Everyone who was sentient in 1967 can remember that the drafters of UN Security Council Resolution 242, as well as Israel, understood that it does not require Israel to withdraw to the borders of June 4, 1967. At the time, the resolution was rejected by every Arab state as well as the PLO.
A massive effort to change history has more or less succeeding in wiping these facts from the collective memory of most of the world. Most articles about the Arab peace initiative now include language similar to the following, "Israel must withdraw to June 1967 borders in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 242, but that interpretation is not supported by the record.
This Camera report provides some of the evidence.
Security Council Resolution 242 According to its Drafters
CAMERA January 15, 2007
After the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel prevented an attempt by surrounding Arab nations to destroy it militarily, the United Nations Security Council prepared a carefully-worded resolution to guide the parties. Since then, U.N. Resolution 242 has been invoked as the centerpiece for negotiation efforts, including the Israeli-Egyptian Camp David Accords, the Oslo Accords and the Road Map peace plan.
But while many sources correctly describe the wording and intent of Resolution 242, others have misrepresented it as requiring Israel to return to the pre-1967 lines - the armistice lines established after Israel's War of Independence.
Such an interpretation was explicitly not the intention of the framers of 242, nor does the language of the resolution include any such requirement.
Sometimes, the misrepresentations are redressed, as was the case when the New York Times and others corrected errors about the resolution. In other cases, inaccurate characterizations still await formal correction, as is the case with Jimmy Carter's repeated distortion of the resolution in his book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid.
Below are statements by the main drafters of Resolution 242 - Lord Caradon, Eugene Rostow, Arthur Goldberg and Baron George-Brown - as well as others, in which the meaning and history of Resolution 242 are explained.
#1 Lord Caradon (Hugh M. Foot) was the permanent representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations, 1964-1970, and chief drafter of Resolution 242. . Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, pg. 13, qtd. in Egypt's Struggle for Peace: Continuity and Change, 1967-1977, Yoram Meital, pg. 49:
Much play has been made of the fact that we didn't say "the" territories or "all the" territories. But that was deliberate. I myself knew very well the 1967 boundaries and if we had put in the "the" or "all the" that could only have meant that we wished to see the 1967 boundaries perpetuated in the form of a permanent frontier. This I was certainly not prepared to recommend.
. Journal of Palestine Studies, "An Interview with Lord Caradon," Spring - Summer 1976, pgs 144-45: Q. The basis for any settlement will be United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, of which you were the architect. Would you say there is a contradiction between the part of the resolution that stresses the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and that which calls for Israeli withdrawal from "occupied territories," but not from "the occupied territories"? A. I defend the resolution as it stands. What it states, as you know, is first the general principle of inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war. That means that you can't justify holding onto territory merely because you conquered it. We could have said: well, you go back to the 1967 line. But I know the 1967 line, and it's a rotten line. You couldn't have a worse line for a permanent international boundary. It's where the troops happened to be on a certain night in 1948. It's got no relation to the needs of the situation.
Had we said that you must go back to the 1967 line, which would have resulted if we had specified a retreat from all the occupied territories, we would have been wrong. In New York, what did we know about Tayyibe and Qalqilya? If we had attempted in New York to draw a new line, we would have been rather vague. So what we stated was the principle that you couldn't hold territory because you conquered it, therefore there must be a withdrawal to - let's read the words carefully - "secure and recognized boundaries." The can only be secure if they are recognized. The boundaries have to be agreed; it's only when you get agreement that you get security. I think that now people begin to realize what we had in mind - that security doesn't come from arms, it doesn't come from territory, it doesn't come from geography, it doesn't come from one side domination the other, it can only come from agreement and mutual respect and understanding.
Therefore, what we did, I think, was right; what the resolution said was right and I would stand by it. It needs to be added to now, of course. ... We didn't attempt to deal with [the questions of the Palestinians and of Jerusalem] then, but merely to state the general principles of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war. We meant that the occupied territories could not be held merely because they were occupied, but we deliberately did not say that the old line, where the troops happened to be on that particular night many years ago, was an ideal demarcation line.
. MacNeil/Lehrer Report, March 30, 1978: We didn't say there should be a withdrawal to the '67 line; we did not put the "the" in, we did not say "all the territories" deliberately. We all knew that the boundaries of '67 were not drawn as permanent frontiers, they were a cease-fire line of a couple of decades earlier... . We did not say that the '67 boundaries must be forever.
. Daily Star (Beirut), June 12, 1974. Qtd. in Myths and Facts, Leonard J. Davis, pg. 48: It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of 4 June 1967 because those positions were undesirable and artificial. After all, they were just the places the soldiers of each side happened to be the day the fighting stopped in 1948. They were just armistice lines. That's why we didn't demand that the Israelis return to them and I think we were right not to ...
. Interview on Kol Israel radio, February 1973, qtd. on Web site of Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Q. This matter of the (definite) article which is there in French and is missing in English, is that really significant? A. The purposes are perfectly clear, the principle is stated in the preamble, the necessity for withdrawal is stated in the operative section. And then the essential phrase which is not sufficiently recognized is that withdrawal should take place to secure and recognized boundaries, and these words were very carefully chosen: they have to be secure and they have to be recognized. They will not be secure unless they are recognized. And that is why one has to work for agreement. This is essential. I would defend absolutely what we did. It was not for us to lay down exactly where the border should be. I know the 1967 border very well. It is not a satisfactory border, it is where troops had to stop in 1947, just where they happened to be that night, that is not a permanent boundary...
#2 Eugene Rostow, a legal scholar and former dean of Yale Law School, was US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, 1966-1969. He helped draft Resolution 242.
. Telegram from the Department of State to the U.S. Interests Section of the Spanish Embassy in the United Arab Republic summarizing Rostow's conversation with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin: Rostow said ... resolution required agreement on "secure and recognized" boundaries, which, as practical matter, and as matter of interpreting resolution, had to precede withdrawals. Two principles were basic to Article I of resolution. Paragraph from which Dobrynin quoted was linked to others, and he did not see how anyone could seriously argue, in light of history of resolution in Security Council, withdrawal to borders of June 4th was contemplated. These words had been pressed on Council by Indians and others, and had not been accepted.
. Proceedings of the 64th annual meeting of the American Society of International Law, 1970, pgs 894-96: ... the question remained, "To what boundaries should Israel withdraw?" On this issue, the American position was sharply drawn, and rested on a critical provision of the Armistice Agreements of 1949. Those agreements provided in each case that the Armistice Demarcation Line "is not to be construed in any sense as a political or territorial boundary, and is delineated without prejudice to rights, claims or positions of either party to the Armistice as regards ultimate settlement of the Palestine question." ... These paragraphs, which were put into the agreements at Arab insistence, were the legal foundation for the controversies over the wording of paragraphs 1 and 3 of Security Council Resolution 242, of November 22, 1967. ...
The agreement required by paragraph 3 of the resolution, the Security Council said, should establish "secure and recognized boundaries" between Israel and its neighbors "free from threats or acts of force," to replace the Armistice Demarcation Lines established in 1949, and the cease-fire lines of June, 1967. The Israeli armed forces should withdraw to such lines, as part of a comprehensive agreement, settling all the issues mentioned in the resolution, and in a condition of peace.
On this point, the American position has been the same under both the Johnson and the Nixon Administrations. The new and definitive political boundaries should not represent "the weight of conquest," both Administrations have said; on the other hand, under the policy and language of the Armistice Agreements of 1949, and of the Security Council Resolution of November 22, 1967, they need not be the same as the Armistice Demarcation Lines. ...
This is the legal significance of the omission of the word "the" from paragraph 1 (I) of the resolution, which calls for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces "from territories occupied in the recent conflict," and not "from the territories occupied in the recent conflict." Repeated attempts to amend this sentence by inserting the word "the" failed in the Security Council. It is therefore not legally possible to assert that the provision requires Israeli withdrawal from all the territories now occupied under the Cease-Fire Resolutions to the Armistice Demarcation Lines.
. Jerusalem Post, "The truth about 242," Nov. 5, 1990: Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 ... rest on two principles, Israel may administer the territory until its Arab neighbors make peace; and when peace is made, Israel should withdraw to "secure and recognized borders," which need not be the same as the Armistice Demarcation Lines of 1949. ...
The omission of the word "the" from the territorial clause of the Resolution was one of its most hotly-debated and fundamental features. The U.S., Great Britain, the Netherlands, and many other countries worked hard for five and a half months in 1967 to keep the word "the" and the idea it represents out of the resolution. Motions to require the withdrawal of Israel from "the" territories or "all the territories" occupied in the course of the Six Day War were put forward many times with great linguistic ingenuity. They were all defeated both in the General Assembly and in the Security Council. ...
Those who claim that Resolution 242 is ambiguous on the point are either ignorant of the history of its negotiation or simply taking a convenient tactical position.
. The New Republic, "Resolved: are the settlements legal? Israeli West Bank policies," Oct. 21, 1991: Five-and-a-half months of vehement public diplomacy in 1967 made it perfectly clear what the missing definite article in Resolution 242 means. Ingeniously drafted resolutions calling for withdrawals from "all" the territories were defeated in the Security Council and the General Assembly. Speaker after speaker made it explicit that Israel was not to be forced back to the "fragile" and "vulnerable" Armistice Demarcation Lines, but should retire once peace was made to what Resolution 242 called "secure and recognized" boundaries, agreed to by the parties. In negotiating such agreements, the parties should take into account, among other factors, security considerations, access to the international waterways of the region, and, of course, their respective legal claims.
. The New York Times, "Don't strong-arm Israel," Feb. 19, 1991: Security Council Resolution 242, approved after the 1967 war, stipulates not only that Israel and its neighboring states should make peace with each other but should establish "a just and lasting peace in the Middle East." Until that condition is met, Israel is entitled to administer the territories it captured - the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip - and then withdraw from some but not necessarily all of the land to "secure and recognized boundaries free of threats or acts of force."
. The Wall Street Journal, "Peace still depends on the two Palestines," April 27, 1988: ... Resolution 242 establishes three principles about the territorial aspect of the peace-making process: 1) Israel can occupy and administer the territories it occupied during the Six-Day War until the Arabs make peace. 2) When peace agreements are reached, they should delineate "secure and recognized" boundaries to which Israel would withdraw. 3) Those boundaries could differ from the Armistice Demarcation Lines of 1949.
. Institute for National Strategic Studies, "The Future of Palestine," November 1993: The second territorial provision of Resolution 242 is that while Israel should agree to withdraw from some of theterritories it occupied in 1967, it need not withdraw from all those territories. The Resolution states that there should be"withdrawal of Israeli's armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict." Five and a half months of vigorous diplomacy, public and private, make it very clear why the wording of the sentence took the form it did. Motion after motion proposed to insert the words "the" or "all the" before the word "territories." They were all defeated, until finally the Soviet Union and the Arab states accepted the language as the best they could get.
#3 Arthur J. Goldberg was the United States representative to the United Nations, 1965-1968, and before that a U.S. Supreme Court justice. He helped draft Resolution 242.
. American Foreign Policy Interests, 1988: The resolution does not explicitly require that Israel withdraw to the lines that it occupied on June 5, 1967, before the outbreak of the war. The Arab states urged such language; the Soviet Union proposed such a resolution to the Security Council in June 1967, and Yugoslavia and other nations made a similar proposal to the special session of the General Assembly that followed the adjournment of the Security Council. But those views were rejected. Instead, Resolution 242 endorses the principle of the "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict" and juxtaposes the principle that every state in the area is entitled to live in peace within "secure and recognized boundaries." ...
The notable omissions in language used to refer to withdrawal are the words the, all, and the June 5, 1967, lines. I refer to the English text of the resolution. The French and Soviet texts differ from the English in this respect, but the English text was voted on by the Security Council, and thus it is determinative. In other words, there is lacking a declaration requiring Israel to withdraw from the (or all the) territories occupied by it on and after June 5, 1967. Instead, the resolution stipulates withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal. And it can be inferred from the incorporation of the words secure and recognized boundaries that the territorial adjustments to be made by the parties in their peace settlements could encompass less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territories.
. Christian Science Monitor, "Middle East peace prospects," July 9, 1985: ... all parties are apparently in agreement that the basis for negotiations would be Resolutions 242 and 338 adopted by the UN Security Council. These resolutions, although often referred to in the news media, are inadequately analyzed or explained. I shall attempt to provide a measure of enlightenment.
* Does Resolution 242 as unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council require the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from all of the territories occupied by Israel during the 1967 war? The answer is no. In the resolution, the words the and all are omitted. Resolution 242 calls for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the 1967 conflict, without specifying the extent of the withdrawal. The resolution, therefore, neither commands nor prohibits total withdrawal.
* If the resolution is ambiguous, and purposely so, on this crucial issue, how is the withdrawal issue to be settled? By direct negotiations between the concerned parties. Resolution 242 calls for agreement between them to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement. Agreement and acceptance necessarily require negotiations.
* Any ambiguity in this regard has been resolved by Resolution 338, unanimously adopted by the Security Council on Oct. 22, 1973. Resolution 338 reaffirms Resolution 242 in all its parts and requires negotiations between the parties concerned aimed at establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East.
* Is Resolution 242 self-executing? The answer is no. Negotiations are necessary to put flesh on the bones of the resolution, as Resolution 338 acknowledges.
* Is Israel's withdrawal confined to "minor" border rectifications? No. Resolution 242 reaffirms the right of every area state 'to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.'
* How are secure and recognized boundaries to be achieved to enable every state to live in peace free from threats or acts of force? By negotiation, agreement, and accepted settlement.
. U.S. Senate, The Arab-Israeli Dispute, 6, pgs 14-16, qtd. in Egypt's Struggle for Peace: Continuity and Change, 1967-1977, Yoram Meital, pg. 50: At no time in my meetings with Foreign Minister Riad did I give him such an assurance [of a complete Israeli withdrawal]. It would have been foolish to make such an assurance, when the whole object of Resolution 242 was to allow flexibility in negotiations of territorial boundaries.
. New York Times, "What Goldberg didn't say," letters, March 12, 1980: Resolution 242 in no way refers to Jerusalem, and this omission was deliberate. I wanted to make clear that Jerusalem was a discrete matter, not linked to the West Bank.
In a number of speeches at the U.N. in 1967, I repeatedly stated that the armistice lines fixed after 1948 were intended to be temporary. This, of course, was particularly true of Jerusalem. At no time in these many speeches did I refer to East Jerusalem as occupied territory.
#4 Baron George-Brown (George A. Brown) was the British Foreign Secretary from 1966 to 1968. He helped draft Resolution 242.
. In My Way, pgs 226-27, qtd. in the American Journal of International Law, "The illegality of the Arab attack on Israel of October 6, 1973," Eugene Rostow: [Resolution 242] does not call for Israeli withdrawal from "the" territories recently occupied, nor does it use the word "all". It would have been impossible to get the resolution through if either of these words had been included, but it does set out the lines on which negotiations for a settlement must take place. Each side must be prepared to give up something: the resolution doesn't attempt to say precisely what, because that is what negotiations for a peace-treaty must be about.
. Jerusalem Post, Jan. 23, 1970, qtd. on Web site of Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs: I have been asked over and over again to clarify, modify or improve the wording, but I do not intend to do that. The phrasing of the Resolution was very carefully worked out, and it was a difficult and complicated exercise to get it accepted by the UN Security Council.
I formulated the Security Council Resolution. Before we submitted it to the Council, we showed it to Arab leaders. The proposal said "Israel will withdraw from territories that were occupied," and not from "the" territories, which means that Israel will not withdraw from all the territories.
#5 J. L. Hargrove was Senior Adviser on International Law to the United States Mission to the United Nations, 1967-1970:
. Hearings on the Middle East before the Subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 92nd Congress, 1st Session 187 (1971), qtd. in the American Journal of International Law, "The illegality of the Arab attack on Israel of October 6, 1973," Eugene Rostow: The provision of Resolution 242 which bears most directly on the question which you raised, Congressman, is subparagraph (1) of paragraph 1 of the resolution, which envisages "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict."
The language "from territories" was regarded at the time of the adoption of the resolution as of high consequence because the proposal put forward by those espousing the Egyptian case was withdrawal from "the territories." In the somewhat minute debate which frequently characterizes the period before the adoption of a United Nations resolution, the article "the" was regarded of considerable significance because its inclusion would seem to imply withdrawal from all territories which Israel had not occupied prior to the June war, but was at the present time occupying.
Consequently, the omission of "the" was intended on our part, as I understood it at the time and was understood on all sides, to leave open the possibility of modifications in the lines which were occupied as of June 4, 1967, in the final settlement.
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The "Obsession" film should not be a Zionist issue. It is about terror and incitement. Whatever you may think of the commentators, the footage the film shows of crowds screaming "death to America" is authentic. The footage of Jew hate is authentic. We wrote about the virtual banning of Obsession from American theaters and campuses before.
As reported in the press release below, Hillel has gotten PACE university to apologize for banning the film, and for an incendiary statement they made about campus Hillel, and they even got them to allow the film, as a special favor we suppose.
But this should not have been an issue for Hillel or the ZOA or for Jewish groups at all. The Islamist attacks of 9-11 didn't happen in Israel and they did not kill only Jews. The recent attacks in Algeria and Morocco didn't kill Jews either. They were aimed at Muslims. Fighting terror, hate and extremism has to be the concern of every decent human being on Earth, regardless of their religion or race. That's the only way we will ever lick it. Terrorism and Islamist extremism are the enemy of civilized people everywhere.
Zionist Organization of America
Jacob & Libby Goodman ZOA House, 4 East 34th Street, New York, N.Y. 10016
(212) 481-1500 Fax: (212) 481-1515 firstname.lastname@example.org www.zoa.orgApril 20, 2007
Contact Morton A. Klein at: (212) 481-1500
Attn: NEWS EDITOR
ZOA Efforts Help Spur Pace Apology To Jewish Students
ZOA HELPS TRIGGER PACE UNIV.'S CHANGED STANCE -
SHOWING OF ANTI-RADICAL ISLAM FILM ALLOWED
New York - New York's Pace University apologized to members of the university's Jewish community after the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and others complained that the Pace administration had threatened and intimidated Hillel members into cancelling a showing of the documentary, "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," after Muslim students objected to it. In addition, after these complaints to the university, Hillel was finally permitted to screen the film at Pace, without the university's interference, on Wednesday, April 18, 2007.
"Obsession" chronicles the influence of radical Islam in the Middle East. It has been shown on dozens of campuses and other venues across North America, and has contributed to an understanding of this serious problem. Hillel had originally scheduled the screening for November 16, 2006, during Hillel's Jewish Awareness Week, and had followed university procedure for showing the film.
On or about October 23, 2006, Hillel gave Pace University's Muslim Students Association (MSA) notice of the upcoming screening, although it was under no obligation to do so. Hillel invited the MSA to collaborate in presenting the event, and to participate on a panel after the film to discuss the important issues it raised.
