but also dealing with the
    characteristics of the future Palestinian state. These interests must be
    mapped and anchored, and must be preserved regardless of the process. We
    must search through the interests for those we can substitute with
    alternatives, and for those which are worth collapsing negotiations over.
    After mapping these interests we must then choose between the existing
    paths. Naturally Israel prefers to sign a treaty over other potential
    solutions, however no treaty should be signed without taking into
    consideration two things: One, the conditions of the negotiations must be
    set in such a fashion that even if the treaty is violated, the security of
    the state is not compromised; Two, we must assess beforehand what are the
    chances for a successful negotiation resulting in a viable agreement.

    This assessment requires gathering intelligence, and for that very purpose
    we have access to the intelligence branches of the military - however there
    is a different type of intelligence, the one that can be acquired from the
    other side, by talking to the other side. These meetings are important not
    only to hear the other side, but also to voice our position and principles,
    so that the other side might know what to expect from us.

    If we are to assess current affairs we are to do so by judging matters of
    today, and in light of the recent changes. We must take into account the
    Hamas and its rise to power, the threat posted by Hezbollah, the Iranian
    threat and the new trends towards extremism in the area as our
    considerations. All of these elements can change the type of conflict we are
    facing, and alter it from a national dispute to a religious one. We
    currently have a national solution, and a religious conflict is a whole
    different issue.

    We must create a different front, and we can create it. We must raise the
    concern from the transfer from a national dispute to a religious conflict as
    a concern shared by the moderate Palestinians, the moderate Arab states and
    to the entire free world that sees the shared necessity to combat this

    Once we have identified the possibilities of this conflict we must translate
    these possibilities into a number of aspects. For example, we must translate
    it into an aspect centered on the Palestinian aspect. Their commitment to
    fighting terrorist elements must be upheld if we are to prevent the
    emergence of a terrorist state. We must strengthen the moderate alternative,
    and this requires us to maintain the pressure on the extremists so that they
    understand they are not a viable alternative to the moderates. Even as we
    try to reach an alternative option with the moderates from the Palestinian
    people, we will not waiver our basic demands. This commitment to creating a
    viable alternative is not just an Israeli commitment, but also a part of the
    duties of the Palestinian moderate leadership, as our future as well theirs
    rests on their ability to perceive and exploit new opportunities as they
    emerge. Agreements with the radical factions are not included as one of
    these alternatives.

    Under the present circumstances, negotiations are in the best Israeli
    interest. As long as the other side knows that we shall not hesitate to use
    force if necessary, and that negotiations are part of the ongoing struggle
    against extremists and terrorism, we do not have to choose between the two
    options. We must make a distinction between negotiations and concessions -
    any and all concessions are pending accordance with our main goals and
    interests. Under this framework we must understand that is important we know
    how to prepare towards each step of the way, and to see both sides meet
    their respective demands.

    As a result of the current situation, the new threats find us in a situation
    in which we share common regional goals. The Iranian threat as well as the
    war in Lebanon reaffirmed the understanding Iran is the real regional
    threat, not Israel, as Iran represents the main fanatical religious threat.
    To further clarify the point, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the
    cause of extremism in the region - and its resolution will not have any
    effect on the radical ideology, which originates from a different place. The
    role of the moderate nations that recognize the potential problem with Iran
    is to strengthen the moderate leadership. Just as we strive to create such a
    front with the moderates, we must strive to create a similar front with the
    rest of the free world, with whom we share common values and interests that
    must be enacted into action. The international front is not necessarily a
    front of advocacy, but the ability to recognize and act upon common
    international interests so as to create international policy. In the past we
    expected the international community to stay away from our affairs, but now
    we demand their intervention. We demand from them to support the moderate
    leadership, out of an understanding that the moderates represent their
    common values and that this is what may trigger the difference. The way to
    create agreements is to determine a common denominator and to act upon on
    it. We must present our interests that we share with the rest of the world,
    and demand action upon these interests from the international community. For
    example, we may consider our insistence on the Palestinian right of return,
    which we believe should be resolved with the establishment of a Palestinian
    state. We can see this in the rise of Hamas to power, by how we undertook
    the military responsibility to deal with the terrorist threat, but demanded
    the international diplomatic intervention on the issue. We can also see this
    in the presentation of the potential "domino effect" that may follow the war
    in Lebanon. We often try to enlist international interests consistent with
    the values and needs of Israel, and lately, the two have been the same.

    In conclusion - I would like to bring a message to the people of Israel.
    Israel today is more transparent, stronger and healthier. I believe Israel
    is the best hope of the Israelis and the Jewish people - and that too,
    depends entirely on us.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    The 7th Herzliya Conference" Shimon Peres, Vice Premier; Former Prime Minister

    The 7th Herzliya Conference > Lecture Summaries
    Shimon Peres, Vice Premier; Former Prime Minister

    A well-known architect Richard Meier is currently visiting our region. Meier
    very much loves the color white. This color is characteristic of his
    buildings. Meier invented a white foam that is dust-repellent, and believes
    that Tel Aviv is a beautiful white city. The timing of his visit is apt
    because Israel has a lot of "architects" that like the color black and
    seeing black. They like to blacken our lives. Perhaps we have a tendency
    toward black. There is a saying that "a true Jew is never happy unless he is
    miserable." And I say that perhaps it is worthwhile to look a bit at
    different architecture.

    I don't believe that the situation in Israel is black, thanks to two
    people - Nasrallah, and Ahmadinejad. Nasrallah eulogized the State of Israel
    two days ago. During this speech, Nasrallah said, "What country, having lost
    one soldier, ceaselessly searches for him. Even if he was killed, it won't
    stop searching for his corpse."

    The second thing Nasrallah said is that Israel is a nation that knows how to
    "learn a lesson." In his opinion, a disaster befell us in Lebanon. He
    prefers a dictatorship to a democracy. In a democracy, it is permissible to
    make mistakes, but it is obligatory to correct them. In a dictatorship, it
    is permissible to make mistakes, but it is forbidden to admit to them.

    Ahmadinejad also did a wonderful job. Without him the West wouldn't have
    unified to set an anti-Persian agenda. His extreme speeches caused the West
    to gradually prepare. I am full of hope that he won't stop his
    exaggerations, his extremism, and his disregard of the Iranian situation.
    Through his exaggerations, Ahmadinejad not only incites the whole world
    against him, he also causes Iranian public opinion to turn away from him.

    They say that Iran has become an empire. What empire?! That is a poor
    country with high unemployment, widespread hunger, and enormous corruption.
    This is an inflated claim that stands on shaky ground. Even if they had
    enriched uranium, it would be very difficult for them to provide for the
    needs of the children of Tehran, even if they needed to receive enriched for
    uranium for breakfast. You need more than this. You need an economy, you
    need a society. The weakness and emptiness of the Iranian regime have made
    it unsustainable. Before we go and bomb them, we need to try the
    non-military option.

    Economic and political sanctions will bring Iran down to its real
    proportions. Most leaders that if Iran truly has nuclear weapons, this is a
    disaster, even for the Russians. I recommend not taking this lightly, but we
    still aren't in 1938, and Hitler can't come along. There is a Jewish state,
    and we won't stand by as someone who doesn't care. However, with this, we
    don't need to be arrogant.

    I am also reading all the predictions regarding Syria. The makeup of war and
    peace with Syria is a triangle - Israel, the United States, and Syria. Syria
    doesn't have an economy, doesn't have territory, and its army is nothing to
    rave about. Syria wants to correct the mistakes made by the father of the
    current leader.

    The United States thinks that Siniora needs to lead in Lebanon, and not
    Hezbollah. Siniora represents the desire of the majority of the Lebanese
    people, and the fact that the Middle East won't fall under a Persian

    Syria can't move towards peace as long as it is providing shelter for
    Mash'aal and as long as it is training terrorist forces that are targeting
    Americans in Iraq. And if they turn toward war, they will encounter the
    triangle, and not just Israel.

    The last war revealed weaknesses, some of them human error and some of the
    incorrect perceptions of reality. The IDF is designed to fight armies, and
    not terror groups, which is like fighting crime. A criminal, another
    criminal, and another criminal. However, there were still deficiencies in
    IDF functions, and therefore, lessons must be learned. New equipment and
    strategies must be developed. I am convinced that Israel has the capability
    to reinstate its deterrent power, especially through new technologies such
    as nanotechnology.

    I am accused of being optimistic. This isn't such a terrible thing to be
    accused of. People ask me why I look so good. My secret is that I am
    optimistic - if you don't feel bad, you don't look bad. I see threats in
    different parameters and under a dynamic light.

    I, more than others, have experienced the 60 years of Israel's history from
    the inside. There have been more difficult times. I remember the night that
    the Merkavas with the wheels didn't cross the Suez. They thought this would
    be the end of the country. I remember when the Arab countries attacked us
    and we didn't have any weapons or guns. I learned never to despair. Israel
    won't be the one who will fall; Ahmadinejad will fall. He has nothing to
    give to the world. Israel does!
    I thought I was the biggest dreamer in the State of Israel until I met Uriel
    Reichman. I wanted to establish a university in the Galilee. We found a
    donor who donated 100 million dollars, and Reichman also got involved. Two
    or three days later, Reichman said, "What is 100 million dollars? We need
    500 million! In the meantime, other donors were found. Before I knew it, a
    very large vision of the Galilee developed in larger proportions. Tsfat is a
    sleeping beauty. The town is first the center of Kabala, then as center for
    artists, and is now reawakening on the path to developing the Galilee.

    The first time Israel achieved economic independence was a great
    achievement. This was the first time that exports exceeded imports. I had
    the privilege of decreasing inflation from 400% to 16%. Israel is
    economically stable with 5% yearly growth, along with 40% increase in the
    GDP, and per capita income, which increased from 16,000 to 19,600. I won't
    say that this is because we have a wonderful government, even though the
    government had no small part.

    The truth is that the there are perhaps 20,000 young people in Israel that
    entered hi-tech and started making capital, thus bringing new hope.
    Parenthetically, globalization brought with it individualization. A single
    person can erect an economic empire. When Henry Ford was at the start of his
    business career, he needed to fight the entire world, to slander, to bribe,
    etc. Bill Gates, with his talents and organization, and without the
    difficulties faced by Henry Ford, started a massive economic organization
    whose capital exceeds that of many countries. Likewise, along came two young
    people from Russia and established Google, didn't hurt anyone, and their
    monetary value is four times that of Egypt.

    This type of thing is happening in Israel as well, perhaps not on such a
    large scale, but there are many dedicated people with imagination and daring
    of whom I am very proud. This scientific capability will provide us with the
    advanced technology that will reinstate our deterrent power. Our young
    people are excellent. I am happy to see young people returning to the
    kibbutzim and moshavim, which were once on the decline. I see private
    enterprise, hi-tech factories that are willing to start moving to the Negev
    and the Galilee.

    By the way, people tell me, "Lower taxes and we will move to the periphery."
    I am not positive that the main point is lowering taxes. I believe that
    developing the economy is dependent on the mobility real estate, of
    territory. The value of land increases exponentially, and not linearly. If
    you take the Negev as an example, the largest asset is that the value of
    land will increase.

    What are we afraid of?

    I have a lot of critics. I am not against criticism and am not asking for
    any breaks from the critics. I am only asking those reading the criticism
    not to see it as absolute truth. Israel is not corrupt. I know it from the

    The final word has yet to be said on Iran - not economically, not
    politically, and certainly not militarily. If Ahmadinejad continues to go
    wild, he will pay the price.

    On the Palestinian front, there are three problems: borders, Jerusalem, and
    refugees. In terms of borders, we are very close to a solution. We are
    prepared to give 90% of the West Bank, agree to give territorial continuity,
    and that the territory won't be segmented into small pieces. We are prepared
    for territorial exchange, and also to make an arrangement for the
    settlements to remain in three main blocs. The Palestinians agreed to this
    at Camp David. Of course, they have a problem of factionalism, in which I
    recommend not to get involved. We don't need to become the ones who get
    involved in internal issues.

    On the issue of refugees, Israel has said to the Arab world: there is
    nothing to discuss here. Once, there were two non-Muslim countries in the
    Middle East - Christian Lebanon and Jewish Israel. Lebanon made a lot of
    mistakes and has paid the price demographically. We, as a Jewish state, won't
    cease to be the only Jewish state in the world, and, therefore the Right of
    Return won't be granted. Whoever reads the small print can find in the Arab
    League and Saudi Peace Plan that these are efforts to find a just solution,
    and that the Right of Return is no longer mentioned as a pre-condition.

    In terms of Jerusalem, at least in regards to the various quarters in the
    city - the quarters that have a Palestinian majority will
    be in the Palestinian state, and the Jewish quarters will remain in Israeli
    territory. However, I don't believe a problem in the world today can be
    solved through only strategic means, nor only diplomatic means.

    Every important event since WWII happened due to economic engines. Europe
    was unified by a new economic system. What changed China? Communism there is
    one of a kind - 9000 millionaires, and workers don't have pension
    arrangements. Communism there has undergone an economic revolution. What
    motivated all of this were economic factors.

    Policy deals with borders, economics deals with relations. Europe didn't
    change its borders, but changed its relations. China didn't change the way
    it's organized, it changed its economy. People say that the only way to
    solve the conflict between the two sides is to bring a third party. This
    way, it is possible to be with one out of two, and not one out of one.

    The agreement of our time with King Hussein was an attempt to create a
    Jordanian-Palestinian-Israeli free trade triangle. Today, there is no chance
    of returning to such a confederation unless it is an economic, rather than
    political, confederation. The plan is to take the border from Eilat to
    Yarmuch and turn it into a joint economic area between us, the Jordanians,
    and the Palestinians. Infrastructure, airports, and roads will be built. We
    will manage the water reservoirs effectively. This will achieve a number of
    things including raising the standard of living and bringing global support.

    Governments don't have funds, they have a budget. The budget is eaten up by
    ministerial interests. Global capital doesn't have ministries, it has money.
    Its capital comes from the unknown and is not built on the accepted and the
    known. I see global capital as a means of developing this region. The cost
    of the regional development plan I mentioned reaches 10 billion dollars. I
    believe that it is possible to raise this money from global and private
    capital. Global capital is prepared to take a chance because it there are
    opportunities that just don't get passed up.

    I would define this policy as a policy of a double path. On one hand, there
    is the political aspect; on the other hand is the economic aspect. On the
    political side there is a couple, us and the Palestinians. I am sure that
    there will soon be a meeting with Abu Mazen to advance these issues and move
    toward a final solution. The economic aspect is for the good of the
    Israelis, the good of the Jordanians, and the good of the Palestinians.

    In summary, there is no being halfhearted. Losing the bigger picture that
    drives our world is a mistake.

    I suggest letting Meier use the white foam. Let's not paint our houses
    black. We can embark upon a large and cautious campaign - to give Israel the
    dynamics, the daring, to become to the model state once again for its
    citizens and for the region.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    New Poll Shows Americans Support Sanctions Against Iran Even if that Increases Gas Prices by 20 Percent

    New Poll Shows Americans Support Sanctions Against Iran Even if that
    Increases Gas Prices by 20 Percent
    Majority of Americans Say Solving Palestinian-Israel Conflict Will Not Solve
    Challenges in Iraq

    Other key findings include:
    Majority of Americans want end to Palestinian terrorism and recognition of
    Israel before a new Palestinian state is formed;
    73 percent of Americans support the international community placing and
    enforcing economic and diplomatic sanctions against Iran, even if those
    measures increases fuel costs in the United States by 20 percent;
    86 percent of Americans support a ban on all international weapons sales to
    72 percent of Americans are worried that Iran might develop nuclear weapons.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A new poll of 800 American registered voters,
    commissioned by The Israel Project (TIP) shows that Americans overwhelmingly
    support taking action against the Islamic Republic of Iran if it continues
    to bar International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors from its nuclear


    Project #07029 January 18 & 20-21, 2007
    Public Opinion Strategies N=800 Registered Voters, Margin of Error =+/-3.5%

     And, turning to international affairs...

    N1. Now, thinking about the ongoing conflict between Israel and the
    Palestinians in the Middle East, please tell me whether, in general, you
    consider yourself to be...

     26% a strong supporter of Israel
     24% a supporter of Israel
     6% a supporter of the Palestinians
     2% a strong supporter of the Palestinians

     6% DON'T KNOW
     3% REFUSED


     N2. Please tell me which statement comes closer to your own view...

    Solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is important to solving issues in


    Challenges in Iraq will not be solved by solving the Israeli-Palestinian


     10% DON'T KNOW
     2% REFUSED


     N3. Please tell me which statement comes closer to your own view...

    It is important to create a Palestinian state now


    There should not be a Palestinian state until Palestinian leaders end the
    terror and recognize Israel's right to exist


     12% DON'T KNOW
     3% REFUSED


    N4. Please tell me which statement comes closer to your own view...

    The bigger cause of violence in the Middle East is the conflict between
    Israel and the Palestinians


    The bigger cause of violence in the Middle East is the conflict between
    moderates and extremists, across a number of countries and groups


     9% DON'T KNOW
     2% REFUSED


     N5. How involved should the United States be in dealing with Iran? Should
    we be....


     2% DON'T KNOW
     1% REFUSED


    N6. Do you think that Iran's resumption of research on nuclear fuel is to




     7% BOTH
     11% DON'T KNOW
     * REFUSED

    N7. Still thinking about Iran... How worried are you that Iran might develop
    nuclear weapons?


     * DON'T KNOW
     * REFUSED


    N8. And, how involved should the United States be in dealing with Iran?
    Should we be....

     Initial Informed
     31% 36% VERY INVOLVED
     09% 08% NOT VERY INVOLVED
     16% 11% NOT AT ALL INVOLVED

     02% 2% DON'T KNOW
     01% --% REFUSED


    As you may know, Iran continues to NOT comply with UN Security Council
    resolutions that demand Iran suspend its nuclear enrichment program and
    allow in UN inspectors. Now, assuming Iran continues its nuclear enrichment
    program despite the UN Security Council resolutions, please tell me whether
    you support or oppose the following actions... The (FIRST/NEXT) one is...

    N9. Ban all international weapons sales to Iran. (B)
     Support 86% Oppose 12% Don't Know/Refuse reply 2%

    N10. The international community placing and enforcing economic and
    diplomatic sanctions against Iran. (A)
     Support 83% Oppose 14% Don't Know/Refuse reply 4%

    N11. The international community placing and enforcing economic and
    diplomatic sanctions against Iran, even if it increases the cost of fuel in
    the United States by 20%. (B)
     Support 73% Oppose 23% Don't Know/Refuse reply 5%

    N12. Expand intelligence-gathering efforts within Iran so that the United
    States' decision-making process is better-informed as to Iran's capability
    and its intentions. (A)
     Support 88% Oppose 9% Don't Know/Refuse reply 3%

    N13. Step up the surveillance of shipments to Iran to monitor and prevent
    suspected weapons of mass destruction related material from reaching Iran.
     Support 87% Oppose 10% Don't Know/Refuse reply 3%

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    NSC drafting strategy to make Israel a member of NATO

    NSC drafting strategy to make Israel a member of NATO
    Yaakov Katz and Tovah Lazaroff, THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 23, 2007

    In an effort to establish more effective deterrence in the face of Iran's
    race to obtain nuclear weapons, government ministries are, for the first
    time, working on drafting a position paper that will include guidelines and
    a strategy for turning Israel into a full-fledged member of NATO, The
    Jerusalem Post has learned.

    The paper is being drafted by an interministerial committee made up of
    representatives from the Defense Ministry and the Foreign Ministry and
    headed by the National Security Council. The committee plans to complete the
    paper by the end of February and present it to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
    for approval.

    Meanwhile Monday, in an exclusive interview, former Spanish prime minister
    Jos Mar a Aznar told the Post that "Israel needs to join NATO as soon as

    According to Aznar, the Iranian threat serves as "an excellent occasion to
    enforce [Israeli] deterrence by making Israel a member of NATO."

    The former Spanish leader and current president of the FAES Spanish think
    tank said that if Israel became a member of NATO, "the perception in Iran
    would change, knowing that it's not only Israel [they are dealing with], but
    all of NATO."
    Aznar said that NATO needed to change its focus to counter the growing
    threat of global terrorism.

    "The threat today is terror and we need to restructure NATO to deal with
    this threat," he said.

    Aznar said he believed diplomatic efforts and sanctions - at the current
    level like those passed last month - would not succeed in getting Iran to
    suspend its nuclear ambitions.

    Later, speaking at the Herzliya Conference, Aznar said: "We must do
    everything we can to prevent a nuclear Iran, but we must also prepare to
    seek a possibility to make a nuclear Iran act appropriately."

    He hinted that he would understand if Israel decided to take unilateral
    military action to stop Iran, claiming that "Israel has what to be concerned

    Sen. John Edwards of South Carolina, who is running for president of the
    United States on the Democratic ticket, told conference members via
    satellite that one day Israel could be a member of NATO.

    In the interim, he said, "We ought to find a way to upgrade Israel's
    cooperation with NATO." He added that the United States should lead the
    charge to strengthen that relationship.

    General Lord Charles Guthrie of Craigiebank, former chief of the UK Defense
    Staff, said he favored Israel joining NATO even though he doubted that it
    could happen any time soon.

    "Israel hasn't been invited to join NATO, and realistically it is unlikely
    that she will be invited until the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is resolved.
    But it would be a huge advantage if Israel could join," Guthrie said.

    As a democratic country, Israel was a natural ally for NATO, with whom it
    shared many similar strategic concerns, he commented.

