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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Jihad in the catskills

Borscht Belt is now the Jihad belt it seems.

Radical Muslim paramilitary compound flourishes in upper New YorkState
Islamberg also has a website with photos:
By Paul L. Williams Ph.D., (author of THE DAY OF ISLAM)
With the able assistance of Douglas Hagmann, Bill Krayer and Michael Travis

Friday, May 11, 2007

Situated within a dense forest at the foothills of the Catskill Mountains on the outskirts of Hancock, New York, Islamberg is not an ideal place for a summer vacation unless, of course, you are an exponent of the Jihad or a fan of Osama bin Laden.

The 70 acre complex is surrounded with "No trespassing" signs; the rocky terrain is infested with rattlesnakes; and the woods are home to black bears, coyotes, wolves, and a few bobcats.

The entrance to the community is at the bottom of a very steep hill that is difficult to navigate even on a bright sunny day in May. The road, dubbed Muslim Lane, is unpaved and marred by deep crevices that have been created by torrential downpours. On a wintry day, few, save those with all terrain vehicles, could venture forth from the remote encampment.

A sentry post has been established at the base of the hill.

The sentry, at the time of this visit, is an African American dressed in Islamic garb - - a skull cap, a prayer shawl, and a loose fitting shalwat kameez. He instructs us to turn around and leave. "Our community is not open to visitors," he says.

Behind the sentry and across a small stream stand dozens of inhabitants of the compound - - the men wearing skull caps and loose fitting tunics, the women in full burqa. They appear ready to deal with any unauthorized intruders.

The hillside is blighted by rusty trailers that appear to be without power or running water and a number of outhouses. The scent of raw sewage is in the air.

The place is even off limits to the local undertaker who says that he has delivered bodies to the complex but has never been granted entrance. "They come and take the bodies from my hearse. They won't allow me to get past the sentry post. They say that they want to prepare the bodies for burial. But I never get the bodies back. I don't know what's going on there but I don't think it's legal."

On the other side of the hill where few dare to go is a tiny village replete with a make-shift learning center (dubbed the "International Quranic Open University"); a trailer converted into a Laundromat; a small, green community center; a small and rather squalid grocery store; a newly constructed majid; over forty clapboard homes; and scores of additional trailers.

It is home to hundreds - - all in Islamic attire, and all African-Americans. Most drive late model SUVs with license plates from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The locals say that some work as tollbooth operators for the New York State Thruway, while others are employed at a credit card processing center that maintains confidential financial records.

While buzzing with activity during the week, the place becomes a virtual hive on weekends. The guest includes arrivals from the inner cities of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania and, occasionally, white-robed dignitaries in Ray-Bans from the Middle East.

Venturing into the complex last summer, Douglas Hagmann, an intrepid investigator and director of the Northeast Intelligence Service, came upon a military training area at the eastern perimeter of the property. The area was equipped with ropes hanging from tall trees, wooden fences for scaling, a make-shift obstacle course, and a firing range. Hagmann said that the range appeared to have been in regular use.

Islamberg is not as benign as a Buddhist monastery or a Carmelite convent. Nearly every weekend, neighbors hear sounds of gunfire. Some, including a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, have heard the bang of small explosives. None of the neighbors wished to be identified for fear of "retaliation." "We don't even dare to slow down when we drive by," one resident said. "They own the mountain and they know it and there is nothing we can do about it but move, and we can't even do that. Who wants to buy a property near that?"
Islamberg's Grocery Store

The complex serves to scare the bejeesus out of the local residents. "If you go there, you better wear body armor," a customer at the Circle E Diner in Hancock said. "They have armed guards and if they shoot you, nobody will find your body."

At Cousins, a watering hole in nearby Deposit, a barfly, who didn't wish to be identified, said: "The place is dangerous. You can hear gunfire up there. I can't understand why the FBI won't shut it down."

Islamberg is a branch of Muslims of the Americas Inc., a tax-exempt organization formed in 1980 by Pakistani cleric Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, who refers to himself as "the sixth Sultan Ul Faqr," Gilani, has been directly linked by court documents to Jamaat ul-Fuqra or "community of the impoverished," an organization that seeks to "purify" Islam through violence.

Though primarily based in Lahore, Pakistan, Jamaat ul-Fuqra has operational headquarters in New York and openly recruits through various social service organizations in the U.S., including the prison system. Members live in hamaats or compounds, such as Islamberg, where they agree to abide by the laws of Jamaat ul-Fuqra, which are considered to be above local, state and federal authority. Additional hamaats have been established in Hyattsville, Maryland; Red House, Virginia; Falls Church, Virginia; Macon, Georgia; York, South Carolina; Dover, Tennessee; Buena Vista, Colorado; Talihina, Oklahoma; Tulane Country, California; Commerce, California; and Onalaska, Washington. Others are being built, including an expansive facility in Sherman, Pennsylvania.

Before becoming a citizen of Islamberg or any of the other Fuqra compounds, the recruits - - primarily inner city black men who became converts in prison - - are compelled to sign an oath that reads: "I shall always hear and obey, and whenever given the command, I shall readily fight for Allah's sake."

