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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Jerusalem Bill - Congressional Resolution 131

Bill H. Con. Res. 131

- Apr 25, 2007 United States Congress


Commemorating the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.

Mr. WILSON of South Carolina (for himself and Mr. PENCE) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on


Commemorating the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.
Whereas for 3,000 years Jerusalem has been the focal point of Jewish religious devotion;
Whereas there has been a continuous Jewish presence in Jerusalem for three millennia and a Jewish majority in the city since the 1840s;
Whereas the once thriving Jewish majority of the historic Old City of Jerusalem was driven out by force during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War;
Whereas, from 1948 to 1967, Jerusalem was a divided city, and Israeli citizens of all faiths, as well as Jewish citizens of all states, were denied access to holy sites in the area controlled by Jordan;
Whereas, in 1967, Jerusalem was reunited by Israel during the conflict known as the Six Day War;
Whereas, since 1967, Jerusalem has been a united city, and persons of all religious faiths have been guaranteed full access to holy sites within the city;
Whereas this year marks the 40th year that Jerusalem has been administered as a unified city, in which the rights of all faiths have been respected and protected;
Whereas each sovereign country, under international law and custom, has the right to designate its own capital;
Whereas this year marks the 59th anniversary of Israel's independence;
Whereas Jerusalem is the seat of the Government of Israel, including the President, Parliament, and the Supreme Court;
Whereas the United States maintains its embassy in the functioning capital of every country except in the case of Israel, a friend and strategic ally of the United States;
Whereas the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (Public Law 104–45), which became law on November 8, 1995, states as a matter of United States policy that Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel; and
Whereas the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003 (Public Law 107–228) directs that the Secretary of State shall, upon the request of a citizen or a citizen's legal guardian, record the place of birth of a United States citizen born in the city of Jerusalem as Israel: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress—
(1) congratulates the residents of Jerusalem and the people of Israel on the 40th anniversary of the reunification of that historic city;

(2) congratulates the people of Israel on the 59th anniversary of their independence;

(3) strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected as they have been by Israel during the past 40 years;

(4) calls upon the President and the Secretary of State to repeatedly affirm publicly, as a matter of United States policy, that Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital of the State of Israel;

(5) strongly urges the President to discontinue the waiver contained in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (Public Law 104–45), immediately implement the provisions of that Act, and begin the process of relocating the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem;

(6) further urges United States officials to refrain from any actions that contradict United States law on this subject; and

(7) reaffirms Israel's right to take necessary steps to prevent any future division of Jerusalem.


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Israel: More prisoner release rumors

According to this item, negotiations for release of Israeli prisoners held by Hezbollah and Hamas are still progressing. But Hezbollah will not provide any information that shows Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser are still alive. Very likely they are dead unfortunately:
Al-Ittihad said that the talks on the swap for the two soldiers are at the stage of "determining names."
It is impossible to determine the veracity of the report, which came from the paper's reporter in Beirut and credits political sources.
According to the report, Iranian-backed Hezbollah has requested the release by Israel of Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian and Palestinian prisoners, in return for IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, who were snatched during a patrol along the border with Lebanon in July 2006.
The paper says that one of the central points of dispute between the sides is the condition of the two IDF soldiers held by Hezbollah.
Israel is demanding that Hezbollah provide signs of life from its two soldiers before the negotiations can continue.
Hezbollah has said, however, that Israel must free Arab prisoners for this information, among them Samir Kuntar, the Lebanese terrorist jailed for the 1979 murders of a Nahariya man and his four-year-old daughter.
We remember the last swap in which huge numbers of prisoners were free, and then Hezbollah returned bodies of soldiers rather than living ones. Having been rewarded for that behavior, they probably repeated it.
Ami Isseroff

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Hamas government gaining legitimacy

There are no real cracks yet in the US and EU boycott of the Hamas government, but following Norwegian recognition, they are getting nods from Switzerland and possibly from China:
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh will visit Switzerland in May in what will be his first official state visit to Europe since becoming prime minister, according to a report in the French news agency AFP released Friday.
The report stated that a date has still not been set for the trip.
Ten days ago, Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti said that China and Switzerland informed Palestinian officials that they would meet with the new unity government, a coalition of the Islamic militant Hamas and the moderate Fatah movement.
"We appreciate the position of China and Switzerland, the states that informed us that they are going to deal with our government, without any discrimination between its members," said Barghouti.
Many other countries have said they would meet with only meet with non-Hamas members of the Cabinet.
But Jing Lu, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Tel Aviv, said he was unaware of any change in Chinese policy.
"Up to now, we haven't had any direct contact with Hamas people, including those Hamas members in the unity government," he said.
He said that the Chinese Middle East envoy, Sun Bigan, was was not scheduled to meet with Hamas people during his current visit to the region for talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials.
China was, however, one of the few foreign countries to host members of the previous Hamas government.
Dutch gov't: Haniyeh not welcome
The Dutch government had ruled out a visit by Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, saying he would not get a visa because the European Union considers his Hamas party a terrorist group.
Haniyeh's office had contacted the Dutch government to enquire about documents needed to request a visa as the Palestinian premier wanted to attend a conference on the Palestinians and Europe in Rotterdam on May 5, a spokesman for the Dutch Foreign Ministry said.
"He will not be granted a visa, should he request one officially," the spokesman said. "Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union."
"It is consistent not only to avoid contact with Hamas ministers but also not to let them come to the Netherlands or anywhere else in Europe and spread the message of Hamas."
The European Union has a policy of avoiding contacts with Hamas ministers.
Dutch media reported that Haniyeh had been invited to be the main speaker at a Palestinian-European conference organized by the Dutch-based Palestine Platform for Human Rights and Solidarity.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Do moderate Arab nations really fear Iran more than Israel?

Is it true, or is it wishful thinking? Do moderate Arab nations really fear Iran more than Israel?


Former US Secretary of Defense William Cohen, on visit to Israel, says Arab world fears Iranian ambitions to dominate region and is interested in cooperating with Israel against Iranian threat; Arab nations are therefore pressing Israeli-Palestinian peace, Cohen says


Do moderate Arab nations really fear Iran more than Israel?

We want to believe that, but that doesn't necessarily make it true. Were it really true, Arab nations would stop funding the Hamas government, would produce a realistic peace initiative, and would be willing to sit down with Israel and negotiate peace.

Ami Isseroff


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Divestment unites Jews and Muslims

Jews and Iranian Muslims are uniting behind a Californian Iran divestment bill: 

Fourteen national and state Jewish organizations and dozens of Iranian Muslim groups opposed to Iran's regime have found common ground in support of California Assembly Bill 221, which would require state pension funds to divest an estimated $24 billion in investments from more than 280 companies doing business with Iran.

CPAN CLASS=FULLPOST>The bill's author, freshman Assemblyman Joel Anderson (R-El Cajon), said he was shocked to discover state funds were indirectly benefiting Iran's regime.

"We cannot be doing business with a country like Iran, whose president wants to eliminate another country in the region," Anderson said. "Once they show a sign that they want to rejoin the world community in a peaceful manner, my bill goes away."

Aside from the economic impact AB 221 might have on Iran, Anderson said the primary goal of the legislation was to secure the California Public Employees Retirement (CalPERS) and the State Teachers Retirement (CalSTRS) pensions with wise investment strategies, since both are valued at nearly $400 billion and funded by taxpayers.

"I'm not in a position to decide foreign policy, however I am responsible for protecting the state pensions and Iran runs the risk of either being bombed or nationalizing companies there," Anderson said. "So I feel Iran is clearly not a safe place to invest $24 billion of our taxpayers and state's employees' money."

National Jewish organizations in support of AB 221 include the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA). But the groups said they have not been involved in direct lobbying efforts.

"The goal for these types of legislation is to convince Iran to abandon its quest for nuclear weapons and their violent rhetoric toward Israel," said Hadar Susskind, JCPA's Washington director. "Using economic means is a way to hopefully avoid the possibility of military conflict in the future."

Local Iranian Jewish leaders, who have long been cautious about rhetoric concerning Iran out of fear that the regime may seek retribution on nearly 20,000 Jews still living Iran, said they too were supportive of the Iran divestment bill in the Assembly.

Military confrontation in the Middle East "is neither a desirable nor wise option," said Sam Kermanian, secretary general of the Los Angeles-based Iranian American Jewish Federation. "It is [instead] AB 221 and other similar measures in other states and on the diplomatic scene that enjoy the broad support of our community."

Aside from Jewish support for the divestment bill, local Iranian Muslim political groups and media outlets opposed to the regime in Iran have mobilized their constituents to publicly voice support for AB 221.

"The economy is the Achilles heel of the regime in Iran and this bill, along with strong sanctions, are the best nonviolent way to bring that government down," said Roozbeh Farahanipour, head of the Marse Por Gohar Party, an Iranian political opposition group based in Westwood. "Those in Iran who oppose the regime have told us this type of legislation is the best option for the U.S. to take."

Last month, Farahanipour testified before the Assembly's retirement committee on the effectiveness of divestment from Iran.

Ali-Reza Moravati, owner of Radio Sedaye Iran, a Persian-language satellite radio station based in Beverly Hills, said throughout March entire programs on his station were dedicated to urging listeners in California to contact their state representatives in support of the Iran divestment bill.

Former Iranian crown prince Reza Pahlavi also submitted a formal letter to Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez supporting passage of AB 221 as "a shining example and a great way to demonstrate solidarity with 70 million Iranians seeking freedom, democracy and a better life."

Despite widespread support among Iranian expatriates for the bill, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a Washington D.C.-based pro-Iran lobby has been one of the few groups opposing AB 221.

Based on a recent report prepared by independent Iranian researcher Hassan Daioleslam, NIAC is part of an extensive U.S. lobbying web that furthers the interests of Iran's current fundamentalist Islamic regime. NIAC was established in 2001, funded by Iranian oil revenues and modeled after AIPAC, according to Daioleslam's report.

NIAC representatives did not return calls for comment.

In addition, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers have also voiced opposition to AB 221, citing their pension fund boards should make divestment decisions, not the state legislature.

Gidi Grinstein, head of the Re'ut Institute, a nonpartisan policy group based in Israel, expressed doubt as to the effectiveness of divestment alone in halting Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

"Divestment ... may not be successful on its own in stopping the nuclear project, but compounded with the two legs of credible and viable military option and a political package, it may work," Grinstein wrote in an e-mail. "Effective outcome is not guaranteed, but decisive action here is very important."

Lawmakers in other states -- including Missouri, Maryland, Massachusetts, Georgia and Ohio -- have already planned to introduce similar Iran divestment bills in their legislatures. In February, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a bill requiring all U.S. government pension funds to divest stock of companies that had more than $20 million invested in Iran's petroleum and natural gas industries.

AB 221 was unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee on April 24 and is expected to move to the Appropriations Committee on May 11.

If the legislation reaches the floor, Anderson anticipates AB 221 could become law since it has received bipartisan support.

"In the past, we've had success with similar divestment bills in the Assembly involving South Africa during apartheid and with the Sudan," Anderson said. "I think California will again lead the way with this Iran divestment legislation."