    Israel would benefit diplomatically, strategically and technically by
    joining NATO, Guthrie said, adding that it was not true that NATO membership
    would militarily restrict Israel or prevent it from taking unilateral
    military action. The United Kingdom went to war in the Falklands even though
    it is a NATO member.

    The problem lies more with the military contributions that Israel would have
    to make to NATO actions elsewhere in the world, such as in Afghanistan and
    Somalia. "Would Israel want to send troops to other countries and perhaps
    give up lives for those missions?" he asked.

    But the editor and publisher of German weekly paper Die Zeit, Josef Joffe,
    said he believed joining NATO would restrict Israel militarily. He said that
    NATO would likely make such restrictions a requirement for membership.

    With that in mind, why would Israel want to join NATO, he asked. From a
    technical perspective, "Israel would make a wonderful partner for NATO. It
    would beat anything the Europeans could field," said Joffe.

    He added that Israel had more tanks than Germany or France, but NATO was
    unlikely to admit Israel because it didn't want to be bound in a strategic
    alliance with a country that had so many ongoing military conflicts.

    "From a rational perspective, would NATO leaders want to fight Israel's
    wars?" he asked. "What NATO country wants to put its soldiers in Israel?".

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Solana shocked at growth of Israeli settlements in West Bank

    Last update - 08:44 22/01/2007   

    Solana shocked at growth of Israeli settlements in West Bank
    By Haaretz Service and DPA

    EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana Sunday urged Israel to freeze West Bank settlements and stop constructing the security fence. He hoped "the realities on the ground" brought about by Jewish settlement building would not "prevent a two-state solution from happening."
    Solana said that on a tour he held on Saturday in West Bank Arab towns on Jerusalem's eastern slopes, he was struck by the growth of settlements and the defense barrier cutting into land that Palestinians want for a state.
    "I had the opportunity to make a tour along the eastern part of Jerusalem and go to Abu Dis and its surroundings. You get really very shocked every time you go and you see the situation worse, the wall is more extended and settlements are more extended," Solana told reporters in Amman.
    Under the U.S.-backed road map, Israel was supposed to halt settlement construction in the West Bank. The Palestinians were also required to dismantle militant groups, a step they have yet to take.
    The EU official said there was a "window of opportunity" that the international community and the parties to the conflict should seize to revive talks that collapsed in 2001 and have remained deadlocked since Hamas took power.
    "We think there is an opportunity now, an opportunity that should not be let go by to open the political process that should end up with the resolution of the conflict," he said.
    Solana said a new resolve was emerging among the Quartet of Middle East mediators - the United States, United Nations, Russia and the European Union - that raised hopes for progress when a planned meeting takes place in Washington on February 2.
    "The political will is being constructed. It's been too long in which the suffering of people has been very deep ... and the moment we think has arrived to change the approach," he said.
    Solana: All sides have 'political will' to restart peace process
    Earlier on Sunday, Solana said the time was opportune for relaunching peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, thanks to the existence of "political will" on the part of all players he met recently.
    Judging by "the talks I have had with different actors in the United States and in the region, I think the political will is there for moving the peace process," Solana told a press conference before leaving for Israel on the last leg of a regional tour.
    Solana met Sunday with Jordan' King Abdullah III on the prospects of pushing ahead the peace negotiations. Earlier Sunday he visited Egypt and the Palestinian Authority.
    According to a royal court statement, King Abdullah "underscored the importance of the EU upgrading its role in efforts aimed at reinvigorating the peace process and ensuring the availability of appropriate circumstances for resuming negotiations."
    Abdullah also urged a "reactivation of the Quartet's role in the forthcoming stage with a view to working out peace that will be based on UN resolutions, the Arab peace initiative and the setting up of an independent Palestinian state" that lives in peace with Israel, the statement said.
    Solana said that with the availability of political will, "the approach" to the Middle East conflict should now be changed from "a mood of crisis management to a kind of solution."
    He expressed hope that a meeting to be held by the Middle East Quartet in New York on February 2 would be crucial in terms efforts aimed at pushing the peace negotiations forward between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
    Solana indicated that the EU and regional governments supported a "final status solution" between Israel and the Palestinians, who rejected recently a proposal by the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for setting up a Palestinian state with interim borders.
    Solana said that he planned "to sound out" Israeli leaders on this issue when he met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert later Sunday. Solana's visit to Jerusalem included talks with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
    Solana was also scheduled to meet with Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul Ilah Khatib to discuss efforts by the Quartet of Middle East peace brokers to spur the stalled talks, the officials said.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Blast rocks Al Arabiya television office in Gaza City; no injuries

    Last update - 23:55 22/01/2007   
    Blast rocks Al Arabiya television office in Gaza City; no injuries
    By Reuters

    An explosion ripped through the office of Al Arabiya television in Gaza City on Monday, causing no injuries but extensive damage, police said.
    The cause of the blast at the newsroom, which was empty at the time, was unknown. The explosion destroyed the outside door of the office of the Dubai-based Arabic satellite television station and damaged some walls inside.
    Militant groups Hamas and the Fatah-linked al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades condemned the attack. Palestinian journalists in Gaza said they would hold a strike on Tuesday to protest against the bombing.
    Arabiya executive editor Nabil al-Khatib said in Dubai the television station had received threats against its office but it was not clear if the blast was linked to the threats.
    The explosion also smashed the door of the office of Reuters News Agency across the hallway.
    Witnesses said Arabiya employees had not arrived at work for several days because of anonymous telephone threats following a tape the station had aired of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of the governing militant Hamas group.
    Hamas has denied involvement in the explosion and says it did not threaten anyone from the network.
    "It is not of Hamas policy to target journalists or other people because of a difference in opinion," said Hamas spokesman Ismail Rudwan. "Hamas condemns the attack. We do not rule out the attempts of a third party who wants to cause more tensions."
    Hamas had said following the broadcast that Haniyeh's comments were broadcast in a way that took his words out of context and vowed to pursue legal action against Arabiya.
    The station has said that it had shown an unedited recording that was taken from a Palestinian Web site.
    Hamas and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah group have been engaged in a power struggle since Hamas won a parliamentary election in January last year.
    Palestinian police arrived to survey the damage and launched an investigation into the blast.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Switzerland says it mediated in informal Israel-Syria peace talks

    Last update - 02:49 23/01/2007   

    Switzerland says it mediated in informal Israel-Syria peace talks
    By Assaf Oni and Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondents

    Switzerland served as a mediator in informal talks between Israeli and Syrian representatives, which were first reported in Haaretz last week, Swiss Foreign Minister and Federal Councilor Micheline Calmy-Ray said Monday.
    The parties to the secret back-channel negotiations with Syria met with relatives of Israeli spy Eli Cohen's family and discussed the possibility that Damascus would allow his remains to be repatriated one peace talks are renewed. One of the meetings was sponsored by the Foreign Ministry. Nadia Cohen, widow of the executed spy, told Haaretz Monday that before taking ill, former prime minister Ariel Sharon promised she would soon bring her husband to Israel for burial. Cohen supported any effort to end the conflict with Syria and hopes her husband's reinterment will be one of the first confidence-building steps between the two states.
    Former foreign minister Silvan Shalom, a Likud MK, confirmed last week that he knew of the secret talks while serving at the ministry.
    Meretz chair Yossi Beilin said after Haaretz first revealed the initiative that the European who mediated between the Israelis and Damascus was the head of the Middle East desk in the Swiss Foreign Ministry, Nicholas Lang. Lang had played a key role in the talks between Israelis and Palestinians that led to Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo's Geneva Initiative. Earlier, Lang had served as Swiss general consul in Jerusalem.
    Over the weekend, Lang visited Jerusalem, later traveling to Damascus to meet senior government officials, including Vice President Farouk Shara and Foreign Minister Walid Muallem.
    Swiss Federal President Micheline Calmy-Rey confirmed Monday that Switzerland acted as a mediator in the informal talks between Israeli and Syrian negotiators. "Switzerland was the broker in the talks reported by the press," Calmy-Rey told a press conference in Geneva. She also said that the mediator himself is currently in Syria.
    Calmy-Rey said she will meet with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
    In her first press conference as president, Calmy-Rey declined to detail the situation of the talks or their likely results, and rejected charges that Switzerland favors the Palestinians, citing its neutral policy during the recent conflict in Lebanon.
    Meanwhile, the leader of the Druze community in Lebanon, Walid Jumblatt, Monday accused Hezbollah of waging the summer war for Syria and Iran in order to improve the Syrian bargaining position. He said the Lebanese paid the price for talks that Syrian-American businessman Ibrahim Suleiman had conducted with Israelis.
    "Does that not shame Hezbollah to be used at the expense of Lebanon and the Lebanese?" Jumblatt asked. Jumblatt is considered a moderate in the Middle East regarding relations with Israel and an opponent of Syrian involvement in Lebanon.
    Assaf Uni, Yoav Stern and news agencies contributed to this report.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Girl allegedly killed by Border Police may have been hit by rock

    Last update - 01:48 22/01/2007   

    Girl allegedly killed by Border Police may have been hit by rock
    By Jonathan Lis and Yuval Yoaz, Haaretz Correspondents

    Ten-year-old Abir Aramin was apparently killed by a blunt object, and not by a rubber bullet, as some eyewitnesses claimed, according to the autopsy findings.
    Aramin, of the West Bank village of Anata near Jerusalem, died last Thursday of injuries incurred two days earlier as she was standing near the entrance to her elementary school.
    Eyewitnesses blamed her death on Border Police in the vicinity, but disagreed over the cause, with some saying that she was struck by a rubber bullet and others citing a shock grenade.
    Police sources said on Sunday that autopsy findings indicated Aramin could have been killed by concussion from a shock grenade or by a thrown rock. However, they said, the findings were inconsistent with her having been killed by a rubber bullet: No bullet wounds were found on her body, and the skull injury that caused her death was a large one, whereas rubber bullets, even if they do not penetrate, usually make small wounds.
    The autopsy was performed last Friday at the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir, with a pathologist hired by Aramin's family in attendance. But while it demonstrated that Aramin was killed by a blunt object  a conclusion with which the family's pathologist concurs  the findings have thus far been insufficient to determine the exact cause of death, because part of her skull, containing vital clues, was removed during the operation that she underwent after being wounded last Tuesday. on Monday, the pathologists are supposed to receive the results of two computer tomography (CT) scans that she underwent last Tuesday just before the operation, one at Mokassad Hospital in East Jerusalem and one at Hadassah Hospital, Ein Karem, and the pathologists are hoping that these results will help them to pinpoint the cause of death.
    Police investigators also questioned the Border Police involved in the incident under caution on Sunday, and police sources said they plan to reenact the incident "as soon as possible."
    The date of the reenactment is being kept secret for fear that there might be rioting against the police.
    The Border Police have admitted to firing rubber bullets, saying they did so to break up a violent demonstration that made them fear they would be lynched. However, they deny having hit Aramin.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Olmert, Peretz agree on choice of Ashkenazi as IDF chief * A short biography of Major General Gabi Ashkenazi

    Last update - 01:13 23/01/2007   
    Olmert, Peretz agree on choice of Ashkenazi as IDF chief
    By Aluf Benn and Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondents, and Haaretz Service

    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz agreed Monday night to appoint the director general of the Defense Ministry, Major General (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi as Israel Defense Forces chief of staff.
    According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office, "the two men expressed their confidence in Ashkenazi's ability to successfully fulfill the post and implement the lessons of the Lebanese War."
    Olmert and Peretz also "praised the other candidates for the position - Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Moshe Kaplinsky and GOC Ground Forces Major General Benny Gantz - and noted that they were both worthy candidates," the statement continued.
    According to the statement, Peretz will submit Ashkenazi's candidacy to the Government's Advisory Committee on Senior Appointments chaired by retired Supreme Court Judge Yaacov Terkel, before submitting it to the full Cabinet for a decision.
    The High Court of Justice instructed Olmert and Peretz on Monday to justify within four days their decision to appoint a new IDF chief prior to the Winograd Committee's interim report on the second Lebanon war.
    Nonetheless, Justice Ayala Procaccia said that at this time there is no reason to prevent the appointment.
    The court's decision came in response to a petition by the Movement for Quality Government, which argued the incoming IDF chief could soon find himself being held partly responsible for the army's failures during the war.
    In addition, the petition argued that it is inappropriate for Olmert and Peretz to appoint the next IDF chief, because they too could be blamed for the failures.
    Olmert and Peretz on Monday asked Kaplinsky to stay on as deputy chief of staff following the anticipated appointment of Ashkenazi.
    Associates of the prime minister have said that the majority of officials with whom Olmert has consulted recommended that Ashkenazi be appointed.
    It is still unclear whether Kaplinsky would stay on as deputy chief of staff.
    Those close to Kaplinsky said last week that he intended to retire if he was not made IDF chief. In his letter to Peretz, however, Kaplinsky offered his experience and capabilities for as long as they were needed.
    Kaplinsky, one of the three candidates for the post of chief of staff, announced in Sunday's letter to Peretz that he had decided to pull out from the race.
    Kaplinsky cited his wish to put an end to the "media circus" surrounding the matter of the appointment.
    Peretz arrived at the decision following a series of consultations he held on Sunday, and the appointment is expected to be finalized in two weeks.
    Late last week, Kaplinsky had concluded that his chances of receiving the appointment were few.
    "I believe that I have the experience, the capability and the [moral] authority to carry out the function of the chief of staff in the best way possible... however, the IDF is a people's army... and therefore it is my view that the appointment of chief of staff must enjoy the widest possible consensus," he wrote.
    "Since you decided, according to media reports, to appoint a chief of staff in the coming days and not wait for the full examination of the facts relevant to the war, I feel that it would be inappropriate for me to take on the role, at this time, and therefore request to withdraw my candidacy," Kaplinsky added.
    Peretz began considering the appointment of Ashkenazi as the next chief of staff soon after the end of the war in Lebanon, last August. Last week, following the announcement of Dan Halutz that he had decided to resign from the post, Peretz began promoting the idea of Ashkenazi as his replacement.

    Last update - 00:09 23/01/2007   

    A short biography of Major General Gabi Ashkenazi
    Major General Gabi Ashkenazi will return to the IDF as its Chief of Staff, two years after retiring when he lost a previous contest for the job to Dan Halutz.
    Ashkenazi was born in Moshav Hagor to a father who is a Holocaust survivor and a Syrian-born mother. He joined the Golani Brigade in 1972 and served as a soldier in the Yom Kippur War. In 1976 brigade commander Uri Saguy added him to the Golani force that participated in the Entebbe operation, but Ashkenazi did not take part in the battle at the airport.
    In 1978 Ashkenazi served as deputy battalion commander in Golani, was wounded in the Litani Operation and left the army. Two years later he was asked to return and was appointed battalion commander. In the war in Lebanon he served as deputy brigade commander and in 1986 was appointed Golani commander. In 1990 Ashkenazi was appointed commander of a reserves division and in 1992 as commander of the Lebanon Liaison Unit.
    In 1994 he was appointed head of operations in the General Staff and in 1996 he was promoted to major general and appointed aide to the Operations Division. In 1998 he was appointed GOC Northern Command, in which he was responsible for pulling IDF forces out of Lebanon, a move Ashkenazi criticized for not being carried out in agreement with Syria.
    The report examining the abduction of the soldiers in October 2000 in Har Dov cleared Ashkenazi of blame and in 2002 he was appointed deputy chief of staff. During the intifada he was seen as the most moderate member of the General Staff. He objected to aggressive acts against the Palestinians and as director of the separation fence project he tried to persuade the authorities to build the wall as close as possible to the Green Line and not infringe/encroach on the Palestinians' life.
    In an interview for the book "The Seventh War," Ashkenazi told writers Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff that the moral damage done to IDF soldiers due to the fighting in the territories worried and alarmed him. "My greatest fear is the loss of humanity because of the ongoing warfare," he said.
    It is possible that his opinions made prime minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz choose his rival Halutz as chief of staff instead of him. Shortly after the announcement of Halutz's appointment Ashkenazi said he was leaving the army.
    After that his name was mentioned several times in connection with senior positions. Last July Defense Minister Amir Peretz appointed him director general of the Defense Ministry.
    "Gabi Ashkenazi will bring basic values back to the IDF. He's a jolly good soldier, who worked his way up," said Major General (Res.) Uri Saguy, Ashkenazi's former commander, yesterday. Ashkenazi has a BA in political science and is a graduate of the Kennedy School of Government. He is married and father of two children.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Monday, January 22, 2007

    MK Tzachi Hanegbi at Herzliya Conference: Knesset warned government about Hezbolla Rockets

    Knesset FA & Defense Committee warned government about Hezbolla Rockets

    February 2004 letter warned:
    "Lately, we have heard reports regarding the rockets in Lebanon, and we would like to present to you the core of the concern. Iran, by way of Syria, has created a strategic threat to the State of Israel-a threat that, if realized, will place a full quarter of Israel's population within the range of the rockets from Hadera and northward. This will set off a wave of refugees towards the center of the country and will paralyze the economy of the North. The waning of the enemy's military capabilities could take several weeks. Without a ground operation, this situation requires creative means of managing this, and we caution you on the subject of Israel's inability to remain passive when facing such a threat."
    The 7th Herzliya Conference > Lecture Summaries
    MK Tzachi Hanegbi, Chairman, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee

    During my term as minister, I don't recall that the cabinet ever raised the issue of Israel's options regarding the strengthening of Hezbollah on our northern border. This matter was raised marginally as part of annual reports and projections. No one raised other operative questions, more profound questions, such as what price will Israel be forced to pay with regard to the fact that on the northern border, a formidable force was being built up, financed by Iran, and backed by Syria.

    The committee is not a forum that is superior to the decision-makers. Its obligation is to warn of possible future circumstances. The committee identified perpetual malfunctions in Lebanon and found it appropriate to present its findings to the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister.

    In February 2004, Yuval Steinitz, the chairman at the time, Omri Sharon, and Efraim Sneh wrote a letter to the Prime Minister and Defense Minister. Sections of the letter are a sort of prophecy that came true and exacted a heavy toll from us.

    "Lately, we have heard reports regarding the rockets in Lebanon, and we would like to present to you the core of the concern. Iran, by way of Syria, has created a strategic threat to the State of Israel-a threat that, if realized, will place a full quarter of Israel's population within the range of the rockets from Hadera and northward. This will set off a wave of refugees towards the center of the country and will paralyze the economy of the North. The waning of the enemy's military capabilities could take several weeks. Without a ground operation, this situation requires creative means of managing this, and we caution you on the subject of Israel's inability to remain passive when facing such a threat."

    Today, we know that each of these clauses quickly turned into reality. Economic objectives were paralyzed, and the intelligence gap precluded a swift containment of the Hezbollah's weapons caches and military capabilities.

    The practical impact of this cautionary letter is unknown, since there was no reply. I also do not know what was thought just before the campaign began, but the following day, the committee met with the Defense Minister, and the protocol suggests that the IDF was supposed to know that there was no possibility that it could intercept rocket fire with artillery fire.  According to the committee, there was no preparation for a comprehensive effort to eliminate the rocket fire. On that same morning, rockets and katyushas were fired to an extent that they shut down the entire Galilee and prevented people from living their normal daily lives. The head of the operations unit appeared before the committee and warned that there were no ground forces and it was not expected that there would be; this was the tone that was heard in the committee for most of the first two weeks of the war. The Chief of Staff appeared before the committee and was asked about ground forces. His reply was clear: in the meantime, there was no need to prepare for a ground invasion, and the situation should continue as long as possible. In other words, in order for a ground operation to occur, something exceptionally drastic would need to happen.

    However, there was unanimous agreement within the committee that opposing fire was insufficient, but what conclusion was to be drawn from this?

    Different opinions were heard-diverse and conflicting; a multiplicity of opinions precludes harmony and consensus, and thus made it difficult for the committee to act as a pressure group, at a time when there was a lack of understanding in the executive branch.

    Today the committee is involved in investigating the events in Lebanon: not in terms of assigning responsibility, but rather in terms of bolstering the fitness of the military and of the need to strengthen the training systems of the units. We in the committee are very optimistic, as we met with reservists, and we were moved by their experiences; they told us that the next time they will be called up, the will undoubtedly report for duty.

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    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Qassam lands near strategic facility in Ashkelon

    Qassam lands near strategic facility in Ashkelon
    Rocket fired from northern Gaza falls in town's industrial zone; no injuries
    or damage reported

    Shmulik Hadad YNET Published: 01.22.07, 17:09,7340,L-3355563,00.html

    A Qassam rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip landed Monday afternoon near a strategic facility in the Ashkelon industrial zone. No injuries or damage were reported.

    The al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad's military wing, claimed responsibility for the attack.

    An Islamic Jihad source told Ynet, "The fire is part of operation 'Red Rose,' in the course of which we plan to launch hundreds of rockets, most of them improved Quds-3 type, in response to the Israeli violations of the calm in Gaza, and the continued arrests and assassinations in the West Bank."

    Shortly before noon, a rocket landed near a kibbutz in the western Negev. There were no injuries or damage.

    Three rockets were fired from Gaza Sunday. One landed in an open field outside the town of Sderot, and the two others fell in open areas in the northern Negev. No injuries or damage were reported in any of the incidents.

    The al-Quds Brigades said they were behind the attacks.

    In light of the escalation in Qassam attacks on Ashkelon, Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson pledged Sunday that a fortified emergency room will be built at the local Barzilay Hospital.