The MSA did not respond to Hillel's overture. But the Hillel's president began hearing rumors that a university dean was going to prevent the film from being shown. At a meeting with administrators initiated by the Hillel president, a dean gestured toward the two Hillel students at the meeting and threatened them that if they went ahead and showed the film, the police might begin to look into their personal records. (There had been several hate incidents on campus, including some that involved the Koran, and the implication was that the Hillel students might be considered suspects). Because of these threats, Hillel did not show the film on November 16, 2006.
When the administration's conduct toward Hillel received public attention, the Pace administration issued a public statement on January 10, 2007 - entitled "Pace University Statement on Hillel Charges" - to every member of the campus community and posted the statement on the Pace Web site. The statement personally attacked Hillel and its president, questioning his honesty and credibility and repeatedly noting that the Hillel president had "misconstrued" the university's intentions. The statement also urged members of the community to "feel free to share this statement with others."
Troubled by the administration's actions, which were threatening, intimidating and creating a hostile environment for Jewish students at Pace, the ZOA took action. Susan Tuchman, the Director of the ZOA's Center for Law and Justice, wrote a detailed letter to David A. Caputo, the President of Pace University, criticizing the university's conduct and alleging a possible violation of Pace's obligation to provide Jewish students with an educational environment free from harassment, intimidation and discrimination, as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The ZOA letter chastised Pace for its "bullying" conduct, and urged the university to "take immediate remedial action," including issuing a public apology to the Pace Hillel and its representatives, permanently removing the offensive public statement from the Pace Web site, and issuing a public statement affirming Hillel's right to show "Obsession."
After receipt of the ZOA letter, Pace removed the offensive statement from its Web site. Additional communications between Pace and the ZOA followed, including a telephone call from Pace President Caputo to Susan Tuchman, which resulted in a conversation between them about the issues in dispute. On March 26, 2007, President Caputo issued a public statement to the members of the university community. In the statement, President Caputo "assured [members of Pace's Jewish community] that no . . . coercion or intimidation was intended," and "apologize[d] for any action that may have unfortunately led to that belief. I also want to apologize for any hurt we may have caused [the Hillel president] and other members of Hillel in issuing the University Statement on Hillel Charges in January."
President Caputo's apology statement was posted on the Pace Web site and also e-mailed to the Pace community. It also noted that Obsession was scheduled to be shown on campus. The screening took place on Wednesday, April 18, 2007, without incident.
The ZOA's National President, Morton A. Klein, commended the Jewish students at Pace for not bowing to coercion and intimidation. "These students were in effect threatened because they wanted to show a film about radical Islam. And then they were threatened because they had the courage to stand up for their right to show the film. We congratulate them on their courage and perseverance in achieving such a favorable result."
Susan Tuchman, the Director of the ZOA's Center for Law and Justice, commended Pace University for resolving matters without the need for legal action. "President Caputo has made a commitment to making Pace a welcoming place for all, regardless of race religion, ethnicity and gender. The public apology and the university's cooperation in the showing of the film last Wednesday have gone a long way in healing the hurt that many Jewish students felt as a result of the administration's actions."
The president of Hillel at Pace thanked those who helped achieve these results. He said, "The continued efforts of Susan B. Tuchman, Esq. from the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) have been of tremendous help. The legal advice that was continuously provided before and after the incident went public and the legal pressure that was placed on the Pace administration have resulted in great rewards."
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Lots of talk about peace, but the terror continues.
4 Kassams land near Sderot; residential house damaged
JPost.com Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST Apr. 21, 2007
An Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a car in the northern Gaza Strip late Saturday, killing a Palestinian man and wounding a second occupant, Palestinian officials said.
The airstrike came shortly after Palestinian militants fired four rockets into southern Israel. One of the rockets scored a direct hit on a house in the Israeli border town of Sderot, police said. Officials said there were no injuries, but the residents suffered from shock.
MDA teams arrived on the scene and were treating the family. The building sustained significant damage.
IDF troops kill 4 Palestinian gunmen
The Palestinian officials said the car was struck near the rocket launch site. Medical officials identified the dead man as a 37-year-old Gaza resident. The identity and condition of the second person weren't immediately known, and it was unclear whether the pair were militants.
The Israeli army was looking into the report.
Three Palestinian militant groups - Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades - claimed responsibility for the rocket attack. In a joint statement, they said the attack was to avenge the deaths of three militants killed earlier Saturday in the West Bank.
The fighting threatened to strain a cease-fire declared last November between Israel and militants in Gaza. The truce has brought a sharp drop in fighting, though sporadic rocket attacks have continued. Israeli officials have said they will not tolerate continued rocket fire.
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Sean Gannon explains who is behind the Irish initiatives to boycott Israel and who opposes them:
The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign's (IPSC) recent success in persuading Ireland's official arts association, Aosd'na, to pass a resolution urging Irish artists to "reflect deeply" before engaging in any cooperation with state-sponsored Israeli cultural events and institutions is, without doubt, a regrettable development. Aosd'na is Ireland's most prestigious cultural body and its decision to issue what the IPSC chairman described in Haaretz (April 13) as "a boycott call in all but name" will carry weight in the Irish arts world.
In fact, this is not the first time that the IPSC has successfully targeted Israeli culture. Last summer it launched campaigns against Israeli government sponsorship for a series of Dublin-based events, which it argued would "align the Irish cultural sector with the oppression and racism" of an "ethnocratic rogue state." While official funding remained in place for events featuring poet Amir Or and A.B. Yehoshua, despite vociferous IPSC protests, sponsorship for both a screening of Eytan Fox's "Walk on Water" and a performance by the Toy Vivo Duo was canceled by the organizers.
However, the media coverage of these IPSC successes risks investing them with a significance they scarcely deserve. For in reality, the great majority of its boycott campaigns have resoundingly failed. For instance, its ongoing efforts to persuade Irish companies such as CRH to divest from Israel and its "National Boycott Days" of Israeli produce have failed to make any impression; Irish-Israeli trade has increased exponentially in recent years and is now worth about $700 million a year. The IPSC's attempt to orchestrate boycotts of the Ireland-Israel World Cup qualifying games in 2005 proved another toe-curling shambles: 3,000 Irish fans traveled to Ramat Gan to watch Ireland's away game, while 34,000 attended the rematch in Dublin. And last September's well-publicized academic boycott campaign quickly crashed and burned after being denounced by both the Irish government and the European Commission.
The IPSC's general lack of success may appear unusual in a country where the great majority energetically sympathizes with the Palestinians, perceiving them as a dispossessed nation, denied their right to self-determination by Zionism's neocolonial adventure. Consequently, there has been overwhelming public support for Dublin's staunchly pro-Palestinian positions on issues from the legitimacy of Yasser Arafat to the illegality of the security fence, while its trenchant attacks on Israel's use of "reckless and disproportionate force" in Lebanon last summer were also widely applauded. Yet the IPSC remains a marginal force where one might almost expect to find a mass movement.
Why? Because the Irish mainstream is deterred by the IPSC's extremist approach to the issues. Its recent dismissal of Meretz-Yahad as a "phony" peace party "eager to preserve a mildly adjusted version of the status quo" has raised questions about the shape of the settlement the IPSC itself advocates, while its perceived ambivalence on Palestinian terrorism is another problematical factor. Suicide bombings have been condemned, but other attacks have been categorized as "lawful resistance" or "forceful defense," while the characterization as terrorists of the killers of 13 Israeli reservists in Jenin in April 2002 was described as "robbing the word 'terrorist' of all meaning" (unsurprising, perhaps, given that the IPSC's Belfast branch was until recently chaired by a convicted IRA bomber).
The Irish mainstream has been further alienated by the stridency of the IPSC's anti-Israel rhetoric, which often verges on demonization. While the still-commonplace equation of Zionism and Nazism is now being discouraged, the drawing of analogies between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa is present IPSC policy and its chairman is currently promoting the Hebrew term hafrada (separation) as an Israel-specific alternative to the original Afrikaans term. Meanwhile, the IPSC's most prominent national spokesman implicitly compared "people who genuinely support Israel" with "people who genuinely support pedophilia" in a recent online debate on the Aosd?na issue.
The IPSC's tendency, despite its frequent denunciations of anti-Semitism, to inadvertently stray close to the line has been an additional cause of disquiet. For instance, while it deplored the post-Qana pinning of children's shoes to an Irish synagogue gate, it previously accused Israel of "implementing barbaric racist policies in the name of Judaism," and its official charity Christmas cards have, by juxtaposing images of Israel's security detail with traditional nativity iconography, evoked religious anti-Semitic themes.
An IPSC Web site's campaign to expose the "Zionist propaganda machine" by effectively highlighting the Jewishness of writers and journalists also caused controversy; Gil Troy, writing in The Forward, described it as "the internet version of the Nazi yellow star." And just last month, prominent IPSC members themselves began quarrelling over the extent of anti-Semitism in the organization with one internationally renowned activist arguing that they could "no longer claim naivete" on the issue, given that their current Israeli Blood Diamond campaign "uses a Jewish stereotype [i.e. 'diamond-dealing Jews'] to promote its agenda."
While Irish anti-Israel agitation remains in the hands of such extremists, the Aosdna resolution will prove the exception rather than the rule.
Sean Gannon is a freelance writer and researcher on Irish-Israeli issues and is chairman of the Irish Friends of Israel. He is currently writing a book on relations between the two countries.
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Whether America wins or loses in Iraq, the Shi'ites are likely to come out on top, and that may be bad for everyone else, argues Ze'ev Schiff:
The victory won't be American
By Ze'ev Schiff
The assumption that there will be no American victory in Iraq is growing stronger. On the other hand, a Shi'ite victory over the Sunnis seems likely. If there is such a victory, it will have a profound effect on the region, Israel included.
It is important to understand that there is another war going on in Iraq - a civil war between the Shi'ites and the Sunnis, who have been in power for hundreds of years. Of late, a crushing Shi'ite victory looks imminent. A respected Middle East expert, Fouad Ajami, a Shi'ite of Lebanese origin, described the situation well in his articles in The Wall Street Journal and The New Republic after returning from Iraq.
The turning point in the fighting took place over a year ago after the Sunnis attacked the great mosque in Samara, killing hundreds of worshippers. In the wake of the attack, the battle in Iraq increased in scope and brutality, and the Shi'ites mobilized all their forces. Thousands of men came from the marshlands where Saddam massacred Shi'ites in the past, some of them joining Shi'ite militias such as the one headed by Muqtada al-Sadr.
The outcome has been a gradual Shi'ite takeover of the capital. The Sunni neighborhoods lie mostly in ruins, and only 15 percent of the Baghdad population is Sunni. Iraqi Sunnis are streaming into Jordan, which has created a problem there. According to estimates, 1.7 million Iraqi refugees have abandoned their property in Baghdad and other cities. Many were driven out of their homes in ethnic cleansing campaigns.
Some Sunnis are calling themselves the "Palestinians of Iraq" after losing their country and being abandoned to their fate by the Arab countries, in the same way the Palestinians were cast off.
The lesson is not to rely on their promises and to maintain a very wide safety zone for defense purposes. If the Shi'ites strengthen their grip on Iraq, it will be the first time in modern Arab history that a Shi'ite regime rules an Arab country. Victory in Iraq will bring the power that comes with oil resources.
As a result, the Sunni Arab world is worried and nervously readying itself for such a scenario. The danger is that they could push the Shi'ites in Iraq into the arms of Iran. Shi'ite leaders in Iraq told Fouad Ajami that they plan to devote most of their energies to rehabilitating Iraq, and will have no taste for adventures outside the country, like Saddam. In contrast to Saddam, they believe they will be good neighbors. Only time will tell. In any case, a Shi'ite victory is certain to affect the political balance in the Arab world.
A Shi'ite victory will also affect Israel's security. The growing Iranian influence in a Shi'ite-controlled Iraq could be detrimental to Israel, and the same holds true for a Shi'ite Iraqi pact with Hezbollah. Meanwhile, it seems that an American pullout will not end the hostilities in Iraq because the Sunnis are fighting for their lives. If withdrawal is interpreted by the Arabs as a sign of American defeat, we can look forward to a radical Arab shift that will strengthen all the extremists around us.
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Someone knows what the real story is, but they aren't talking, are they?
The State Security Emergency Court on Saturday convicted an Egyptian-Canadian man of spying for Israel and sentenced him to 15 years in prison.
Three Israelis charged alongside Mohammed el-Attar and tried in absentia also received 15 years in prison.
El-Attar, 30, and the Israeli defendants had been on trial since Feb. 24 at the Cairo court.
El-Attar, who had pleaded not guilty, flashed a victory sign when he entered the courtroom surrounded by dozens of security personnel and was rushed to a waiting police van after the verdict was issued.
Prosecutors said earlier el-Attar confessed to spying for Israel and gave a detailed account of his role in collecting information about Egyptians and Arabs living in Turkey and Canada in return for money. He also allegedly received instructions from the three Israelis, said to be intelligence officers, to recruit Christian Egyptian immigrants in Canada using money and sex.
El-Attar's defense lawyer Ibrahim el-Basyuni has said his confession was made under duress while being interrogated. The defendant told the court in an earlier session he confessed because he was tortured with electric shocks. However, Prosecutor Hani Hamoodah has insisted the defendant made the confession freely and without coercion.
El-Attar, a former student at the Islamic Al-Azhar university in Cairo, was arrested on Jan. 1 as he returned from abroad to visit his family in Egypt.
His alleged confession claimed he fled Egypt in 2001 and sought asylum with the UN refugee agency offices in Turkey after he was sentenced to three years in prison for issuing a bad check. It also alleged el-Attar converted to Christianity in Istanbul and was then sent to Canada, where he delivered more spy reports about Christian Egyptians.
El-Basyuni has denied el-Attar converted or that he received any money from Israel, saying his client supported himself by working in a bank in Canada.
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Welcome to Gaza American aid people. Please help the starving and miserable Palestinian people, victims of the Israeli colonialist warmonger occupation:
By The Associated Press
Armed assailants set off explosives at an international school in northern Gaza early Saturday, damaging the building but causing no casualties, Palestinian security sources said.
The security sources and school officials said the militants detonated three explosive devices in two of the buildings of the school in the northern Gaza Strip. The blast occurred before the start of the school day and no one was injured in the attack.
The sources added that the assailants had stormed the school, handcuffed its guards and set off explosive devices after moving the nightwatchmen several metres away from the building.
The explosions, which took place at 4 am, caused a fire that burnt most of the furniture at Gaza's only international school.
"A large number of masked gunmen attacked the school at dawn. They poured petrol all around and blew up several explosive devices and destroyed some of the premises," said Rebhi Salem, the school's director.
The gunmen identified themselves as an al Qaeda organization operating in Gaza, Salem said. There have been a rash of attacks in Gaza in recent months attributed to Islamist groups that claim to be followers of al Qaeda.
The school is a private institution that is part of an association of "American Schools" in the Middle East. The
curriculum stresses English as well as Arabic studies. None of the teachers are American.
A U.S. embassy official said the school has no connection to the U.S. government.
The school, located near the former Jewish settlement of Dugit, has been a target before. Two teachers were
kidnapped from the school by gunmen in 2006 and the school was repeatedly hit by Israeli fire during the past few years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting.
Salem said growing violence in Gaza has prompted most foreign educators to leave the strip for their own safety.
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Is this all the rearmament that Israel is doing after the Lebanon war?
Last update - 08:45 21/04/2007
The Bush administration announced on Friday the first officially disclosed sale of U.S. military equipment to Israel since the end of the Second Lebanon War this past summer.
In a notice to Congress, the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency said Israel had requested as many as 3,500 MK-84 "general purpose" bombs, spares and repair parts plus U.S. government technical assistance in a deal worth up to $65 million if all options are exercised.
General Dynamics Corp. would be the prime contractor. Such congressional notices are required by law for sales that meet certain thresholds, and do not mean a sale has been concluded.
"Israel's strategic position makes it vital to the United States' interests throughout the Middle East," the notice said.
It said U.S. policy has been to promote peace in the Middle East, support the Israeli commitment to peace with its Arab neighbors, enhance regional stability and promote Israeli readiness and self-sufficiency.
"It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist Israel in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability," the Pentagon added.
The last notification of a proposed sale to Israel meeting public disclosure requirements occurred July 14, two days after the start of the 2006 Lebanon war, and involved a sale of JP-8 aviation jet fuel worth up to $210 million.
On Jan. 29, the State Department said Israel "likely" violated an agreement with Washington in its use of U.S.-made cluster bombs during its war with Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.
A U.S. investigation began after reports that three types of U.S.-origin cluster munitions were found in southern Lebanon and were responsible for civilian deaths. Israel has said it deployed such arms in accordance with international law.
In a separate notice to Congress on Friday, the Pentagon disclosed a proposed sale to Turkey of MK-54 torpedoes and related equipment valued at up to $105 million.
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Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has said he is willing to visit Israel to promote peace. This is not quite the historic breakthrough created by Anwar Sadat in 1977. But it is a sign of thaw for sure:
Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf made a surprise offer Friday to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an interview with the pan-Arab satellite Television Al-Arabiya.
Musharraf told the Dubai-based television that he would be willing to visit Israel in order to help bring peace to the troubled Middle East.
Pakistan - a key ally in the U.S.-led war against terrorism - has no formal diplomatic ties with Israel and supports a separate state for Palestinians with Jerusalem as its capital.
In the interview aired late Friday, Musharraf said he was enthusiastic to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and would go to Israel if his offer to be involved in a mediation process was accepted.
Musharraf said he could also start his talks first with the Palestinians, "or maybe in some third country ... going to Israel is also a possibility."
"It will be an honor, if I can contribute in any way," said Musharraf, although he has so far not been asked to mediate. "If there was a role that I can play, and both sides accept that role, yes, indeed, I would like to play that role."
The Pakistani leader suggested that the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will not be solved unless solutions for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict are found first, adding that these solutions would have an impact on the Mideast's stability, and will also bring serenity and stability throughout the region and beyond.
Pakistan has not been yet involved in any negotiations concerning the Arab region, but hosted talks in late February in Islamabad, attended by Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, on issues ranging from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to the war in Iraq and the standoff with Iran.
In September 2005, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri met with then Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom in Istanbul in the first publicly acknowledged high-level contact between the predominantly Muslim nation and Israel.
Musharraf had defended his government's talks with Israel, saying contact between the two countries is in accordance with the tenets of Islam. Musharraf said Islam allowed its followers to engage with people of other faiths.
"Islam is a religion of peace and it has lived in peace and harmony with other faiths for centuries and can do so in future as well," an official statement quoted him as saying while speaking to Kasuri.
Musharraf reiterated Pakistan would not recognize Israel until a Palestinian state was established.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who was also present in the meeting, said Pakistan would decide about the recognition of Israel "in the supreme national interest after due consultations."
Pakistan had made the decision to hold talks with Israel after the implementation of the 2005 disengagement plan.
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I preface this by stating that when in the U.S. I was a consistent supporter of the Democratic party. It is probably necessary to state that I am not a "neo-con" either. An ugly fight is shaping up between Democrats and Israel, but Israel is right on this issue and the Democrats are wrong.