For more information: NIAC:

Marse Porgohar:

KRSI, Radio Sedaye Iran:

Jewish Council for Public Affairs:

Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors Los Angeles:

Reut Institute:

California Teachers Association:

California Federation of Teachers:

Reza Pahlavi:

Reza Pahlavi's letter to Fabian Nunez:

Joel Anderson's state website:

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Report: Egypt foils attack on Israeli tourists in Sinai


Egyptian security forces thwarted a Palestinian terrorist attack against Israeli tourists in Sinai on Thursday, the Egyptian Interior Ministry said.
One Palestinian suspect was arrested and another ran away when security forces confronted them 1.5 kilometres from Sinai's border with the Gaza  Strip, the ministry said.
Abdel Shafie Jabr Maraheel, who is suspected of smuggling explosives into Sinai, was seriously wounded when he threw a homemade explosive at the police, the ministry added.
None of the policemen was injured, but the second suspect managed to escape.
Security sources said Maraheel was suspected of having entered Egypt illegally via a smuggling tunnel on the border with the Gaza Strip. They could give no information on what he may have been planning.
Bombers have hit Red Sea resort areas in the Sinai Peninsula three times since 2004, killing well over 100 people in attacks Egypt blames on a group of Islamists from the Sinai Bedouin community with militant views.

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Israeli dependence day and US Aid

In Just an optical illusion Nehemia Shtrasler points out Israel's dangerous dependence on US aid.
Although there are no official statistics, more Israelis apparently waved their national flag this past Independence Day. Perhaps this was out of a longing for a more innocent period, when the corrupt at least felt ashamed of their deeds, or perhaps the reason was that Bank Hapoalim distributed free flags. However, there was another phenomenon, unparalleled in any other nation: The Stars and Stripes were flown alongside the national flag. This is essentially a declaration that Israelis cannot celebrate their own independence day without remembering that their country's existence is wholly dependent on American backing.
This backing has several aspects. One of them is the military and economic aid that Israel receives annually from Uncle Sam. In this regard, there will soon be a change, in five months' time. October 1 will mark the last time Israel will receive economic aid (totaling $120 million) from the United States. This will be the closing chord of the economic aid Israel has received since the mid-1980s. After October 1, Israel will receive military aid only: $2.4 billion yearly.
The process of gradually reducing the economic assistance began in 1996, with a festive speech by then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to both houses of the U.S. Congress. In that address, he passionately declared that Israel had emerged from its childhood and was now mature enough to stand on its own two feet and achieve economic independence. Thus, he announced, Israel was waiving the economic aid that it had received until then from America. Members of Congress, who were moved by this gesture, gave Netanyahu a standing ovation, out of respect for someone willing to give up several hundred million dollars a year.
However, the truth is that this was not a freely given concession; it was a response to American pressure.
Today, 11 years after that festive "concession speech" and after Israel's celebration of its 59th year of independence, has Israel achieved the economic independence that Netanyahu promised? And is it politically independent?
There are those who argue that Israel has already achieved economic independence: For the first time in Israeli history, there was a respectable surplus in our balance of payments, with exports exceeding imports by $0.9 billion and with a large surplus ($6.8 billion) in the current account. If we also factor in a rapid growth rate of five percent for the fourth consecutive year, a negligible inflation rate, the strengthening of the shekel vis-a-vis the dollar, a lower interest rate than in the U.S., and a decrease in unemployment, it is clear why many people believe that Israel has achieved economic independence.
However, this is just an optical illusion. It is a sort of mirage, mere virtual reality - nothing more.
If any American president were to give a small cough and say, in a half-whisper, "hmm, I am considering my steps concerning Israel," our country's excellent economic situation would immediately turn topsy-turvy. Israel's international credit line would instantly freeze, the dollar would soar, and so would our inflation rate. Our balance of payments surplus would become a deficit and foreign investment would flee Israel many times faster than it came. After all, the world knows that without American backing, tiny Israel would quickly revert to its natural proportions.
Therefore, it really does not matter whether or not the economic aid ends in October. What is important is that Israel continue to enjoy the political support of the most powerful nation on earth. After all, were it not for America's veto in the United Nations Security Council, economic sanctions, a la South Africa during its apartheid regime, would have been imposed on Israel long ago. Without that veto, Israel would never have been able to continue fighting the Second Lebanon War when every other country in the world wanted it stopped as soon as it began.
Anyone who needs further evidence of the sad fact that Israel is very far from independence - either economic or political - should know that Israel recently submitted another request for an increase in American military aid. Israel is now asking for a $50 million annual increment in the military grant, so that, in another 10 years' time, it would amount to $2.9 billion.
In the current tense relationship between a Republican administration and a Democratic Congress, where there are sharp disagreements about every conceivable topic, there is only one subject on which President George Bush and Congress see eye-to-eye: unqualified support for Israel. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that Israel will soon receive that additional $50 million annually.
And when the money arrives, Israelis will have yet another reason to lift the American flag high next Independence Day. On Israeli Independence Day, that is.

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Bishops to discuss anti-Semitism

A Vatican summit of Roman Catholic Bishops about use of scripture will include a discussion of anti-Semitism:
An entire section of a preparatory document released by the Vatican on Friday is devoted to the Church's relationship with Jews, noting the close associations of the two in faith and calling for efforts to overcome every form of anti-Semitism.
The 60-page document, which was approved by Pope Benedict XVI, outlines the suggested topics and includes a questionnaire to be answered by local bishops.
After asking if priority is given to dialogue with the Jews, the questionnaire calls on bishops to investigate the use of biblical texts to ferment attitudes of anti-Semitism.
"Much has already been done, but everything must be done to dispel every shadow, the synod's general-secretary," Bishop Nikola Eterovic, said during a news conference to present the agenda for the October 2008 meeting.
The general theme of the meeting is an examination of the way scripture is studied and taught in the Church, and how the word of God can be influential in contemporary society.
Will Mel Gibson's Passion film come up for discussion? The report states:  
In particular, while the document encourages individual and group study of the Bible, it warns against the dangers of an arbitrary or literal interpretation of the Scriptures, which it says could lead to fundamentalism.
Or, "You don't know what it means until we tell you what it means, and we haven't decided yet."  
Ami Isseroff

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Poll of Israel Labor Party: Barak closing the gap on Ayalon

A new opinion poll shows that Ehud Barak is closing the gap on Ami Ayalon in the Labor party primaries.  He would get 29% versus 30% for Ayalon if elections were held today, while 6 weeks ago polls showed Ayalon with a decisive 16 point lead. If nobody gets 40% of the vote, the elections go to a second round. In a second round, Ayalon still has a decided advantage, but Barak is closing the gap there too:
The poll by Maagar Mohot Survey Institute (headed by Professor Yitzchak Katz for Israel Radio's "Hakol Diburim"  (It's All Talk) was carried out on 25 April 2007.  Statistical error +/- 4.5.:
If primaries were held today in the Labor Party to elect the chairman of the party and its candidate for prime minister.  Of the following candidates who would you  vote for?
25 April Ayalon 30% Barak 29% Peretz 16% Pines 8% Yatom 3% Other replies 14%
7 March Ayalon 38% Barak 22% Peretz 18% Pines 7% Yatom 4% Other replies 11%

Second round:
25 April Ayalon 47% Barak 38% Other replies 15%
7 March Ayalon 56% Barak 34% Other replies 10%

25 April Ayalon 66% Peretz 23% Other replies 11%
7 March Ayalon 67% Peretz 21% Other replies 12%

25 April Barak 56% Peretz 22% Other replies 22%
7 March Barak 52% Peretz 25% Other replies 23%

Of the various candidates who has the best chance to return the Labor Party to lead the government?
25 April Ayalon 33% Barak 32% Peretz 11% Yatom 5% Pines 2% None of the above
5% Other replies 12%
7 March Ayalon 42% Barak 28% Peretz 11% Yatom 3% Pines 6% None of the above
5% Other replies 5%

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Sderot Residents fight the law to protect their houses

In Sderot, protecting your home means violating city laws
By Haaretz Staff

People in the southern town of Sderot have a choice: obey the law, or protect their homes against constant Qassam fire. One of them is Dr. Boris Singer, who is conducting a legal battle with the municipality so he could build a sheltered area for his family.
Sixteen years ago, Singer immigrated to Israel from Russia. Now, the 68-year-old lives with his son's family in Sderot, near the fence separating Israel from the Gaza Strip. "Some Qassam rockets actually fly over our house. 180 of them hit as near as 50 meters from here," he says, explaining the urgent need for a sheltered zone in the house.
Singer and his family are by no means the only ones who are barred from protecting themselves from the daily firing of Qassams. For now, they are prevented from doing so by rigid building regulations. The government has promised to reinforce public structures to make them Qassam-proof. At a later stage, the government promised, the same will be done to private residences. In the meantime, however, the Qassam danger has driven some to break the law by going ahead and building sheltered rooms for themselves.
Last December, Singer almost lost his life to a Qassam rocket that landed near him as he was walking outdoors. The impact sent shrapnel to his upper body, and he sustained injuries to his face and arms. When the rocket landed, he had already been in the throes of a legal battle with the municipality to authorize his building plans.
Unlike Singer, many of his neighbors decided to press ahead with construction, hoping that the Knesset will at some point in the future vote to reimburse the costs of privately constructed shelters in Sderot and other frontier zones. He points to his neighbors, and says: "They're tired of chasing the council around, they just went ahead and built the thing."
Sderot Municipality responded to the matter, saying it is "adhering to the zoning and building regulations." Interior Minister spokeswoman Sabine Hadad said the ministry was acting to regulate the issue, and authorize construction of sheltered rooms in the region.

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Is Israeli demography changing?

