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Saturday, May 5, 2007

Europe adopts watered down Holocaust Denial Legislation

The proposed law is perhaps worse than none, since what it really says is that it applies only in countries whre the legislation is in place in any case.
It is relatively easy to protect freedom of speech and academic freedom while ensuring that racist incitement is not allowed, because the context of hate speech is usually clear. It is true for the Armenian genocide as well as the Jewish Holocaust. The IHT has incidentally downgraded the Armenian genocide, by writing:
The scope of the law also does not cover other historical events, like the massacre of Armenians during the First World War by Ottoman Turks, which Armenians call a genocide.
The Turkish massacre of Armenians was certainly genocide, and some of the perpetrators declared the intention of wiping out the Armenians. Actually it was the second massacre. The first one occurred in 1896.
Likewise the ban on denying the crimes of Stalin (and his successors) was not for the reasons specified, but perhaps because European countries do not want to contemplate this era, in which Europe and everyone else was ready to acquiesce in the crimes of a monstrous regime.
In general, knowingly disseminating false information should be a crime, but it is hard to prove the "knowingly" part.  
Ami Isseroff
EU adopts measure outlawing Holocaust denial
By Dan Bilefsky

Thursday, April 19, 2007
 BRUSSELS: The European Union approved legislation Thursday that would make denying the Holocaust punishable by jail sentences, but would also give countries across the 27-member bloc the option of not enforcing the law if such a prohibition did not exist in their own laws.

The draft law, which EU diplomats called a minimalist compromise, gained approval after six years of emotional negotiations, during which countries with vastly different legal cultures struggled to reconcile the protection of freedom of speech with protection of their citizens from racism and hate crimes.

The legislation calls for jail terms of as much as three years for "intentional conduct" that incites violence or hatred against a person's "race, color, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin." The same punishment would apply to those who incite violence by "denying or grossly trivializing crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes."

EU officials said that the law was notable for what it omitted.

Fearing that the legislation could be hijacked by groups trying to right historical wrongs, a majority of EU countries rejected a demand by the formerly communist Baltic countries that the law criminalize the denial of atrocities committed by Stalin during Soviet times. As a political gesture, however, Franco Frattini, the EU's justice commissioner, said the EU would organize public hearings on the "horrible crimes" of the Stalin era in the coming months.

The scope of the law also does not cover other historical events, like the massacre of Armenians during the First World War by Ottoman Turks, which Armenians call a genocide. Instead, the legislation recognized only genocides that fall under the statutes of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, like the mass killing of Jews during World War II and the massacre in Rwanda in 1994.

There will be no Europe-wide ban on the use of Nazi symbols, one of the original intentions of the law's drafters, which gained force two years ago after the release of photographs of Prince Harry of Britain wearing a swastika armband at a costume party.

EU officials involved in the drafting of the law, which needed unanimous approval, said consensus had been achieved by allowing national laws to take precedence. Britain, Sweden and Denmark, which have particularly libertarian traditions, pressed for wording that would avoid criminalizing debates about the Holocaust and would ensure that films and plays about the Holocaust, like Roberto Benigni's award-winning "Life is Beautiful" and Mel Brooks's musical "The Producers," were not censored.

The legislation also states that individual countries' constitutional protections of freedom of speech would be upheld, meaning, for example, that publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in Denmark, where freedom of speech is enshrined in the Constitution, is permitted under the law.
Denmark and Britain also pressed successfully for a provision to ensure that attacks on religions are covered only when they are of a xenophobic or racist nature.
Anti-racism groups said the law had been watered down to the point of rendering it toothless.
Michael Privot, spokesman for the European Network Against Racism, said, for example, that a person publishing a pamphlet denying the Holocaust could do so with impunity in Britain, while still facing prosecution in France. "We have ended up with a lowest common denominator law," he said.

Laws against denying the Holocaust exist in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and Spain, and in many cases the national legislation goes much further than the new EU rules. In a recent high-profile case, the British historian David Irving spent 13 months in jail in Austria for challenging the Holocaust before being released in December.

Two years ago, Luxembourg tried to use its EU presidency to push through Europe-wide anti-racism legislation, but it was blocked by the center-right government then in power in Italy on the grounds that it threatened freedom of speech. The proposed law was considered too politically difficult to pass until it was taken up by Germany, current holder of the EU's rotating presidency, which has called it a historical obligation and a moral imperative.

Friso Roscam Abbing, spokesman for Frattini, the EU's justice commissioner, said it was inevitable that the bill be diluted, given the need to reconcile so many different political and legal cultures. But he added: "We still think it is useful and sends a strong political signal that there is no safe haven in Europe for racism, anti-Semitism or Islam-phobia."

But Muslim leaders accused the EU of having double standards, arguing that it protects established Christian religions and outlaws anti-Semitism while doing nothing to defend Muslims against defamation.

Continued (Permanent Link)

British boycott season is underway - again

It is that time of the year again. Spring has sprung, the daffodils smile, and British Academic unions are once more threatening to boycott Israel. Apparently, these seasonal boycott calls are to become a fixture of the annual cycle of observance rights, taking the place of Christmas pogroms and passion plays. The fact of the boycott itself, which often does not occur or is meaningless, is immaterial. The point is to have another anti-Israel ritual, proclaiming the sanctity and high humanitarian goals of the Hamas and condemning Israel.  
By Charlotte Halle

A delegation of Israeli academics will head to the U.K. later this month in a bid to fight a proposed boycott of Israeli universities by British academics.
Seven academics from six Israeli universities plan to meet with members of the 120,000-strong union ahead of its vote to boycott Israeli academic institutions at its annual congress in Bournemouth at the end of the month. The three-day congress is the first for the newly-formed University and College Union, a merger of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) and the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE).
In 2005, the AUT voted to boycott Bar-Ilan and Haifa universities although the decision was overturned a month later. A year ago, NATFHE passed a motion to boycott all Israeli academics who did not "publicly disassociate themselves from Israeli policies," just two days before the union merged with the AUT, thereby nullifying the resolution.
"The boycott is a form of prejudice and discrimination because it unfairly singles out Israel and demonizes us," says Dr. Jonathan Rynhold, a senior lecturer in the department of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, and a member of delegation to the U.K. "We are nowhere near the worst human rights abusers in the world. We want to present a more balanced and realistic picture of Israeli academia. When they meet us, they will see we are not a bunch of fascists."
Academic freedom
Rynhold added, "It's also important that they understand that 99.9 percent of Israeli academics from across the political spectrum are against the boycott. This doesn't mean there aren't issues that Israel needs to address about how it treats its minorities or the Palestinians, but if there's one group which keeps this on the agenda, it is academics. It's the one area where Israelis and Palestinians have cooperated on an equal basis extensively."
The Israeli group hopes to meet with pro- and anti-boycott members, as well as those who have yet to decide which way to vote, says Rynhold. "The boycott goes against the universal principle of academic freedom and various international conventions that the U.K. is party to. The advancement of academia depends on judging people by the quality of their work."
If the motion is passed, it could prevent any academic affiliated with an Israeli institution from spending sabbaticals in the U.K. and participating in conferences there, says Ofir Frankel, executive director of the International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom (IAB), which put the Israeli delegation together.
'A silent boycott'
Operating under the auspices of Bar-Ilan University, the IAB was formed by Prof. Yosef Yeshurun and Prof. Joshua Schwartz in 2005 after the British university teachers union voted to boycott Bar-Ilan and Haifa universities. It works closely with organizations abroad which oppose academic boycotts.
According to IAB member Prof. Wendy Sandler from the English department of Haifa University, a boycott will also damage the system for promotions within Israeli universities, which relies on letters of recommendation from colleagues abroad. She says that many British academics who have publicly supported the boycott sit on the boards of scientific journals and may already be adhering to a "silent boycott" of Israeli academics. "This means we can never know whether our work has been rejected on political grounds or because it does not meet the standards of the journal - whether our work is being evaluated on merit alone," she says.
Sandler, who traveled to the U.K. two years ago to try and persuade British academics to rescind an earlier boycott, describes the atmosphere there surrounding debates on Israel as "poisonous."
"What dismays me most is this aura of political correctness, which is based on a very extreme view of Israel's role in the Middle East. It intimidates people from expressing another view," says Sandler, who is originally from the U.S. "Whenever somebody spoke against the boycott of Israel, they would begin with a condemnation of Israeli policies, which I saw as a clear sign they were intimidated. They felt they would not have any credibility if they did not," she explains. "What we find in England is that no matter how outrageous the accusations are against Israel, they are believed. That's the main problem - the overall perception of Israel promoted by the media."
The Israeli delegation to the U.K. will also include Dr. Miriam Shlesinger of Bar-Ilan University who was fired by a British journal of translation in 2002 for being Israeli, and Prof. Zvi Hacohen, chairman of Coordinating Council of the Senior Faculty Associations. The group may travel to Ireland too, where 61 academics called for a boycott of Israeli institutions of higher education in a letter published in the Irish Times last year.
The proposed boycott by British academics follows a spate of other calls to boycott Israel in the U.K. Last month, 130 British doctors called for a boycott of the Israeli Medical Association and its expulsion from the World Medical Association and the National Union of Journalists voted for a boycott of Israeli goods in protest of last year's Lebanon war and Israeli "aggression" in the territories.
Several branches of the British journalists union have subsequently called for a special delegate meeting to reconsider the boycott resolution, which was originally passed by a vote of 66 to 54.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Media ignoring Gaza atrocities

No, it is not Israel's fault. That is why you aren't hearing about it.
By Avi Issacharoff

For several weeks now the Gaza Strip has been burning. This is not a matter of fighting between Hamas and Fatah activists or actions by the Israel Defense Forces, but battles between armed groups that for the most part are identified with large clans. Nearly every day for the past two weeks ,men, women and children have been killed in Gaza. Every day civilians are being wounded by deliberate or stray gunfire, the result of the unrestrained use of weapons. The number of armed men in the Gaza Strip, according to various estimates, is greater than 100,000. These men belong to security mechanisms, political organizations and above all to clans, and are trying to ensure the economic interests of their kinfolk. There is a tremendous amount of weaponry in the inhabitants' homes, the entire purpose of which is a potential quarrel with a neighbor, an acquaintance or a driver on the road.
In recent weeks attacks on Western and Christian targets in the West Bank have also become common. Members of terror cells identified with Al-Qaida-type organizations - compared to whom Hamas people look like boy scouts - are blowing up and destroying institutions linked to Western culture such as the American School, a church library and dozens of Internet cafes.
But the world is ignoring this. The media in Israel and the West, which reported on every person killed or wounded in the conflicts between Fatah and Hamas or because of "the Israeli occupation," are not taking any interest in Gaza. Even before the release of the Winograd report, the television news broadcasts and the major newspapers focused on trivial matters and chose not to deal with the danger to the lives of every Palestinian living in Gaza.
Even more obvious is the silence of the human rights organizations that publish reports on the roadblocks and the movement restrictions in the territories, while in the Gaza Strip crimes against women are being committed. Cases of women being beaten happen all the time and do not make headlines; worse than this are the cases of killings for "family honor." In recent months, the corpses of four women who were murdered for this reason have been brought to Gaza hospitals, but the number is higher. Women who are murdered are buried by members of their family in secret, and their deaths are not reported to any official body. The Palestinian media also refrain from reporting on this, for the sake of "family honor."
The Palestinian leadership, as usual, is impotent. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is on trips abroad, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh cannot influence the disarming of the militias and Hamas leader Khaled Mashal has also lost the ability to exert full control over the organization's armed men. Mashal and Abu Mazen are continuing to discuss the reform in the PLO at a time when it is clear to everyone that both groups need to forbid at once the bearing of arms by anyone who is not a member of a security organization. However, neither Hamas nor Fatah would dare demand that the people in their military wings lay down their arms. The Gaza Strip has new leaders; clan chiefs like Mumtaz Durmush. There is no force in the Gaza Strip that dares to enter a confrontation with the Durmush clan, even though it is responsible for Afghanistan-style killings, kidnappings and more.
Perhaps in light of the weakness of the Gaza leadership, they are content with clicks of the tongue in Israel, too. The U.S. administration is busying itself with strengthening Abu Mazen and his national security adviser Mohammed Dahlan so that when the day comes they will be able to confront Hamas. And Hamas, which is not succeeding in dealing with the failure of the unity government it heads, is publishing reports of its maneuvers to abduct more Israelis. In the organization they are hoping perhaps that a military action in the style of the abduction of Gilad Shalit will lead the IDF into the Gaza Strip and distract attention from their own failings. In the meantime, the Palestinian public is looking on impotently at what is happening and for the most part is continuing with its daily routine or, alternatively, stockpiling weapons for the next battle of the clans.

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British Intelligence: Begin was a Soviet Agent

An article in this week's Ma'ariv newspaper reveals that British intelligence maintained a file on terrorist Menachem Begin until the 1970s. Parts of the the file have been declassified recently.
The super-sleuths of MI-5 and MI-6 were convinced that Mr. Begin was in contact with the USSR and getting support from that country. Brilliant deduction, my dear Holmes. While real Soviet spies Burgess, Maclean and Philby were happily at work stealing US atomic secrets for Mr. Dzugashvilli, the James Bond types in blighty were going after Begin. As he was a Jew, he must've been a communist. Elementary, my dear Watson.
Had they been able to read Hebrew, the Sherlocks of British intelligence would have known that Begin's book, The Revolt, opens with a detailed narrative of Begin's detention and interrogation by the Soviet authorities, from which it is clear that Begin was not a great admirer of that country or its regime. However, as they could not read Hebrew, and had not the resourcefulness to find anyone who could read that language, the London spymasters contented themselves with telegraphing their agents in Cairo in the 1950s to try to find copies of "The Revolt" in Arabic. They deduced that it might reveal secret information that would no doubt be immensely valuable to British intelligence the next time HM government reinstituted the Palestine Mandate.
The investigation of Menachem Begin, presumed agent of the International Jew - Bolshevik Conspiracy, was put on a back burner after British intelligence authorities received the astute evaluation that Begin's Herut party was disintegrating, and that Begin had no political future in Israel.
MI-5 and MI-6 can be proud of their record of achievement in intelligence evaluation.
Blood, sweat and tears, defiant in defeat and magnanimous in victory and all that sort of thing. There will always be an an England! (Can we have some Rule Britannia music here?)
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Hamas, Palestinian Resistance oppose peace plan, US Benchmarks

The fact that Israel objected to some of the requirements of the new US peace plan was widely reported in Arab and world media. One wonders if Arab media will bother to report that the Hamas has reject the plan out of hand, and the "Popular Resistance Committees" will likewise ignore it.
Last update - 12:46 05/05/2007   

Meshal dismisses new U.S. benchmarks for Israel, PA
By Avi Issacharoff and Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and Agencies

Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal has dismissed a new U.S. benchmark document detailing actions for both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to implement in the coming months, The Associated Press reported Saturday.
The Damascus-based leader is the main powerbroker in Hamas.
The document, recently submitted to Israel and the Palestinians, calls on Israel to remove many West Bank roadblocks and improve operations at Gaza's crossings.
The Palestinians are asked to halt rocket fire from Gaza and weapons smuggling into the coastal strip.
Meshal told a rally in Syria on Friday that the Palestinians should not agree to halt rocket fire in exchange for an easing of travel restrictions.
"I swear it's a farce ... the equation has now become: dismantling the checkpoints, in exchange for [giving up] resistance," he said in comments carried by Al-Jazeera. "This has become the Palestinian cause."
The militant group Popular Resistance Committees also rejected the document. "The U.S. plan does not serve our people's interests," said PRC spokesman Abu Abeer on Saturday, vowing that "the [PRC] will work to make it fail."

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Palestine Massacre and War crime: The death and rebirth of Kfar Etzion

This study by Amia Leiblich reminds us of an actual massacre and war crime committed in Palestine, and an actual incident of  Palestine Ethnic Cleansing that took place in 1948: The Kfar Etzion Massacre.
The number of people murdered was much larger than the figures given below. 50 Hagannah members were massacred when they surrendered in the final battle, but another group was massacred after they had taken refuge in a cellar. Nobody worried about the "refugee rights" of any of the survivors. No UN agency was set up to cater to their needs or to provide them with food and shelter and fight for their rights.
It is not convenient for the world to remember this incident of Ethnic Cleansing   that was committed in Palestine.
Those of us who object to the occupation, and those who insist on the "right" of return of Arab Palestinians, should consider the following sobering fact:
...10 of the children of Kfar Etzion now live in the renewed kibbutz, and several others live in other nearby Jewish settlements.
If there is such a thing as "right of return," it must apply to everyone, no? Do I not have the right also, to "return" to the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, where my grandmothers were born, and to the Jewish section of Hebron, where my mother was born?
I do not choose to exercise this "right," if I have it, because it would impinge on the larger right and duty to live in peace and to let others live in peace. What can we say about those "right of return" advocates who want "peace with justice?" Can they give me justice? Can they give justice to the orphans of Gush Etzion?
Ami Isseroff
      The death and rebirth of Kfar Etzion
By Yair Sheleg

"Yaldei Kfar Etzion" ("The Children of Kfar Etzion") by Amia Lieblich, University of Haifa Press and Keter Publishing, 512 pages, NIS 88
Of the many calamities that occurred during Israel's wars, no tragedy is likely to be greater than that suffered by Kibbutz Kfar Etzion during the War of Independence in 1948. It is the tragedy of a community whose male population, which included outsiders who had come to defend it, was killed almost in its entirety by the Jordanian Legion. Many of the men were slaughtered even after they had surrendered (127 people were killed there altogether, 80 of them from Kfar Etzion, the others outside members of the Haganah pre-state army). And since most of the children and all of the women had been evacuated from the kibbutz some months earlier, the tragedy of Kfar Etzion is also one of several dozen people whom the massacre turned into widows and orphans.
This great drama certainly deserves to be documented, and many years ago one of the survivors, Dov Knohl, already undertook to tell the story in his book "Gush Etzion bemilhamto" ("Gush Etzion During its War"), published by the World Zionist Organization in 1954. That volume became a canonical work for those who once lived in the community, and for a certain generation of Zionist-religious Israelis in general. Yohanan Ben-Ya'acov, one of the orphans of Gush Etzion, in the West Bank southeast of Jerusalem, has also contributed greatly to the painstaking work of documenting stories not only of the battles in the area, but also of the convoys that came to help the besieged settlement cluster, often at the cost of grave casualties.
Amia Lieblich's new book seeks to focus on the human aspect of the drama and to tell the story of the children of Kfar Etzion, most of whom, as noted, were orphaned in the war. A story of such obvious power, an author who has herself become part of the canon of documenting Israeli identity (in her books about the kibbutz movement and about Israeli soldiers), and the prominent publishing houses involved in this project - the combination of all these can bring the story of Kibbutz Kfar Etzion to the center of public discussion, and do historic justice to its children.
Lone oak tree
Lieblich, a professor emeritus of psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, tells the children's story chronologically: She describes the evacuation from Kfar Etzion to the Ratisbonne Monastery in Jerusalem, discusses the children's life at the monastery, their brief sojourn in Petah Tikva, and the years when the religious kibbutz reassembled at Givat Aliyah in Jaffa (a kibbutz of widows, orphans and few men). She goes on to tell of their dispersal throughout the country and concludes with the annual memorial services and the observation, from a distance, of the village's lone oak tree, whose size allowed it to become a focal point of longing and nostalgia.
The book's second part is devoted to the great drama of the kibbutz's resettlement. In this context, two facts are especially poignant: When former Gush Emunim leader and Knesset member Hanan Porat initiated the return of the people of Kfar Etzion to their kibbutz, shortly after the Six-Day War, a few of the widows confronted him, claiming that, "It is enough that the husbands died, there is no need to endanger the children as well." Porat succeeded in convincing them to give their blessing to the resettlement only after he asked them what their husbands would have thought of the idea. The second, no less significant fact that Lieblich uncovers is that 10 of the children of Kfar Etzion now live in the renewed kibbutz, and several others live in other nearby Jewish settlements.
Lieblich's research is very thorough, and she takes apart each period in the survivors' lives to consider its components: life in the Ratisbonne Monastery before and after the conquest of Gush Etzion; those moments when word came of the defeat; the lives of the widows in the subsequent years; and the way the few remaining men functioned as fathers for the children of the whole kibbutz.
Because Lieblich does not settle for predictable slogans, she arrives at some surprising nuances. Thus, for example, she finds evidence for the positive aspects of being fatherless, a condition that provides a freedom and license that are usually not granted to other children. She also identifies a dispute about life at Givat Aliyah: While the majority describe the children's existence there as cheerful and vibrant (in contrast to the sad life indoors, with the widowed mothers), Lieblich does not hesitate to include Ben-Ya'acov's description of the children's society as a cruel one.
More sensitive men
Lieblich also cites several of the orphans, who claim that there was no point in leaving the kibbutzim of Gush Etzion in their isolation; one of them, Shilo Gal, even says that the settlement cluster was abandoned (in terms of the labor force and equipment sent to it) because it did not belong to the "right movement." Most of the orphans reject these accusations and do not blame the leadership of those days for the loss of their fathers.
Lieblich's analyses contain some very interesting insights, including the fact that the orphaned men were found to have more characteristics in common than the orphaned women: The men are described as being more sensitive than is the accepted norm among men, whereas among the women Lieblich found a more common distribution.
The book does, however, suffer from certain flaws. The first is a technical one: The appendix listing the names of the interviewees provides too little information (51 of the kibbutz's 60 orphans agreed to be interviewed, a figure that suggests just how much they wanted their story to be told at last); it accounts only for where they now live. But since most of the book's chapters are thematic, making the life story of any particular child hard to follow, the appendix should have included a brief biographical sketch of each protagonist.
The second problem involves the manner in which the book is written - that is, the way in which the author presents her testimonies. Throughout most of the book, Lieblich chose to bring the words of her witnesses verbatim rather than integrate them into a new story, written in her own voice. This, of course, is a legitimate professional choice, and one often made by authors of scholarly works. In this case, however, dismantling the Kfar Etzion story into different testimonies and accounts tends to detract from the book's dramatic and narrative element.
The last flaw is a more fundamental one, and that is the apologetic tone used by Lieblich in the introduction, when she "explains" why she agreed to immerse herself in the story of Kfar Etzion's people, whose place of residence - in the territories - clashes with her own contemporary political views. She explains this by saying that her late father, Dr. Moshe-Arieh Kurtz, was an activist of the Hapoel Hamizrachi religious-Zionist movement and a friend of many of the (original) Kfar Etzion settlers, and she even recounts a bittersweet childhood memory of visiting the kibbutz with him.
Lieblich's personal connection to the story is moving indeed, but the apologetic way in which she uses it to "justify" her choice of subject is undignified: The story of Kfar Etzion has the power of a sacred story, and it should be a great privilege to examine and document it. Writing a book on this subject requires no apology.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Friday, May 4, 2007

International Solidarity Movement recruits Westerners to fight Israel

International Solidarity Movement recruits Westerners to fight Israel
Geostrategy-Direct,, May 2, 2007

Palestinian insurgents have been recruiting Westerners to join the fight against Israel. Westerners and other foreigners are being used as human shields, weapons and money couriers, and as provocateurs to portray Israel as an aggressor.