    Ali Waked contributed to the report

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Escalation in Fatah-Hamas Conflict

    Inquiry & Analysis-Palestinian Authority

    January 23, 2007

    No. 316

    Escalation in Fatah-Hamas Conflict

    By C. Jacob*



    Since the failure of the attempts to establish a national unity government in the PA, tension between Fatah and Hamas has been escalating. This tension peaked in recent days when PA Legislative Council member Muhammad Dahlan said that the Fatah forces must be ready to defend themselves and to prevent attacks on their people, threatening harsh retribution should Fatah members be harmed. This statement came after a top commander in Fatah's Preventive Security Apparatus was killed by Hamas's Executive Force. Hamas members, on their part, accused Dahlan of trying to stage a military coup in accordance with an Israeli plan. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) issued a presidential decree which pronounced Hamas's Executive Force illegal, while the Hamas-led Palestinian government announced that it planned to expand the Executive Force to 12,000 men.

    These events were preceded by an attempt on the life of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, by Hamas riots at the Rafah border crossing and by Abbas's December 16, 2006 speech in which he announced his intention to hold early elections for the presidency and the Legislative Council. Following this announcement, Hamas escalated its statements, declaring that the decision to hold early elections is illegal and would lead to civil war. Since then, clashes between Fatah and Hamas have been occurring on a daily basis, resulting in numerous casualties on both sides. Abbas blamed Hamas for the failure of the attempts to form a national unity government, and criticized the ongoing chaos in the PA as well as Hamas's violations of the ceasefire with Israel.  Abbas also rejected Hamas's proposal to offer Israel a hudna in return for a Palestinian state within temporary borders, and called to aim for a solution that will end the conflict.  

    The following are excerpts from statements by Abbas and Dahlan, and from a response by Hamas spokesman MP Salah Al-Bardawil.

    Statements by Mahmoud Abbas

    *Criticism of Hamas for Violation of the Ceasefire and Responsibility for the Chaos in the PA

    In a December 16, 2006 speech in Ramallah, Mahmoud Abbas said that after Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, the Palestinians dreamt of investments, projects and prosperity, but none of that came to be "because we [Palestinians] were determined to fire rockets... [in violation] of the hudna – the first one, the second one and the third one..."

    Abbas also harshly criticized Hamas for the riots that ensued at the Rafah border crossing on December 15, 2006 after Haniya was stopped from bringing funds into Gaza. "When Prime Minister [Haniya] was held up [on the border], groups [of Hamas members] came to greet him upon his return from a successful visit, but they came [armed] with RPGs, even though leaders are [generally] supposed to be greeted by their associates with flowers and words of welcome... People stormed into the terminal, and broke and stole equipment. Why?"

    About Haniya's attempt to bring funds into Gaza through the Rafah Crossing, Abbas said: "...The PA and [its] government need funds [to care] for the people, but not smuggled funds that could have been obtained [legally] through the Arab League..."

    Referring to the abduction of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Abbas said that it has cost the Palestinians dearly: "The abduction led to fighting in Gaza that has so far resulted in [the death of] 500 martyrs, over 4,000 people injured, thousands of homes [destroyed] and thousands of dunams of trees [uprooted]..."(1) 

    *Criticism of Hamas for Making Threats and Accusing Fatah of Treason and Heresy

    The PA Chairman added: "We evoked democracy. What is democracy? [In democracy] there is a majority and a minority, there are some who agree and some who disagree. But if you [try to] intimidate me by saying 'this is God's will' and [by saying] that the [PA employees] who went on strike [to protest the holding back of their salaries] are traitors and that anyone who [criticizes] the government is a traitor – this is terrorism that must not be accepted or allowed. Religion should not be exploited. Religion is God's, [and it belongs] in the mosque, church or synagogue. We are all religious, and nobody can claim to be more [religious] than we are. We were praying and fasting before some [of those who criticize us] were [even] born. It is a disgrace to accuse others of heresy..."(2)   

    *"Since Our Struggle Began and Until Our Homeland Was Liberated, We Aimed Our Guns at the Occupation, and That is our Legitimate Right"

    In a January 11, 2007 speech, Abbas said: "While sitting here with you, I heard shots fired in the air, and this is something that must be opposed. Gunshots [fired at] a brother, neighbor, friend or member of the opposing faction is something that must be opposed. We must not accept the slogan '[they] are Shi'ites.' We are one people, and even if there are differences of opinion among us, the homeland unites us. We are brothers, and we [must] not reject anyone or accuse the other of heresy... [We] must not [spill] Palestinian blood. Dialogue is the only language we must use among ourselves. Since our struggle began and until our homeland was liberated, we [always] aimed our guns at the occupation, and that is our legitimate right, but we must not aim our guns at one another..."(3)

    I [vowed] to Arafat: "[our] young men will continue the struggle until a Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, is established on Palestinian soil... [This] 42-year struggle was initiated and led by Fatah in early January 1965. [Fatah] transformed the Palestinian cause from a refugee problem into a [cause] of a fighting people which serves as a model for liberation and independence movements throughout the world. [It] transformed [this cause] from a [dispute] over borders into a [struggle] for existence, placing Palestine on the world's political map, after many tried to eradicate it but failed and were defeated.

    "We remember today the long list of martyrs who fell on the various battle [fronts]... Yasser Arafat;... Ahmad Yassin;... [Fathi] Al-Shqaqi, [a former leader of the Islamic Jihad organization, killed by Israel in 1995]; Faisal Al-Husseini; 'Abd Al-Qader Al-Husseini, leader of our ongoing revolution... and Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam... This [ongoing] revolution has been going on and will continue until the Palestinian dream is realized."(4)


    *Hamas is Responsible for the Failure of the Peace Initiatives

    In his December 16 speech, Abbas blamed the Hamas leadership abroad for the failure of the Qatari peace initiative, and said that the unique aspect of this initiative is its emphasis on mutuality. The initiative proposes that the Palestinian government will recognize the international and Arab resolutions as well as the signed agreements, and will accept a two-state solution. In addition, both sides are called upon to mutually relinquish terrorism. Referring to this last clause, Abbas said: "This is the first time since 1981 that mutuality is established between us and the Israelis. All [previous] initiatives and hudnas were independently initiated by the Palestinians. This time, [the Israelis said]: 'we are willing to accept [the principle] of mutuality – [if] you stop [the terrorism], so will we.' We said: '[we agree to] mutual cessation of terrorism...' The Qatari foreign minister brought this initiative. He visited Damascus a number of times... And what was the result? [Hamas] told him: 'we accept the initiative but want to change it. The [Palestinian] government must do thus and such,... the president must recognize this and that...'"

    Abbas also mentioned that Haniya had rejected the Arab (Saudi) peace initiative of 2002 because, according to Haniya, it ignores the refugee problem and calls for a Palestinian recognition of Israel. Abbas said: "The Arab peace initiative includes a clear and explicit clause regarding the refugees [which calls for] a just and agreed-upon solution based on [U.N.] Resolution 194. This is the first time that this resolution is mentioned in an official document since it was passed in 1949... For the first time in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, an Arab country has put forward an Arab initiative, saying that it was willing, along with all the other Arab and Muslim [countries], to normalize relations with Israel providing that four [conditions] are met: Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories, Israeli withdrawal from the Arab territories, establishment of a Palestinian state and resolution of the Palestinian problem... Where does it say 'recognition of Israel'? But Haniya said: 'we cannot [accept this]'...

    "There are principles that we constantly fight for, namely [the establishment of] an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders alongside Israel with Jerusalem as its capital. Jerusalem is ours. The settlements are illegal. The Arab [Saudi] initiative proposed a just solution to the refugee problem based on [U.N.] Resolution 194, which states that any [refugee] who does not wish to realize his right to return [to Palestine] will be compensated. I accept this. Anyone who does not wish to return will have the right to receive compensation, but anyone who does wish to return will have the right [to do so]..."(5) 


    *No to a Long-Term Hudna and to a State with Temporary Borders; The Conflict Must Be Ended

    Referring to Hamas's suggestion of a long-term hudna with Israel, Abbas said: "In the past, Hamas declared: 'we will never agree to [the establishment of] a state in part of  Palestine, since [all of] Palestine is waqf land.' But this [position] cannot be implemented in reality. [Now] we see Hamas  talking about something else: about a state within the 1967 borders, right? It is also talking about a 15-year hudna. Is it conceivable to leave the Palestinian [problem] in the state of a hudna for 15 years?"(6)

    In a Fatah Day speech from January 11, 2007, Abbas added: "Today more than ever before we must stick to the Palestinian principles. We will not agree to a state with temporary borders and we will not compromise on the [issue of the] refugees. We will not give up a single inch [of land] in Jerusalem..."

    "We are in favor of peace. Everyone must hear this... Yes indeed, we are in favor of peace, but not just any peace – a peace based on justice. In one hundred years of sacrifice, the Palestinians have proven that they are not willing to be defeated or to give in. They are definitely not ready to hold up a white flag. I repeat today what our eternal president, Abu 'Amar [Yasser Arafat], said: We want peace for the sake of our children and their children, for the sake of our grandchildren and their grandchildren. We want peace based on equality and justice and not upon injustice and discrimination. [We want] peace that is not based on negation [of the other], on annexation of land, on killing and destruction... We want peace [based on] justice and equality. Therefore, our hand is extended in peace. The whole world must know this and turn in this direction..."(7)

    In a January 14, 2007 press conference, after his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Abbas said: "We explained to the Secretary of State that we are against temporary solutions and interim settlements – including a state with temporary borders – since we do not see this as a realistic option that can be built upon. There is a need for energetic and ongoing efforts on the part of all the regional and international forces in order to end the conflict and reach a peace agreement..."(8)

    *On the Decision to Hold Early Elections for the Presidency and the Legislative Council

    Abbas said in his December 16, 2006 speech in Ramallah,: "I issued a presidential decree to establish the cabinet, and I have the right to  issue a presidential decree to dissolve it, and I will do so when I choose. Dissolving the cabinet is not a '[justification] for civil war' as [Mahmoud] Al-Zahar said. [Hamas] will not intimidate us. It  is  my constitutional right [to dissolve the cabinet], and I will exercise it when I wish... We are in a bad situation. Should we let it continue? We must emerge from this [crisis], and that is why, after sensing the mood of the Palestinian [public] which is waiting for relief and is looking to the elected president [to take the necessary steps],... I decided to call for early elections for the presidency and the Legislative Council. The constitutional law specifies that the people are the source of the authorities' [mandate]. We will turn back to the people and let them decide. I have consulted with the Central Elections Committee and will consult them [again] as soon as possible in order to prepare [for the early elections]... In any case, my goal will remain... the establishment of a national unity government [made up] of experts that will bring us out of this crisis and [enable] the siege to be lifted... "(9)

    In another Fatah Day speech, Abbas said: "In my last speech, I said that we wanted to hold early elections not only for the Legislative Council but also for the presidency. The response was violence and gunfire. We suggested early elections. We may be right and we may be wrong. Who shall decide? Not the streets and not the guns but the law. If we speak of democracy and rule of law... [then] we [must] abide by the decision of the court, since we respect our courts. I do not believe that a democratic society will accept the [violent] actions and responses [that followed my proposal of early elections]."(10)

    *Hamas Refused to Recognize the PLO

    Abbas also mentioned that, after Hamas won the elections for the Legislative Council, all the [Palestinian] factions refused to join its government since "Hamas had refused to recognize the PLO..." He also mentioned that, when he advised Hamas to honor past commitments and agreements, it refused to do so.(11) 

    Dahlan: Any Attack on Fatah Members Will Be Met with Harsh Retaliation

    In a mass Fatah Day rally held in Gaza on January 7, 2007, top Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan criticized Hamas harshly and promised that any attack on Fatah members would be met with fierce retaliation. He said: "On this blessed day, you have come to say in unison, with one voice: 'long live Fatah, death and shame to the killers... [long live] the future of Palestine.' You have come to respond [to the murder] with peace, brotherhood and unity. You have come to respond to those murderers who made the killing of Palestinians licit. While the Israeli forces were invading Ramallah, the forces of shame and disgrace [i.e. Hamas] [entered] Jabalia and attacked the home of the Shahid Muhammad Ghraib, a top commander in the Preventive Security [Apparatus], and killed him in a premeditated manner and in cold blood...

    "The participants of this rally came here in response to Fatah's call which is echoing in all our hearts, in order to convey one message that is the same from Rafah to Jenin. The essence [of this message] is that [our] hands are still extended in [a bid for] national unity and [our] guns are still aimed at the occupation. Anyone who thinks that these guns will not be used to defend the members of Fatah is mistaken. These guns will unite in order to defend the members of our movement. Not in order to attack anyone, but in Fatah's defense."

    Addressing the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and all of Fatah's other military bodies, Dahlan said: "From this night on, you must leave your fingers on the trigger, not in order to attack [anyone] but in order to [ensure] that events which repeated themselves in the past will not [continue to] reoccur...

    "We will leave this [rally] with a plan that will reach all of Fatah's civilian and military bodies. If one Fatah member is attacked, we will retaliate several times over. If the [Hamas] leaders think they are out of the reach of our forces, they are wrong. We reject their method of killing in the evening and then sitting with us in the morning. Long live Fatah! Death to the murderers!

    "This huge rally sends a message of unity, [and a message of] support for the Fatah leaders, for President Abu Mazen, for the movement's Central Committee and for its military branches. Our relationship [with Hamas] will be written in the blood of the martyr Muhammad Ghraib, and if they think that his murderers will avoid punishment, they are mistaken."

    Responding to anti-Hamas cries of "Shi'ites! Shi'ites" from the audience, Dahlan admonished: "Fatah does not speak the way [Hamas] speaks. They are not 'Shi'ites' but murderers. We will not respond to bloodshed with bloodshed but by [emphasizing] our movement's unity and its roots sunk deep in the blessed Palestinian soil."(12)


    Hamas Accuses Dahlan of Trying to Stage a Military Coup

    Salah Al-Bardawil, Hamas spokesman in the Legislative Council, accused Dahlan of promoting a Zionist plan for a military coup against the Palestinian people and government: "Dahlan is trying to ride the wave [of hatred at the expense] of the Fatah movement, to exploit the chaotic atmosphere which leads to civil strife between Fatah and Hamas, to sow hostility among Palestinians, to draw [people's attention] away from our real conflict with the enemy, and to conceal the corruption which will one day be revealed... to the entire [Palestinian] people.

    "The [language] of threats is the [language] that weak and frightened people use when they are trying to hide their fear. In the end, our people will remain united, all honorable people will remain united, while all those who deviate from their faith and thrive on the blood and suffering of others will be purged from our people."

    Al-Bardawil further said that "Dahlan's revolutionary faction and the Zionist enemy which is supporting [his faction] with funds and weapons have a joint plan for winning the war on the ground by military [means]. Some people, tempted by [the defeat] of the Islamic Courts [Union] in Somalia and by the general frustration that prevails in the Arab, Islamic and Palestinian street, are trying to apply the same [method] on Hamas in order to win the war on the ground by military, rather than democratic, means."(13)




    *C. Jacob is a Research Fellow for The Middle East Media Research Institute.



    (1) Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), January 9, 2007.

    (2) Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), January 9, 2007.

    (3) Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), January 12, 2007.

    (4) Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), January 12, 2007.

    (5) Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), January 9, 2007.

    (6) Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), January 9, 2007.

    (7) Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), January 12, 2007.

    (8) Al-Hayat Al-Jadida  (PA), January 15, 2007.

    (9) Al-Hayat Al-Jadida  (PA), January 9, 2007.

    (10) Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), January 12, 2007.

    (11) Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), January 9, 2007.

    (12) Al-Ayyam (PA), January 8, 2007.

    (13), January 8, 2007.

    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.

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    Continued (Permanent Link)

    The 7th Herzliya Conference > Lecture Summaries - Amir Peretz, Minister of Defense

    The 7th Herzliya Conference > Lecture Summaries
    Amir Peretz, Minister of Defense

       2006 was a year of unexpected occurrences.  A year ago I presented on  this stage my political plans.  At the time, talk was of continued withdrawal from the territories, after the successful disengagement of Gaza, with an optimistic road map.

    Since then the situation has dramatically changed.  The rise of Hamas to power in the Palestinian Authority, the "Big Bang" in Israeli politics, and the war of this past summer.

    I received the position of Minister of Defense out of complete dedication and out of the desire to implement an outlook that was civil, social, and secure.

    This creates a predominantly wide outlook through which political processes and peace arrangements can be made.  I lead an outlook that combines military strength and social security alongside each other.  The war
    strengthened this as my outlook.

    This is a very important period where we are standing before external threats and an internal situation full of social disparity and racism.  New tools will allow us to successfully manage both of these fronts.  Today, we
    are prisoners of the war after the war: the challenges are keeping and developing our achievements from the war and countering the attempts of Hezbollah to return and expand.

    With this, there were important achievements made in the war: the change in the reality of South Lebanon, the weakening ofthe Hezbollah, the deployment of the Lebanese army and UNIFIL forces.  We proved that the threat of rockets, kidnappings, and terror will not leave us helpless.

    Unfortunately, we have not yet returned our sons to their homes; this important issue is being dealt with in every  possible way, known and unknown.  There is no doubt that the fact that the war ended without the return of these sons cast a shadow on our accomplishments in the war.

    Israel is acting on multiple fronts: Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, Iran; at the same time, the potential for escalation and deterioration of all the parties is rising because of the Hezbollah and Syria.

    Israel must utilize its meeting of interests with the moderate actors in the region to cope with the strategic threat and to show weight against Iran and other extreme factors.

    We must prepare methods to contend with military actions so that we will be victorious over any future conflict, and to assure that we will have a response to Iranian efforts.

    On the other hand, regional opportunities must be exploited.  Time is running out and this time must be utilized to strengthen moderate actors.  I am of the opinion that in the current situation emphasis should be placed on the Palestinians.  This will influence the balance and strengthen the moderates, and will challenge extreme Iran.

    When Hamas is strengthened and the moderates are weakened, it is necessary to integrate the cease-fire into a political accord. We cannot be drawn into a situation where the military is dragged into Gaza without political advances being made. I say this as a resident of Sderot whose security has been infringed and my neighbors hurt from the fall of Qassam rockets. I stand before you and say that the extent of protests will not determine the extent of action. However, as a result of intelligent and unequivocal policy; we are combating terror, but not the Palestinian people. The security system has realized that as the Palestinian's distress grows, so does the potential for terror. I have adopted significant actions, among them easing of checkpoints, enlargement of passageways, and the opening of new passageways. This influences the feeling of cooperation. The inspection policy at checkpoints has also been changed.

    However, these advances are dwarfed by the scene of a female settler who curses at and humiliates a Palestinian family. This discredits the advancement of our values as a state and such scenes serve as tools for incitement against Israel.

    The government established a staff, overseen by me, whose members include the Foreign Minister, Interior Minister and Minister of Internal Security. This staff understands that it is impossible to explain to the world how a soldier, as a result of legalities, stands helpless in the background while an Israeli woman torments a Palestinians. Throughout the world this is conceived as events that have the sponsorship of the government and I do not plan to allow such incidents to continue. Parallel to this, it is obvious that a new policy plan must be commanded. A new process is necessary because the current freeze works against us. I will put forth a new that will be presented to the government.

    This plan presents the purpose of a permanent arrangement on the basis of two states. This is a culmination of the Road Map with the Saudi Initiative. It is important that moderate Arab states feel a part of the plan.

    There are three parts to the plan:

    1. The redesign of the security and economic reality. The return of the soldier Gilad Shalit, release of Palestinian prisoners, all-encompassing cease-fire, a security arrangement that prevents the rise of terror, the acceleration of economic activities, and the taking down of illegal settlements that were established after March 2001.

    2. Negotiations for a permanent arrangement. This stage will happen over 6 months. Negotiations with the Palestinian President representing the Palestinian people. Any authority that acknowledges the state of Israel and accepts the decisions of the Quartet I see as a partner for negotiations; if Hamas recognizes Israel I see them as a partner for negotiations. No authority or actor should be negated. Conditions that create merit for negotiations must be highlighted.

    Within this framework, negotiations should transpire over security arrangements on customs and the future of the port in Gaza. This will be presented to a multi-national committee. The purpose of these negotiations will be to achieve a solution to Bush's vision and the Saudi Initiative. The process will include the opening of an airport in Dahanya, a controlled passageway between Gaza and the West Bank, and the transfer of Area B to Area A.

    We may be confused when there are too many plans. These two steps are an attempt to neutralize the two issues that put us in a situation from which we cannot advance.

    The dismantling of terror occurs in the second step; obviously we must first give the Palestinian Authority the ability to strengthen their security forces. Only this way can they tear down terrorist infrastructure.

    3. Detailed negotiations for a permanent agreement that will continue from stage two and will continue for at least 18 months.

    I am of the opinion that this initiative presents a gradual process that allows for the examination of results at each stage. An additional advantage in this plan is the creation of a realistic perspective that will raise trust in the process, and this is how we will overcome the obstacle of the Palestinian state. This idea of a Palestinian state within temporary borders will not be easily accepted by the Palestinian people. There is a large concern within major groups that attempt to influence the public, extremists claim that this is a permanent arrangement and there will be no further advances. Therefore, I transferred Area B to A; this is the transfer of additional responsibility without the definition of a state with temporary borders.

    In the northern area, we must prepare for any potential deterioration with Hezbollah. We must read the actions from Damascus.

    The I.D.F. is undergoing a process of learning lessons; this is an important process.

    Unfortunately, The Chief of Staff decided to abandon his position before the stage of the implementation of lessons learned. I respect his decision and thank him for his contribution of many years to the state of Israel. We have one army and many challenges. It is essential to guard the IDF and its status. Those looking from the outside mistakenly explain the internal Israeli criticism as a sign of weakness. The appointment of Chief of Staff will be done as fast as possible as a national matter can be handled. After consulting and meeting with the Prime Minister I will present my decision before a committee, and after that I will bring it to the certification of the government.