According to this press release, Jews are having more babies, and Arabs are having less. Therefore, Jews will gradually constitute a larger sector of the Israeli population. They will be orthodox and ultra-orthodox. Extrapolation is tricky however. Orthodox Jews have many children, but not all of them remain ultra-orthodox. Eventually, a regard for the limitations of our national resources may also force a change in demographic policy. Moreover, examination of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics figures for fertility does not necessarily bear out the analysis below.
Press Release
American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG)
For Immediate Release
April 23, 2007
Bennett Zimmerman,
In USA      
Yoram Ettinger,
In Israel              
As Israel's Celebrates 59th Independence Day, American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG) reports acceleration in Jewish demographic momentum and rapid convergence of Arab and Jewish fertility levels in Israel.
The AIDRG current trends and updated "Forecast for Israel 2025" projects a 79% Jewish majority population and long-term population stability between Jewish-Arab population groups in Israel.   
·        By 2025, Israel's most Orthodox Jewish communities will grow from 16% to 23% of Israel's total population (and from 20% to 29% of Jewish sector)
·        Israel's secular/traditional Jewish sector will fall from 64% to 56%  of Israel's total population (and from 80% to 71% of Jewish sector)
·        Israel's Arab sector will grow from 20% to 21% of Israel's total population
After 2025, the Jewish majority will rebound past its current 80% position as natural growth in high growth Jewish sectors overtakes growth in Arab population groups.
Demographic Leadership in Israel is shifted from Arab to Jewish population groups  As the current Jewish 'baby boomers' begin to enter their childbearing years while the current contraction of births and an aging Arab community will limit growth rates in Israel's Arab community.
The mid-case 2025 forecast  holds current Jewish fertility levels steady at 2.75 births per woman and annual net aliyah of 20,000 based on the recent 5 year average and internal targets of Israel's Jewish Agency. 
The AIDRG forecast gradually reduces Arab fertility levels to 2.4 births/woman by 2025 where they stabilize at this long-term intermediate rate.  As aliyah has lessened, the Jewish total fertility rate (TFR), or the number of children a woman is likely to bear over her lifetime, has been rising. 
Faster convergence in Arab and Jewish fertility or upturns in aliyah would increase the Jewish percentage to 83% by 2025 from the current 80%.  If Arab fertility only declines to 3.0, the current Arab rate in northern Israel, the Jewish population will decline to 77%.
Breakout in Jewish Demographic momentum
Fertility rates in Israel, the highest of  any advanced industrial nation, rose steadily to over 2.75 births/woman among Jews. 
·        Jewish births surged from 80,000 in 1995 to 109,000 in 2006, an increase of 36% and an acceleration of 4% in 2006 alone.  Jewish births have grown from 69% of all births in 1995 to 74% in 2006 and 76% in January 2007.  These changes have been recorded ahead of an expected surge in Jewish births following a markedly higher pregnancy rate recorded shortly after .Israel's month long Lebanon war last summer.
·        Net annual aliyah (immigrants plus returning Israelis less emigrants) has averaged over 50,000 as recently as 1996 through 2000 and 20,000 per year from 2001 through 2005, adding further demographic strength to the Jewish sector. (ICBS, Sources of Population Growth, 2001 – 2005, 99.4K Net Migration to Jewish
AIDRG Introduces Spotlight Forecast Israel's Fastest Growing Orthodox Jewish Sector
The AIDRG introduces a growth forecast for the 20% most Orthodox segment..  Based on ICBS regional population and fertility data, AIDRG has derived fertility in this group as currently 4.5 births/woman.
While the ICBS rightly releases detailed reports on the Druze and Christian Arabs, communities each totaling only slightly over 100,000 persons, there is almost no information segregated for large communities within the Jewish community that display similar fertility patterns. 
The Orthodox sector is as large as Israel's entire Moslem community, as example, and is experiencing no signs of letup in robust fertility, yet it has remained under-analyzed in Israel.
A separate population forecast was conduced for this community through 2025 and Beyond.  Fertility are held steady through 2025 and beyond to understand the impact of continued robust patterns by Israel's most furtive major population group. 
The highest fertility rates in Israel on a sustained basis act to propel Jewish demographic momentum, especially after children being born today in these sectors begin to have children two decades from now.  Maintenance of their patterns over time has a very powerful impact on Jewish growth rates in Israel.  
The separation of the groups does not have a dramatic impact initially to population levels, but after 2025 the demographic momentum in births accelerates as children in the community today begin to have children.
AIDRG Spotlights Rising Fertility in Israel's Majority Secular Jewish Sector and Normalization of Immigrant Fertility to Israeli Norm
Births in the corresponding 80% of the Jewish population are 2.1 births/woman. 
While it is often anecdotally true that religious person in Israel with high fertility characteristics will indeed have more grandkids than his or her secular counterpart with lower fertility patterns, the long-term Jewish demographic breakout in Israel depends on the participation of all sectors of the larger Jewish population group. 
Because the overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews live in large urban zones such as Tel Aviv and the Central District, the upturn in the fertility rate in Israel's more secular zones has immediate impact on increasing the number of children today.
Childbearing choices have the potential to add most to the Jewish demographic momentum in exactly the large sectors where it was least expected in Israel's prior forecasts.
Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union who were expected to repeat fertility characteristics in this group are now adopting Israeli norms as their family size increases while in Israel.
Orthodox, secular and new immigrants sectors all experienced increased fertility in 2006 and all sectors are leading to a demographic breakout in the Jewish community.
Convergence of Arab fertility patterns to Israeli norms
The increased momentum on the Jewish sector is occurring as lower fertility patterns are measured in all sectors of Israel's Arab community.  The lower fertility is occurring among an Arab generation that was expected by Israeli demographers to repeat fertility patterns of their mothers, while these women are not even repeating fertility patterns of their older sisters.
·        Israel Arab births in Israel rose from 36,500 in 1995 to 41,000 in 2000 and then stabilized [for five years].  In 2005, Israel Arab births fell 5% in one year to 38,800 and have remained at this level in 2006, similar to levels recorded a decade ago
·        Arab fertility rates have plunged from over 9.0 births/woman in the 1960s to 4.4 in 2000 to 3.6 in 2006.  Arab and Jewish fertility have converged in the most heavily Arab populated zones in Israel:
o       Half of Israel's Arab population lives in the North where fertility levels have fallen to 3 births/woman, a rate now almost equal to the overall Israeli Jewish rate. 
o       Christian Arabs continue to exhibit fertility levels of 2.1, barely at replacement level while Israeli Druze now match the Israeli Jewish norm.
o       In Jerusalem, rapidly falling Arab fertility from 4.5 births in 2004 to 3.9 births in 2005 now match a steadily rising Jewish fertility of 3.9 births/woman while Jewish fertility of 4.7 births/woman in West Bank suburbs stands above all other groups in the Jerusalem Metro Area
o       150 thousand Bedouin in Northern Negev, the last Arab community with high fertility rates, have witnessed a decline  from 9.6 2004 to 7 births/woman in 2006. The full impact of reduced government monetary incentives is yet to be measured.
Bedouin in the Negev still present critical sociological and demographic challenge for Israel
Focused policies to normalize the Bedouin community's behavior would bring a further convergence in Jewish and Arab fertility levels.  If Israel wishes to maintain the current convergence of Arab and Jewish fertility, Israel must address the issue now. Only 2% of Israeli 20 year old women are from the Bedouin Negev, but 4% of Israeli 10 years olds are from the same community.
High teenage pregnancy rates and early marriage of Israel's youngest citizens to men many times their age remains both a sociological challenge and human rights challenge for many young Israeli Arab women who do not have the life choices characteristic of  a modern society.  High Bedouin fertility also involves law enforcement issues including polygamy, smuggling of women, birth under false identity, and fraud in collection of government support payments
AIDRG analysis of emerging trends in Israel is based on data released by the ICBS and published for public use.
The American-Demographic Research Group (AIDRG), led by Bennett Zimmerman, Roberta Seid, Michael L. Wise,  and Yoram Ettinger.  The AIDRG authored Arab Population in the West Bank and Gaza:  The Million Person Gap,  (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies) and debuted their Forecast for Israel and West Bank 2025 at Israel's Herzliya Policy Conference and at the American Enterprise Institute.  The studies can be found at

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Israeli Authorities: Bishara aided Hezbollah during the Lebanon war

Democracy and liberty cannot allow treason. If the allegations of spying directed at Arab MK Azmi Bishara are true then it is a tragedy for Israeli democracy and for the Arab minority, and a red flag. His flight is a fair indication of guilt, but it is not the same as proof in court. If Bishara is guilty, he had best stay away, but if he is innocent, he owes it to his Arab constituents to return and stand trial.   

Shin Bet, police conduct investigation against Balad chairman on suspicion he collaborated with the enemy during Second Lebanon War. MK Bishara, who left Israel nearly three weeks ago, is also suspected of money laundering
Efrat Weiss Published:  04.25.07, 15:00 / Israel News

Former Knesset Member Azmi Bishara, who left Israel nearly three weeks ago, is suspected of collaborating with the enemy during the Second Lebanon War last summer.

Bishara is also suspected of several other offenses, including money laundering.
For months, the Shin Bet and the Police International Investigation Unit have been conducting an investigation against the Balad chairman, on suspicion he passed information to a foreign agent.
At the center of the case are large sums of money investigators believe Bishara received from a foreign agent in return for his services.

Bishara was questioned twice in the case and during the last encounter he told interrogators that he intends to leave Israel for a couple of days. He said he would attend a third questioning session soon upon his return to Israel.
When Bishara failed to show up, investigators forwarded the questioning session to April 22, under instructions from Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.
Should Bishara not return to Israel within a week, the court said it would completely lift the gag order on the case and the full details of the investigation would be published.
Bishara has been touring the Arab world since leaving Israel nearly three weeks ago.

Following stops in Jordan and Qatar he submitted his resignation from the Knesset at the Israeli Embassy in Egypt. His resignation took effect on Tuesday, 48 hours after it reached Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik.
Bishara has insisted he would return to Israel and rebuffed rumors that he intends to settle in an Arab country permanently.
He has also said that he was the victim of a political persecution, accusing the Shin Bet and the Israeli media of waging a campaign to smear his image.
 The Petah Tikva Magistrates' Court last week lifted a gag order imposed on the case, but banned the publication of the nature of suspicions against Bishara.
MK: Bishara must be captured
"The suspicions against Bishara prove that Trojan horses, a fifth column, have infiltrated the Knesset. He must be captured, wherever he hides, and brought to justice in Israel," said National Religious Party chairman, MK Zevulun Orlev, Thursday following publication of suspicions against former Balad MK Azmi Bishara.
"Azmi Bishara is only a window on the problem and not the problem itself. Bishara and his friends crossed the line a long time ago, but the state buried its head in the sand," the Yisrael Beiteinu party said in a statement.
"Yisrael Beiteinu had tried, in the past, to prevent this Trojan horse from entering the Knesset, and we can only imagine what damage to the state could have been avoided had our view point been accepted," the statement read.
Likud MK Gilad Erdan stated that the suspicions "confirm that Bishara was never loyal to the State of Israel. He should be treated like an escaped criminal."
MK Otniel Schneller, Kadima, joined the right-wing MKs and said: "The Knesset can only blame itself for allowing itself to sleep with the enemy and enabling a traitor like Bishara serve as a representative of the public.

Schneller said that it would no longer be so easy for Arab parties and representatives to run for the Knesset. "I appeal to the speaker of the House to revoke any privileges that Bishara receives as a former MK and charge him for those he has already received," he added.
Orlev also asked Director that Bishara's severance payments be frozen along with other funds due to him.
MK Yoel Hasson has announced that he will work to have a parliamentary investigation committee look into the affair. "The true face of the worst of Israel's turncoats has been revealed today," said Hasson. "The Knesset must perform self-examination as soon as possible and consider profiling MKs, Arab parties in particular."

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Selling Zionism to young people

Kadima MK and World Zionist organization representative Yoel Hasson is  Out to make Zionism sexy according to a Jerusalem Post article:
Hasson's top priority is getting young people around the world involved in Zionism, even in what might be one of the toughest places to sell Zionism - the state of Israel.

Under the auspices of the Zionist Council in Israel, Hasson intends to use advertising and education to market Zionism to young Israelis in their schools, universities, the IDF and even in their families. He hopes to present a new plan in September.

"The goal is to get Israelis talking about Zionism again," Hasson said. "When you ask Israelis what they do for Zionism, they say 'I live in Israel and that's enough,' but it's not enough. The younger generation needs to learn about the values of Zionism and appreciate the importance of continuing Zionism."

Hasson intends to seek international donations for spreading Zionism among Israeli youth. He also wants funding from the government, but not from the Education Ministry, so the outreach can take place in informal settings such as youth groups, Jewish community centers, shopping malls and even nightclubs.

"I want to make Zionism sexy, so young people can talk about it and connect to it," Hasson said.