Much of the recruitment of Westerners takes place in universities in the U.S. and Europe by the International Solidarity Movement. ISM is run by Palestinians tied to Fatah and Hamas and includes relatives of Palestinians educated abroad. Every few weeks, ISM brings volunteers to Israel disguised as tourists and provides them as cannon fodder for Palestinian terrorists.The indoctrination begins in the West with classes that teach foreigners to hate Jews and the Jewish state. ISM, which includes more than a handful of Jews, demonizes the Jewish state and teaches recruits how to attack Israeli civilians and soldiers while avoiding arrest. The recruits are told that their governments would quickly pressure Israel to release anyone arrested.

ISM wants to bring thousands of foreigners to disrupt the Jewish state for what it terms the 40th anniversary of the military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The group ignores the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and the daily Palestinian missile attacks on Israel since.

"When international volunteers are absent, the Israeli army uses lethal tactics of repression, such as live ammunition on unarmed protesters," ISM said in an appeal for volunteers. "Your presence means Palestinians can peacefully protest without being threatened with death."

The current ISM effort is to attack Jewish communities in the West Bank, particularly the Jewish community in Hebron. ISM brings foreign volunteers to harass Israeli soldiers and civilians, provoke violence and then film the Israeli response for media in their countries.

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Empowering Moderate Muslims

I would say, that for eveyone, it is Time to empower non-establishment Islamics, provided they are not Osama Bin Laden types. He is also "non-establishment."
One of my favorite "non-establishment Islamic" (he means "Muslim" - "Islamic" is not a noun) is Salahuddin Shoaib Choudhury. There are others. It is time IMO for NON-Liberals to also help empower these people, by not insisting that all Muslims are evil and that Islam as a whole is a fanatic and "bad" religion and culture.
Ami Isseroff

Jewish World Review May 1, 2007

By Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

Since 9/11, many of us have wondered: Where are the moderate Muslims? If they are out there, why are we not hearing more, and getting more help, from them in the fight against our common foe — the totalitarian Islamists?

In recent weeks in this space, I have chronicled the saga of an effort to answer that question. It took the form of a 52-minute documentary I helped produce for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's "America at a Crossroads" series. The film, entitled "Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center," features compelling stories of anti-Islamist Muslims who have had the courage to stand up to co-religionists who are using faith to accomplish political ends.

The documentary makes clear why the moderates are not more in evidence. Observant Muslims who dare to challenge the Islamists over ideological agendas pursued in the name of religion are shown being subjected to ostracism, intense coercion to conform and, in some cases, death threats. As long as these anti-Islamist Muslims are rightly seen as isolated, vulnerable and powerless, it would be foolish to believe that many of their co-religionists will want to emulate them.

Such a conclusion is especially likely to the extent that fence-sitting moderate Muslims perceive those repressing the anti-Islamists to be what Osama bin Laden calls "the strong horse." The success of organizations supportive of the Islamists and of their efforts to exploit real or perceived Muslim grievances and civil liberties to create "parallel societies" in Western democracies will, inevitably, attract more adherents to the former's ranks.

Unfortunately, what has happened to "Islam vs. Islamists" can only compound this perception. The Public Broadcasting Service and its Washington flagship station, WETA, refused to air this film. While a number of explanations have been given for that decision — including demonstrably false claims that the documentary was not submitted on time, was too long, was unfinished, the officially stated reason is that it was: "flawed by incomplete storytelling, a limited focus that does not adequately corroborate the film's conclusions, and a general lack of attention to the obligation of fairness, which requires that viewers have access to additional context and relevant information about a complex subject."

In other words, PBS/WETA judged our film to be "unfair" to the "conservative imams" and fellow Islamists shown denouncing, threatening and, in one case, proposing to murder the moderate Muslims we profile. Unless our production team, which included a number of world-class journalists, agreed to change not the "storytelling" but the story, "Islam vs. Islamists" was going to be suppressed.

Interestingly, PBS and WETA were untroubled by the manifest lack of fairness in a film on much the same subject entitled "The Muslim Americans," produced by Crossroads series host Robert MacNeil. This documentary amounted to a love letter to the Islamists and like-minded organizations in America. It helped legitimate a number of their most prominent spokesmen and agendas, in the process virtually ignoring easily ascertained records of troubling statements, behavior and/or affiliations.

It is bad enough that the public airwaves were used to disseminate only one rendering of the state of Islam in the West — and a highly misleading one, at that. The process whereby the voices of anti-Islamist Muslims were silenced by PBS and WETA was also characterized by egregious behavior, some of which would typically evoke howls of outrage from American liberals.

These included: attempts to blacklist producers on political grounds; outlandish conflicts of interest (notably, MacNeil's self-dealing and his film's featuring of two Islamist-sympathizing Muslim "advisors" recruited by WETA to help determine which documentaries were aired); and one of those advisors' unauthorized preview of a "rough-cut" version for representatives the Nation of Islam, a subject of the film — in clear violation of the most basic tenets of journalistic ethics.

The question occurs: Where are the liberal non-Muslims in the controversy over "Islam vs. Islamists"? They have at least as much on the line as the rest of us in the outcome of this struggle for the soul and future character of Islam.

After all, the anti-Islamist Muslims and conservatives are not the only ones in the Islamofascists' cross-hairs. Homosexuals, women and Jews are among those whose lives will be made miserable, or simply be prematurely terminated, in the new world order the Islamists have in mind. Blacks are still being sold into slavery in Islamist nations. And, to date, the Islamists have been responsible for killing more of their fellow Muslims than any other population, not just in Darfur but around the world.

Yet, as of this writing, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Rep. Brad Sherman of California have been the only examples of individuals with strong liberal credentials who have publicly urged that the American people be allowed to view "Islam vs. Islamists." They understand the stakes if the voices of the anti-Islamists are suppressed and, worse yet, if those of their repressors continue to be amplified.

The struggle over a documentary designed to do the former is a microcosm of the larger struggle for the future of Islam and the War for the Free World. None of us can afford to be AWOL in these fights.

Continued (Permanent Link)

"A lie, told a thousand times, is still a lie"

Fabricating History:

"Indeed, we are the owners of the land and the legal truth, the owners of the independent homeland and the independent state. Therefore, with you and by means of you, and by means of our noble Arab and Islamic nation, and by means of freedom-seeking people in the world, we will establish our independent Palestinian nation and its holy capital of Jerusalem." - Yasser Arafat/September, 2001

April 25, 2007 - Of all the ministers of misinformation who made their way onto the world's stage in the post-Nazi era, none other was quite as cunning, conniving and, sadly enough, effective as Yasser Arafat--the Arab's version of Joseph Goebbels. This was a man who, time and time again, would walk through the front door disguised as a "peacemaker" only to slip out the back, with his Nobel Peace Prize in tow, as a reputed mass murderer who slaughtered innocent people, including women and children. As chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Arafat successfully fooled the world with a forked tongue, and although true Justice found Arafat after his death, his penchant for deception and treachery lived on through his successors. As such, the "big lie" remains in the open--alive and well as it continues its relentless pursuit of global deception.

The "Palestinians" pervasively and continually assert themselves as the rightful owners of the land of "Palestine". The "Palestinians" claim to be a "displaced" people--cast from an ancestral homeland that has been theirs "From Time Immemorial" (a phrase coined by author Joan Peters). On the wings of such deception, the "Palestinian" demand for an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital continues to soar and, in the eyes of the international community, sprout merit.
Even so, history tells an entirely different tale.
FALSEHOOD: The "Palestinians" are direct descendants of the ancient Philistines, and thus can subsequently trace their presence in the region to said time period.

HISTORICAL FACT: The ancient Philistines were not an Arab people, but were entirely Greek. These were "invaders" (as per the translation of "Philistine") from the Aegean who settled into the region we now know as Gaza. These people, who would later develop a slight case of extinction, remained at war with the Israelites--the region's inhabitants of the time.
FALSEHOOD: "Israel" does not exist, and "Palestine" is the only accurate name for this land.

HISTORICAL FACT: The term "Palestine" found its origin with the ancient Philistines. In a complete attempt to "cleanse" Judea of all that was Jewish, it was the Roman Emperor Hadrian who changed the biblical prideland's name from Judea to that which personified Israel's nastiest enemy of the time--the Philistines. As such, the region bore a new title, "Palaestina" which, quite literally, means, "Land of the Philistines". NOTE: PLAYERS INVOLVED: The Romans, the Jews, and the Philistines--the sea invaders from Greece. PLAYERS NEITHER INVOLVED NOR OBSERVED DURING THIS TIME PERIOD: The Arabs.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Amir Peretz Strikes Back

In this interview in Ha'aretz (see below), Amir Peretz tells his story, how the mess of the Lebanon war was not his fault. He tells a good story.
One by one they will all tell their story. They all had the right answers, but nobody would listen. Everyone else had the wrong idea, but they had the right idea. Nonetheless, the war was not a success. 150 people died, and Mr. Nasrallah is still around and about to take over Lebanon.
If this debacle is not the fault of Amir Peretz and Ehud Olmert, then whose fault is it? Is it my fault? I didn't vote for them, though I admit Peretz had me fooled. It isn't the fault of the soldiers and civilians who died. It must be the fault of someone, or was it just fate?
Peretz claims he was the first to understand that the air war was not working, and the first to understand that the reserves must be called up. Two weeks into the war he understood. Everyone in this household including our dogs understood that if there is to be war, the reserves must be called up on the first day, and by the second day everyone else in Israel understood that the air war was not working and that civil defense measures in the north were non-existent. Maybe our dogs should be Prime Minister and Defense Minister.
Before the air war started, anyone who read the history of the Vietnam war could have understood that the air war could not work. Dan Halutz was a screwdriverist. That is, he had an air-force screw driver and he thought that with that screw-driver he could fix everything. If they put Ami Ayalon in charge, maybe he will attack the Hezbollah with boats, because he was an admiral. If Peretz had been in charge, he would declare a strike, because he was a union leader.
We are sure they all have good stories, but they will need better ones. If there is a war with Syria this summer, perhaps they should rehearse telling their stories in Arabic, or practise swimming. Ami Ayalon's boats may come in handy after all.
Ami Isseroff
Looking back in satisfaction
By Ari Shavit

As the war became increasingly bogged down, his face assumed a patina of sadness. Even in the autumn after the war he still looked battered. He sat at his desk in the corner of the defense minister's oversized office, solitary and lost. Not entirely understanding what had happened to him. Not exactly understanding what had gone awry. How the great hope of the social-welfare winter had been shattered to smithereens in the Lebanese summer.
But four days before the release of the Winograd report, as well as four hours after, Amir Peretz is completely calm. He has no doubt that he was deeply wronged. He has no doubt that many in the media are out to get him. Maariv, the satiricak show "Eretz Nehederet," the commentators on Channel 2 news. But he refuses to grumble or whine. He is convinced that in the end he will be vindicated. And equally convinced that from this nadir Amir Peretz shall rise again.
His plan of action is clear: to defeat Ehud Barak in the Labor Party internal elections at the end of this month, whether alone or in an alliance with Ami Ayalon. Peretz draws a distinction between his two rivals: Ayalon is legitimate, Barak is not. He does not reject outright a possible deal - Ayalon to defense, Peretz to head of Labor. One way or the other, he is convinced that he has broad, deep grassroots support. He surprised Shimon Peres, he will do the same to Ehud Barak.