Democrats are sore at Israel for defending Israeli interests and for supporting the government of the United States, an allied power. Democrats apparently believe that somehow they have the right to dictate Israeli government policy as well as trying to interfere in the policies of US executive. It is right and proper for the head of an allied state to support the policies of an allied government, even if Israel might have reservations about the Iraq policy of the US. It is wrong and improper for leaders of a party not in power to meddle directly in foreign policy matters that are the constitutionally determined province of the President of the United States, and it is even more wrong for them to meddle in the affairs of an allied state, to make false statements on behalf of the government of another country and the like. Shmuel Rosner has the story , but he does not grasp the implications. Nancy Pelosi was not appointed Secretary of State of the United States nor Foreign Minister of Israel.
When Speaker of the House Nancy came back from her Mideast trip, I wrote briefly about her frustration with the Israeli government and the way it handled her visit to Damascus: "Pelosi", I wrote, "didn't like the Israeli clarification. It made her look slightly ridiculous, like a rookie in foreign policy." I also mentioned that it was not her first frustration with Olmert. He knows how politically sensitive are the issues of American policy in the region but "nonetheless decided to present an explicit Israeli policy regarding Iraq identical to that of Bush in a speech to AIPAC."
And this wasn't even the first time that Olmert marched into this mine field. Visiting the White House in November, right after the Midterm elections, he felt the need to say that he is "very much impressed and encouraged by the stability which the great operation of America in Iraq brought to the Middle East." When I wrote about it back then (What was Olmert thinking when he talked about Iraq?) I suggested that "Democratic politicians I've been able to contact today were gracious enough not to attack Olmert for his statements. But let me tell you this: They weren't happy. My guess is that Israel is going to be hearing from them."
It is not Olmert who marched into minefields, but the Democrats. They are not running the United States government at present, and the Israeli government would be wrong to undermine the policies of the U.S. government. Olmert had little choice. He could not very well go to the White House and say in public, "Mr. Bush, your war in Iraq is failing and you are incompetent." As for Pelosi, she has no conception at all of Middle East politics, or of what damage she did by going to Damascus. You were not in California Nancy, but in Damascus.
On the other hand, the Israel government must deal with the fact that Democrats are in power in Congress now, and may be in the White House in 2008.
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I hope Mr Meshaal (and Robert Novak) will be reading this.
By Bradley Burston
To you, the leaders and activists of Hamas, on the occasion of the 59th anniversary of the darkest day on the Palestinian calendar, I offer my sympathy.
After all this time, perhaps there is only one thing more galling for you than the fact that the State of Israel still exists: the fact that you need us.
You want to believe that you do not. You want to believe that independence, by definition, means a process formally free of any contact with the Jews and their entity. That to act otherwise is surrender, acceptance of a Palestinian state which is less than the whole of the Holy Land.
The last thing you want to believe is that this 1967 state, this Arab Initiative State, this barely West Bank and Gaza State, is the only state you're ever going to get.
You want to believe that if you wait long enough, endure enough anguish, exact enough revenge, the Jews will relent. It seems only fair, only just, that after all this sacrifice and struggle, you will come into possession of the very state for which you have sworn to give your very life.
You don't know the Jews.
You think you know them. After all this time, you are certain that you do. Perhaps it is from having worked in their restaurants, served in their prisons, or having been searched at their checkpoints.
You don't know them.
Just as Israelis are sure that they know Arabs better than the Arabs know themselves. And you've seen, over and over again, how mistaken that is.
We Jews wanted to believe, for example, that we could complete the process of our independence on our own, with no formal contact with the Palestinians. We wanted to believe that the definition of independence is unilateralism. We wanted to pretend, as you do, that there is only one side, our side.
We wanted to forget about you. Just as you want to wish us away, or believe that we'll consent to be citizens in a nation of your making.
You don't know the Jews.
The Jews and the Palestinians are now in the 60th year of their War of Independence, and it is not going well for either side. For all their struggle, the Palestinians are now farther from achieving statehood than they have been in years. For all our independence, we have no idea, nor any consensus, on where our country ends and where the Arab world begins.
At this point, our population is divided between those for whom every day is Holocaust Remembrance Day, and those for whom every day is Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers.
At this point, your population is enduring a second Naqba, a social catastrophe that may have already caused permanent harm to a generation of children.
Both of our peoples are running on instinct, now, and our instincts are not always good ones. We are running on past experience now, a history that has gone poorly for both sides.
As it turns out, not one but two nations were born on Independence Day 1948, two new peoples, who decided to call themselves Israelis and Palestinians.
Two new cultures were conceived as well, both of them based on the concept of Never.
For the newly Palestinian Arabs, humiliated, cast adrift, betrayed and forsaken by brother Arab and Western ally alike, the term Never became a sacred oath against ever giving in and recognizing the state of Israel.
Never, for Palestinians, came to mean self-esteem.
But when Palestinians say the word Never, what Israelis hear is "annihilation."
We Jews - post-Holocaust, pre-Iranian bomb - who long ago adopted "Never Again" as a mantra, cannot free ourselves from the suspicion that it is also a lie.
We need your help. And you need ours.
The belief - not without foundation - that all of your problems are traceable to occupation, has left you paralyzed, unable to govern, unable to make the changes you need in order to seek help, unable to make the changes you will need to make to become independent.
Your stated commitment to the concept of an armed struggle to replace Israel with a Palestinian state has not only cost you your independence, but has robbed you of once-unshakable allies in the West, the Eastern bloc and the Arab world.
You may not know the Jews, but you have seen that we are paralyzed as well. This much we share - we have become orphan peoples, the Jews and the Palestinians. We have no leaders left. Arafat is gone, Sheikh Yassin is gone, Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon as well.
You don't know the Jews, but you should know this. We are offering you a promise and a curse.
If you give a clear sign that you are willing to recognize Israel, you will have taken the most important step any Palestinian can take toward independence, one that Israel will be forced to match with a landmark measure of its own.
If, on the other hand, you opt for ideology and decide that a free Palestine cannot abide a Jewish state as a neighbor, we can make this pledge: A people which has been around for thousands of years will do everything in its power to teach you the true meaning of Never.
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Bad news for Robert Novak, false prophet of Peace with Hamas. Whereas he insists that a Hamas official "signalled" that they want peace, the Hamas for their part said quite explicitly once again that they would never make peace with Israel. At the offical Web site of the Hamas Izzedin El Qassam brigades,
alqassam.ps/english/?action=showdetail&fid=445 Mahmoud Zahar, a deputy in the Palestinian legislative Council and the former Palestinian Foreign Minister, confirmed that Hamas will never recognize Israel:
what happened in Mecca agreement were four issues; firstly , the agreements and laws that are related with the Palestinianissue which was signed by Arab countries and the PLO, but we didn't mean (Oslo agreements), because it is known here that we did not recognize the Oslo Agreement and we will not recognize it at all. Also, the international agreements is the Geneva agreement which related to the international law....
Respect is not a law word
" regarding the word " respect" or " accept" .. if I respect your views , it doesn't mean that I accept your views. So , the saying that we are accepting the Oslo agreement is not true"
Q: You mention the word " respect" which evoked the debate recently that it is an introduction to recognize " Israel" ?
What does commitment mean in Law ?? does respect mean commitment ?? If respect means commitment , then why the two words are different in Language ..they are surely different". If Hamas wanted to recognize "Israel" , we will say it frankly. Hamas does not have the intention to recognize "Israel" at all because we will contradict the Quran with that in the Israa' verse "7" and will contradict ourselves that the occupation should be eliminated.
Q: Some said that "Accepting Hamas of Palestinian State on 67 borders is considered a retreat of the Hamas project " Palestine From Sea to River" ?
Zahar : If you read Hamas Charter , we were ready to establish a state on any "Span". That mean : we are ready to establish that state on less than 67 borders or more than that but that doesn't mean that we will leave the whole land. this is a clear point. The interpretations are Zionist interpretations and some other Palestinian factions , who leave the Palestinian issue at all , took these interpretations.
But in any case, one suspects that Robert Novak, whose column was based on fabrications and mendacity, knows exactly what Hamas wants. He just doesn't care. So that is not bad news for him.
Ahmad Bahr: "'You will be victorious' on the face of this planet. You are the masters of the world on the face of this planet. Yes, [the Koran says that] 'you will be victorious,' but only 'if you are believers.' Allah willing, 'you will be victorious,' while America and Israel will be annihilated, Allah willing. I guarantee you that the power of belief and faith is greater than the power of America and Israel. They are cowards, as is said in the Book of Allah: 'You shall find them the people most eager to protect their lives.' They are cowards, who are eager for life, while we are eager for death for the sake of Allah. That is why America's nose was rubbed in the mud in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Somalia, and everywhere."
..."America will be annihilated, while Islam will remain. The Muslims 'will be victorious, if you are believers.' Oh Muslims, I guarantee you that the power of Allah is greater than America, by whom many are blinded today. Some people are blinded by the power of America. We say to them that with the might of Allah, with the might of His Messenger, and with the power of Allah, we are stronger than America and Israel."
Oh Allah, vanquish the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, vanquish the Americans and their supporters. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them all, down to the very last one. Oh Allah, show them a day of darkness. Oh Allah, who sent down His Book, the mover of the clouds, who defeated the enemies of the Prophet – defeat the Jews and the Americans, and bring us victory over them."
That is really bad news for Novak. Everyone can see that that is a completely different proposition from annihilating Israel, since annilating Israel doesn't involve Novak. This does, so it is really serious, right, Mr.Novak? The Imam Bahr did not remember you especially in his prayers, Mr. Novak, but that too can be arranged. Meanwhile, he is just praying for the defeat of all Americans.
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It is a nice gesture for US congressmen to "blast" the Saudi boycott of Israel. However, the US Congress cannot really control foreign policy. The President does that. Moreover, they certainly do not control the supply of oil. The Saudi Arabians do that. As long as that is true, they are likely to continue to do as they please, especially given the shrinkage in US posture in the Middle East. From the Jerusalem Post:
... as first revealed in the Post, Saudi customs officials continue to block entry of goods manufactured in Israel and of items containing Israeli components.
"Saudi Arabia's boycott of Israel never should have existed in the first place and they should end it immediately," Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, ranking Republican on the Middle East Subcommittee of the US House of Representatives' Committee on Foreign Relations, told the Post. "It is a relic of wars waged decades ago and there is simply no moral or strategic reason there should be a boycott at all."
Pence also suggested that the continuing boycott could impact the US-Saudi relationship. "The Saudis clearly need to do a better job of living up to their commitments if they expect to have warm relations with the United States," he said.
Rep. Howard Berman of California, a Democrat on the House Middle East Subcommittee, was also highly critical of Riyadh, saying the Saudi government was not living up to its word.
"I strongly support efforts to end the trade boycott, which is clearly in violation of agreements the Saudis made during the WTO accession process," Berman told the Post. "The Saudis made a commitment to end the boycott to then-United States trade representative Robert Portman, and I expect Saudi Arabia to live up to that promise."
An official from the US Trade Representative's Office said, "At the time of its accession to the WTO, Saudi Arabia did not invoke the nonapplication provisions of the WTO Agreement with respect to any member, and therefore has taken on all WTO rights and obligations, including most-favored-nation treatment, with respect to all members, including Israel."
"In our view," the official said, "continuing the primary boycott of Israel would not be consistent with these commitments."
While acknowledging that "there have been conflicting signals from Saudi officials on their understanding of their MFN [most-favored-nation] commitment," the official said Washington was pressing Riyadh on the issue.
"The United States government takes every available opportunity to vigorously raise the boycott with Saudi authorities to remind them of their commitment and our expectation that they honor this commitment" said the official.
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The latest channel for rumor is SMS messaging. This one is a beaut. Please remember it the next time you get a hoax e-mail about anti-Semitism in France, British not teaching about the Holocaust etc:
"Beware of Israeli melons infected with AIDS arriving in Saudi Arabia!" is the latest rumor being spread throughout Saudi Arabia like a wildfire.
An SMS message being sent around the country this week said, "The Saudi Interior Ministry warns its citizens of a truck loaded with AIDS infected melons that Israel brought into the country via a 'ground corridor.'"
The Interior Minister's spokesman General Mansour al Turki responded to news of the message and made it clear to a-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper that the Ministry "did not issue any such announcement. This is just a rumor."
This is not the first rumor to spread through the country recently. Just last month another rumor had it that sweets containing carcinogenic flour were being sold in many stores.
Al Turki urged the public to ignore such passing rumors, and said that the authorities were doing everything in their power to ensure the citizens' wellbeing.
Head of the center for chemicals and toxins in Mecca, Dr Ahmad Elias also stressed that there was no truth to these rumors.
"The center is the first official body that would receive such information, if it were true, in order to investigate and inform the relevant bodies to take the necessary steps," said Elias.
"The HIV virus cannot survive in any temperature other than that of the human body, which cannot be reached in fruits," he explained.
The rumor, despite being denied several times, has gained so much steam in the Arab world that it made it to the front page of one of the most important Arabic language newspapers.
Many received an SMS supposedly from the Saudi Interior Ministry saying, "Please forward quickly."
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Chas Newkey Burden writes about the British National Union of Journalists boycott of Israel. Especially noteworthy is the fundamental ignorance of some of the opponents of Israel (one thought that Bibi Netanyahu was assassinated) and also the deliberate and systematic distortion of history. An editor would not allow the assertion that Arafat had rejected the Israeli peace offer, in order to maintain "balance," even though it is certainly true. Burden writes:
... when the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) passed a motion at its annual meeting to boycott Israel, I hung my head in utter shame and despair - despite the fact that I am no longer an NUJ member. Those emotions of shame and despair were not joined by shock, though, because the British media has long been absorbed by a blind hatred of Israel. Newspapers like The Independent and The Guardian print editorials that are so biased and distorted that Osama Bin Laden would probably blush at them. The BBC refuses to describe suicide bombers who blow up buses full of schoolchildren as "terrorists" and one of its correspondents told a Hamas rally that he and his colleagues were "waging the campaign shoulder-to-shoulder with the Palestinian people".
I visited Israel for the first time last year to research some articles about tourism there. Within hours of my return I received a call from a journalist acquaintance who asked me with genuine shock: "What's all this about you going to Israel?" He said that a mutual journalist acquaintance of ours was "absolutely disgusted" with me for going there and that he hoped I was "going to put the boot in" when I wrote my articles.
These were not close acquaintances, I hadn't even spoken to one of them for nearly nine years and it must have taken them some digging around to find my telephone number. They obviously thought it was worth the trouble to have a dig at a writer who was friendly to Israel. Apparently the "absolutely disgusted" man - a weekly columnist on a high-profile magazine - has since tried to get an article published that claims that Tony Blair murdered Yasser Arafat.
'Those suicide bombers have got guts'
The evening after my return from Israel, I met up with some journalists for some drinks in the West End of London. I was again abused for my trip. Their hatred of Israel was matched only by their adoration of the Palestinians. One of them gushed: "Boy, those suicide bombers have got guts. I wish more people in the world had their courage." Another of them erupted when I told him that most people in Israel wanted a peaceful settlement to the conflict. "So why," he asked, "did they murder their most peaceful Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?"
Well, I guess if you're going to get your facts wrong you might as well get them spectacularly wrong - I wonder if anyone else has ever got Netanyahu confused with Yitzhak Rabin?
...The editor of another magazine once told me I was not allowed to write that Yasser Arafat turned down Ehud Barak's offer at Camp David in 2000. I asked why and he replied "because of a need for balance." I pointed out that nobody, including Arafat, has ever disputed that he rejected Barak's offer and the editor replied: "Well, I don't know about that but you still can't write it." The article in question was an "opinion" piece, so taking sides was exactly the brief - as long as it was not Israel's side, apparently. The same magazine had happily published articles accusing Israel of "war crimes" and carried advertising accusing Israel of apartheid policies. The need for balance is relative, it seems.
There was certainly nothing balanced about the NUJ boycott motion. The factual errors in the motion's wording are clear: For instance they seem not to have noticed that Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. It's a contemptible motion. There's a phrase that became popular in Britain before the run-up to the war in Iraq. I've never liked this phrase because to me it reflects the selfishness of the anti-war lobby. However, in the aftermath of the NUJ motion it sums up perfectly how I feel about the boycott: Not in my name.
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This, from Solomonia, is truely outstanding.
Here is another article by the excellent Israeli writer, Ben-Dror Yemini (search for previous must-reads). This originally appeared in the Maariv Hebrew edition. The translation appears below in full. This is yet another must-read. Seriously.
Israeli Arabs in the Trap of Self-Delusion
by Ben-Dror Yemini
A comparative study shows that Israeli Arabs are much better off than Muslim minorities in the European countries and better off than the Arabs in neighboring countries. One of the main reasons for the disparity: domestic repression. The fourth article in the series.
Israeli Arabs have become a hot topic all over the world. Their spokespeople, among whom are Jews and Israelis, appear in many forums, disseminating false accusations of the "apartheid" under which the Israeli Arabs are suffering. It is a strange apartheid. It is an apartheid in which the Arabs, which are a minority community, attain the highest achievements, both in comparison to similar communities in Europe and in comparison to the citizens of neighboring countries. The facts are below.
This is an apartheid that allows its spokespeople to say whatever they please, including identifying with entities that are calling for the destruction of the state in which they live. It is doubtful that any other country in the world that has granted such broad freedom of expression in such a situation of confrontation.
Most Israeli Arabs are law abiding citizens, irrespective of their political positions. Their rights are not a matter of benevolence. The problem is the leadership. And here, too, some of their claims are valid: there are gaps between the Arab minority and the Jewish majority. But even if there is discrimination - and there is - it is not the main explanation for the disparity, either in the Arab countries, in which the gap is larger, or in Israel. The explanation lies elsewhere and we will get to that.
Opposition to Jewish self-determination
Before we get to the facts, a bit of background: In recent months, documents have been published that have attempted to place the various demands of Israeli Arabs on the Israeli and international agenda. They contain points that are worth discussing. The main point, however, is not a legitimate demand for equality. The main point is a negation of the right of the Jews to self-determination. The main point is the absolute adoption of the rejectionist line. The main point is another milestone in a series of problems that the Arabs of the region have brought upon themselves.
We must remember that in 1937 it was the Arabs, not the Jews, who rejected the settlement proposed by the Peel Commission, which gave the Jews only 17% of the Western part of Israel west of the Jordan. In 1947 it was the Arabs who rejected to the UN proposal for partition. In 1967 it was the Arabs who published the Three NOs in the Khartoum Resolution. In 2000 it was Arafat who rejected President Clinton's proposal for a peace agreement.
The position papers that are now being presented are a continuation of that same rejectionism. For example, the Adallah, which deals with the legal rights of Israeli Arabs, published a "draft constitution." The document contains a demand that Israel recognize the Palestinian right to self-determination without giving a similar right to the Jews. The longer this line prevails, the more the Palestinians suffer. Not because of Israel. Because of the rejectionism.
But before we discuss the demands appearing in the documents, we should present the status of Israeli Arabs. These issues are not presented here for the sake of polemics, but rather to enable Israeli Arabs to live and flourish within the State of Israel, as a democratic Jewish state.
Since the establishment of Israel, the Arabs in Israel have undergone positive changes that have not occurred in any other Muslim and/or Arab community in the world. This is true in comparison to the citizens of neighboring countries, whose starting point was similar, and in comparison to similar minority communities in European countries. We will not ignore the gaps, but sometimes the data only present a partial picture.