To reach out to young Diaspora Jews, Hasson helped pass resolutions at the World Zionist Congress to increase the involvement of people under 30 in the decision-making of Zionist institutions, organizations and congresses. He said he hoped the resolutions would spark a dramatic change in the makeup of Diaspora Jewish leadership.

"I tell people abroad that I am worried that in a decade, Diaspora communities will be empty, not because of assimilation or aliya but because young people are not involved enough," Hasson said.

HASSON was born in Tel Aviv and raised in Bat Yam and Rishon Lezion. He currently lives in Tel Aviv and has a house in Barkan, a settlement in Samaria 25 kilometers east of Tel Aviv....

We have to agree with Hasson about involvement of young people. Why not start by having a yearly quiz on history of Israel in the Independence Day celebrations, alongside the Bible quiz? Are we sure that ideologies and beliefs can be "marketed?" Did Moses "market" the ten commandments? Did Weizmann "market" Zionism? Was it enough to ensure success?

Ami Isseroff

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Israeli Bible quiz whizz ends Diogenes' search for an honest man

This young man is a real winner who has set an example of honesty and modesty. Next year, perhaps there can be a quiz about Israeli and Zionist history, which seems to be virtually unknown to Israelis.
World Bible Quiz champ laments incorrect Assyrian king reference
By Nadav Shragai, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service Last update -
21:11 24/04/2007

The winner of the annual World Bible Quiz on Tuesday asked to share his prize with the runner up after he discovered one of his answers was partially incorrect.

Yishai Gaspan, 17, a yeshiva student from Jerusalem and Israel's National Bible Quiz champion, quoted a passage which refers to the Assyrian king Shalmaneser V, mistakenly naming his successor Sennacherib instead.

After being announced the competition winner, Channel 2 cameras captured Gaspan arguing passionately with celebrity linguist and event host Avshalom Kor, asking him to interevene on his behalf and take points off his score.

Despite his protests, Israel's fifth president and World Bible Quiz judge Yitzhak Navon rejected Gaspan's request and said he displayed exceptional knowledge of the Bible during the quiz.

Some 64 youths from 35 countries participated in the World Bible Quiz traditionally held on Independence Day.

For the first time in the quiz's 44-year history, representatives of Colombia, Macedonia and Peru took part.

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Richard Cohen on the NUJ Boycott: Why Boycott Israel?

Richard Cohen argues against the UK National Union of Journalists (NUJ)  boycott of Israel. He has come a long way since he argued that Israel was a historic mistake last summer. Nonethess it is a good piece, and he hints broadly that the NUJ boycott may have a somewhat anti-Semitic motivation lurking behind it. He writes (in part):
In Iran, the government overturned the convictions of six men who, among other things, killed a young couple because they were walking together in public. In China, local authorities seized about 60 women and forcibly aborted their pregnancies. In Russia, the Putin government expanded its control of the media. In Cuba . . . oh, well, you already know. But what you may not know is that given such a vast palette of injustice and depredations, the British National Union of Journalists made a truly original move: It singled out Israel to boycott.
The boycott, mind you, is not a journalistic one. Instead, it will extend to lemons and melons and that sort of thing. The boycott was issued as "a gesture of support for the Palestinian people," some of whom, as it happens, abducted a BBC correspondent, Alan Johnston. One group has claimed that it executed him, although no proof has been offered. Suffice it to say the situation is dire. 

What possessed the journalist union's board -- in a vote of 66 to 54 -- to take such action? The question is worth posing because it followed a similar vote last year by British academics (later rescinded) [Actually, two such boycotts were rescinded - the AUT and the NATFHE]  to avoid, under pain of death or something, their Israeli colleagues. And, more important, it is yet another bleat, in Europe and in this country, from people and organizations that, for good reasons and bad, have simply had it with Israel. Why won't the pushy Jewish state shape up?
...Sudan kills by the score in Darfur and Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe beats his opponents to a pulp, and in almost all of the Arab world there is no such thing as freedom of the press. In Israel there not only is, but the press is as rambunctious as can be found anywhere.
The British journalists say they are moved by the plight of the Palestinian people, and they are right to be. But the misery of a Gazan or a West Banker is not solely Israel's doing. The government of Gaza is the political arm of a terrorist organization, and if the West Bank is suffering -- and it is -- the cause is not only Israeli land lust but also a morbid Israeli fear of terrorism. British journalists would no doubt approve similar measures if London's city buses had not once but repeatedly been blown to smithereens by passengers with the exact fare and belts of explosives.
So what explains this fury at Israel -- and only at Israel? What explains this need to denounce, to boycott? Some of it surely comes from the uncritical support that Israel gets from the United States, which to lefties all over the world is a vile state, maybe worthy -- if it were not for jeans, movies and hip-hop -- of a boycott itself...
The British journalists, like the academics before them, dare to tread where an army of goons has gone before. If they do not recognize the ember of anti-Semitism still glowing within them, they ought to park themselves before a mirror and ask why, of all the nations, they single out Israel for reprimand and obloquy. This business of assigning to Jews a special burden, for seeing in them more of mankind's bad qualities and less of its good, has a dark and ugly pedigree: the Chosen People, again -- and again in the wrong way.
Perhaps Cohen is beginning to catch on. Maybe he is beginning to understand that it can be said of any country, if you want to make the case, that its creation was a "historic mistake." After all, that is what Hitler said of "Czechia," was it not? And Saddam said the same thing about Kuwait, and the Syrians say the same thing about Lebanon.
But in the case of the NUJ vote there are some mitigating factors. Perhaps the vote was an attempt at "ransoming" reporter Alan Johnston in a way, by signalling to the Palestinians, "Hey, we are on your side. We hate the Jews as much as you do." The vote of the NUJ may be no more indicative of their true feelings then the "confessions" of the British sailors captured by Iran.
Ami Isseroff

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From the horse's mouth: Hamas will not give up on full right of return for refugees

"Right of Return" is the device that extremist Palestinians want to use to destroy Israel. It is a legitimate issue from the point of view of many refugees, but this "right" conflicts with the right of the Jewish people to self-determination ( see Right of Return of Palestinian Refugees in International Law ). "Return" of millions of descendants and relatives by marriage of refugees would create an Arab majority in Israel and turn it into an Arab state. Recognition of  "Israel' would then be meaningless of course.
Moderate Palestinians explain that they believe a compromise should be reached, in which the right of return is recognized but not implemented. Some, like Sari Nusseibeh, even went so far as to say that Right of Return is no longer realistic and must be abandoned.
Hamas however, insists on full Right of Return, along with extremist groups like Al-Awda and Badil, as is evident from the article below, taken from the Web site of the izzedeen al-Qassam brigades. A report that King Abdullah of Jordan had come out in favor of abrogating right of return infuriated the Hamas, as is evident from the article.
It is therefore futile to fantasize with prevaricators like Robert Novak, that Hamas wants peace.
Ami Isseroff

Hamas: Right of Return is not for sale
 Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas) Website  2007-04-22

Islamic resistance Movement Hamas affirmed yesterday that the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees is a sacred Palestinian basic that no party can compromise or abandon.

Fawzi Barhoum affirmed that Hamas had decided long time ago that this basic is all Palestinians that none has the right to forgo.

Barhoum was responding to statements uttered by Jordanian monarch Abdullah II suggesting that the Right of Return could be "financially compensated".

Barhoum added "We have defended the refugees". So those precious sacrifices must be crowned with the return of those refugees and not by financially compensating or naturalizing them somewhere else".

[sic] concerning with Hamas foreign relationship. Barhoum affirmed that Hamas isn't in enmity with any state, and that its only enemy is the "Zionist entity".

He added that the "Zionist entity" is not enemy just for the Palestinians but for all the Arab world. Because the Zionist enemy killed many Jordanian, Egyptian, and Syrian nationals in addition to tens of thousands of the
Palestinian people.

Moreover, Barhoum called on Arab rulers and governments to carry out their religious and national duties in defense of the sacred Muslim shrines in Palestine and to enhance the steadfastness of the Palestinian people to enable them retrieve their usurped rights.

In a meeting with the Zionist Knesset (parliament) speaker Dalia Itzik, Abdullah proposed paying the Palestinian refugees money sums in return for forgoing the Right of Return, and described Hamas as "common enemies" for Arabs and Israel.