The Winograd Committee was right: on July 12, 2006, Amir Peretz asked quite a few correct questions. Between the Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hammer of superficial arrogance and the Chief of Staff Dan Halutz anvil of superficial arrogance, Peretz did all he could. He understood it was impossible to demand the return of the abducted soldiers. He understood that Haifa and Hadera would be hit hard. He understood that the chief of staff's idea of "darkening Lebanon" and the Mossad chief's idea of attacking Syria were dangerous. He understood that Hezbollah had to be hit without getting into a confrontation with the majority in Lebanon. He understood that Israel's army reserves might have to be mobilized.
In contrast to Halutz and Olmert, Peretz was not arrogant. However, the new defense minister - the civilian with the social-welfare agenda - was incapable of controlling the chief of staff or of standing up to the prime minister. The Olmert-Halutz axis largely neutralized Amir Peretz and made him the tragic hero of the politics of the war.
Will Peretz recover? Even though he is a secular socialist, Peretz is a believer. Even after the blow of the Winograd Committee report, he did not lose his faith in himself or his mission. Very late at night, he sent the tea lady home, looked around and described his year at Defense as a period of building and doing. No, he has no intention of disappearing from the landscape. With all his heart and all his soul he is convinced that Israel needs him.
Amir Peretz, the Winograd Committee states in its partial report that the defense minister failed in his task.
"Failure is when you make mistakes, wrong decisions, which stem from irrelevant considerations - the populist use of a military system. But the committee says about me that the defense minister displayed insights that more experienced people did not. That he made a significant contribution to the discussions about the goals of control [in Lebanon]. That he sought to posit a more modest aim for the campaign. That he joined in the decision not to attack Syria. That he clearly learned on the run."
The committee states that you lacked the knowledge and experience a defense minister needs.
"My inexperience is a fact. I arrived with minimal knowledge. But I see this as an advantage, not a disadvantage. Everyone who arrives with excessively broad military knowledge is the prisoner of a conception. He is part of the system. There is no chance that he will present alternatives."
The committee states that you made decisions without orderly consultation with professional bodies.
"I have a chief of staff, I have a director of Military Intelligence, I have a General Staff, I have a political-defense branch of my own [in the Defense Ministry]. Those are systems that are at my disposal. They convened every day. There is no system in the world that maintains a load of consultations on the scale that exists in this building."
The committee finds that your actions lacked a strategic perspective.
"If I am commended by the committee for not agreeing to bring Syria into the arena, isn't that a strategic perspective? Of course it is. If I am commended by the committee for not agreeing to bomb infrastructures in order not to generate escalation that will involve Sunnis and Christians, isn't that a strategic perspective? Of course it is."
The committee states that you did not check the army's preparedness.
"I think that it is absolutely wrong for the defense minister to shoulder [responsibility for the] preparedness of the IDF [Israel Defense Forces]. That is an improper situation. The IDF is supposed to be absolutely prepared. Today, after the difficulties and the gaps were discovered, each unit has a readiness graph. There is a completely different graph for the reserves. The scope of the reserve forces today is unprecedented. There is the feeling of a revolution in the IDF."
In the end, don't you feel that the Winograd Committee report obliges you to leave the Defense Ministry immediately?
"I don't think so. I can say that today we are in a completely different place. It's a simple question: I know what I received when I took over and I know what the situation is today. All those experienced people who sat here left me an army with no training, no reserves, no budget backing, no technological development against rockets, no feeling of emergency that war would break out. With a defensive conception for each arena. In contrast, I will leave behind an army with a completely different spirit: good leadership, more reservists, more training, more equipment, more technological development."
Still, in a month - after Labor's internal elections - you might not be here.
"I think that at the end of a year I can look back and sum up the year with satisfaction. I can tell the prime minister wholeheartedly that after the Labor primaries I am interested in moving to a different position. I am also aware that this will improve the general public feeling, justifiably or not. But I am not willing to leave under conditions that are related to unjustified conclusions."
What you are saying is that you will resign, but not because of the committee. Are you unwilling to take the report as a moral imperative to leave?
"There is no such imperative in the report, certainly not about me. With regard to me, the term 'failure' appears very few times compared to all the other statements."
In your estimation, were you a good defense minister?
"History will record that I plowed and sowed and shed tears while someone else will harvest the fruits. But what difference does it make: It's the children in Israel who will eat the fruits."
And the prime minister? The report speaks very harshly of him. In your opinion, can he continue to serve as prime minister?
"The statements demand personal stocktaking. At this moment I am doing my personal stocktaking. I will not assume that of others."
Years of irresponsibility
Did you make a mistake in accepting the defense portfolio?
"I don't know. I am not ready to say."
A year ago, when you took over, were you scared?
"There is that kind of fear. And how! There is the feeling that you are shouldering a heavy burden. You feel that you have to proceed very carefully. Every decision you make determines people's fates."
You are a new minister, inexperienced. A civilian. Did military and intelligence personnel warn you that there was a high probability of a war on the northern border?
"There was no situation assessment of the probability of war when I assumed this post."
Did army personnel come and tell you that the army was not in good shape?
"At no stage; certainly not before the war broke out."
Before the war, did you make decisions that were relevant to what happened and to what was revealed during the war?
"There were two dramatic discussions. On my second day as defense minister I meet with the chief of staff and am shown the impressive capabilities of the IDF and the defense establishment. I ask a simple question: How is it that we are successful in coming up with solutions to the most complex and complicated threats but not to primitive threats such as the Qassam rockets, the Katyushas, the steep-trajectory weapons? I am informed that a project to develop an anti-rocket system was stopped because of its cost. That very day I assert that the morale threat to Israel is strategic, not tactical. I order the establishment of a team to examine the anti-rocket issue."
And the second discussion?
"Two weeks later, the cabinet held a discussion about cutting the defense budget by about half a billion shekels. This was obviously a trap. It was obvious that the next day's headlines would say that Amir Peretz, the social-welfare leader, is not allowing funds to be transferred from defense to the weak population sectors. But I maintain that it is very serious to pit children against tanks and the elderly against planes. I oppose the budget cut vigorously. I tell the ministers that a cut in the middle of the fiscal year will cause cutbacks in reserve duty and in training. I tell them that the discussion is not orderly and that they do not understand the implications of what they are voting on."
What do the prime minister and the finance minister say?
"They display alienation and generate spin the only goal of which is to embarrass me."
Were your words heeded?
"No. They went with the trend of making cuts in the defense establishment, because that is a kickable body. They continued with the conception of the unfeasibility of war, which created a long process of a decline in the level of training. And in fact most of the cut came from training. The erosion there continued. That is why we found ourselves with brigades that had not undergone training for five years and with much missing equipment in very sensitive spheres. It's hard to believe how sensitive. Do you know that most of the medical kits were totally empty? By chance a decision was made to bring the equipment up to par. Otherwise, our forces would have gone into battle with medical kits missing the most basic items."
Did you find a defense establishment, parts of which are hollow?
"Eroded. I have a six-year trauma: everywhere I go I hear 'six years.' Six years we didn't train. Six years they didn't do. I asked, 'Tell me, what happened six years ago?' Did someone think the IDF could be put on ice? That everything was OK? I think that since the withdrawal from Lebanon there was a theory that the threats around us had decreased. And there was also a gamble by leaders that 'it won't happen on my watch.' This raises very significant questions. Because all of them are accusing me. I tell them that before me there were generals in this office, so why wasn't everything ready and prepared in rows and columns? Maybe it's here that a civilian defense minister is more meaningful. Because in comparison to a former general, I am more fearful. And it's precisely a civilian defense minister with his fears who asks more questions. A former army person doesn't notice the erosion because he thinks he will always be able to improvise and come up with some sort of answer."
Who is responsible for the neglect: Ehud Barak? Ariel Sharon? Shaul Mofaz?
"Barak forged the first conception that the threats had diminished dramatically and therefore greater risks could be taken. The person who held the post most of the time afterward was Mofaz, both as chief of staff and as defense minister. Of course he should have been the one to issue warnings and demand that the erosion be stopped."
Was there a lapse in the ministry and in the defense establishment in the six years before you took office?
"There was irresponsibility, of course."
July 12, 2006. Where were you when the soldiers were abducted?
"Here, at this desk. There was a discussion about Gilad Shalit [the soldier abducted in Gaza] with the IDF chief of staff and senior officers. An initial report arrived at 9:15 A.M. We sent the chief of operations and the commander of the Air Force to check it out. The operations chief came back and said a 'levena' had been attacked. I asked what that is. Afterward there were cynical headlines about this: the defense minister doesn't know what a levena is. This is maybe a frivolous example, but it tells the whole story. Because the answer I get is a tank and a small armored vehicle. But afterward it turns out that two Hummers were hit. In other words, the people who live with military terminology don't ask questions, but the civilian asks questions that reveal things. The people in the system have no doubts, no questions. But I ask. Throughout the war, I was not afraid to ask."
You meet the chief of staff again about 1 P.M. What ensues?
"He tells me he has ready responses. He says he can darken Lebanon for a year. That he can cause Lebanon damage in the billions. He suggests attacking Beirut airport, but he also tells me the Air Force can hit the [long-range] Fajr missiles. I ask about this possibility and he explains it to me. I say that it makes more sense to attack the Fajrs than to attack infrastructure."
Did the question of the home front arise?
"I ask about our capability to silence firing at Haifa and Hadera."
Do you get an answer?
"The chief of staff talks about hitting a large portion of the intermediate and long-range missiles."
What about calling up the reserves?
"The chief of staff says he has issued a directive against a call-up."
Are you aware of the possibility of complications?
"I tell the chief of staff that we have to use logic and not fall into Hezbollah's trap. I say we have to think how to hit them with what we have and how we end the operation. It's clear that there is no expectation of returning the soldiers militarily, but I decide that there has to be a preemptive operation against the Fajr missiles that very day."
What did the IDF top brass say at the 3 P.M. meeting that day?
"There was quite an argument. The army wanted to hit the power stations in Lebanon and destroy them. I was against this. I said attacking the power stations would make the whole population of Lebanon rally around Hezbollah."
You rejected the army's proposal?
"I rejected the army's proposal and preferred an attack on the Fajrs. That is what I urged and that is what was authorized. I decided. The attack on the Fajrs was the most successful move of the war."
But that attack also meant war, and you and the others did not understand that.
"We defined a strategic goal. If we had achieved it after a first foray, there would have been no need to continue with the military actions. But when the strategic goal was not achieved, the necessity arose to examine what military operations could be executed."
On July 12, the head of the Mossad espionage agency, Meir Dagan, warns you that the actions proposed by the army will lead to a prolonged confrontation, with a high potential for attacks on the home front, and that after ten days you will find yourself in the same place. Others add similar warnings and say a ground operation will be needed. Did you internalize these assessments?
"Of course. Those voices are heard in the situation appraisal meetings. But the proposals to end the campaign are more acute. Some people suggested attacking Syria. I believed that it would be wrong to expand the confrontation."
Did you internalize the assessment by the Air Force commander that attacking the Fajrs would not solve the problem of the thousands of short-range rockets?
"My thinking was the exact opposite: that what Israel should prove to Hezbollah was that the fact that they were capable of firing rockets into Israel does not paralyze us. If we had not succeeded in shattering that psychological thesis, we would still be prisoners of Hezbollah. That was the strategic problem. Hezbollah knew it had Israel by the throat. They believed that no Israeli leadership would dare launch a confrontation that would result in Katyusha rockets being fired at the home front. We had to break that equation."
The Mossad chief suggested that we wait and first prepare the home front.
"If such comments were made, they were not made with the necessary determination. Maybe someone said that for the record. No one suggested that in the Group of Seven, either [the decision-making ministers in the war]. There was total agreement of all the participating ministers."
Did the chief of staff promise that the air campaign would be decisive and that ground forces would not be needed?
"I don't think it's right to use the term 'promise' here. It was clear to everyone that there was a narrow, limited diplomatic window of ten days to two weeks. It was clear that we had to use those two weeks to change the situation in Lebanon radically."
Was the IDF's integrated air-ground plan presented to you?
"The first part of it."
In other words, the army's message was that an air campaign would be enough?
"The army viewed the air campaign as the central instrument of decision, of that there is no doubt. The chief of staff led this thinking. If it had worked, he would have been praised to the skies. No one was eager to send in ground forces, especially not with the Lebanese trauma hanging over everyone's head. The truth has to be told: the trauma of the withdrawal from Lebanon hung over the heads of the security cabinet ministers and over the heads of some of the army chiefs. I hear now about all kinds of ministers who recommended a ground incursion. If there were such voices, they were very faint. Most of them repeated time and again their opposition to a broad ground operation. However, there were some who demanded that no forces be sent in but that the villages be leveled. To turn villages into soccer fields and sand. I blocked that. I said that I couldn't believe that anyone would dare imagine that we would erase villages from the face of the earth."
That was later. But on July 12 there was talk of the integrated plan, which called for ground forces to enter in three to four days and for the immediate call-up of three divisions of reserve units.
"I will say this cautiously: I pushed for the mobilization of reserves. Every such request was authorized by me. The army personnel did not ask for reservists to execute the integrated plan."
How did you sum up this major strategic discussion in your bureau?
"I suggested that we mount a combined attack on Lebanon and Hezbollah. I made it clear that we would not attack power stations. I said I viewed the long-range rockets as a strategic threat. I said that in every scenario they would fire at Haifa and Hadera. Another reason I preferred the attack on the rockets was to take Hezbollah by surprise, and also because of the possibility of reducing the damage to the home front. I held a first clarification with the Home Front commander about what was needed to protect the home front."
At 6 P.M. there is a meeting with Prime Minister Olmert. Does he acceot your approach?
"In that meeting the chief of staff again recommends attacking power stations and taking out a large part of the electricity supply in Lebanon. I propose an attack on the Fajr rockets. An argument ensues. I say that attacking power stations will end the confrontation with us in an inferior position. The prime minister decides to concentrate on the Hezbollah targets."
Again warnings were voiced about the consequences for the home front. Do you and Olmert take them onboard?
"I certainly do. And I also act. On the very first night I hold a special meeting about the home front. I ask if there is readiness and deployment in case missiles strike Haifa and Hadera. I am told that there is readiness, there are rules of behavior, there are answers for every contingency."
In that case, the system did not report the truth.
"The system reported that the capability existed to cope with a situation of firing on the home front."
Do you feel satisfied about your actions concerning the home front?
"From my perspective as a political leader, I held a discussion on the situation of the home front. I instructed the mapping of areas in which a special situation would be declared. On Friday I held a special, broad meeting with the police, the ambulance service, the firefighters and the local authorities. I received reports that everyone was prepared to meet the needs of the population."
The chief of staff told Shimon Peres, almost with contempt, that he thought three or four moves ahead. Didn't you identify in Dan Halutz an arrogance that wasn't backed up by deep, careful thought?
"I don't think there is room now to discuss the [former] chief of staff and the psychology he comes from. One of the distressing problems of this war is that it fits dramatically the notion that victory has many fathers but failure is an orphan. This war is an orphan. But in the first two weeks it was different. In the first two weeks, everyone tried to prove by DNA labs that he was the real father - It's amazing. A military analyst or a former general who said in the first two weeks that everything was excellent now says in the same [television] studio that from the start everything was wrong. It's beyond belief."
What about the cabinet meeting in which it was decided to attack after a hasty, superficial discussion, without alternatives being presented or implications being understood?
"There was a sense of emergency, of a succession of abductions that were about to change the approach across the entire region. That was the general feeling. Other than the Arabs, even the left-wingers in the most left-wing parties thought going to war was justified. Even if the meeting had gone on for another two hours and more ministers would have said what others had already said, it wouldn't have changed the decision, which reflected the universal feeling."
You yourself said Israel had to act without inhibitions or restrictions. Didn't you also let your hormones decide and not your good sense?
"No. I went into war with fear and trembling. I am not a gung-ho person, I do not believe in the aura of war. I believe in the aura of fighters, not of wars. But from my experience in Gaza I learned that if you don't respond to an event within 48 hours, you can no longer respond. You lose the legitimization. So it was clear to me that if we didn't decide on an immediate response, there would be no response. And there would be no change in the equation of threats between Israel and Hezbollah."
When did you realize that something had gone wrong, that the air campaign had run its course?
"About a week after the start of the campaign. I told army officers in a meeting that we are like a magnificent soccer team that is playing an unknown team and leading 3-0 at halftime, but if we start treading water in the second half and at the end of the game Cinderella scores a goal, the feeling will be that the unknowns won, even though the score is 3-1. I felt we were treading water. I understood that we had to decide either to stop and announce a unilateral ceasefire, or go to a broad ground operation."
The army flinched at this - they didn't want that?
Let me get this straight: a week after the start of the campaign, you realize that the air campaign has exhausted itself and favor a large-scale ground operation?
"I reached the conclusion about a ground operation a lot sooner than most of the ministers. I thought we needed that, not to define a ground goal or to capture the Litani [River] or anything like that. I defined a ground operation with the goal of locating the sources of the Katyusha rockets as the target we had to seize control of."
When did you speak to the prime minister about this?
"I think about a week after the start of the campaign."
And what did he say?
"He was against it."
So in the Olmert-Peretz-Halutz trio, you are the first to see the necessity of a ground operation?
And what did you do?
"On one occasion I urged that the subject come up in the security cabinet, and it was rejected."
Who supported you?
"Fuad [Benjamin Ben-Eliezer] and Rafi Eitan."
So for a week or two the defense minister supports a big ground operation, but is blocked by the prime minister and the chief of staff?
"The goal, as I saw it, was to get the residents of the North out of the bomb shelters. But the prime minister objected, and so did the security cabinet. The army was also against it. There were disagreements in the army, but the IDF position, as presented by the chief of staff, was to go all the way with the air campaign. He said there was no need to mobilize the reserves. It was only two weeks later that I persuaded everyone to call up the three divisions."
Are you satisfied with the final move of the war?
As the United Nations deliberations were ending, you and others are at the prime minister's residence and decide to launch a totally unnecessary military move. Wasn't it done for political reasons?
"Every sensible person understands that this is a decision with no glory. It is not a decision that brings victory fanfares. There was something else here. On Thursday we were told that the international community had backtracked completely from the agreements we had reached that whole month. The diplomatic situation started to spiral. We started from scratch. And there were forces in the field. Soldiers were lying in wait in Lebanon. Division commanders were already completely on edge because soldiers had been lying in wait for entire days."
Wasn't it right to stop late at night, when it was clear that the UN deliberations were done?
"No, because no one knew what Hezbollah's reaction would be. The Lebanese government also had to convene. In every war, the time between the cease-fire decision and when the decision takes effect is a time to improve positions. Always."
Don't you have pangs of conscience about that black Shabbat?
"I am perfectly satisfied with the decision."
And with the entire war?
"There was a dramatic achievement: to restore Lebanese sovereignty. To bring the Lebanese army back to the south after 30 years. It's true that in my assessment, if the fighting had gone on for another few days it's very possible that Hezbollah as an organization would have collapsed completely. But that is judgment in hindsight. There was no intelligence that Hezbollah was on the brink of collapse, and the army did not ask for another few days to make them collapse."
In the present circumstances, do you stand a chance in Labor's internal elections?
"What are you talking about? My chances are very good. We are told not to boast, but I definitely think I am going to win."
And after all that happened in the past year, do you still see yourself as a candidate for prime minister?
"Unequivocally. I don't think there is any reason to forgo that statement. It is a dramatic statement. Historic."
The drama is that a Moroccan from Sderot, a labor leader, is running for prime minister and in the end will be prime minister?
"The very fact that it is happening. That's the wisdom, to give the feeling that everything is possible. And that is only part of the struggle against the various ethnic demons. It is part of a social process that is hastening the breaking down of the barriers of what is permitted and what is forbidden to certain population groups and certain classes."
So you believe that those who didn't want you as defense minister will get you as prime minister?
"I believe that I symbolize the person who came via the simplest way with great faith and achieved what he did by very hard struggles. And I believe that in the end I will be judged by my personal norms and my way of life and how much I am ready to sacrifice for this country and how faithful I am to my way. I believe we are approaching a critical point where there will be a reversal, where a yearning will arise for leaders of a different kind. Of my kind."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Does South Africa support apartheid and genocide??

The Hamas favor apartheid and genocide according to their charter. An article in a Hamas newspaper explained that the Jews must be exterminated for the good of humanity. The South African government has broken the international boycott and extended an invitation to Palestinian PM Ismail Haniyeh.
Does South Africa support apartheid and genocide??
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 17:42 03/05/2007   
By The Associated Press

South Africa invited Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Thursday for an official visit, in what would be his first trip outside the Muslim world.
Haniyeh would like to meet with former South African President Nelson Mandela during the trip, according to Ahmed Yousef, Haniyeh's political adviser.
The invitation was issued by visiting South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils, who met with Haniyeh.
"We stand by you and support you," Kasrils said of the new Palestinian unity government, a coalition of Hamas and the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
"We in South Africa look forward to you being able to lead a delegation to our country," Kasrils told Haniyeh at a joint news conference. Haniyeh accepted the invitation, but no date was set for a trip.
Another government official from Hamas, Mohammed Madhoun, told a pro-Hamas news Web site that Haniyeh planned to visit South Africa as a part of a tour to Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey. Haniyeh may also informally visit Switzerland at the invitation of a civil society group, Madhoun said.
Kasrils demanded that the international community lift its aid embargo on the PA, imposed after Hamas came to power in elections last year and refused to accept international demands to recognize Israel, renounce violence, and abide by prior agreements.
The national unity government formed in March has also failed to meet the demands.
"The people of Palestine are facing a collective punishment by those who were not happy with the result of a democratic election," he said.
But Kasrils said "the South African government believed the government of Mr. Haniyeh and President Abbas have gone a long way to meeting those requirements as we understand them."
South Africa has been an early supporter of the new Palestinian government. But the South African official's comments drew Israeli criticism. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said inviting leaders of a movement still dedicated to Israel's destruction would entrench extremist positions.
Regev said the move gave legitimacy and recognition to an unreformed extremist Hamas leadership.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Rally against Olmert and Peretz: Will it be enough to get them to resign?

My guesstimate is that there were not enough people at this demonstration to produce the seismic wave that would bring a change in the government. Ha'aretz estimates "roughly 100,000," organizers estimate 200,000, and Jerusalem Post says 150,000. According to Jerusalem Post, that is the police estimate, according Ha'aretz, the police estimate is 100,000. 
From the Jerusalem Post:
Earlier Thursday, political sources told the Post that Olmert and his advisers believed that the prime minister could survive the months until the release of the final Winograd report and that their strategy was to implement the first report's recommendations "to the letter."

They said the "number one task" was to show that the recommendations were being implemented.

The sources said that they did not believe that when the final report was released, the committee would call on Olmert to quit. Even if it did, the sources added, the prime minister and his associates would be able to counter the demand by saying they were in the midst of carrying out all of the recommendations.  

By the time the report is released, it will be August. If some of the experts are right, Olmert and Peretz will be in the middle of a much bigger war, with Syria. Think about it.
From Ha'aretz:

By Barak Ravid, Roni Singer-Heruti and Nir Hasson, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and Agencies

More than 100,000 people rallied in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Thursday, in the first national protest calling on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz to resign over the damning Winograd report on the Second Lebanon War.

While police would only say the number of protestors was over 100,000, the rally's organizers said closer to 200,000 were in attendance. A banner reading "Failures, Go Home!" hung behind a podium set up at one end of the square in front of Tel Aviv city hall.

"Ehud Olmert, you said you work for us. Olmert, you are fired!" said the evening's keynote speaker, author Meir Shalev. "Amir Peretz - you said [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah will never forget your name. Neither will we."

"Olmert and Peretz, we have received authorization that both of you came to power in the wrong positions," he continued. "You can't handle the position, you failed, go home."

Despite the fact that the rally organizers had made great efforts to include protestors from a wide political spectrum, Shalev overstepped the bounds of the rally's consensus, and was booed by many of the demonstrators.

"Not only do you not know how to make war, but also peace," he said. "The war you embarked on was not the first stupidity, but thanks to it, we have understood what has happened after 40 years of occupation. This is the result, go home, goodbye and good riddance."

Rally organizer Uzi Dayan, who is chairman of the Tafnit movement and a retired senior general, also addressed the crowd, saying: "Democracy has emerged victorious."

"The Winograd Committee that the prime minister established has courageously stood up to him and said clearly - Mr. Olmert, you failed," said Dayan.

"The prime minister is refusing to accept personal responsibility and resign, and is therefore undermining the foundations of democracy," Dayan continued. "Olmert, don't stall for time, don't delay the end until the summer, do the right thing and go home."

"I came to protest against the government for not doing anything," said Tal Geva, a student at Sderot's Sapir College and a resident of the borderline community of Ein Habesor. "For not implementing the Winograd conclusions, for not taking care of Sderot and other Gaza-area residents properly, for not providing us with reinforced buildings, and for sending us to reserve duty and then not taking care of us."

"We're here to tell Olmert ... to go," protestor Yigal Armoni said at the demonstration. "He's on the edge of a cliff. All he needs is a small push, but tonight we'll give him a big one."

Olmert adviser Tal Zilberstein shrugged off the rally, saying it would not prompt the prime minister to rethink his decision not to resign.

Some political demonstrations in the past have attracted hundreds of thousands of protesters, and the size of this one was seen as a critical sign of the extent of public anger.

The organizers of the mass demonstration decided Wednesday that politicians would not speak at the rally, but bereaved families, artists, and intelligentsia would speak instead.

The rally's organizers said their decision to hold the protest without politicians was made because they wanted to attract as many people as possible. However, they called on all politicians interested to come and protest, even if they do not speak.

"This is an exceptional opportunity to bring the Israeli democracy back to its natural place, and this is in the city's square," Dayan said Wednesday.

"Citizens from all over the political spectrum and the country will come to Rabin Square. This is the time when the public will sound its voice loud and clear and send the failures home."

The office of Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said Netanyahu was less likely to attend the rally now that it is clear that he will not be among the speakers at the event.

The event is hosted by Osnat Vishinsky, bereaved mother of Lior, who died in an armored vehicle explosion on the Philadelphi route in 2004.