For example, per capita income among the Arabs is far lower than that of the Jews. However, this stems from the fact that the average age of the Arabs is lower (young people earn less), from the fact that most Arab women are not part of the workforce, and from the fact that Arab families are much bigger. The objective result, completely unconnected to discrimination, is that the per capita income is lower.
Jewish populations with similar characteristics (single breadwinner, large family) are in a similar position. In contrast, there is a subgroup among the Arabs -- the Christian Arabs -- whose achievements in most fields are greater than the average for the Jewish population. The reasons will follow.
Most of the countries of Europe are welfare states. Some of the Muslims there are second and third generation. They should already have integrated and begun to benefit from the welfare policies, but that is not happening. In France, for example, the Muslims make up less than 10% of the general population but more than 50% to of the prisoner population.
Many European countries prohibit gathering data on the basis of religion. Despite that, there are many sources that deal with the status of Muslims in Europe. The latest and most comprehensive of these is a special report issued by the European Union: "Muslims in the European Union: "Discrimination and Islamophobia." The figures are frightening. Below are some of the data based on the above report and on many additional sources.
Income and employment
68% of Pakistani and Bangladeshi households in Britain (which are the majority of Muslims there) are living below the poverty line, compared with 23% of the general population. In Israel, according to a report by Amutat Sikui which was recently published, 45.9% of Arab families are living below the poverty line, compared with 14.7% of the general population.
Worse yet, 73% of Bangladeshi and Pakistani children in Britain are living under the poverty line, compared with 31% of the general population. In Israel those figures are 55.7% of Arabs compared with 20.3% of the general population. For the sake of accuracy, in Israel the poverty line is 50% of the median income, compared with 60% in Britain, so the gap between Israel and Britain is probably smaller than what was shown.
However, the income data show an enormous gap in Britain. According to a study conducted by the British Chamber of Commerce, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis earn £182 a week (equal to NIS 5,824 month) while whites earn £332 (NIS 10,624 a month). The Indians, who are also a minority with ethnic characteristics, earn the same as the whites. It is important to remember this later on, when we try to examine the reasons for the gap. In Israel, in contrast, the difference in income is far smaller. According to data for the same years, the average income of an Arab employee was NIS 5,230 compared with NIS 7,178 among the Jews. Thus, in Britain, the gaps are far larger.
In 2003, the unemployment rate for Jews in Israel was about 9%. Among Israeli Arabs, in contrast, the rate was 16%. In the field employment, the European Union shows corresponding data. In Germany, the unemployment rate among the general population was 10% compared with 20% among the Muslims (more up to date research indicates 25.2% unemployment).
In Holland, the rate is 6.5% compared with 16% among the Muslims. In Britain, it is 5% compared with 15% among the Muslims.
In Belgium the rate is 7% compared with 38% among the Muslims. In France, according to official data, the unemployment rate is 9% compared with 24% among North Africans and Turks. In other words, in the European welfare states, the relative status of Muslims is worse than in Israel.
A European Union report makes particularly negative mention of France, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Germany, Austria and Denmark. 40% of the first generation of Muslim immigrants in Belgium, France and Sweden, and 25% in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Holland, did not reach the basic level in the comparative examinations (PISA), compared with just a few percent among the white population.
According to the data of the National Bureau of Statistics in England, 31% of the Muslims in the workforce are completely lacking in professional or academic training, compared with 15% among the whites. In Germany, only one in ten Turks reaches one of the three high school tracks that enable students to go on to university studies.
In contrast, the achievements of the Chinese minority are far greater . In Israel, 29.6% of the Arabs earn a matriculation certificate, which gives them access to university studies, compared with 46.4% among the Jews (in regular matriculation data, the differences are much smaller: 55.6% compared with 48.7%).
And in Germany, 25% of the young Turks (who are the majority of the Muslims) are lacking even basic educational certificates compared with only 1% of the Germans. In Israel, the dropout rate of Arabs in grades 9 to 12 is 8.9% compared with 4.6% among the Jews.
The average number of years of schooling is 12.6 for Israeli Jews and 11.2 for Arabs. The data show that at the beginning of the 1960s, there was a difference of seven years of schooling, but since that time the gap has been dramatically narrowed to 1.4 years. Not a single country in Europe can show similar data for narrowing such gaps. In Britain there is even data indicating that the gaps are growing between second and third generation Muslims and other minorities and the rest of the population.
Israeli Arabs and the neighboring countries
The life expectancy in Israel is 79.7 years and 76 years for Israeli Arabs. In Syria, the life expectancy is 73; in Jordan - 71; in Lebanon - 72; and in Egypt - less than 70. The same is true for education. In Jordan the rate of illiteracy is 10.1%; in Lebanon - 13.5%; in Syria - 20.4%; in Egypt - 28.6%; and in Israel - 2.9% in the general population and about 6% among the Arabs.
Similar data exist with regard to average infant mortality: among Christians in Israel it is 3.2 per 1,000 births; among Jews - 3.6%; among Muslims - 8.7% (compared with 56% in 1950). But in Syria, 15 out of every 1,000 newborns still dies; in Jordan - 23; in Egypt - 26; in Lebanon - 27.
Data has also been published recently showing that the situation of Israeli Arabs is worse than that of the Arabs in neighboring countries. This is nonsense. There are disparities within Israel, but it is better to be an Arab in Israel than in any neighboring and/or European country.
The cause of inequality
The main question is what is the principal cause of the inequality between Muslims and others in Europe, in other Western countries and in Israel? Before we get to the answer, we should note that even among Jews there are huge disparities, that are far too great, between various groups. The ultra-orthodox, for example, suffer from low average income. More importantly, in Europe itself there are other minorities -- not just Muslims -- that should, by all accounts, be suffering from the same disparities, since their starting conditions were similar to those of the Muslims, or even worse.
It turns out, however, that those minorities are in a different place now. Some of them have made stunning achievements. For example, one out of every 20 Hindu men in England has earned a doctorate, compared with one in every 200 Christians. The Hindus came to Britain during the same years that the Muslims arrived. The Hindus sprang forward and the Muslims were left behind. In Germany, the Chinese are achieving far greater accomplishments than the Turks.
Similar data regarding immigrants exist in the United States. The median income of a Hispanic family is $35,054; of a white family $53,256; and of an Asian family (Chinese, Japanese and Hindu) $61,511.
The ultra-orthodox are in a worse position
The basis is therefore not ethnic or national, nor is color the explanation for discrimination or oppression. After all, the accomplishments of the immigrants from India have surpassed the whites (and the Jews) in both the United States and England. The formula for equality lies primarily in another source: culture -- primarily the status of women.
Every community that practices repression -- primarily the repression of women -- is further from attaining equality with the general population. Discrimination begins at home, literally. The Christians in Israel, who are Arabs in every way, are at the same level as the Jews and in certain areas they are even at a higher level. Among them, in contrast to the Muslims, women have much greater status.
The same is true among Jews: the situation of the ultra-orthodox, by very many indices, is worse than that of the Muslims. The reasons are similar: the status of women, low participation in the workforce and large families. That is the situation in Western countries. The Indians, Japanese and Chinese are surging foreword. Many Muslims, in contrast, prefer their women to be veiled. That, for example, is what 74% of the young people in Britain want. That is the main story.
The status of women -- a critical factor
The status of women affects their participation in the workforce. In Israel, 52.5% of Jewish women are in the workforce. Among Muslims the rate is 13.3%, and among Christians it is a 42%. In England, 70% of Muslim women are not in the workforce compared with only 23% of the white women and 30% of the Hindu women.
"The Vision Document" that was published under the auspices of the Israeli Arab Follow-up Committee does not ignore the family structure and the patriarchy. Even the Musawa organization admits that the participation of women in the workforce would add NIS 6.2 billion to the economy. Logical statements. But here the self-delusion goes into effect: the accusatory finger is pointed at the state. Is the Zionist state to blame for the fact that a third of the Muslim women do not leave their homes at all, as was recently publicized? And is it the Zionists who created the family values among the Muslims?
Unless the Zionist influence is so all embracing that its impact began before it even existed and extends to places in which it is not even present. The Muslim states lead the international list of inequality between men and women. In Saudi Arabia, the average salary of women is only 15% of the salaries of men. In Egypt - 23%; in Morocco - 25%; in Jordan - 30%; in Syria - 33%; and in Israel - 64% in relation to all population groups. That is the main reason, albeit not the only one, for the dismal state of most of the Muslim countries.
Societies that practice internal repression can expect lower achievements than the majority. That is the case in countries with minorities and in minority communities. Even enormous oil reserves cannot rectify the damage caused by the repression of women. The per capita income in Israel, in terms of buying power, is $24,382. In Kuwait it is $19,384 and in Saudi Arabia it is $13,825.
Even so, there is discrimination
The following is not intended to deny the existence of discrimination. The BBC checked whether candidates with identical qualifications in Britain are invited to job interviews. As expected, there was a clear preference for whites. The Muslims were discriminated against even more than the blacks.
A similar examination in France revealed that there, too, a Muslim had five times less of a chance of getting a job interview on the basis of equal starting data. Studies conducted in Israel indicate similar results: people with Arabic and eastern names are victims of similar discrimination. This is also the case with formal discrimination. In many fields of distributive justice (land, distribution of municipal areas, infrastructures, education), a serious and determined fight for change is needed.
Even if the Muslims in Israel, Europe and the Arab countries themselves raise justified claims of discrimination, the greatest promoter of change is the status of women. The status of women is not the rationale that explains everything, but it is the best explanation.
In the United States, the Muslims have a higher status, even higher than the average of the general population because there, among other things, there is a real change in the status of the women. It has a far greater impact than the external repression of the West, of the white majority in western countries, or of the Jewish majority in Israel. Around the Muslim world, there are those who know that taking responsibility and ending the self-delusion are the way to get out of the mire. These voices are the hope of the Muslim world.
The United States and Israel, the "Great Satan" and the "Little Satan," are the countries in which, both relatively and absolutely, the situation of the Muslims is far better than anywhere else in the world. But the industry of lies is stronger than the facts. One way or the other, on the basis of the comparative data, the demands of the Israeli Arabs for obliterating the Jewish character of the State are more than puzzling. And they are puzzling both because they have no serious basis in international law and because, if they are implemented, they will cause double damage: both to the Arab minority and to the Jewish majority. This must never happen.
Immigration and return
The basic demand in the documents is obliteration of the Jewish identity of the State of Israel. In practical terms, the demand is to cancel the Law of Return and grant equal immigration rights. The ideological background is negation of the right to self-determination of the Jews in their own country. The Palestinians have the right to self-determination. They have the right to be the majority in their own state. It is also their right to implement the right of return for Palestinians and not for Jews. There is a similar right in the State of Israel, which was established by UN resolution as a Jewish state. There is nothing racist about this. There is a basic desire for a nationhood based on the right to self-determination.
What is clear is the fact that there is no room for double self-determination, either in the Palestinian state or in Israel. Countries with a national, ethnic-cultural character legislate their right to preserve their national character. It is therefore the right of the State of Israel to make every effort, by democratic means, to maintain a clear Jewish majority, for example by means of the Law of Return and by means of its citizenship laws. That is precisely what many countries in Europe do. Liberal discourse has succeeded in disseminating slogans about the "fundamental right to marry" or the "natural right to immigrate." In our Supreme Court, there is even a majority for this viewpoint. A more serious examination shows that Finland, Greece, the Czech Republic, Japan, Ireland, Poland, Norway, Germany and many other countries grant a right of return, at one level or another, on the basis of ethnicity or repatriation, i.e., a return to the homeland.
The international community also recognizes nation states. Even the existence of a national minority does not negate the state's right to preserve its national character. This is the case in many countries that have recently joined the European Union, including Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia and Romania.
What is wrong with "Jewish and democratic?"
The logic of the Israeli Arab leadership reminds me that several years ago, the Egyptian newspaper Al Aharam published a particularly vitriolic editorial against Israel over the fact that it dared to define itself as a "Jewish and democratic state," which involved dreadful racism. I contacted the editor and called his attention to the fact that Egypt calls itself the "Arab Republic" and that Article 2 of the Egyptian Constitution states: " Islam is the state religion… the main source of the law is Islamic law (the Sharia). If that is the case, what is wrong with Israel being "Jewish and democratic?" I was told that an explanation would be forthcoming. More than two years have passed I'm still waiting.
Let's go back to Europe. The immigration laws that have been passed since 2001 attest to a clear direction: a tightening of the restrictions on immigration. When there are no national or ethnic restrictions, there are economic and cultural restrictions (Denmark, Holland, France and England). In Germany and Holland there are entrance examinations with a well-known, albeit undeclared, objective, which is to prevent Muslim immigration, primarily by means of forced marriages.
Even the Venice Commission, which is a commission of jurists operating on behalf of the Council of Europe to discuss conflicts of this type, recognized the connection between a country with an ethnic majority to minority groups of the same ethnic origin in different countries, including the right of the Kin State to grant certain rights, including immigration, to foreign nationals of the same ethnic origin.
A country of all its citizens
This solution has all kinds of names. The PLO once called it a "secular estate." Among us, there are those who call it a "country of all its citizens." In the new documents, it is called a "dual language" or "multicultural" state. Thanks, but we're not buying. The wars between ethnic groups in Sudan, a country with a clear Muslim majority, has left millions dead. The civil wars in Lebanon over the past three decades, based on religion and at ethnicity, have left 130,000 dead. The abysmal hatred between Shi'ites and Sunnis in Iraq has already left hundreds of thousands of people dead. They joined the even larger number of those murdered, primarily Shi'ites and Kurds, who were disliked by the Sunni minority that was in power.
If what the Muslim Arabs are offering to other ethnic groups is mainly unending slaughter, then please, don't try to sell us your latest hit: consociationalism. In our region, it doesn't work. Consociationalism is fine for Belgium or Switzerland, where there are no profound differences between the various groups. In the Middle East, in contrast, Arab Muslims are butchering non-Arab Muslims. We don't even want to think about what would happen to non-Muslims who are not even Arabs. When there is no slaughter, there is repression, as with the Copts in Egypt, and the Christians in the Palestinian Authority. Both are emigrating en masse. They cannot bear the suffering.
The multinational solution in situations of historical hostility leads only to unending bloodshed. Czechoslovakia was split into two countries: the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Even the model to which you aspire, Macedonia, in which the right of veto was granted to the Albanian Muslim minority (under the Ohrid Agreement) has failed for the most part. Since the agreement was put into practice, after a kind of Intifada in 2001, the tension has only risen and the government has been paralyzed of late. So, yes, in one place there is an unsuccessful constitutional application of the veto you demand, but there are many more reasons, some of them bleeding, to reject this arrangement.
Who opposes multiculturalism?
This is also the case with multiculturalism. As a slogan, multiculturalism is very tempting but, in effect, it is an option that has enabled two things to happen: the blossoming of fanatic Islamic education and thus also Islamic radicalization, and perpetuation of the patriarchal family model. Multiculturalism does, indeed, give autonomy to the men, but it relegates the women to slavery. Needless to say, under the aegis of multiculturalism, parallel cities have sprung up in many European cities, which are incubators for poverty, domestic repression, social differentiation, crime and Islamic fanaticism. So if Israeli Arabs, and primarily the women among them, desire equality, they must distance themselves from multiculturalism like the plague.
The Arab heritage is ancient, rich and profound. It has given a great deal to world culture. If multiculturalism means deepening the knowledge of the Arab heritage and becoming acquainted with all levels of Arabic culture -- that would be welcome. Unfortunately, the main expression of multiculturalism is political: shutting people up in ghettos, veils and Islamization, continued repression of women.
Canada is presented as a model of multiculturalism. Between English speakers and French speakers -- it works. Is that also the case with Muslims? Three years ago, a multicultural bill was prepared with the encouragement of the Muslim community, for the purpose of establishing Muslim family courts. The idea was that litigation would only take place with the "consent" of the man and the woman. But then the Muslim women raised a hue and cry of protest: Never! they proclaimed. The "consent" would be coerced. The repression of women would only increase. The battle was launched -- they recruited Muslim activist women from all over the world and the edict was canceled.
There seems to be something strange about supporting the "forces of progress" in this unsuccessful formula. It is even stranger that Muslim intellectuals continue to recite it. It would behoove them to heed the prominent Muslim women such as Seyran Ates, Necla Kelek of Germany, Fadela Amara of France, Irshid Manji of Canada, Fatima Mernissi and Amina Wadud of USA and many, many others. It seems that the Muslim women are the greatest opponents of multiculturalism. They know why.
You demand that "the state recognize its responsibility for the injustices of Al Nakba (the catastrophe of the creation of the State of Israel) and the occupation. Why shouldn't the Arabs in general, and the Palestinians in particular, recognized their responsibility in the injustices that they have brought upon themselves? After all, the Arabs declared a war of annihilation on the state that had just been established and the result was a catastrophe for them. 630,000 Palestinians were forced to leave. Some ran away. Others were expelled. Still others remained displaced within Israel. In the years that followed, 700,000 Jews arrived from Arab countries. Some of them had run away. Some of them were expelled.
During those years, this was called a population exchange. That is nothing compared with other regions. 7 million Muslims moved from India to Pakistan. A similar number of Hindus moved from Pakistan to India. And there are numerous other examples (as detailed in my article And the World Lies, which was published on October 1, 2006).
In all other nations of the world, that chapter of history is over and done with. But only the Arab world, by conscious and intentional decision, chose to leave the refugees like a festering wound. Let them suffer. That would enable the Arab world to level complaints at Israel. That is what happened in 1967, when the Arabs refused to learn the lessons of the past and launched another war of annihilation. The result is the "occupation."
So how exactly is Israel responsible?
And what would have happened to if there had been an Arab victory? We will remind you only of what not none other than the Secretary of the Arab League said, upon launching the war in 1948: "This war will be a war of annihilation and the story of the slaughter will be told like the campaigns of the Mongols and the Crusaders." And the Mufti, Haj Amin Al Husseini, added his own bit: "I am declaring a holy war. My brother Muslims! Slaughter the Jews! Kill them all!" So forgive us for winning. The other option was a lot worse. And no, this is not just history. This is happening in our time as well. Arabs and Muslims are slaughtering Arabs and Muslims. The slaughtered number in the millions, with no connection to Israel and Zionism (details in my article And The World Remains Silent, which was published on January 5, 2007).
Based on the fact that millions of Muslims were and are being murdered by other Muslims, and many millions of others have become refugees, your Nakba really is a catastrophe, but try to think what would have happened to you if the enemy was not Jews, but rather Muslims. Horrifying thought, no?
There is a good representation of the "forces of progress" among the Jewish majority. These are devout anti-Zionists. Sometimes more than you. And they encourage you to hang on to your rejectionism. Among us, they are a weed growing in the garden of democracy and academe. They aid and abet your fantasy of a right of return, a binational state and other nonsense. They only perpetuate your suffering. And if you think a bit more, you will understand they are racist Orientalists.
