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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Palestinains will ask for control over more West Bank cities

"Palestinian official tells Ynet that Abbas is scheduled to ask Olmert in
Sunday's meeting that Israel hand over responsibility over West Bank towns
to Palestinians; PA security forces training to handle anarchy"
A guard was stabbed at a Palestinian university today. If they want control over their cities, they need to get it back from the people creating anarchy.


Palestinian official tells Ynet that Abbas is scheduled to ask Olmert in Sunday's meeting that Israel hand over responsibility over West Bank towns  to Palestinians; PA security forces training to handle anarchy
Ali Waked Published: 04.14.07, 19:13 / Israel News,7340,L-3387807,00.html

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will ask Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during their meeting Sunday that Israel hand over control over several West Bank towns to the Palestinians, a PA official told Ynet.

The official added that the Palestinian Authority had already prepared a comprehensive security scheme so that they could receive control.....

"We will present our plan to the Israelis. It clarifies how we intend to impose order and security in the towns that Israel would be willing to hand over to us," he said, "including what we plan to do regarding all the wanted people in these places...."

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Israelis and Jordanians to discuss Saudi Initiative, but it is just talk

Israeli FM Livni and Jordanian FM Abdelelah Al-Khatib will meet in Amman tomorrow, April 15, to discuss the Saudi initiative.
Any time people talk peace it is good. But the terms are not meaningful:
But Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Saturday told reporters that while one of the working groups might contact Israeli officials, he did not expect any negotiations.

"These groups are not mandated to negotiate and I do not imagine that they will negotiate on behalf of anyone, whether the Palestinians, Syria or Lebanon," he said.

The mission of the working groups would be to "lay out the political idea behind the Arab effort and explain what is meant by land for peace," the minister added.

"I imagine that this group which talks with Israel will be from countries which have diplomatic relations with Israel, one country or more and not necessarily Egypt," Aboul Gheit said.
If so, the Arabs are apparently offering nothing packaged as something. It is a promise to recognize Israel if Israel makes peace with other countries, but it is not binding in any way. After Israel concludes agreements, the Arab states can back out.
Ami Isseroff

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Syria is serious - about war or about peace?

Syria is certainly serious about war, whether or not they are serious about peace. Israel should be taking both possibilities much more seriously.

Yaakov Katz, THE JERUSALEM POST Apr. 12, 2007
While the Knesset heard about potential scenarios for reaching peace with Damascus on Thursday, senior defense officials warned of an unprecedented military buildup in Syria and said that prevailing in a war with Israel's northeastern neighbor would not be as simple as some might have been led to believe.

Following the Second Lebanon War, IDF Military Intelligence noticed a change within the Syrian military. Syria feels empowered by Hizbullah's surprising success last summer and Damascus now believes it can use Hizbullah-like tactics in a future confrontation with Israel and possibly even defeat the once-thought-to-be invincible IDF.

"For years we thought that the IDF had a clear upper hand over Syria's military," a top official told The Jerusalem Post. "After the war in Lebanon we now know that this assumption was not accurate."

Syria has emphasized missile development in recent months. According to Western sources, Syria has the ability to independently manufacture Scud missiles, and it has 300 of them deployed just north of the demilitarized zone in the Syrian part of the Golan Heights.

A division of some 10,000 troops is responsible for operating the missiles, which include an small number of Scud D's with a range of 700 kilometers and said to be capable of carrying nonconventional warheads. Syria has close to 30 launchers for its Scud missiles, according to foreign sources.

Syria keeps the projectiles in bunkers at several locations; most are in a valley near Hama, where it has built a missile electronic and assembly facility.

Syria has a massive military divided into 12 divisions and totaling close to 400,000 soldiers at full mobilization.

One of the divisions is made up of 10,000 elite commandos, a formidable force that would serve as Syria's first line in an offensive against the IDF.

Since the Second Lebanon War, Syria has established new commando units and is said to have increased urban and guerrilla warfare training.

"Syria saw the difficulty the IDF had during the fighting inside the southern Lebanese villages and now the military there wants to draw us - in the event of a war - into battles in built-up areas where they think they will have the upper hand," explained a source in the IDF Northern Command.

Over the last year, the Syrian military has made only two major acquisitions: a number of advanced Russian anti-aircraft systems called Stretlets. It has not received new fighter jets, tanks or armored personnel carriers for a number of years.

According to Yiftah Shapir - a researcher with the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University - the Syrian military plans to use short-range Katyushas alongside the long-range ballistic Scuds in any future conflict with Israel.

"Syria was impressed by Hizbullah's strategic success, with its use of small rockets and Israel's inability to neutralize them," Shapir said. "This is a weapon that is not traditionally used in conventional wars, but can be."

While Ibrahim "Abe" Suleiman - the Syrian national who appeared before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and DefenseCommittee on Thursday - might be right in his prediction that peace between Israel and Syria is possible, war, officials said, was no longer impossible.

Both militaries have raised their level of alert along the border and while the IDF has increased its presence on the Golan Heights - mostly with troops who are training - the Syrians have also moved units as well as military infrastructure closer to the border.

In satellite images broadcast this week on CBN News in the US, reporter Chris Mitchell revealed Syria's three major missile sites. One site - referred to as the "heart" of Syria's missile program - is in Hama, where a weapons factory is surrounded by more than 30 hardened concrete bunkers that house multiple launchers and missiles. In just minutes, experts said, these launchers could deliver more than a ton of nonconventional warheads anywhere in Israel.

Another missile site near Homs contains a previously undisclosed chemical warhead facility where a drive-through building leads to a facility where warheads are installed on ballistic missiles.

These images do not necessarily indicate that Syria plans to attack Israel, but they do send a clear message to the IDF and the Israeli leadership: Do not underestimate us.

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Israel and the Kurds - What is Israel really doing in Iraq?

Imaginative reports about Zionist plots in Iraq were not all wrong, just mostly. This might not be the whole story either of course.

Kurdistan's Covert Back-Channels

News: How an ex-Mossad chief, a German uberspy, and a gaggle of top-dollar GOP lobbyists helped Kurdistan snag 15 tons of $100 bills.

By Laura Rozen

Mother Jones

April 11, 2007

In June 2004, journalist Seymour Hersh reported in the New Yorker that Israelis operating in northern Iraq under the guise of businessmen were in fact cultivating Kurdish proxies to gather intelligence in preparation for possible future action against Iran. About the same time, I too was hearing about Israelis operating in Kurdish northern Iraq. First, from a former senior American diplomat who was invited by an Israeli American businessman to advise the Kurds on how to get billions of dollars they believed they were owed from the Saddam Hussein-era United Nations Oil-for-Food program. The diplomat gave me the Israeli's name-Shlomi Michaels-and phone numbers for Michaels in Beverly Hills, Turkey, and Israel. The diplomat had walked away from the project, put off by Michaels' temper, and also, he said, by doubts about what Michaels was really up to, and who he might really be working for.

So I was intrigued when, last summer, I read in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Shlomi Michaels had become the subject of an Israeli government investigation for allegedly operating in Iraq without the required authorization from the Israeli authorities. Not only had I known about Michaels for two years, I had spent about as long trying to understand if the Bush administration would embrace the regime-change policy of its Iran hawks, who believe that the solution to Iran's nuclear ambitions is to promote mass uprisings of ethnic minority and dissident groups such as the Kurds.

For much of the past year, I have been digging into the story of Shlomi Michaels' operations in Kurdistan, and his connections in Israel, the United States, and around the world. My investigation took me to Israel early last fall, shortly after the Israeli war with Hezbollah, to talk with Israeli officials investigating Michaels, as well as one of Michaels' long-time American associates, and Michaels' business partner, the former Mossad chief Danny Yatom.

What I found was not the story I had expected. Instead of Michaels being part of a covert operation to set up anti-Iranian proxies in Kurdish Iraq, I discovered that Michaels and his associates were part of an effort by the Kurds and their allies to lobby the West for greater power in Iraq, and greater clout in Washington, and at the same time, by a group of Israeli ex security officials to rekindle good relations with their historical allies the Kurds through joint infrastructure, economic development, and security projects. It was, in other words, a story about influence-building, buying, and profit, albeit with subplots that were equal parts John le Carre and Keystone Kops, and a cast of characters ranging from ex-Mossad head Yatom to a former German superspy, with Israeli counterterrorism commandos, Kurdish political dynasties, powerful American lobbyists, Turkish business tycoons thrown in-not to mention millions of dollars stashed in Swiss bank accounts.

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Peace talks in Jordan?

What has worked so well for one Abdullah, might work even better for the other one...