Artists such as Aviv Gefen, Subliminal, Gilad Segev, Shay Gabso, and Nimrod Lev were expected to perform songs related to the Second Lebanon War.

Yakir Aviv, chairman of the Hebrew University Students' Union, Roni Tzigenbaum, representing the IDF reserves, and Ariela Goldman, mother of Noam Goldman who was killed in the Second Lebanon War, were all expected to speak. The writer Meir Shalev and the poet Chaim Guri will also speak at the protest.

Representatives from movements across the political spectrum attended the rally, including the representatives of both the Yesha Settlement Council and the Meretz party.

Though politicians were intentionally not invited to speak at the rally, several politicians attended the event. Labor MKs Ami Ayalon, Ophir Pines-Paz and Danny Yatom, three of the candidates for leadership of the party, were present. Also from Labor, MK Avishai Braverman attended the rally.

However, conspicuously missing from the event was former prime minister Ehud Barak, who will also vie for leadership of the Labor party during the upcoming primaries. Barak is the last remaining candidate that has not yet expressed any views regarding the Winograd report.

MKs from Likud, the National Religious Party, the National Union party and Meretz also attended the demonstration.

Tel Aviv University students also joined the crowd at the really, and several small groups marched from Haifa, Sderot and Jerusalem to participate in the rally.

Continued (Permanent Link)

The One State Final Solution to the Judenfrage - is it a serious subject for debate??

Dan Fleshler (Realistic Dove) is doing a fine job trying to defend Zionism against extreme leftists. It is a worthy attempt, and Dan has interesting things to say, but sometimes it is easy to get caught up in assuming the correctness or legitimacy of the arguments of the other side, when that is not warranted, and this can lead to an ideological and moral dead end.

Here, for example, he has entered the debate over the so called "one state solution" using Uri Avnery's article to bolster his case. But Avnery himself accepts some unacceptable allegations as a starting point.

Once you have accepted the outrageous idea that Jews have no national rights in Palestine, that is, the illegitimacy of Zionism, as Avnery has done, your arguments must be based on compromise, or on vindicating the idea that "might makes right." This is an untenable moral stance. Along with this, Avnery accepts the historical distortions of Ilan Pappe, and takes for granted that they are right. If these are Fleshler's "Zionist" arguments, we do not need any anti-Zionist ones.

Avnery wrote, and Realistic Dove quoted:

There is no doubt that the real disease is not the 40-year long occupation. The occupation is a symptom of a more profound disease, which is connected with the official ideology of the state. The aim of ethnic cleansing and the establishment of a Jewish State from the sea to the river is dear to the hearts of many Israelis, and perhaps Rabbi Meir Kahane was right when he asserted that this is everybody's unspoken desire.

The above is a pack of lies without foundation. The "real disease" is contained in people who spread such falsehoods. The official ideology of Zionism never aimed for "ethnic cleansing" nor for establishment of "a Jewish State from the sea to the river," but only for establishment of a Jewish national home in the land of Israel (somewhere in the land of Israel) secured in international law. Weizmann, Ben Gurion and others held out the hand of security and cooperation to the Arabs of Palestine, even though many were convinced it would not be accepted. Herzl envisioned his Jewish state as a multicultural pluralistic democracy, as he tried to bring to life in his novel, Altneuland (you can read the entire book on line and see for yourself that the above is a pack of lies).

It is hard to understand how a Zionist can legitimize statements such as the above. Kahane and his friends constitute a small and shameful minority who were never part of the Zionist majority. Avnery knows it is so. He knows that the War of Independence had to be fought because it was imposed on us, and that as it was a civil war, it was a war of "us or them." He wrote this in the introduction to his book, "Samson's Foxes" when it was reissued. He fought in that war on the side of the Zionists, whom he now disowns.

The only side that adopted "Ethnic Cleansing" as its official ideology was the Arabs of Palestine. They were led by the Grand Mufti Hajj Amin Al Husseini , a Nazi, who told the British that his solution for the "Jewish problem" in Palestine was the same as the one adopted in Europe, that is, annihilation. He intended to build a death camp near Nablus in order to carry out his "solution." This was the one state solution that he advocated. At various times, the Arabs of Palestine and their Arab allies took steps to implement this solution. The The Ethnic Cleansing of Jerusalem in 1948 was a harbinger of what the "one state solution" advocated by the Arab League and the Mufti had in store for the Jews.

The "Secular Democratic State" program of the PLO (circa 1968) was not much better. It advocated "emigration" of all Jews who arrived after 1917. The rest would in theory be given "equal rights" in a "secular democratic state." Of course, there is no such state in the Middle East, and there could not be such a state today. Perhaps in 500 years it would be possible.

The Mufti is dead, but his repugnant ideology lives on in the Hamas. A Hamas ideologue explained the humanitarian and altruistic nature of the Hamas program: murdering Jews benefits the people of the world:

There is no other choice but to use restraint regarding the condemnation, the attaching of the label of terror [to "resistance"], and the assembling of conferences [for] condemnation [of the attacks]. [This] so that everyone will know, that we did this only because our lord commanded so, "I did it not of my own accord" [*] and so that people will know that the extermination of Jews is good for the inhabitants of the worlds on a land, to which Allah gave his blessing for the sake of the inhabitants of the worlds. [Emphasis added]

That is the real essential ideology of the "One State Solution" and those who subscribe to it are supporting genocide. If you like murdering Jews, you will love the one state solution. In one interpretation, the Jews will lose the right to self determination, but Israel will be just another country where Jews can live, perhaps like America, or more likely like pre-war Poland or Germany - an uncertain home. Even that is unlikely. In a more likely one state scenario, Jews would have to live as second class citizens in an Arab state that would be like Egypt or Syria. It is not likely that many Jews would remain in Israel even if they were not expelled. In the event that Hamas or a similar movement controls the state, the Jews would be murdered, because that is the commandment of Allah, according to them, and it benefits the world.

We should not have to explain to anyone why genocide is wrong, whether it is physically murdering a people, as threatened above, or denying the Jews the right to self self-determination. People who advocate this solution knowing and understanding the consequences, are accomplices in consipiracy to commit genocide. Others who go along with unwittingly it are their dupes.

Avnery's conclusion, which Realistic Dove seems to support, is that while Zionism is evil and the Jews really have no national rights at all in Israel, it is just a bad idea:

But beneath the surface, in the depths of national consciousness, we are succeeding. The question is how to turn the hidden success into an open political fact. In other words: how to change the policy of the Israeli government.

The idea of the "One-State Solution" will harm this effort very much..

It. diverts the effort from a solution that has now, after many years, a broad public basis, in favor of a solution that has no chance at all.

There is no doubt that 99.99% of Jewish Israelis want the State of Israel to exist as a state with a robust Jewish majority, whatever its borders.

The belief that a world-wide boycott could change this is a complete illusion. Immediately after his lecture, my colleague Adam Keller asked the professor a simple question: "The entire world has imposed a blockade on the Palestinian people. But in spite of the terrible misery of the Palestinians, they have not been brought to their knees. Why do you think that a boycott would break the Israeli public, which is far stronger economically, so that they would give up the Jewish character of the state?" (There was no answer.)

Avnery's objection to the plan for destroying Jewish self determination is not that it is wicked and opposed to international law, and that it will probably result in mass murder. Rather, his only objection is that it has no chance of succeeding. In his book, murder would be OK if you could get away with it. Avnery has set himself up to be the O.J. Simpson of anti-Zionist ideology.

The real reason that Jews and Arab Palestinians must support a two state solution, is that the world recognizes the right of national self determination as Jus Cogens, a right that is "powerful" and takes precedence over all other rights. It is enshrined in the UN charter and in international law. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article I, Part I, opens the convention with the following declaration:

1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

That is international law. Anyone who opposes a Jewish state or a Palestinian state, if that is the will of those peoples, is opposed to international law.

We Jews cannot deny to the Arab Palestinians what we demand for ourselves, and the Arabs of Palestine cannot deny to us what they assert for themselves. The reason that the One State "solution," whether it is Kahane's or Pappe's is wrong, is that it automatically denies the legal and moral principle on which it purports to be based, because it denies the same right to the other side. It doesn't matter if it is "good for the Jewish Palestinians" or "Bad for the Arab Palestinians" by some cynical pragmatic calculus of "what can we get away with?"

Uri Avnery and Ilan Pappe and to Dan Fleshler must understand that we Zionists believe we are here by right, and not on sufferance. This right is anchored in international law, and is justified both by recent history and past history. We created a viable state out of some inchoate dominions that were the armpit of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. "Palestine" as a viable entity would not exist without the construction of the Zionists. The Jews are the only people who ever established sovereign domain over this territory in all of history.

When Mr Arafat's father was living in Egypt, my grandmothers were born in Jerusalem, and when Izz-e-din el Qassam was a boy in Syria, my mother was born in Hebron, and they became "Palestinians" when British rule became a fact in this area. They were more Palestinian than Mr. Arafat or Mr el Qassam.

By what right does Avnery or Pappe or Fleshler deny to me and to other Israelis the right to live as free people in the land that we built, and that our ancestors built? The evidence of the national ties of the Jews to this land in history is overwhelming. Every objective person, except some Arab propagandists, admit that the Jews were once a sovereign nation in this land, and that we are the only living heirs of the ancient Jewish people. The culture tie of the Jews to the land over 2,000 years is disputed only by degenerate malefactors, the sort of people who accept the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as factual. Those "liberals" (allies of the Mufti and David Duke) who oppose Zionism, claim that they are opposed to imperialism and racism. Yet they insist that the Arab imperialist conquest of the land, and the Ottoman Turkish imperialist racist conquest of the land, and the racist apartheid regime imposed by them, entirely annul the historic rights of the Jewish people to the land! Why? Because the apartheid regime of the Ottomans and the local Arabs prevented Jews from settling here in large numbers for most of Ottoman rule, and made it difficult for Jews to buy land. Therefore, the Arabs of "Palestine" - an entity that did not exist before 1917, remained a majority, a status that was enforced by racist apartheid laws of immigration and settlement.

The vicissitudes of history have established another people in this land as well, the Arabs of Palestine. The rise of Jewish nationalism was met by the parallel rise of Arab nationalism. Whether it is right or wrong in the cosmic conception of justice, the Jewish people cannot claim exclusive rights over the land. In the kingdom of heaven, there might be different laws and different justice. On Earth, we must accept the law of nations. The world recognizes the rights of the Arabs of Palestine to a state of their own, and we Jews must accept that as well as we accept international law. But at the same time, we can demand of the Arabs of Palestine, and of Mr. Pappe and Mr Avnery, that they too must accept international law, even if they exclude themselves from the Jewish nation.

Ami Isseroff

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Israeli Real Estate Boom - fueled by part time Zionists?

The question is, if these foreigners are just making a good investment, if they intend to live here, or if they intend to be "part time Zionists."
The Yoo building project of luxury apartments is seen in Tel Aviv as the sun sets, April 27.
TEL AVIV (JTA) – Under the shadow of cranes, steel beams and gleaming reflective glass, a forest of high-rise buildings seems to be taking over the Tel Aviv horizon – part of a nationwide building boom that Israelis and Diaspora Jews are buying into.

"The first time I was here was in 1983, and Tel Aviv has gone through a huge transformation from then to now," said Howard Glatzer, who runs a real estate fund that invests in New York City properties. "As a Jew from New York who is very accustomed to seeing high-rises everywhere, I think it's fantastic, it shows the vitality of Israel, and that's great."

Glatzer took in the sight of shimmering new towers and construction during a tour of Jaffa, the southern part of Tel Aviv, with a group of other New York real estate developers who were visiting last week as part of the 90th anniversary mission of the UJA-Federation of New York.

With increasing disposable income and a desire to live either part-time or eventually full-time in Israel, Jews from abroad -- especially the United States, England and France -- are finding a home in the Jewish state's real estate landscape.

In 2002, foreign buyers invested $192 million in Israeli real estate Just four years later the number had soared to $1.43 billion, according to the Bank of Israel.

"Israel is becoming one of the players in commercial and real estate markets," said Hillel Suna, general manager of the Jerusalem branch of the Bank of Jerusalem, one of the country's largest mortgage banks for foreign residents. "There are two main groups here -- individual investors buying several apartments and the big money people on the commercial side looking at Israel as a potential real estate commercial center."

Even Donald Trump wants in: He has plans to build a 70-story residential and office tower in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan. Leading international architects Philippe Stack and Richard Meier both have high-rise projects under construction in Tel Aviv.

"It reminds me of China," said Andy Singer, whose company, the Singer and Bassuk Organization, finances major Manhattan and other U.S. building projects. "The big joke in China is that the national bird is the crane. I think in many ways that is probably true of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem."

"I think it's a sign that people who have money to invest have the courage, enthusiasm and high regard for Israel and its ability to get past the continuing troubles with the Palestinians. These are assets you cannot move," said Singer, who was on the UJA-Federation mission.

Those buying in Jerusalem tend to be religious Jews, while those in Tel Aviv and surrounding areas usually are more secular. The French, who tend to seek out property as close as possible to the sea, have flocked especially to beachside cities like Netanya, Ashdod and Ashkelon.

Shana Novick, a New Yorker who bought a two-bedroom apartment with her husband on the edge of Jerusalem's Katmon neighborhood, said she is thrilled about having a second home in Israel.

The Novicks rent it out to American rabbinical students and try to spend summers here themselves.

"It's just wonderful having a home in Jerusalem; I cannot say how much pleasure it gives us," she said. "This is a home, we furnished it with a great deal of love, we entertain there.

"We never bought a summer house in the States, and now we joke it's our country house. It just takes a long time to get there."

Foreign ownership in the central neighborhoods of Jerusalem has changed the face of the city. In some areas, English is heard more than Hebrew.

With many of the American Jews who buy in Israel coming only for holidays, their apartments often stand empty, creating a ghost-town feel in some projects and areas.

Foreign sales accounted for about 25 percent of recent purchases in central Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Rehavia and Katamon, and in the Jewish quarter of the Old City, said Davyd Tal, who owns the Jerusalem Homes agency and specializes in foreign clients.

"The sellers are usually Israeli and not religious, and they are moving out of Jerusalem," Tal said. "Jerusalem is losing its secular population, which is going to suburbs such as Modi'in and Mevasseret Zion. Young, secular couples cannot afford to buy in Jerusalem anymore. They are basically being priced out."

The Jerusalem market is becoming pricey even for foreigners, who as a result increasingly are seeking outlying neighborhoods.

Beyond reasons of Zionism or family ties to Israel, European buyers are seen to be driven by fears of rising anti-Semitism at home, observers say.

English Jews have more buying power right now because the pound is rising against the dollar. But they're also being prodded by fear, Suna notes.

"There is a general feeling of discomfort, with the signs of the beginning of anti-Semitism," he said.

Uri Amitzur, an architect and developer who specializes in restoring historic buildings, showed members of the New York mission around. He said Jaffa, a mixed Arab-Jewish area with older buildings, was drawing foreign interest because of its proximity to the sea and prices that were lower relatively than in other parts of Tel Aviv.

Amitzur recently sold a large, restored building to a French buyer. Buildings from the early 20th century fill Jaffa's narrow streets, while closer to central Tel Aviv, Bauhaus buildings from the 1930s are in demand.

"Prices are soaring into the sky," Amitzur said. "But people understand that although it's a large investment to buy a restored building, it's considered a luxury address and looks incredible."

On leafy Rothschild Boulevard, one of the first streets built in Tel Aviv, Bauhaus buildings and sleek new high-rises have become premium real estate Properties there have risen in value by 40 percent in the past two years, Ha'aretz reported.

A luxury apartment in a new high-rise on Rothschild Boulevard reportedly is going for $1.7 million. Apartments in renovated Bauhaus or other buildings marked for preservation sell for $4,000 to $5,000 per square meter.

Prices can be even more expensive in prime areas of Jerusalem, such as neighborhoods in the city center or within walking distance of the Western Wall.

Investors and sellers are getting huge sums, said Tal, the Jerusalem real estate broker.

"They are asking any price, and getting it," he said.

Prices for apartments in more luxury projects in the city, such as the King David Residence or Arov Mamilla, are selling for about $10,000 per square meter, he said.

Lyle Plocher, a Phoenix-based real estate broker, became so intrigued with the idea of helping buyers purchase property in Israel that he created a Web site that allows people to buy even from afar. The site, Buy Property in Israel,, provides tips and information to potential buyers abroad and connects them with real estate agents in Israel.

Among the help options offered is information on the buying process, including mortgages and various costs and commissions.

Plocher has been encouraged by the number of visitors to the site.

"It's something that's the desire in most people's Jewish hearts -- to own property in Israel," he said.

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Hamas: A Humanitarian and altruistic organization and their plan to benefit humanity

It is nice to know that Hamas are thinking of the good of humanity..

Hamas: "The extermination of the Jews is good for the inhabitants of the worlds."

by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook

The extermination of Jews is Allah's will and is for the benefit of all humanity, according to an article in the Hamas paper, Al-Risalah. The author of the article, Kan'an Ubayd, explains that the suicide operations carried out by Hamas are being committed solely to fulfill Allah's wishes. Furthermore, Allah demanded this action, because "the extermination of the Jews is good for the inhabitants of the worlds."

The killing of innocent Jews by terrorist attacks is portrayed as Allah's plan for the benefit of humanity.

It should be noted that Hamas's justification for the extermination of Jews, both as God's will and for the benefit of humanity, echoes Hitler's words in Mein Kampf:

"In this case the only salvation remaining was war… If the Jew with the help of his Marxist creed is victorious over the peoples of this world, then his crown will be the funeral wreath of humanity… Thus I believe today that I am acting according to the will of the almighty Creator: when I defend myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord." (Mein Kampf)

In another parallel to the Nazi genocide of Jews, the writer says he wants to be sure that "everyone will know" that these murderous actions are "not of [Hamas's] own accord" – an echo of the Nazi war criminals' repeated justification of their actions with the defense that they were only following orders.

The fact that these orders are said to be divine in nature makes Hamas's justification for the murder of Jews even more ominous.

Following is the excerpt from the Hamas article:

"We find more than once condemnation and denunciation to the resistance operations and bombings [suicide attacks], carried out by Hamas and the Palestinian resistance branches. There is no other choice but to use restraint regarding the condemnation, the attaching of the label of terror [to "resistance"], and the assembling of conferences [for] condemnation [of the attacks]. [This] so that everyone will know, that we did this only because our lord commanded so, "I did it not of my own accord" [*] and so that people will know that the extermination of Jews is good for the inhabitants of the worlds on a land, to which Allah gave his blessing for the sake of the inhabitants of the worlds."
[Al-Risalah, April 23, 2007]

Continued (Permanent Link)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The untold story of the Amazigh (what's that, you ask?)