In the past, thousands of members of the U.S. branches of Jamaat ul-Fuqra traveled to Pakistan for paramilitary training, but encampments, such as Islamberg, are now capable of providing book-camp training so raw recruits are no longer required to travel abroad amidst the increased scrutiny of post 9/11.

Over the years, numerous members of Jamaat ul-Fuqra have been convicted in US courts of such crimes as conspiracy to commit murder, firebombing, gun smuggling, and workers' compensation fraud. Others remain leading suspects in criminal cases throughout the country, including ten unsolved assassinations and seventeen fire-bombings between 1979 and 1990.

The criminal charges against the group and the criminal convictions are not things of the past. In 2001, a resident of a California compound was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of a sheriff's deputy; another was charged with gun-smuggling' and twenty-four members of the Red House community were convicted of firearms violations.

By 2004 federal investigators uncovered evidence that linked both the DC "sniper killer" John Allen Muhammed and "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid to the group and reports surfaced that Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was captured and beheaded in the process of attempting to obtain an interview with Sheikh Gilani in Pakistan.

Even though Jamaat ul-Fuqra has been involved in terror attacks and sundry criminal activities, recruited thousands of members from federal and state penal systems, and appears to be operating paramilitary facilities for militant Muslims, it remains to be placed on the official US Terror Watch List. On the contrary, it continues to operate, flourish, and expand as a legitimate nonprofit, tax-deductible charity.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israem FM's statement that Israel wants peace attacked by Likud politicians

Israel Foreign Minister Livni generated political havoc by stating the obvious to Egyptian interviewers:
"I believe I represent most Israelis and I can confirm that Gaza is not the last move. We are convinced that in order to establish a Palestinian state we must withdraw from additional territories" said Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in an interview to the Egyptian weekly al-Ahram during her visit to Cairo.
She did not specify if this would be a unilateral withdrawal or part of an agreement. She also said:

"The majority of Israeli people not only understand the need for peace, but also the need to reach compromises in order to reach peace.
"In this context I represent the opinion of the majority, which supports a solution of two states, one for Jews and one for Palestinians, and this means that the road to a Palestinian state begins by renouncing terror – something which I believe represents not only Israel's interest, but also the Palestinians' interest.
"Israel made a number of concessions and took some courageous steps, like in our pullout from the Gaza Strip and in the removal of all the settlements. Thus, we conveyed a message to the Palestinians that we mean what we say," Livni said.
The foreign minister rejected the interviewer's claim that Gaza was a burden on Israel.
"When I decide to uproot 7,000 settlers from their homes, many of whom were born in Gaza, it is untrue to say that their presence there was a burden on Israel. Believe me, this decision was a courageous, difficult and painful decision.
"The goal was to convey a message to the world and the Palestinians that we are serious. At the same time, we wanted to say that we do not wish to control the Palestinians," Livni said.
She added that the decision to withdraw from the Strip derived from a vision of peace.
"What held up the peace process was not Israel's unwillingness, but the inability of the moderate Palestinians who believe in a two-state solution to control violence."
The vicissitudes of politics are such, however, that it is not possible to make the most innocuous and straightforward statements, without suffering attack from every faction. The Likud attacked her for mentioning the W word at all. According to them, Israel must never withdraw from anywhere apparently. The occupation will go on for ever, but somehow there will be peace. The left attacked her for not implementing the withdrawals.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Uri Avnery on the one state solution

Uri Avnery debated anti-Zionist Ilan Pappe on the question of the two state solution versus the one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The transcript of his openning speech below is headed: One State: Solution or Utopia. This is a mistake, because a utopia is something desirable generally. A one state solution should be shunned because it is wrong, not just because it is unattainable. It is wrong because it denies the Jews the right to exist as a people.   Unlike a previous Avnery pronouncement on this issue, at least Avnery does not represent Zionism as only a necessary evil that must be tolerated. Still, he makes mistakes.
For example, Avnery is very proud of the economic argument:
Let's examine this state, not as an imaginary creature, the epitome of perfection, but as it would be in reality.

In this state, the Israelis will be dominant. They have a complete superiority in practically all spheres - quality of life, military power, technological capabilities. The average per annum income of an Israeli is 25 times (25 times!) higher than that of an average Palestinian - $ 20,000 as against $ 800. The Israelis will see to it that the Palestinians will be the hewers of wood and the drawers of water for a long, long time.
It will be an occupation by other means. A disguised occupation. It will not end the conflict, but open another phase.
But the reality is different. As Avnery knows, the Nazis found no difficulty in depriving Jews of their wealth. When the Arab majority of the democratic one state solution decides to "return" all the "stolen" property of the Arabs of Palestine to its "rightful" owners, they will own the glass and concrete and steel towers of Herzliyah Pituah and Givat Shmuel and Ramat Gan, and the Jews will work for them. Then there will be an income differential, in the other direction.
Avnery also errs in this regard. He writes:
Ilan Pappe and I are partners in the battle against the occupation. I respect his courage. We stand side by side in a joint struggle...
Is it so? Pappe does not want to end the occupation. He wants to end Israel. For Pappe, a solution that put an end to the occupation in a peaceful and fair way, without destroying the Jewish state, would be an unmitigated disaster. It would mean the triumph of Zionism, which he considers to be inherently evil, and it would deprive him of the occupation and the misery of the Palestinians as levers to pry away at the occupation. In a similar way, Communists were not interested in alleviating the suffering of the poor workers, but rather in using the suffering as a platform for revolution.
It is important for Palestinian Arabs as well as for Jewish peace advocates like Avnery to understand this point. Anti-Zionists are not the allies of Jews or Palestinian Arabs who want peace. For them, Palestinian Arabs are simply a tool for destroying Zionism. If the Palestinian Arabs are no longer a useful tool, they will be discarded in favor of a more effective one. The refugees and their suffering and the occupation and its injustices, are not really evils for Pappe, but rather assets in his battle to destroy Zionism. He would not want to destroy the refugee asset by resettling the refugees, nor would he want to lose the occupation asset by ending the occupation, unless the Jewish state is destroyed in the process.
Ami Isseroff  
Uri Avnery