From your standpoint, the Arabs are entitled to what is forbidden to others. The Arabs are permitted to kill each other, and they are encouraging you to insist on a right of return in a form that no other national group has. And they do not have the courage to tell you anything about the repression of women. They think that you are "different." In other words, inferior. And have you not noticed the fact that every demand that you raise -- every single one -- gets their support? They are treating you like the retarded children of the world, and you love it. Are you crazy?
The love of Israel
Israeli Arabs, it should be said, are a community of lovers. There is not another Muslim community in the world which, despite its public claims (both justified and untenable), that clings so closely to its country. This is expressed in two ways. Firstly, it is the only national minority that has no irredentist ambitions. National minorities generally strive to annex the minority areas to the neighboring national state. This is not the case with Israeli Arabs.
Secondly, the percentage of immigration among Israeli Arabs to other countries is one of the lowest in the world. Surveys in Arab countries indicate substantial percentages of people who want to immigrate, which is not doable, both because of the nature of the régimes in those countries and the immigration restrictions in the countries of the West. Israeli Arabs do not have the same problem. The Israeli government does not prevent them from leaving and many immigration possibilities are open to them. Despite this, they stay here.
This is not just to the Arabs' loyalty to their land. After all, millions of Arabs have left their countries and even more would like to leave. And of all of them, it is the Israeli Arabs who can leave, but who choose to stay here. They are well aware of the fact that it is doubtful that there is any other place in the world in which their situation would be better. They are voting with their feet. They are confirming the data presented above. This is badge of honor for the State of Israel.
The State of Israel is far from perfect. Bad, irritating and painful mistakes have been made by the Jewish majority, which have only increased the damage and suffering for both nations. The criticism is often justified. But when criticism is not leveled for the purpose of preventing discrimination and distortions, but rather for the sake of damaging the national ethos of the majority, the justified demand for equality is tarnished.
In the tradition of the delusional "forces of progress," you are not dealing with constructive criticism but rather the demonization and delegitimization of Israel. That is a shame. Equality is a worthy goal. But in order to fight the lack of equality you must look at the reality. There is no need to err with illusions, because if your demands were accepted, it would create a situation in which all the citizens of Israel, both Arabs and Jews, would begin to deteriorate. We would integrate into the region in the most negative sense of the word.
What is the solution? The various documents that you have published also contain ideas that not only deserve to be discussed, but also to be adopted. But the opposing elements, like the refusal to recognize the right of the Jews to self-determination, like the demand for the right to a veto, like disclaiming any responsibility and placing all the blame on Israel -- make any progress difficult. They create the impression that, rather than fighting to obtain rights (for Arabs), you are fighting to deny rights (of Jews). The words are liberal, but the melody belongs to the elements calling for elimination of the Zionist entity. So don't be surprised if a decisive Jewish majority has no desire to talk about it.
The sad thing is that because these documents are a continuation of the non-recognition line, they will only increase Palestinian suffering. That is not good news. When Palestinian Arabs flourish on both sides of the Green Line, it is not just an issue of humaneness. It is also a national interest. We want Palestinian neighbors who invest in development and welfare and not in incitement through the fighting.
Thus, the best arrangement, for the benefit of both Arabs and Jews, is simple: two states for two nations. A Palestinian nation and a Jewish nation. Each nation will have the right to take reasonable measures to preserve its national ethos. This also has demographic aspects. The return of Palestinians to Palestine and the return of Jews to Israel. Arab minority citizens in Israel will be entitled to civil, communal and cultural rights, some of which would be according to the proposals that you have made.
To that end, we have to get out of the mire of self-delusion. In the Arab and Muslim world there is more than just a spark of this sobering awakening. When this prevails, among Israeli Arabs as well, and hopefully that will happen in the not-too-distant future, it will be the beginning of a new partnership. Inshallah.
-Ben-Dror Yemini email@example.com
Continued (Permanent Link)
Dan Fleshler presented a vision of Progressive Zionism - his own personal vision -- at his Realistic Dove Web log. Not surprisingly, he drew a lot of flak from the usual crowd of fanatic "progressive" anti-Zionists. They presented a demonized picture of Zionism and insisted that there is no such thing as Progressive Zionism. Not only do they not recognize the right of Israel to exist -- these people won't even admit that progressive Zionists exist. Their comments indicate much more than wilful ignorance about Zionism. They reflect the results of a systematic campaign of demonification that is every bit as vicious as the medieval inquisition.
Personally, I can't see how anyone who supports suicide bombing and genocidal religious fanaticism could be a progressive. I can't see how anyone supports the right of Palestinian Arabs to self determination could deny the same right to the Jewish people. I can't see how anyone intent on perpetuating the murderous conflict in order to destroy one side can claim they are for "peace."
Here is Dan's reply.
By Dan F | April 18, 2007
Some respondents to my previous post on "What Israel Could Be" were predictably furious that anyone could associate the word "progressive" with the word "Zionism." They described Zionism as a movement that was, by its very definition, murderous and evil.
"Zionism" is one of those elastic words or phrases that have long since lost a precise meaning, like "civil rights." Especially on the blogosphere, people can choose whatever definition they want to choose and base their complaints on those definitions. If one tries to offer alternative definitions, one is accused of justifying or rationalizing "criminal" acts committed by Israelis.
No one can win this argument. The gaps are too wide. But other people are tuning into the argument, on blogs and on campus. Some of them are still trying to make up their minds about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For them, it is important to respond to the bilious and inaccurate definitions, and to show that throughout this century, there were many versions of Zionism. And some of the pre-'48 visions were energized by the same goals and concerns about the plight of Palestinian Arabs that motivate many "progressive Zionists" today.
So let's start with a definition of Zionism from "Answers.com," which is similar to those found in a number of dictionaries: "A Jewish movement that arose in the late 19th century in response to growing anti-Semitism and sought to reestablish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Modern Zionism is concerned with the support and development of the state of Israel." That's close, although the first sentence doesn't convey the fact that the movement was a response to the historic and continuous oppression of Jews long before the 19th century.
Compare the above definition to the following comments by some of my blog's newest visitors:
"Saifedean Ammous" says:
I will always be against anyone who decides to get together in a group and kill other people because they do not belong to that group. Whether that group is based on religion, race, horoscope or shoe size matters nothing to me; what matters is that you do not kill others who do not belong to it, or kick them out of their homes.
"Zionism is a movement that chose to make a land available to a section of people based on one of these criteria and decided to ethnically cleanse and subjugate everyone else who doesn't belong, who also happened to be the majority. I would oppose it no matter who carries it out and regardless of in which group's names they carry it out
And "Kevin" Says:
We can't somehow re-make the present ideology and institutions of Zionism by claiming it has a hidden "progressive" side. To do this is incredibly naive, and a betrayal of progressive values such as multiculturalism, legal rights for all citizens (and non-citizens), and fundamentally, restitution for historical injustices (which is written into the fabric of progressive idealism, which in the US includes the civil rights struggle and the rejection of slavery, etc).
"Progressive" zionism can only exist when the modern concept of Zionism is drained of its core concepts a muscular ethno-religious nationalism based upon conquest and settlement. The notion that Jews in historical Palestine have a right to political self-determination isn't Zionism. The notion that Jews may be "safe" within a national entity isn't Zionism. The idea that passover may be a state holiday isn't Zionism: to call these Zionism while rejecting the ethno-religious nationalism that has defined the ideology means to redefine the term and to rethink its history.
I would argue this is only possible when Israel sheds Zionism as ideological underpinning and identity of the state, i.e. in a binational, federal or unitary state within the borders of historical Palestine.
So the first definition presents all Zionists as people who decided to murder another people and, apparently from the start, had "ethnic cleansing" in mind.
The second respondent insists that there is only one definition of Zionism: a "muscular ethno-religious nationalism based upon conquest and settlement." The writer, Kevin, adamantly refuses to define it any other way. He claims that offering anything other than that definition would "redefine the term and
rethink its history."
Not true. "The notion that Jews in historical Palestine have a right to political self-determination" is, in fact, Zionism. "The notion that Jews may be `safe' within a national entity" is Zionism. Those are my definitions, Kevin. They are our definitions. You can't strip them away from those who choose to call themselves Zionists.
More importantly, different Zionists, pre-'48, had different ideas about how to translate those goals into reality. Their example shows that it is not necessary, as Kevin claims, to completely remake the idea of Zionism in order to leave room for humanistic values and a commitment to find a solution that addresses Palestinian suffering and statelessness.
In the 20th century, some rather prominent Jews called themselves "Zionists" and believed that while Jews needed a homeland, it was possible and necessary to accomplish that without displacing another people or denying them fundamental rights. They did what they could to balance progressive or at least liberal values with the practical necessity of giving a constantly shunned, constantly victimized people i.e., the Jews a place to lively securely and to govern itself.
The best-known and most intriguing examples were set by Martin Buber; Judah Magnes, the American-born President of the Hebrew University; and Henrietta Szold, the American -born President of Hadassah. These were not exactly lightweights in Palestine or in the Jewish world. In 1942, they formed a political movement called "Ihud" (Hebrew for "unification"), which pushed for a bi-national solution. "We think that if the attempt is made to convert Palestine into a Jewish state or an Arab State there will be no peace here," Magnes said. He pushed for "a large union across Palestine, Transjordan, Syria and Lebanon so that Jews could immgrate to Palestine without upsetting Arab sensitivities over the whole region," according to Peter Grose in Israel in the Mind of America .
Then there was HaShomer Hatzair, the left-wing socialist group in Palestine that pushed for a united movement of Arab and Jewish workers. Like Ihud, it favored a binational state. On the eve of the creation of the state of Israel, Hashomer Hatzair proclaimed:
the only path
that is related to progressive world policy and opens up new horizons for the Zionist enterprise is a Zionist policy based on political equality between Jews and Arabs in an undivided Palestine
the development of the land For the benefit of both of its peoples, and speeding its march toward independence as a bi-national state.
This group was one of the ideological precursors (I'm oversimplifying tangled Israeli politics) of Meretz, whose vision of a Jewish state was cited in my previous post
Even Chaim Weitzman was not an advocate of a muscular ethno-nationalism, or at least not one as muscular as other Zionist leaders. One of the most important figures in Zionist history took a minimalist approach to the question of Jewish statehood for decades. Even as late as 1942, when more militant, nationalist Zionists were pressing for a full-fledged, independent Jewish state, he wrote a piece in Foreign Affairs that proposed an autonomous Jewish Palestine integrated within a Levantine Arab federation. And he and his allies pushed for that in a critically important gathering of American Zionists, the Biltmore Conference. That sounds reasonably close to some of the solutions offered by Kevin.
All of these questers for a just Zionism lost the argument. But they bore no resemblance to the bloodthirsty ogres depicted by Saifedean Ammous in the first comment excerpted above. I'd like to think that, had I been alive at the time, I would have joined them.
Now, it is too late for the kind of binational state envisioned by Buber, or Magnes, or Kevin, or Saifedean (who no doubt would be mortified at the idea of agreeing with self-described Zionists), even if one believes that is a just solution. The problem is not only that it is impractical, and would be impossible to implement without horrific violence and would permanently heat up simmering tensions between two distinctively different ethnic groups. Another problem is that, since the Israelis will never accept it, those who advocate it are helping to perpetuate a cruel delusion among Palestinians refugees, who desperately need a homeland of their own. They won't get one unless it is in a state next to Israel. End of story
But even though their goals were different, the likes of Magnes, Buber and Szold had the same motivations and basic values as today's progressive Zionists, who are fighting against occupation and settlement expansion and pressing Israel not to take steps to preclude a 2-state solution. They were trying to do the right thing, the just thing, against daunting odds. So are we. That is my definition of progressive Zionism.
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It is hard to know if the Arab peace plan is an opportunity or a trap. But we will never know if we do not give it a real chance.
Until just yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert had expressed unwillingness to negotiate on the basis of the Arab League peace plan, though he called for talks with Arab leaders. Now Olmert has said that he is willing to "sit with" Arab leaders "on the basis of the Saudi plan." He told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: "I'm ready to listen very carefully to their proposal on the basis of this plan and to see how we can work together to ultimately find common ground."
The Arab League has now designated Egypt and Jordan, both of which have peace treaties with Israel, to initiate discussions with Israel on its behalf over the Saudi-drafted peace plan.
Right-wing Jewish critics, pointing to plan's seemingly maximalist language on the extent of Israel's withdrawal, dismissed it as "a blueprint for Israel's destruction." Jewish pundits spilled oceans of ink promising that "The latest Arab League peace proposal
includes a requirement that Israel should accept untold millions of Palestinians who would relocate into Israel itself, rather than making their homes in the newly created Palestinian State."
Once again, Jewish hardliners returned to their familiar refrain: the Arabs are making sweet noises of peace while harboring annihilationist intentions. To avert the "threat" of Israeli-Arab negotiations which might alter the status quo, Israeli and American Jewish hawks heaped on preconditions, both behavioral and rhetorical, that they insisted Israel impose on the Arabs before it discussed the plan with them. These critics maintained that unless the plan was amended to meet Israel's positions on territory and refugeesbefore the parties even sit down to negotiate itand the Arabs agreed to normalize relations with Israel first, Israel should not regard the plan as a genuine peace offer and should shun peace talks.
Hawkish critics suffer from chronic myopia. First, they overlook the fact that the Arabs are seeking to negotiate on the basis of their plan, which represents their opening position in any bargaining with Israel, not the end point. Now Israeli Prime Minister Olmert has agreed to negotiate on the basis of the Saudi proposal. The Arab initiative is not meant to preclude Syria or the Palestinians from agreeing during the course of negotiations to an equal land swap with Israel which would permit the Arab side to receive the equivalent of 100% of the territory in the West Bank/Gaza and the Golan. Second, rightist nay-sayers choose to ignore the language of the Arab offer when it conflicts with their dark and despairing picture of a world filled (with few exceptions) with eternally deceptive and evil Israel-hating Arabs. Third, they ignore growing signs (and press reports of secret top level Saudi-Israeli meetings) that Saudi and other Arab leaders are, behind the scenes, looking to open new channels of dialogue with Israel and work out practical solutions to the refugee problem and other vexing issues away from the klieg lights of the media.
When President John F. Kennedy received both hardline and conciliatory messages from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, he chose to respond favorably to the conciliatory message, setting aside the bellicose one. A nuclear war and global conflagration were averted through negotiations with a country that President Ronald Reagan later called "the evil empire." US-Soviet bargaining was coupled with internationally sanctioned and strictly limited US military action (the US blockade or "quarantine" of Cuba) and a credible threat of force if the Russian missiles were not withdrawn. Khruschev blinked first, and offered to trade the removal of US nuclear missiles in Turkey, near the Soviet Union, in exchange for the removal of Soviet nuclear missiles from Cuba, near the US. Kennedy agreed, but the trade was kept secret.
The pessimists will always have some basis for their thinking. But if their way prevails, the world of their worst fears is apt to become our real world through a self-fulfilling prophecy. We'll act as if their fears are so well-founded, so essential to the nature of our enemies, that no other outcome is possible. By missing opportunities for breakthrough, by reinforcing through Israeli and American actions the most unwelcome trends in the Arab world, we will help insure that nothing will change for the better, and much for the worse.
It came as a shock to some who had not read the official translation that the Arab League declaration in fact contained no explicit reference to a "right of return" for Palestinian refugees. The omission was significant. Moreover, those who insisted that the Arab plan required Israel to allow "millions" of Palestinian refugees into Israel managed to overlook the declaration's careful language on the refugees which called for a mutually "agreed" solution to the refugee problem.
It will also shock and awe rightists to learn that UN General Assembly Resolution 194 does not support the "right of return" interpretation favored by some Palestinians, so feared by many in Israel and the American Jewish community. An Arab peace plan which refers to this UN resolution while simultaneously calling for an agreed solution to the problem of the Palestinian refugees can fulfill the terms of the resolution without allowing a single Palestinian refugee to return to Israel.
The hardliners don't want you to know thisand much else. They are happiest whenever we are seduced into our familiar (and not unfounded) Jewish paranoia. But isn't that the point? Perhaps the old saw has it right that even paranoids have enemies. But not everyone the paranoid fears turns out to be his foe.
The foregoing has been excerpted from an essay which appeared in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle on April 19, 2007.
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Life teaches us that things don't always go as planned. Coming into the spring, events in Israel had me believing that the Middle East was changing for the better. Israel had elected a government of the center-left, committed to real territorial compromise. It had a prime minister, Ehud Olmert, who was a consummate political operator, and a number-two, Amir Peretz, who was a genuine working class hero. Optimism was in the air. Israel had chosen peace and was, at last, prepared to address its social and economic disparities. What could go wrong?
Then the war came. As the editor of The Forward, a weekly newspaper that covers the Middle East, my life suddenly became very busy and very complicated.
The complications weren't merely professional. My family tries to spend each August in Jerusalem. We have a lot of relatives and close friends in Israel. We want our kids to know their cousins and grandparents, to be comfortable in Israel, to use their Hebrew. We'd missed the previous year, so there was no comfortable way to cancel this year. We'd paid for an apartment and four non-refundable plane tickets. And we had a bat mitzvah to attend just outside Haifa. This was not a trip we could cancel.
On the other hand, could we responsibly proceed with our plans? My own notions of Jewish heroism were shaped by "Exodus," where the heroes fought bravely after evacuating the children to safety. Could we fly our own children into a war zone for summer vacation? Would the war expand southward from the Lebanese border? How deep could the Hezbollah rockets penetrate?
We followed the news on the Web from hour to hour, wondering what to do. By the time of our August departure date, the war was in its third week and seemed to be contained in the north, far from Jerusalem. We decided to go. We got to Israel after an uneventful flight, had a tranquil drive to Jerusalem and settled in peacefully.
There was an air of high anxiety everywhere we went concern for the soldiers, sympathy with the residents of the north, alarm that Hezbollah was holding its ground. But in the center of the country, life was safe.
More than safe, we felt welcomed in a way we hadn't ever before. Folks were grateful to us for coming. For the first time in years, you could sense a moment of national unity. Left, right and center, from our settler cousins in the West Bank to our Peace Now cousins on kibbutz, everyone seemed to share a common determination that this was a just war, a war that had to be fought, a war that had to be won. We felt like participants, albeit in a minor way, in a historic Jewish drama. Almost nobody I knew questioned that Israel was fighting for its life against enemies that wanted to destroy it that much was agreed, nearly across the board, creating a sense of shared mission that I hadn't seen since 1973. Being in Israel felt very right.
We went to Haifa for the bat mitzvah on the weekend of the cease-fire and the last, bloody ground assault. We feared for our lives each kilometer we drove northward, expecting an errant missile to hit our car. As it turned out, we spent a bucolic Shabbat in a lush village in the Carmel Hills, playing ping-pong, lying in hammocks and watching squadrons of warplanes streaking overhead toward Lebanon. Then, on Monday, the guns stopped.
The next few weeks flew by: museums in Jerusalem, surfing lessons in Herzliya, hikes through the Judean Hills, endless meals with cousins and friends and furious debates over the war that had just ended. For all the justice of Israel's cause, everyone knew things had gone very wrong. Hezbollah was still intact. Israel's north was in shambles. Everyone knew at least one reservist coming home from Lebanon with horror stories not the blood and gore kind of horror tales, but the "Catch 22" and "MASH" kind, stories about idiotic, contradictory orders, about days without food or water because nobody had organized supply lines, about units that had sent a patrol out to a mall in Nahariya to buy essential communications equipment and life-saving protective gear, because the army ran out.