What is an "Amazigh"?
Most Westerners are unaware that the countries of Maghreb (north Africa) are not really "Arab" countries, but rather countries with a large Amazigh minority - or in some cases a majority, that has been conquered and suppressed by the Arabs. This sort of cultural oppression is defined as genocide by the UN. Those peoples, who were there since ancient times, the descendants of Carthaginians and others, had their own culture and language, that they have managed to retain despite the efforts of Arab conquerors for over a millenium.
You may know the Amazigh as "Berbers" - a disparaging name given them by foreigners.
A forgotten struggle of a forgotten people:
These words of an Amazigh leader (Belkacem Lounes) are directed at Muamar Ghaddafi of Libya, but they could just as well be directed at the Moroccan or Tunisian or Algerian governments:
"What Worse Offense to Elementary Rights is There Than Denying The Existence Of a People?"
"... I waited until April to respond to your speech, since it is during this month that the Amazigh people celebrates every year... a great moment in its history, known as the 'Tafsut Imazighen' ('Amazigh Spring').(3) For us, this is a celebration of our memory, of our spirit of resistance to all forms of imperialism, and of our love of liberty...
"The people of whom you spoke [in your speech] are women, men, and children who speak their Amazigh language daily. They are women, men, and children who live every day their Amazigh identity, which your words injured. What worse offense to elementary rights is there than denying the existence of a people?..."
"It is Difficult to Imagine That You Are Unaware of... 30 Million Amazigh Speakers" In North Africa
"You claim that Amazigh civilization disappeared due to 'a century of drought in North Africa'... It is difficult to imagine that you are unaware of the existence of 30 million Amazigh-speakers living today in all of the countries of Tamazgha [i.e. North Africa]...
"You let it be understood that the Amazigh are supposedly an invention of colonialism! What colonialism is capable of creating a people ex nihilo, with its language and traditions that go back several thousand years? How could colonialism have done this – given that when the first foreigner arrived on North African soil, he found that the Amazigh had already been there for a long time?...
"How to explain these contradictions and the brutal return to this desire to negate a tangible history and reality? You even denied the evidence, when you assured us that the Amazigh problem did not exist in Libya. But... the Libyan Amazigh, like Amazigh elsewhere, face ostracism, exclusion, and discrimination of all kinds..."
Even the Muslim religion has been put into the service of these projects of Arabization and domination. The Amazigh queen Dihya was the first, 14 centuries ago, to have understood this colonial strategy - which is why she declared to the Arabs who came to attack her kingdom: 'You say that you are carrying a divine message? Fine then, leave it here, and return whence you came'...
Suddenly it becomes clear, who is a racist imperialist and colonialist in this part of the world.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Another failure of the Israel government: Hizbullah won propaganda war

A Harvard study concludes that Hizbullah won propaganda war . Actually we knew that without this report, just as we knew that Olmert and Peretz and Halutz were incompetent without the Winograd commission, but the Harvard imprimatura makes it official. It is just another facet of the incompetence of the Israeli government and of Israeli society.  This remark is telling:
Israel "succumbed to the public pressures of live 24/7 coverage. They couldn't keep a secret." Hizbullah however "controlled its message with an iron grip. It had one spokesman and no leaks," and could "always count on Arab reporters to blast Israel for its 'disproportionate' military attacks against Lebanon," they said.
In 1967 (the dark ages for some of you) there were television reporters and press lines. All morning on June 5 Israel radio kept repeating the same terse announcement and Moshe Dayan's little speech "We are a small but brave nation. We shall overcome them." He did not say "Nasser will remember the name of Moshe Dayan," but Nasser never forgot it. Nobody said anything about the victories. Nobody who knew, and some of us did, called relatives to tell them. Not only the government, but an entire nation kept silent.
Surely there must have been some hysterical people in 1967 and in 1991, during the SCUD attacks. There are always hysterical people in any situation - in weddings and funerals and of course, in wars. Could anyone imagine that the Israel Broadcasting Service would interview these hysterical people and show them over and over as an example to the Israeli public? That is what Israeli media did in this war.
Alas, that was not the biggest problem revealed in the war. Worrying about Israel's media failure is secondary.
A nice Jewish girl from Coney Island, we'll call her Sarah, sneaks out to eat with her boyfriend at an Italian restaurant. In the middle of the antipasto, four goombahs with tommy guns come charging in and bump off every male, including her boyfriend, the waiters and Don Corleone. The police find our Soraleh shaking and crying, "Gevalt! It's horrible."  
"We understand you went through a terrible experience, with all those people dying around you."
"What do you understand? It's not that. I can take death. But what will my mother say when she finds out I ate in a nonkosher restaurant?!"
In the twenty-first century, people assume that media are reality, in Orwellian 1984 fashion. They confuse between reality and television, like Ronald Reagan is said to have been confused between reality and his old movies in the later years of his presidency.
The existential problem was not what people thought of the war in New York or London. The existential problem was that rockets were falling unimpeded on our cities, and our government was incompetent to stop them or to defend our citizens. This revealed a weakness that could be fatal if Israel has to fight a real war against a real army.
Ami Isseroff
From the Jerusalem Post:

Hizbullah won the Second Lebanon War by achieving a propaganda victory over Israel, a Harvard University study has concluded. Aided and abetted by a compliant and credulous press, Hizbullah achieved victory by convincing the world that Israel was the aggressor and that Israel's retaliatory offensive was a "disproportionate" response to the kidnapping and killing of its soldiers.

Israel's defeat came not at the hands of Hizbullah, however, but through the internal contradictions of being the region's sole functioning democracy in the Internet age.
"An open society, Israel, is victimized by its own openness," Marvin Kalb and Dr. Carol Saivetz of the Shorenstein Center of Harvard University concluded in their research paper, "The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006: The Media as a Weapon in Asymmetrical Conflict."

"A closed sect, Hizbullah, can retain almost total control of the daily message of journalism and propaganda," manipulating its image to the world, the February 28 paper found.
"In strictly military terms, Israel did not lose to Hizbullah in this war, but it clearly did not win. In the war of information, news and propaganda, the battlefield central to Hizbullah's strategy, Israel lost this war," Kalb and Saivetz concluded.
Hizbullah was able to exploit skillfully the technological innovations wrought by the internet and the demands of the 24/7 news cycle, and constructed the narrative story line for the "first really 'live' war in history" where "the camera and the computer" were "weapons of war," they argued.

For Hizbullah, the Second Lebanon War was a "crucial battle in a broader, ongoing war, linking religious fundamentalism to Arab nationalism." Its chosen field of battle was the media and its strategic aim was to win the hearts and minds of the Arab world.

Citing US and Australian military experts, Kalb and Saivetz stated Hizbullah believed the "historic struggle between Western modernity and Islamic fundamentalism will ultimately be resolved" on the "information battlefield." Hizbullah's media strategy was crafted to achieve this end, they said.

In the Second Lebanon War, Hizbullah limited access to Western reporters, "orchestrated" events and manipulated journalists with threats of expulsion if they violated its reporting rules. And the press largely complied with the restrictions that were "reminiscent of the Soviet era," Kalb and Saivetz found.
In one example cited by the paper, on a tour of a Shi'ite neighborhood of Beirut damaged by IAF air strikes, Hizbullah warned reporters not to "wander off on their own or speak to residents" and to photograph only approved sights. If the press violated these rules, "cameras would be confiscated, film or tape destroyed, and offending reporters would never be allowed access to Hizbullah officials or Hizbullah-controlled areas."
"At one point, apparently on cue, a Hizbullah minder signaled for ambulances to rev up their engines, set off their sirens and drive noisily down the street. The scene was orchestrated, designed to provide a photo op, and reporters went along for the ride."
"So far as we know" Kalb and Saivetz stated, all of the reporters on the tour only CNN's Anderson
Cooper reported on the "attempt to create and control a story." The rest of the press "followed the Hizbullah script."
On the Israeli side, "where officials made a clumsy effort to control and contain the coverage but essentially failed," the press quickly gained unfettered access to the battlefield.
"Network anchors, representing cable TV operations from Al Jazeera to Fox, set up their cameras along the Israeli-Lebanese border, like birds on a clothes line, one next to another, so they could do live and frequent reports from the battlefield," the paper stated.
Were Israel to tighten press restrictions, modern technology and the open democratic nature of Israeli society would make it almost impossible for the government to enforce its rules. "In an open society, ground rules may be announced, but they will not likely be observed or enforced," the authors said.
Studies of the coverage of the war in the Arabic-language press found an unrelenting bias against Israel that played to the "prejudice of its readers, who felt sympathy for their Arab brethren under Israeli fire," the paper found.
A viewer of the Arabic-language news channels, Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya would conclude Israel had been the aggressor in the war and that its military actions were "disproportionate". In 214 stories, the Dubai based Al-Arabiya referred to Israel as the "aggressor" 94 percent of the time, while Al-Jazeera's 83 stories painted Israel as the aggressor in 78% of the time.
"All of these stories, showing pictures of Israeli attacks against Lebanese targets were presented as examples of disproportionality" to the Arab world, Kalb and Saivetz noted.

The Arabic language press also played upon "traditional Arab feelings of 'victimization'," with Al-Arabiya stressing "Lebanese victimization" in 95% of its stories," while Al-Jazeera "hit this theme" in 70% of its broadcasts. "Coincidently," Germany's "four top television programs" also stressed the theme of Lebanese victimization in 70% of its broadcasts, they noted.

"In other words," Kalb and Saivetz stated, "the viewer could not escape the belief that Israel was the aggressor and the Lebanese were its victims."

The English-language press was less partisan, the authors reported. Of the BBC's 117 stories, 38% "fingered Israel as the aggressor, four percent fingered Hizbullah." The BBC "then said that both Israel and Hizbullah were equally to blame."

"If you were watching American television, you would quickly have concluded that Fox cable news favored Israel, CNN tried to be balanced, and the three major evening news programs on ABC, CBS and NBC were more critical of Israel than of Hizbullah," Kalb and Saivetz wrote.

"Negative-sounding judgments of Israel's attacks and counter-attacks permeated most [US] network coverage, except on Fox, where the coverage of Hizbullah's activities was decidedly negative."
The front pages of the New York Times and Washington Post portrayed Israel as the aggressor "nearly twice as often in the headlines and exactly three times as often in the photos," Kalb and Saivetz said.

The Second Lebanon War "was a live war, in which the information battlefield played a central role. Here the Israelis suffered from the openness of their democratic society," Kalb and Saivetz
Israel "succumbed to the public pressures of live 24/7 coverage. They couldn't keep a secret." Hizbullah however "controlled its message with an iron grip. It had one spokesman and no leaks," and could "always count on Arab reporters to blast Israel for its 'disproportionate' military attacks against Lebanon," they said.
The implications of Hizbullah's media victory upon journalism were chilling, as "the challenge for responsible journalists covering asymmetrical warfare" between an open society and a secretive "state within a state", "especially in this age of the Internet, is new, awesome and frightening," Kalb and Saivetz warned.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Fatah: Hamas rocketings are due to internal Palestinian squabbles

The rockets fired on Sderot are attributed to the "desperation" of the Palestinians owing to the oppresive "occupation" of the Zionist warmongers. But apparently, the truth is that they are just the result of internal power struggles between Fatah and Abbas. From
[Jamal] Nazzal [Fatah spokesmam] said that his movement understands that the launching of projectiles by Hamas operatives during Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' visit to Italy was in retaliation for the delay of the PLO reform talks. He warned that the projectile-launching and the breaking of the truce by Hamas, especially in the Gaza Strip, might increase if Hamas does not receive "its share of the PLO cake."

Nazzal also said that he considers the projectile-launching as "a rung in the ladder which Hamas is stepping down from the Mecca deal." Nazzal added that the projectiles were an obstacle for Abbas during his visit to Europe. "Abbas explained in his tour that Fatah and Hamas rely on the national accord, in which they agreed that the resistance will be within the territories occupied in the 1967 war, and to respect the agreements signed with Israel," he recalled.
The report also tells us that Hamas is threatening to withraw from the government if it doesn't get to run the PLO, and is using the rockets as leverage.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Winograd report did not change public opinion - we still want Olmert to quit

Israelis don't know exactly what they want, but they want Olmert out. The fact that results didnt change following the Winograd report is not surprising. It told us nothing we did not know.
Last update - 05:55 02/05/2007

A poll taken Tuesday, 24 hours after the release of the Winograd report, shows that 40 percent of those asked favor elections, especially on the right wing.

The poll found that between 10 and 17 percent of respondents prefer that the current Knesset - only 14 months old - continue in office, and that the government be changed and headed by Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Vice Premier Shimon Peres or Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Nine percent support the existing government in the poll, conducted by Haaretz-Dialog and directed by Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University's statistics department.

The results concerning Prime Minister Ehud Olmert are particularly interesting: Sixty-eight percent want him to resign, an almost identical percentage that appeared in previous polls on this question. In this sense, the major shock of the Winograd report has not left its mark on the people.

Those who believed six months ago that Olmert should resign still think so. In the current poll, 23 percent want him to stay to "fix the defects."

Regarding Defense Minister Amir Peretz, 85 percent want him to resign and only 9 percent want him to remain in office. Peretz's situation is desperate among voters in his own Labor Party as well: 81 percent want him out. In contrast, Olmert has a relatively low percentage of opponents in his Kadima Party - 58 percent want him to resign.

Knesset seats

In the regular poll Haaretz-Dialog conducts every two months on the number of seats each party would receive if elections were held now, Kadima actually gained two seats over the 12 the previous poll gave it. Likud continues to lead, with 30 seats, and Labor has 21, with no real change for the rest of the parties.

Because the feeling in the Knesset is that Olmert will not hold his present post for long, the poll sought to check who the public believes is the most worthy candidate to replace him. On a scale of 1 to 10, those polled placed Netanyahu in the lead with 5.27, although he is the only right-wing leader presented, while respondents on the left had four candidates to choose from.  [Why wasn't Avigdor Lieberman in the list?]

Tzipi Livni is second at 5.03, Peres has a rating of 4.91, Labor's Ami Ayalon 4.29, and Labor's Ehud Barak 3.91. However, Barak cannot become prime minister during the current Knesset's term because he is not an MK.

Respondents were also asked to choose a candidate they would like to see as prime minister. Here too, Netanyahu led with 26 percent, followed by Peres at 11 percent, Livni at 10 percent and Barak and Olmert at 6 percent each. Ayalon trailed with 5 percent. [Or in other words over 30% want a leftish leader rather than Nethanyahu].

Another interesting item: Yisrael Beiteinu voters divided their preference among Netanyahu, who took the lead, as well as Avigdor Lieberman and Arcadi Gaydamak, who received 3-percent support. The candidate by the name of "other" took in 18 percent.

When asked whom they preferred as defense minister, support for Ayalon was greater than for Barak - 50 percent to 34 percent. Among Labor voters, support for the two was almost equally divided.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Politicallly Correct - a School Can't Teach about Farms in Holland - Farms have Pigs

You ain't gonna believe this, or maybe you will. But remember, it is just one school. It doesn't mean the Dutch people are abandoning the teaching of agriculture.
AMSTERDAM, 27/04/07 - A school in Amsterdam has halted lessons on rural life because the Islamic children refused to talk about pigs. Reporting this, Alderman Lodewijk Asscher said he wants to take "tough measures." Subsidies for all kinds of dubious groups must stop and parents of unruly children penalised financially.

Asscher told newspaper De Volkskrant: "A primary school in Amsterdam-Noord has decided no longer to teach about living on a farm. Various pupils began to demolish the classroom when the pig came up for discussion. Apparently it has gone that far. These children, 9, 10 years old, have not been given even the most elementary rules at home about why they must go to school."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Arab peace offensive and what Palesinians must do

This view of the Arab peace initiative is interesting. On the one hand, it presents the initiative as an offensive, which will "prove" that Israel does not want peace. It casts Israel as an enemy of peace, that is trying to gain recognition without making "the required concessions." At the same time, it is careful not to mention right of return of Palestinian refugees, but only to refer to Resolution 194. Thus far, it is the same old message.
On the other hand, it rightly points out that there can be no possibility of peace unless the Palestinians can stop the security chaos and demonstrate that they can control terrorism. This in itself is quite a breakthrough, and different from rhetoric of the past
Arab efforts :
(Original text in Arabic)
Ashraf El Ajrami
(Free translation - )
First, this  time the Arab States can prove themselves, and the Palestinian people and the entire world. Secondly they are more serious in dealing with decisions and stand not only on issuing statements. It can be said that Riyadh Arab summit constituted an important turning point towards an effective Arab action coupled to what has already been said. The meeting of the ministerial committee in charge of following up the summit theme of the Arab peace initiative, decided to form two working groups of Arab contacts with the international influential parties and Israel to market the initiative, and create political momentum leading to its application, working on the first contact with international bodies composed of both Jordan and Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Qatar, Palestine, in addition to Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa.
The second group is confined to Egypt and Jordan because they are the two countries which maintain full diplomatic relations with Israel and ties by peace agreements. Such a step is of great importance because it demonstrates that Arab countries are serious in seeking to undermine the way for political initiative that seems the only viable plan for the application at this stage. This practice is now perceived by all parties. On the other hand it blocked the Israeli government's attempts to transform the Arab initiative into an invitation for public relations, especially in terms of the normalization of Israel's relations with the largest number of Arab states without Israel paying the price required in return. The Israeli position which tried to appear to be a positive initiative towards talked about acceptable items  and probably meant that the items in question are those that talk about a peace between all Arab countries and Israel and normalizing relations with it, while the Israeli government refuses to return to the 1967 borders and rejects absolutely the search for a solution to the refugee issue.
Olmert, himself a Yemenite [!!- that is what it seems to say] wants to meet with Arab countries including Saudi Arabia and perhaps got an American promise to obtaining such a meeting, which includes ten parties, including four Arab countries, namely Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, in addition to the international quartet committee, Palestine and Israel.
That is why the the Arab party, which relates to him in Jordan and Egypt led to thwart it. This is what was expressed when the Israeli Foreign Minister invited anybody, asking the Arab League to "show flexibility" and support for the negotiating process with Israel. Now Israel is at stake practically.
The Arab call is serious and sincere... fair and logical way to go where the Arabs present maximum flexibility, based on the application of the principle of two states along with return to the 1967 borders and a just and agreed solution to the refugee issue on the basis of resolution 194, to get Israel  peace and security. The normalization means to become an organic part of the region live in close good-neighborly relations with all the Arab countries.
If Israel fails to respond to this generous offer, it would have decided to proceed on the path of war and confrontation and conflict, and bear all the consequences arising therefrom, thus confronting  world public opinion. Communications, which were supposed to be by Egypt and Jordan with Israel, should not be restricted only with the official level, but it is more useful to include wider segments of the Israeli public opinion through their different representatives.
The more the Israelis face facts about the nature of the Arab peace initiative, the more it will activate pressure on the Israeli government which is now feeling the pulse of the street on the Israeli side, which began gradually to the option of negotiations after the painful experience that met the Israeli army in Lebanon, as well as a section of the Israeli population in the north, after the failure of unilateral solutions to bring stability and security to Israel.
This opportunity must be exploited by all who seek to not miss a special time and thus sully the region. The opportunity which now seems within reach may become impossible or may be possible again only after a long time. What applies to Israelis applies in part to the Palestinians. They must seize the opportunity now available in the concentration of Arab States on the theme of the success of the Arab peace initiative and work on their internal arrangements and create the atmosphere to receive any positive development, but also to contribute effectively to convince various regional and international Palestinian groups for peace.
They must completely control the internal security situation and consolidate the cease-fire and extend it to the West Bank in addition to the Gaza Strip, and solve the problem of Gilead Shalit. Naturally the internal security situation is a critical priority in reversing a positive image of the Palestinians for the different regional and international forums. In this context, it does not appear that the security plan ratified by the Palestinian government is able to save the Palestinian people from  destructive anarchy, as it relates to procedural matters mainly secondary, and far from addressing the core issues that affect the central core of the security crisis. The plan does not address the security paradigm, the issue of disarming the resistance. This is essential given that each disturbance began primarily under the mantle of the "resistance" or exploited it.
This must include the recognition that there are persons of  importance of controlling all weapons of the resistance. This is detailed in the National Accord document. Without controlling weapons of the resistance and identifying a reference standard Palestinians will be subject to various forms of chaos. The plan does not give a  logical solution to the issue of executive power to be part of the framework of legitimacy. Even by obviating[?] such factions are so integrated into other security services, and restructuring these devices.
Executive power has become an integral part of the security problem, and was an element in many of the clashes and security tensions... How can the security agencies operate with each other than under these ties?..
On the other hand, the plan did not set a specific mechanism to disarm the militia groups. It is not enough to have patrols in the streets or barriers here and there, supposed to be organized things fixed rules including the enactment of strict laws regarding who can bear arms. And without the elimination of security problems and the chaos of arms, no one in the world can help, including our Arab brothers who have taken the thankfully push towards reviving the political process in order to reach a just solution to the conflict, and international parties, which continue to provide assistance to the Palestinian people.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Right of Return?? The Middle East's Jewish refugees

The Middle East's forgotten Jewish refugees -update 54 - 01.05.07

1. At its meeting of February 25, 2007, the Israeli Cabinet named  MinisterRafi Eitan to be responsible for the issue of the rights of those Jews who left Arab countries as refugees. The Cabinet also established a ministerial committee, to be chaired by Minister Eitan, and a steering committee.

On his first day in office the newly appointed Justice Minister, Prof. Daniel Friedmann, met Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and Stanley Urman, Director of Justice for Jews in Arab Countries to review the Justice Ministry's mandate to pursue rights for Jewish refugees from Arab countries. They discussed avenues for legal redress for Jews displaced from Arab countries and efforts in Israel and in Diaspora Jewish communities to register individual and communal losses. An international campaign is underway.