THIS IS not a duel to the death of gladiators in a Roman arena.

Ilan Pappe and I are partners in the battle against the occupation. I respect his courage. We stand side by side in a joint struggle, but we advocate two sharply opposing goals.

WHAT IS the disagreement about?

We have no disagreement about the past. We agree that Zionism, which has made its mark on history and created the State of Israel, also brought a historic injustice upon the Palestinian people. The occupation is an abominable situation, and it must be ended. No debate about that.
Perhaps we also have no disagreement about the distant future. About what should happen in a hundred years. We shall touch upon that later in the evening.
But we have a sharp disagreement about the foreseeable future - the solution for the bleeding conflict during the next 20, 30, 50 years.

This is not a theoretical debate. We cannot say, as the Hebrew expression goes, "May every man live with his own faith", and may peace reign in the peace movement. Between these two alternatives there can be no compromise - we have to decide, we have to choose, because they dictate quite different strategies and different tactics - not tomorrow, but today, here and now. The difference is fateful.
For example: Should we concentrate our efforts on the struggle for public opinion in Israel, or should we give up on the struggle here and concentrate on the struggle abroad?
I AM an Israeli. I stand with both feet on the ground of Israeli reality. I want to change this reality radically. But I want the State of Israel to exist.
Anyone who opposes the existence of Israel as a state that expresses our Israeli identity deprives himself of any possibility to act here. All his activities in Israel are doomed to failure.

A person can despair and say: There's nothing to be done. Everything is lost. We have passed the "point of no return". The situation is "irreversible". We have nothing more to do in this country.

Everyone can despair for a moment. Perhaps each of us has despaired at one time or other. But one should not turn despair into an ideology. Despair destroys the ability to act.

I say: There is no reason at all for despair. Nothing is lost. Nothing in life is "irreversible", except life itself. There is no such thing as a "point of no return".
I am 83 years old. In my lifetime, I have seen the advent of the Nazis and their downfall. I have seen the Soviet Union at its zenith and watched its collapse. A day before the fall of the Berlin wall, no German believed that he would witness that moment in his lifetime. The smartest experts did not foresee it. Because in history, there are subterranean streams that nobody perceives in real time. That's why the theoretical analyses are so rarely confirmed.

Nothing is lost until the fighters raise their hands and say that all is lost. Raising hands is no solution. Neither is it moral.

In our situation, a person who despairs has three alternatives: (a) emigration, (b) inner emigration, which means to stay at home and do nothing, or (c) escape to the world of ideal solutions for the days of the Messiah.
The third alternative is the most dangerous at the moment, because the situation is critical, especially for the Palestinians. There is no time for a solution in 100 years. We need an urgent solution, a solution that can be realized within a few years.

It has been said that Avnery is old, he sticks to old solutions, he is unable to absorb a new idea. And I wonder: a new idea?

The idea of One Joint State was old when I was a boy. It flourished in the 30s of the last century. But it went bankrupt. The idea of the Two State solution grew in the soil of the new reality.
If I may be permitted to make a personal remark: I am not a historian. I was alive when it happened. I am an eye witness, an ear witness, a feeling witness. As a soldier in the 1948 war, as the editor of a news magazine for 40 years, as a Knesset member for 10 years, as an activist of Gush Shalom - I have seen the events from different angles. My hand is on the public pulse.

THERE ARE three questions concerning the One State idea: (1) Is it at all possible? (2) If it is possible - is it good? (3) Will it bring a just peace?

AS TO the first question, my absolutely unequivocal answer is: No, it is not possible.
Anyone connected with the Israeli-Jewish public knows that its innermost desire is the existence of a state with a Jewish majority. A state where the Jews are masters of their fate. That desire trumps all other aims, even the desire for a state in All of Eretz-Israel.

One can talk about One State from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, a bi-national or non-national state - in practice what it means is the dismantling of the State of Israel. The negation of all the nation-building that has been carried out by five generations. That must be said clearly, without mumbling and equivocation, and that's what the public - the Jewish, and certainly the Palestinian - quite rightly thinks it is. What we are talking about is the dismantling of the State of Israel.

We want to change many things in this state, its historical narrative, its accepted definition as a "Jewish and democratic" state. We want to put an end to the occupation outside and the discrimination inside. We want to create a new basis for the relationship between the state and its Arab-Palestinian citizens. But it is impossible to
 ignore the basic ethos of the huge majority of the state's citizens.