As Labor Day approached and we started packing for home, there was a moment of hope. The peacekeepers promised by the United Nations actually began arriving in Lebanon. Hezbollah demonstratively handed over its border posts to the Lebanese army. There was one day that I managed to drive the length of the country breakfast in Haifa with the novelist A.B. Yehoshua, lunch outside Beersheva with a business consultant, dinner in Rehovot with a nephew who's a graduate student and army lieutenant, a long phone chat along the way with an old friend who's a cabinet minister and hear nothing but optimism about the war and its results. It looked ugly but it worked, everyone said. We'll be better off because of it.
But, of course, summer joys never last past Labor Day. Back home after a long flight, back to work and school, back to the traffic and the noise. Back to the old arguments and debates, which were resurfacing with ever greater venom. The left was more convinced than ever that Israel was a genocidal occupation force, bent on global domination. The right was trumpeting its vindication, now that the world had seen how territorial compromise fuels terrorism. My brother-in-law, a rabbi in Hebron, was patiently explaining to me that the war was God's punishment for giving up sacred land. "There is such a thing as divine reward and punishment," he told me over dinner one evening.
And the sensible middle? It was busy explaining the value of compromise and dialogue, but nobody seemed to be listening anymore. After all, nothing goes as planned.
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How the 'Joint' does it is a reminder to us of what the real, ongoing work of Zionist construction is really all about:
[W]hat finally makes the JDC in Israel exceptional is our ability to see and recognize Israel's centrality in contemporary Jewish life: We learn from Israel, we benefit from the cross-fertilization of Jewish life, and we are grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Jewish State.
As Israel celebrates its 59th birthday, it is still fighting a war on two critical fronts. The first is military, securing and defending the state and its citizens.
The second front is the social: bridging gaps in society, creating better options and opportunities for vulnerable populations, and striving for excellence in education and culture.
It is this essential second front where the JDC stands unconditionally and indefatigably with the people of Israel. It is our honor to do so.
The writer is the Executive Vice-President of The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
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According to a letter sent to the IAEA by Iranian officials, Iran has begun making nuclear fuel at an underground facility in Natanz. The report below states that Iran has set up over 1,300 centrifuges, and apparently erroneously states that Iran announced that it had put into operation 3,000 centrifuges. The Iranian announcement did not specify a number it seems, though there was speculation that as many as 3,000 centrifuges might be involved. The centrifuges are used in cascade to purify successively higher levels of uranium.
Iran has begun making nuclear fuel in its underground uranium enrichment plant, according to a confidential International Atomic Energy Agency document obtained by news agencies on Wednesday.
The paper, obtained by Reuters, also said Tehran had started up more than 1,300 centrifuge machines, divided into eight cascades, or networks, in the Natanz complex, in a drive to lay a basis for "industrial scale" enrichment.
Both moves intensified Iran's defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions demanding that it stop enriching uranium over fears Tehran's professed civilian nuclear fuel program is a cover for mastering the means to build atomic bombs.
The document - a letter to Iranian officials from a senior IAEA staff member - also protests an Iranian decision to prevent agency inspectors to visit the country's heavy water facility that, when built, will produce plutonium. Enriched uranium and plutonium can both be used for the fissile core of nuclear warheads.
The letter, signed by IAEA Deputy Director General Olli Heinonen and dated April 18 - Thursday - said the agency "wanted to take note of the information provided by Iran ... that Iran has put into operation 1,312 centrifuges" - the machines used to spin the gas into enriched uranium.
The letter also cited Iranian information to the agency that some UF6 is being fed into the centrifuges, referring to the uranium gas that can be enriched to levels potent enough to be used for nuclear arms.
Iran says it wants to enrich only to lower levels suitable to generate nuclear power. But suspicions about its ultimate intentions, after nearly two decades of nuclear secrecy exposed only four years ago, have led to UN Security Council sanctions for its refusal to freeze its enrichment program.
It was unclear what the purpose of the uranium gas feed was. A diplomat accredited to the IAEA, who demanded anonymity because he was disclosing confidential information, said the operation appeared to be part of stress tests meant see if the machines were running smoothly.
But he and another diplomat said that, even if the operation was not meant to enrich large amounts of uranium, it appeared to be the last step before larger-scale enrichment begins.
Last week, Iran said it had begun operating 3,000 centrifuges at its Natanz facility - nearly 10 times the previously known number. The U.S., Britain, France and others criticized the announcement, but experts - and several world powers - expressed skepticism that Iran's claims were true.
Still the letter reflected a swift advance in the program. A little more than two weeks ago, diplomats familiar with Iran's nuclear dossier had said Tehran was running only a little more than 600 centrifuges, and had not introduced any uranium gas into them.
Its heavy water enrichment facilities at Arak also are under suspicion, because the plant produces plutonium, which can also be used in an arms program. Iran argues it needs the plant for medical research, despite a Security Council demand that it also freeze construction at Arak.
When it is completed within the next decade, Arak will produce enough plutonium for two bombs a year.
Iran last month announced it was unilaterally abrogating part of its Safeguards Agreements linked with the IAEA under which Tehran is obligated to report to the agency six months before it introduces nuclear material of any kind into any facility. In his letter, Heinonen suggested that Iran invoked this move in denying his inspectors the right to visit the Arak facility, but argued it was illegal, because such agreements cannot be modified unilaterally.
Beyond that, Heinonen said, IAEA inspectors should be allowed to visit Arak because the section abrogated by Iran had to do with early provision of design information of new nuclear facilities and not to the frequency or timing of agency inspections to verify information on design already provided by Iran.
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Israel has initiated a plan to plant four million olive trees, presumably in the Palestinian territories. This is still just a plan, though the overenthusiastic Haaretz headline reads, "Israel, Jordan and PA to plant 4m olive trees." The actual article states:
Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon have established a team to discuss the planting of 4 million olive trees with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority for the production of oil. According to the plan, which was initiated by Peres, the oil will be marketed under a joint brand to the two countries and the PA.
The saplings will be planted mainly in existing olive groves. Peres will raise financing for the project from international sources, and Simhon will supervise implementation. At Simhon's request, the Jewish National Fund will participate, supplying olive saplings and preparing land for planting.
It was also agreed in the meeting that Israel and the PA would cooperate in spraying against the olive fly, a pest which causes millions in damages annually and hurts profitability in the sector. Damages caused by the fly are particularly extensive in the PA, estimated at NIS 100 million.
At an olive oil and wine industry exhibition recently in Verona, Israel and the PA set up a joint stall which enjoyed wide coverage in the Italian press.
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One again a lobby is limiting academic freedom and freedom of political expression. Once again, it is not the "Israel lobby."
PENN STATE SUED FOR CENSORING ANTI-TERRORISM ART
CONTACT: Lori Lowenthal Marcus DATE: April 18, 2007LoriLowenthalMarcus@COMCAST.NET
. LEAVE A RETURN CALL #
Joshua H. Stulman, the former Penn State art student whose anti-terrorism artwork was censored by Penn State, and who was labeled a racist propagandist for Israel by two professors, filed a Complaint in federal court last night, claiming violations of his First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and expression and of association, and that he was defamed by School of Visual Arts Director Charles Garoian.
Stulman created a series of paintings, "Portraits of Terror," to address the issues of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism in Israel. Each of the paintings in the series is based on news articles, photographs and well-documented research.
Penn State officials and the Muslim Student Association advisor who professed concern about Stulman's work refused Stulman's repeated efforts to meet with them.
Penn State art professor Robert Yarber, also a named defendant in this lawsuit, labeled Stulman a racist propagandist who promoted Islamophobia, and said Israel was a terrorist state that had no right to exist.
Penn State administrator Garoian announced that he cancelled the exhibition of Stulman's anti-terrorism art exhibit because of Penn State's hate speech code and its policy on nondiscrimination and harassment. Garoian also falsely said that Stulman's work was "commissioned" by Penn State Hillel and that Stulman's artwork was used to advance Hillel's "particular cultural and political" agenda.
Stulman is seeking damages and injunctive relief.
- 30 -
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
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"The Guardian disapproves of these kinds of boycotts and does not think they serve a useful purpose. It was a misguided motion," editor of the British daily Alan Rusbridger told Haaretz by telephone last night.
At its annual meeting, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) voted for a boycott of Israeli goods in protest of last year's Lebanon war and Israeli "aggression" in the territories.
The union has a membership of nearly 40,000 British journalists, who work in all the leading media outlets in the UK. It is not the first time the NUJ has made eccentric political moves. In 1986 its delegate conference sent a "telegram of condolence" to Colonel Muammar Gadhafi after the U.S. bombing of Libya.
Members of the Foreign Press Association (FPA) in Israel discussed Tuesday at their annual general meeting whether to submit a formal response to the NUJ, said the organization's chairman Simon McGregor-Wood, of ABC News, who is British. "The resolutions seem to go against some of the core ethics of journalism that we are here to protect, such as balance and objectivity. I don't think any representative body of journalists should be taking a side," he said.
Much of Tuesday's FPA meeting was devoted to discussing further demonstrations to protest the kidnapping of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, thought to have been forced from his Gaza apartment by masked men on March 12.
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Those who focus their ire on the "Israel Lobby" should be made aware of the lobbies of various Arab states, the Saudi Aramco company and Iran. This article tells us about the Iran Lobby:
By Hassan Daioleslam
Robert William (Bob) Ney is a current federal prisoner and a former Ohio Congressman from 1995 until November 3, 2006. On October 13, 2006 Ney pled guilty to charges of conspiracy and making false statements in relation to the Jack Abramoff lobbying and bribery scandal. Ney reportedly received bribes from Abramoff, other lobbyists, and two foreign businessmen - a felon and an arms dealer - in exchange for using his position to advance their interests.
Conspicuously missing from this dossier of disservice to the country was Ney's assistance in the creation of a Washington-based lobbying enterprise for the Iranian theocratic regime, The National Iranian-American Council (NIAC). NIAC is part of an extensive US lobbying web that objectively furthers the interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This article will address the creation of NIAC, Tehran's role, NIAC's connection to Iran's oil mafia, and NIAC attempts to penetrate US political system.
Creation of NIAC
The National Iranian-American Council (NIAC) was founded thanks to the efforts of four non Iranian-Americans: Roy Coffee, Dave DiStefano, Rep. Bob Ney, and Trita Parsi. Coffee and DiStefano, both Washington lobbyists, were investigated by the Justice Department for arranging a trip to London for Bob Ney, where he met a Syrian arms dealer and convicted felon involved in a conspiracy to circumvent sanctions to sell US-made aircraft parts to Tehran.
Roy Coffee sent a letter to the Dallas Morning News in February 2006 to justify his relationship with the two London-based felons. Part of the letter discussed the founding of NIAC:
"Back in the spring or summer of 2002, a good friend of mine from law school, Darius Baghai, had just returned from visiting relatives in Iran for the first time since his family left before the revolution. He spoke with me about how the economy of Iran was humming
.From this, I took Darius in to visit with Mr. Ney. What was to be a 15 minute meeting became a 1 1/2 hour meeting as they spoke passionately about their hopes for the Iranian people. They also spoke in Farsi a great deal - I'm sure talking smack about me. From that meeting, Darius, Dave and I began to work with Trita Parsi, another Iranian-American to try to form a political action committee of Iranian-Americans to pursue a strategy of normalization of relations between the two countries
. The 4 of us worked very hard for about 9 months to form this committee."
At the time, Trita Parsi was a Swedish-Iranian graduate student in his early twenties, best known for ties to Iran's ambassador in Sweden. A successful self-promoter, he soon attached himself as a part-time aide to Congressman Ney before he was appointed president of NIAC.
The New Lobby
NIAC's predecessor, the American-Iranian Council (AIC), was established in the 1990s with backing from multinational oil companies. For many years, it spear-headed pro-Tehran lobbying effort in the US.
AIC president Houshang Amirahmadi had been an active pro-Tehran player since early 1980s. While residing in US, he was also a presidential candidate in Iran's elections, and officially collaborated with different Iranian institutions and notably the foreign ministry. In 1999 and 2000 Trita Parsi was helping Amirahmadi to organize lobbying events in Washington.
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According to Alex Fishman, Hamas views Gilad Shalit as an insurance policy against Gaza invasion. Shalit is held by people who are in fact the Izzedin al Qassam military wing of Hamas, controlled by Syria, and headed by Ahmad Jabari. Shalit is also hostage for their safety. The Izzedin al Qassam wing is run directly from Syria by Khaled Meshaal and is not controlled by the Hamas in Gaza.
According to Fishman there are about 450 names on the list of prisoners to be exhanged and not 1,400 as reported in some sources. Additional lists may arrive later. Fishman writes:
In any event, negotiations based on the opening list sent to Israel are expected to be long and tiresome - a matter of several months at least. At the moment, the list is very problematic for Israel, to say the least. Overall, the names that appear on the list attest to the fact that the kidnappers are indeed in no rush to finalize a deal.
Perhaps Israel should be offering a carrot and stick. The carrot is a real truce - a pledge not to invade Gaza if the Qassam attacks stop, and perhaps some concessions other than releasing prisoners. The stick might be a threat to invade Gaza again if Shalit is not released quickly.
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Last year, Jerusalem Post reported that Saudi Arabia is continuing to boycott Israeli trade, despite US law and Saudi WTO membership, and despite their promises to drop the boycott. This boycott is apparently circumented somehow, because 12 Israeli firms are exporting to Saudi Arabia . Nonetheless, the official Saudi boycott of Israel continues, and the USA continues to do almost nothing about about it, as Jerusalem Post reports now:
Despite a promise made to Washington nearly 18 months ago to drop its trade embargo against Israel, Saudi Arabia continues to enforce the Arab League boycott, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
In November 2005, Riyadh pledged to abandon the boycott after Washington conditioned Saudi Arabia's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) on such a move. A month later, on December 11, Saudi Arabia was granted WTO membership.
The WTO, which aims to promote free trade, prohibits members from engaging in discriminatory practices such as boycotts or embargoes.
"Goods made in Israel are not allowed here in Saudi Arabia," Khaled A-Sharif, assistant manager of the Saudi Customs Department at King Abdul Aziz Airport outside Jidda, told the Post by phone. "Of course it is not permitted," he said.
In the past, A-Sharif added, products made by firms that had "a relation" with Israel were also prohibited, but these were now allowed to be brought into the country.
A Saudi customs official at the airport, who identified himself only as Feisal, told the Post, "If it is made in Israel, then it is not allowed here in Saudi Arabia. If it is made in any other country, then no problem. But not from Israel."
A Saudi customs official at King Fahd International Airport in Dammam, who declined to give his name, told the Post Israeli-made goods would be confiscated upon arrival and not permitted entry into the kingdom. "You know, it is not allowed here," he said.
In a written response appearing in last month's Congressional Record, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab addressed the question of Saudi compliance after being queried on the matter by Sen. Gordon Smith.
In her reply to Smith, Schwab confirmed that continued Saudi enforcement of the anti-Israel boycott would "not be in keeping" with Riyadh's commitments under the WTO.
Since the Saudis acceded to the WTO, Schwab wrote, "there have been conflicting signals from Saudi officials" regarding the boycott.
"We have taken every available opportunity to raise this issue with Saudi authorities to remind them of their commitment and our expectation that they honor this commitment," she said. "The administration will continue to monitor the situation."
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Robert Novak is not a novice in the world of journalism. He knows quite well that there is a difference between official government or group positions, and off the cuff tidbits offered by members of a group or government. He also knows that numerous Hamas "peace" offers were quickly and emphatically denied by Hamas leaders. He also understands the difference between direct quotes and various indirect attributions.
He claims Naser al-Shaer, education minister and deputy prime minister in the PA government wants to recognize Israel:
Shaer signaled that the regime recognizes Israel's right to exist and forgoes violence -- conditions essential for talks about a viable Palestinian state adjoining Israel -- even if Hamas does not. "We hope that it is going to be a matter of time," Shaer told me. "But there is a big chance now."
Note that Novak does not quote al-Shaer as saying that he recognizes Israel, because al-Shaer probably never said that. He also doesn't quote al-Shaer saying that the regime forgoes violence. Novak may have asked him, "Will Hamas recognize Israel?" and al-Shaer may have answered as Khaled Meshal answered earlier, that Hamas cannot discuss the matter until the Palestinians "get their rights" - meaning return of refugees to Israel. But did al-Shaer say that the Hamas or the regime recognizes Israel? What does he hope is going to be a matter of time? Probably lifting of the boycott against Hamas. We will never know because Novak doesn't tell us. Rest assured. If al-Shaer had said that the regime recognizes Israel, Novak would have given a direct quote. "Shaer signaled" might indicate that the man scratched his nose when the question was asked. It could mean anything.
Novak also knows the difference between Hamas and Fatah and independent Palestinian politicians. So he knows that if Salem Fayad says that the Palestinian government honors agreements, it is not the same thing as Hamas saying it, because Fayad is not a member of the Fatah. So why does Novak tell us:
When I asked whether Hamas agreed with Fayyad's formulation, Shaer said it did not matter: "We are talking about the government, not groups." He said Hamas was no more relevant to Palestinian policy than the views of extremist anti-Palestinian cabinet member Avigdor Lieberman are to Israeli policy. Unexpectedly, Shaer expressed dismay that "previous attempts at peace were ruined by suicide bombers. Now, we look forward to a sustained peace."
The Palestinian government is what does not matter. The GROUPS have the arms and they are ALL that matter. Avigdor Lieberman does not have an armed group that send out suicide bombers.
...that suicide bombings had ruined past attempts at peace, and that the PA government recognizes Israel and forswears violence even if Hamas does not.
I couldn't find that quote in the Novak article, but it is exactly true of course. That was the purpose of the bombings after all, and they succeeded. That explains why it DOES matter what the Hamas thinks and what they will do.
Olive Branch From Hamas
Monday, April 16, 2007; Page A17
On April 7, ending a seven-day visit to Israel, I finally got an interview I had sought for a year. I sat down in a Palestinian Authority office in Ramallah with a leader of Hamas, the extremist organization that won last year's elections. This leader pushed a two-state Israeli-Palestinian solution and deplored suicide bombers. But officials in Washington seem not to want to hear Hamas calling for peace.
No fringe character, this was Naser al-Shaer: education minister and deputy prime minister in the new coalition government. Shaer signaled that the regime recognizes Israel's right to exist and forgoes violence -- conditions essential for talks about a viable Palestinian state adjoining Israel -- even if Hamas does not. "We hope that it is going to be a matter of time," Shaer told me. "But there is a big chance now."
When I returned to Washington last week, I sought the reaction of Bush administration officials (who refuse to have any contact with Hamas). I asked to talk to Elliott Abrams, the deputy national security adviser who is most influential in policy on Israel. Abrams was once a fellow Cold Warrior and friend whom I have defended, but an aide let me know on Thursday that Abrams would not talk to me about Hamas. A senior State Department official also showed no interest in what Shaer said.