2. The 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War  in June is also the anniversary of the start of the final exodus of Jews from Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco and a period of intensified repression against the Jews of Egypt, Syria and Iraq. Several commemorative events are taking place. 

If you or your family lived in an Arab or Islamic country please register
your story and lost assets here

SUPPORT  U.S.  legislation to recognize Jewish refugees:
Visit: 'Point of no return

Continued (Permanent Link)

Earthquake building under Olmert's feet

Following publication of the interim Winograd report, PM Olmert's position is becoming untenable. "Only" 17% of Israelis intend to participate in the protests - that's "only" about half a million people, considering just the adult population.
Coalition Chairman Avigdor Yitzhaki spoke Tuesday with a number of Kadima MKs on the possibility of replacing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the wake of the damning report on the handling of the Second Lebanon War.
Several of those who spoke to Yitzhaki told Haaretz afterward that they had discussed the need to replace Olmert immediately.
Yitzhaki designated Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as the preferred heir to Olmert, which the MKs said they understood to mean that the move had been coordinated with Livni.
Livni is also viewed publicly as the leading candidate to replace Olmert as Kadima chairman. Livni was barely criticized by the Winograd report, and has refrained from providing Olmert with any public support.
Yitzhaki proposed the formation of a group of lawmakers who would together ask the prime minister to resign, as Kadima's charter does not permit the dismissal of the party chairman. The charter does, however, allow for early party elections to be called, an option which is also on the table.
It is unclear how much support Yitzhaki's initiative has within Kadima. So far, Marina Solodkin is the only Kadima MK to have publicly called on Olmert to step down. In an interview Tuesday with Army Radio, Solodkin said the report "is so severe, that according to what is written their, [Olmert] must resign."
"Olmert made very serious mistakes during the war," she said. "He acted extremely irresponsibly. What happened yesterday and what is happening now cannot be ignored."
But Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and Housing Minister Meir Sheetrit backed Olmert on Tuesday.
"I stand behind Olmert's leadership," said Dichter, during a ceremony at Olmert's office in Jerusalem to inaugurate the new head of Israel Police.
Following the ceremony, Sheetrit pointed out that the Winograd report was only a partial one, and said that "now is not the time for chopping off heads."
Kadima officials said Monday that they would call on Olmert to resign, saying they were shocked by the intensity of the criticism leveled at the prime minister in the report.
The officials said they believe it will be difficult for the prime minister to withstand the public pressure to resign until the release of the full Winograd report. The full report is expected to be made public by August.
The officials maintained however that they would do anything to avoid new elections, but would work to oust Olmert from his position.
"The writing is on the wall. It's a matter of days until someone in Kadima will clearly call for Olmert's resignation. It is not clear how [Olmert] will get himself out of this mess, and why he continues to pull down Kadima with him," a senior official said.
Labor party ministers said they believe that Olmert's chances of surviving until the release of the final report are minimal.
"Even if he is able to survive until then, it is clear, according to the interim report, that after the release of the final report he will have to resign," said a senior Labor minister.
Eitan Cabel, a Labor Party minister without portfolio, announced his resignation from the government on Tuesday.
MKs across political spectrum call for PM to go
Lawmakers and public bodies from across the political spectrum also called for the resignation of Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz, with few dissenting voices after the publishing of the Winograd report.
MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said that during the Lebanon war last summer the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee had to issue ultimatums to the army to move troops to defend the Golan Heights, which had been left totally unprotected.
MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) called for mass demonstrations to demand that Olmert and Peretz step down.
MK Zevulun Orlev, the chairman of the National Religious Party, said "the prime minister, because of whose failures lives of soldiers and civilians were lost, must stop barricading himself behind his position."
Shas said that "if they had listened to Eli Yishai and flattened villages in Lebanon" fewer lives would have been lost. Yishai's media adviser Roi Lahmanovich said "Eli spoke in no uncertain terms [in the cabinet] of flattening villages, damaging roads, water and electricity."
MK Efi Eitam (National Union) said following Olmert's statement that he would not resign that "Olmert is turning the Prime Minister's Office into Ehud-grad."
The Land of Israel Legal Forum called for Olmert to fire Peretz and step down immediately thereafter. If Olmert does not resign, the organization will petition the High Court of Justice, it said.
In a letter to Olmert on Monday, Itzhak Bam of the forum wrote, "You may not ignore the findings of the report, and in light of this, it is unreasonable for you to continue as prime minister."
The forum wrote to Peretz that he was "endangering the security of Israel."
The Movement for Quality Government also called on Olmert and Peretz to resign immediately and criticized the Winograd Committee for not making a recommendation to that affect.
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi has appointed a team to study the report. The IDF Spokesman said "the army is deep in the process of applying the lessons and correcting the mistakes uncovered following investigations after the war."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Ayalon: Olmert must go home

The report (in Hebrew) is here:
Ayalon changes his mind: Olmert must quit
Gil Hoffman, THE JERUSALEM POST May. 1, 2007

Labor leadership candidate Ami Ayalon announced Tuesday that after finishing reading the 150 page Winograd interim report, he had decided Prime Minister Ehud Olmert must quit.

Ayalon went on national TV Sunday evening to say that he did not believe Olmert should quit, but added that after reading the entire report, he decided that its conclusions were harsher than the leaks of the report that were broadcast Friday.

"The report found that Olmert and the Israeli leadership had failed personally and therefore the prime minister should not be allowed to continue in that position," Ayalon said.

Cross posted: Israel News   Middle East Analysis

Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, April 30, 2007

International Herald Tribune prints bid request for Iranian nuclear program

Hard to believe.
by Ezra HaLevi

( The International Herald Tribune included in its paper last Wednesday (April 25) an ad seeking bids from corporations willing to build nuclear reactors for Iran.

The Tribune is owned and operated by the New York Times and distributed ... across the globe. The following copy of the ad appeared in the Israeli version, which is distributed by Haaretz's daily English paper:
Scanned ad from IHT Israel edition, printed and distributed by Haaretz, courtesy of Karin Kloosterman

The ad reads [typos and errors reproduced intact]:
INVITATION FOR BIDS – Construction of Two Large Scale Nuclear Power Plants In Iran

The Nuclear Power Production and Development Company of Iran (NPPD) (an affiliate company of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran – AEOI) as the owner, invites sealed Bids from contractors/companies for the Design, Supply of Equipment, Construction and Commissioning of two large scale units (1000-1600 MWe each) with third generation Nuclear Power, Pressurized Light Water Reactor in the Bushehr Province of Iran.

Qualified bidders who have sufficient experiences in the Construction and Commissioning of such plants are requested to obstain the respective Bid Inquiry Specification (BIS) documents upon payment of a non-refundable fee of €15000 (fifteen thousands Euros) transferred to the following account:
Account no.: 01754283800 
Name of Bank: Austria Bank-Creditanstalt


All bids must be accompanied by a Bid Bont {This error was added by Israel National News}  of twenty million Euros, and must be delivered to AEOI's representatives office in Vienna by 02.08.2007 or to the company's headquarter office in Tehran on 08.08.2007. The bids will be opened at the company's headquarter office in Tehran on 08.08.2007 at 10:00 am in the presence of the Bidder's Representatives who wish to attend.

For further information, please contact: Mr. Esmaeili, +431-2140971, Email:  

The Vice President of Iran's nuclear program Gholam Reza Aghazadeh explained to Iran's state-run IRNA news agency that the tender presents an opportunity for Western nations to join in Iran's pursuit of nuclear capabilities. "The international tenders for construction of the two nuclear power plants [are] a good yardstick to test the Westerners' good will," he said.

IRNA quotes Aghazadeh promising that Iran will never again stop uranium enrichment and guaranteeing that Tehran will continue to work around the clock to install more centrifuges at its underground enrichment plant in Natanz, "until all 50,000 planned centrifuges are in place."

Israel and the US oppose Iran's nuclear program, which has been accompanied by open threats to annihilate the Jewish state on the part of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as well as the Islamic "Supreme Leader" of Iran Ali Khameini.

Haaretz Distributes Iranian Bid Request
Arutz-7 asked Haaretz's advertising department whether it considered rejecting the ad seeking builders for Iranian nuclear reactors. Manager Aviva Bronstein says Haaretz receives the International Herald Tribune as a finished product. "We sometimes don't even see it until it is in print," she said. "We do not review their ads, only those that appear in the Haaretz section of the paper."

A subordinate said that guidelines for ads would reject an ad calling for violence against a certain group of people. Asked by Arutz-7 whether the construction of the means to a nuclear bomb for a nation that has stated its intend to use it for genocide does not fall into that category, the woman, who declined to give her name, said: "I don't believe that falls into the same category."

Bronstein said that there is no ad that would conceivably lead Haaretz to refrain from distributing an edition of the International Herald Tribune.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Iran: Is the sky falling?

Is the sky about to fall over Iran or not? Definitely maybe.  In Ynet, Orly Azoulay reports that:
Washington: The intelligence information gathered by the Unites States regarding Iran's technological breakthrough that could lead Teheran to an atom bomb in less than three years bodes well with President George Bush's political desperation.
Now isn't that a coincidence? And she continues:
The new intelligence indicates that Iran is making accelerated progress in acquiring the required amount of enriched uranium for assembling its first nuclear bomb.
Yes and no. The CBS report is here.  As we already noted, if Iran has 1,300 centtrifuges working they can make enough enriched uranium for a bomb in three years supposedly. That doesn't mean they can make a bomb. If they have 3,000 such centrifuges, they could make a bomb in a year, experts say, but they will need more than just uranium.
Azoulay tells us:
When the information was revealed on CBS, senior officials at the Pentagon were quoted as saying that now there will be more pressure on Israel to carry out a preventative strike on Iran, just as it did in 1981 in Iraq.
Actual quote was:
Former CIA officer Bruce Riedel says this latest intelligence would increase the chances of an Israeli strike launched with American-built warplanes.
"The Israelis have long believed that Iran is closer than U.S. intelligence believes it is," Riedel says. "If they now hear that the Americans think it's getting closer as well, it puts pressure on Israel to take its own action."
Azoulay continues:
And indeed less than two days elapsed since the publication and Israel's prime minister was quoted in the German weekly Focus as outlining the possibility of such an attack, which would include firing 1,000 cruise missiles in 10 days.
That story was denied almost immediately and debunked by the alleged reporter himself, as we noted.  
And Azoulai tells us:
The intelligence information that so appropriately fits President Bush's political needs also ties in well with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's war of survival.
It seems that just a few hours prior to the publication of the Winograd report, the prime minister prefers diverting the public's attention to a completely different channel. Similar to Bush, Olmert also knows that when the public is apprehensive it tends to unite behind its leadership.
That is also very convenient it would seem. But if it were true, then it would scarcely be possible that Azoulai would be the only one reporting this story, and it seems that she is.
She continues:
The moment the information was received the US and Israel closed ranks. Both countries doubt that international sanctions would suffice in halting the Iranian bomb. Bush knows that in the event he decides to go to war with Iran, even the Democrats would support him. Olmert also knows that it would not be difficult for him to secure a similar coalition at home.
The Pentagon expects Israel to do the job itself by use of the aircraft and arms it received from the US. However, either way, both Washington and Jerusalem know that the countdown has begun.
Since the Pentagon itself is clueless about how to destroy a dispersed nuclear program in underground bomb proof bunkers, it is hard to see how they would expect Israel to do so. It seems that from published data, it is uncertain that has enough long range aircraft to do the job, and it is not certain that Israel ever received any cruise missiles from the USA.
A different report shows that the US and EU may be pursuing negotiations with Iran.
So the above may be just another canard or the "real thing."
Ami Isseroff  

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israeli public - Olmert to the wall!

The Israeli public wants Olmert and Peretz to resign, by overwhelming majorities...
I wonder what "other" could be?
Poll: PM Olmert Should Resign In Wake of Winograd 69%:15%
Dr. Aaron Lerner     Date: 30 April 2007

The following are the results of a telephone poll of a random sample of 411 adults Israelis carried out by Maagar Mohot Survey Institute (headed by Professor Yitzchak Katz for Israel Radio on 30 April 2007 in the afternoon and evening after release of the Winograd Report.  Statistical error +/-

In light of the Winograd Report, Should prime minister Ehud Olmert resign?
Total: Yes 69% No 15% Other 18%
Arabs: Yes 69% No 20% Other 11%
Ultra Orthodox: Yes 46% No 6% Other 48%
New immigrants: Yes 71% No 14% Other 15%

In light of the Winograd Report, Should defense minister Amir Peretz resign?
Total: Yes 74% No 12% Other 14%
Arabs: Yes 54% No 37% Other 9%
Ultra Orthodox: Yes 54% No 3% Other 43%
New immigrants: Yes 80% No 6% Other 14%

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Continued (Permanent Link)

Winograd Report - Press Release - Who is to blame?

Winograd Committee Press Release Monday, 30 April, 2007


10. The main failures in the decisions made and the decision-making processes can be summed up as follows:

a. The decision to respond with an immediate, intensive military strike was not based on a detailed, comprehensive and authorized military plan, based on carefull study of the complex characteristics of the Lebanon arena. A meticulous examination of these characteristics would have revealed the following: the ability to achieve military gains having significant political-international weight was limited; an Israeli military strike would inevitably lead to missiles fired at the Israeli civilian north; there was no other effective military response to such missile attacks than an extensive and prolonged ground operation to capture the areas from which the missiles were fired - which would have a high "cost" and which did not enjoy broad support. These difficulties were not explicitly raised with the political leaders before the decision to strike was taken.

b. Consequently, in making the decision to go to war, the government did not consider the whole range of options, including that of continuing the policy of 'containment', or combining political and diplomatic moves with military strikes below the 'escalation level', or military preparations without immediage military action -- so as to maintain for Israel the full range of responses to the abduction. This failure reflects weakness in strategic thinking, which derives the response to the event from a more comprehensive and encompassing picture.

c. The support in the cabinet for this move was gained in part through ambiguity in the presentation of goals and modes of operation, so that ministers with different or even contradictory attitudes could support it. The ministers voted for a vague decision, without understanding and knowing its nature and implications. They authorized to commence a military campaign without considering how to exit it.

d. Some of the declared goals of the war were not clear and could not be achieved, and in part were not achieveable by the authorized modes of military action.

e. The IDF did not exhibit creativity in proposing alternative action possibilities, did not alert the political decision-makers to the discrepancy between its own scenarios and the authorized modes of action, and did not demand - as was necessary under its own plans - early mobilization of the reserves so they could be equipped and trained in case a ground operation would be required.

f. Even after these facts became known to the political leaders, they failed to adapt the military way of operation and its goals to the reality on the ground. On the contrary, declared goals were too ambitious, and it was publicly states that fighting will continue till they are achieved. But the authorized military operations did not enable their achievement.

11. The primary responsibility for these serious failings rests with the Prime Minister, the minister of defense and the (outgoing) Chief of Staff. We single out these three because it is likely that had any of them acted better - the decisions in the relevant period and the ways they were made, as well as the outcome of the war, would have been significantly better.


18. Let us add a few final comments: It took the government till March 2007 to name the events of the summer of 2006 'The Second Lebanon War'. After 25 years without a war, Israel experienced a war of a different kind. The war thus brought back to center stage some critical questions that parts of Israeli society preferred to avoid.

19. The IDF was not ready for this war. Among the many reasons for this we can mention a few: Some of the political and military elites in Israel have reached the conclusion that Israel is beyond the era of wars. It had enough military might and superiority to deter others from declaring war against her; these would also be sufficient to send a painful reminder to anyone who seemed to be undeterred; since Israel did not intend to initiate a war, the conclusion was that the main challenge facing the land forces would be low intensity asymmetrical conflicts.

20. Given these assumptions, the IDF did not need to be prepared for 'real' war. There was also no urgent need to update in a systematic and sophisticated way Israel's overall security strategy and to consider how to mobilize and combine all its resources and sources of strength - political, economic, social, military, spiritual. cultural and scientific - to address the totality of the challenges it faces.

21. We believe that - beyond the important need to examine the failures of conducting the war and the preparation for it, beyond the need to identify the weaknesses (and strengths) in the decisions made in the war - these are the main questions raised by the Second Lebanon war. These are questions that go far beyond the mandate of this or that commission of inquiry; they are the questions that stand at the center of our existence here as a Jewish and democratic state. It would be a grave mistake to concentrate only on the flaws revealed in the war and not to address these basic issues.


Comment - The first conclusions are contradicted by the last ones. The IDF was not prepared for war because of decisions taken prior to the tenure of the current government.

The full report is below

1. On September 17th 2006 The Government of Israel decided, under section 8A of The Government Act 2001, to appoint a governmental commission of examination "To look into the preparation and conduct of the political and the security levels concerning all the dimensions of the Northern Campaign which started on July 12th 2006". Today we have submitted to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence the classified interim report, and we are now presenting the inclassified report to the public.

2. The Commission was appointed due to a strong sense of a crisis and deep disappointment with the consequences of the campaign and the way it was conducted. We regarded accepted this difficult task both as a duty and a privilege. It is our belief that the larger the event and the deeper the feeling of crisis - the greater the opportunity to change and improve matters which are essential for the security and the flourishing of state and society in Israel. We believe Israeli society has great strength and resilience, with a robust sense of the justice of its being and of its achievements. These, too, were expressed during the war in Lebanon and after it. At the same time, we must not underrated deep failures among us.

3. This conception of our role affected the way we operated. No-one underestimates the need to study what happened in the past, including the imposition of personal responsibility. The past is the key for learning lessons for the future. Nonetheless, learning these lessons and actually implementing them are the most implication of the conclusions of the Commission.

4. This emphasis on learning lessons does not only follow from our conception of the role of a public Commission. It also follows from our belief that one Israeli society greatest sources of strength is its being a free, open and creative. Together with great achievements, the challenges facing it are existential. To cope with them, Israel must be a learning society - a society which examines its achievements and, in particular, its failures, in order to improve its ability to face the future.

5. Initially we hoped that the appointment of the Commission will serve as an incentive to accelerate learning processes in the relevant systems, while we are working, so that we could devote our time to study all of the materials in depth, and present the public with a comprehensive picture. However, learning processes have been limited. In some ways an opposite, and worrying, process emerged - a process of 'waiting' for the Commission's Report before energetic and determined action is taken to redress failures which have been revealed.

6. Therefore we decided to publish initially an Interim Report, focusing on the decisions related to starting the war. We do this in the hope that the relevant bodies will act urgently to change and correct all that it implies. We would like to reiterate and emphasize that we hope that this Partial Report, which concentrates on the functioning of the highest political and military echelons in their decision to move into the war will not divert attention from the overall troubling complete picture revealed by the war as a whole.

7. The interim report includes a numer of chapters dealing with the following subjects:

a. The Commissions' conception of its role, and its attitude to recommendations in general and to recommendations dealing with specific persons in particular. (chapter 2): We see as the main task of a public commission of inquiry (or investigation) to determine findings and conclusions, and present them- with its recommendations - before the public and decision makers so that they can take action. A public commission should not - in most cases - replace the usual political decision-making processes and determine who should serve as a minister or senior military commander. Accordingly, we include personal conclusions in the interim report, without personal recommendations. However, we will reconsider this matter towards our Final Report in view of the depiction of the war as a whole.

b. The way we balanced our desire to engage in a speedy and efficient investigation with the rights of those who may be negatively affected to 'natural justice' (chapter 3): The special stipulations of the Commissions of Inquiry Act in this regard do not apply to a governmental commission of Examination, but we regard ourselves, naturally, as working under the general principles of natural justice. The commission notified those who may be affected by its investigation, in detailed letters of invitation, of the ways in which they may be negatively affected, and enabled them to respond to allegations against them, without sending "notices of warning" and holding a quasi-judicial hearing before reaching out conclusions. We believe that in this way we provided all who may be negatively affected by our report with a full opportunity to answer all allegations against them.

c. The processes and developments in the period between the withdrawal of the IDF from Lebanon until July 11, 2006 which contributed to the background of the Lebanon War (Chapter 4): These processes created much of the factual background against which the decision-makers had to operate on July 12th, and they are thus essential to both the understanding and the evaluation of the events of the war. Understanding them is also essential for drawing lessons from the events, whose significance is often broader than that of the war itself.