99.99% of the Jewish public do not want to dismantle the state. And that's quite natural.
There is an illusion that this can be changed through pressure from outside. Will outside pressure compel this people to give up the state?

I propose to you a simple test: think for a moment about your neighbors at home, at work or at the university. Would any one of them give up the state because somebody abroad wants them to? Because of pressure from Europe? Even pressure from the White House? No, nothing but a crushing military defeat on the battlefield will compel the Israelis to give up their state. And if that happens, our debate will become irrelevant anyhow.

The majority of the Palestinian people, too, want a state of their own. It is needed to satisfy their most basic aspirations, to restore their national pride, to heal their trauma. Even the chiefs of Hamas, with whom we have talked, want it. Anyone who thinks otherwise is laboring under an illusion. There are Palestinians who talk about One State, but for most of those, it is just a code-word for the dismantling of the State of Israel. They, too, know that it is utopian.

There are also some Palestinians who delude themselves into thinking that if they talk about One State, it will frighten the Israelis so much that they will agree to the establishment of the Palestinian state next to Israel. But the result of this Machiavellian thinking is quite the opposite: it frightens the Israelis and pushes them into the arms of the Right. It arouses the fearful dog of ethnic cleansing, which is sleeping in the corner. That dog must not be forgotten for a moment.

ALL OVER the world, the tendency is going the other way: not the creation of new multi-national states, but on the contrary, the breaking up of states into national components. In Scotland, this week, victory was achieved by a party that wants to split from England. The French-speaking minority in Canada is always wavering on the brink of secession. Kosovo is about to gain independence from Serbia. The Soviet Union has broken up into its component parts, Chechnya wants to separate from Russia, Yugoslavia has broken apart, Cyprus has broken apart, the Basques want independence, Corsicans want independence, in Sri Lanka a civil war is raging, the same as in the Sudan. In Indonesia, the stitches are coming loose in a dozen different places. Belgium has endless problems.

In the entire world there is no example of two different nations deciding of their own free will to live together in one state. There is no example - except Switzerland - of a bi-national or multi-national state really functioning. (And the example of Switzerland, which has grown for centuries in a unique process, is the proverbial exception that proves the rule.)

To hope that after 120 years of conflict, into which a fifth generation has already been born, there could be a transition from total war to total peace in a joint state, giving up all aspiration to independence - that is a complete illusion.

HOW IS this idea to be realized? The advocates of the One State never go into this in detail.

It is supposed, so it seems, to come about something like this: the Palestinians will give up their Struggle for Liberation and their aspiration for a national state of their own. They will announce that they want to live in a joint state with the Israelis. After the establishment of this state, they will have to fight for their civil rights. People of goodwill around the world will support their struggle, as they once did in South Africa. They will impose a boycott. They will isolate the state. Millions of refugees will come back to the country. Thus the wheel will turn back and the Palestinian majority will attain power.

How much time will that take? Two generations? Three generations? Four generations?

Does anyone imagine how such a state will function in practice? The inhabitant of Bil'in will pay the same taxes as the inhabitant of Kfar-Sava? The inhabitants of Jenin will enact a constitution together with the inhabitants of Netanya? The inhabitants of Hebron and the settlers will serve in the same army and the same police force, shoulder to shoulder, and will be subject to the same laws? Is that realistic?

Some say: but that situation already exists. Israel is already governing one state from the sea to the river. One has only to change the regime. But nothing of the sort exists. What does exist are an occupying state and an occupied territory.

It is far, far easier to dismantle settlements than to compel six million Jewish Israelis to dismantle the state.
NO, THE ONE STATE will not come into being. But let's ask ourselves - if it did come into being, would that be a good thing?

My answer is: absolutely not.
Let's examine this state, not as an imaginary creature, the epitome of perfection, but as it would be in reality.
In this state, the Israelis will be dominant. They have a complete superiority in practically all spheres - quality of life, military power, technological capabilities. The average per annum income of an Israeli is 25 times (25 times!) higher than that of an average Palestinian - $ 20,000 as against $ 800. The Israelis will see to it that the Palestinians will be the hewers of wood and the drawers of water for a long, long time.
It will be an occupation by other means. A disguised occupation. It will not end the conflict, but open another phase.
WILL THIS solution bring a just peace? Hardly.

This state will be a battlefield. Each side will try to take over as much land as possible and bring in as many persons as possible. The Jews will fight by all means to prevent the Arabs from becoming the majority and coming to power. In practice, this will be an apartheid state. If the Arabs become the majority and try to assume power, there will be a struggle that may become a civil war. A new edition of 1948.

Even an advocate of the One State solution must admit that the struggle will go on for several generations. Much blood may flow, and the results are far from assured.

The idea is utopian. To realize it, one has to change the people, perhaps the two peoples. One has to create a new human being. That's what the Communists tried to do at the start of the Soviet Union. That's what the founders of the kibbutz tried to do. Unfortunately, the human being has not changed.

Utopianism can bring about terrible consequences. The vision of "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb" requires the provision of a new lamb every day.

There are some who cite the model of South Africa. A beautiful and encouraging example. Unfortunately, there is hardly any similarity between the problem there and the problem here.