Last update - 16:05 14/04/2007   
By Haaretz Service and Agencies

Jordan's King Abdullah II has invited politicians and peace activists from Israel, the United States and the Palestinian territories for discussions in Amman as part of an effort to push forward the stalled Middle East peace process, officials said Saturday.
Among Israeli politicians due to visit Jordan next week is Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik. She will visit Amman on Thursday for a few hours to discuss efforts to revive peace talks, Jordanian officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with palace protocol.
Itzik, who is also acting president, will be the most senior Israeli official to visit Jordan since Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made a surprise visit to Amman at Abdullah's invitation last December.
The king plans to discuss "means of reviving the peace process on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative" that was readopted in an Arab summit conference Riyadh at the end of March, a senior royal court official said.
Abdullah urged Israelis earlier this week to respond to the Arab blueprint, which he said provided for a "rare opportunity" for achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Arab peace plan envisages extending recognition to Israel by all Arab states after it pulls out from all the Arab territories it gained in the 1967 Six-Day War, including East Jerusalem.
Israel has generally welcomed the initiative, but has expressed reservations, specifically over the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in what is now Israel.
The Riyadh conference formed a pan-Arab panel to visit the world's influential capitals to muster support for the Arab plan.
King Abdullah visited Paris on Wednesday, where he met with French President Jacques Chirac and sought the support of France and other European Union capitals for the initiative.
U.S.: Israel, PA could begin talks on final status issues by summer
Israelis and Palestinians could begin final status talks this summer, a senior United States official said Friday, in a sign the U.S. believes some progress is possible despite a myriad of obstacles.
"We are not there yet. It could be possible to get to that point within the next few months, by summer," the official said. "I think it has to be an effort by Israelis and Palestinians but also by Arabs too."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to visit the Middle East roughly once a month, a senior State Department official said, stressing the Bush administration's desire to promote peace in its final two years.
In interviews this week, senior U.S. officials also emphasized their desire to see Arab states like Saudi Arabia begin to engage with Israel, possibly providing political cover for Palestinians to make compromises should any genuine peace negotiation begin.
Earlier Friday, the Prime Minister's Office said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is ready to begin discussing with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday the legal, economic and governmental structures of a future Palestinian state.
The comments were the first by Olmert's office spelling out what so-called "political horizon" talks with Abbas will entail.
The prime minister's spokeswoman Miri Eisin said Olmert and Abbas will "start talking about what a Palestinian state would look like."
Eisin said this would include "the type of legal system, economic system [and] government system that it would have."
But two officials in Olmert's office said the three main final status issues - defining the borders of a Palestinian state, the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees - would not be on the agenda when the prime minister meets Abbas in Jerusalem.
Olmert will not discuss with Abbas "the three hardest, central issues" - borders, Jerusalem and refugees," Eisin said.
Sunday's talks will be the first between Olmert and Abbas since they agreed, during a visit to the region by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last month, to meet once every two weeks.
Olmert has said Abbas's unity government with Hamas Islamists, and the continued captivity of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, meant that no real progress towards Palestinian statehood could be made in their face-to-face meetings.
Washington has been pushing Israel to help create a "political horizon" to give Palestinians hope of achieving statehood.
Eisin said Sunday's talks would take place at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem, rather than in the West Bank city of Jericho as proposed by the Palestinians. She said holding the next meeting in Jericho was a "possibility."
In addition to security and humanitarian matters, and the "political horizon" issues, Olmert and Abbas are expected on Sunday to discuss the fate of Shalit, who was seized last June by militants from Hamas and two other armed groups who tunnelled into Israel from Gaza.
Eisin sought to play down expectations. "The Shalit issue is not one that Abu Mazen [Abbas] can resolve," she said.
A deal on Shalit, after months of deadlock, could be key to any progress in talks between Olmert and Abbas.
Abbas is pushing for Olmert to hold talks based on an Arab land-for-peace initiative but Olmert has been reluctant to commit.
Last month Arab leaders revived their 5-year-old peace plan that offers Israel normal ties with all Arab states in return for a full withdrawal from the lands it captured in the 1967 Six-Day War, creation of a Palestinian state and a "just solution" for Palestinian refugees.
Abbas and Olmert last met in Jerusalem on March 11.

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Politically correct in UK: Avoid teaching about Holocaust and Crusades

A report finds that some some British schools have dropped course material on the Holocaust and on the Crusades for fear of offending Muslims. Next step is to drop material on evolution, because that offends Christians, and to drop material on nutrition, because that might offend vegetarians or another group.
"The Truth" will be defined as whatever everyone finds acceptable, especially if they threaten to blow themselves up in your classroom if you do not do as they say. The final evolution of "democracy" will be thought control by terror.
However, please do not exaggerate the importance of this report. "The UK" as a whole did not drop the Holocaust or the Crusades from school curricula, as some hoax letters are claiming.
Ami Isseroff

Daily Mail
By LAURA CLARK -  Last updated at 11:58am on 2nd April 2007

Schools are dropping the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils, a Governmentbacked study has revealed.

It found some teachers are reluctant to cover the atrocity for fear of upsetting students whose beliefs include Holocaust denial.

The findings have prompted claims that some schools are using history 'as a vehicle for promoting political correctness'.

The study, funded by the Department for Education and Skills, looked into 'emotive and controversial' history teaching in primary and secondary schools.

It found some teachers are dropping courses covering the Holocaust at the earliest opportunity over fears Muslim pupils might express anti-Semitic and anti-Israel reactions in class.

The researchers gave the example of a secondary school in an unnamed northern city, which dropped the Holocaust as a subject for GCSE coursework.

The report said teachers feared confronting 'anti-Semitic sentiment and Holocaust denial among some Muslim pupils'.

It added: "In another department, the Holocaust was taught despite anti-Semitic sentiment among some pupils.

"But the same department deliberately avoided teaching the Crusades at Key Stage 3 (11- to 14-year-olds) because their balanced treatment of the topic would have challenged what was taught in some local mosques."

A third school found itself 'strongly challenged by some Christian parents for their treatment of the Arab-Israeli conflict-and the history of the state of Israel that did not accord with the teachings of their denomination'.

The report concluded: "In particular settings, teachers of history are unwilling to challenge highly contentious or charged versions of history in which pupils are steeped at home, in their community or in a place of worship."

But Chris McGovern, history education adviser to the former Tory government, said: "History is not a vehicle for promoting political correctness. Children must have access to knowledge of these controversial subjects, whether palatable or unpalatable."

The researchers also warned that a lack of subject knowledge among teachers - particularly at primary level - was leading to history being taught in a 'shallow way leading to routine and superficial learning'.

Lessons in difficult topics were too often 'bland, simplistic and unproblematic' and bored pupils.

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Friday, April 13, 2007


This blog entry about Zionism is from Fresno Zionism and it is spot on.

Zionism has become a term of abuse, a "four letter word." It happened because anti-Zionists adopted the term and used it in slogans like "Zionism is Racism." At the same time, real Zionists decided that the word was outmoded, while a few extremists adopted the term to apply only to themselves - advocates of Greater Israel and fans of Rabbi Kahaneh.

The result is evident when you search Google for the keyword "Zionism." A lot of the pages that Google displays are anti-Zionist or anti-Semitic, because real Zionists are often afraid to use the word.

As Fresno Zionism writes, calling the blog "Zionism" is meant to make a point:

to take ownership of the concept of Zionism from those who use it as a term of abuse.

He also notes:

What I'm struggling to do is in effect to say "This is a Zionist point of view" (not the Zionist point of view, a Zionist point of view).

That is a very important point as well. Those who are presenting Zionism need to do it proudly, but to make it clear that they are usually representing their own view of Zionism, not "Zionism."

Ami Isseroff

The other day a friend of mine said "your blog is really interesting…but don't you think calling it Fresno Zionism turns off a lot of possible readers?"

That's the idea, of course. Not to turn off possible readers, that is, but to take ownership of the concept of Zionism from those who use it as a term of abuse.

Continued: Read more about Zionism

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Deja vu all over again: Hamas arming terrorists clandestinely

It states, "Hamas is emerging as the lynchpin of Palestinian terrorist activities against Israel. "
You don't say!

By Ze'ev Schiff and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondents

Security sources on Thursday said Hamas is supporting Islamic Jihad's rocket attacks against Israel with behind-the-scenes activities that include arming the organization's militants with Qassam rockets.
They said Hamas is emerging as the lynchpin of Palestinian terrorist activities against Israel.
While Hamas is maintaining a front of abiding by the cease-fire with Israel in the Gaza Strip, it is providing Qassam rockets to Islamic Jihad militants who are targeting Israeli towns in the south, the security sources said.
Meanwhile, for the first time on Thursday, Hamas extremists openly demonstrated against the leadership of the group.
A group of nearly 200 gunmen from the military wing of Hamas and the Executive Force demonstrated in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip against the unity government and declared that they will only abide by orders from the former foreign and interior ministers, Mahmoud Al-Zahar and Said Sayam.
Another reason for the mutiny revolves around disputes over the identity of the Palestinian prisoners on a list provided to Israel recently, for a possible exchange for the release of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Some of the demonstrators argued that the list of prisoners was prepared by those prisoners' relatives.
A meeting scheduled Wednesday between Nizar Riyan, a senior figure in the political leadership of Hamas, and members of the "rebels" ended with an exchange of gunfire near Riyan's home.
According to security sources, Hamas has adopted a strategy of duality, which will be maintained under all circumstances, including a situation of a general cease-fire. On the basis of this strategy, a Palestinian organization will continue violent activities against Israel notwithstanding a cease-fire.
This was a similar strategy used by Yasser Arafat, who committed the PLO in agreements to preserve cease-fires, but was always careful to retain his ties with extremist organizations that would continue their terrorist activities against Israel.
In the past, Israeli intelligence provided evidence exposing this strategy.
As such, so long as Hamas continues to cooperate with Islamic Jihad, sources say that the value and reliability of a cease-fire agreement is dubious.
The cooperation between Hamas and Islamic Jihad involves an agreement not only to turn a blind eye to the rocket attacks against Israel, but also to provide the militants with the hardware.
It is believed that Hamas had provided Islamic Jihad militants with Russian-made Grad rockets with a range of 16 kilometers, and which were used to target Ashkelon on June 18, 2006.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

The "Muzzle" Watch

The "Muzzle" Watch

One of the current "big lies" circulating across the blogosphere is the alleged "muzzling" of those who differ with Israeli policies. The usual formulation goes something like this: "Those who don't follow AIPAC's line of unquestioning support of the Israeli government's repressive, racist and apartheid policies are prevented from airing their courageous dissent because of the Jewish lobby, led by Alan Dershowitz, Abe Foxman, and the American Jewish Congress". Of course, this completely ignores the fact that viewpoints critical of the Israeli government get wide exposure in the US, Europe, and, of course, Israel. We wrote in detail about this in a previous post.

The folks over at Jewish Voice for Peace have now developed this big lie into a sadly repetitive formula:

More here

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It's official - Bishara to quit knesset

"You won't have Azmi Bishara to kick around any more."
Bishara advocates a single Palestinian state and abolition of Israel. He "warned" the Hamas against concessions, and supports Hezbollah. Riad Ali explains why he could not even get support from Israeli Arabs.
We hate to see you go, Azmi.
Ami Isseroff

Bishara announces plans for Knesset resignation Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST Apr. 12, 2007

Balad Chairman Azmi Bishara announced Thursday evening that he planned toresign from his Knesset post following what he branded "persecution" against him.

"Is it possible that a parliament member is subjected to such persecution," he asked during an interview with Nazareth based Hadit-a-nas.

Bishara said that he had exhausted his parliamentary skills and that is what prompted his decision.

"I did what I could with these skills. Eleven years is enough for me," added the MK.

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Hamas: Salvation will come only when we kill the Jews

What to do if the "democratically elected" government wans to democratically kill all the Jews.

Hamas Spokesman: Genocide of Jews remains Hamas goal
by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook

As Hamas seeks international recognition by softening its tone in English, in Arabic it continues the calls for genocide of Jews. In a recent sermon on PA TV, Hamas spokesman Dr. Ismail Radwan made it clear that the classical Hamas ideology had not changed, including its continued incorporation of extremist Islamic beliefs into Hamas ideology and policy. He reiterated:

1. The Hour – the Islamic Resurrection and End of Time– is literally dependent on the killing of Jews by Muslims.
2. The remaining Jews will unsuccessfully attempt to hide, as the rocks and trees will expose them, calling out "there is a Jew behind me, kill him!"
3. "Palestine… will be liberated through the rifle," a euphemism meaning that Israel will be destroyed through violence.