8. The core of the interim report is a detailed examination of the decisions of senior political and military decision-makers concerning the decision to go to war at the wake of the abduction of the two soldiers on the morning of July 12th. We start with the decision of the government on the fateful evening of the 12th to authorize a sharp military response, and end with the speech of the Prime Minister in the Knesset on July 17th, when he officially presented the campaign and its goals. These decisions were critical and constitutive, and therefore deserve separate investigation. We should note that these decisions enjoyed broad support within the government, the Knesset and the public throughout this period.

9. Despite this broad support, we determine that there are very serious failings in these decisions and the way they were made. We impose the primary responsibility for these failures on the Prime Minister, the minister of defence and the (outgoing) Chief of Staff. All three made a decisive personal contribution to these decisions and the way in which they were made. Howwever,, there are many others who share responsibility for the mistakes we found in these decisions and for their background conditions.

10. The main failures in the decisions made and the decision-making processes can be summed up as follows:

a. The decision to respond with an immediate, intensive military strike was not based on a detailed, comprehensive and authorized military plan, based on carefull study of the complex characteristics of the Lebanon arena. A meticulous examination of these characteristics would have revealed the following: the ability to achieve military gains having significant political-international weight was limited; an Israeli military strike would inevitably lead to missiles fired at the Israeli civilian north; there was no other effective military response to such missile attacks than an extensive and prolonged ground operation to capture the areas from which the missiles were fired - which would have a high "cost" and which did not enjoy broad support. These difficulties were not explicitly raised with the political leaders before the decision to strike was taken.

b. Consequently, in making the decision to go to war, the government did not consider the whole range of options, including that of continuing the policy of 'containment', or combining political and diplomatic moves with military strikes below the 'escalation level', or military preparations without immediage military action -- so as to maintain for Israel the full range of responses to the abduction. This failure reflects weakness in strategic thinking, which derives the response to the event from a more comprehensive and encompassing picture.

c. The support in the cabinet for this move was gained in part through ambiguity in the presentation of goals and modes of operation, so that ministers with different or even contradictory attitudes could support it. The ministers voted for a vague decision, without understanding and knowing its nature and implications. They authorized to commence a military campaign without considering how to exit it.

d. Some of the declared goals of the war were not clear and could not be achieved, and in part were not achieveable by the authorized modes of military action.

e. The IDF did not exhibit creativity in proposing alternative action possibilities, did not alert the political decision-makers to the discrepancy between its own scenarios and the authorized modes of action, and did not demand - as was necessary under its own plans - early mobilization of the reserves so they could be equipped and trained in case a ground operation would be required.

f. Even after these facts became known to the political leaders, they failed to adapt the military way of operation and its goals to the reality on the ground. On the contrary, declared goals were too ambitious, and it was publicly states that fighting will continue till they are achieved. But the authorized military operations did not enable their achievement.

11. The primary responsibility for these serious failings rests with the Prime Minister, the minister of defense and the (outgoing) Chief of Staff. We single out these three because it is likely that had any of them acted better - the decisions in the relevant period and the ways they were made, as well as the outcome of the war, would have been significantly better.

12. Let us start with the Prime Minister.

a. The Prime Minister bears supreme and comprehensive responsibility for the decisions of 'his' government and the operations of the army. His responsibility for the failures in the initial decisions concerning the war stem from both his position and from his behavior, as he initiated and led the decisions which were taken.

b. The Prime Minister made up his mind hastily, despite the fact that no detailed military plan was submitted to him and without asking for one. Also, his decision was made without close study of the complex features of the Lebanon front and of the military, political and diplomatic options available to Israel. He made his decision without systematic consultation with others, especially outside the the IDF, despite not having experience in external-political and military affairs. In addition, he did not adequately consider political and professional reservations presented to him before the fateful decisions of July 12th.

c. The Prime Minister is responsible for the fact that the goals of the campaign were not set out clearly and carefully, and that there was no serious discussion of the relationships between these goals and the authorized modes of military action. He nade a personal contribution to the fact that the declared goals were over-ambitious and not feasible.

d. The Prime Minister did not adapt his plans once it became clear that the assumptions and expectations of Israel's actions were not realistic and were not materializing.

e. All of these add up to a serious failure in exercising judgment, responsibility and prudence.

13. The Minister of Defence is the minister responsible for overseeing the IDF, and he is a senior member in the group of leaders in charge of political-military affairs.

a. The Minister of Defence did not have knowledge or experience in military, political or governmental matters. He also did not have good knowledge of the basic principles of using military force to achieve political goals.

b. Despite these serious gaps, he made his decisions during this period without systemic consultations with experienced political and professional experts, including outside the security establishment. In addition, he did not give adequate weight to reservations expressed in the meetings he attended.

c. The Minister of Defence did not act within a strategic conception of the systems he oversaw. He did not ask for the IDF's operational plans and did not examine them; he did not check the preparedness and fitness of IDF; and did not examine the fit between the goals set and the modes of action presented and authorized for achieving them. His influence on the decisions made was mainly pointillist and operational. He did not put on the table - and did not demand presentation - of serious strategic options for discussion with the Prime Minister and the IDF.

d. The Minister of Defence did not develop an independent assessment of the implications of the complexity of the front for Israel's proper response, the goals of the campaign, and the relations between military and diplomatic moves within it. His lack of experience and knowledge prevented him from challenging in a competent way both the IDF, over which he was in charge, and the Prime Minister.

e. In all these ways, the Minister of Defence failed in fulfilling his functions. Therefore, his serving as Minister of Defence during the war impaired Israel's ability to respond well to its challenges.

14. The Chief of Staff (COS) is the supreme commander of the IDF, and the main source of information concerning the army, its plans, abilities and recommendations presented to the political echelon. Furthermore, the COS's personal involvement with decision making within the army and in coordination with the political echelon were dominant.

a. The army and the COS were not prepared for the event of the abduction despite recurring alerts. When the abduction happened, he responded impulsively. He did not alert the political leaders to the complexity of the situation, and did not present information, assessments and plans that were available in the IDF at various levels of planning and approval and which would have enabled a better response to the challenges.

b. Among other things, the COS did not alert the political echelon to the serious shortcomings in the preparedness and the fitness of the armed forces for an extensive ground operation, if that became necessary. In addition, he did not clarify that the military assessments and analyses of the arena were that a military strike against Hezbollah will with a high probability make such a move necessary.

c. The COS's responsibility is aggravated by the fact that he knew well that both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense lacked adequate knowledge and experience in these matters, and by the fact that he had led them to believe that the IDF was ready and prepared and had operational plans fitting the situation.

d. The COS did not provide adequate responses to serious reservation about his recommendations raised by ministers and others during the first days of the campaign, and he did not present to the political leaders the internal debates within the IDF concerning the fit between the stated goals and the authorized modes of actions.

e. In all these the Chief of Staff failed in his duties as commander in chief of the army and as a critical part of the political-military leadership, and exhibited flaws in professionalism, responsibility and judgment.

15. Concomitantly we determine that the failures listed here, and in the outcomes of the war, had many other partners.

a. The complexity of the Lebanon scene is basically outside Israel's control.

b. The ability of Hezbollah to sit 'on the border', its ability to dictate the moment of escalation, and the growth of its military abilities and missile arsenal increased significantly as a result of Israel's unilateral withdrawal in May 2000 (which was not followed, as had been hoped, by The Lebanese Army deploying on the border with Israel.

c. The shortcomings in the preparedness and the training of the army, its operational doctrine, and various flaws in its organizational culture and structure, were all the responsibility of the military commanders and political leaders in charge years before the present Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Chief of Staff took office.

d. On the political-security strategic level, the lack of preparedness was also caused by the failure to update and fully articulate Israel's security strategy doctrine, in the fullest sense of that term, so that it could not serve as a basis for coping comprehensively will all the challenges facing Israel. Responsibility for this lack of an updates national security strategy lies with Israel's governments over the years. This omission made it difficult to devise an immediate proper response to the abduction, because it led to stressing an immediate and sharp military strike. If the response had been derived from a more comprehensive security strategy, it would have been easier to take into account Israel's overall balance of strengths and vulnerabilities, including the preparedness of the civil population.

e. Another factor which largely contributed to the failures is the weakness of the high staff work available to the political leadership. This weakness existed under all previous Prime Ministers and this continuing failure is the responsibility of these PMs and their cabinets. The current political leadership did not act in a way that could compensate for this lack, and did not rely sufficiently on other bodies within and outside the security system that could have helped it.

f. Israel's government in its plenum failed in its political function of taking full responsibility for its decisions. It did not explore and seek adequate response for various reservations that were raised, and authorized an immediate military strike that was not thought-through and suffered from over-reliance on the judgment of the primary decision-makers.

g. Members of the IDF's general staff who were familiar with the assessments and intelligence concerning the Lebanon front, and the serious deficiencies in preparedness and training, did not insist that these should be considered within the army, and did not alert the political leaders concerning the flaws in the decisions and the way they were made.

16. As a result of our investigation, we make a number of structural and institutional recommendations, which require urgent attention:

a. The improvement of the quality of discussions and decision making within the government through strengthening and deepening staff work; strict enforcement of the prohibition of leaks; improving the knowledge base of all members of the government on core issues of Israel's challenges, and orderly procdures for presentation of issues for discussion and resolution.

b. Full incorporation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in security decisions with political and diplomatic aspects.

c. Substantial improvement in the functioning of the National Security Council, the establishment of a national assessment team, and creating a center for crises management in the Prime Minister's Office.

17. We regard it is of great importance to make findings, reach conclusions and present recommendations on the other critical issues which emerged in this war. We will cover them in the final report, which we strive to conclude soon. These subjects include, among others, the direction of the war was led and its management by the political echelon; the conduct of the military campaign by the army; the civil-military relationship in the war; taking care of Israel's civilian population under missile attack; the diplomatic negotiations by the Prime Minister's office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; censorship, the media and secrecy; the effectiveness of Israel's media campaign; and the discussion of various social and political processes which are essential for a comprehensive analysis of the events of the war and their significance.

18. Let us add a few final comments: It took the government till March 2007 to name the events of the summer of 2006 'The Second Lebanon War'. After 25 years without a war, Israel experienced a war of a different kind. The war thus brought back to center stage some critical questions that parts of Israeli society preferred to avoid.

19. The IDF was not ready for this war. Among the many reasons for this we can mention a few: Some of the political and military elites in Israel have reached the conclusion that Israel is beyond the era of wars. It had enough military might and superiority to deter others from declaring war against her; these would also be sufficient to send a painful reminder to anyone who seemed to be undeterred; since Israel did not intend to initiate a war, the conclusion was that the main challenge facing the land forces would be low intensity asymmetrical conflicts.

20. Given these assumptions, the IDF did not need to be prepared for 'real' war. There was also no urgent need to update in a systematic and sophisticated way Israel's overall security strategy and to consider how to mobilize and combine all its resources and sources of strength - political, economic, social, military, spiritual. cultural and scientific - to address the totality of the challenges it faces.

21. We believe that - beyond the important need to examine the failures of conducting the war and the preparation for it, beyond the need to identify the weaknesses (and strengths) in the decisions made in the war - these are the main questions raised by the Second Lebanon war. These are questions that go far beyond the mandate of this or that commission of inquiry; they are the questions that stand at the center of our existence here as a Jewish and democratic state. It would be a grave mistake to concentrate only on the flaws revealed in the war and not to address these basic issues.

We hope that our findings and conclusions in the interim report and in the final report will not only impel taking care of the serious governmental flaws and failures we examine and expose, but will also lead towards a renewed process in which Israeli society, and its political and spiritual leaders will take up and explore Israel's long-term aspirations and the ways to advance them.

Continued (Permanent Link)

StratFor on Winograd: With a grain of salt

This is the Stratfor assessment of the Winograd report. As Stratfor notoriously invented a mythical Nahal division, it is not certain what their level of understanding regarding Israel really is.

It is clear that everyone is unhappy with Mr. Olmert. For that we do not need strategic insight. But Stratfor's reporting here is not too careful:

"The report's release is topping off a series of complaints against Olmert's government, including charges of rape, wire-tapping, indecent conduct, theft, conspiracy, money laundering and bribery against a number of senior officials, including the president"

Olmert screwed us all, but nobody claims he raped anyone. That allegation was made against Moshe Katsav. Perhaps Stratfor is unaware that the Israeli President is not part of the government, and is elected independently, and has been in power since before the Olmert government took office. Mr Katsav's sexual escapades are not related to the Olmert government in any way. The rest of the charges are relevant however, and many of them might stick to Olmert himself. They are reflective of society, and they are "a problem." They are not "the problem."

Frankly, nobody cared if Sharon was a crook, as long as he won wars. The problem is that everyone understands that the malaise of the IDF is not the fault of Olmert or Peretz, but rather the work of many who came before them, and that Bibi Nethanyahu, whom Stratfor favors for obscure reasons, was responsible for cutting the military budget at critical times. Nobody escapes tarring with the brush of the Lebanon war.

Olmert may be a convenient sacrificial goat, but throwing him down Gey ben Hinnom will not lift the curse. Not even if we also throw Peretz down there, with his binoculars!

There is no advantage to putting Olmert's head on the block as a substitute for making the necessary changes. We know what Bibi is already, and clearly he is not suited to lead the country either. We are offered a choice between corruption and incompetence and keeping the Americans happy versus corruption and incompetence and making the Americans upset with us. That will not solve anything.

Ami Isseroff

The Winograd Report and Olmert's Fate
STRATFOR morning intelligence brief          04.30.2007

The Winograd Committee, a government-appointed body led by retired Judge Eliyahu Winograd, will release an interim report the afternoon of April 30 outlining the Israeli government's failures in the 2006 summer war against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The committee was given the task of determining what conditions led to the outbreak of violence since Israel's May 2000 pullout from southern Lebanon, what objectives were laid out by the Israeli Cabinet when the call was made for a ground offensive and what errors the government and military committed in the 34 days of fighting. The damning report is expected to conclude that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert essentially treated the Second Lebanon War as a rush job by failing to question the war plans drawn up by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and by launching into a full-scale battle without actually articulating the objectives of the war.

Needless to say, Olmert is facing some rough days ahead as he answers for his government's ineptitude during the war. The report's release is topping off a series of complaints against Olmert's government, including charges of rape, wire-tapping, indecent conduct, theft, conspiracy, money laundering and bribery against a number of senior officials, including the president, finance minister, committee chairs of foreign affairs and defense, the former justice minister and Olmert himself. With his public approval rating hovering somewhere between 2 and 3 percent, Olmert is even making U.S. President George W. Bush's ratings look good.

With such a bleak political career, it is a wonder that Olmert has lasted this long in power. He mostly has public apathy in Israel to thank for that, though the Winograd report could be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Further north, Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon are taking advantage of Israel's political paralysis to prepare for a future conflict with IDF. As expected, the Lebanese army and the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon have been incapable  of preventing Hezbollah from rearming its cadres south of the Litani River. Sources in Lebanon have revealed that Hezbollah is now buying huge quantities of wheat crops from local farmers and is importing significant shipments of medicines and foodstuffs to prepare for the possibility of a drawn-out military conflict and closure of supply lines running from Syria. These commodities are being stored in secret warehouses, some of which are underground, throughout the Hezbollah stronghold of the Bekaa Valley. The group is also busy laying underground military telephone cable networks in southern Lebanon and the Bekaa.

Hezbollah is well aware that Israel's hands might be tied up in a political fracas at the moment, but that Israel's army generals -- who make up the backbone of the Israeli government -- are not about to leave any false impressions in the region that a nonstate militant organization can impose defeat  on the most advanced military power in the Middle East. IDF sees the need for a rematch, but the type of rematch is still unclear. With the United States bogged down in Iraq and entangled in complex negotiations with Iran, the Israeli government has to consider that any war objective of crippling Hezbollah runs the risk of threatening Syrian President Bashar al Assad's hold on power and adding to the problems in the region by creating the conditions for an unpredictable Sunni regime to retake Damascus.

While Israel's northern front increasingly resembles a ticking bomb, IDF is now preparing for another ground incursion in Gaza to stem the Qassam rocket fire into Israeli territory. The political chaos brewing within the Palestinian territories allows Israel some breathing room to work out its own issues as Hamas and Fatah continue their struggle, though growing disillusionment with Hamas' political goals is creating ripe conditions for jihadist elements to take root  and threaten the Jewish state next door.

With the security issues piling up along Israel's borders, it is only a matter of time before Israel's generals begin to take a more assertive role in putting the country back on track. The appointment of Defense Ministry Director- General Gabi Ashkenazi  as the 19th IDF chief earlier this year was one significant step in that direction, though the country still needs a good deal of housekeeping, beginning with Olmert and Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who is widely seen as far too inexperienced in defense matters to hold his job title.

Though a political vacuum looks to be inevitable, it is still unclear as to who would replace Olmert. Support for Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is questionable, making conditions all the more conducive for former Israeli Prime Minister and current Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu  to come out of hiding. Over the past year, Netanyahu has pursued a careful wait-and-see approach to position himself as the right-of-center candidate favored by the national security establishment. The release of the Winograd report appears to be the catalyst that Netanyahu was waiting for to launch an aggressive campaign against Olmert. In the lead-up to the report release, Netanyahu held a public rally at Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv and told his supporters to begin holding weekly protests and organize mass street demonstrations throughout Israel to broadcast Olmert's failures. Recent polls also appear to be working in Netanyahu's favor, with support for Likud rising.

Netanyahu is back in action, and Israel's adversaries are closely watching. Only time will tell if he has what it takes this time to capitalize on Olmert's weakness.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Protesting the Government over the Winograd Committee Report

Everyone seems to understand that Olmert has finished his function, except Olmert. He doesn't take a hint.
Major protests to take place Thursday
Yaakov Katz,
The publication of the Winograd Committee's first report on the Second Lebanon War Monday afternoon will set off a series of public protests aimed at toppling the government and forcing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz to resign.

The first major event will be Thursday night when tens of thousands of protesters are expected to gather in Tel Aviv's Kikar Rabin for a rally during which politicians from across the political spectrum will call on the government to resign.

The demonstration is being organized by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan, chairman of the Tafnit Party, together with groups of reservists and parents of soldiers who were killed during the war last summer.

"We are preparing the platform for the public to call on Olmert and Peretz to step down," Dayan said Sunday, adding that from the details of the report already leaked to the press it did not appear as if the two would resign of their own initiative.

"The nation has come to the realization that the failures of the war and the lack of leadership have created a major, severe crisis."

Separately, the heads of confrontation line communities near the Lebanese border have called a strike for Thursday of all public institutions, including schools and kindergartens, to protest the government's intention to cancel tax benefits granted to residents as part of the post-war rehabilitation program.

In preparation for the Tel Aviv rally, an organization composed of reservists who fought in Lebanon said that groups under their direction around the country would begin marching toward Kikar Rabin once the report was released.

When the war ended in August, the reservists, together with a number of bereaved parents, set up a tent camp outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem but failed to enlist large numbers of protesters.

"Many more people have joined the struggle since the end of the war," said Yakir Segev, one of the organizers. "They now realize that there is a dire need for new leadership due to the corruption and lack of direction within the current government."

On Monday night, representatives of families whose sons were killed during the war will issue a response to the report and announce their plan of action for bringing down the government.

Haim Zemach, whose son Oz died in the war, said the bereaved parents would not "give up" and would continue fighting against the government.

"We plan to escalate our struggle," said Zemach, who serves as a senior officer in the reserves. "Until now we have spoken and behaved nicely to show consideration but that will soon change... We plan to bring about a different leadership and we will do everything possible to make this happen."

Dan Izenberg contributed to this report.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Ousing Ahmadinejad - Reality or wishful thinking?

"Alliance aims to oust Ahmadinejad" reads the Jerusalem Post headline. A worthy aim, but easier said than done. While Ahmadinejad has crossed swords and authority with the ruling clerics as well as angering reformers and disappointing his popular support, he has the backing of the Revolutionary Guard and the Basij. In any case, the clerics are not to interested in breaking the grip of the "militia state" as it says, because that is what keeps them in power. Sooner or later the clerics will part company with the democrats, as they did after the Khomeini revolution, and perhaps they will all reunite again around the slogans of death to America and death to Israel.
Anti-government forces are planning to deny Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad another term in office and break the grip of what they call the "militia state," on public life and personal freedom, it was reported on Monday.