In South Africa, there were no two nations , each with a tradition, a language and a religion that go back for more than a thousand years. Neither the whites not the blacks wanted a separate state of their own, nor did they ever live in two separate states. The one state had already existed for a long time, and the struggle was over power in this one state.

The bosses of South Africa were racists, who admired the Nazis and were incarcerated during World War II because of that. It was easy to boycott their state in all fields of activity. Israel, on the other hand, is accepted by the world as the State of the Holocaust Survivors, and apart from small groups, nobody will boycott it. It is enough for the Israelis to point out that the first step on the way to Auschwitz was the Nazi slogan "Kauft nicht bei Juden" - Don't buy from Jews.

Furthermore, a world-wide boycott will arouse in the hearts of many Jews all over the world the deepest fears of Anti-Semitism, and will push them into the arms of the extreme Right.

A quite different thing is a focused boycott against specific elements of the occupation. We were the pioneers of this approach, when, more than ten years ago, we started a boycott of the products of the settlements and pulled the European Union along with us.

By the way, experts on South Africa tell me that the effects of the boycott are much overrated. The boycott was not the main factor that brought the apartheid regime down, but the international situation. The United States supported the regime as a bastion in the fight against Communism. Once the Soviet Union had collapsed, the Americans just dropped South Africa.

The relationship between the US and Israel is immeasurably more profound and complex. It has deep
 ideological layers - a similar national narrative, the Christian Evangelist theology, and more.
THE TWO STATE solution is the only practical solution in the realm of reality.
It is ridiculous to assert that it has been defeated. The very opposite is true. In the most important sphere, the collective consciousness, it is winning all out.
On the morrow of the 1948 war, when we raised this flag for the first time in Israel, we were a tiny band. We could be counted on the fingers of two hands. Everybody denied that a Palestinian people even existed. In the late 60s I tramped around Washington DC and spoke with officials at the White House, the Department of State, the National Security Council and the US delegation to the UN - nobody there was prepared to entertain this idea.
Now there is a world-wide consensus that this is the only solution. The United States, Russia, Europe, Israeli public opinion, Palestinian public opinion, the Arab League. One has to realize the full meaning of this: the entire Arab world now supports this solution. This is extremely important for the future.
Why did this happen? After all, it is not that we are so gifted as to win over the whole world. No, it is the inner logic of this solution that conquered the globe. True, some of the new adherents of this solution only pay lip service to it. Perhaps they use it to divert attention from their real aims. People like Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert act as if they support this idea, while in reality their intention is to keep the occupation forever. But this shows that even they realize that they cannot go on opposing the Two State solution openly. When the whole world recognizes that this is the only practical solution - it will, in the end, be realized.
THE PARAMETERS are well known, and they, too, now enjoy world-wide agreement:
A Palestinian state will come into being next to Israel.
The border between them will be based on the Green Line, perhaps with an agreed-upon and equal swap of territories.
Jerusalem will be the capital of the two states.
There will be an agreed-upon solution of the refugee problem. In practice, this means that an agreed number will return to Israel, and the rest will be rehabilitated in the State of Palestine or in their present places of domicile, with the payment of generous compensation that will turn them into welcome guests. When there is an agreed plan that tells every refugee family what their choices are, it must be submitted to the refugees wherever they are. They must be partners in the final decision.
There will be an economic partnership, in which the Palestinian government will be able to defend Palestinian interests, unlike the present situation. The very existence of two states will mitigate, at least to some extent, the huge difference of power between the two sides.
In the more distant future - a Middle Eastern union, on the model of the EU, that may also include Turkey and Iran.
The obstacles are well known, and they are big. They cannot be circumvented by patent medicine. They must be faced and overcome. Here, in Israel, we must weaken the fears and anxieties, and point out the benefits and profit that we will gain from the creation of a Palestinian state at our side.
We must bring about a change of consciousness. But we have already come a long way, from the days when the entire public denied the very existence of the Palestinian people, rejected the idea of a Palestinian state, rejected the partition of Jerusalem, rejected any dialogue with the PLO, rejected an agreement with Arafat. In all these areas our stand trickled down and has been accepted in various degrees.
It is clear that this is still far from what is necessary. But that is the direction things are moving - and there are hundreds of opinion polls to show it.
REAL OBSTACLES to the Two State solution can be overcome. They are small compared to the obstacles on the way to One State. I would say: the ratio is 1:1000. It is like a boxer who fails to win against a lightweight opponent, and therefore chooses to confront a heavyweight. Or an athlete who fails in the 100 meter sprint and therefore enters the marathon. Or somebody who despairs of climbing Mont Blanc and therefore decides to climb Mount Everest.
No doubt, the One State idea gives its adherents moral satisfaction. Somebody told me: OK, it is not realistic, but it is moral, and that is the place where I want to be. I say: that is a luxury we cannot afford. When the fate of so many human beings is in the balance, a moral stand that is not realistic is immoral. I repeat: a moral stand that is not realistic is immoral.
There are those that despair because the peace forces have not succeeded in putting an end to the occupation. We have remained a small minority. The government and the media ignore us. True. But we, too, bear a part of the responsibility for that. We have not been thinking enough, we have not identified the reasons for the failures. When was the last time a thorough discussion of the strategies and tactics of the fight for peace took place?
We have not succeeded in connecting with the Oriental Jewish community. We have remained strangers to the Russian immigrants. We don't even have a real partnership with the Arab-Palestinian community inside Israel. We have not found the way to touch the hearts of the general public. We have not succeeded in creating a unified and efficient political force that would be able to exert an influence on the Knesset and the government. We must examine ourselves.