U.S. policy is not just adherence to the economic boycott that has devastated the Palestinian Authority since Hamas won elections in January 2006. U.S. government officials and contract workers in the Israeli-occupied territories must leave when someone from Hamas enters a room. Because the State Department lists Hamas as a terrorist organization, Americans not employed by the government fear that contacting a Hamas member of the Palestinian government would violate the USA Patriot Act.
Accordingly, a year ago, sources who put me in touch with other Palestinians refused to help with Hamas. The best contact I could make then was a brief telephone conversation with a Hamas underling.
I was back in Jerusalem on April 3, two weeks after Hamas brought the more moderate opposition Fatah party into the new national unity government. The Los Angeles Times had just run a remarkable op-ed by the new government's finance minister, Salam Fayyad, a political independent who lived in Washington for 20 years, served as a World Bank official and is well respected in the West. Fayyad wrote that the Palestine Liberation Organization's 1993 acceptance of Israel and disavowal of violence is "a crystal-clear and binding agreement" that "no Palestinian government has the authority to revoke." He added that the unity government's platform "explicitly" pledges to honor all PLO commitments.
Over dinner in a Ramallah restaurant on April 4, Fayyad told me that he offered his column simultaneously to several major American newspapers to get this story out quickly. But do his Hamas colleagues accept his reasoning? Fayyad made clear that he was not flying solo.
Just before my trip ended, the Palestinian Authority put me in touch with Shaer. On Aug. 19, when he was deputy prime minister in the all-Hamas regime, Shaer was seized in an Israeli raid of his Ramallah home and held for a month without charges or evidence.
In his ministry office a few days later, Shaer, who holds a doctorate from England's University of Manchester, looked nothing like the shirt-sleeved, tie-less man photographed when he was released in September. He was dressed in a stylish suit, but more telling than his appearance was what he said.
When I asked whether Hamas agreed with Fayyad's formulation, Shaer said it did not matter: "We are talking about the government, not groups." He said Hamas was no more relevant to Palestinian policy than the views of extremist anti-Palestinian cabinet member Avigdor Lieberman are to Israeli policy. Unexpectedly, Shaer expressed dismay that "previous attempts at peace were ruined by suicide bombers. Now, we look forward to a sustained peace."
While avoiding Israel-bashing, Shaer conjectured: "I don't think the Israeli government wants a two-state solution. Without pressure from the president of the United States, nothing is going to happen." That sounded like a plea for help from George W. Bush. But will he hear it if Elliott Abrams does not listen?
© 2007 Creators Syndicate Inc.
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Gidi Grinstein wrote a part of the article that I wanted to write. He got the title right for sure:
Some of its key principles are obvious to anyone who observes Israel -- for example, maintaining military superiority over Israel's neighbors, nurturing the country's special relationship with the United States and preserving a state that is predominantly Jewish demographically.
In fact, the main points of the strategy are mostly shared by Israeli leaders on the left and the right and serve as an anchor for their policies, hence generating relative consistency in national politics.
But there, he has not offered his solution yet, and he has made some errors already. If a problem has been intractable for a long time, it pays to reexamine the assumptions that have been used in the previous attempts at solutions. If "nurturing the country's special relationship with the United States" means becoming totally dependent on the US for diplomatic support and special armament supplies, then it doesn't seem to be a good way to build security. We all agree on maintaining military superiority, but there is no sign that anyone is doing it. Amir Peretz is too busy trying to work his binoculars.
It also pays to define the concepts correctly. While just about everything can be defined as security, demography is not a security issue. It is an issue of national identity.
The Winograd Commission may lead to structural reforms of profound significance.
It may or it may not. It may or may not lead to establishment of an Israeli military academy like West Point. It may or may not lead to a reform in reserve service so that everyone serves in an equitable way. It may or may not lead to a change in defense procurement, so that we are no longer so dependent on the United States. It may or may not lead to the conclusion that Israel is better off without the annual U.S. aid grants or loans. US military equipment may be superior, but if we can only get that equipment by following U.S. policy dictates, it might not be worth the price.
Gidi Grinstein's security solution is summed up as follows
...The combination of the Second Lebanon War, the disappointment in Gaza and the cancellation of the "Convergence Plan" is more than a red light. No commission has been established to look at the substance of our national security strategy and to question the basic allocation of resources between military and diplomacy, and within them. Such a reassessment could lead to the conclusion that instead of another infantry battalion, we need 100 new diplomats and experts in international law.
If most of the public debate in coming months focuses on personal findings, conclusions and recommendations, Israel may miss the point. Our national security strategy must be revisited. Our 60th year should be one of substance.
What does "the basic allocation of resources between military and diplomacy" mean? Let's say, that as Gidi Grinstein recommends, Israel were to have 100 new diplomats and experts in international law. Let's see how that could help. Are the experts in international law going to be defending Israel's case in the Hague court, or explaining to IDF why some of the things they do might be in violation of international law? Are the diplomats going to be pursuing an Israeli peace initiative, or explaining why we can't accept the Arab peace initiative?
Gidi Grinstein forgot that allocating resources is only one aspect of policy. If you buy tanks, you have to decide if, where, and when they must be used. If you hire experts, they are instruments of a policy presumably. If you do not have a policy, there is no point in having experts to carry out the non-policy.
Israel certainly need diplomats and international law experts. A small state cannot survive without wise policy and powerful allies and gifted people to help implement that policy and make and strengthen alliances. But what is the policy?
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Britain's National Union of Journalists denounced Israel on Friday for its "military adventures" in Gaza and Lebanon, called on the government to impose sanctions and urged a boycott of Israeli goods.
By a vote of 66 to 54, the annual delegate's meeting of Britain's largest trade union for journalists called for "a boycott of Israeli goods similar to those boycotts in the struggles against apartheid South Africa led by trade unions, and [for] the [Trades Union Congress] to demand sanctions be imposed on Israel by the British government."
Some of the union's 40,000 members decried its "trendy lefty" agenda. Other motions before the four-day meeting in Birmingham, which ends Sunday, included condemnations of the US detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and support for Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.
The boycott motion was the third clause of a larger anti-Israel resolution proposed by the union's South Yorkshire branch that condemned Israel's "savage, pre-planned attack on Lebanon" last summer and the "slaughter of civilians in Gaza" in recent years.
Motion 38 also called for supporting the NGOs Jews for Justice, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and the Council for the Advancement of British-Arab Understanding.
After an hour of debate, a motion to sever the boycott clause from the condemnation motion was adopted. The motion condemning Israel's "savage" behavior toward Palestinian civilians in the wake of "the defeat of its army" by Hizbullah passed by a wide margin.
Following two abortive hand counts, the boycott motion passed by 66 to 54.
The Daily Telegraph's Washington correspondent, Toby Harnden, characterized the vote
as "inane, ineffectual, counterproductive and insulting to the intelligence."
"Why should my dues be spent on anti-Israel posturing of which I and many other members want no part?" Harnden wrote on his Telegraph blog, condemning the motion as "tendentious and politically-loaded propaganda that would be rightly edited out of any news story written in a newspaper that had any pretensions of fairness."
Palestinians kidnap a BBC journalist, so they boycott Israel. It maakes sense to them, right? They are still planning on how to get back at the Jews for the Blitz.
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The hoax doesn't seem to be going away however. I have gotten three of these letters thus far since I wrote about it last.
The letter below attempts to clarify the rumors that UK schools have stopped teaching about the Holocaust. These rumors are being deliberately encouraged by a hoax email that claims that "recently this week" it was announced that UK schools will stop teaching about the Holocaust, for fear of offending Muslims.
This is a pointless and vicious hoax. Please do not forward such letters. If you get a UK Holocaust education hoax letter, please send the originator this message with the information below, and ask them to send this message back to the people who sent it to them.
16th April 2007
Over the past weeks there have been a number of rumours circulating via email regarding Holocaust education here in the UK. The emails suggest that the UK Government are removing Holocaust education from the National Curriculum and that in general British schools steer away from teaching what they might consider, a 'controversial' subject. We want to make it clear that our understanding is the Holocaust is and will continue to be on the National Curriculum and therefore continue to be taught in all UK schools.
These rumours stemmed from a piece that featured in a number of newspapers including the Daily Mail, Guardian and The Telegraph at the beginning of April. See the following links:
The news stories came about as a result of a report commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and undertaken by the Historical Association. The report, 'Challenges and Opportunities for Teaching Emotive and Controversial History 13-19 (TEACH)', addresses both the challenges teachers face, as well as the good practise that is occurring when teaching all emotive and controversial historical issues such as: Slavery, the Crusades and the Holocaust. The full TEACH report is available on the HA website: http://www.haevents.org.uk/PastEvents/Others/Teach%20report.pdf
In light of this story the Holocaust Educational Trust would like to clarify what to our knowledge is the situation in the UK.
Holocaust Education in the UK:
* The Holocaust became part of the National Curriculum for History in 1991. It is statutory for all students in England and Wales to learn about the Holocaust at Key Stage 3 usually in Year 9 History (aged 13 -14). * Many students will study the Holocaust in Religious Studies, English and Citizenship lessons. * The UK holds a national Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27th (marking the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau), and this is marked widely in primary and secondary schools across the country. * The UK has a permanent Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London, visited by 1000s of people each year. * The British Government sponsors two students (16 18 year olds) per secondary school/ further education college to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau through the Holocaust Educational
Trusts Lessons from Auschwitz Programme (This is due to a £1.5 million grant from the Government every year from 2006-2008)* School groups and private individuals visit the permanent Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, the Jewish Museum, London, and The Holocaust Centre, Beth Shalom in Newark and educational establishments work with resources and educational programmes provided by other important organisations such as the Anne Frank Trust (UK), London Jewish Cultural Centre, and the Wiener Library. * Teacher training ensures that 100s of newly qualified teachers are provided with skills and materials to ensure effective Holocaust education for their students. * Existing teachers participate in training around the UK, and specialist programmes run by
Holocaust education organisations including the Holocaust Educational Trust, Imperial War
Museum and Beth Shalom.
Within the TEACH report from the Historical Association, there is one particular line relating to Holocaust education which has been the focus of the press and various alarmed emails. It features in the section addressing why teachers avoid teaching certain subjects and states:
'.. a history department in a northern city recently avoided selecting the Holocaust as a topic for GCSE coursework for fear of confronting anti-Semitic (sic) sentiment and Holocaust denial among some Muslim pupils'. (p 15)
The key points regarding this statement are:* This does not refer to Holocaust education on the National Curriculum - it is a post- 14 History GCSE course (publicly examined course) * History at GCSE is not compulsory (only a 1/3 of pupils opt for history post-14) * This is an anecdotal response from one teacher in one school out of 4500 secondary schools in the UK. While we cannot say what happens in every single school, our understanding is that this is highly unusual and not general practise of teachers around the country. * All schools can choose which history topics they wish to study for coursework at GCSE level. * There is no suggestion that this or any other school is failing to cover the National Curriculum in teaching about the Holocaust at Key Stage 3, Year 9 (age 13 14).
At no point does the report from the Historical Association suggest that the Holocaust be removed from the National Curriculum for England and Wales.
Obviously we and all Holocaust related organisations in the UK take this very seriously, however on this occasion we want to allay all fears and impress upon everyone that the Holocaust is not being removed from the National Curriculum. This particular incident does of course merit further investigation but in no way represents all the good work in our schools across the country.
Please do circulate this far and wide to all who have shown an interest in this particular issue and Holocaust education in general here in the UK.
Should you require further information please do contact us at the Holocaust Educational Trust by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
With best wishes
Holocaust Educational Trust
BCM Box 7892
London WC1N 3XX
Tel: 020 7222 6822
Fax: 020 7233 0161
Labels: Holocaust, Jews
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Yossi Beilin argues against giving the Fatah guns. He has a point, but I am not sure he is right:
...[T]the last thing we need to add to the Palestinian Authority is more weapons. When the PA was established, it had to be allowed to acquire arms, because without enforcing law and order there would have been no significance to the creation of such Authority.
Today, arming one element in the PA due to the intention to see Fatah twist Hamas' arm soon could end up as a terrible boomerang. The historical experience of such "boosts" is horrifying. Moreover, in this case it would constitute an incentive for Hamas to arm itself even more, and if clashes between the two sides break out it would not be much of a gamble to assume Hamas would emerge victorious.
All true. We can add that Abbas has already promised that guns would not be used against other Palestinians on more than one occasion. We can also add that Fatah factions like Al-Aqsah martyrs brigade are opposed to compromise. How many of their members are in the Palestinian Police forces? Therefore, the question of who gets the guns and what guns they get must be reviewed VERY CAREFULLY.
On the other hand, there is a big flaw in the argument, a point that Beilin is ignoring. Palestinians cannot deliver their part of a peace agreement until they can control violence in their own society. They can't control violence until they have an orderly government that can also make the transition to statehood. They can't possibly have an orderly government as long as there is a large armed faction that is more powerful than the government forces. We are continually reminded that the Hamas are the "Democratically elected government," but that is a fallacious argument. No democracy can exist in a society of armed groups, and no armed group can be said to be the "democratically elected government."
Beilin also writes:
By the way, should the Arab League decide to put itself in the Palestinians' shoes and engage in dialogue in their place, we can assume that its positions would be much less compromising than the Palestinian positions.
The Arab League made it clear that it would not "put itself in the Palestinians' shoes and engage in dialogue in their place." Beilin knows this, because he writes:
The Arab Initiative's bottom line is that if Israel makes peace with the Palestinians and Syrians, Arab states would maintain normal ties with it. The Arab world would not be objecting to one clause or another in bilateral agreements, should such agreements be signed, and as a result the principles appearing in the Arab Initiative are very general and do not constitute a substitute for negotiations.
But the Arab League can possibly be persuaded to put pressure on Hamas to accept the Arab initiative and to announce that it WOULD make peace with Israel following a negotiated agreement.
Beilin also writes:
If Abbas succeeds in this move and is able to submit a draft agreement with Israel to a Palestinian referendum he would be stronger than all his opponents.
Indeed that is so. But Abbas has shown no sign that he is willing to negotiate an agreement that might be acceptable to Israel. He never said "Geneva Accord" or "Right of Israel to exist as a state of the Jewish people." He insists on 1967 borders, Right of Return and a PalestinianStateWithitsCapitalinJerusalem. Depriving Israel of the historic capital of the Jewish people and flooding it with Palestinian refugees are NOT compatible with peace. Beilin will argue that when Abbas says "Right of Return" he doesn't really mean it, and that when he advocates a PalestinianStateWithitsCapitalinJerusalem ("Palestinian State With its Capital in Jerusalem") he means only a part of Jerusalem. But Abbas has never said he would compromise on Right of Return. On the contrary. Abbas never specified either, what part of Jerusalem he might be willing to "surrender" to Israel.
Until and unless Fatah can be persuaded to adopt a realistic peace program, strengthening Abbas may not help Israel or peace.
Beilin is the author of the Geneva Accord, and that is no doubt what he is advocating. It is great in theory, but advocates of the accord have failed to deliver two key elements: Support of the Israeli government and support of the Palestinian leadership.
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The Jews have been "blamed" for the French and Russian revolutions as well as for World War I and World War II. So why not the Iraq war too?
April 16, 2007 - It is an old song. Some people said we fought the Nazis just to save the Jews. Today many accuse Israel of being the reason for the war in Iraq.
The charge that Zionists are responsible for this war is not just a diversion of internet oddballs. It has found expression in some well-known publications, such as the Nation here in the U.S. and the Guardian in the U.K. (though nothing the Guardian publishes about Israel surprises me). It has even been heard in the halls of Congress.
At a meeting of anti-war Democrats in 2005, Congressman James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) questioned whether the real reason for the Iraq war was to eliminate one of Israel's enemies. Ray McGovern, a former intelligence analyst, responded that the reasons for the Iraq war were oil, Israel, and military bases, so that "the United States and Israel could dominate that part of the world." He accused Bush of being a puppet of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Moran thanked McGovern for his answer.
Most recently the charge that Israel pressured America to invade Iraq is recorded in the Mearsheimer/Walt report on the supposed influence of the "Israel Lobby" on U.S. foreign policy:
Pressure from Israel and the Lobby was not the only factor behind the U.S. decision to attack Iraq in March 2003, but it was a critical element. Some Americans believe that this was a "war for oil," but there is hardly any direct evidence to support this claim. Instead, the war was motivated in good part by a desire to make Israel more secure.
But was there really pressure from Israel to start the Iraq war? It turns out the assertion that Sharon pushed for the war in Iraq is a complete and utter falsehood.
Yossi Alpher, former senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, reports the following:
Sometime prior to March 2003, Sharon told Bush privately in no uncertain terms what he thought about the Iraq plan. Sharon's words - revealed here for the first time - constituted a friendly but pointed warning to Bush. Sharon acknowledged that Saddam Hussein was an "acute threat" to the Middle East and that he believed Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. Yet according to one knowledgeable source, Sharon nevertheless advised Bush not to occupy Iraq.
Alpher reports that while Sharon would not try to "push one way or another," he felt the plan to invade Iraq was ill-advised, and that Bush certainly should not try to impose democracy on that country. Alpher continues:
Be sure, Sharon added, not to go into Iraq without a viable exit strategy. And ready a counter-insurgency strategy if you expect to rule Iraq, which will eventually have to be partitioned into its component parts. Finally, Sharon told Bush, please remember that you will conquer, occupy and leave, but we have to remain in this part of the world. Israel, he reminded the American president, does not wish to see its vital interests hurt by regional radicalization and the spillover of violence beyond Iraq's borders.
Far from applying pressure on the U.S. to invade, Sharon discouraged it. And his fears became realized. Israel has not benefited from this war. The war's main beneficiary is Iran, whose power has become greatly enhanced now that a major rival has been eliminated. While this win for Iran works counter to U.S. interests, it may end up posing a mortal threat to Israel. Israel had no interest in this war and Sharon knew it.
The Iraq war was not a Zionist plot. In hindsight it seems a complete disaster, perhaps the greatest blunder in the history of American foreign policy. I did not actively push for the war. I did, however, criticize the case against it. Based on what was known at the time, I believe my criticisms were justified. But I was still wrong. So were many others, who drew their conclusions from faulty intelligence and incomplete information. It turns out Sharon was smarter than all of us. And that the greatest loser in the Iraq war may very well be Israel.
Alpher, Yossi. "Sharon Warned Bush." Jewish Daily Forward, January 12, 2007.
Isseroff, Ami. "The Jews Started the War - Once Again." Zionism-Israel.com, June 26, 2005.
Mearsheimer, John J. and Walt, Stephen M. "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy." March 2006.
Milbank, Dana. "Democrats Play House To Rally Against the War." Washington Post, June 17, 2005.
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Attention all friends of the Hamas, who insist that they want peace. This is not Zionist propaganda. It is straight from the horse's mouth, the Web site of the Izzedin Al Qassam terror group:
alqassam.ps/english/?action=showdetail&fid=431. (check it out - no links to bad guy Web sites. These are REAL bad guys).