    I see in the actualizing of the committee's conclusions as a personal obligation, stemming from the purpose of preparing the IDF for any possible conflict via a fully-invested plan, in equipping, in training, and in the establishment of a set of priorities.

    This is the place to learn lessons:

    1. The outlook of managing national threats. The order of actions. Influence on the market. Immunizing the home front. National moral, etc. I requested Amos Milkha to guide a staff on these subjects. Transformation of the home front to be secure must be the focus. This is a national, central goal. National security must be related to as a whole entity. Another element must be adopted to the known outlook on security (deterrence, warning, declaration) that of active and passive resistance. I turned to Dan Meridor and asked him to complete his work on the investigation. It is imperative to find an answer to high trajectory shooting. Since entering my position and before the war I changed the decision to continue the project of shooting down short-range missiles. If such a system had not been operational, the past war would have looked completely different.

    It is obvious that was will not be. This year everything is different: more reservists, more equipping. We will change our relationship towards the reservists and we will strengthen them, including complete compensation. We must better prepare the reservists. The IDF is one army and is not separated between compulsory servicemen and reservists.

    Regarding the budget, this is connected to all the lessons from the war. We received additional funds for the compensation of reservists. We enlarged the security budget for the first time in years.

    I must remind you that before the war the security budget was reduced by 510 million shekel.

    I opposed the budget cut, but it was hard to find support. I was attacked; I made headlines on the basis of my social beliefs. However, I did say that before we reduce the budget, a budget covering many years must be decided upon, and we must examine the options. I support this position again. It is imperative that we become more efficient. So there is no misunderstanding, I plan on examining every way and every place that can be reduced and reduce it, but the version Israel presents of tanks being prioritized over the hungry and planes prioritized over the disable is incorrect.

    The expenditures of the war reduce investment in other areas. You must propose and not just request. The constraints of spending should be changed. Senior workers are about to receive an increase. It is clear to me that most senior workers are unaware of this and most would be willing to give up this increase to create a healthier balance.

    The state of Israel must connect between its economic strength and its internal gaps.

    I see these gaps, corruption, and racism as threats to Israel and heading my road map is educational reform, strengthening workers via the minimum wage, raising pensions, all this while pursuing peace with our neighbors. There was an addition to the basket of medications, a committee of ministers was established under my authority, pensions were legislated, the human resource law was implemented, and I will continue many other parliamentary developments. A committee was established to take care of the non-Jewish sector; infrastructure was reinforced, and focus was given to the population of young academics who finish their studies but cannot integrate into the workforce. Their integration will bridge gaps between the populace. I made the decision to appoint an Arab minister. This stems from my world outlook. I know there are those who attempt to tie this achievement to political connections. Even if I appointed a Jewish minister, they would arise and claim this appointment political

    From time and beyond, political constellations created huge political revolutions. The appointment of an Arab minister could create a change that might enhance leverage in our relations with our neighbors.

    I am sure that I stand here today and say with a whole heart that we are going in the right direction. I hope that we have succeeded in stopping the social deterioration, the security, and the social justice. I would like to send from here a supporting hand to all the bereaved families, a speedy recovery to the hurt, and a speedy return of the captives and missing.

    I wish you all peace, security, prosperity, and social justice.



    IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis Website


    Continued (Permanent Link)

    How Arafat Got Away with Murder

    How Arafat Got Away with Murder
    The State Department covered up his responsibility for the 1973 slaughter of two American diplomats.
    by Scott W. Johnson
    The Weekly Standard 01/29/2007, Volume 012, Issue 19
    Twenty years before he joined Bill Clinton and Yitzhak Rabin in Washington for that famous handshake--and proceeded to become Clinton's most frequent foreign guest at the White House--Yasser Arafat planned and directed the murder of an American ambassador and his deputy chief of mission. >From the first moment of the deadly operation, which took place in Khartoum on March 1, 1973, the State Department possessed direct evidence of Arafat's responsibility, yet neither the State Department nor any other government agency made public its knowledge. Indeed, as recently as the summer of 2002, the State Department denied that such evidence existed. Across seven administrations, the State Department hewed to silence and denial.
    Until last spring. In June 2006, the department's Office of the Historian quietly posted an authoritative summary of the events dated June 1973. The source of the summary is not given, but the CIA had previously produced it in redacted form in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. Prepared by the CIA on the basis of intercepted communications, it baldly states: "The Khartoum operation was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasser Arafat." What happened?
    In late February 1973, the National Security Agency listening post in Cyprus picked up radio traffic including Arafat, Salah Kalaf (a cofounder of Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization faction, Fatah), and others strongly suggesting that a PLO operation was about to be conducted in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. National Security Agency analyst Jim Welsh received word of the operation at his post in Washington and helped draft a message warning the U.S. embassy in Khartoum that a PLO operation was imminent. Welsh and his NSA colleagues marked the message for transmission with a "flash" (highest) precedence. The State Department watch officer unaccountably downgraded the message for routine transmission. As a result, it arrived several days late.
    On March 1, the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Khartoum held a going-away party for U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission George Curtis Moore. A gang of eight who identified themselves as members of the Black September Organization stormed the party. The terrorists seized the embassy and held Moore and two others hostage--U.S. ambassador to Sudan Cleo Noel Jr. and Guy Eid, chargé d'affaires at the Belgian embassy. (Two other diplomats were seized and released.)
    The Black September operatives issued several demands: the release of Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin of Robert Kennedy; the release of a Black September leader held in Jordan; and the release of several members of the terrorist Baader-Meinhof gang held in Germany. On March 2, President Nixon and representatives of the other two governments announced that they would not negotiate with terrorists for the release of the diplomats.
    Using coded instructions, Arafat's closest Fatah associate in Beirut, Salah Khalaf, directed the murder of Noel, Moore, and Eid. Arafat himself separately confirmed the instructions. At 9:00 P.M. that very night, the Black September operatives marched Noel, Moore, and Eid to the embassy basement and murdered them with forty rounds from Kalashnikov weapons fired from the feet to the head in order to inflict maximum suffering on the victims.
    Arafat ordered his operatives to surrender to Sudanese authorities. "Your mission has ended," he told them, in an intercepted communication. "Explain your just cause to [the] great Sudanese masses and international opinion. We are with you on the same road."
    The next morning the eight operatives surrendered. Two were quickly released. The remaining six were tried and convicted in June. At trial the leader stated that they had acted "under the orders of the Palestine Liberation Organization and should only be questioned by that organization." The six convicted operatives were immediately turned over to their PLO patrons. In November 1974, when Yasser Arafat made his famous debut at the United Nations in New York wearing a sidearm, he was accompanied by Ali Hassan Salameh, the chief planner of the Khartoum operation, and several other key participants.
    Communications intelligence afforded the State Department immediate knowledge of every relevant fact regarding these events. The operation was a matter of life-and-death interest to the department's field officers. The contemporaneous State Department cables reflect this intense concern within the State Department regarding the security issues raised by the murders. The department received reports from its embassies and missions conveying the results of intelligence inquiries, and the secretary of state, William Rogers, himself promptly disseminated his conclusions regarding responsibility for the operation based on these reports and other intelligence sources.
    The cables demonstrate that in the immediate aftermath of the assault, the State Department had concluded that Black September was nothing more than a front for Fatah and that Arafat himself had directed the operation resulting in the assassination of Noel and Moore. Both points are made over and over again in the cables to and from the secretary of state.
    As the State Department reached conclusions regarding ultimate responsibility for the operation, it dispatched its representatives to meet with sympathetic governments and attempt to persuade them to take appropriate precautionary measures. The American ambassador to Tunisia, for example, met with Tunisian president Habib Bourguiba on March 10 to convey the department's concerns about Fatah in light of the Black September attack in Khartoum: "I referred to Sudanese government's revelation that head of Fatah office in Khartoum masterminded Khartoum assassinations. . . . I noted that there is Fatah office in almost every Arab capital operating openly and, in light of Khartoum tragedy, this has clear implications."
    On March 13, Secretary Rogers issued a comprehensive cable summarizing the department's conclusions and sent it to American embassies around the world. Discovered by researcher Russ Braley in the Nixon archives, the Rogers cable states: "Question of link between Black September Organization (BSO) and Fatah has been subject of much public discussion since murder of U.S. diplomats in Khartoum. Fatah leader Arafat has disavowed connection with BSO." The cable then attributes the following statements to an intelligence brief prepared by the department and the CIA: "The Black September Organization (BSO) is a cover term for Fatah's terrorist operations executed by Fatah's intelligence organization. . . . Fatah funds, facilities, and personnel are used in these operations. . . . For all intents and purposes no significant distinction now can be made between the BSO and Fatah. . . . Fatah leader Yasser Arafat has now been described in recent intelligence as having given approval to the Khartoum operation prior to its inception."
    The murders of Noel and Moore convulsed the State Department. One would never know it, however, from reading Henry Kissinger's invaluable memoirs of the period during which he served as national security adviser (early 1969 to January 1975) and secretary of state (concurrently, September 1973 to January 1977). President Nixon replaced Rogers that summer with Kissinger. Kissinger's memoirs maintain a discreet silence regarding Arafat's responsibility for the Khartoum operation. Noting only that Noel and Moore were killed by "Black September Palestinian terrorists," Kissinger makes no mention of Arafat, Fatah, or the PLO in this connection.
    Set against the backdrop of the detailed knowledge possessed by the government (certainly including Kissinger himself), Kissinger's silence provides a valuable clue to understanding the State Department's public silence about Arafat's responsibility for the murders of Noel and Moore and the subsequent U.S. treatment of Yasser Arafat. In the fall of 1973 and early 1974, as part of his larger diplomatic efforts in the Middle East, Kissinger authorized the late Vernon Walters, then deputy director of central intelligence, to undertake the first meetings of an American representative with the PLO. In a sentence that makes little sense outside the context of Khartoum, Kissinger states in his memoir that after Walters's second meeting with Arafat's representative, "attacks on Americans--at least by Arafat's faction of the PLO--ceased." With his "characteristic swaggering efficiency and discretion" (Kissinger's words), Walters seems to have worked out a modus vivendi that precluded any accounting with Arafat for the murders of Noel and Moore. (Kissinger did not respond to my request for an interview. Walters's own 1978 memoir, Silent Missions, says nothing about these events.) By June 1974, Thomas Ross was reporting in the Chicago Tribune that crucial State Department cables from the American embassy in Khartoum had been destroyed on the basis of an order that "could have come only from a high level in the State Department or the White House."
    The government's failure to make any public issue of Arafat's responsibility had unfortunate consequences. On the one hand, it abetted the impulse to appease enemies that runs so strong in the State Department. In his well-researched 1993 book Assassination in Khartoum, former foreign service officer David Korn recalls that Nixon visited Foggy Bottom on March 6 to speak at the laying of a memorial plaque in honor of Noel and Moore. Korn's text seethes with anger over the deaths of his former colleagues, accusing Nixon of seeking to "exculpate" himself. Korn of course faults the Black September operatives and their Sudanese protectors. Yet he reserves his deepest indignation for Nixon, blaming him for "having triggered the murders of the two Americans and the Belgian" by refusing to make concessions to the Black September operatives. Korn also faults Kissinger for this no-concessions policy.
    The eminent diplomat Charles Hill, now on the faculty at Yale, served at high levels in the State Department before and after the murders. By 1975 he had become an aide to Kissinger on the policy planning staff. Although Hill and his colleagues knew nothing of the communications intelligence showing Arafat's responsibility, Hill remembers there being no doubt in his circle of professionals on the seventh floor of the department that Arafat bore ultimate responsibility for the operation. Hill recalls that the murders were the subject of frequent, intense discussion among desk officers and leaders at Foggy Bottom for roughly three years afterward.
    By the early years of the Carter administration, according to Hill, the institutional memory of the event had largely been lost. The failure of the government generally or the State Department specifically to make a public issue of Arafat's responsibility facilitated this amnesia. Korn makes little of Arafat's responsibility for the murders, but he acutely observes: "So Curt Moore and Cleo Noel, who were required to sacrifice their lives in Khartoum to sustain a principle of U.S. policy, found neither an institutional nor a consistent personal advocate at the State Department in Washington, no one whose prime and overriding responsibility it was to ensure that the government of Sudan honored its commitment to bring to justice the eight men who murdered them."
    But what about Arafat? His role in the murders of Noel and Moore was not yet entirely forgotten. In early 1986 the possibility of seeking remedies in the criminal justice system was reportedly under consideration by the Justice Department's criminal division. Forty-four Senate members signed off on a February 12 letter urging Attorney General Ed Meese to speed up the investigation. The letter referred to "various State Department cables that may confirm Arafat's role in the murders."
    In April 1986, Senator Jeremiah Denton convened a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee for a one-day hearing on the possibility of bringing Arafat to justice for crimes including the murders of Noel and Moore. Criminal Division deputy attorney general Mark Richard testified and provided the Justice Department's verdict on the pursuit of Arafat through the criminal justice system: There was no legal ground for a federal prosecution of Arafat based on his role in the murders, Richard testified. He added somewhat cryptically and almost completely inaccurately: "We enlisted the assistance of the State Department and various components of the intelligence community to obtain and verify Arafat's complicity in the planning of the embassy takeover and the murder of our diplomats. We have analyzed all the materials available and determined that the evidence currently available is plainly insufficient for prosecutive purposes if there were a legal basis for instituting charges against Arafat. . . . Information concerning Arafat's direct involvement in this operation is, at best, hearsay and conjecture. Thus, such information would never be admissible in any trial of Arafat in this country." And that was that.
    Arafat was thus "cleared" for his cozy relationship with the Clinton White House. Did the administration's highest officers know whom they were dealing with? I asked Dennis Ross, the Middle East envoy and chief peace negotiator in the administrations of both George H.W. Bush and Clinton, if he was aware of Arafat's responsibility for the 1973 murders of Noel and Moore. "I was aware that State had looked into it, but I didn't know that a conclusion had been reached," he told me. I asked him whether, if in fact the department had determined Arafat's involvement, we should not have dealt with him like a criminal rather than an honored guest. "That's a legitimate question," he responded. "Had it been understood at the highest levels, it should have factored into the decision making. What we would have done had we been fully aware of it after the Israelis made their decision to proceed in dealing with Arafat, I can't say." I asked him what he would say to the average citizen with the perspective that the murderer of American officials shouldn't get a pass. "It's fair to say," he said, "at a minimum, that it's hard to fathom."
    When the Bush (I) and Clinton administrations dealt directly with Arafat, did they somehow not know exactly with whom they were dealing? If so, regardless of the failure of institutional memory reflected in Ambassador Ross's comments and the institutional misrepresentations reflected in Richard's testimony, excuses were lacking. In 1990 Neil C. Livingstone and David Halevy had published Inside the PLO, devoting a chapter to the murders and quoting extensively from State Department cables received in response to the authors' Freedom of Information Act requests. In 1993, Korn published his equally well-documented volume, though Korn buried the documentation of Arafat's culpability in the book's source notes.
    In the summer of 2002 I contacted the State Department for a comment on a draft column addressing the question of Arafat's responsibility for the Khartoum murders. State Department Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs deputy director of press affairs Gregory Sullivan responded: "I can't say I'm impressed with your research or argumentation. You're obviously writing a piece designed to elicit a certain reaction rather than one based on factual accounts or actual comments made by the U.S. government. I really don't have the time to do the research for you, but I do find myself compelled to point out . . . Evidence clearly points to the terrorist group Black September as having committed the assassinations of Amb. Noel and George Moore, and though Black September was a part of the Fatah movement, the linkage between Arafat and this group has never been established."
    Given Sullivan's statement, the State Department's posting this past June of the 1973 CIA summary of the Khartoum operation came as a surprise. Sullivan to the contrary notwithstanding, the summary stated that "the Khartoum operation was carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasser Arafat." (Sullivan did not respond to my request for an interview.)
    When I inquired into the posting of the document, I was referred to the State Department's Office of the Historian. Marc Susser is head of the office; Edward Keefer is the general editor of the Foreign Relation series in which the 1973 document was published. Susser and Keefer explained that the document was deemed of interest in the context of American relations with Sudan. They included it for publication in fulfillment of the office's statutory obligation to document American foreign relations, after thirty years, without input from any policymaker at State. They first learned of the document's wider interest beyond the context of American-African relations when they read Caroline Glick's January 2, 2007, Jerusalem Post column on the subject.
    The publication of the 1973 CIA summary ends 33 years of public silence on Yasser Arafat's murder of two high-ranking State Department officers. It is a notable event. The tortured history of the government's treatment of Arafat's responsibility warrants much additional investigation. And given the fact that Arafat's right hand man is the current prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, it is not only of historical interest. Speaking in a 2003 interview from the perspective of an average citizen who was also a firsthand witness to a most significant piece of this tortured history, former NSA analyst Welsh may appropriately be given the last word, at least for the moment: "There are limits to which foreign policy issues should require a man to lower himself. Shaking the hand of a murderer of a U.S. ambassador is such a case. Any peace based upon that hand is a delusion."
    Scott W. Johnson is a Minneapolis attorney and contributor to the Power Line blog.
    © Copyright 2007, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Katsav compares himself to Dreyfus

    The comparison is not quite apt. Is Mr. Katsav suggesting that the Israel Police are anti-Semitic?
    Dreyfus was French, but nonetheless it appears that he managed to keep his fly zipped.  
    Katsav compares himself to Dreyfus

    President Moshe Katsav has drawn a parallel between himself, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, the French army officer who more than a century ago was unjustly accused and convicted of treason; and the victims of the decade long McCarthy witch hunt beginning in the late 1940s, for suspected Communists and Communist sympathizers.

    Katsav, who in recent weeks, has with rare exceptions refrained from talking to reporters and has permitted only photo opportunities of events at Beit Hanassi, looked more relaxed than he has in a long time as he waited on Monday for the first batch of 2007's new foreign diplomats to present their credentials.

    Although it is not customary for reporters to ask questions at these ceremonies unless the new ambassador happens to be the envoy of the United States, Russia, Egypt or Jordan, The Jerusalem Post reporter, who has seen Katsav in much tenser moods since reports of his alleged sexual improprieties were made public several months ago, could not resist asking him how he felt. - especially in the light of fresh rumors that the Attorney General would recommend that he be indicted.

    "Just as Joe McCarthy was resurrected in Israel," replied Katsav, "there will also be a resurrection of Emile Zola."

    From the late 1940s to the late 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy conducted a relentless witch hunt against thousands of Americans, mostly government employees, but also many public figures, whom he accused of Communist activities such as espionage, or at the very least being Communist sympathizers. The targets of his rabid accusations were often innocent, but his vicious attacks on them were taken as gospel. People lost jobs. Careers and lives were ruined and dozens of Americans were wrongfully imprisoned.

    Were it not for the justice seeking writer Emile Zola, the truth behind the Dreyfus case might never have come to light. Zola wrote an inflammatory open letter to French President Felix Faure that was published in the inaugural January 13, 1898 issue of L'Aurore (The Dawn), in which he deliberately made a series of grave accusations with the intention of being prosecuted for libel. The ploy was successful, and in this way, Zola was able to dredge up all the distortions in the Dreyfus case in his own case. Dreyfus was eventually exonerated, pardoned, rehabilitated and promoted.

    Katsav who has consistently proclaimed his innocence and has asked the Israeli media to rely on the due judicial process before taking on the role of judge and jury and finding him guilty, sees himself as the latter day victim of a vindictive witch hunt, and is convinced that someone will come forward and rescue him from the abyss of infamy and possible incarceration.

    His body language and facial expressions suggested that he knew something that the media representatives clustered in the reception hall did not know.

    Mostly there were still photographers and TV cameramen. The majority of reporters who congregated at Beit Hanassi at every opportunity in the first month or two after the allegations against Katsav surfaced have come to the conclusion that it's a waste of time trying to elicit a statement out of the beleaguered president.

    Katsav received the credentials of four ambassadors - two of them resident and two of them non-resident. Two of the four were also women, confirming the increasingly important role that women are playing in international diplomacy.

    The four new envoys were Marina Josefina Fronza dos Reis Carvalho of Portugal; Namik Tan of Turkey; Umar M. Lubuulwa of Uganda; and Aino Lepik von Wiren of Estonia.

    With the exception of Tan, with whom he spent more than half an hour in closed door discussions, Katsav cut his private sessions with the other ambassadors short.

    With Carcalho, he discussed European Union policy and the need for Portugal and Israel to have more top level discussions. There has been a lapse of several years, he reminded her since anyone from the highest echelons of the Portuguese government has visited Israel.

    With Tan, who was accompanied by a large retinue that included several female diplomats, Katsav reminisced about his state visit to Turkey and Tan in turn spoke of Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer's highly successful visit to Israel and the strong ties that exist between the two countries as further evidenced by the upcoming meeting in Davos of the foreign ministers of both countries, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's scheduled visit to Ankara in February. Katsav and Tan also reviewed the general situation in the Middle East and spoke about the need for stability and unity in Iraq. They also discussed Turkey's progress in its desire to join the European Union.

    Lubuulwa who came attired in his country's national dress, is a non-resident ambassador stationed in Cairo. He brought greetings from President Yoweri Museven who met with Katsav when he visited Israel four years ago. Katsav said that he would like to see more cooperation between the two countries and was assured by Lubuulwa that this was his own aim. The Ugandan ambassador said that he would pay frequent visits to Israel, not only to talk to Mashav, the Foreign Ministry's international aid agency, which helped Uganda to develop a highly successful fishing industry, but also to the Israeli business community with a view to developing interest in investments in Uganda.