IT IS not enough to point out that the One State solution cannot be realized. This "solution" is also very dangerous.

It diverts the efforts into a mistaken direction. We see this already happening. It both results from despair and produces despair. It causes people to desert the battlefield in Israel and creates the illusion that the real battlefield is abroad. That is escapism.

1. It causes the loss of irreplaceable time. Tens of years, in which terrible things can happen to the Palestinians, and also to us. Anyone who is afraid of ethnic cleansing (and rightly so) must be conscious of this danger and this urgency.

2. It divides the peace camp and deepens the gap between it and the public. It strengthens the Right, because it frightens the sane public and causes it to lose sight of a sensible solution.
3. It pulls the rug from under the feet of those who fight against the occupation. If the whole country between the sea and the Jordan is to become one state anyhow, then the settlers can put their settlements anywhere they like.
4. It strengthenes the argument that there is "no solution" to the conflict. If the Two State solution is wrong, and if the One State solution is not realizable, then the Right is correct in claiming that there is no solution at all - an argument that justifies every evil, from the eternal occupation to ethnic cleansing. No solution means an endless occupation.

Let us be clear: there will be no end to the occupation as long as there is no peace agreement.
AS FOR the distant future, perhaps we shall meet at unexpected places.
When we reach the station that is called peace between two states, everyone will be free to choose what his next station should be.
Somebody will want to strive for the amalgamation of the two states into one? Go ahead. Somebody will think that the Two State solution is good for ever? Why not. Somebody will think, like me, that the two states will move gradually, with mutual consent all along the way, towards a confederation or federation? Welcome.
(At our very first meeting in 1982, Yasser Arafat spoke with me about a Benelux solution, like the one that existed for some time between Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg) - Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and perhaps even Lebanon. He continued to talk about this until the end.)
Experience proves that the classic national state is here to stay formally, everyone under his own flag, while in practice many of its functions are being transferred to super-national structures, like the European Union.
(By the way, when the idea of uniting Europe was first aired, many people wanted to create the United States of Europe, on the American model. Charles de Gaulle warned against ignoring national feelings. He called for a "Europe des patries", a Europe based on national states. Fortunately, his view prevailed, and now life does the rest.)
Something like this, I assume, will in the end happen here, too. But for now, we must treat the immediate problem. We have before us an injured person, bleeding profusely. The bleeding has to be stopped and the wound has to be healed before we can treat the roots of the disease.
SUMMING UP, this is my opinion:
The situation is terrible (as always), but we are progressing nevertheless.
True, on the surface the situation is depressing and shocking: the settlements are getting bigger, the wall is getting longer, the occupation is causing untold injustices every day.
Perhaps it is the advantage of age: today, at the age of 83, I am able to look at things in the perspective of a much longer time span.
Because under the surface, things are moving in the opposite direction. All the polls prove that the decisive majority of the Israeli public is resigned to the existence of the Palestinian people and is resigned to the necessity of a Palestinian state. The government recognized the PLO yesterday and will recognize Hamas tomorrow. The majority has more or less accepted that Jerusalem must become the capital of the two states. In ever widening circles, there is the beginning of a recognition of the narrative of the other nation.
There is a world-wide consensus on the Two State solution, which has been reached by way of elimination: in reality, there is no other. But in order to be realized, support must come from the inside, from the Israeli public.
This support we must create. That is our job.
And a word of warning: we must beware of utopias. A utopia looks like a light at the end of the tunnel. It warms the heart. But it is a deceptive light that can induce us to enter a branch of the tunnel from which there is no exit.
We have never heard answers to the two decisive questions about the One State solution: how will it come about and how will it function in practice? But without clear answers to these questions, this is not a plan but a
vision, at best.
True, 120 years of conflict have created in our people a huge accumulation of hate, prejudice, suppressed guilt feelings, stereotypes, fear (most importantly, fear) and absolute mistrust of the Arabs. These we must fight, to convince the public that peace is worthwhile and good for the future of Israel. Together with a change in the international situation and a partnership with the Palestinian people, our chances of achieving peace are good.
I, anyhow, have decided to stay alive until this happens.

[Translated text of Avnery's opening remarks during the public debate in Tel-Aviv between Uri Avnery and Ilan Pappe organized by Gush Shalom - on May 8, 2000. The full transcription will be there soon. This is based on Avnery's own notes.]