The Hamas spokesman ended with prayers to Allah to "take" Israel and the USA.

The following is the text of the Hamas spokesman's call for genocide of Jews:

The Hamas spokesman, Dr. Ismail Radwan, PA TV, March 30, 2007 -

The Hour [Resurrection] will not take place until the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill them, and the rock and the tree will say: "Oh, Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, kill him!"

We must remind our Arab and Muslim nation, its leaders and people, its scholars and students, remind them that Palestine and the Al Aqsa mosque will not be liberated through summits nor by international resolutions, but it will be liberated through the rifle. It will not be liberated through negotiations, but through the rifle, since this occupation knows no language but the language of force… O Allah, strengthen Islam and Muslims, and bring victory to your Jihad-fighting worshipers, in Palestine and everywhere… Allah take the oppressor Jews and Americans and their supporters!

Click here to see the video

 Please feel free to forward this bulletin, crediting Palestinian Media Wat


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Syrian Guest in Israel: Peace is possible

Ibrahim Soliman says Syria won't attack Israel, so we can all breath easy. Nobody asked him what happens if Hezbolla attacks Israel from Syrian soil and Israel retaliates. That is the most likely scenario for this summers war.

Soliman says secret negotiations are needed, but previously Syria said it only wanted open talks. Be all that as it may, isn't it worth it to find out if peace is possible?

Ami Isseroff 

'Syria won't attack Israel'

Syrian-American businessman Ibrahim Soliman tells reporters after appearing before Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, 'I challenged Israeli government to answer President Assad's call for peace'; deal could be reached within six months, he says
Lilach Shoval and AP Published: 04.12.07, 16:55 / Israel News

If Israel attacks, Damascus will defend itself with all its might, but Syria will not start the war, said Syrian-American businessman Ibrahim Soliman at a press conference following an unprecedented appearance before an Israeli parliamentary panel in Jerusalem on Thursday.

During his meeting with Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee members, Soliman made an impassioned appeal for the two countries to restart peace talks, saying a deal could be wrapped up within six months.

The businessman said he did not officially represent the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, but asserted he had good contacts with high-level officials in Damascus.

Earlier this year, it emerged that Soliman held eight rounds of secret, unofficial talks with former Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Liel, with the knowledge of leaders in the two countries.

"Syria right now is ready to speak peace. I challenged the Israeli government to answer President Bashar's call for peace and sit down together," Soliman told reporters, "I think it can happen in six months."

Since news of the unofficial talks first broke in January, Israeli officials have been interested in hearing what Soliman had to say,

and the panel's session, scheduled to last an hour, went on for 2 1/2 hours.

In the course of their talks, Soliman and Liel drew up a tentative peace proposal to end one of the Middle East's most bitter conflicts. The plan called for Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights it seized from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war, and for Syria to end its backing of armed extremists, like Hizbullah guerrillas who warred with Israel last summer.

Liel, who also took part in the press conference, said, "We are enemies, and each country is holding its own cards. The Syrians are inflexible with regards to the Golan Heights; we tried to find a formula that would satisfy both sides."

'We can use his help'
Soliman and Liel approached their respective governments about reopening formal peace negotiations, broken off in 2000, but neither country responded, committee members cited Soliman as saying.

"They suggested that there be officials (in the talks), and there wasn't any response from either side," Lawmaker Colette Avital said.

Soliman was invited to address the lawmakers so they could assess his claims to ties with top figures in the Damascus regime. Israel, which has acknowledged his talks with Liel but distanced itself from them, has questioned the quality of Soliman's contacts.

In his testimony before the parliament panel, Soliman did not identify his contacts in Syria, lawmakers said. Still, committee Chairman Tzahi Hanegbi said he received the impression that Soliman has "relayed messages more than once between Israel and Syria over the years, and this is evidence of his stature.

"We can use his help because he has contacts with the Syrian leadership in order to spell out our demands, and not just hear what he has to say," Hanegbi added.

Soliman and Liel last met in late July, during the Israel-Lebanon war.

Assad said repeatedly after the war that he was interested in restarting negotiations. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has insisted that Assad end his support for Palestinian militant groups and scale back his ties with Iran. His office had no comment on Soliman's appearance before the parliamentary committee.

Israel has used informal contacts in the past. The talks that led to the 1993 Oslo peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians began as meetings between academics and unofficial representatives of the two sides.


Syrian guest to Knesset says secret negotiations needed

Ibrahim Soliman, a Syrian representative in previous, informal talks between Israel and Syria, briefs Knesset committee with Israeli counterpart

Amnon Meranda Published: 04.12.07, 14:47 / Israel News

Israel and Syria should hold secret negotiations in order to reach a peace agreement, Ibrahim (Abe) Soliman told the Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday.

Soliman, an American citizen of Syrian descent, came to Israel Tuesday, to hold informal talks, via a non-governmental movement for peace between the two nations. He briefed the Knesset committee along with former Israel Foreign Ministry director-general Dr Alon Liel.
Earlier interview

Negotiator: Sharon, Assad gave their blessings / Yitzhak Benhorin

In exclusive interview with Ynet, Soliman reveals details of diplomatic contacts, content of drafted peace proposal. Says Syria serious about negotiations, blames US for torpedoing previous steps towards peace
Full Story

Soliman, who had been involved in informal Israeli-Syrian talks in the past, thanked the committee for the opportunity to brief them. "I didn't envision in my wildest dreams that I'd be talking to important decision makers among the Jewish people. Syria and Israel missed many opportunities to make peace in the past," he said.

Soliman added that he had participated, of his own accord, in informal talks with Israel, although he did report the proceedings to the Syrian leadership in Damascus.

"I believe that only secret negotiations between Israel and Syria, far away from the eyes of the media, will lead to peace," he said.

Upon leaving the briefing, Soliman said, "I'm very glad I came. I hope that both sides will begin to meet and we, as a private channel, will disappear. My presence here makes everything possible."

Knesset members respond
Knesset Member Yisrael Katz (Likud) said that he'd asked Soliman to tell Syrian President Bashar Assad that Israel will not withdraw from the Golan Heights under any circumstances.

"In the past, I got 61 Knesset members to sign a petition against withdrawal from the Golan and there is a clear majority for this in the Knesset. It's important for Assad to know this," he told reporters following the briefing.

Katz also asked Soliman to tell Assad that, in the event that Syria attacked Israel, "any subsequent territory conquered by Israel, would remain in Israeli hands."

In contrast, MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz), who had initiated the Knesset briefing, said, "In a peace agreement, Syria would agree to stop supporting terror against us and cut ties with Hizbullah, and would demand that we return to 1967 borders in the Golan Heights."

She said the briefing "was a huge step, especially because it returns the Syrian option to public discourse. It's important that the Knesset committee hear of the informal understandings between Syria and Dr Alon Liel.

"It's important that Israel begin formal talks with Syria. It's a clear Israel interest to begin negotiations with Damascus and, by doing so, remove it from the Axis of Evil and isolate it from Iran," Gal-On continued.

Wednesday, Soliman visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial as part of his visit to Israel. "It's hard to think of so many people being murdered in such a short time…I pray for a peace that will help prevent such atrocities," he said.

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What's in a photo? Defenders of the faith - The Vatican and the Holocaust

The Vatican has never been willing to fully explore and acknowledge the role of Pius XII in the Holocaust. It has taken the stance that the Pope did the best he could, and that allegations that his failure to speak out cost the lives of many Jews are unfounded. This may be so, or it may not be so. Unfortunately, the Vatican has not given historians access to the documents that could possibly settle the question. However, since Israeli officials do not shun Catholic observances because there is a cross in the room, it is a bit strange that the Vatican will shun a Holocaust remembrance because there is a picture of the Pope in the room.
Ami Isseroff 

Vatican objects to photograph in Yad Vashem of Pope Pius XII, who served during Holocaust, with caption commenting on pope's dubious response to murder of Jews. Yad Vashem staff: History cannot be changed cause Holy See asks. Foreign Ministry officials: Vatican ambassador's absence will definitely stand out

Lilach Shoval Published: 04.12.07, 02:11 / Israel News

Vatican ambassador to Israel Monsignor Antonio Franco has refused to participate in annual Holocaust Day memorial services at the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem.

Franco is shunning the service due a photograph displayed at the Holocaust museum depicting then-Pope Pius XII. The caption beside the photo comments on the pope's dubious reaction to the murder of Jews during the Holocaust.

The controversial photograph first appeared at the new Yad Vashem museum in 2005. In early 2006, the previous Vatican ambassador turned to the museum with the request that the caption be changed. In response, Yad Vashem said they would readily examine Pius XII's conduct during the Holocaust if the Vatican opened its World War II-era archives to the museum's research staff. The Vatican however did not open the archives, and thus the caption remained.

The Holocaust Day memorial service is annually attended by all foreign ambassadors to Israel, or by their representatives if they cannot attend. "If the Vatican ambassador does not come to the ceremony, his absence will definitely stand out," Foreign Ministry officials said.

Officials involved in the matter told Ynet, "This is a very sensitive matter which needs to be examined in depth. It is important to us that all diplomatic delegates attend the memorial ceremony. As well, Israel aspires to good relations with the Vatican.

"On the other hand history cannot be changed, and if certain officials failed to help Jews during the Holocaust – that is the reality. There are nations that take responsibility for their actions during the Holocaust and those that don't. The Vatican did not actively participate in exterminating Jews, but questions remain regarding the pope's actions.

"Since the Holocaust there have been substantial improvements in relations between Israel and the Vatican, but certain scars from the past cannot be ignored. History can't be tossed in the trash."
Other officials noted that the incident wouldn't likely lead to an irreversible rift between Israel and the Vatican. "Yad Vashem's presentation of the facts is historical and reliable, but there will always be people that want to challenge it," they said.

"It would be unthinkable to use diplomatic pressure to further historical research," Yad Vashem staff said. "The museum also presents many stories of members of the church who saved Jews during the Holocaust."