    Von Wiren, will remain in Tallin, the Estonian capital, where like her predecessor, she will be not only non-resident ambassador to Israel, but also the legal counsel to the Estonian Foreign Ministry. She told Katsav that as a result of his visit to her country, a corner stone had been laid for a new synagogue, the completion of which will soon be celebrated with a state ceremony. The visit had been a turning point in relations between Estonia and Israel, she said, and she looked forward to advancing trade and other economic relations.

    At the conclusion of the presentations of letters of credence, Katsav, accompanied by senior aides, went out into the grounds of Beit Hanassi to thank the police band, looking very smart in their tailored winter uniforms and the IDF Honor Guard for their services. On two previous occasions in which he accepted credentials, he waited for media personnel to disappear before venturing outside. This time, their presence did not bother him. Before taking his leave of the soldiers, Katsav bowed to them, then turned on his heel and strode back into the building.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Highlights of Herzliya Conference Lectures I

    Following are  some Herzliya conference lecture summaries to date. Others have been posted as separate items.

    "Herzliya indicators" - Prof. Gabriel Ben-Dor, Director, National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa

    "From this comes the sense that we must switch the elite, not because there is a better ideology, but because they themselves are no good. "
    We are presenting the "Herzliya indicators" for the seventh time. This is a very ambitious study, the widest performed in the State of Israel. About 2,000 people, representing all the various factions of the State of Israel. This is the broadest socio-political study in all of Israeli history.
    National security is defined by five parameters: fear of threats, militancy, patriotism, optimism, and faith in public institutions.
    A number of questions have been added in the fear and militancy indicators, as well as the indicator of the "righteousness of the path" – to what extent the public believes in the righteousness of the path being taken by the State of Israel from an ethical perspective. Different populations were sampled, and we arrived at varied conclusions: the slideshow shows only the "bottom lines." The bottom line is encouraging on one hand, and frightening on the other. 

    The indicators show a picture of high stability within the public, which is continuing to follow its own path, and to believe in itself with a strong moral base. What were the main changes?
    The trend of fear – The Israeli public today is more scared than ever. This is the unsuccessful linkage of more fear of external threats and less faith in institutions for providing appropriate responses to these threats. There has been a dip in the public's  faith in institutions. There is especially high fear amongst the minorities of being hit by missiles and rockets. Within the Israeli public at large, there is more fear of external threats than the terrorism threat, with which we have learned to deal.

    Among Jews, the most outstanding trend is that new immigrants within the range of missiles show the highest levels of fear. The Israelis are more afraid, but not because of terrorism.
    The trend of militancy – The extreme militancy that the public is willing to undertake as a response to the external threats has seen almost no change. Israeli society is shown to be exceptionally tolerant. It is not accurate to say that the Israeli public is demanding that extreme actions be taken because of the war in Lebanon. The public didn't push the government into war, and didn't demand another round in order to reinstate deterrence. The public is tolerant and prepared to give time and consideration. Only among minorities is there a prominent change in the militancy trend.

    The trend of patriotism – Generally, there is no change. Patriotism hasn't increased or decreased because of the war. There has only been a rift among the minorities. The thesis on this issue is that the "Israelization" of minorities has advanced in recent years and the similarities between a great extent of the Arab public and the Jewish public have increased. The gap is growing smaller, but this year, this changed. In light of the war in Lebanon, minorities are much less patriotic. Thus, the gap has widened again. Among Jews, the trend is very stable. There is no outstanding change among those within range of the missiles, nor was there change among those who weren't.  

    Trend of trust in public institutions – There is a new low in faith in institutions. All of the political parliamentary institutions have been eroding throughout the years, and, therefore, this decline is not surprising. However, two were exceptional – the Supreme Court and the IDF, in which public trust was high. In in-depth interviews, people claimed that only in these institutions do they believe. But this year, there has been a double rift - a decline of nearly 10% in faith in the IDF to win decisively, and a decline of similar proportions in faith in the Supreme Court.

    As the Supreme Court isn't related to the war, this trend is connected to the comments of Amnon Rubenstein. 

    The statistical deviation of the IDF has yet to be verified. The next study is in April, and the study in October will show if this is a one-time phenomenon, or if it is a trend. From the point of view of the public, the public needs a second chance, because it failed the test.

    The trend of optimism – There is a very slight trend of decline. Even though "we failed" in the war, we didn't lose faith that the State of Israel will overcome the difficult challenges facing it. Optimism and faith in the future have remained strong.

    The bottom line according to the political sociologist: There is a growing gap between society and the State. The war didn't affect the core indicators. The institutional infrastructure in Israel hasn't been eroded by terrorism or war. The Jewish public reports high faith in the righteousness of our path and an increased public resilience.

    The society is healthy, but the leadership and elite are sick. This is an improper situation. However, it would be worse if people didn't believe in one another. A healthy society can heal its leadership, but a sick society can't rehabilitate itself. Israeli resilience is great, and the society is resilient and healthy.

    In one summarizing and "cruel" sentence – the State of Israel is in a paradoxical situation in which the leadership has a better nation and society than it deserves, and the people have leadership and institutions much less worthy than they deserve. From this comes the sense that we must switch the elite, not because there is a better ideology, but because they themselves are no good.           
    Excellence in Education is not a luxury

    Hezki Arieli, Director-General, The Society for Excellence through Education
    The Israeli Society has gone through transformations. Its attitude to excellence has changed dramatically. Raising the flag of excellence has become popular. Today, the ministry of education is an active partner and initiator. Many programs are being applied with the assistance of the Society for Excellence through Education (SEE) all over Israel, in all educational sectors, in the periphery and in the center. Some of these programs have been translated to English and are applied in some of the states in the USA.
    Centers for excellence are a place of hope. But the road for change passes through creating policy which will bring for the creation of culture of excellence. This is a long and challenging road.
    A research projects done by the Smith Institute for the SEE indicates a number of facts and data which demand our attention. The research shows the attitude of the parents, teachers and principals in the field of excellence in education. The research raises several central points:
    The lack of satisfaction with pupils' achievements is worrying, but it is also a positive opening point. Recognizing the problem is the beginning of the way to solving it.
    How did it happen that we fell from the top of the table to its bottom? We fell asleep at the wheel. This has become a wide cultural phenomenon.  Vanity is the recipe for failure.
    The educational methods are old, and do not fit the demands and expectations of today. The world expects us, educators, not just to change accordingly, but to lead.
    Despite the big investment in teaching hours, there is a feeling that at the end of the day those hours do not achieve the aim. Principals feel the education system do not prepare the pupil for what is expected of him/her outside the school.
    Preparing the pupils and assimilating excellence are not luxury. It is a strategic need of the first degree. Cultivating excellence is a critical need as an educational strategy which will improve the whole system. The excellent pupils are the spear head showing the way. A system which aspires to advance needs an engine to pull from the front, and an engine to push from the back. The duty of the excellent person is to look forward and while advancing to make sure no one is left behind.
    Cultivating excellence is a significant tool to gaps reduction, not to creating them.
    Another worrying data is that the education system is not seen as nurturing, but is seen at the bottom of the ladder in comparison to other educational systems. The educational system should not be dragged, but should lead. This will not happen on its own. This is not just a question of more resources, but of how to change the priority of resources allocation.
    Today, most of the funds are allocated at the middle – some would say it is a nurturing mediocrity. Obviously, the desired change will not come from there. In the best case we will produce more of the same. Despite the fact that most parents have mediocre children, they still claim that resources have to be distributed equally between the weak, the mediocre and the excellent pupils.
    The social message is that the issue of excellence is strategic, and is not luxury.
    The founders of the state left us a legacy of excellence – values, of social and intellectual. The state of Israel has reached achievements in many fields. Those achievements, together with the increase of the ambition for excellence are a source for optimism. Nurturing and cultivating excellence must come from an optimistic attitude. The success of the past and present creates the success of the future
    This is a time to change, a time to lead our children in the road of excellence

    Torkel L. Patterson, President, Raytheon
    Geopolitical Realities

                    This morning's discussions seemed like a glass that was half empty; and focused mainly on internal issues to Israel. The existential question to Israel and Israel's place in the world is assured and is not in doubt in any way, and I think you can have confidence that you can work through these issues. Looking to the picture of the world: Let's draw away from where we are today and see where we fit in the global sphere in the Earth. I am going to try to illuminate on whether we have less or more political ideology; the radical Muslim against moderate Muslims and the West; East versus West; and our environment.
                    The first statistic is the population of the world. An obvious statistic, but we need to state the basics. We have the population of China, India, EU and Americas as the largest in the world. It seems though that countries with around 20 million people is where a lot of the world's attention is being focused today. Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria and so on; their populations are still going to grow and their influence and world focus will grow as well. It isn't the issue of the population of China or India, but the 150,000 of them that are affluent or will soon be affluent and will have a buying power comparable to the United States. These people are coming online for the first time in history, creating another US sized population within China that can compete economically with the US. India is following this trend with its strong economic growth and development of a large affluent population. The growth of the affluent peoples in these countries has many implications.
                    India's economy is growing and China's economy is growing at a rate three times that of the United States. China's economy has a long way to go, but that does not mean that in a few years time it won't be a large player in global politics and influence.
                    The power of Japan as the world's second largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity plays a significant role in how global politics is run. The reunification of the Korea's is inevitable and they will emerge as a world player, and a very influential one at that. Talking about the major Geostrategic trends, I run into businessmen from Israel and Korea wherever I am, these people are working to promote their industry very hard so that their influence in the world is strengthened.
                    Defense budgets: The US is overwhelmingly large compared to that of any other nation. If you added up all of the worlds spending on defense it may barely equal that to the United State's investment into defense spending.
                    Technology half-life point. We talk about the rise of the middle class, as technology advances, the time it takes to improve technology the half-life to improve that technology gets less and less. We say we are ten years ahead of China in military and technological advances, but in five years from now we might be behind because of the great and fast advances in technology. We are not fighting a war of power, we are fighting a war on terror and we have focused a lot of our attention on the war on terror. Yet in the United States we are also fighting a war of dominance of who will be the world leader in fifty years, who will influence world politics in fifty years. It is not clear who will lead in influence with countries whose numbers are much larger than the United States and are developing a bloc of citizenry who can compete economically with the United States.

    The 7th Herzliya Conference > Lecture Summaries
    Stanley O. Roth, Vice President for Asia/International Relations, Boeing
    Geopolitical Situation in Asia
    "If the US is defeated in Iraq, how will that be perceived in East Asia?
    Reply: The consequences would be huge. Singapore, for example, is worried about the terrorist threat in Indonesia and other Asian countries."

    I was asked to focus on geopolitical developments in Asia, and in particular in China and India. However, when trying to identify events in Asia that affect the Middle East, it is impossible to ignore North Korea, which recently exploded a nuclear bomb. I will begin with a discussion of developments in China and in India and conclude with a discussion regarding North Korea.
    2006 was a good year for China, and it has equally good prospects for 2007. One of its problems is actually excessive growth, which currently stands at over 10%. In addition, China is trying to manage the appreciation of its currency and its trade imbalance. Currently, China has a large and rapidly growing trade surplus; this is a major issue in the US that provides additional ammunition for critics of the China-US relationship.
    Politically, the year was relatively stable. President Hu is fightingu
     to maintain power, which I expect him to do. The country is continuing to prepare for the Olympics, which will require it to put its most moderate face forward.
    Diplomatically, in terms of China's ties with the US, the year was also stable. Taiwan, which is a source of tension in these ties, did not figure prominently in the relationship. The US needs China in its confrontation of North Korea—a fact that reflects China's growing regional role. In addition, China's relationship with India improved, which is evident in the high level of trade between the countries. It appears that India will not become a card that the US can use against China.
    Militarily, we see continued modernization of the Chinese military, which recently announced that it has obtained satellite capabilities.
    The country's growth continues to place intense demand on natural resources and drive up their prices. When considering the growth in India, it is clear that it is a good time for commodities and for the Middle Eastern countries that export them. This is perhaps the greatest impact of the country's growth.
    India experienced a bad year for agriculture, but economic growth was basically sustained. Still the prime minister has affirmed that conditions are insufficient and demanded that India keep up with China.
    Politically, there was a fair measure of stability, as the government has managed to maintain control.
    Diplomatically, the US has been embracing India as a strategic ally in non-proliferation efforts. However, this process is unfinished and necessitates an implementing agreement. The key point here is not to assume that this new relationship means that India, a traditional ally of Persia, will automatically side with the US.
    North Korea's explosion of a nuclear device was not a surprise. What was unexpected was the lack of change in the situation on the ground. It had been said that North Korea's attainment of nuclear capabilities would bring about a crisis, but the country's trade is actually increasing, the borders are still open; and construction of an industrial zone has continued.
    If tough sanctions are to be implemented, only Japan is in the US camp—and this is mostly for historical reasons. We are seeing a breakdown of four versus two, with the US in the inauspicious position of being in the minority.
    The US is in a bad place. There seems to be no good military solution, in part because our troops are committed elsewhere, in the war on terror. Furthermore, some of our allies are not with us.
    The world is now a more dangerous place. There are three major threats:
    1) North Korea will have enough fissile material to sell; it has exported all its other resources, and there is no reason to believe that nuclear resources will be different. This is threat to the whole world, and especially to Israel. Even one sale could result in catastrophe.
    2) Japan must be confident in the US's abilities; otherwise, it may become nuclear.
    3) The North Korea experience has revealed the failure of effective deterrence. We must assume that Iran has noticed this—and this is the biggest threat to Israel.
    What is to be done?
    We must prevent the sale of fissile material both by means of threats and through counter-proliferation efforts.
    We can hope that North Korea collapses; this, of course, is not a policy.
    We can seek a diplomatic solution: this will likely be under the guise of multilateralism but will really be bilateral. We must remember that North Korea has no real incentive to negotiate and that no country that has developed a nuclear device has ever relinquished it.
    Question: Paul Bracken, Yale University: If the US is defeated in Iraq, how will that be perceived in East Asia?
    Reply: The consequences would be huge. Singapore, for example, is worried about the terrorist threat in Indonesia and other Asian countries.

    Dr. Yacov Sheinin, CEO, Economic Models; The Israeli Institute for Economic Planning
    Outsourcing the IDF
    "The U.S. has excelled in this and the say that you can save between 4%-6% of the defense budget. The U.S. reached the point where 60% of their army's activities are outsourced to private contractors."

    I won't speak about an optimal budget, but I will speak about outsourcing. The real question is how to change the structure of the IDF and how to use the business sector to make the IDF more effective.
    The IDF since it was founded was the biggest and most organized "company" in the country, and actually held the business sector afloat.
    Today the situation has reversed and by mistake we have formed different bodies that can answer the same need. We have all the cons of being a small country: all our army battle fields are close not like in the U.S. where they have an army that goes abroad and one that supports the country at home.
    The question is can we merge these two bodies into one, and prevent the waste?
    We're talking about 8 billion NIS, and if we would outsource we could get up to 25% of that which would be close to 2 billion NIS from the budget. In a world of outsourcing we could move this budget to the business sector and it would work.
    The IDF leans on the reserves- the IDF has a transport branch which is not necessary; we could use the civil transportation which works all the time and if necessary call them up in emergency subpoenas. Concerning our emergency storage facilities: why can't a civilian contactor be in charge of it and the army will supervise to make sure that it's up to code. We could save a lot by working that way with keeping our advantage of expertise. It's not possible or logical that the army will be in charge of all the: cars, computers and so on. The business sector knows how to do this job. For example the public transportation during the Yom Kippur war both Egged and Dan, mobilized the army even when they were not apart of the armed services.
    The U.S. has excelled in this and the say that you can save between 4%-6% of the defense budget. The U.S. reached the point where 60% of their army's activities are outsourced to private contractors.
    In the issue of the peoples army: I do not suggest that we stop the mandatory recruitment, however when you do this you recruit too much and waste too much money. The IDF sees a wrong budget picture and works by it. If we would give them a set structure to work with budget wise they'd know how to work. There is a surplus of personnel in the army of about 25%. This 25% can't be discharged because of mandatory recruitment, but they could be moved to the other branches of emergency services like the Red Star of David, police, fire fighter corps and security for educational institute. What would happen if this surplus would be moved to those branches? We would save 25,000 people from the army and move them into the other emergency branches. We would obtain a solution for the whole system.
    In the end we would have a situation where the army selects the people it wants and the rest would be sent to the other branches. The people now in those systems could find work in other branches of the business sector.
    The future potential of savings could come to 2.2 Billion NIS by optimizing the army. This optimization is based on moving to a five to ten year budget. This optimization can not come forth without this basic change.
    In a long term budget we can make the changes necessary in the support branch in the army. One example is the revolution of leasing in the army. The IDF saved 20% of expenses by transferring to leasing. The IDF hasn't moved completely to leasing since it still holds mechanics. Try to imagine what would happen if the army would transfer to outsourcing in other branches such as food and transportation.    

    Brig. Gen. Udi Dekel, Plans and Policy Directorate, IDF
    "My main messages tonight, wish to emphasize our urgent need to prepare for the next war, we should not reflect past wars, we should learn from them and prepare to the ones of the future, according to our prediction for the future. "

    We are in a growingly unstable strategic environment.  The radical axis is getting stronger, and the moderate world is confused.  Iran is about to become nuclear and is involved in every conflict in the Middle East.  Meanwhile, we are facing different kinds of threats: from the suicide bomber to the non-conventional weapon –a symmetric and an a-symmetric threat.
    Already now we can identify a few dilemmas: the first dilemma has to do with the challenges of Hezbollah and Hamas.  Hezbollah keeps gaining in strength with the support of Syria in Lebanon, and the question is: how do we react to this phenomenon?  Meanwhile, Hamas smuggles weapons and builds up its military strength thanks to the ceasefire. It's not clear how we should deal with this, and how do we get ready for the next round of fighting when Hamas has an improved military capabilities.  Another dilemma has to do with the right balance between investing in readiness now, and building our strength.
    The Army's Targets in the Long Term
    What is the army's security Strategy?  The main transition in the security perception is the transition from three elements –deterrence, alarm, and victory— to four elements, the fourth being preparedness.  This is a perception that combines not only attack as a central element, but also defense.  This element is meant not only to defend the home front, but also to provide decision makers with flexibility, so that they can say that restraint is a form of strength.
    The year 2007 is the year of preparedness.  The goal is to reach a level of professional capacity that will enable us to face the current threats, and in parallel to build a multi-year program in order face future threats.  The main goals are the strengthening of the ground forces, of the reserve system, and the creation of a situation in which the army is both ready and trained to deal with the present threats, while focusing on future targets, based on the four abovementioned elements. 
    Alarm: The main focus of interest is providing strategic alarms, while still maintaining our ability to provide day- to -day alert. Such as an alert against suicide terrorist and terrorist activity. This must be conducted, in addition to our constant combat against what is defined as "low intensity conflict". This type of conflict emphasizes the need for intelligence.  This need is becoming crucial facing asymmetrical conflicts. We need intelligence which will enable us to track targets in urban as well as other problematic environments. We must improve our capabilities to gather intelligence, and we need to strengthen our operative intelligence. Meaning, improving our intelligence capabilities on all levels, from the officer level until the field level.
     Deterrence: We must separate two variables - Our will to use force – a will which was evident during the last war, while even Nassrala was surprise to see the Israeli determination, and on the other hand, Building a direct and credible respond against these threats. During the last war, we came to realize the importance of direct respond, we rely less and less on indirect responds, and more on direct respond against the threats we are facing. Our most important asset is our qualitative advantage, which we must maintain. In addition to our technological capabilities, which are a product of our domestic industries. 
    Victory: This is a central component in our national security strategy. We need to achieve victory in front of various threats, we first need to identify the threats in order to prepare in advance, and we must improve our internal process of decision making in order to evaluate the different alternatives and chose the most appropriate respond. Israel must improve its' ability to change its' scale of operations, shifting from a war to military operations and vise versa. We must realize that victory can only be achieved by land, and therefore we must emphasis the importance of land operations. This does not imply, we should not use our other capabilities. But we should focus on land operations. We need to develop capabilities which will enable us to respond to threats at multiplied theaters. It is extremely difficult to respond to threats at urban environment, and we must gain capabilities which will enable us to provide an appropriate respond to these threats. In addition, I argue, we will be capable to win an asymmetric warfare.
    Once we will gain the ability to predict the other side's moves. We could respond to our enemy's actions and prevent him from achieving his goals. We must destroy our enemies' capabilities rather than intensions. We must act here and now, while using all means, including non-combat capabilities.
    Preparedness: this is compulsory to deterrence and victory. Until this point we've focused on active defense, but this active defense does not provide a proper respond to long range missiles. We must include defense systems, once facing long range missiles. Our minimal investment increases as the range of attacks becomes shorter. Therefore we must invest more in the civilian population resistance.
    My main messages tonight, wish to emphasize our urgent need to prepare for the next war, we should not reflect past wars, we should learn from them and prepare to the ones of the future, according to our prediction for the future. In addition we have shifted our national security strategy, from a three elements strategy to a four elements strategy. Our new strategy enables us to adjust our respond to threats, and provides us with flexibility in terms of the use of force. Last, we must improve and emphasis the quality of our military, both in terms of operations and in terms of personal. We must examine every aspect of our army and constantly improve and strengthen it. We must ensure everyone who serves in the military will wish to do so in the future.       

    Col. (res.), Gideon Hoshen, President and CEO, Hoshen-Eliav Systems Engineering
    Recovering from the Lebanon War
    " activities have started to improve the operational readiness, with its target, being first and foremost bolstering the strength of the army and confidence in the army.  For this mission, we demand three partners: the IDF, the government and the Israeli people.
    My friends and I are laying the ground work to renew the army and are suggesting a framework for change.   We know and believe that the following suggestions can translate into an executable program."