Hamdan : We will persist in resistance till the end of occupation ,restoring the Palestinian rights and the return of the Palestinian refugees
15 April 2007
Osama Hamdan, Hamas deputy in Lebanon, confirmed yesterday that the movement will persist in resistance and will never give up this road till the withdrawal of the occupation , restoring the usurped rights and the return of the Palestinian refugees.
He said" Hamas will keep the promises, will be honest to the rights and the blood of martyrs , and will continue in the road of Jihad till the end of the occupation , the regain the Palestinian rights and the return of the Palestinian refugees to their cities and villages"
Hamdan said that in a Hamas festival arranged on Saturday 14/4 in the " Returned camp" for the Palestinian refugees in the city of "Hams" in Syria. The festival was held in the occasion of the " Land Day" and the Martyrs Week. Thousands of people from the camp attended the festival including Factions' deputies , institutions , patriots and others.
The leader in Hamas movement referred to the martyrs " who map out the borders of Palestine by their blood" . Also, Hamdan referred to Sheikh Ahmad Yassin " who was an argument to all the healthy" and to doctor Rantisi " who was called " Palestine's falcon" during his message that there will no return , liberation and dignity but with Jihad".
Hamdan clarified that martyrdom is a " victory not a defeat" reminding that the Zionist forces assassinated Dr.Ranitisi in 2004 and retreat from Gaza Strip in 2005 " hearing the words of the Ranitisi that we will get victory Sharon , we will get victory Bush". Also , in 2006 the Palestinian people let the resistance to get the victory when voting to the resistance movement. In 2007 , the Zionist conspiracies were defeated in Mecca agreement which ended the internal conflict describing this agreement of the achievement to prevention of bloodshed , opening the way to arrange the Palestinian house and to rebuild the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
The leader in Hamas movement cleared that Hamas is very keen to rebuild the PLO in order to unify all the efforts of the Palestinian people in a national project in a resistance framework.
Continued (Permanent Link)
This is fairly alarming news that seems to have suddenly surfaced only now.
al Qaida's WMD Fatwa: Shaykh Nasir bin Hamid al Fahd
Until May 2003, al Qaeda did not have sufficient Islamic grounding on which to convincingly justify a WMD attack. In that month, however, a young Saudi cleric named Shaykh Nasir bin Hamid al-Fahd published "A Treatise on the Legal Status of Using Weapons of Mass Destruction Against Infidels."
Source: Excerpts from, Imperial Hubris , by Michael Scheuer: Pages 154-156
Paperback editon March 4, 2005
The study is lucidly written, comprehensive, and well-documented justification and authorization for using weapons of mass destruction against infidels-in this case, against the United States.
Without Question, Shaykh al-Fahd wrote, the "Proscription [of weapons of mass destruction] Belongs to God Almighty, and to None Other Than He, such as Humans."
Shaykh al-Fahd begins by describing the term "weapons of mass destruction" as an "inexact term," claiming that chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons that killed a thousand people would be called by the West "internationally banned weapons," whereas the use of "high explosive bombs weighing seven tons apiece and [that] killed three thousand or more" would be called "internationally permissible weapons." On that basis, he dismisses the WMD-armed West's treaties and regulations banning WMD proliferation as mere attempts to scare others and protect itself. "Thus it is evident," he wrote, "that [the Western nations] do not wish to protect humanity by these terms, as they assert; rather, they want to protect themselves and monopolize such weapons on the pretext of banning them internationally."
"All these terms have no standing in Islamic law, because God Almighty has reserved judgment and legislation to Himself...This is a matter so obvious to Muslims that it needs no demonstration...In judging these weapons one looks only to the Koran, the Sunnah [i.e., the sayings and traditions of the Prophet], and the statements of Muslim scholars."
Summary of al-Fahd's Fatwa:
* Shaykh al-Fahd first cites three examples from the Koran in which God says that Muslims may respond reciprocally for attacks made on them. "Anyone who considers America's aggressions against Muslims and their lands during the past decades," al-Fahd wrote, "will conclude that striking her is permissible merely on the rule of treating as one has been treated. Some brothers have totaled the number of Muslims killed directly or indirectly by their weapons and come up with a figure of nearly 10 million."
* Shaykh al-Fahd next argues that large civilian casualties are acceptable if they result from an attack meant to defeat an enemy, and not an attack aimed only at killing the innocent. "The messenger of God [the Prophet Muhammad]," al-Fahd wrote, "commanded an attack on the enemy. In many traditions, he attacked others...He was not prevented from this by what we know, namely that he knew that women and children would not be safe from harm. He allowed the attack because the intent of the attackers was not to harm them...Thus the situation in this regard is that if those engaged in jihad establish that the evil of the infidels can be repelled only by attacking them at night with weapons of mass destruction, they may be used even if they annihilate the infidels."
* Shaykh al-Fahd concludes by addressing the issue of whether Muslims can kill other Muslims in pursuing jihad in God's name. He says that, indeed, the lives of Muslims are considered sacred and there is no permission from God to wantonly kill another Muslim. But, al-Fahd maintains, "If we accept the argument unrestrictedly, we should entirely suspend jihad, for no infidel land is devoid of Muslims. As long as jihad has been commanded...and it can be carried out only in this way [i.e., with Muslims being killed in attacks by Muslims], it is permitted." God allows this, al-Fahd explains, "so that the enemy cannot force us to abandon jihad by imprisoning a Muslim among them."
Excerpts from, Imperial Hubris , by Michael Scheuer: Pages 154-156
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Hamas issued a statement to reporters Monday in support of capturing Israeli soldiers in order to use them as bargaining chips in negotiating the release of Palestinian prisoners.
"We believe that kidnapping soldiers and exchanging them for prisoners is the best solution for releasing our heroes, after the failure of all the diplomatic channels."
The statement speaks for itself. Anyone who had any doubts about the wisdom of exchanging hundreds of prisoners for three bodies and a degenerate drug dealer in the deal with Hezbollah can now understand the full nature of the disaster that Israel has brought on itself by agreeing to these exchanges. The need to save the life of one one loved one and return him to freedom must be weighed against the future consequences: kidnappings and murder that will claim many, many lives.
The Palestinian prisoners' issue should be addressed in three ways:
No more exchanges except on a one for one basis.
Death penalty for those whom we cannot affort to see freed.
No prisoners held under administrative detention.
Rapid release of people who committed minor offences, especially women and children.
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These reports from two sources are sad if true. It makes no sense for Gaza terrorists to kill BBC reporters, of all people.
Even when they kill a BBC reporter, if they killed him, they are still "militants" unless they blow up the London subways or try to hi-jack an airplane departing from London.
Sonia Verma in Jerusalem
A previously unknown Palestinian militant group last night claimed that it had killed the BBC reporter Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped in Gaza more than a month ago.
The group, calling itself the Brigades of Tawheed and Jihad, said that its demands for the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails had been ignored. The BBC and the Palestinian Government are treating the claim with suspicion.
An unknown Palestinian group has said that it has killed a British journalist kidnapped over a month ago in Gaza City, but the claim could not be confirmed.
In a statement sent to news organisations on Sunday, "The Brigades of Tawheed and Jihad" said that it killed Alan Johnston, the BBC's Gaza correspondent, to support demands for the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
However, the BBC and the Palestinian government both said there was no evidence to back up the claim.
"The BBC is aware of these reports," the corporation said in a statement. "But we have no independent verification of them."
The group claiming to have killed him is unknown in Gaza, but the name has been used elsewhere in the Middle East by organisations linked to al-Qaeda.
"This party that issued the statement about the so-called killing is unknown to the security services," Hani Kawasmeh, the Palestinian interior minister, told a news conference in Gaza City.
"There is no information to confirm the killing of Johnston until now."
Johnston was snatched at gunpoint in Gaza City on March 12. Since then there had been no demands from his captors or any word on his condition.
He has been missing longer than any other foreigner kidnapped in Gaza.
The only foreign reporter still based in Gaza, he was snatched just weeks before he was scheduled to end his three-year stint there. Other news organisations withdrew their foreign-born reporters because of the deteriorating security situation there.
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Is Ehud Olmert yielding on the Saudi proposal for Israeli-Arab peace?
That was the question Israel's pundits were asking Sunday as the prime minister held another round of anti-climactic talks with the Palestinians while signaling he wanted to engage in big-picture diplomacy with the Arab League.
"Israel continues to make every effort to make the most of the chance for finding a comprehensive solution to the conflict between us and the Palestinians," Olmert told his Cabinet before hosting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over lunch in Jerusalem. "We are willing to hold a dialogue with any grouping of Arab states about their ideas."
Olmert aides said he was alluding to an Arab League working group set up to promote the Saudi proposal for comprehensive Israeli-Arab peace.
Jerusalem has cautiously welcomed the plan, first proposed in 2002 and reissued in Riyadh last month, while voicing misgivings about its call for a full Israeli withdrawal from lands captured in the 1967 Six-Day War and an agreed-upon solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.
But Israeli sources say that Olmert, facing continued diplomatic deadlock with the dominant Palestinian faction Hamas and an ascendant nuclear threat from Iran, is coming around to the idea of dealing directly with moderate Arab regimes.
While his government lacks the power to enact major concessions, Olmert could well be hoping to edge toward a peace deal along the lines of the Saudi proposal that would decisively marginalize Hamas.
"Olmert would very much like to say a qualified yes to the Arab initiative at present," wrote Ma'ariv's political commentator, Ben Caspit. "Therefore he is trying to create a delayed, challenged, censored agenda and to set this process in motion without calling things by their true name.
"Even if the chances of it ever maturing into something genuine are not high, that chance exists. And that too is something..."
Actually, the talks this time were better than previous ones, and there was a positive Palestinian proposal to patrol the Gaza borders. If any progress was made on freeing Gilad Shalit, it was not mentioned thus far. Of course, if there is anything to the Arab peace offer, it must be pursued.
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This is good news - if it works, and the atmosphere of cooperation is remarkable and encouraging ...
Palestinian security forces to patrol Philadelphi
Palestinian presidential guard to deploy along Gaza-Egypt border to prevent weapons' smuggling, will also deploy along northern border to prevent Qassam launchings
Ronny Sofer Published: 04.15.07, 17:28 / Israel News
The prevention of weapons' smuggling was a key topic at a Sunday meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The meeting dealt with possible channels of Palestinian-Israeli cooperation.
Abbas and his associates presented a deployment plan for Palestinian presidential guards along the Philadelphi Route, as part of the effort to prevent weapons' smuggling to Gaza via Egypt.
The plan, according to American General Keith Dayton, also outlines the deployment of presidential guards along other areas of the Gaza border, in order to prevent terror operatives from launching Qassams, laying explosives and undertaking other violent activities.
The plan was derived as part of an effort to increase the strength of the presidential guards, using US support, in coordination with Israel, Jordan and Egypt.
During the meeting, Olmert and Abbas agreed on the continued operation of a multilateral committee comprised of Israelis, Egyptians, Americans and Palestinians, that will deal with the issue of weapons' smuggling prevention.
This committee has met several times in the past, but Olmert and Abbas both requested that the frequency of these meetings be increased.
The two leaders also both requested that the European Union continue to monitor and operate the Rafah border crossing, and asked that Karni crossing operating hours be extended to 11 p.m. starting Sunday, in order to aid in the transfer of Palestinian wares and humanitarian supplies.
Continued (Permanent Link)
Russian National Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov warned during a visit to Israel last week that the tense cease-fire between Jerusalem and Damascus might escalate into war if the two parties mutually miscalculate their strength.
That is what is known as an opinion from the source. Israel will certainly not overestimate its strength. So that leaves only one party that might do so. The article also states:
Israeli National Security Council Head Ilan Mizrahi responded by saying that the fact that Russia was supplying Syria with modern weapons and missiles might encourage it to miscalculate its strength. Mizrahi added that delivering weapons to Syria would also undermine regional stability.
Ivanov replied that Russia was supplying both Iran and Syria with defensive weapon systems only. He went on to tell the Israeli delegation that Syrian President Bashar Assad was genuinely interested in negotiating a peace agreement with Israel.
An anti-tank rocket is a defensive weapon. But if the tank is trying to stop a Syrian rocket attack on Israel, then what is anti-tank rocket?
Continued (Permanent Link)
The year 2006 saw a sharp rise in incidents of anti-Semitism worldwide, and the highest total number of incidents since 2000, according to a study released Sunday by the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism and Racism in conjunction with the World Jewish Congress to correspond with Holocaust Memorial Day.
A total of 590 incidents of violence or vandalism were reported in 2006 against Jews, Jewish property and Jewish institutions.
The number of physical assaults on Jews was twice as high as it was 2005, the report stated.
Since the incidents occur as matters of circumstance, it is difficult to identify the attackers and bring them to trial. Still, the majority of the assailants were Muslim immigrants and extreme right-wing youths, it said.
In 2006, incidents of harassment at schools and Jewish community centers also doubled from 2005. The number of synagogues desecrated also rose by a third.
The countries with the greatest rise in anti-Semitism were Great Britain, Australia, France and Canada.
In Great Britain, the number of violent anti-Semitic incidents was highest in the past 20 years, as more than 100 Jews were assaulted.
The number of violent incidents in France rose by 45 percent and doubled in Canada.
The head of the institute, Prof. Dina Porat, said the two principle events that encouraged anti-Semitism were the efforts of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to deny the Holocaust, and the Second Lebanon War.
During the war, "even the world's mainstream journalism portrayed the figure of the Jew as characterized by brutality," Porat said.
Continued (Permanent Link)
Israeli PM Olmert is Willing to have dialog with any bloc of Arab states. That is a good response to the Arab peace initiative, which in reality seems to call for Israel to first make concessions to the confrontation states, and then wait on the good will of Arab states to get peace: "Land for promises."
According to the Haaretz article:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who met with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday, told his cabinet he was "willing to hold a dialog with any grouping of Arab states about their ideas," an apparent nod towards the Saudi peace initiative.
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa and representatives of the 11 Arab member states will meet on Wednesday to move the peace initiative forward. The plan was reaffirmed at the Riyadh summit last month.
On Saturday, government sources said Israel was waiting for the official appointment of the Arab League committee this week. "If its goal is to further the Saudi initiative, then from our point of view, it is possible to engage in dialogue with it," one source said.
American officials, including U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dick Jones, have said recently that the expected dialogue between the Arab League and Israel would be a move of historic significance.
After the special committee is established, the Arab League will seek to engage in talks with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the Quartet and other international organizations, in order to further the initiative.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was to meet Sunday evening on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea with her Jordanian counterpart, Abdelelah Al-Khatib. The two will discuss the appointment of the committee, which will include Jordan and Palestinians who maintain relations with Israel.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit discussed the matter in a phone call to Livni before the Passover holiday, which ended last week.
But what if the bloc of Arab states consists of Lebanon and Syria?
Continued (Permanent Link)
Azmi Bishara, the Arab MK who supported Hezbollah during the war, absconded from Israel because he is under investigation, as many have known. An Israeli court has allowed this fact to be made public, even though the matter is under invesigation:
Lifting a rare court order which had forbidden the publication of the existence of a gag order concerning an investigation into Balad Chairman Azmi Bishara, Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court on Sunday ruled that the press could discuss the existence of the probe, but not its substance.
Prior to the Sunday ruling, the press was forbidden even to discuss either the existence of the investigation or the order that forbade its publication.
The court rejected the request of the Balad party, Haaretz and other media outlets to remove the gag order, and said that the details of the investigation must not yet be released, as Bishara has yet to appear before the court.
The court added that "the investigation is being carried out cautiously by senior investigation officials and under the supervision of the attorney general."
Exposure of the suspicions against Bishara, it said, would "significantly and tangibly harm the progress of the investigation."
Following the hearing, MK Jamal Zahalka, chairman of the Balad Knesset faction, said, "I am willing to refer to the investigation if media outlets release my statements. We are being subjected to a mudslinging campaign without the ability to respond, and we are seeking to expose the truth."
Zahalka said Balad, and Bishara himself, were suffering political persecution and that police were misusing the gag order for their own ends.
"Someone is consciously disseminating false news stories to the media, and this causes harm, first and foremost, to us," he said.
On Friday, Bishara lashed out against the country's Hebrew-language media, accusing them of incitement against him.
"The publication of a photograph of my home and its address in newspapers constitutes incitement to murder. It makes me rethink my position as a Knesset member," Bishara said in an exclusive interview to the Nazareth radio station A-Shams, his first interview to electronic media since leaving Israel three weeks ago.
Bishara said he would grant interviews to other Arabic-language media outlets over the coming days.
Bishara was guarded in his remarks because of the impossibility of discussing the reasons behind the announcement of his probable resignation from the Knesset.
In an interview to the Taibeh-based Arabic magazine Panorama, Bishara said that the nationalist stream within the Arab public was threatening to Israel. "We do pose a threat, and that's why we are seen as a danger," Bishara said. "It would be illogical if we weren't seen as a danger and if we were not opposed," he said, adding, "we stand against the defective situation of those who are connected to Israelization and to the regime."
This is most peculiar:
"we stand against the defective situation of those who are connected to Israelization and to the regime."
Bishara is a member of the Israeli parliament. Isn't "Israelization" natural in Israel, and isn't Bishara himself connected to the regime? He is more connected than I am. He is an MK. He votes on the laws.
Continued (Permanent Link)
Daniel Pearl, who was beheaded by terrorists in 2002, will be remembered in a Holocaust remembrance ceremony:
Daniel Pearl, the American journalist who was abducted and killed by terrorists in 2002, is expected to be remembered during a Holocaust memorial ceremony here Sunday. Pearl's name will be added to Miami Beach's Holocaust Memorial Wall during Yom Hashoah - the annual time of remembrance.
It will be the first time a non-Holocaust victim has been remembered there. Judea Pearl, 70, Daniel Pearl's father, will speak at the ceremony. "Of course he was not a victim of the Holocaust," he told The Miami Herald. But "the same forces that killed my grandparents in Auschwitz, the forces of hatred, are still operating in our world in the 21st century - and Danny is one of the victims."
Perhaps it would be better to set up a separate memorial to victims of terror: 9-11 victims, Israeli victims, American victims, Algerian victims, Spanish victims, Iraqi victims, Egyptian victims... It is not a Holocaust yet, but the list is growing. Pearl's wonderful family have set up the Daniel Pearl Foundation, which promotes peace. Perhaps that is the best memorial.
Continued (Permanent Link)
How to rewrite history if you don't like the way it happened: The Vatican wants to change the part that Pope Pius XXII played (or did not play). So they refuse to attend a memorial ceremony, so Yad Vashem will change history for them. If they write under a picture of the Pope that he saved Jews, then it becomes "true." But the Jews remain just as dead:
The Vatican's ambassador to Israel, Archbishop Antonio Franco announced to the Foreign Ministey in Jerusalem that he has decided to participate in the Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony at Yad Vashem, despite his announcement last week that he would not take part in the event.
Franco told Ynet that he had changed his mind after Yad Vashem authorities promised they would reexamine the caption under the picture of Pope Pius XII, whose actions during the Holocaust are disputed. (Lilach Shoval)
Continued (Permanent Link)
This is the Israel News and Commentary Weblog of Zionism-Israel Center. Contact: info(at)Zionism-Israel.com
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