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Turning History on its head

A common and diabolical tool of propaganda is to turn the facts inside out, so that the aggressor becomes the victim, and the victim the aggressor. Adolf Hitler was a master at this technique, continually citing the "intolerable" provocations of the Czechs, Poles or whoever was intended to be his next victim.
As many have noted, the technique has been used increasingly against Zionism, Israel and the Jews. Especially depraved versions include the accusation that Zionists colluded with Nazis in the Holocaust, which is apparently commonly believed in Muslim countries. Of course, the Grand Mufti Hajj Amin Al Husseini  the Palestinian leader, was a Nazi collaborator and a prominent figure in the third Reich, Zionists and the Israeli Mossad are variously blamed for the attacks of 9-11 in the United States, and likewise the Mossad is blamed for attack on the British transport system. It is commonly claimed that Zionists and the IDF behave like Nazis in the occupied territories. The vast and powerful pro-Arab Lobby, financed not only by Middle Eastern governments, but by Aramco and other petroleum interests, is hidden, while at the same time tremendous agitation accompanies the reiterated lie that the "Israel lobby" controls US foreign policy.
The myths that are repeated so often become reality in a sense. What is important in history quite often is not what really happened, but what people can be induced to believe happened. This is as true of events that happened recently as of those that took place out of living memory. A new version of the Six day War, convenient to Arab views, is being constructed, erasing the actual events and memories. The Khartoum resolutions, with their "three no's)  are being laundered as somehow being a signal of reconciliation with Israel. An alternative reality version of the Oslo peace process was constructed as well and finds its most popular expression in Jimmy Carter's mendacious account. (see - Carter's Apartheid book: Not anti-Semitic, but Not Good Either)
Joel Fishman takes up the question of historical inversion in an article just published:  "THE BIG LIE AND THE MEDIA WAR AGAINST ISRAEL: FROM INVERSION OF THE TRUTH TO INVERSION OF REALITY," Jewish Political Studies Review 19, nos. 1 & 2 (Spring 5767/2007): 59-81. Here is an excerpt.
From the 1960s, inversion of truth and reality has been one the most favored propaganda methods of Israel's adversaries. One of its most frequent expressions has been the accusation that the Jewish people, victims of the Nazis, have now become the new Nazis, aggressors and oppressors of the Palestinian Arabs. Contemporary observers have identified this method and described it as an "inversion of reality," an "intellectual confidence trick," "reversing moral responsibility," or "twisted logic." Because Israel's enemies have, for nearly half a century, repeated such libels without being challenged, they have gradually gained credence. Since inversion of reality constitutes the basic principle of current anti-Israeli propaganda, it is important to understand what it is and how it works.  
It should be noted that scholars of an earlier generation have researched different aspects of the problem,  but from the mid-1980s on, it has attracted much less attention.  There are several explanations.  After the fall of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the East bloc (1989-1991), there was a feeling that the world was on the threshold of a new democratic era.  And with the signing of the Oslo Accords (13 September 1993), many actually believed that anti-Israeli propaganda would cease. Denial may have played a part, because the persistence of intense anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic agitation represented "inconvenient information." Its study became politically incorrect and dangerous for those who wished to advance in the academic world. 
This essay represents an effort to add to the existing corpus of literature and to describe patterns of historical continuity.
In the twentieth century, propaganda served primarily as a weapon of war, and its effects could be devastating. Indeed, certain totalitarian ideologies, when brought to their logical conclusion, have been genocidal. Historian Jeffrey Herf describes the function and logic of propaganda in Nazi Germany's war against the Jews: 
If sheer repetition, in public and private contexts, can be taken as proof of belief, then it appears that Hitler, Goebbels, Dietrich [Director of the Reich Press Office], their staffs, and an undetermined percentage of German listeners and readers believed that an international Jewish conspiracy was the driving force behind the anti-Hitler coalition in World War II…. They certainly acted as if the Final Solution was Nazi Germany's punishment of the Jews, whom the Nazis found guilty of starting and prolonging World War II. 
 In his text Herf gave a chilling example of the link between propaganda and genocide, namely, Hitler's annual speech to the Reichstag of 30 January1939 which presented "what became the core Nazi narrative of the coming conflict": "I want today to be a prophet again: if international finance Jewry inside and outside of Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, the result will not be the Bolshevization of the earth and thereby the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!"                                      
In addition, Herf referred to Hitler's New Year's address to the nation on 1 January 1940, which contained the "imputation of genocidal war aims to Nazi Germany's enemies, especially the Jews": "'The Jewish-capitalist world enemy that confronts us has only one goal: to exterminate Germany and the German people.…"
Interpreting this language, Ernst H. Gombrich explained that the ultimate aim of Nazi propaganda was "the imposition of a paranoiac pattern on world events" in the form of a "paranoiac myth."  According to Gombrich, this procedure represented the "core of the technique":
This is the final horror of the myth. It becomes self-confirming. Once you are entrapped in this illusionary universe, it will become reality for you, for if you fight everybody, everybody will fight you, and the less mercy you show, the more you commit your side to a fight to the finish. When you have been caught in this truly vicious circle there is really no escape. Compared with this effect, the principle of advertising and mass suggestion in war propaganda may almost be called marginal.
Inversion of reality as a tool of media war, with its paranoiac state of mind, has persisted to the present. Although contemporary observers have been able to describe its manifestations with considerable accuracy, many have not placed it in historical context. It was in this sense, for example, that the French researcher and philosopher Pierre-André Taguieff applied the term "absolute anti-Semitism"  to describe the post-1967 outlook of the Palestinians. He wrote that for them, "Zionism, then, is a new 'Nazism' threatening to dominate and destroy the whole human species…. Thus, in a context where Western elites never tire of calling for the avoidance of 'Islamophobic' utterances, the head of the Islamic Center in Geneva, Hani Ramadan, coolly denounced 'the genocide being organized against the Muslims.'" 
It is noteworthy that Ramadan's story line is nearly identical to that of Nazi propagandists. Both presented themselves as targets of a Jewish conspiracy, and the potential outcome of their "logical process"—to use Hannah Arendt's expression—was genocide. Although both have inverted the truth, their assertions contain an additional feature which is disturbing and dangerous: an inversion of morality which leads to criminal behavior and violence without constraint. 
More recently, Melanie Phillips, an outspoken British journalist and blogger, cited an article by Leo McKinstry, a Belfast-born author and journalist who writes regularly for the Daily Mail, Daily Express, and Sunday Telegraph.  McKinstry identified the inversion of reality in British public discourse with regard to Israel and called it by its real name:
In a remarkable inversion of reality, Israel has become a pariah state because of its determination to defend itself. A grotesque double standard now operates, where murderous Arab terrorists are hailed as "freedom fighters" yet Israeli security forces are treated as fascistic thugs. No nation has been more demonized than Israel. One recent survey across Europe revealed that Israel is now regarded as "the greatest threat" to world peace, an utter absurdity given that Israel is actually the only democratic, free society in the Middle East. But such a finding reflects the strength of the hysterical anti-Israeli propaganda that fills the airwaves of Europe. No matter how much this anti-Israeli feeling is dressed up as support for Palestine, it is in fact profoundly antisemitic….
 Inversion of reality as a tool of political warfare may also be used against non-Jews. For example, its use in December 2006 resulted in a sharp diplomatic clash between the governments of Poland and Germany when "a group representing Germans expelled from present-day Poland after World War II filed suit at the European Court of Human Rights, seeking restitution of their property." In a statement on 11 December 2006, Polish foreign minister Anna Fotyga condemned the German claims as "an attempt at reversing moral responsibility for the effects of World War II, which began with the German attack on Poland and caused irreparable losses and sufferings to the Polish state and nation."

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Hamas fireworks for Israel Independence day

In honor of Israel's Independence day, Hamas claims they fired about 40 rockets into into Israel, breaking the "truce." Israeli sources say that about two rockets and six mortar shells actually landed in Israel.  This is not much different from what has been happening until now, except that Hamas now claims credit for it.
Hamas broke the truce after Israel killed 9 Palestinians in Gaza. Israel killed 9 Palestinains in Gaza however, because they were firing rockets on Israel.
It was a day like all days: IDF discovered and detonated 20 kilos of explosives in the West Bank. In Gaza, Palestinians killed a twelve year old caught in cross-fire and a few others were injured when a bomb they were making went off. "Do not try this stunt in your home."
Meanwhile, IDF also arrested a good number of fugitives in the West Bank. Another Independence Day...
Ami Isseroff

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Monday, April 23, 2007

NUJ Boycott Explanation: Boycott Israel because Palestinians Kidnap Reporter

Below is the entire text of a reply sent by the UK National Union of Journalists regarding their recent vote to boycott Israeli goods. The people who prepared this statement do not, apparently, grasp the full illogic of this paragraph:

The call for the boycott in part related it to the kidnap of Alan Johnston. The Palestinian journalists union has given huge support to the campaign for his release - holding demonstrations and strikes against the Palestinian authority to demand more action from them. We work closely with the Palestinian union through the International Federation of Journalists and the boycott call was a gesture of support for the Palestinian people - notably those suffering in the siege of Gaza, the community Alan Johnston has been so keen to help through his reporting.

Previously I had pointed out the perversity of punishing Israel because Palestinian terrorists kidnapped a British reporter. It seems that is exactly what these people want to do!! The equivalent approximately, would be if a British union in World War II had published a resolution condemning Poland for the Blitzkreig.

The following text should be awarded a prize for disingenuous pleading:

The boycott call has nothing to do with reporting. The NUJ is not telling members how to report Israel - beyond its permanent injunctions to members to report independently and fairly on all matters, and not to produce racist or discriminatory copy.

How could a union call to boycott the goods sold by a country, and condemning that country NOT affect the attitude of reporters and content of their reporters? The union took a totally unjustified stand condemning Israel. Every member of the union, and much of the general public has been exposed to the condemnatory text. Every NUJ reporter in Israel is enjoined to think before buying Israeli products. That means that the intent of the union is that every time a reporter buys a meal, pays for a hotel room, buys batteries, film or other supply, he or she is supposed to remember that Israel is an evil regime, apparently responsible in some way for the kidnapping of a BBC reporter! Few people could possibly be so stupid as to believe that this would not affect attitudes of reporters. The NUJ is either composed of cretins or they are insulting our intelligence.

NUJ also wrote:

we criticise those, including the Palestinian and Israeli authorities, when they act against journalists' freedom to report.

One would think that kidnapping a reporter would somewhat limit his "freedom to report."

NUJ further insults our intelligence with this statement:

It was pointed out in the debate that the year-long boycott of the Palestinian authority by the UK, the US and the European Union, not to mention the government of Israel, has led to a surge in the numbers of people who are unemployed, sick and dying because of the cessation of aid payments and revenue to the Palestinian authorities. This is a boycott of a democratically elected government.
The NUJ would presumably have boycotted Britain for blockading Nazi Germany, since that government was "democratically elected" as well. There can be no democratic elections in a society that is dominated by armed groups. A democracy cannot elect a party to power that is committed to genocide. The Hamas Charter advocates Genocide. Genocide is not "democratic." The wording of the above exposes the bias of the NUJ members who composed it, and indicates the sort of reporting that they consider "fair" and "unbiased," as does this:

"the general damage being done by the continued occupation. "
There is no Israeli occupation in Gaza. There are no Israeli troops in Gaza.

Hat tip - Maurice

Ami Isseroff

Text of message:

The NUJ's Centenary Annual Conference last week debated more than 200 motions on topics ranging from opposition to plans to neuter the UK Freedom of Information Act, to launching a Stand Up for Journalism campaign against low pay and job cuts throughout the media industry. The conference condemned press freedom violations in China, Russia, Pakistan and Zimbabwe, and a special session was held on the kidnapping of Alan Johnston in Gaza and the safety of journalists. Among the motions passed in the international debate was one calling among other things for the NUJ to support a "boycott of Israeli goods… led by trade unions and the TUC" in response to the situation in Palestine and last year's conflict in Lebanon.

The call for the boycott in part related it to the kidnap of Alan Johnston. The Palestinian journalists union has given huge support to the campaign for his release - holding demonstrations and strikes against the Palestinian authority to demand more action from them. We work closely with the Palestinian union through the International Federation of Journalists and the boycott call was a gesture of support for the Palestinian people - notably those suffering in the siege of Gaza, the community Alan Johnston has been so keen to help through his reporting.

The boycott call has nothing to do with reporting. The NUJ is not telling members how to report Israel - beyond its permanent injunctions to members to report independently and fairly on all matters, and not to produce racist or discriminatory copy. The union has not and never would adopt a line on how any issue should be reported. We stand for free reporting and free speech – and we criticise those, including the Palestinian and Israeli authorities, when they act against journalists' freedom to report.

It was pointed out in the debate that the year-long boycott of the Palestinian authority by the UK, the US and the European Union, not to mention the government of Israel, has led to a surge in the numbers of people who are unemployed, sick and dying because of the cessation of aid payments and revenue to the Palestinian authorities. This is a boycott of a democratically elected government.

The decision made by elected representatives at our conference was a decision of NUJ members as trade unionists and as citizens to try to help put pressure on the Israeli government to reverse its block of these payments, its refusal to recognise Palestinian journalists carrying the international press card and the general damage being done by the continued occupation.

This is not, as some critics have indicated, an institutional boycott. The NUJ will continue to seek to work with all its sister unions in the region, be they Israelis or Palestinians. In fact the NUJ has sought at every opportunity to find ways of making journalists on both sides of the divide work together to advance common issues that concern journalists And it will continue to act within the framework of the International Federation of Journalists for the unity of all journalists in the region.

Members who disagree with the decision can attend their branch, pass motions and seek to change the decision. The NUJ is a democratic union and it is the delegates at our conference each year – elected representatives of all the union's branches – who make the decisions.