     Since the end of the War in Lebanon, 6 months have passed, the Israeli people have been saturated by a gloomy atmosphere, and the public confidence in the army has been undermined.  At the same time, with the end of the military investigations, activities have started to improve the operational readiness, with its target, being first and foremost bolstering the strength of the army and confidence in the army.  For this mission, we demand three partners: the IDF, the government and the Israeli people.
    My friends and I are laying the ground work to renew the army and are suggesting a framework for change.   We know and believe that the following suggestions can translate into an executable program.
    The first partner- IDF
    The key word for a necessary balance is proportion.  The picture that was created after the war is not balanced.  Even in the IDF's greatest military triumphs, there were failures and problems.  The latest war, exposed deep weaknesses, whose roots are from years past, some of these weaknesses date back to the establishment of the state.
    1.       Establishment of the Army as an army of the people: The state of Israel Is a small country with large challenges, who maintains an army which consists of 4% of the entire population, this is eight times larger than the size acceptable to any other western country.  In addition, the security budget is twice or three times as large as these countries.
    2.       Lack of operational experience, since the emanate feeling of a threat to Israel's existence isn't as relevant as it used to be: you have a generation of commanders that do not have operational experience in wars.  Parallel to this is the public impression that there is no longer a threat to Israel's existence.  The Iraqi front has been dismantled, there are borders with peace, and therefore there is no need for a large army.  In addition, focusing on the Palestinian sphere has brought a change in the way in which war is fought; however these templates are not relevant to high intensity warfare, such as in Lebanon.
    Despite the disadvantages that were previously discussed, the IDF has great strengths and abilities.  The following are the positive components which help create a balanced picture:
    1.       How the IDF coped with the Intifada, which started in October 2000:  The armed Intifada presented a challenge, in which the army needed to find a solution. The army was able to find this solution, and the quantitative achievements are evidence of this.  In 2000 the army foiled a low percentage of attacks, however in 2006; the army was able to thwart 96% of attacks.  In addition the number of casualties dropped from 200 in 2002 to 15 in 2006.
    2.       Cooperation with other bodies: IDF Incitement to deal with the Palestinians has demanded efforts which are the fruits of cooperation with the Shin Bet, Police, and other bodies.  The fact that there was cooperation is an achievement within itself.
    3.       Quality of fighting authorities and the seriousness shown by the reserve duty.
    4.       Process of inquiries: Unprecedented determination to reach the truth through all inclusive investigations.
    We are suggesting four central directions through which the army can initiate changes:
    1.       Strengthening the spirit and quality of organization: The army should be turned into a leading and quality firm: The IDF should put effort into the "programs" rather than into the "hardware".   We suggest that the IDF should focus its energies on strengthening the army as an organization- development and preservation of knowledge, along with striving to excellency.
    2.       Development and application of an operational fitness model as a guide for the army: in other words the model needs to be widened and upgraded; changing it to include daily managerial instruments, through tools which measure to what extent the army is capable of achieving the goals in which the government has set for it.
    3.       Improvement of the culture of management: improvement of the ability to take visions and objectives and translate them into defined missions.  Together with this, missions should be measured by output and not by feeling.
    4.       Strengthening values: a feeling of partnership, telling the truth, and strengthening of trust between high level officers and their subordinates.
    The second partner- Government System
    1.       Removing non military mission:  For example transferring the responsibility of the civilian front from the home front command to the civilian authority.  The Sapir Committee and four government decisions have dealt with this.  At the moment the security council is looking for ways in which it can be transferred to the civilian authority.
    2.       Setting a budget which reflects the goals the government has set for the army:  this is said in regards to the process in which the budget is defined and not the question of its size.   The final discussion surrounding the budget becomes a compromise that the Prime Minister must make between the army and the Ministry of Finance, without professional advisors.  In our opinion a position needs to be created in the office of the Prime Minister, whose sole purpose is to manage the dialogue between the army and the Ministry of Finance.  This is not a new suggestion, it is important that this is emphasized.
    3.       A creation of a multi-annual framework, which will allow improvement to occur in the planning outline.
    The third partner- the Israeli people
    Here we talk about the need to show responsibility and advance a joint discourse.  If the people do not  admire the army, they are not ready to put their future in its hands.
    The direction of change which we presented, depends on a solid basis of knowledge and can be translated in substantial actions.  It is possible to establish a framework in which people like us will voluntarily contribute time to the military, committed to a minimal number of years.  There are excellent people, who are authorities on the issues of security and strategic economy, who once called will rally to the cause. 

    Dr. Ariel (Eli) Levite, Deputy Director-General (Policy), Israel Atomic Energy Commission
    Changing Nuclear Strategic Picture

    Paul Bracken divided the nuclear age to two ages. In my opinion we are facing of three ages. I would like to describe the tree past ages and the dangers forthcoming by the fourth age.
    The first nuclear age (1945-1967): I describe this age as time of learning and surviving. This age is characterized by the development of the nuclear race and nuclear crisis. During this age five nuclear powers were formed, the world developed a new theory of deterrence and mutual assured destruction (MAD) and gradually MAD tries to deter other countries from going in this direction. There was an effort to develop a norm of preventing nuclear proliferation.  After Cuba the world tried to stabilize and create agreements for partial prohibition of nuclear weapons.
    The second nuclear age (1968-1989): there is a formalization of a new treaty trying to prevent the world from becoming more "nuclear". It was stated that until 1967, any state that acquired nuclear capability will be limited to the states that had already obtained it and no additional states will acquire nuclear capabilities. This age is characterized by hope, its common ground being managing the stability and making all inclusive arrangements for arms control. In this age we see both global arrangements and arrangements between the superpowers. The success in containing most of the countries was impressive. There were three states on the edge of nuclear capability that were outside the NPT (India, Pakistan and Israel), and three states that accepted the Treaty but kept the nuclear option should it be needed (Egypt and Japan). There were attempts to challenge this order, but these were treated without turmoil. An interesting aspect was the decline of the initial enthusiasm about intercontinental missiles (ICBMs).
    The third age (1989 – present): In my opinion, it will last for three to four more years, and will end in 2011. The default is that in 2011 a fourth nuclear age will start. The characteristics of the third age are euphoria and subsequently despair from the nuclear order. It started with signs of success (South-Africa disarmed its nuclear weapons, and perhaps the greatest event was the dismemberment of the USSR). These successes were blurring the fact that both India and Pakistan were running ahead and shortly afterwards decided to perform nuclear testing; North Korea keeps proceeding and cancels its agreement with the US; Libya had been trying to develop nuclear capability, and it is clear that the seeds of the problems that bloom today were already sown. At the same time the arms control agreements enter an ice-age. The treaty for global ban of nuclear tests was indeed signed, but not ratified, and therefore was not in effect.
    The sense that accompanies this age is that the nuclear balance is decaying, while the challenges from states like North Korea seem to be difficult to deter. It is not surprising to see increasing interest in anti-missile defense, and at the same time we see that nuclear technology is widespread. There is a real interest of terrorist groups in nuclear technology. These are the seeds of calamity.
    I will conclude with a word about the fourth age. My hesitation is: can we really look nostalgically upon nuclear stability, for when we look back on the Cuban Missile Crisis, history tells otherwise. Various factors might lead to instability : the continuation of the crisis in Pakistan and even its escalation with a potential for a nuclear war between Pakistan and India; the export of nuclear technology from North Korea; the appearance of nuclear Iran; the reappearance of nuclear energy as an alternative option without being accompanied by weapons control arrangements to prevent this technology from becoming an instrument of nuclear threat; and of course the continuing interest of terrorists in nuclear technology.
    The calamity is not unavoidable. A new nuclear order may appear safer. For this a few things need to be dealt with: NPT, the inspection arrangements of IAEA, and elements that can deal with nuclear energy.    

    Prof. Paul Bracken, Yale University
    Framework for the Second Nuclear Age
    " We also need to rethink, or rather rebrand, arms control. In my opinion, arms control is a business that is becoming obsolete. Arms control is very different from disarmament. It is about reducing the chance of war. I believe that the United States should unilaterally declare no first use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances whatsoever, and should also strongly imply that a policy of a guaranteed second use. If "

         Why do we need a framework for the Second Nuclear Age, which will change the international order? Firstly, we are already in the Second Nuclear Age, and we prefer that Iran and North Korea not have any nuclear weapons. Therefore, it is better that we have a structured framework since we are all living in the same world. Secondly, since the end of the Cold War, many decisions made in many capitals around the world are too heavily based on gut feelings and on institutions, and it will be more dangerous to do that in a world with more than ten nuclear powers.
         The Second Nuclear Age is the era after the Cold War, when countries developed the atomic bomb for reasons that have nothing to do with the Cold War. Its distinctive feature is that there are multiple decision-making centers. For example, if there is going to be a confrontation between the US and China, and the US moves its forces to Taiwan, China will likely go on nuclear alert, and so will India, and then so will Pakistan. There is going to be a ripple effect which did not exist during the Cold war. Another difference between the two nuclear ages is the role of nationalism, not democracy, in the second age, which in my judgment is the most powerful force in the world today.
         The international order is changing, and a great power system of countries is emerging. These countries are distinguished by their access to a $3 trillion GDP by 2025, and they can deploy some of these assets to develop huge military programs, if they choose to do so. It is important that they do not. Today, war is considered abnormal and nations prefer to avoid it, but it has never gone away.
         What I have learnt from the North Korea experience is that you have a country which has a primitive, crude military force waging a very successful political strategy. The single, most important lesson from the Cold War is that you do not have to detonate a nuclear weapon to use it. We have to take this lesson seriously.
         We also need to recognize that the critical countries, namely China, India, Russia, and Japan, are all going to be great powers and have access to $3 trillion GDP in the early 2020s. What characterizes them is that none of them is a revisionist power, and they are all buying into the globalization story. None of these powers wants to engage in an arms race against each other the way countries did earlier in the 20th century.
         Escalation, which means an intensification of risk-taking or use of force, moves to the center stage, and it is central to deterrence. A failure to escalate in certain situations can be the first milestone of a complete breakdown of deterrence. When I looked at the war last summer in Lebanon and also the US confrontation with Iran and North Korea I noticed that the thresholds and barriers were discovered during the confrontation. We have to improve our ability to anticipate these thresholds and use them to our advantage before the confrontation. It is very dangerous to discover them only in the course of the confrontation.
         We also need to rethink, or rather rebrand, arms control. In my opinion, arms control is a business that is becoming obsolete. Arms control is very different from disarmament. It is about reducing the chance of war. I believe that the United States should unilaterally declare no first use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances whatsoever, and should also strongly imply that a policy of a guaranteed second use. If any country in the world uses any nuclear weapon for any reason whatsoever against anyone else, the United States will suspend its no-first-use pledge. This should have a powerful illuminating effect on Iran and North Korea. Missile defense and security also need to be reexamined, as they are cornerstones in protecting the United States and its allies from these two potential nuclear powers.

    Maj. Gen. (res.), Amos Gilead, Director, Political-Military Bureau, Ministry of Defense

    Countering Strategic Threats

    Today there is no controversy that Iran is on its way to achieve nuclear weapons, no matter what sanctions imposed upon it. We have two to three years until Iran becomes nuclear.
    This has an effect on the Middle East. Iran is attempting to establish an axis which will threat the order in the Middle East which has existed for decades. Until now, Israel faced an Arab world that is not united in using a military option against her, assuming Israel has military superiority. But Iran might pose a psychological stance which would neutralize Israeli action against it, and under this umbrella would establish an alliance which would threaten Israel.
    Iran has several extensions for this purpose: first, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Second, "Hezballastan", which unless the last Lebanon war would have strengthened. There is a re-strengthening process of Hezbollah as a terror and political entity, stronger than the Lebanese government. Third, supporting Palestinian terror.
    Deterring Israel from action against Hezbollah is done by long-range rockets. Regarding the Palestinians, the same model roughly is applied – creating "Hamastan". Here too our actions have delayed its creation, bud did not prevent it. "Hamastan" is supposed to erode the Palestinian entity which is ready and prepared to have peace.
    There is an axis which threatens the moderate Arab world.
    The substantive change is that the Arab world for the first time is truly in deep anxiety from the Iranian threat. The Saudis openly spoke lately of a Saudi nuclear option. Heads of the Egyptian regime have also made similar warnings. If Iran will be caught as such a heavy threat, they might attempt to go nuclear, despite US pressures against it.
    What should Israel do? There are opportunities and they should be taken:
    First, there is a common denominator with the Arab world. Relations must be enhanced and strengthened with Jordan, Egypt and Saudi-Arabia, based on common threat perception.
    Second, regarding Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority, this is the time to do anything to strengthen them, including military steps to weaken Hamas and Hezbolla. The latter must be prevented from strengthening and cooperating with Iran.
    Third, regarding Syria. Some do not take its abilities seriously, but until today no answer has been found to the fact that Syria is able to bring to the collapse of the Lebanon government and to the fact that it supports Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Therefore, one must uproot and eliminate the existing alliance between Iran and Syria. The alliance is not the result of intersection of interests, but a result of circumstances. We should find a military or political answer in the range of one to three years. Syria should be convinced to change sides.
    To conclude, on the one side we have unusual advantages. Terror has been treated with success, there is a common denominator with the Arab world, and we enjoy the US support, and strategic relations with Turkey and other countries in the East.
    On the other hand, the Iranian threat is the central threat which should guide and design our policy, both in terms of alliances and in terms of military options.

    Dr. Gary Samore, Vice President, Council on Foreign Relations
    Iran's ability to Gain Nuclear Capabilities
    "Iran is unlikely to produce nuclear weapons in the next few years but it is reasonable to believe Iran will try to develop the necessary technology that would give it the option of producing nuclear weapons farther down the road. "

    I have been asked to provide a technical analysis of Iran's ability to gain nuclear capabilities. How close is Iran to achieving nuclear capability?
    The same technology can be used to produce different levels of nuclear weapons. Iran claims it reached the maximum level of production but it seems that it is experiencing some technical difficulties. One problem may be a result of poor installation. Once Iran masters the technology, how long will it take until it can produce nuclear weapons? Here numbers really matter. Even under optimal conditions it will take at least ten years. If Iran builds a central plant, it can build nuclear capabilities within few years. A larger facility takes much longer than that.
    Plants that are not subject to international inspection are easy targets for production. However, there is not enough information to evaluate the level of Iran's capabilities. The risk is that Iran has clandestine nuclear facilities.
    The current objective of U.S. policy is to convince Iran to give up its nuclear program or to limit it to civilian purposes but if Iran has already established nuclear capability, the estimated utility of an attack would depend on the information we have regarding the nuclear program. If we know the location of the nuclear facilities — overt or covert — it would be easier to evaluate the risk and costs. Nevertheless if we are uncertain, it would be difficult to judge the benefit of military action against the costs. The assumption is that there is some level of clandestine activity.
    Some workshops, such as those that manufacture centrifuge parts, are not subject to inspection by the IAEA. So, there could be small research facilities for testing or for building up against an attack. The detection of small-scale production is difficult for the IAEA. It is unlikely that Iran currently has industrial-scale nuclear weapons production facilities. Tehran's strategy seems to be to develop weapons under the guise of a peaceful nuclear program. However, even if Iran does not have clandestine facilities today, there is a risk that once they master centrifuge technology they will try to develop these kinds of facilities in the future. Components for overt facilities could be used to construct secret facilities and western governments have refused to enable Iran to build even overt facilities.
    If Iran withdraws from the NPT, which it can do, they can develop these kinds of facilities. Iran is unlikely to produce nuclear weapons in the next few years but it is reasonable to believe Iran will try to develop the necessary technology that would give it the option of producing nuclear weapons farther down the road.

    Dr. Robert Einhorn, Center for Strategic and International Studies
    Optons for preventing Iranian Nuclear Weapons Capability

    Our options for preventing an Iranian nuclear weapons capability are becoming less and less promising. I will outline four options for heading off an Iranian nuclear weapons capability.
    One option is for the U.S. to enter into negotiations with Iran, either bilaterally or within a multi-national framework. U.S.-Iranian engagement along these lines may have been productive in mid-2003 because, in the wake of the victory in Iraq, the United States was riding high and the Iranians thought they would be next.
    The IAEA was inspecting Iran and found many examples of Iranian cheating and Tehran was on the defensive. U.S. relations with Russia were good at the time.
    To most Iranians, enrichment was what corrupt mullahs did to line their pockets.
    In those circumstances, Iran made an overture to the U.S. via the Swiss, offering
    to talk about the full range of issues that divided the two countries. Convinced that it was in a strong position, and that it could eventually achieve its objectives in Iran without bargaining, the Bush administration dismissed this offer in 2003.
    Today the situation is very different; Iran is in the driver's seat. The U.S. is bogged down in Iraq and its reputation and influence have declined. Ahmadinejad is President, and his provocative rhetoric has gained support for Iran – even in the Sunni Arab street. Russia is pursuing a foreign policy independent of, and often in opposition to, the U.S., and Iran feels Russia will block any tough sanctions in the UNSC. Given these circumstances, Iran's leaders feel little pressure to give up their enrichment program. Given what is going on, now is not the right time for negotiations.
    A second option is military strikes against nuclear facilities in Iran and perhaps their regime power centers. There are two benefits to this: it can be done soon – which is especially important if the goal is to prevent Iran's mastery of centrifuge enrichment technology. No other option has this advantage. The second benefit is that it would almost surely disrupt the enrichment effort. We don't know where all of Iran's nuclear related facilities are located. However, we do know that they produce UF6 in Isfahan, enrich Uranium in Natanz, and are building facilities to produce plutonium.
    Iran is widely assumed to be engaged in some covert activities today, but most experts doubt that Iran is now operating a covert enrichment facility. So its enrichment activity at Natanz is a key pacing factor—probably the key pacing factor – in its nuclear program.
    We know where their main targets are and convential armed missiles should be able to put them out of business, but for how long? How long would it take Iran
    to regenerate? Depending on how successful they would be, regenerating their program could take six months to six years. Therefore, the principal benefit of
    a strike and producing, hiding and centrifuges is uncertain, while the costs of
    a strike are very high. We can expect the Iranians to retaliate by using asymmetric means like supporting terrorist attacks against U.S. friends and interests in the Middle East, violence and impending shipping in the straits of Hormuz escalating in Iraq.
    A few Arab leaders might privately support a strike, but we could expect a very strong backlash that would make it hard to mobilize international support around the world for continuing efforts to isolate, pressure, and contain Iran. We need that international support. For these reasons, military strikes are no ones first option. There is a small chance that force will be used. If other options continued to look unpromising, that likelihood will increase.
    A third option is a regime change using overt and covert means of bringing about fundamental change in the Iranian government. A benefit of the regime change, aside from the human rights benefits and good governance, is that leaders would be more responsive to the Iranian people who might be less inclined to pay the economic and political price for the nuclear program. But there are serious problems with counting on a regime change to solve the Iranian nuclear issue. Despite widespread discontent inside Iran for the regime, the Mullah's grip on power remains strong.
    Ahmadinejad, his policies, and his rhetoric have come under strong criticism – from reformers and conservatives alike – but there appears to be little inclination or capability to take on the regime itself. Regime change is likely to be home grown and not the result of foreign pressures and it will happen someday. It is not likely to happen soon enough to head off Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons.
    That leaves the fourth option: we need to step up the pressures on Iran in hopes to widen fissures inside Iran to change Iran's behaviors on nuclear issues. Iran has been confident that it could proceed with enrichment without paying much of
    a price but this option seeks to re-shape its calculation of costs and benefits.
    Resolution 1737 will be used by the Bush administration to justify more pressures in Iran outside the Security Council. We can use America's economic clout to isolate Iran. We need to urge foreign governments and financial institutions in Europe and Japan to curtail any activity with Iran. The U.S. will maintain a strong military presence in the region. The U.S. is sending a message to Iran that any nuclear activity will be met with a strong response.
    It's too soon to tell if anything will change from these steps. There are signs that reconsideration inside Iran has already begun. Ahmadinejad's support has gone down. Iran's Oil Minister is having trouble getting financing for projects because financial institutions are decreasing their cooperation. High inflation is the blame of Ahmadinejad. Businessmen and conservatives have criticized him for being too provocative with the nuclear issue and have called for moderation on the nuclear issue.
    What is emerging today is a growing debate that Iran can't have his cake and eat it too. They can't proceed with their program while being an active and active part of the international world. What is needed is to continue pursuing this fourth option. We need to build wide international support for ratcheting up the pressure. We need to make it clear to Iran that they are on a self destructive course. But pressure alone will not be sufficient, Iran needs to see benefits if it is to reverse course. What it may prize most is a less threatening relationship with the US.
    The US should be prepared to normalize relations with the current regime if it is genuinely prepared to abandon its nuclear program and other unacceptable behavior. But engagement and normalization should not be the first priority. Only when Iran realizes it has little to gain and a lot to lose will engagement be productive. That is why the military option should stay on the table and be credible.