Opposition factions, democracy activists, and pro-reform clerics said they would bring together progressive parties loyal to former president Mohammad Khatami with so-called pragmatic conservatives led by Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, the UK's The Guardian reported .

The alliance aims to exploit the president's unpopularity, which is on the rise due to high unemployment, rising inflation and a looming crisis over petrol prices and possible rationing to win control of the Majlis in general elections which are due within 10 months.

Parliament last week voted to reduce Ahmadinejad's term by holding presidential and parliamentary elections simultaneously next year.

However, the move is likely to be vetoed by the Guardian Council.

But opposition spokesmen said their broader objective was to bring down the fundamentalist regime by democratic means, transform Iran into a "normal country", and prevent the need for any military or other US and western intervention.

"The past two years have been a very bitter time for Iran," The Guardian quoted Mohammad Atrianfar, a leading opposition figure with ties to Mr Rafsanjani, as saying.

"Ahmadinejad has done everything upside down - politics, economy, foreign policy - putting all our achievements at risk. He has done a lot of damage at home and abroad."

Atrianfar said that a majority in the Majlis was now critical of the president and would certainly impeach him but for the support he enjoyed from the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Some 150 political activists, governors-general, former administration officials and dissident MPs drew up a coalition "victory strategy" at a secretive conference last month presided over by Mr Khatami, the Ali Alavi of Siyasat-e Ruz newspaper reported.

The strategy envisaged "aggravation of the differences among the fundamentalists" and "constant criticism of Ahmadinejad" by "presenting a dark image of the country's affairs," Mr Alavi said.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Report: Syria built underground rocket launching facilities

This is not exactly news as Israel intelligence has been sending similar reports.  I wonder who these forreign experts might be. The facilities are concentrated around El-Hama if I am not mistaken.
Foreign experts: Syria secretly built 30 underground bunkers to enable rocket attack before IAF can destroy them
Dr. Aaron Lerner                   Date: 30 April, 2007

Yediot Ahronot correspondent Arieh Egozi reports in today's edition [page 9] that foreign experts say Syria has built a huge underground compound that includes 30 steel reinforced concrete bunkers, production facilities, development labs and command posts.  This new "rocket city" has missiles that can cover the entire area of Israel.  In contrast to mobile deployment systems that are easy prey to air attacks, the bunker system is designed to enable Syria to launch many missiles against Israel before the IAF can take them out.

Syria has some 200 Scud B, 60 Scud C and an unknown quantity of North Korean made 700 kilometer range Scud D's.  According to Egozi last February Israeli surveillance noted a Syrian launching of an improved Scud that is more accurate, can cause greater damage and is more difficult to intercept, terming it "a reason for great concern."

According to foreign experts, the chemical warheads for the rockets are stored in another location.

According to Israeli sources, Egozi reports, Syria recently received 100 C802 Chinese anti-ship cruise missiles from Iran.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Another canard bites the dust: Olmert not about to attack Iran

The Olmert attack on Iran canard has lasted even less time than previous journalistic science fiction. Even the reporter says it is not true! He did not even write the story!

Focus reporter apologizes to PM's Office

Reporter Amir Taheri apologizes to Olmert's spokeswoman for publication of interview on German magazine's website that attributed to PM threatening statements against Iran. Journalist says he did not write interview, asks editors to remove story from site
Gil Yaron Latest Update: 04.28.07, 22:47 / Israel News

Reporter Amir Taheri told the prime minister's spokeswoman that an interview with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert published under his name on German magazine Focus' website Saturday had not been written by him.

Taheri said that the material published was not what he had passed to the magazine, and that he had asked the editors to remove the story from the site. "I apologize to you," he told the spokeswoman, Miri Eisin.

Earlier, the magazine quoted Olmert as saying that Iran's disputed nuclear program could be severely hit by firing 1,000 cruise missiles in a 10-day attack. The magazine later changed the story's aggressive headline, "Israel threaten Iran," to "Israel toughens its tone against Iran."

Focus officials have also admitted that "the impression that was created as if Olmert said that there was an operative plan to strike was exaggerated, and it is now clear that Olmert's statements were not aimed as a threat on Iran."

However, in a conversation with Ynet the editors stood by their initial reports and insisted that the text of the interview circulated in the media was correct and will be published tomorrow.

Taken out of context

An examination of the transcript of Olmert's conversation with the reporter revealed that the PM's perceived aggressiveness in the interview resulted from the fact that fine nuances of his English statements were "lost in translation."

In the original version of the interview in English, Olmert did mention – albeit in passing - the option of striking Iran, claiming that "no one has ever ruled it out." However, he stressed that the international community should focus on sanctions and diplomatic pressure on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The prime minister also referred to the dangers of an attack on Iran, and stated that he would not want to turn the whole Iranian people into Israel's enemy.

"Such an operation would turn other Muslim countries against us and cause even bigger problems," Olmert added and explained that Israel had no plans to attack.

The Prime Minister's Office said Saturday that the interview with Focus never took place. "The statements published are an utter lie and were never said… This cynical abuse of an invitation for a background conversation, which led to the publication of a false report," the office stated.

However, sources at the magazine insisted that their reporter had met with Olmert for an hour and-a-half last Wednesday.

First Published: 04.28.07, 18:14

Continued (Permanent Link)

Is a Gaza incursion inevitable? Or even feasible?

IDF Chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi says a Gaza incursion is inevitable. I don't think it will happen. What doesn't happen is not inevitable for sure. Here is what the article states:
The only solution to continued Palestinian rocket fire into the western
Negev is to implement a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip, said IDF Chief
of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenzani during Sunday's weekly cabinet

But Ashkenazi forgot perhaps, that the Qassam rocket fire started when the IDF was still in Gaza, and that it could not be conrolled then either! Suppose that there is a bloody ground incursion (bloody in both senses) and then 3 months later the Qassam rockets start again? Do we stay in Gaza? What will that look like? Won't we then have the same Qassam rockets we had before, perhaps in larger numbers, plus the same problems of occupation we had before? Qassam rockets can kill, but IDF incursions into Gaza are certainly going to result in a lot more deaths of Israelis. Unless we have the backing of the world for this, those deaths will be in vain. At most they will result in legitimation of the Hamas and Israel will be faced with an angry world that supports the Hamas, no? A smaller "military solution" will only net a few more UN condemnations of Israel.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Lebanon: "There is no god but God, Nasrallah is the enemy of God,"

Lebanese support for the Hezbollah terrorist organization has backfired on Lebanese society. You can't have your terror and eat it too.

Emotional farewell for victims of kidnap-murder

By Rym Ghazal
Daily Star staff
Saturday, April 28, 2007
BEIRUT: Hundreds of mourners bid Ziad Qabalan and Ziad Ghandour farewell on Friday in a funeral procession awash with tears and strewn with flowers, a day after the bodies of the two kidnapped Sunni youths were recovered in Jadra, south of Beirut. "God is great, God is great" chanted a wave of mourning family and friends following the two coffins through heavily guarded streets to their final resting place at a cemetery in the neighborhood of Qasqas.

Alongside Lebanese flags, members of the procession carried the banners of the pro-government Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) and those of the allied Sunni Future Movement. Qabalan was a member of the PSP, as was Ghandour's father.
The disappearance of Qabalan, 25, and Ghandour, 12, on Monday stirred bitter memories of sectarian kidnappings during Lebanon's 1975-1990 Civil War. Judicial forces said Friday that the killings were an act of revenge for the death of Adnan Shamas, 29, a Shiite Hizbullah supporter, in clashes outside Beirut Arab University on January 25.
Security sources told the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International television station that three suspects "are believed to have fled the country right after they committed the crime."
"Oh my son, I can't believe you are gone," wept Mounir Ghandour, who was hospitalized a day earlier and struggled to keep up with the procession.
Pro-government politicians poured in to pay their condolences to the families of the victims, with a handful of representatives from the opposition camp also appearing.
Mourners chanted the slogans "Our blood is ready for you" and "God, Hariri, Tariq al-Jdideh," as flower petals and rice were thrown from balconies of nearby buildings onto the coffins, which were covered with a Lebanese flag and cloths with religious imprints on them.
At the same time, anti-Hizbullah chants echoed intensely throughout the funeral.
"There is no god but God, Nasrallah is the enemy of God," the crowd chanted, in reference to Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

"Hizbullah decided not to send someone on the first day of the funeral to avoid any awkwardness or escalation," Hizbullah spokesman Ghaleb Abu Zeinab told The Daily Star. "A funeral is a national matter, and so Hizbullah
will send its condolences to the families when things have calmed down."
MPs Abdel-Latif Zein and Yassin Jaber attended the funeral as representatives of the Amal Movement and its leader, Speaker Nabih Berri.
Most of the people interviewed outside the mosque where the funeral was held told The Daily Star that they believed that a member or members of the Shamas family was behind this week's killings.
"It was the Shamas family, and they will pay for it!" said Sawsan Qorfali, 40, who came with her family to the funeral. "When they killed Ghandour, it is like they killed one of my sons," she said, standing next to her son Rabieh, 14.
"Our men will deal with the criminals if the state doesn't get to them soon," Qorfali said.
On Wednesday, before the fate of the victims was known, the Shamas denied responsibility for the youths' disappearance. The family issued a public call for any abductors to release Qabalan and Ghandour.
The Lebanese Army and police were heavily deployed along the streets and outside the mosque, with a particular concentration on roads dividing the predominately Shiite areas of the southern suburbs and the mostly Sunni areas of Tariq al-Jdideh and Qasqas.
Some of the mourners refused to point any fingers.
"We don't know who killed them and we should not jump to any conclusions at such a sensitive time," said Mohammad Mashmousha, one of the mourners at the funeral.
"There is a great push to drag Lebanon into a Sunni-Shiite clash," he added, "and so we must not fall into that trap."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Report: Olmert claims Iran nuclear program could be destroyed with tomahawk cruise missiles

Earlier remarks by Labor party candidate Ami Ayalon that Israeli submarines could handle the Iranian nuclear program threat were carefully expunged from Israeli printed media. However, a report now claims PM Ehud Olmert said that the Iranian program could be severely damaged by firing a thousand Tomahawk cruise missiles. Note that Olmert did not say that Israel has such missiles. Israel is not known to have cruise missiles, and the Dolphin submarines that Israel has today are probably not capable of reaching Iran without surfacing,  and recharging their batteries.
Various more or less mythical plans have been advanced in the past to stop the Iranian threat, including use of Israeli tactical nuclear cruise missiles (no evidence we have those) and long range air attacks with aircraft that Israel does not have. These imaginative literary productions are generally the work of foreign correspondents or of Israeli politicians. IDF and IAF does not leak actual operational plans to reporters like Uzi Mahna'imi for obvious reasons.
Olmert's assertion that Iran has not yet "gone nuclear," and therefore there is still time to stop the program, is not exactly true. It would probably take about three years for Iran to generate enough fissile material for a bomb if expert assessments are right. However, long before then, the Arak plant and the Bushehr plant and other installations may have considerable concentrations of highly radioactive material. Bombing them would release the material, and even if does not set off a fission reaction, it would produce unacceptable civilian casualties. Therefore, the window for stopping the Iranian nuclear program is much smaller than the time it takes them to produce sufficient quantities of fissionable material or to solve all the technical problems, including the detonator, the implosion mechanism and the miniaturization of the bomb for use as a warhead.  There is also no guarantee that Iran cannot get all this technology from a source such as Pakistan.
Below is the text of the item from Yedioth Ahronot (Ynet) Web site:
Ami Isseroff


Prime minister tells Germany's Focus magazine Islamic Republic's disputed nuclear program could be severely damaged by firing 1,000 cruise missiles in 10-day attack; 'nobody ruling military action out,' he says; PM's Office: Interview never took place
Gil Yaron Latest Update:  04.28.07, 17:03 / Israel News
Iran's disputed nuclear program could be severely hit by firing 1,000 cruise missiles in a 10-day attack, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Asked in an interview with Germany's Focus magazine whether military action would be an option if Iran continued to defy the United Nations, Olmert said: "Nobody is ruling it out."
The full interview with the prime minister will be published Sunday.
Focus magazine told Ynet that the interview took place last Wednesday, but sources close to the prime minister said the magazine's reporter was invited to the Prime Minister's Office for a closed meeting only as a representative of the New York Times and London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat.
The sources denied that Olmert made the remarks.
"It is impossible perhaps to destroy the entire nuclear program but it would be possible to damage it in such a way that it would be set back years," Olmert was quoted by the magazine as saying.
"It would take 10 days and would involve the firing of 1,000 Tomahawk cruise missiles."
MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) criticized Olmert's comments. "His careless behavior with the German press is very serious. The prime minister is again acting recklessly in his declarations of bombs and missiles, while severly damaging Israel's security," Steinitz said.
Iran says it is developing nuclear technology for power generation, but the West fears it is trying to build a bomb and two sets of UN sanctions have been imposed on Tehran.
'Ability to enrich on an industrial scale'
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana urged Washington on Friday to speak directly to Iran over its nuclear program and said he was sure Tehran was ready for such talks.
Focus quoted Olmert as saying UN sanctions should be given a chance to work before military action was considered.

"We must give the (UN) process time to take effect," he said. "We have no intention of attacking Iran at the moment."

Olmert said he doubted whether Iran's nuclear program was as far advanced as Tehran said.

"I don't think that Iran is about to cross the nuclear technology threshold as its leaders claim," he said. "We still have time to stop them."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has proclaimed Iran's ability to enrich on an "industrial scale", but UN inspectors say it remains at test level.
Iran would face further sanctions if it has not stopped enrichment by a new Security Council deadline of May 24.
The prime minister also warned of possible ramifications of an attack on Iran, saying it would "make the entire Iranian nation our enemy, turn other Muslim countries against us and cause even greater problems."
Turning his attention to the Saudi peace initiative, the prime minister said it could only serve as a starting point for future negotiations due to some of its "contradictory" clauses, such as the right of return.
"Do they want the Jewish state to commit suicide?" he asked.
Olmert said he did not know whether Syria's recent peace overtures were serious or not, but added that "Bashar Assad should be given the benefit of the doubt."
"As prime minister I cannot miss any chance for peace," he said. "Would my political rivals in Israel not punish me if I ignore Assad and a war breaks out with Syria as well?"
Reuters contributed to this article

First Published:  04.28.07, 13:33

Continued (Permanent Link)

The pro-terrorism lobby PR campaign

An Anti-Israel ad campaign for Washington DC subways is being dismissed as ineffective by pro-Israel groups, but any propaganda is effective to some extent. It reaches someone. It helps to popularize a slogan and an attitude. It builds sentiment and a support group incrementally. It would be wrong to try to quash the campaign, but it would surely be right to spend some resources in presenting the case for Israel in the same way. Unfortunately, in the 1950s and 1960s nobody launched a campaign to end the illegal Jordanian occupation of Jerusalem, and in 1914, nobody thought of launching a campaign to end the longest occupation in history, the foreign occupation of the land of Israel. And today, nobody is thinking of effective advertising campaigns to present the truth about Israeli Palestinian conflict.
The ACLU insisted that this unfair advertising campaign had to be allowed in order to provide "freedom of speech." The ACLU is incorrect. The Washington DC subways are a public utility, and the municipality and the directors of the subways have an obligation to keep unseemly racist and political propaganda out of the subways. Advertisements in support of the racial inferiority of black people would not be allowed in the subways under the rubric of "freedom of speech." Moreover, ACLU does not champion "freedom of speech" for causes it does not like. The film Obsession, which documents anti-American and anti-Israel incitement by radical Muslims and Palestinian Arabs, was banned from mainstream American movie theaters and blocked on campuses. The ACLU did not not take up their cause. "Freedom of expression" is guaranteed only for messages that certain people like, and not for others, but nobody seems to mind.
As Snoopy the Goon points out, boycott campaigns and ad campaigns have a cumulative effect, even if they are really representative of a tiny minority at first. Giving them publicity by protesting or blocking them will back-fire, but pro-active publicity and initiatives to counter them are essential.
Here is the full story of the Anti-Israel ad campaign :
WASHINGTON, D.C. - area commuters will be inundated with a controversial poster-ad campaign when they take the city's subway system next month.

Starting May 13 for four weeks, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has ordered 20 of its subway stations to place posters advertising a June 10 rally to end "Israel's illegal military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem."

Initiated by a charity called the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, the 46-by-60-inch posters depict an imposing tank pointing its main firing turret at a child with a schoolbag walking along a dirt road.

"Imagine if this were your child's path to school. Palestinians don't have to imagine," the poster states, before continuing to call for an end to U.S. aid for "Israel's brutal military occupation. paid for by U.S. taxpayers like you."

CBS Outdoor, the New York-based firm that places in-station advertising for WMATA, at first refused to consider the poster, but eventually relented to pressure from WMATA and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

According to an April 4 report in the Washington Jewish Week online, the U.S. Campaign contacted the ACLU, which then advised WMATA to order CBS Outdoor to place the posters, citing freedom of speech rights.

Joanne Ferreira, a WMATA spokesperson, said, "We didn't have any problem with the ad. It was a First Amendment issue."

In the same report, Oren Segal, a spokesperson for the Anti-Defamation League said, "If past events by this organization are any indication, it will make no attempt to present a balanced view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and this ad is a pure reflection of that."

Jodi Senese, CBS Outdoor's executive vice-president in charge of marketing, explained to The CJN last week why she first turned away the poster.

"I initially rejected it on grounds that I thought it was too inflammatory to children," she said over the phone from her Manhattan office.

Senese recalled that she told U.S. Campaign staff that if they wanted to raise awareness for their campaign, she was fine with it based on First Amendment rights, "but not like this," she said.

The U.S. Campaign claims 250 member organizations in the United States. Its website features a prominent logo with the slogan, "Apartheid: Wrong for South Africans. Wrong for Palestinians."

Senese, who is Jewish, indicated that though she was uneasy with the ad, her personal feelings were not a part of her initial decision to dismiss the ad.

"I'm very proud [of being a Jew]," Senese said. "I thought the image was inflammatory, but I also believe in our First Amendment rights. As Jews [in America], we thrive on that right as well."

Senese indicated at the time of the interview, that to her knowledge no other group had yet come forward with a counter-campaign for CBS Outdoor to run.

Arthur Spitzer, who is Jewish and the legal director for the ACLU in the National Capital Area, told the Washington Jewish Week it wasn't "a case about Judaism or Israel. but about establishing someone's right to freedom of speech, which I agree with regardless of whether I agree with their particular political position."

Jewish organizations in the D.C. area downplayed the seriousness of the upcoming campaign.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of Washington-based pro-Israel think-tank, the Israel Project, said her organization didn't consider the ad campaign worth wasting resources to counter in the media and expected the ads to have a "minimum impact."

She said when the Israel Project and other prominent Jewish organizations in the area first learned about the ad, they worried about its "ominous" potential.

They discussed the matter at length and then conducted several focus group studies on the ad with dozens of "highly educated people" before concluding the ad wasn't worth combating actively.

In fact, Laszlo Mizrahi claimed that of the dozens who analyzed the ad in the focus groups, upon first glance most thought the tank was an American one surrounded by Iraqi children. And even when they read the poster's words, participants had little sympathy for the cause, she said.

"It's a poorly run... poorly executed campaign and the American people are onto [the U.S. Campaign's] game," Laszlo Mizrahi said. "There are real, legitimate threats to the U.S.-Israel relationship - this is just not one of

"If these guys want to build support for their cause, they need to have something to sell that doesn't encourage children to blow themselves up."
Unfortunately, Laszlo Mizrahi is wrong. Our biggest enemy is complacency, based on the premise that "nobody will believe that crazy rubbish." People believe the darndest things, for reasons that have little to do with logic. The Hamas movement and Al-Qaeda have built their political empires based on the premise that one can encourage children and adults to blow themselves up. It seems crazy to the rest of us, but it works for them. And their "philosophy" is supported by political scientists who excuse terrorism and suicide bombing in different ways. Messages manage to make their way into people's minds in ways that defy logical analysis. If, for example, people at first mistake the tank for an American tank, they will link the Israeli occupation with the US war in Iraq, which most Americans now oppose. Rest assured, that if this campaign makes mistakes, the next ad campaign will learn from those mistakes. Where are our posters, showing the results of suicide bombings and the Muslim demonstrators carrying signs, "Europe is the Cancer, Islam is the answer?"
Ami Isseroff

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