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Hisham Al-Tuhi : Many Arabs have Jewish ancestors

Hisham Al-Tuhi wishes Jews a happy Passover. He notes the contributions of the Jews to Egypt, and he notes that many Arabs have Jewish ancestors.
Special Dispatch-Reform Project
April 24, 2007
No. 1556
To the Arab Jews: Happy Passover!
In an article on the Arab reformist websites Aafaq (April 9, 2007) and Middle East Transparent (April 8, 2007), Egyptian author Hisham Al-Tuhi rejects the view that Muslims should not convey holiday greetings to non-Muslims on their holidays, reviews the history of Jews in Arab countries in the 20th century, and wishes Jews still living in Arab countries a happy Passover.
The following are excerpts:(1)
In Response to My Norouz Holiday Greetings, I Received [From Muslims] a Flood of Racism, Hatred, Ugliness, and Abuse
"In my previous article, I gave holiday greetings to the Afghanis and the Kurds on the Norouz holiday, [as well as] the Egyptian Baha'is. The letters came in from the caves: a flood of racism, hatred, ugliness, and abuse.
"This is neither out of the ordinary nor new. Here, it is only to be expected.
"The strange thing is that most of these letters... came from the caves of the Saudi Kingdom and the 'infidel' Western countries, [in] Europe, Canada, and the U.S.!
"One of the letters that caught my eye included an official fatwa by the learned Wahhabi sheikh [and] venerable Mufti of Saudi Arabia, the late [Salih] Ibn 'Uthaymayn, [who said:] 'All agree that giving holiday greetings for infidel rituals... is forbidden.'(2)
"I respond, here and now, in these days crowded with holidays – and just like I gave holiday greetings to the Egyptian Baha'is on Norouz, and to the Muslims on al-mawlid al-nabawi (Muhammad's birthday) – I give holiday greetings to the Arab Christians on noble Easter, and then – I say:
"To the Arab Jews: Happy Passover!"
Many Arabs and Muslims Are Descendants of the Jews, Even if They Say "They Crucified Christ!" or "Monkeys and Pigs!"
"Many of the sons of the Arab Middle East lived for more than 1,000 years as Jews, more than 1,000 years before the advent of Christianity, and before the advent of Islam.
"Today, many of the Arab Christians are the descendants of these Jews. Their ancestors were Jews, even if they curse them and say: 'They crucified Christ!'
"And many of the Arab Muslims today are the descendants of Jews. Their ancestors were Jews, even if they curse them and say: 'Monkeys and pigs!'"
In 1956, 60,000 Jewish Egyptians "Lived As Egyptians in Soul and in Blood... Today There Are No More Than 300"
"In Egypt in 1917, there were 59,581 Jewish Egyptians – Egyptians in flesh and in blood. They took part, together with the other Egyptians, Muslims and Christians, in the Egyptian liberal renaissance (nahdha)...
"In politics, there was Musa Qattawi, who was a member of the Egyptian Legislative Assembly, finance minister, and then transportation minister in the 1925 government. He founded the Aswan railroad line and the West Delta tramway...
"There was also Yousef Qattawi, head of the Egyptian Sephardi Council, and member of the Draft Committee for the 1923 Constitution...
"Others were members in the negotiations committee for the abolition of the capitulations [Ottoman-era accords that granted special rights to foreigners]. And then there was the lawyer Zaki 'Uraybi, member of the Draft Committee for the 1956 Constitution.
"[Jews] founded the Salt and Soda Company... the Egyptian Petrol Company... the Rice-hulling Company... the Egyptian Real Estate Bank... the Family Bank... the Commercial Bank... and 'Rico' the Jewish Egyptian participated with Tal'at Harb in founding Bank Misr...
"In the arts, there were creators and performers who took part in the revival of music and singing and in the launch of Egyptian cinema and theater... For those who don't know, Ya'qub Sanu'a, the Jewish Egyptian, was one of those who raised the slogan: 'Egypt for the Egyptians!'...  
"On October 25, 1952, following the military revolt, President Muhammad Naguib visited the temple of the Qaraite Jews to give felicitations to the Jewish Egyptians on Yom Kippur.
"In 1956, there were 60,000 Jewish Egyptians, who lived as Egyptians, in soul and in blood. Approximately 20,000 of them were forced to emigrate between 1956 and 1961...
"Their money was seized, and those of them who remained after the nationalization of 1961 were deported. Many of their homes and properties were distributed to army officers, after the renaissance ended and the eternal leader [i.e. Gamal 'Abd Al-Nasser] came to despotically rule Egypt.
"Today, in 2007, there are no more than 300 of the Jewish Egyptians left..."
Jews in Iraq, Morocco, and Tunisia
"In Iraq, Nuri Al-Sa'id gave a speech at the 1939 Round Table Conference in London, in which he said: '200,000 Jews live in Iraq, the majority of them in Baghdad.' In 1950, they began to be forced to emigrate. In 1976, there remained of them fewer than 400 Jewish Iraqis.
"In Morocco, the number of Jewish Moroccans is estimated to have been 280,000 in 1950. Today, in 2007, the approximately 5,000 Jewish Moroccans live in fear of suicide bombers.
"On May 16, 2003, their possessions and cemeteries were subjected to a wave of bombings, which left 45 dead. In September 2003, one of them was killed in a stabbing, and another was killed in a shooting.
"In Tunisia, more than 3,000 Jewish Tunisians live in freedom, since the presidency of the late President Habib Bourguiba, who gave one of them, Albert Bessis, the position of minister in one of [his] governments.
"Nonetheless, they were not safe and sound –safe neither from the enmity of the Islamist Nahdha movement, nor from the suicide bombings. On April 2002, the oldest Jewish temple in Africa, which was constructed in 566 B.C. on the island of Jerba, was bombed, leaving 20 dead."
The Jews Who Remain "Still Celebrate Their Holidays in Silence, Forgotten... Is Not the Least We Can Say to Them: Jewish Arabs – Happy Passover!?"
"Despite this – despite the nationalization, the expulsion, the banishment, the bombings, the racism, the enmity, and the marginalization; despite their being reviled with the ugliest abuse in the prayers of the Muslims, in all of the Arab mosques and in some of the churches; despite their being called infidels and cursed, and being accused of treason, in the books, the newspapers, and the TV stations, [both] governmental and private – despite all this, they still live in Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Algeria, and in other countries of the Arab Middle East!
"And they still celebrate their holidays in silence, forgotten. And they still passionately love their countries who treated them cruelly, and will not accept any substitute [for them].
"Is not the least we can say to them: Jewish Arabs – happy Passover!?"
(1), April 8, 2007;, April 9, 2007.
(2) Majmu' fatawa wa-rasa'il al-Sheikh Ibn 'Uthaymayn 3/369.

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

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

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Message to Bereaved Families

Prime Minister's Office 22 April 2007

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Message to Bereaved Families

Dear Families,

A moment before we mark 59 years of independence, we stand silent as we remember the precious, heavy and painful price which accompanies our struggle for existence as a Jewish, democratic, sovereign and independent country in the Land of Israel.

< span style="font-family:arial;">Over the past year, we were again reminded that this aspiration involves struggle and heartache, and that is because, even today, there are, among our enemies, those who cannot resign themselves to our existence, and seek to destroy the sovereignty of Israel by harming its citizens and soldiers. Again we had to stand up for and defend the lives of the citizens of Israel; we were forced to fight for and defend the State and the right of the residents of the North and South to live their lives in tranquility and security.

Since the last Remembrance Day, we have lost 233 regular and reserve soldiers and members of the security forces, largely during the Second Lebanon War, which was intended to ward off the threat on our northern border. Even today, we continue working toward and hoping for the return the three kidnapped soldiers. We also hope and pray for the full recovery of the wounded.

For the 59 years of our existence, during war after war and during routine days, we paid with the blood of the best of our children for all our futures, and for the hope to live in our country in peace. You, the bereaved families, have paid the terrible price of this hope. On this day, we stand beside you - who carry in your hearts the memory of the fallen every day - with the promise and vow that we will remember the fallen and that their memory will remain etched in the heart of the nation forever.

May the memory of the fallen be blessed and be forever bound to our lives.

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A direct hit during the "ceasefire"

A direct hit during the "ceasefire"
By Noam Bedein, CEO
Sderot Information Center for the Western Negev

At 8:30 PM on Saturday night, April 21st. 2007 ,  less than an hour after  the Bibiyen family finished the Sabbath with the traditional blessing over thespices, wine and a candle-- all the symbols of the hope to begin a new week of living -- a missile fired from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) camp in Jabalya  in the Gaza strip scored a  direct hit on the Bibiyen home.

The extended Bibiyen family consisting of  two grandparents,  Dvora 52 , and Yigal, 64, had welcomed  the families of their four sons and one daughter to spend the Sabbath with them. Everything had ended on such a pleasant note.

This reporter spoke with the Bibiyen family on Sunday morning while they
were cleaning through the rubble.

All of them were stunned and still trying to comprehend the miracle that occurred  the previous night.

One of the sons, Yahav 31, still a bit shaken, said that he did not realize until Sunday  morning how  close each family member was to being literally  blown to bits.

Yahav told the story, fresh in his mind, how  the "Color Red" alarm had gone off, and, only seconds later, how he heard a huge explosion  upstairs on the second floor; where his mother and his wife -- in her fifth month of pregnancy-- were sitting and talking.

The missile tore through the staircase, flinging the stairs 30 meters away  to the street below, smashing into the roof of a car.

Yahav added that it took almost an one hour until his wife and mother were evacuated from the second floor, from where a fire engine ladder lifted both of them into a waiting ambulance -- both of whom diagnosed by a medic to be in a an advanced state of shock and in need of immediate treatment. On the Sunday morning after, they were both resting in the hospital in Ashkelon.

With a sigh of relief, Yahav said that "I am glad that everyone is  ok --physically-- , and when I think  of how  my brother had just left with his two  children 10 minutes before after  watching TV exactly where the  wall had fallen  down, how my other brother with his 8 months pregnant wife had left 5 minutes before, and how my sister and father had just come downstairs into the kitchen, I am overwhelmed..."

Yahav walked through the house, and pointed out that  the pictures of the Rabbis on the walls weren't  damaged, while all other pictures and fixtures were destroyed, and carefully marked  the places where each and every one from the family was standing where one could see the hole that the rocket bore through the wall and  the staircase was blown away.

Yahav said that he could not understand how this miracle had happened, because if anyone in the family had been standing a few steps away  from where theywere standing, this would have meant certain death.

"If we had 2 more seconds to start running down the staircase --  we wouldn't be here today. If my brother would have decided to stay a bit longer with his children, who knows what could have happened" said Yahav, who also noticed that the missile had barely missed the gas tanks.

Yuval,  Yahav's older brother, was asked how his two children were doing who had left the house only ten minutes before.

They heard the blast and ran back to the house and watched their grandmother and Aunt being rescued from the second floor.

Yuval said that his children are only worried about their grandmother, Devorah, and they keep asking what happened to her.

Yuval said that he would have trouble taking his children to visit their grandparents' home again. They will simply not understand why and how it was destroyed.

Yahav goes back to work on Lag B'omer, the day that wedding season resumes on the Jewish calendar. That is because Yahav is a wedding video photographer for his livelihood.

Yahav used to cover missile attacks for Israel TV and quit  because he wanted to film happier events. That is, happier events than the 212th missile to hit the western Negev since Israel declared a self-imposed "cease-fire" on November 26th, 2006.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Continued (Permanent Link)

Palestinian government again praises terror and abuction of Israelis

BY MICHAEL WIDLANSKI Sunday, 22 April, 2007

    Official Palestinian broadcast media have sharply increased anti-Israeli propaganda in recent days, including explicit and implicit calls for suicide attacks on Israeli civilians and kidnappings of Israeli soldiers.