    Richard Perle, American Enterprise Institute
    Need to act on Iranian Nuclear Weapons

    It is not clear is if Iran's time is over. We need a few propositions put forth that we have already heard.
    Current policy will not lead the Iranians to abandon their program. If we continue doing what we are doing, Iran will be a nuclear state.
    Iran with nuclear weapons will not be so easily deterred and detained. One is involved in deterrence in a psychological game. In given what we've heard from Ahmadinejad, it is not clear if we can expect a replay of that psychological game. In possession of nuclear weapons, Iran is capable of using their terrorist networks to enable damage.
    At some point, we have to begin to face the question where is the point of no return? The issue is one of timing and intelligence. You can't afford to wait for all the evidence. If there has been a lesson learned recently, as far as the U.S. is concerned, there is a possibility of waiting too long to take action. This is referring to the length of time we waited watching Osama bin Laden organize himself and al-Qaeda to act in terror. In retrospect, had we dealt with al-Qaeda, September 11th may not have happened. Some Americans are concerned that we should not to wait too long or it will be too late.
    When we think about options, and we think about the timing of those options- I am not convinced that we have a lot of time. It is amazing that we do not have a serious political solution to Iran already. The failure until now to support any new regime is shocking. There are millions of Iranians who want to see regime change but are powerless. They are getting no help from the outside world. If we do nothing to support the internal opposition, nothing will happen in changing the regime. We had opportunities to encourage regime change in Iraq, but we wound up only with military options. If we continue on our course of action, we will be left again only with military options.
    We need a serious effort to work with the internal opposition. We have seen the extraordinary ability to change regime internally. The results from political action have been impressive, less costly and less dangerous. If we fail to energize the opposition through overt and covert means and we continue on our current path, the question is 'who will act decisively and what will they achieve?' Militarily, we could destroy the facilities with minimal collateral damage using aircraft missiles. Is that the right option?
     If the Israeli government comes to the conclusion that it has no choice but to take action, the reaction of the U.S. will be the belief in the vitality that this action must succeed, even if the U.S. needs to act with Israel in the current American administration.

    Maj. Gen. (res.), Prof. Isaac Ben-Israel, Head, Security Studies Program, Tel Aviv University

     What should the world do when facing a nuclear Iran?

     What should the world do when facing a nuclear Iran? I will divide the different school of thought according to a logical division. There is a group which claims that nothing needs to be done. This group claims we can live with a nuclear Iran. In order to confront this group, we must explain that once we are dealing with Iran, this is not the case.
    On the other hand, we are facing a second group which advocates no action, claiming Iran will never reach the point of possessing nuclear capabilities. Once you realize Iran will posses nuclear capabilities, you face a third group, which argues that nothing needs to be done because a nuclear Iran is, in fact, inevitable. We can only control the timing and slow it down. There is a fourth group, which claims we should avoid taking action, as it is anxious about the Iranian response. Most of these claims represent a mixed strategy of suppression and denial.
    There are those who claim a nuclear Iran will create a mutual balance of deterrence – under the notion of "they will never dare to use these capabilities". Even if Iran will never use a nuclear bomb, it's not going to be easy. Under a nuclear umbrella, they will become more aggressive. In addition, this will lead to a proliferation within the Arab world. This is, indeed, a new Middle East in which we are not only facing two countries who deter one another, but a far worse scenario.
    In addition we must take into consideration that even if a fundamentalist such as Ahmadinejad will avoid the use nuclear power, and even if an extremist such as Ahmadinejad will not want to risk nuclear war, he actually has other ways of using nuclear capabilities, such as trafficking via a third party. Similar methods were used by Hezbollah. Only this time, we are dealing with unconventional capabilities.
    This fanatic regime with nuclear capability and its direct connection to Allah accompanied by an official policy of eliminating the mere existence of the State of Israel.  It is a real threat. I believe we should use everything in our ability to prevent a nuclear Iran.
    There are those who argue we have nothing to worry about, as one way or another, this threat will be removed. They claim that with or without external intervention, Iran is headed towards an internal revolution. They also argue that there are those within Iran who criticize its nuclear program. Until a short while ago, there were also those who argued that Iran does not aim for nuclear capabilities. Today we can all agree these claims are false.
    Western nations possess the ability to threaten Iran and make it choose a different path. I truly believe that without Western intervention, Iran will possess nuclear power within a few years.
    There are those who claim that we do not possess the ability to influence Iran. Political pressure is ineffective, while military pressure is unattainable due to a lack of intelligence or distant and unknown locations. This is true to some extent, but in fact, the Western world possesses enough knowledge to delay the Iranian nuclear project. Delay is extremely important: see the Iraqi case for clear prove.
    For those who claim that Iran will act against Israel regardless, I would suggest reconsidering the cost-benefit analysis of an Iranian response. The costs are an extremely intense terrorism. Weighing this against a nuclear Middle East, we do not have any alternative besides military action.
    I agree with those who argue that a military option is in fact the last we resort. It is still important to remember that time is running out. Options we once had are gone. Every moment counts in this battle.
    Our minimal task is to prepare all options, including the military one.  


    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Iran plans 3 days of missile war games

     Iran plans 3 days of missile war games
    By NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press Writer
     Sun Jan 21, 1:30 PM ET
    TEHRAN, Iran -
    Iran plans three days of military maneuvers, including short-range missile tests, beginning Sunday — its first since the  U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions against it in late December, state-run television said.

    "The elite Revolutionary Guards plans to begin a three-day missile maneuver on Sunday near Garmsar city," said the broadcast. The city is located in northern Iran on the edge of Kavir desert, about 60 miles southeast of Tehran.

    "Zalzal and Fajr-5 missiles will be test fired in the war game," the television quoted an unnamed commander of the guards, as saying. Both are considered short-range missiles.
    Iran conducted three large-scale military exercises last year as tensions with the West and the United States rose.
    In November, for example, it test-fired dozens of missiles, including the Shahab-3 that can reach
    Israel, in military maneuvers that it said were aimed at putting a stop to the role of world powers in the Persian Gulf region.
    Sunday's maneuvers are to be the first by Iran since the U.N. Security Council imposed limited sanctions on the country on Dec. 23, banning selling materials and technology that could be used in Iran's nuclear and missile programs and freezing assets abroad of 10 Iranian companies and individuals.
    Iran regularly holds large maneuvers, often using them to test weapons developed by its arms industry.
    The latest Iranian maneuvers also come just days after the U.S. announced it would deploy a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf, the USS Stennis.
    That appeared to have alarmed some in Iran's hard-line leadership. A prominent member of a powerful cleric-run body this week warned that the U.S. plans to attack Iran in the coming months, possibly by striking its nuclear facilities.
    The United States has said it is focusing on diplomacy but will not rule out other options.
    Washington has accused Iran of backing militants fueling
    Iraq's violence and has tried to rally its Arab allies in isolating Tehran.
    Last year, Iran held three large-scale military exercises. In April, Iran tested what it called an "ultra-horizon" missile, fired from helicopters and jet fighters, and the Fajr-3 missile, which can reportedly evade radar and use multiple warheads to hit several targets simultaneously.
    While U.S. officials have suggested that Iran is exaggerating the capabilities of its newly developed weapons, Washington and its allies have been watching the country's progress in missile technology with concern.
    In October, the U.S. led maneuvers of its own in the Gulf, focusing on surveillance, with warships tracking a ship suspected of carrying components of illegal weapons.
    In December 2005, Israel successfully tested its Arrow missile defense system against a rocket similar to Iran's Shahab-3. The Arrow was developed jointly with the United States.
    While the Zalzal is a solid fuel missile, the Fajr-5 missile, from the Persian word meaning dawn, is an artillery rocket developed by Iran in early 2006. It includes a mobile platform and its primary role is to engage land targets, with a range of 50 miles.
    Iran has recently urged Arab Gulf nations to kick the U.S. military out of the region and join Iran in a new regional security alliance, an offer mostly ignored by the Gulf states.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    l Mofaz" Ahmedinejad believes that he was sent to bring the Hidden Imam" Remarks at Herzliya Conference

    "Ahmedinejad believes that he was sent to bring the Hidden Imam. He is not insane but he is devout and is supported by the spiritual leaders."
    Lt. Gen. (res.), Shaul Mofaz, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Transportation

     We are experiencing a period of strategic changes throughout the world. This is a year of resolution — of choosing between terror and a nuclear arms race on one hand and peace and stability on the other.
    Iran is the primary source of problems in the Middle East today. This stems from the fact that it is involved in a nuclear arms program as well as in terror. A nuclear Iran will pose a threat not only to Israel but to the entire world, as it will spur a nuclear arms race in the entire region. The foot-dragging of the international community and the weakening of the moderate Arab bloc's stance towards Iran pose a threat to global peace.
    There is agreement in the Western world that Iran is poised at the threshold of obtaining the necessary technology, this is the nuclear threat. UN Resolution 1737, and in particular its inclusion of Article 7 of the UN Convention (which allows sanctions against a state), marks an achievement. But this is an only an initial stage. The international community must take an array of steps: economically (including the realm of the Iranian oil industry), legally, and in other areas. The necessary means are available to do it.
    Iran is currently the Archimedes point of the Middle East. It has dispatched satellites and produced a quartet of an Axis of Evil, which includes Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas. Iran is the world's number one exporter of terror.
    In the arena of Palestine, Iran has bolstered the status of Hamas and of Islamic Jihad by providing financial backing and guidance. Iran's goal, as far as the territories are concerned, is to transfer to there the model of Hezbollah. Iran precludes the Palestinians' chance for achieving peace and prosperity, and we call upon them to disengage from the country.
    In the arena of Lebanon, Iran supports Hezbollah's efforts against Siniora and the moderates, all the while tightening its grip on the country. Israeli intelligence officials who managed to construct an intelligence image of the arena over the past years report that large amounts of weapons are being transferred to Lebanon. UN Resolution 1701 has not been implemented according to its terms: the kidnapped soldiers have not been returned and there is no effective apparatus to halt the arming of Hezbollah.
    There is a bloc of moderate Arab nations facing Iran. They are acting towards the reinforcement of Siniora but they still leave a large and dangerous vacuum. They must act quickly to change the situation. There are also domestic Iranian organizations that oppose Ahmedinejad. This is evident in the Iranian media and in the recent municipal elections.
    Ahmedinejad believes that he was sent to bring the Hidden Imam. He is not insane but he is devout and is supported by the spiritual leaders. He was elected on a platform of hatred and of solving poverty. Denial of the Holocaust serves his ideology as well as Iran's popularity in the foreign arena (among the nations of the Axis of Evil) and in the domestic arena. Because of all this, the day Iran obtains a nuclear bomb is the day it will use it.
    In conclusion, it can be said that the world cannot be apathetic. We, and the world, do not have the privilege of saying "We didn't know." There is a need for action. The potential to respond exists. The free world must unite and bring to an end to the threat.
    Regarding the resignation of the Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, it should be said that he acted with responsibility. The IDF is the strongest military in the Middle East, and no one is better than IDF soldiers

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Peres says 'Israel will not fall, Ahmadinejad will fall'

    Peres says 'Israel will not fall, Ahmadinejad will fall'

    Vice Premier Shimon Peres declared on Monday that Israel would pull through its current crises with Iran and the Palestinians, just as it had in past conflicts.

    "I have been through 60 years of Israeli history, and I'm telling you - there have been harder days," Peres told an audience at the Herzliya Conference. "Israel will not fall - Ahmadinejad will fall."

  • Live video feed from the Herzliya conference

    Peres also criticized comments by opposition leader Binaymin Netanyahu, in which the Likud chairman compared the current situation to the eve of World War II.

    "This is not 1938," the vice premier declared. "It's not the way it was then. We will not sit on the sidelines, but we also do not need to jump."

    Addressing the issue of a Palestinian state, Peres emphasized that there was already an agreement to transfer 90 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians, and that Israel was ready for an exchange of territory.

    Earlier, Defense Minister Amir Peretz said at the conference that negotiations with the Palestinians were not at a dead-end, and that even Hamas could be seen as a partner.

    "Every Palestinian contact that recognizes Israel, I see as a partner in negotiations - even if we're speaking of Hamas," Peretz said.

    Speaking about the war in Lebanon last summer between Israel and Hizbullah, Peretz defended the role of the security establishment.

    "In spite of the mistakes, there were important achievements during the war," he said. "In the end, we changed the reality in southern Lebanon. We proved that the threats of rockets, the kidnappings, and the terror are not capable of leaving us paralyzed and helpless - and furthermore, we exposed the plans of Iran and Syria."

    Moving back to the topic of the Palestinians, Peretz called for the State to refocus on the matter.

    "We need to place an emphasis on the Palestinian sphere," Peretz said. "We must not stagnate while Hamas grows more powerful."

    In addition, Peretz announced his intention to promote a plan of action for future negotiations.

    "The convergence plan is no more, and we must form a new political plan," Peretz said. "The Labor party will submit a new plan to the government merging the road map with the Saudi plan. It is important that Arab states be partners in realizing this plan."

    Earlier, former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Ya'alon voiced skepticism over the chances of a Palestinian State being formed.

    "A two-state, two-nation solution is irrelevant as long as the Palestinians lack a responsible and effective leadership," Ya'alon said, adding that "the continuation of Kassams [being fired at] Israel proves that the Palestinians are not interested in a state, but rather in destroying Israel."

  • Continued (Permanent Link)

    Amb. Nicholas Burns: Address to Herzliya Conference

    Address to Herzliya Conference

    Amb. Nicholas Burns, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
    I want to start by thanking Uzi.  Uzi and I have been talking for the past couple of years about Israel's strategic involvement with NATO.  In addition I want to thank Deputy Prime Minister Mofaz.  We had a very good day together and talked about all those issues that Israel and America have at stake. The challenge of Iraq, the challenge of peace and stability in Lebanon, and the prospect of negotiations in the future of Palestinians and Israelis.

    I want to begin with two thoughts to unite this conference.

    What is the future between Israel and the United States in this global landscape?  To seek security and peace in a world that is very different from when this conference started a few years ago.  The issue of globalization, threats of global terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, international drug trafficking, trafficking of women and children are issues that have progressively worsened over the past 5 years.
    We Americans know that we cannot defeat these issues without strong allies in this region, such as Israel. We share many common threats and pressing issues, but we also share many areas in which we can grow and flourish together. Some of these possible opportunities can be found in the sciences and technology. It is a changing world, and countries with like minded goals and beliefs that are willing to work together ought to do well in the future. Given the talents of our peoples we have a chance to negotiate on an international level successfully in the future.
    As you take a global perception, The United States of America is in a position of advantage; it has recently undergone a breakthrough in their relations with both India and Pakistan.
    United States is now engaging in a global partnership with India, and there has been major development with the US's relations with China. Progress that we hope to forge into the 6 party talks. 

    The American position is very strong and established. If you take a trip around the world to Africa, you can see that that there has never been such strong American involvement in the region.  There is hope that the Sudan, Darfur, and Somalia will seek a positive intervention of UN.
    In Latin America, Hugo Chavez and the Castro brothers are alive, but in 2006 there has been a movement towards pro democratic and pro market Governments in countries like Brazil, Chile, that wish to have relations with America.

    When you turn to Europe. Many thought that due to disagreements between France and Germany over the war in Iraq that American relationships with Europe would be weakened.  However, we have rebuilt those bridges with our European Allies.  Our strategic partnership with Europe is as strong as it could have been this year.
    American global position of leadership is strong, but there is no question that America's most vital strategic interests are in Middle East.
    We are looking at 4 challenges.
    President Bush gave a speech ten days ago in regards to Iraq in which he made a very important decision that credibility means success, and that we cannot just walk away because it is difficult.  The only way to bring stability is to stay and to make an effort to help the Iraqi government to retain its footing.
    In Lebanon French President Chirac is hosting a conference at which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will attend. The goal of the conference is for Democratic nations to come together and produce efficient plans to stand up against Hezbollah, and defend themselves from countries harboring militants like Syria, Iran.
    In your country, Secretary Rice was just here and very pleased with her meetings with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.  We have to take the opportunity that exists to reignite negotiations between Israelis and the Palestinians. What can we do to support Abu Mazen, and ensure that the policies of Hamas are rejected, as they can not lead to any positive outcomes.
    On Iran I just have a few remarks. In Iran we face an important challenge. It may be the most important challenge that we face today. Iran is a country with a radical government, a radical agenda and wishes to be the most important country in the Middle East. They are governed by a President that has denied holocaust, and has aided in many conflicts in the region.
    Iran played a negative role in these conflicts, by funding and directing Hezbollah attacks, providing technology that is killing Americans and British in Iraq, and the continued attempt by
    Iran to bring down Lebanese government.
    Iran through its policies has caused a severe reaction through the United States, which has since caused an increase in the US's adoption of seeking out intelligence and paramilitary information regarding the State.

    What does this all mean?  The USA has the right to defend its interests in this region. The USA since WWII has considered itself the garanteer of stability.
    For 18 and half years Iran has withheld information from IAEA.  For the past year Europe, Russia, and the US have been trying to negotiate a middle ground with Iraq.  The bottom line is that Iran can not be allowed to become a nuclear state. 
    There are two paths that the Western world can take as far as Iran is concerned- one path is negotiation.  The second path is the passage of a Security Council Resolution.  The Resolution has not accomplished anything.  Iran is one of 11 countries subject to chapter 7 sanctions.  If by February 21, Iran does not stop its nuclear activity than it will become an
    international pariah.  My country doesn't believe that we should stop there.  We want to put greater pressure on Iran.  We are encouraging our friends not to sell arms to Iran.  Russia and China have sold missiles to Iran, but we are hoping that they will stop in the future.
    We are encouraging the EU to end export credits with Iran.  We suggest to Europeans that the 14 billion euros earmarked to stimulate trade should be stopped.  International financial institutions are rethinking business in Iran. 
    There are lots of things that the world can do to make Iran realize that there is a cost for their behavior. The United States does not seek confrontation with Iran; however the US has left all of the options on the table.  First and foremost we are seeking a diplomatic solution.  The offer to negotiate still stands.  We are hoping that Iran will take that offer.  Secretary Condoleza Rice has committed to personally lead these negotiations.  Iran must make the choice that it is going to work with us and not against us.  Again, the USA does not seek confrontations with Iran.  Iran should expect that we and other countries will defend our interests of peace and stability in the Middle East.  Iran is the country that is being isolated for this reason.  Iran needs to learn to respect the power and will of the international community. 
    Iran is no longer on the offensive, but is rather on the defensive.  We are hoping that the Iranian people are against their current leaders, who do not have their best interests in mind.
    Some final words about Israel.  We are committed to our alliance with Israel.  We continue to be Israel's strongest security partner.  Our meeting today was a very useful exchange.  The USA and Israel have similar strategic interests. 
    Twenty years ago I worked in the American Consulate in Jerusalem.  I can't remember a time that the relationship between our two countries was as strong as it is today.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Syria and Iran to boost communication cooperation

    Syria and Iran to boost communication cooperation
    Sunday, January 21, 2007 - 07:45 PM
    [SANA is the Syrian government News Agency]

    TEHRAN, (SANA) - Minister of Communication and Technology Amr Salem discussed with Iranian counterpart Mohammed Solimani Sunday ways of enhancing the cooperation relations between Syria and Iran in all fields particularly the communication and informatics technology sectors.

                Both sides agreed on following up the implementation of all agreements signed between the two countries.
                Salem pointed out that all agreements and memos of understanding signed between Syria and Iran should be put in force in order to realize the required goals and results.
                For his part, Solimani underscored his country's keenness on making the agreements signed between Syria and Iran a success.Earlier, Salem underlined, when meeting Governor of the Iranian Province of Mashhad Mohammadi Zadah, the importance of developing the joint cooperation between Syria and Iran in all fields.
                He pointed out to the joint projects implemented between the two countries, stressing the significance of the Syrian-Iranian bilateral relations and the necessity of developing them in all domains.
                "We have great chances for establishing joint cooperation between Syria and Iran," the Minister noted.

                On the other hand, Minister Salem discussed with Iranian Minister of Housing & Urban Development Mohammed Saidi-Kia ways of developing the joint cooperation between Syria and Iran in the communication
    and technology fields in a way that serves both countries interests.
               For his part, Saidi-Kia underscored the necessity of working hard for enhancing the joint cooperation between Syria and Iran and removing all obstacles that may hinder it.
    A.Zeitoun / Ghossoun

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Haniyeh: condition for truce: Right of Return

    "He also said that his government will accept a state on the pre-1967 lands, or within the Green Line, with Jerusalem as its capital. He stressed the right of return for the refugees and the release of the detainees as a precondition for a truce, not for recognition of the Israeli state."
    Haniyeh addresses crowds in Gaza on the occasion of the new Hijri year
    Date: 22 / 01 / 2007  Time:  10:45
    Gaza - Ma'an - Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has declared that there will be no concessions made in regard to the principles of the Palestinian lands. He confirmed that his government values having relations with all countries and mentioned that Mahmoud Zahhar will be visiting many countries in Latin America soon.

    Haniyeh added, "We are not against reopening dialogue with anyone, even the USA. We don't have anything to be afraid of or to hide; our problem is with the Israelis and negotiations with them, as this experience has proven to be a failure."

    Speaking in a festival on the occasion of the new Hijri (Islamic) year in Gaza he said, "We will be honest about the heritage of this nation and will not give up any inch of the Palestinian land." He called on the Palestinians to stand firm and face the siege imposed on them.

    The festival was organized by the ministry of religious endowments and Islamic affairs ('Waqf') at the grand Omari Mosque in Gaza City. Many ministers and Palestinian Legislative Committee members attended the celebration.

    Haniyeh, who delivered a long speech in which he spoke about the occasion and the immigration of the prophet Mohammad to Mecca, spoke also about politics and the current events in the territories and called on Palestinians to be patient. He said, "We are working in order to satisfy God, we are not seeking posts or ministries, but we will not give up any of our rights in Palestine or Jerusalem, or the right to return." He stressed the role of the mosques and the religious people and said that they are the source of faith and hope. He also said that the Palestinian government is a "Muslim government project on Palestinian land."