'Shocked and disappointed'
In an official response, Yad Vashem noted: "We are shocked and disappointed that the Vatican's delegate to Israel has chosen not to respect the memory of the Holocaust and not to participate in the official ceremony in which the State of Israel and the Jewish people join in memory of the victims. This contradicts the pope's statement during his visit to Yad Vashem regarding the importance of remembering the Holocaust and its victims."

"Yad Vashem is dedicated to historical research, and the Holocaust museum presents the historical truth on Pope Pius XII as is known to scholars today. Yad Vashem told to the Vatican's representative in Israel that it was willing to continue examining the issue, and noted that if granted access it would gladly study the Vatican's archives from the era of Pope Pius XII's service, to possibly learn new and different information than what is known today."

The Foreign Ministry refused to respond to the report.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Arab Museum & myth that Israel was created because of the Holocaust

Israel was not created because of the Holocaust, but many Arabs believe that it is so.

Debate over Arab museum on the Holocaust intensifies 
Brenda Gazzar
Khaled Kasab Mahameed stands in his Arab Holocaust museum in Nazareth.

By Brenda Gazzar Published: 04/11/2007

NAZARETH, Israel (JTA) – Amin Abu Lashin was intrigued and bewildered when he heard from his teacher that an Arab would care enough about the Holocaust to establish a museum to educate other Arabs about the Jewish tragedy.

So the 12th-grader from the Franciscan Sisters School in this city and a classmate visited the site and met its founder, Khaled Kasab Mahameed, for themselves. Now the two Arab Israeli students, who say they have learned little about the Holocaust in school, plan to make a short film about the Arab Holocaust museum -- the first of its kind -- for their final class project.

"We sat with him and started to talk about why he's doing it," Abu Lashin, 18, said at the small museum where about 80 black-and-white posters of Holocaust photos from Yad Vashem are displayed with some Arabic explanations.

"In my opinion it's a great idea. I think that for the problems with the Arabs, the Palestinians -- in order to solve our problems -- we need to see the problems of the other, of the Jews."

Mahameed says that despite being met with skepticism or silence, The Arab Institute for Holocaust Research and Education -- created two years ago in the lobby of his law office -- is beginning to capture the attention of the Arab media and earning support from some in the community.

Mahameed, 45, believes his self-funded museum and Web site could contribute to peace in the region. But he still finds himself being criticized by Jewish organizations that claim he is manipulating the Holocaust for political aims and from Arabs who brand him a Zionist or a traitor to his people.

"I am alone, like Moses who stood on Mount Sinai," Mahameed, who has a photo of Yasser Arafat hanging in his back office, told JTA from his museum recently. "The poor souls of the 6 million Jews of the Holocaust are protecting me against the Palestinians and the ADL."

Mahameed came up with a great idea in educating the Arabic-speaking public about the Holocaust, said Arieh O'Sullivan, spokesman for the ADL Office in Israel, but has taken it in a direction with which the Anti-Defamation League cannot agree.

"He's saying 'the Holocaust existed, it's a terrible thing, but the Palestinians pay the price of the Holocaust, and Europeans felt guilty about the Holocaust, and they set up this colonial state here which is also totally ignorant of Zionist history,' " O'Sullivan said, referring to statements Mahameed has made in his Arabic book "The Palestinians and the Holocaust State" and in Arabic on his Web site.

"Israel arose not because of the Holocaust but despite the Holocaust," O'Sullivan said.

The museum also juxtaposes the Holocaust with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by placing pictures of Nazis threatening or killing Jews next to pictures of Palestinian refugees, Palestinian victims of violence and the Palestinian flag.

"He's equating the two, and you can't equate those things," O'Sullivan said. "The juxtaposition is just wrong."

Officials at the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem, who met with Mahameed at the start of the project and even provided him with materials, say that such a juxtaposition "contributes to the misappropriation of the Holocaust as a tool against Israel" and say they cannot support his museum or his agenda.

Although Mahameed says Palestinians are paying the price for the murder of 6 million Jews, he insists that he is not equating the suffering of Holocaust victims with the plight of the Palestinians. Those who try to equate the two have an "undeveloped" understanding of the unique tragedy that is the Holocaust, he said.

"You see this?" a passionate Mahameed asked, pointing to a poster in his museum representing Palestinian refugees among a cluster of Holocaust posters. "I want to tell those people that 6 million were killed. I will tell these people that you have been expelled from your country. You weren't expelled just because you are Arabs but it is because of conflict.

"They were killed," he said, pointing to the poster of Jewish Holocaust victims, "just because they were Jews. How can I equate? I can't. It's to tell these people that we can't equate."

Yet at least some visitors to the museum come away with a different impression.

"In the Shoah they killed a lot of people, and now with Palestinians it's like the same," the student Abu Lashin said, explaining why he thinks Mahameed's museum has value. "The Arab people are being killed there in Palestine."

"It's not the same," he said, "but you can say that it's kind of" the same.

His 17-year-old classmate, Rana Odeh, agreed.

"The Jews are doing the same" to Palestinians "that was done to them," he said.

Mahameed told JTA that such perceptions are due to a dearth of instruction about the Shoah in Arab Israeli schools, for which he blames the Israeli Ministry of Education. But fellow attorney Solleman Qaddan of Nazareth developed similar ideas after visiting the museum and talking to Mahameed. Qaddan said he stopped talking to his friend for a whole year because of his opposition to the Arab Holocaust museum.

Today, however, Qaddan said he understands the connection and the need to compare the Holocaust with the suffering of the Palestinian people.

"We are not expecting the Israelis to wake up and give us full rights, but we are expecting from the international community to compare between the two things -- the way Khaled is comparing between the two issues, the two phenomena," he said. "He's right, 100 percent."

Mahameed believes that if Arabs only understood the Holocaust, they would choose nonviolence in their dealings with Israel. It is because Arabs have denied the Holocaust and its centrality in the minds of Israelis, Jews and the Western world that they deny their own power to affect Israeli policy and behavior, he said.

Mahameed's theory is that if Palestinians or Arabs would recognize the Holocaust as historical fact, they would bring the world to recognize their Palestinian tragedy, or "naqba."

Subsequently the world would recognize the Palestinians' political rights, probably including the right of return and compensation, according to Esther Webman, a researcher at Tel Aviv University's Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism and Racism and The Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. Webman recently visited the museum.

Still, experts like Webman say, the conflict and its solution cannot be reduced just to the Holocaust.

Webman said it is a positive that Mahameed's museum -- the only such place in an Arab community -- is educating people on the Holocaust since many in Israel, particularly Arabs, and in the Arab world are ignorant or have misconceptions about the human tragedy.

"He has good intentions," she said of Mahameed.

However, Webman said, it is important to note that the museum "doesn't elevate itself from the political thing. He doesn't hide his end goal, which is recognition of the Palestinian naqba."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Marwan Barghouti's wife: I would tell terror victim's mother to leave my country

Marwan Barghouti's wife: I would tell terror victim's mother to leave my
Dr. Aaron Lerner                   Date: 11 April, 2007

Reporter: If you would have the chance to talk with a Jewish mother who lost
her son in an attack planned by your husband, what would you tell her?

Fadwa Barghouti (wife of Marwan Barghouti): I would tell her to leave my
country (broad smile).

Interview broadcast on Israel Television Mabat News -  11 April 2007
[Translation of the Hebrew subtitles broadcast in the interview by IMRA]

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Continued (Permanent Link)

"Palestinian Right of Return Is an Illusion"

An exceptionally liberal Saudi columnist writes:
"It is patently obvious that uprooting the descendants of the refugees from their current homes in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and other countries, and returning them to Israel, to the West Bank, and to Gaza is a utopian ideal and [a recipe for] anarchy. More than that – it is an idea that cannot be implemented, not only because it will upset the demographic [balance] in a dangerous and destructive manner, and will have [far-reaching] political, economic and social ramifications in such a small and constrained geographical area, but [mainly] because the return [of the refugees] stands in blatant contradiction to Israel's right as a sovereign [state], while the Palestinian Authority lacks the infrastructure to absorb such a large number of immigrants as long as the peace process... is not at its peak..."
Now, if they would only put that in a peace initiative, we would be on our way.