Continued (Permanent Link)

Debkafiles: Jordanians seek to link to Palestinians

The imaginative Debkafiles reports that Jordan may be seeking to link to, or control, the West Bank. It might be so, and it might now be. Not clear what this is, or even if it is really true, but it is interesting...
It is not clear to me why Jordan helping Palestinians to negotiate with Israel will help Jordanian security, or how acquiring the West Bank mess will prevent chaos in Jordan.
Ami Isseroff

Jordan's Abdullah may fly to Ramallah Sunday for talks with Mahmoud Abbas on new plan, first revealed Friday in DEBKAfile Exclusive. The plan to link Jordan and West Bank was presented to Israel and Palestinians last week by a high-ranking Jordanian emissary
May 11, 2007, 12:44 PM (GMT+02:00)    
King Abdullah II of Jordan looks back to the West Bank

Abdullah's travel plan to Ramallah is not officially confirmed. Next week, he meets Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert in Petra.
Earlier, our Middle East sources revealed: Amman proposes a new state framework linking Jordan and the Palestinian Authority to be established before the rise of an independent Palestinian state. Amman is not thinking in terms of confederation or the West Bank's reversion to annexed Hashemite territory, the status it held before Jordan's 1967 war defeat.
Former Jordanian prime minister Abdul Salem Majali, who led the negotiations which culminated in the 1994 peace accord with Israel, presented the outline to Israeli and Palestinian leaders. It also calls for Jordanians to be part of the Palestinian team holding final-status negotiations with Israel. Amman is acting out of concern for the shaky Palestinian Authority, but DEBKAfile notes that the framework could draw Israeli into backdoor recognition of Hamas's role in Palestinian government.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia are not in favor of these links. Cairo suspects that if the arrangement works on the West Bank, the Jordanians will want to scoop up the Gaza Strip too. Riyadh is historically opposed to any enhancement of the Hashemite throne, a former rival.
Olmert assigned Kadima member of the Knesset foreign affairs committee Othniel Schneller to discuss the initiative with Majali, who then presented it in broad lines to a number of Israeli politicians - from the left-wing Meretz leader Yossi Beilin to the right-wing minister Avigdor Lieberman. The king, he said, had not yet signed off onto the project whose exact shape has yet to be determined. It was gaining support among the heads of Jordan's security services as a strategy for fortifying the kingdom against the shocks of the US troop withdrawal from Iraq, which would leave the kingdom exposed on two fronts: Iraq, where Amman expects the US military to start pulling out in late summer, and the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority is on its last legs. Its breakdown would engulf the territory in the sort of chaos and violence which has swept the Gaza Strip.
DEBKAfile's military sources disclose exclusively that the kingdom has set in train military and securing preparations for the coming upheavals. King Abdullah is convinced that resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict is more urgent than ever.
The Jordanian initiative if finalized would kick off, according to Majali, with Jordanian-Palestinian talks for two objectives:
1. To delineate the relationship and define the political and security links between Jordan and the West Bank.
2. To forge a Jordanian-Palestinian consensus on the demands put to Israel in negotiations for a permanent solution of the conflict.
Sources close to Israeli security circles doubt the tottering Palestinian Authority will survive long enough to see the final shape of the Jordanian plan. Amman will then have to choose another Palestinian partner, an alternative to Abbas.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Truman and the birth of Israel

Book Excerpt: A Case of Courage
Exclusive Book Excerpt: Truman and the birth of Israel
By Michael Beschloss
May 14, 2007 issue - As the Wednesday afternoon sun slanted through the tall windows of the Oval Office, Gen. George Marshall, Harry Truman's secretary of State and the architect of victory in World War II, took a chair beside the president's. Sitting in front of the president's desk, befitting his more junior position, was Truman's White House counsel, Clark Clifford. On Friday, May 14, 1948, at midnight, two days from now, the British would withdraw from Palestine. The United Nations had resolved to divide the region into one Jewish state and one Arab state, with ancient, holy Jerusalem as an international city. Despite the U.N. plan, five Arab armies were ready to kill the fledgling Jewish state.

Clifford implored Truman to recognize the new nation as soon as it was declared. If the U.S. granted legitimacy, so would its allies, allowing the Jewish state to survive. But Marshall advised Truman to keep his distance, warning that the Jews could never stave off Arab legions who far outnumbered them. If they came "running to us for help," the U.S. would have to say no. In what Clifford called "a righteous Goddamned Baptist tone," Marshall said, "If you follow Clifford's advice ... I would vote against you." Shaken to be condemned by the national hero he called "the great one of the age," Truman later warned Clifford, "I can't afford to lose General Marshall!"
Truman's ultimate decision about a Jewish state—one of the most significant foreign-policy decisions in U.S. history—emerged from a storm of cross-pressures and motives. He was besieged by Zionists, anti-Zionists, Democratic politicians eager to court the Jewish vote in an election year and diplomats afraid to rile the Arabs. He felt compassion for the Holocaust survivors still in European camps and reverence for Biblical history. But he feared as well that the new state might require defense by U.S. troops and dreaded that respected leaders like Marshall would accuse him of warping American diplomacy to his own cheap political needs. Truman also had to rise above his own lingering small-town parlor anti-Semitism. Even as president, he privately said malicious things about American Jews to his wife, his friends and his diary that were unworthy of the towering leader he had become.