    He also said that his government will accept a state on the pre-1967 lands, or within the Green Line, with Jerusalem as its capital. He stressed the right of return for the refugees and the release of the detainees as a precondition for a truce, not for recognition of the Israeli state.

    Haniyeh said the national dialogue to end the chaos and disorder will be resumed soon in Gaza and expressed hope that it will achieve the formation of the unity government. He also spoke about the oppression that Palestinians are facing at the hands of the Israelis and also spoke about the Palestinians in Iraq and what they are facing at the hands of militias. He called on the Iraqi government to protect them. He also urged the Arab countries to protect the Palestinian refugees in their countries.

    The prime minister spoke about the dangers which the Al Aqsa Mosque is facing and Israeli plans to judaize the holy city of Jerusalem. He also urged the Arab and Muslim countries to intervene in this issue and to pressurize Israel to halt its plans in the city.

    In the end of his speech, Haniyeh called upon Palestinians to abandon the use of weapons and to be united.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Prof. Bernard Lewis: Broad Perspective on the Middle East Conflicts

    Prof. Bernard Lewis: Broad Perspective on the Middle East Conflicts

    I will use this platform as an opportunity to situate the events of this region in a wider picture.

    The collapse of the USSR meant more than the end of the Cold War, but the end of an era in the Middle East. This is the end of the 200 years era which began when Napoleon came to Egypt. The only opportunities to the Middle East rulers were to play one power against the other. We saw it in World War II and during the Cold War.

    The end of the Cold War was a change of cosmic dimension in the region. It took some years for the leaders of the region to adjust. Some still continued to play for a few years the same game of the Cold War.

    Now the outside powers are not as interested in the Middle East as they were before. This means going back to older patterns. The primary identity of the Middle East countries is religious, not national or ethnic. It is always the Muslims against the rest. The task is to bring Islam to all the rest of mankind. This is the Muslims duty. Christianity "plays" the same competitive game.

    There is an ongoing battle between the two religions. In the seventh century the Muslims did well and conquered part of France and Spain. The second successful attempt was made by the Ottoman empire. What we see today is the third attempt, with aspirations that this is the "third lucky" time. We see in Muslim writings that the struggle has already begun.

    There are competing leaders to take this fight ahead. The Sunni Wahabbi cause represented by bin-Laden. Another is the Shiite version which began with the first Iranian revolution, and the second Iranian revolution occurring now.

    The second major change of the end of the Bonaparte phase - is increased internal conflict in the area. This has sometimes appeared as a rivalry inside the Arab world. Now it is between the Sunni and Shiite (between "Protestants" and "Catholics").

    The difference between them is an important one.

    The word revolution is very important in the region. The Iranian revolution was a genuine one like the French one. It resonated far outside the country - East and West, and is still resonating. This is a major threat to the Middle East Sunni countries.

    Saadat made peace with Israel due to rational calculations. In the recent Lebanon war Israel was cheered by moderate Sunni states, who were disappointed that Israel could not win over the Shiite branch. There are some who are willing to put aside their conflict with Israel in order to deal with the more immediate and intimate danger.

    One more aspect of the second phase of the Iranian revolution: Ahmedinejad truly believes in the apocalyptic message he is bringing. This makes him very dangerous. The "Mutual Assured Destruction" is not a deterrent, but an inducement to him.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    University of Haifa study of impact of Lebanon war on Holocaust survivors

    Press Release
    January 21, 2007
    Research at the Center for Research and Study of Aging at the University of Haifa reveals:

    A quarter of the Holocaust survivors living in northern Israel that were released from hospitalization shortly before the war were in immediate need of help during the Second Lebanon War, but the some of the local authorities were unaware of their needs.

    Researchers found relatively high levels of depression, somatization and
    loneliness among Holocaust survivors who were residents of Haifa and northern Israel during this summer's war. The research was conducted by Prof. Ariela Lowenstein, Dr. Dana Parilutzky, Ms. Batya Rappaport and Ms. Dafna Halperin of the Center for Research and Study of Aging at the University of Haifa, conducted on behalf of the Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Survivors in Israel. The research was presented at a conference at the University of Haifa on January 18, 2007, entitled: "The War That Hasn't Ended - Holocaust Survivors in Traumatic Situations in Israel".

    The study found a quarter of the survivors in immediate need of personal care at home, food or medicine. "The study demonstrated the need for organizing and developing a program specifically for elderly Holocaust survivors that will answer their basic functional and emotional needs," stated Prof. Lowenstein, head of the Center for Research and Study of Aging.

    The Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Survivors in Israel provides services for Holocaust survivors after hospitalization. Following the Second Lebanon War, which was an especially traumatic event for the elderly survivors living in northern Israel, the foundation decided to initiate a survey to evaluate the emotional state of survivors who had recently been released from hospitals and outline their instrumental needs.

    The survey identified three main areas of need: home care, medical care and medications and food supplies. Many home care workers left the area fearing the dangers of the Katyusha rockets. Many medical clinics were closed during the war, rendering medical care and medications inaccessible. The lack of mobility of some of these elderly survivors prevented them from acquiring adequate food supplies. About a third of the survivors found themselves living alone, unable to take care of their basic needs. The study found 25% of the survivors in immediate need of assistance and that the some of the local authorities were unaware of these needs. Following the survey, the Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Survivors in Israel promoted coordinated efforts with the municipalities, local associations for the aged and volunteers to provide immediate assistance to those in need.

    The survey also found relatively high rates of, depression, somatization and loneliness among survey participants. Common responses to the researchers' questions were: "I keep taking tranquilizers,", "I don't have anything to live for,", "If I had the courage, I would kill myself."

    Prof. Lowenstein reported that researchers from the Center for Research and Study of Aging together with the Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Survivors in Israel are currently working on a program that will train professional teams to deal with the special needs of Holocaust survivors in traumatic situations, based on the findings of the survey.

    University of Haifa
    Communication and Media Relations
    Mount Carmel, Haifa, 31905 Phone: 04-8240092/4 8240402 Fax: 04-8246995    e-mail:

    IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Israel's actions are more important than Carter's words

    Israel's actions are more important than Carter's words

    The controversy over Jimmy Carter's silly book is mostly about Jimmy Carter,  not about the facts of the Israeli-Arab crisis. It is about Carter's book tour and Carter's thoughts about Israel and Carter expressing his opinion on the Jewish question, and Carter's confabulatory cartography. In the heat of the argument, the real points at issue are obscured.
    In the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Jim Wooten offers a critique of good ole Jimmy Carter from his home state, and the author is not a "Jewish Organization."
    Wooten believes America has to support Israel for reasons that have nothing to do with Carter's book. He points out:
    For me this is not a time to be equivocal, either about Iraq , Iran , Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas or our commitments to friends who believe in our word.Israel's right to exist has never been affirmed by its enemies. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vows to see it destroyed. Palestinians chose a terrorist organization, Hamas, in parliamentary elections a year ago. Syria arms Hezbollah, which seeks to destroyIsrael , as Syria would directly if it could. For my part, there can be no "balance" in U.S. policy in the region.

    Retreating from Gaza in the summer of 2005, Israel did something this country would never have done, sending 25,000 soldiers to haul 8,500 of its citizens from their abodes, sacrificing their homes and land to the prospect of peace. What did they get in return? A rain of missiles. With that example, with Hezbollah and Hamas, and a frighteningly dangerous leader in Iran who is no more than five years away from nuclear weaponry "- sworn enemies all "- you'll not find a word here that undermines support in this country for Israel . That was surely not Carter's intentions, but I fear it will be a consequence.We have one permanent friend in the region and that is Israel .

    When longtime Carter supporters speak out, as Stein and Konner and board members who resigned last week did, the rest of us should listen.
    People forget very quickly that Israel undertook the disengagement as a major concession that would hopefully rekindle the peace process. Now we are left with Qassam rockets, Kidnapped soldiers and Hamas threats, and the international powers who are so eager to pressure Israel to grant concessions for "peace" offer no relief.  If Mr. Carter really wants to promote his book, perhaps he should do his next TV appearance from Sderot. Such visits are likely to be interrupted by rocket fire, even after Israel agreed to a "truce."  The facts get lost in red-herring arguments about apartheid and "war -crimes" and the sinister "Israel-Lobby."  Thanks for reminding us, Jim Wooten.
    Ami Isseroff
    Sunday, January 21, 2007
    Carter aside, Israel deserves total support

    By Jim Wooten
    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    At some point, the names matter. And so, too, do their words.

    Whenever another person long invested in the passions of Jimmy Carter feels so betrayed by the assertions in his latest book that they divorce themselves from his legacy work, the rest of us should surely take notice.When they, loyalists such as former Ambassador William B. Schwartz Jr., scholars such as Kenneth Stein and Melvin Konner, public people never given to impetuousness, such as former state Rep. Cathey Steinberg and former De Kalb CEO Liane Levetan, when they - and others whose contributions to the betterment of this state and nation are renown - walkaway from the most important figure most of them will ever know, the world should take notice. And ask why.

    In their farewell, the language is of a pained, bewildered soul forced to consider that they had misread, misjudged or been betrayed by a beloved and trusted friend. "I love Jimmy Carter and I've always loved Jimmy Carter," said Barbara Babbit Kaufman, one of the 14 who resigned last week as members of the Carter Center's board of councilors, along with Schwartz, Steinberg, Levetan and others. "But this isn ot the Jimmy Carter that I've always known and loved." she said. Konner, the Samuel Dobbs Professor of Anthropology at Emory and the author of "Unsettled: An Anthropology of the Jews," wrote as much in a powerful AJC op-ed jus tbefore Christmas. "Carter has changed," wrote Konner."Something has happened to his judgment. I don't understand what it is, but I know it is very dangerous." He wrote too:"[Carter] has become a spokesman for the enemies of my people. He has become an apologist for terrorists."

    Stein, a Middle East expert and the first executive director of the Carter Center , parted company expressing similar views and distress. In each case, their actions are minimized or discounted: The 14 are among a 200-member advisory board; the 21-member board of trustees is the important one. But the names and the language chosen by careful and precise scholars and people whose lives reflect soundness, judgment and balance reflect a concern the rest of us should share that Carter's book"Palestine: Peace not Apartheid" chooses sides with harmful and lasting consequence. It's a legitimate worry. This is not a tempest-in-a-teapot, a spat or a quarrel among friends.The matter of Israel 's survival and this country's relationship with it is much too consequential to discuss in the normal language of political debate. But I do sense a growing willingness, on the left especially, to regard Israel as the villain and America as the enabler. As the war in Iraq has grown more unpopular in thiscountry, there's an eagerness to make peace, or at least the illusion of peace, so that we can get out.If we leave in defeat, the entire world knows we won't go back, even in defense of Israel , for at least the time it took to recover from Vietnam .

    For me this is not a time to be equivocal, either about Iraq , Iran , Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas or our commitments to friends who believe in our word.Israel's right to exist has never been affirmed by its enemies. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vows to see it destroyed. Palestinians chose a terrorist organization, Hamas, in parliamentary elections a year ago. Syria arms Hezbollah, which seeks to destroyIsrael , as Syria would directly if it could. For my part, there can be no "balance" in U.S. policy in the region.

    Retreating from Gaza in the summer of 2005, Israel did something this country would never have done, sending 25,000 soldiers to haul 8,500 of its citizens from their abodes, sacrificing their homes and land to the prospect of peace. What did they get in return? A rain of missiles. With that example, with Hezbollah and Hamas, and a frighteningly dangerous leader in Iran who is no more than five years away from nuclear weaponry "- sworn enemies all "- you'll not find a word here that undermines support in this country for Israel . That was surely not Carter's intentions, but I fear it will be a consequence.We have one permanent friend in the region and that is Israel .

    When longtime Carter supporters speak out, as Stein and Konner and board members who resigned last week did, the rest of us should listen.

    Jim Wooten is associate editorial page editor.

    His column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Abbas Expresses Commitment to National Dialogue

    Abbas Expresses Commitment to National Dialogue

    DAMASCUS, January 21, 2007, (WAFA - PLO  news agency) - President Mahmoud
    Abbas affirmed Sunday the necessity to continue national dialogue leading to
    the formation of a national unity government.

    Following a meeting in Damascus with the Head of Hamas Political Bureau,
    Khaled Meshal, the President confirmed his commitment to persist talks over
    unity government and his rejection to the use of violence between
    Palestinians, stressing on the sanctity of the Palestinian blood.

    The President discussed with Meshal the ways to reactivate and reconstruct
    the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), hoping to unleash steps during
    a month.

    He also expressed his complete rejection to the solution of a state of
    temporary borders.

    For his part, Meshal pointed out that the only way to solve political
    differences is through dialogue, expressing his pleasant to meet President

    H.M (23:30 P)-(21:30 GMT)

    IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    The Tal Law blunder

    The Tal Law blunder
    By Shahar Ilan

    Here is a word of advice for former judges and public figures who are asked to head public committees: Before responding in the affirmative, ask to meet with retired justice Zvi Tal. You will be able to hear from him how, during four and a half years, the Finance Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces thwarted the Tal Commission's recommendations, and no one cared and no one took them to task.
    If you still have not lost your desire to head a committee, to hear testimony for months on end, to persevere in gathering material, to invest effort, to negotiate, to mediate and to compromise and to write a long report, don't say no one warned you. Chances are your report, too, will be buried deep in the bottomless drawer of committee reports, from which there is no escape.
    The Tal Commission proposed a way that young ultra-Orthodox men could leave the yeshiva for the workforce. This path included a year for making decisions at age 22, during which the yeshiva student could work or study and become accustomed to life outside the yeshiva. At the year's end, the students are supposed to do a shortened form of military or national service.
    True, this was an extremely problematic compromise; and even former justice Tal said it was not fair. But it was nevertheless essential. There is no practical possibility of conscripting yeshiva students by coercion. The subsequent social rift would be too great, and the army would not benefit from such conscripts. Therefore, by default, it is preferable to make do with a short service, military or civilian, and to make it possible at least for the ultra-Orthodox to enter the workforce.
    In reality, the army demanded the yeshiva students do prolonged service, despite their advanced age, and this led to many of them preferring to return to the yeshiva. The treasury refused to fund the civilian service. The two factors together acted as jail wardens, forcing the yeshiva students to remain at their studies.
    The politicians also cannot be excused from blame. Because that is how our politicians are - they will never deal with a problem today that can be put off for another five years. From the minute the Tal Law was passed, the system went into slumber mode. The repression was so deep it must be asked whether the legal and political system possibly might have forgotten that the law has to be extended, had the fact not been published yesterday in Haaretz.
    The lost years were one big missed opportunity. Even if only a thousand yeshiva students had done some significant military or civilian service during this period, it would have created a social change and a different atmosphere among the ultra-Orthodox public. Therefore, the Tal Law affair is a blunder, one worth probing by the state comptroller, and Justice Tal should call for such an investigation.
    Coalition MKs will soon face the following dilemma: On the one hand, they will want to prevent Shas from leaving the government and the coalition from disintegrating as a result of the vote for extending the Tal Law; after all, Shas cannot allow itself to leave the yeshiva students without a law to protect them from being conscripted. On the other hand, even a strong pill against nausea will not help in a vote on behalf of extending the law after it has been trampled on and debased for four and a half years.
    There is also a good chance the High Court of Justice will invalidate the law. The justices have already said that if the law was not applied before five years are up, it could become unconstitutional. That is why a proposal has been brought before the Knesset to extend the validity of the Tal Law only under the following conditions:
    The law will be extended for one year only, so it will be possible to follow its application. If there is a way to persuade the High Court not to invalidate the new law, it is only a very short extension. The Knesset Finance Committee will simultaneously approve a budget for 500 positions in civilian service. The defense minister will commit himself from the Knesset plenum to permitting yeshiva students to do a shortened service.
    At the same time, it is important to remember that the ultra-Orthodox Torah sages have also done nothing to see the law applied. To this day, there are numerous yeshiva students who are not even aware of the Tal option. The ultra-Orthodox leaders must understand that if they do not take steps to promote the law, the solutions that will replace it will be much more difficult - for example, the quota system will again come up and will gain popularity.
    The claims that there are people in North Tel Aviv who also avoid military service will not help. The truth is that some 95 percent of the ultra-Orthodox do no significant military service, while among the secular, there are only a handful (even if they stand out) who avoid it, and this is severe discrimination between one person's blood and another's.
    Therefore, anyone who does not wish once again to open up the deep rift between the ultra-Orthodox and the secular over the conscription of yeshiva students must seek a real solution. Another attempt to anesthetize this deep and painful wound will not work.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    The State of Judea

    The State of Judea
    By Danny Rubinstein
    In the 1980s, with the peace agreement with Egypt and the Israeli withdrawal from Sinai, Kach movement activist Michael Ben-Horin founded what he and his friends called "the State of Judea."
    Their intention was symbolic: to indicate a possible alternative to Israeli rule in the West Bank, if and when Israel withdraws from the territories.
    Ben-Horin took for himself the title of president of the State of Judea. Later he was one of the editors of the book Baruch Hagever, which eulogized Baruch Goldstein, the Tomb of the Patriarchs murderer, and was one of the heroes of the pulsa denura - the death curse - hounding of Yitzhak Rabin.
    The hard core of settlers in Judea and Samaria, veterans of Gush Emunim, do not absolutely identify with Ben-Horin and his colleagues. They have also never declared the possibility of establishing a separate state in the West Bank along the lines of the State of Judea. However, in many respects, with the encouragement of the governments of Israel and under their auspices, a state entity with a character of its own has indeed been established in the West Bank.
    At one time, there was a lot of talk about how rule over the Palestinian people is corrupting Israel. It was said it's impossible to maintain a democracy in an Israel that's ruling over a foreign people, and that the manifestations of violence and corruption in Israeli society will increase because of the denial of rights to the Palestinians.
    It is difficult to measure these phenomena and to discover their source, but it can be stated rather clearly that this hasn't happened. Democracy in Israel is quite stable; the rule of law is intact, and there are ongoing efforts to combat violence and corruption. In other words, the society within the State of Israel is running itself more or less properly, with no connection to what is being done in the territories. That is to say, a separation has developed: The State of Israel is one thing and the West Bank, or the State of Judea, is something else.
    Examples abound. In just the newspapers of this just last week there was a long series of articles about the settlers of Hebron and Tel Rumeida, the death of the little girl in Anata from Border Police fire, the 124 furloughs from prison granted to Ami Popper, who was sentenced to life for killing Palestinians, and the investigative report in Haaretz on the routine of orders, prohibitions and roadblocks that have effectively emptied the roads of the West Bank of Arab cars. In the Palestinian newspapers, every day there are dozens of reports of this sort, which show that the way of life in the State of Judea bears no resemblance to what is happening inside Israel.
    Three bodies control the state beyond the Green Line: the Shin Bet security service and the Israeli military establishment; a limping Palestinian Authority; and the Jewish settlers' councils.
    In the settlers' community, life is exemplary. There is a high level of solidarity and mutual aid. This is perhaps the only place in the land where drivers pick up hitchhikers. The settlers pay great attention to the details of life in their settlements, especially with regard to religious matters. They ask their rabbis whether there is a risk of slander in one act, or of theft in another, at least when it has to do with their colleagues. But if these things have to do with Arabs, it is a different story. Then they are insensitive and cruel. Every day, as they drive on the roads, the settlers see the distress of their neighbors from the villages suffering at the roadblocks and trailing along the tracks in the hills to scrape out a living, or to get to a field, to school or to a clinic. Their claim is that it is all the fault of terror. And when they are told that it is wrong to punish an entire population, they say anyone who feels pity for the cruel will end up being cruel to those who deserve pity.
    A woman from Machsom Watch has told me that a few months ago she saw a setters' demonstration near the southern entrance to the Jewish town of Efrata in the Etzion Bloc. In the morning hours, the Jews of the area have difficult problems with transportation to Jerusalem. The Tunnels Road from the Etzion Bloc north is one big traffic jam. Heading the demonstrators was a local rabbi, who complained of "the damage to the sanctity of the freedom of movement." The settlers' freedom of movement, of course; they must suffer because on a part of this road a few Palestinian cars also travel and an IDF roadblock has to inspect them and delay traffic. In the State of Judea, it is permissible to hurt only Arabs. Do not disturb the Jews.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    The real Iranian threat

    The real Iranian threat
    By Shlomo Cohen

    Concern has been growing in Israel about Iran's nuclear program. Various intelligence organizations throughout the world are competing in their assessments of when Iran will become nuclear-capable. Plus there are various estimates of how far Iran will be able to fire nuclear weapons. It seems that every teenager in Israel is familiar with the ranges of Shihab-2 and Shihab-3 missiles, and many people believe that the combination of Iran's nuclear capability and launch and strike capabilities pose an existential threat to Israel, perhaps even to Europe and beyond.
    The hysteria in Israel on this matter is not justified, but the danger it faces is much greater than that posed by Iranian nukes. It is hard to imagine that a nuclear Iran will attack Israel with non-conventional weapons. The real concern is that the nuclear capability will give it greater freedom of action in using conventional means.
    In the short nuclear history of humanity, there has been no instance in which a nuclear-capable country used nuclear weapons against another state with similar capability. At a recent conference in Washington, D.C., Senator Hillary Clinton expressed the opinion there is no real concern that Iran would attack Israel with a nuclear weapon. Why is that? "Because it will be wiped out," Clinton said. Indeed there are many countries that pretend to be mad and not deterred by the idea of a preemptive strike. But human experience suggests there are very few countries that are really crazy.
    The main advantage, perhaps the only one, that nuclear weapons gives to a state, is defense against attacks. This is the real meaning of a nuclear-capable Iran. Currently Iran is exposed to attacks on the part of other powers, both from the region a