Special Dispatch-Reform Project/Arab-Israeli Conflict
April 12, 2007
No. 1540
Saudi Columnist: "The Right of Return Is an Illusion" .
In two recent articles in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, Saudi columnist Yousef Nasser Al-Sweidan argued that the Palestinian refugees' right of return is an idea that cannot be implemented, and that the only solution is for the refugees to be naturalized in the countries where they currently reside.
The following are excerpts from the articles:
The Right of Return – An Idea that Cannot Be Implemented
In the first article, published March 5, 2007 and titled "On the Impossible [Idea] of the Right of Return," Al-Sweidan wrote: "...The slogan 'right of return'... which is brandished by Palestinian organizations, is perceived as one of the greatest difficulties and as the main obstacle to renewing and advancing the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians based on the Road Map and a two-state solution.
"It is patently obvious that uprooting the descendants of the refugees from their current homes in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and other countries, and returning them to Israel, to the West Bank, and to Gaza is a utopian ideal and [a recipe for] anarchy. More than that – it is an idea that cannot be implemented, not only because it will upset the demographic [balance] in a dangerous and destructive manner, and will have [far-reaching] political, economic and social ramifications in such a small and constrained geographical area, but [mainly] because the return [of the refugees] stands in blatant contradiction to Israel's right as a sovereign [state], while the Palestinian Authority lacks the infrastructure to absorb such a large number of immigrants as long as the peace process... is not at its peak..."
The Refugee Problem is the Result of Mistakes By the Host Countries
"Clearly, the refugee problem is mainly the result of cumulative mistakes made by the countries where [the refugees] live... such as Syria and Lebanon, which have isolated the refugees in poor and shabby camps lacking the most basic conditions for a dignified human existence. Instead of helping them to become fully integrated in their new society, they let them become victims of isolation and suffering... Later, the worst of all happened when Arab intelligence agencies used the Palestinian organizations as a tool for settling scores in internal Arab conflicts that probably have nothing to do with the Palestinians...
"The Israelis, on the other hand, were civilized and humane in their treatment of the thousands of Jewish refugees who had lost their property, homes and businesses in the Arab countries, and who were forced to emigrate to Israel after the 1948 war. The Israeli government received them, helped them, and provided them with all the conditions [they needed] to become integrated in their new society...
"The lies of the Syrian Ba'th regime, and its trading in slogans like 'right of return,' 'steadfastness,' 'resistance,' 'national struggle,' and all the other ridiculous [slogans], are evident from the fact that, to this day, dozens of Palestinian families [remain] stranded in the desert on the Syrian-Iraqi border, because the Syrian regime refuses to let them enter its horrifying Ba'th republic and return to the Yarmouk [refugee] camp.
"The Arab countries where the Palestinians live in refugee camps must pass the laws necessary to integrate the inhabitants of these camps into society. [In addition, they must] provide them with education and health services, and allow them freedom of occupation and movement and the right to own real estate, instead of [continuing] their policy of excluding [the refugees] and leaving the responsibility [of caring for them] to others, while marketing the impossible illusion of return [to Palestine]..."(1)
The Refugees Don't Need Another 60 Years of Misery
In the second article, published March 16, 2007 and titled "Naturalization is the Solution," Al-Sweidan wrote: "There is no doubt that the Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon – who have for many long years been fed by their Arab hosts on impossible dreams and on shiny promises that were soon broken – do not need another 60 years of misery, wretchedness and suffering... in order to figure out for the thousandth time that all the talk about the 'bridge of return' is [nothing but] nonsense and deceit – a fairytale that exists only in the old, worn-out demagogy of the Arab propaganda...
"In reality, there is no 'bridge [of return]'... except for the bridge that we now must pass... called the peace process and normalization of relations between the Arabs and Israel. Undoubtedly, the Arabs cannot continue to avoid the implementation [of the peace process], which brooks no further delay. [Any delay] will have a heavy price for the Arab societies in the present and in the future, considering the sharp strategic changes [occurring] in the Middle East. [These changes] demand an immediate and final solution to the Arab-Israeli conflicts, and [require] the two sides to direct their joint energies and efforts towards confronting the Iranian nuclear threat which imperils us all."
The Inevitable Solution is to Naturalize the Refugees in the Host Countries
"As the Middle East peace process gains momentum, and as the regional and international forces remain committed to the need to resolve this [conflict]... there is a growing necessity for a realistic, unavoidable and bold decision that will provide a just solution to the problem of the Palestinian refugees by naturalizing them in the host countries, such as Syria, Lebanon, and other countries.
"Even though this is a humanitarian [project], it requires intensive efforts on the legislative, economic, logistic, and administrative levels, in order to integrate the Palestinians organically into the social, economic and political fabric of the Arab societies...
"By every conceivable and accepted criterion, naturalizing the refugees [in the Arab countries] is the inevitable solution to [this] chronic humanitarian problem. The fact that [this solution] constitutes an important part of the overall peace process and of the historic reconciliation between the Arabs and the Israelis will help to reinforce [the naturalization process] and to perpetuate it."(2)
(1) Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), March 5, 2007.
(2) Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), March 16, 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.

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

Continued (Permanent Link)

BBC Reporter Johnston did not stage his own kidnapping

Wishful thinking on the part of certain people may have prompted them to circulate a story that reporter Alan Johnston staged his own kidnapping and was about to be dismissed. There is a great will to believe that prompts people to spin news and shut out news they do not like.

BBC denies report that journalist staged own kidnapping
 10:30PM Tuesday April 10, 2007

The BBC has flatly denied Palestinian reports that one of its journalists may have staged his own kidnapping in the Gaza Strip.

Chief of the BBC's Middle East Bureau Simon Wilson said that there was no truth in any suggestion that Johnston abducted himself or colluded with Palestinian colleagues in the supposed kidnapping. Nor was there any truth that Johnston was about to be dismissed, he said.

"Alan is a highly respected journalist. He was due to return to London in April after a three-year position in Gaza, to resume a full-time staff job with the BBC World Service," Wilson added.

According to London-based Arab language newspaper, Al-Hayat, Johnston staged his capture by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip after he received a notice from his superiors that he would be fired in the near future.

Johnston has been missing since March 12.

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Anti-Semitism on college campuses.

Concrete examples would certainly have helped to make the point better. It is hard to estimate the extent of anti-Semitism without some concrete data however, such as might be provided by a survey.  

NEWS: 'An American Problem'
Experts address anti-Semitism on college campuses.
Don Cohen
Special to the Jewish News

Kenneth Marcus says anti-Semitism is a serious college campus issue. And he should know.

Staff director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent bipartisan agency established by Congress in 1957, Marcus is an experienced civil rights attorney, litigator and leader who oversaw the Commission's 2006 study of campus anti-Semitism.

Marcus addressed the community at a public program organized by StandWithUs-Michigan on March 26 at Temple Israel. Also speaking was Aryeh Weinberg, research associate at the San Francisco-based Institute for Jewish & Community Research.

While many campus programs and projects focus on educating and empowering students to challenge misrepresentations and respond to attacks on Jews and Israel, the speakers focused on the need for universities to take action against campus anti-Semitism and the role of outside groups and individuals in ensuring that they do.

Marcus says it is only Jewish audiences who sometimes express discomfort with a focus on issues affecting their own community. Jewish leaders often urge him to talk about civil rights in general and not about anti-Semitism.

"Maybe they are just so concerned about the world and social justice, or maybe they don't want to talk about challenges they would prefer do not exist," Marcus said.

Outlining four different areas of anti-Semitism - classical European, Arab and Muslim; anti-Israelism that "crosses the line"; anti-globalism; and anti-Americanism that blames Jews first - he said that "in many cases" they are "camouflaged" as free speech though "sometimes it is truly anti-Semitic bigotry that merely cloaks itself as anti-Zionism."

In 2004, his department added religion to the list of protected classes. He says that in the 1980s "we thought that campus anti-Semitism didn't exist except as a historical topic" because the challenges Jews face are so much different than quotas or institutionalized discrimination prevalent decades ago.

"It is worse now," Marcus says, though he admits "we don't have the data, and I don't think the government is doing enough to find the data." He says the Commission wants to inform college students of their rights and have them file complaints if they feel they have been wronged.

Lack Of Civility

Weinberg, who co-authored The Uncivil University: Politics and Propaganda in American Education with scholar Gary Tobin, described the book as "a critique of the lack of civility in higher education and how it leads to anti-Semitism on campus."

While acknowledging the high quality of many American universities, which are the envy of the world, he claimed, "a climate of incivility has dramatically subverted the institutions and we've lost the ability to debate and discuss in a civilized manner." He says rhetoric has often replaced facts while vilification of opponents and the silencing of unpopular views has increased, and "one of the most egregious examples are anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism."

"Legitimate criticism of Israel is, and should be, part of the campus debate," Weinberg says, but "Israel often serves as a proxy" for hateful views historically reserved for the Jews.

To prove his point, he gave numerous examples where criticism crosses the line, including the marginalization or isolation of a whole people, physical and/or verbal abuse of Jewish and pro-Israel students, the fundamental rejection of Jewish nationalism, abuse of the legacy of the Holocaust, legitimizing terror against Israeli civilians, asserting Jewish control of America or the world, characterizing Jews as imperialist warmongers and aggressors, and the silencing of pro-Israel speakers.

Many Jewish organizations "spend too much time debating whether there is a problem instead of working to solve the problem," Weinberg says, urging the community "not to fall victim to wishful thinking and become complacent."

Calling it an "American problem," Weinberg says it is "evidence of a deeper problem that affects the university."

He urges universities to have "appropriate mechanisms for student redress," to monitor the use of university funds and to engage in discussion of how to interpret and defend free speech. He also urges parents, alumni, trustees, taxpayers and legislators to become more involved.

Tova Schreiber, a freshman at Wayne State University in Detroit and who is education director of the campus group Students for Israel, told the audience: "All around me I could see evidence of anti-Semitism on campus."

Giving examples that mirrored several of Weinberg's points, Schreiber said, "It's not easy being Jewish or a pro-Israel student on campus today. Israel is bashed with impunity under the guise of academic freedom."

Both Marcus and Weinberg spoke on the Wayne State campus the following day with sign-carrying protestors attending their talk. On March 28, students met with administrators in a closed-door meeting held at the campus office of Hillel of Metropolitan Detroit.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Reflecting on Israel, In Ireland

Boycott call that didn't fail...

Apr. 8, 2007 2:24 Updated Apr. 8, 2007 8:45
Irish artists' call to boycott Israel meets with mockery
The Irish government has condemned an attempt by an artists' organization to boycott Israeli cultural events and institutions.
Aosdana, Ireland's state-sponsored academy of creative artists, voted last week on a motion to "back the call from Palestinian filmmakers, artists and cultural workers to end all cooperation with Israeli state-sponsored cultural events and institutions."
The proposal - put to a motion by composer Raymond Deane, founder of the Irish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, and seconded by playwright Margaretta D'Arcy - was defeated in the organization's general assembly.
However, a second motion, sponsored by D'Arcy and seconded by Deane, was passed calling for Irish artists and institutions to "reflect deeply" before working with Israeli cultural institutions.
D'Arcy wrote last week in The Irish Times that she was convinced that a cultural boycott was necessary, "if only as an act of solidarity with those in Israel who seek to remove the inequality, discrimination and segregation of their society."
The Irish government responded to the Aosdana motion by saying it was "firmly opposed to any proposals for an academic or cultural boycott against Israel."
John O'Donoghue, minister for arts, sport and tourism, said he was happy the motion had been voted down.
"The only way forward is through an inclusive approach of dialogue with and between Israelis and Palestinians. The government is working directly with the parties, and with our partners in the EU, for the revival of a credible peace process with the clear objective of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," he said.
Prior to the vote by Aosdana members, journalist Ian O'Doherty mocked the motion in the Evening Herald newspaper, saying that Israelis were hardly likely to feel threatened by the "stern lecturing of a bunch of state-subsidized artists who mostly reside in well-deserved obscurity."
"In fairness to Aosdana," O'Doherty wrote, "the call for a boycott seem to have been led by a hardcore group."
"The fact that Israel is the least segregated society in the region, and that Israeli Arabs enjoy more freedom than their counterparts in other, Arab-run, countries is something that tends to be conveniently forgotten," O'Doherty said.
An Aosdana member who did not wish to be named, said: "The move is being largely derided here, being seen as a bunch of dial-a-cause artists taking sides in a complex foreign situation they know little about."
"What is more concerning is that by being elected to Aosdana as an artist, you get an annual salary from the state," the member explained. "As it is state-funded, it is surprising that [Aosdana] took this stance, given that political matters are not their remit."
Israel's embassy in Dublin released a statement condemning the motion as "wrong, unjust, biased and based on misunderstanding and misinformation."
Ambassador Zion Evrony said, "It appears that a very small number of Aosdana members... have misled others and imposed their views on the whole organization."
D'Arcy, for her part, wrote an open letter to the ambassador attacking his views: "Mr. Ambassador, who the hell do you think you are, interfering with Irish artists, prescribing what we may or may not reflect upon?" she fumed.
"I wonder that the Irish government does not immediately break off diplomatic relations with Israel for your absurd violation of those articles in the UN Charter of Human Rights that guarantee free expression," D'Arcy declared.