    "Oh, Lord, martyrdom is [being done] for you," crooned a singer, while pictures of prominent   Palestinian women suicide bombers, clad in white, floated beatifically  across the screen.

   It was part of  a music video aired  today (April 22, 2006) on the PBC television network  under the direct control of Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO Chairman and Palestinian Authority leader. The same video had appeared in the past, but had disappeared after protests from Israel and the United States, but it has now returned, and it is not alone.

   Voice of Palestine radio, also controlled by Dr. Abbas and his Fatah movement, have resumed regular airing of the song "Felastin  Arabiyyeh"-Palestine is Arab-which includes specific praise for "martyrs" acting against "the cowardly enemy."

   And the broadcasts of PBC television and VOP radio have for the last month left no doubt who that enemy is. It is Israel, which is increasingly called "al-'udu al-sihiyouni" (The Zionist Enemy) or "al-kayaan al-sihyouni" (The Zionist Entity) or simply "al-'udu"-The Enemy.

  "The only language the enemy understands is force," declared several different members of Abbas's Palestinian Authority cabinet in broadcasts dedicated to "The Day of the Prisoner" in the last three days.

   While PLO Chairman Abbas has told Israeli officials and American officials that he is working for the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Palestinian officials appearing before Palestinian audiences say that the Palestinians are entitled to use the "Zionist soldier" [Arabic-al-jundi al-sihyouni] to extricate thousands of convicted Arab terrorists from Israeli jails.

   Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli towns in the Negev, such as today and yesterday, are ignored in the Palestinian media, while Israeli strikes at the rocket launchers or terrorists trying to infiltrate bombs into Israeli cities are regularly condemned as "aggression," and the terrorists are lauded as "martyrs" and noble citizens.

   "Nine more martyrs reached the heavens in the last 48 hours," observed Voice of Palestinian radio, referring, in part, to a rocket crew that had attacked the Israeli town of Sderot, destroying a house.

   "These are crimes against humanity," declared Dr. Mustapha Barghouthi, the PA Information Minister, in a statement to the foreign press, referring to the Israeli "assassination" of members of the rocket crew in Gaza and armed terrorists in the West Bank towns of  Nablus and Jenin.

   There are also indications that mosque speeches broadcast by the PA media are turning back to the anti-Semitic themes which regularly appeared during the leadership of Yasser Arafat and the early leadership of Abbas, and it seems there is scant difference between the messages of  Abbas's Fatah movement and the Hamas movement.

   In a mosque speech on March 30, Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan explicitly called for killing Jews, during a Friday prayer address at the Sheikh Zayad Bin-Sultan mosque in Gaza, citing a Hadith-or oral tradition-attributed to Muhammad, Islam's founder:

   "The Day of Judgment will not arrive until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, until the Jew hides behind the stones and the trees; and each stone or tree will say: Oh Muslim, Oh servant of God, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him; except for the gharqad, which is the tree of the Jews.".
[This Hadith is in the introduction to the Hamas charter - News Service]

   The upsurge in official Palestinian hate messages against Israelis dovetails with a sharp rise in rocket attacks and attempted suicide bomb attacks against Israeli targets.

   Israeli Army intelligence reported that during the second half of March there was an increase in the number of rockets fired at Israeli settlements in the western Negev (22 confirmed rocket strikes), following a relative reduction in attacks of the first two weeks of March (12 confirmed rocket impact points).
Dr. Michael Widlanski is a specialist in Arab politics, terror and communication who has served as a special advisor to Israeli delegations to peace talks in 1991-1992 and as Strategic Affairs Advisor to the Ministry of Public Security, editing secret PLO Archives captured in Jerusalem.

Dr. Michael Widlanski
30 Midbar Sinai Street,
Jerusalem 97805
Local Phone: 02-5322-868/ 5322-582
Local Fax. 02-5322-657  Mobile: 050-214-3191
International phone-011-972-2-5322-868/ 011-972-2-5322-582
International mobile 011-972-50-214-3191
NY Mobile 917-532-1218
E-mail: mikewid (at) 

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Continued (Permanent Link)

The other Muslim: Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

We have written often of the tribulations of journalist Salahuddin Shoaib Choudhury, a fearless fighter for freedom and peace in Bangladesh. This interview from the Berliner Zeitung tells his story in depth.

Translation copyright 2007 MidEastWeb for Coexistence

How Shall I Live?

The Other Muslim

April 2, 2007

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury argues for faith liberty and peace with Israel - that incurs torture in Bangladesh

Bernhard Bartsch

DHAKA. "When we were small children, we were afraid of ghosts. At night they were under the bed, in the closet, always there before the window. But we got accustomed eventually to it. Whoever lives for a long enough time with ghosts, loses their fear." Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury pulls strongly on his thin menthol cigarette. "In the prison it is like with the ghosts. If they lock up me again, I know exactly into which cell they will put me and with what they will torture me. There is nothing that they have not already done to me. Therefore they cannot be the source of fear for me. " He laughs and nods so imperturbably that one could nearly believe him.

Choudhury believes that Muslims, Jews and Christians can be friends, that there will be peace in the world only if each human lives his own faith freely and accepts the religion of the other as well, that the Islamic states would therefore do well to recognize the right of Israel to exist. And that he, a modern Muslim from a traditionally moderate Muslim country, can help to reconcile the three related religions. "Humans, who have a good heart, are close, regardless of which God they pray to", says Choudhury. The majority of mankind in his opinion, believes this. One should not be intimidated by the minority.

Torture and prison

Nevertheless, in Bangladesh the radical Islamics are gaining influence, and since they even belong to the latest government, the man lives dangerously. Because he went on record in his newspaper, the Weekly Blitz as pro-Israel and in numerous investigative reports documented the spread of terrorist camps, Al-Qaida camps camps and training centres for suicide bombers in Bangladesh, he is now standing trial for incitement of the masses, high treason and blasphemy. He is threatened with up to 30 years in prison or even the death penalty. "However they cannot beat me down," says Choudhury. "I am a fighter."

Actually Choudhury with his more than thirty years, has something of the boxer in him, still recovering from a knockout by a youngster. It is already over half a year since the time the hoodlums came into his office. A prominent politician accompanied them, says he, so prominent that the police refused afterwards to publicize the incident. Choudhury limps a little. His face is permanently swollen. If he speaks, it sounds as if it has something in his mouth. Also, in weakly illuminated areas he carries dark sun glasses, in order to hide his right eye, gone blind by glaucoma. An operation could have easily saved it, but during his prison stay treatment was denied. Nevertheless he is ready to be locked up for his convictions again in 40 degree celsius heat in solitary confinement. "The fan was turned off in my cell always," he says.

Choudhury is not a desperado. In Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world, he belongs to the privileged few, who lead a life of ease. His father was a wealthy entrepreneur, who sent his son to study economics to England. "Before I left I had to promise him not to live with other Bangladeshis there, although there are many in London" says Choudhury. "Therefore I lived at the other end of the city and found friends from all world."

When he returned home in 1989, he worked first as correspondent for the Russian press agency Itar Tass and in 1995 initiated the first private television station of the country, "A-21 TV". It broadcast reports critical of the government for the first time in 1999 - a considerable risk, but the urge to oppose truth to state propaganda was overpowering. Within a few days A-21 TV was closed by the government and Choudhury condemned to a half year in prison for "incitement of the masses" . "At that time I was tortured for the first time", he reports. "They wanted to break my will. But they only strengthened it. "

A few months after the attacks of Septembers 11, he created the Weekly Blitz, as reaction to the growing extremism. "I am a living contradiction: A Zionist, in addition, a pious Muslim ", he says: "We believe nevertheless all in the same God. But the extremists falsify the teachings and drive a wedge between Muslims, Jews and Christians. "Beside like-minded Bengali journalists, soon also Jewish authors from Israel and the USA were writing for the Weekly Blitz. The association of the name to the word "blitzkrieg," common in English, is intentional. "We are a combat sheet for peace", says Choudhury, "and the editors are our army."

Provocation is Choudhury's program. He went so far in 2003 as to put one of the porno pictures found in Saddam Hussein palaces, on the cover of the Blitz. A tiny censorship bar over the nipple stressed the nudity more than it veiled it. "Many Muslims consider Saddam Hussein a hero, and I wanted to show what sort of a man he was actually," he says. The issue was immediately forbidden.

There is no question of fleeing

Only about five million of Bangladesh's 183 million inhabitants sympathizes with the radicals, estimates Choudhury. Nevertheless he get little support in his own country. Hardly anyone dares to openly take his side. Even relatives and friends turned away from him. "Many of them were threatened", say Choudhury. His house, a small mansion in one of the better quarters of Dhaka, is protected at night by watchmen with large rifles. Both of his children are brought to school in morning by a driver and brought home again later. They rarely visit friends. "However the situation welds us together as a family," explains Choudhury. "My wife and my children tell again and again, how proud they are of me."

Would Choudhury consider it, if along with this acknowledgment the request also nevertheless came to give up his fight and to free the family from their state of siege? The family would have enough money to lead a calm life abroad, and they would have a good chance of leaving Bangladesh despite the current legal procedings. But for Choudhury his struggle has long ago become his. "Who leaves the battleground, has lost", he says. "However, whoever struggles for the right cause always wins."

At the heart of contention: Israel and the Holocaust

Enterpreneur and Journalist Salah Uddin Shoib Choudhury founded the Weekly Blitz in his homeland. It is unlike hardly any another meda appearing in a Muslim country, as it demands the reconciliation of Muslims, Jews and Christians as well as the recognition of Israel. "Many Muslims believe still, that the Holocaust was a conspiracy of Nazis and Jews, to justify the demand of the Zionists for Israel," says Choudhury. Weekly Blitz has a staff of 32 and a press run of 6,000 copies as well as a Web edition ( ).

Journeys to Israel are forbidden to Bandladeshi citizens. In November 2003 Choudhury was arrested at the airport in Dhaka , because he wanted to fly to a peace conference in Tel Aviv. For 17 months he was locked up without an indictment and tortured according to his testimony. In 2005 he was released due to pressure of the American State Department.

For incitement of the masses, high treason and blasphemy he is presently on trial. He is threatened with the death penalty. The judge Shamsul Alam reportedly has close contacts with the Islamists.

The European Parliament and US House of Reppresentatives demand the cessation of the proceedings. The American PEN club honored 2005 Choudhury's commitment with the "Freedom to Write" prize, and in 2006 the American Jewish committee awarded him a "Medal for moral courage".

Berliner Zeitung, 2.4.2007

Der andere Moslem
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury streitet für Glaubensfreiheit und Frieden mit Israel - das bringt in Bangladesch Folter ein Bernhard Bartsch

DHAKA. "Als wir kleine Kinder waren, hatten wir Angst vor Gespenstern. Nachts waren sie immer da, unterm Bett, im Schrank, vor dem Fenster. Aber irgendwann haben wir uns daran gewöhnt. Wer lange genug mit Gespenstern lebt, verliert die Furcht." Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury zieht kräftig an seiner dünnen Mentholzigarette. "Im Gefängnis ist es wie mit den Gespenstern. Wenn sie mich wieder einsperren, weiß ich genau, in welche Zelle sie mich stecken und womit sie mich foltern werden. Es gibt nichts, was sie mir nicht schon einmal angetan hätten. Deswegen können sie mir keine Angst einjagen." Er lacht und wirkt so unerschütterlich, dass man ihm fast glauben könnte.