Labels: ,

Continued (Permanent Link)

Shin Bet: Hamas planned T.A. Passover bombing

Haaretz, Last update - 07:49 10/04/2007
Shin Bet: Hamas planned T.A. Passover bombing
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent

The Shin Bet announced Tuesday morning that in late March it broke up a Hamas cell in the West Bank city of Qalqilyah that had planned to detonate a car bomb in Tel Aviv during Pesach, apparently at the time of the seder, on the holiday's first night.

According to the details released by the security service, the driver, a suicide bomber, had managed to cross into Israel in a vehicle laden with about 100 kilograms of explosives. However, once he reached Tel Aviv, and for reasons that are still unclear, he changed his mind and returned to Qalqilyah.

Nineteen members in the cell have been arrested by the security forces. No names of the suspects were released for publication.

But the Shin Bet said the would-be suicide bomber, a member of a Hamas cell in Qalqilyah cell, managed to enter Israel because he holds an Israeli identity card. Although a resident of Qalqilyah, he is married to an Israeli Arab from Taibeh - and received residency status as part of the program of reuniting families. The vehicle he was driving had Israeli license plates, and had collected intelligence on possible targets for an attack.

"The picture that emerges in interrogations of the members of the cell clearly signals that the Hamas organization in Qalqilyah has shifted from the stage of 'force building' to the operational stage and the carrying out of attacks, including suicide attacks inside Israel. According to information, they continue to work on planning and execution of significant attacks, including ones in the immediate future," the Shin Bet announcement read.

This latest incident has further boosted the evidence that Hamas has resumed its terrorist activities following a long hiatus that began with the cease-fire in the Gaza Strip last November.

Egypt recently arrested a Hamas suicide bomber who was trying to cross from the Gaza Strip into Israel through Sinai.

Hamas militants were also involved in a number of sniper attacks targeting Israelis driving close to the fence separating Israel from the Gaza Strip. In one of the attacks, an Israel Electric Corporation employee was moderately wounded.

The man believed to be behind the attacks is Ahmed Jabari, the head of the military wing of Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip, who opposed the establishment of the unity government between his party and Fatah. Jabari is particularly dissatisfied with the fact that he and his men are not being awarded the positions of power they believe they deserve.

The degree to which Jabari and the Qalqilyah-based cell are linked is unclear. During the past two years, most of the Hamas cells operating in Samaria had followed orders originating in the Gaza Strip.

Would-be bomber returns to Qalqilyah
After the terrorist returned to Qalqilyah, he left the vehicle in the backyard of a home. Arrests of suspects began shortly after his return, and then the vehicle exploded. There were no casualties as a result of the explosion.

The Shin Bet has described the explosion as a "work accident," a euphemism for a technical malfunction.

The Qalqilyah cell is the largest Hamas grouping to have been exposed in the West Bank in recent years. The last time a Qalqilyah-based Hamas cell carried out an attack in Israel, 21 teenagers were killed in a blast at the Dolphinarium in Tel Aviv, in June 2001.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, April 9, 2007

PLO 4 ever - Will remain sole representative of Palestinians

This is good news. Hamas-controlled PA is worse than the PLO of course.

Qurei': PLO will remain sole representative of the Palestinian people till
the end of the occupation
Date: 09 / 04 / 2007  Time:  09:56

Bethlehem - Ma'an - Former Palestinian prime minister and member of Fatah's central committee, Ahmad Qurei', has assured that the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) will remain the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people until the Israeli occupation ends and a Palestinian state is established on the lands of 1967.

Speaking to the London-based newspaper 'Al-Quds Al-Arabi', he stressed that the Palestinian Authority will not be the alternative to the PLO, especially as the PLO makes the Palestinian decisions. He denied any intentions to dismantle the PLO or its establishments.

The former prime minister added, "The PLO will remain the sole representative of the Palestinian people until the occupation ends."

He pointed out that he is going to travel with a Palestinian delegation to the Syrian capital, Damascus next week in order to begin talks with Palestinian faction leaders there in preparation for a dialogue conference to be held in the Egyptian capital, Cairo in this regard.

He added that his trip to Damascus is aimed at preparing for the Cairo meetings, whose date will be assigned in Damascus, he said.

Regarding whether he will meet with the head of Hamas' politburo, Khalid Mash'al, Qurei' said, "I will meet everyone."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Azmi Bishara is not resigning- aren't you sorry?

Azmi Bishara, the Arab MK who supported Hezbolla during the recent war, and recently "warned" Hamas against "concessions" was rumosed to be resigning, but it is not true.
Aren't we all glad that we have this model citizen and parliamentarian to guide us?

Azmi Bishara's party says resignation rumors untrue, result of 'political
Roee Nahmias YNET Published: 04.09.07, 23:11 / Israel News

MK Azmi Bishara will return to Israel from Jordan in accordance with the schedule he has set for himself, said members of the National Democratic Assembly - of which Bishara is chairman - on Monday.

The party leadership convened in Nazareth for a special meeting and formally stated that the reports claiming that Bishara intends to stay out of Israel and resign from parliament are untrue. During the meeting members discussed what they called "the political persecution of the NDA and its leader."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Iran: How many nuclear centrifuges is a lot?

Iran, which according to diplomats has set up almost 1,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges at Natanz, has said it plans to install 3,000 there as the first stage towards "industrial-scale" nuclear fuel production.
With 3,000 machines, Iran could make enough material for a bomb in one year, if it wanted, Western experts say.
Who says they have 1,000 centrifuges, and when will they have 3,000? They plan to have 3,000 centrifuges. I planned to be a millionaire, but it didn't work out.  
Ami Isseroff

By Parisa Hafezi
NATANZ, Iran (Reuters) - Iran announced on Monday it had begun the "industrial stage" of nuclear fuel production, in a fresh snub to the U.N. Security Council which has demanded Tehran halt such work.
Iran, which according to diplomats has set up almost 1,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges at Natanz, has said it plans to install 3,000 there as the first stage towards "industrial-scale" nuclear fuel production.
With 3,000 machines, Iran could make enough material for a bomb in one year, if it wanted, Western experts say.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Egypt uncovers two tunnels on Gaza border, arrests Palestinian

There has to be a more efficient way to discover such tunnels. Someone should be spending money in finding it. It could be a capacitance bridge device, fiber optic cable, sonic or infrared device.
But it is nice to know that someone is trying and succeeding the good old way, and that that someone is our former enemies. Maybe peace really can work...
Ami Isseroff

Last update - 09:28 09/04/2007   
By The Associated Press

Egyptian authorities arrested a Palestinian in the Sinai Peninsula on Sunday who allegedly crossed from Gaza to Egypt in one of two recently dug underground tunnels, a security official said.
The two tunnels were uncovered in the Egyptian border city of Rafah. The first tunnel was found by border guards and police in the area, who earlier arrested a Palestinian man in his early 20s as he tried to cross the border in the freshly dug tunnel, the official said.
Capt. Mohammed Badr of the North Sinai Peninsula police said after searching the tunnel, police also found water and food inside of it.
Badr added that security authorities were questioning the Palestinian man.
Another tunnel was discovered inside a residential area in the city of Rafah, Badr said.
Security forces did not seal off the second tunnel because they hope to arrest more people trying to sneak into or out of Egypt, he said.
Israel has long accused Egypt of not doing enough to stop the smuggling of weapons to Palestinian militants. Egypt has rejected the allegations but recently said it would make a greater effort to crack down on the trafficking.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, April 8, 2007

When could Iran have "the bomb?"

Before us are two articles.

The bottom one states that Iran may have the bomb by 2009 based on an estimate that they will install 1,000 centrifuges at Natanz.

The top one states that Iran is actually installing 3,000 centrifuges at Natanz.

The conclusion that suggests itself is that Iran could have a nuclear weapon within much less than two years. Of course, a bomb also requires a detonation mechanism, and if it is intended for a missile warhead, then it would probably have to be miniaturized. All this does not depend on the number of centrifuges. Still, it is worrisome.

Ami Isseroff

Iran to announce installation of 3,000 centrifuges in Natanz plant
Published: 04.08.07, 22:36 / Israel News

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to announce on Monday the installation of 3,000 centrifuges for uranium enrichment in the Natanz nuclear facility, the official Iranian news agency reported.

The announcement will be made as part of the Islamic Republic's "National Nuclear Day" celebrations. (Dudi Cohen)

ABC News: Iran may produce first nuclear bomb by 2009

Tue. 03 Apr 2007
Iran Focus

London, Apr. 03 – Iran may be able to produce its first nuclear bomb by 2009, the U.S.-based news channel ABC News reported on Monday.

The report said that Tehran had more than tripled its ability to produce enriched uranium in the past three months, adding some 1,000 centrifuges which are used to separate radioactive particles from the raw material.

The development meant Iran could have enough material for a nuclear bomb by 2009, it quoted sources "familiar with the dramatic upgrade" as saying.

The unexpected expansion is taking place at Iran's uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, the report said.

Iran had previously informed the United Nations nuclear watchdog that it had 320 centrifuges running in Natanz.

A spokesperson for the International Atomic Energy Agency said that there was an "extreme sensitivity" in the situation with Iran.

Previous predictions by U.S. intelligence had cited 2015 as the earliest date for Iran to be able to develop a nuclear weapon.

Iran maintains its enrichment facilities are only meant to produce fuel for nuclear power reactors. But the uranium they are enriching could not be used in the Russian nuclear power reactor they are currently building, the report added.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Rent a terrorist? Abbas wants to cut Fatah terror ties to Hizbullah

How about, 'just say "no?"'

Palestinian president seeks to cut links between members of al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and Lebanese group, which rewards them for terror activities
Ali Waked Published:  04.08.07, 13:25 / Israel News

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently appointed a special team to prepare accurate lists of the members of Fatah's military wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, in a bid to find solutions for their problems and needs and minimize their dependence on Hizbullah.

The new team is comprised of members of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service in the West Bank, the General Intelligence Service and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.

Palestinian Authority officials are aware of the fact that dozens of activists still engage in terrorist activities due to the rewards they receive from the Lebanese organization.

Palestinian sources told Ynet that Abbas viewed the plan as a key element in the efforts to expand the ceasefire with Israel to the West Bank.

"The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades have always been the weakest link in every truce. The financial dependence of several of the wanted men on Hizbullah caused the al-Aqsa members not to obey all agreements," one source said.

"How could Abu Mazen (Abbas) ask the different organizations to obey truce agreements when Fatah members were those who led the attacks during periods of calm?" other sources noted.

The second group Abbas has to deal with is the Islamic Jihad's military wing. The Palestinian president hopes that Arab pressures, mainly on Syria, will cause the Islamic Jihad to honor the truce.
Aides to Abbas said that the move also depended on Israel.
"The Israelis are aware of the fact that whatever we do, one activist can always cause the entire thing to fail. But if they are really interested in helping us maintain the truce and expand it, they can do it. We on our part will continue exerting efforts in order to impose our authority on the activists," an Abbas associate said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian security organizations are going ahead with their plan to impose order in the PA. In the first stage, the PA is fighting criminal elements, particularly drug dealers and car thieves. In the next stage, the plan is to collect weapons from wanted Palestinians.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Azmi Bishara (Israeli MK) warns Hamas against 'substantial concessions'

A real progressive hero of peace.

Says formation of a PA unity government, revived Arab peace initiative may advance diplomatic process but 'won't lead to anything,' does not rule out possibility of regional war
Roee Nahmias Published:  04.08.07, 18:40 / Israel News
Arab Knesset Member Azmi Bishara (Balad) warned Hamas against making any substantial concessions to win the international community's support.
Bishara's comments were made during an interview with Jordanian newspaper al-Ra'i prior to the publication of his intention to resign from the Knesset.
"Fatah's willingness to make concessions during the 1970s and in the framework of the Oslo Accords and the Madrid Conference just so it could remain in power under the (Israeli) occupation hurt the movement," he said.

The MK called on the Palestinian unity government to avoid political chaos and did not rule out the possibility of a regional war that would include Syria, Lebanon and Iran.

Bishara said the formation of a PA unity government and the revived Arab peace initiative may advance the diplomatic process but would 'not lead to anything."

"The Arabs have reached the point where they are making concessions out of the belief that the peace process still exists, despite the fact that there is no evidence of this on the ground," he said.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Abbas asks for quiet, Palestinians disagree

From the horse's mouth, and requiring no further comment.
Gaza - Ma'an - The An-Nasser Salah Ad-Din brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), have criticized the statements made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in which he criticized the launching of projectiles at Israeli communities inside Israel from the Gaza Strip.

The brigades said they consider such statements as an insult to the Palestinian resistance. In a statement issued on Sunday, the brigades said that the projectiles are a "normal and natural retaliation for the Israeli crimes."

The statement added that the projectiles are "part of the strategic arsenal to protect the fighters and to defend themselves."

According to a Reuters report, on Saturday Abbas called on members of his presidential guards and national security forces to step up efforts to prevent the firing of projectiles so "that our people can lead a safe life".


Continued (Permanent Link)

Good news - Shalit is being released - again

Shalit is being released-- again. It seems that there is a whole Palestinian department in charge of spreading rumors about the releast of captued corporal GIlad Shalit, who was kidnapped by Palestinian terorrists, not "militants" as Ha'aretz states. According to official Palestinians, this Hamas splinter group is not even controlled by the other "militants." They are gangsters among gangsters. Next to them, militants look good.
Maybe Shalit will be released and maybe not. There have been rumors about the Messiah coming for a few thousand years as well.
The only way to avoid these hostage situations unfortunately, is probably to take no unecessary prisoners, and never to trade any of our prisoners for any kidnapped people. That is a pretty cruel alternative, but it might save lives in the long run.
Ami Isseroff

Last update - 00:41 08/04/2007   
By Yoav Stern, Amos Harel and Jack Khoury, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and News Agencies

Government sources on Saturday confirmed reports that progress has recently been made in negotiations over the release of Israel Defense Forces soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Palestinian militants last June.
They added, however, that an agreement securing Shalit's release was still far from being reached.
"One must be careful not to build up unsubstantiated expectations over Palestinian reports," an Israeli official said under condition of anonymity.
Earlier on Saturday, a Palestinian Cabinet minister said Egyptian mediators working for the release of Shalit had provided the Israeli government with a list of the captors' demands, opening the way for the soldier's speedy release.
Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti said the Egyptians had told the Palestinian authorities they had sent the Israelis a list of Palestinian prisoners they wanted freed in exchange for Cpl. Gilad Shalit, snatched in a raid from Gaza into Israel last June. He said he did not how many prisoners were on the list and did not give further details.
On Friday, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said in a television interview that Shalit will be released soon.
"We are undertaking efforts to free Shalit and these efforts will soon come to fruition," Abbas told France 24 television of Corporal Gilad Shalit, who was seized last June in a cross-border raid from Gaza into southern Israel. "We are optimistic."
"He will be freed soon," Abbas said in comments due to be broadcast Friday evening.
However, he gave no specifics and previous comments by him about Shalit have not resulted in the soldier's release.
Abbas, speaking from the Gaza Strip, also said he hoped Israel would release hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. But he said Shalit's release should not be tied to that of the Palestinian prisoners.
"One thing does not depend on the other," Abbas said. "I am convinced Shalit must be freed."
Nonetheless, Channel 2 reported Friday evening that Hamas has given Israel a list of prisoners it is demanding be released in exchange for Shalit.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian militants holding captured Shalit recently brought him a pair of eyeglasses, the Nazareth-based newspaper A-Sanara reported on Friday.
Palestinian sources quoted in the report said that the eyeglasses were handed over by Shalit's father, Noam, through an Egyptian delegation mediating a prisoner swap deal between Palestinians and Israelis.
An attempt was made in the past to give glasses to the soldier, but Shalit's captors had refused to allow the transfer.
Abu Mujhad, spokesman of one of the three militant groups that captured Shalit, refused to comment on the report. Noam Shalit said the most important thing at this point was to receive some sign of life from his son.
Hezbollah official denies saying captured soldiers being treated humanely
A Hezbollah offical denied Friday that he told A-Sanara that the treatment being given to captured IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev was "humane," hinting at the possibility that they may still be alive, Israel Radio reported.
The official, Mohammed Kamati, was quoted as saying that "an enemy soldier that becomes a hostage is entitled to humane treatment, and he lives in a regular and humane way."
A-Sanara has interpreted the comment as a first sign of life from the soldiers, who were seized by Hezbollah guerillas in July, sparking the Second Lebanon War.
The paper quoted Kamati as saying that negotiations over the soldiers' release was entirely in the hands of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, adding that his own job was just to relate the treatment of the prisoners.
Nasrallah has said in the past that announcements regarding the prisoners that do not come directly from him hold no weight.
He also took pride over Hezbollah's treatment of the remains of three IDF soldiers captured in 2000, saying they were immediately stored and preserved until they were returned to Israel.
The defense establishment Thursday night attempted to dissect Kamati's announcement, but at this stage it is not yet clear whether it was a slip of the tongue delivered without Nasrallah's consent or an attempt at manipulating the Israeli public.
Kamati is not considered to have great standing in Hezbollah's military wing and the likelihood of his having knowledge of the soldiers' fate is slim.
An IDF medical report based on examinations of the site of the capture indicate that both Regev and Goldwasser were seriously wounded at the time of the Hezbollah ambush.
The negotiations over their release have been deadlocked for some time and as of yet, there has not been any progress.
Negotiations experts told Haaretz Thursday night that over the coming days Israel hopes to consolidate a clear evaluation of Kamati's remarks - particularly with regard to the authority of the statements.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Pro-Hezbollah Arab MK may quit Israeli Knesset

Bishara will be remembered as one of the fellows who  spoke in support of Hassan Nasrallah and the Hezbollah. Many will be sorry if he leaves the Knesset, we are sure. Many tears will be shed in Damacus and certain quarters of Beirut.
Ami Isseroff


Report: MK Azmi Bishara expected to reign from Knesset

Published:  04.08.07, 14:24 / Israel News,7340,L-3385824,00.html

Balad chairman, Knesset Member Azmi Bishara, is expected to submit his resignation from the Knesset this week, according to the website of the Israeli Arab newspaper al-Sinara, which quoted "senior sources."


According to the short report, MK Bishara is currently abroad and plans to submit his resignation letter through one of his colleagues. (Roee Nahmias)

Continued (Permanent Link)

About Israeli Human Rights Violations

Here is a letter sent as a reply to an article about Israeli "Human Rights Violations." The article contained the usual sort of accusations.

The response is worth reading.