Choudhury glaubt, dass Moslems, Juden und Christen Freunde sein können. Dass es auf der Welt nur dann Frieden geben werde, wenn jeder Mensch seinen eigenen Glauben frei lebe und zugleich die Religion anderer akzeptiere. Dass die islamischen Staaten deshalb gut daran täten, Israels Existenzrecht anzuerkennen. Und dass er, ein moderner Moslem aus einem traditionell moderat muslimischen Land, dabei helfen könne, die drei verwandten Religionen zu versöhnen. "Menschen, die ein gutes Herz haben, sind sich nah, egal zu welchem Gott sie beten", sagt Choudhury. Die Mehrheit der Menschheit sei seiner Meinung, glaubt er. Von der Minderheit dürfe man sich nicht einschüchtern lassen.

Folter und Gefängnis

Doch in Bangladesch gewinnen radikale Islamisten an Einfluss, und seitdem sie sogar der letzten Regierung angehörten, lebt der Mann gefährlich. Weil er sich mit seiner Zeitung Weekly Blitz für Israel engagiert und in zahlreichen Investigativreportagen die Ausbreitung von Terroristencamps, Al Kaida-Lagern und Ausbildungsstätten für Selbstmordattentäter in Bangladesch dokumentierte, steht er nun wegen Volksverhetzung, Hochverrat und Blasphemie vor Gericht. Ihm drohen bis zu 30 Jahre Gefängnis oder sogar die Todesstrafe. "Aber sie kriegen mich nicht unter", sagt Choudhury. "Ich bin ein Kämpfer."

Tatsächlich hat Choudhury mit seinen etwas mehr als 30 Lebensjahren etwas von einem Boxer, der sich gerade von seinem jüngsten Knockout erholt. Dabei ist es schon ein halbes Jahr her, dass zum letzten Mal die Schläger in sein Büro kamen. Ein prominenter Politiker habe sie begleitet, sagt er, so prominent, dass die Polizei sich hinterher weigerte, eine Anzeige aufzunehmen. Choudhury humpelt ein wenig. Sein Gesicht ist dauerhaft geschwollen. Wenn er spricht, klingt es, als habe er etwas im Mund. Auch in schwach beleuchteten Räumen trägt er eine dunkle Sonnenbrille, um sein vom grünen Star erblindetes rechtes Auge zu verbergen. Eine Operation hätte es leicht retten können, doch während seines Gefängnisaufenthalts wurde ihm die Behandlung versagt. Trotzdem ist er bereit, sich für seine Überzeugungen wieder einsperren zu lassen, in Einzelhaft, bei 40 Grad. "Der Ventilator wurde in meiner Zelle immer abgestellt," sagt er.

Choudhury ist kein Verzweiflungstäter. In Bangladesch, einem der ärmsten Länder der Welt, gehört er zu den wenigen Privilegierten, die ein Leben in Wohlstand führen. Sein Vater war ein wohlhabender Unternehmer, der seinen Sohn zum Wirtschaftsstudium nach England schickte. "Vor meinem Abflug musste ich ihm versprechen, dort nicht mit anderen Bangladeschis zusammenzuleben, obwohl es in London viele gibt", erzählt Choudhury. "Deshalb wohnte ich am anderen Ende der Stadt und fand Freunde aus aller Welt."

Als er 1989 heimkehrte, arbeitete er zunächst als Korrespondent für die russische Nachrichtenagentur Itar-Tass und baute 1995 den ersten privaten Fernsehsender des Landes auf, "A-21 TV". 1999 sendete er erstmals regierungskritische Berichte - ein beträchtliches Risiko, doch der Drang, der staatlichen Propaganda eine zweite Wahrheit entgegenzusetzen, war übermächtig. Innerhalb weniger Tage wurde A-21 TV von der Regierung geschlossen und Choudhury wegen "Volksverhetzung" zu einem halben Jahr Haft verurteilt. "Damals wurde ich zum ersten Mal gefoltert", berichtet er. "Sie wollten meinen Willen brechen. Aber sie haben ihn nur gestärkt."

Wenige Monate nach den Anschlägen vom 11. September gründete er Weekly Blitz, als Reaktion auf die erstarkenden Extremisten. "Ich bin ein lebender Widerspruch: Ein Zionist, aber auch ein frommer Moslem", sagt er: "Wir glauben doch alle an den gleichen Gott. Aber die Extremisten verfälschen die Lehre und treiben einen Keil zwischen Moslems, Juden und Christen." Neben gleichgesinnten bengalischen Journalisten schrieben bald auch jüdische Autoren aus Israel und den USA für Weekly Blitz. Die Assoziation des Namens zum auch im Englischen gebräuchlichen Wort "Blitzkrieg" ist Absicht. "Wir sind ein Kampfblatt für den Frieden", sagt Choudhury, "und die Redaktion ist unsere Armee."

Provokation ist Choudhurys Programm. Dabei ging er so weit, 2003 eines der Pornobilder, die in Saddam Husseins Palästen gefunden wurden, auf sein Cover zu heben. Ein winziger Balken über der Brustwarze betonte die Nacktheit mehr, als er sie verhüllte. "Viele Muslime halten Saddam Hussein für einen Helden, und ich wollte zeigen, was für ein Mann er tatsächlich war", erzählt er. Die Ausgabe wurde umgehend verboten.

Flucht kommt nicht in Frage

Nur etwa fünf Millionen von Bangladeschs 183 Millionen Einwohnern sympathisieren mit den Radikalen, schätzt Choudhury. Trotzdem erfährt er im eigenen Land wenig Zustimmung. Kaum jemand wagt, offen für ihn Partei zu ergreifen. Selbst Verwandte und Freunde wandten sich von ihm ab. "Viele von ihnen wurden bedroht", sagt Choudhury. Sein Haus, eine kleine Villa in einem der besseren Viertel von Dhaka, wird nachts von Wachleuten mit großen Gewehren beschützt. Seine beiden Kinder bringt morgens ein Fahrer in die Schule und holt sie hinterher wieder ab. Zu Freunden gehen sie nur selten. "Aber die Situation schweißt uns als Familie zusammen", erklärt Choudhury. "Meine Frau und meine Kinder sagen mir immer wieder, wie stolz sie auf mich sind."

Ob Choudhury es merken würde, wenn in dieser Anerkennung dennoch die Bitte mitschwänge, seinen Kampf aufzugeben und die Familie aus ihrem Belagerungszustand zu befreien? Genügend Geld, um im Ausland ein ruhiges Leben zu führen, hätte die Familie, und wahrscheinlich fände sich auch eine Möglichkeit, Bangladesch trotz des laufenden Verfahrens zu verlassen. Doch für Choudhury ist sein Kampf längst sein Leben geworden. "Wer das Schlachtfeld verlässt, hat verloren", sagt er. "Aber wer für die richtige Sache kämpft, gewinnt immer."
Im Kern der Auseinandersetzung: Israel und der Holocaust

Der Unternehmer und Journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury gründete 2002 in seiner Heimat Bangladesch die Wochenzeitung Weekly Blitz. Wie kaum ein anderes in einem muslimischen Land erscheinendes Medium fordert sie die Versöhnung von Moslems, Juden und Christen sowie die Anerkennung Israels. "Viele Muslime glauben immer noch, der Holocaust sei ein Komplott von Nazis und Juden gewesen, um den Anspruch der Zionisten auf Israel zu rechtfertigen", sagt Choudhury. Weekly Blitz hat 32 Mitarbeiter und eine Auflage von 6 000 Exemplaren sowie eine Internetausgabe (

Reisen nach Israel sind Staatsbürgern Bangladeschs verboten. Im November 2003 wurde Choudhury am Flughafen in Dhaka verhaftet, weil er zu einer Friedenskonferenz in Tel Aviv fliegen wollte. 17 Monate wurde er ohne Anklage eingesperrt und nach eigenen Angaben massiv gefoltert. 2005 kam er auf Druck des amerikanischen Außenministeriums frei.

Wegen Volksverhetzung, Hochverrats und Blasphemie steht er derzeit vor Gericht. Ihm droht die Todesstrafe. Dem Richter Shamsul Alam werden enge Kontakte zu den Islamisten nachgesagt.

EU-Parlament und US-Repräsentantenhaus fordern die Einstellung des Verfahrens. Der amerikanische PEN-Club ehrte 2005 Choudhurys Engagement mit dem Preis "Freedom to Write" und das Amerikanische Jüdische Komitee 2006 mit der "Auszeichnung für moralischen Mut".

Berliner Zeitung, 2.4.2007

Labels: , ,

Continued (Permanent Link)

Hezbollah admits to being Iranian puppets

Hezbullah markets itself as "Lebanese Patriots" but the facts are different according to an Israel Foreign Ministry Report, which quotes a Hezbollah spokesperson as admitting that every move is orchestrated by Iran: 

Jerusalem, 22 April 2007

For many years, Hizbullah was careful not to implicate Iran in its terror operations. However, in a 15 April interview with the Iranian Arabic language TV station 'al Qawthar', Hizbullah Deputy Secretary-General Naim Kassem, told the interviewer that suicide bombings, terrorist attacks and even artillery barrages against Israeli civilians all receive prior approval from the Ayatollah's in Teheran:

"The religious doctrine which dictates Hizbullah's actions in general and those relating to the Jihad in particular, is based on the rulings of the spiritual leader in Teheran. The spiritual leader has the power to permit our actions, and the spiritual leader can forbid them.

"In order to know what is permitted and forbidden regarding the Jihad, we ask for and receive overall permission and only then do we carry out the operation.

"Even with regard to the suicide bombings, no one is allowed to kill himself without religious authorization.

"Even the rocket attacks on Israel, against the civilian population [Aug 2006] . in order to apply pressure, even this required overall religious authorization."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Poll: Israelis proud to be Israelis

Poll: Israelis proud to be Israelis, proud of IDF, plan to fly flag on
Independence Day, 33% chance would leave if could improve lifestyle
Dr. Aaron Lerner      Date: 22 April 2007

Telephone poll carried out by "Brain Base" ["Maagar Mochot"] of a representative sample of 507 adult Israelis (including Israeli Arabs) under the direction of Prof.Y.Katz for Channel 10 Television "Kol Haboker" on
19-20 April 2007.
Statistical error:  +/- 4.5 percentage points.

On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is not proud at all and 10 is very proud:

How proud are you to be an Israeli today?
Total: 7.7 Jews 8.1 Israeli Arabs 6.0
Secular 7.8 Traditional 8.0 National religious 8.2 Ultra orthodox 6.6

How proud are you of the IDF today?
Total: 7.9 Jews 8.3 Israeli Arabs 5.6
Secular 8.5 Traditional 8.3 National religious 7.4 Ultra orthodox 7.0

From 0% to 100%, what are the chances you will fly an Israeli flag on Israel Independence Day?
Total: 78% Jews 87% Israeli Arabs 31%
Secular 76% Traditional 85% National religious 90% Ultra orthodox 2%

If you had the opportunity to economically and practically improve your lifestyle by moving to another country, from 0% to 100% what are the chances you would leave the country?
Total: 33% Jews 31% Israeli Arabs 39%
Secular 31% Traditional 40% National religious 17% Ultra orthodox 11%

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

Continued (Permanent Link)

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