(You can read the original article there too)
I don't dispute your humanitarian motivation especially since your views are based on a report by the respected Professor John Dugard. But it is always sad when intelligent people express views with best intentions, but based on misinformation.
Intellectual honesty demands critical analysis of the accuracy of this report that stimulated your protest. For those of you, to whom facts which can be fully substantiated are important, the following information will be of interest. If however, you are not open to considering views which may differ from your own, don't bother to read further.
Without questioning Professor Dugard's sincerity, his sources are open to question.  It is a pity he didn't consult the like of journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, who has an intimate knowledge of the Palestinian terrain. An award-winning journalist and television news producer, he has reported from the West Bank and Gaza Strip for more than twenty years. An insider with an intimate knowledge of the Palestinians, at one time he worked as editor of the PLO's newspaper Al Fajr.
Toameh told the Middle East Forum in Philadelphia on April 27, 2004 that the world receives an inaccurate picture of what happens in the Palestinian region. The PA's tyrannical approach and control of the media creates an atmosphere of intimidation and fear among Palestinian journalists and foreign journalists allow themselves to be misled by some of their Palestinian consultants.
Toameh is certainly in a better position to assess the actual situation than short-term visitors who can't speak Arabic and depend on Palestinians as guides and translators. He relates that when foreigners interview Palestinians through translators, the translators often mistranslate and even reprimand interviewees critical of the Palestinian Authority. 
There is another very disturbing aspect to Dugard's report. His unbalanced mandate as special rapporteur on Palestine,  is limited to investigating only violations by Israel, not by Palestinians. He has been faithful to this mandate, presenting the case of a prosecutor determined to obtain a conviction while making no pretence of acting as a neutral investigator,
Your mandate is however, unrestricted and natural justice requires that unlike Dugard, you must examine and weigh all available evidence including the Palestinian provocations, which produce Israeli reactions.
The casualties to which you refer, did not occur in a vacuum. They were the tragic result of operations in reaction to attacks by Palestinians.  
The closures of crossing points only take place to avoid terror attacks like the one by the female suicide bomber who detonated a bomb at the Erez Crossing killing four Israelis and wounding 10. Hamas and the Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed joint responsibility
I am not aware of Palestinians seeking medical attention in Egypt as referred to by you, but last year some 80,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and 40,000 from Gaza came to Israel for medical treatment. All this despite the risk that occasionally bombs are discovered in ambulances at checkpoints and despite the history of two suicide bombers who arrived in Israel by ambulance and then blew themselves up at a hitchhiking station, killing 21 Israelis,  See
The real tragedy is that Palestinian extremists have deliberately prevented a thriving cooperative situation with Israel. See
Before the uprising, up to 100,000 Palestinians worked in Israel, A successful industrial zone was created at Erez employing about 5,000 workers in some 200 businesses half of which were Palestinian-owned. This was part of a larger Gaza Industrial Estate (GIE), slated to provide up to 50,000 jobs. A joint industrial zone was also planned south of Tulkarm intended to provide jobs for more than 5,000 Palestinians and additional areas were planned for Jenin and the Kerem Shalom area near Rafah in Gaza.
Unfortunately the GIE was forced to close when it became the target of deadly Palestinian attacks.
The self-destructive trend continues. Even as recently as last May, opportunities were lost when Gazan gunmen wantonly destroyed thousands of greenhouses and other projects left behind by the Jewish settlers who had been evacuated; projects that could have provided income for over 4,500 families.
* Bait Hanoun. Your reference to the November 2006 Beit Hanoun incident repeats erroneous information. The BBC, which cannot be accused of favoring Israel, reported the total damage as 18 killed and 40 wounded. Your source exaggerates this to 82 killed and 260 injured adding 279 homes plus other buildings destroyed, though even Palestinian sources reported only six adjacent structures damaged by the explosion.
Lacking in your letter is any reference to the fact that Israeli civilians are being bombarded daily by rockets fired by Palestinians from civilian areas into civilian areas (a double war crime). No international law prevents Israel from responding. In this instance shells aimed by Israeli artillery at a rocket-launching site hit the wrong target due to a malfunction. Human errors and malfunctions do occur, even in the most highly disciplined fields such as space exploration.
The reaction of IDF soldiers was described by Steve Linde in the Jerusalem Post, on November 8, 2006. He wrote: "Can you imagine how terrible the artillery troops who fired the shells at Beit Hanun yesterday must be feeling now? After serving in IDF Artillery, I can only say that this is every gunner's nightmare scenario: killing innocent men, women and children."
Linde points out that, in response to Kassam rocket attacks, gunners were ordered to "fire at the source" - which they did, firing a dozen or so shells. He adds that whereas the Kassams are intentionally fired at civilian targets, hoping for maximum casualties and damage, the troops who fired at Beit Hanun were targeting terrorists, not civilians. For the complete article see
*West Bank and the wall: The wall (most of it is wire, like any other fence) to which you object would not have been erected if it had not become necessary to prevent deadly suicide bombings and other terror. That it has been successful in preventing untold massacres must be balanced against the regrettable, temporary discomfort of some residents.
*Settlements, the Geneva convention and international law: Your claim that 40% of land held by settlements is privately owned Palestinian land, is contradicted by a recent admission by "Peace Now", the most active opponent and monitor of settlement activity, that it has made serious mistakes. For example in regard to the largest settlement, Ma'ale Adumim, it made a 15,900% percent mistake. Rather than 86.4% claimed as Palestinian land, it now claims just 0.54% of that land as supposedly Palestinian. For more details see 
Similarly your claim that settlements are in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention has been contested by eminent jurists like the late Professor Julius Stone one of the twentieth century's leading authorities on the Law of Nations. See
With regard to other claims of illegalities I refer you to
Obstacles to peace: 
Incitement. Palestinians who are subjected to hate propaganda from their earliest years cannot be expected to think of peaceful coexistence. Any report on the situation is incomplete if it fails to address the continuing incitement by Palestinian state-controlled media which teach children to emulate suicide martyrs with video clips portraying happy child martyrs in the after-world and while hatred continues to be spewed daily in mosques and schools.
In a typical sermon on PA TV, Sheik Muhammad Ibrahim Al-Madhi, called for turning Jews and Christians into Ahl-Dhimma [protected second rate citizens] under Muslim rule. Note that the hate is directed at Christians as well as Jews.
Certainly you cannot be unperturbed by the indoctrination of infants as shown in the following  excerpt from an interview by Duaa Amer with three-and-a-half year old Egyptian girl, Basmallah, broadcast on Iqra TV
Amer: How old are you, Basmallah?
Basmallah: Three and a half.
Amer: Why don't you like them? (the Jews)
Basmallah: They are apes and pigs.
Amer: Because they are apes and pigs. Who said that about them?
Basmallah: Our God.
You can view a video clip of this interview at
and other examples of incitement at
The PLO and Hamas Charters. Nor can you justifiably ignore the inevitably of continued violence attributable to the PLO and Hamas constitutions. The official Palestinian Media Center web site confirms that promised changes to the PLO Charter have not yet  been made. Article 9 still declares plainly that armed struggle is not merely tactical, it is the overall strategy. Article 19 rejects the 1947 UN partition, thereby rejecting the Quartet's proposed two-state solution and advocates destruction of the entire Jewish state. Article 20 unashamedly deems the Balfour Declaration and the British Mandate null and void.
The Hamas charter emphatically rejects peace. Article 13 states that peaceful solutions and international conferences, contradict the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement and that the only solution is through Jihad.
Do you consider it possible to negotiate rationally with a party that generates hatred based on fantasies? For example the Hamas Charter states that freemasons, Rotary clubs, Lions and similar organizations stirred the French revolution (though the latter organizations did not even exist at the time), that they were responsible for World War I and the Communist revolution and that they formed the League of Nations. Hamas promises that these organizations will be obliterated when Islam takes control.
May I hope you will treat this letter in the constructive spirit intended to engage in serious dialogue and promote mutual understanding?  I respectfully suggest that it would be more productive to discuss how best to resolve the conflict than engage in mutual recriminations
Your considered response would be appreciated.
Maurice Ostroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Democratic Congressman Hoyer meets Muslim Brotherhood Parliamentary Chief in Egypt

Read it and weep. A US congressman from Maryland violated Egyptian law and US policy to meet with a banned extremist Islamist group that doesn't want dialogue with Americans. Oh Maryland, my Maryland - what has become of thee!
In ten years, if the Muslim Brotherhood is in power in Egypt, will someone be sorry? The Muslim brotherhood didn't even really want to meet with Americans as the story tells you. What is the point of humiliating the United States, violating Egyptian law and stabbing every friend of the US in the Middle East in the back??
Ami Isseroff

Hoyer Meets Official From Egypt's Banned Muslim Brotherhood,3566,264805,00.html

CAIRO, Egypt - A top U.S. Democratic congressman met a leading member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, an outlawed opposition group, during a recent visit to the country, the Islamic fundamentalist group and U.S. officials said Saturday.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer met with the Muslim Brotherhood's parliament leader, Mohammed Saad el-Katatni, twice on Thursday - once at the parliament building and then at the home of the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, said Brotherhood spokesman Hamdi Hassan.

U.S. Embassy spokesman John Berry would only confirm that Hoyer, who represents Maryland, met with el-Katatni at U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone's home at a reception with other politicians and parliament members.

Though officially banned since 1954, the Brotherhood is tolerated by the government and has become Egypt's largest opposition group and President Hosni Mubarak's most powerful rival.

Its members, who run as independents, make up the largest opposition bloc in parliament, holding about one-fifth of its 454 seats.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has refused in the past to meet with the Muslim Brotherhood.

But Berry said U.S. government policy does not bar meetings with Brotherhood members of parliament and Hoyer's talks with el-Katatni were not a change in U.S. policy toward the group.

"It's our diplomatic practice around the world to meet with parliamentarians, be they members of political parties or independents," Berry said. "We haven't changed our policy with regard to the Muslim Brotherhood as an organization."

The State Department had no comment Saturday on Hoyer's meetings with the group.

Berry stressed that Hoyer met with el-Katatni in his capacity as an independent member of Egyptian parliament. He would not say what the two discussed.

Hassan said the two lawmakers discussed developments in the Middle East, the "Brotherhood's vision" and opposition movements in Egypt. He said the two met privately at the ambassador's home and with other members of Hoyer's bipartisan delegation and Egyptian lawmakers at the parliament building.

Hoyer's meeting came just a day after Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi drew sharp criticism from the Bush administration for meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus.

Pelosi and other Democrats argue the administration needs to engage Syria to resolve some of the most intractable problems in the Middle East, such as Iraq and the Israeli-Arab conflict. But the Bush administration rejects that approach, accusing Syria of exacerbating the troubles in neighboring Iraq and Lebanon.

Jon Alterman, a Mideast specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said Bush administration officials may have avoided meeting Muslim Brotherhood members because that could strain relations with the secular Egyptian government, one of the closest U.S. allies in the Middle East.

"The difficulty when it gets to Egypt is that the Brotherhood is not a legal group within Egypt and the U.S. government is wary of violating laws in countries in which it operates," he told The Associated Press on Saturday.

"The larger constraint on our willingness to meet the Brotherhood is the Egyptian government's unease with our government's meeting with the Brotherhood."

Hoyer, who also met with Mubarak during his visit, left Egypt on Friday. A telephone message left with his spokeswoman Saturday was not immediately returned. Calls to el-Katatni also went unanswered Saturday.

The Muslim Brotherhood's parliament bloc Web site said the meetings were not part of an effort to engage the United States.

"The Brotherhood not only has reservations on dialogue with the Americans but rejects the unfair American policy in the region," the Web site said.

Washington has been pressing Mubarak for years to enact reforms as part of a Bush administration campaign to spread democracy in the Mideast. And Rice expressed concern in March that "all voices" were not being heard in deliberations over amending the constitution as part of those reforms.

"There's been a growing sense in Washington over 20 years that Islamic politics are here to stay, and the U.S. interest in promoting democracy around the world means we should be engaging with a growing number of actors," Alterman said.

Continued (Permanent Link)

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