In April 1945, as Harry Truman became president and Allied soldiers liberated the death camps of Europe, Americans were learning about the terrible reach of the Holocaust. For many American Jews, the Holocaust showed that they must never again depend on the kindness of strangers: only a Jewish state could protect their people from another Hitler. They feared that the small-town Missouri Baptist in the White House could not possibly understand their predicament. They did not know that Truman had grown up knowing Jews or that he had studied their history since boyhood.
For two years in Independence, a Jewish family called the Viners lived next door to Truman's family. As Sarah Viner much later recalled, her brother Abe was "very close friends" with the future president: "Harry was always over at our house ... I think this was his first contact with Jewish people." On the Sabbath, when observant Jews could not do household chores, Harry served as the Viners' "Shabbos goy."
While a 16-year-old student at Independence High School, young Truman was assigned to write about Shylock, Shakespeare's Jewish villain in "The Merchant of Venice," in an essay discovered in 2000. Given vast potential for indulging in anti-Semitism when writing of Shylock, Truman viewed the Jewish people with unexpected sympathy: "We cannot blame Shylock for getting money as a means for revenge upon those who persecuted him. He was not a miser, and if one of his own nation had been in trouble, he would have helped him as quickly as a Christian would help a Christian ... I never saw Jew, Christian or any other man who, if he had the chance, wouldn't take revenge."
Truman went on to insist that no one "except the Hebrews" had "ruled" the world, then "when they fell," remained "a distinct people." He wrote that after 2,000 years, the Jews were "a nation apart from nations ... persecuted for their religion," still "waiting for a leader" to gather their "scattered people."
In the wake of the holocaust, many American Jewish leaders blamed themselves for not having demanded that their government do more to stop it. Believing now that the survival of the European detainees and their entire people was at stake, they cast off the polite deference that leaders now derided as "court Jews" had once used around Franklin Roosevelt. In July 1946, Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver pounded on Truman's desk and bellowed at him about an Anglo-American committee report that let Holocaust survivors into Palestine, but not with U.S. military support to protect them.

That same month, the two Democratic senators from New York and a pro-Zionist ex-diplomat, James McDonald, came to complain about the report. His back up, Truman told them he thought it was "marvelous." McDonald warned the president he was "scrapping" the Jewish cause in Palestine and would "go down in history as anathema." Truman erupted: "You cannot satisfy the Jews anyway ... They are not interested in the United States. They are interested in Palestine and the Jews ... The Jews aren't going to write the history of the United States—or my history!" Tactlessly, McDonald noted that FDR had understood the "imponderables" of the issue. "I am not Roosevelt!" cried Truman. "I am not from New York. I am from the Middle West. I must do what I think is right."
Truman had always been hypersensitive to any efforts to bulldoze him—and he was determined to show that it couldn't be done. With an eternal chip on his shoulder against the arrogant and powerful, Truman thus bridled at the intense, well-financed Zionist apparatus. He complained to Eleanor Roosevelt that "Jews are like all underdogs. When they get on top, they are just as intolerant and cruel as the people were to them when they were underneath." He banned Zionist leaders from the Oval Office. In a passage of his diary discovered in 2003, Truman wrote, "The Jews have no sense of proportion, nor do they have any judgment on world affairs ... The Jews, I find, are very, very selfish."
Truman consulted his wife, Bess, almost every night about the issues he was dealing with. She was unlikely to have urged him to support a Jewish homeland. After Truman left office, the talk-show host David Susskind spent some time in Independence to interview the ex-president for a TV series. Susskind asked Truman why he never asked him inside his home. By Susskind's account, Truman replied, "You're a Jew, David, and no Jew has ever been in the house. Bess runs it, and there's never been a Jew inside the house in her or her mother's lifetime." (As late as 1957, long after his cardinal role in creating a Jewish homeland, Truman would still write to Bess that New York City was "the U.S. capital of Israel.")
Anxious about their exclusion, Jewish leaders searched for some new way to reach the president. A Kansas City attorney named A. J. Granoff got a call from a national official of the Jewish fraternal organization B'nai B'rith: "Do you know a man by the name of Jacobstein ... who is supposed to be a very close friend of President Truman?" "You mean Eddie Jacobson," said Granoff. "Sure, I ought to! I'm his friend and lawyer."

In 1917, the genial, quiet Private Jacobson clerked in an Army canteen at Camp Doniphan, Oklahoma, under Lieutenant Harry Truman. Truman wrote his girlfriend, Bess Wallace, back in Independence, that he had a "Jew clerk" running his canteen and that Jacobson was "a crackerjack." After fighting the Germans in France, the two friends opened a men's store in Kansas City, with Harry as salesman-bookkeeper, Eddie as buyer and many old Battery D pals as customers. Then came the postwar depression. "I lost all I had and all I could borrow," said Truman. "Our creditors drove Eddie into bankruptcy, but I became a public official, and they couldn't do that to me."
The friendship survived. during senator Truman's visits to Kansas City, the ex-partners drank bourbon, played poker, told off-color stories and joked about "losing our asses in that store." But the friendship did not include their wives and families. Jacobson's wife, Bluma, recalled that Bess Truman's Wallace relatives were "aristocracy in those parts" and that "the Trumans couldn't afford to have Jews at their house."
In the summer of 1947, Jacobson sat down at Kansas City's Hotel Muehlebach with Granoff and Frank Goldman, the national president of B'nai B'rith. He told them he would never ask Truman for a personal favor, but would "always be glad" to discuss with him "my suffering people across the seas." He had endless faith in Harry's "kindly heart." Granoff said the problem was getting more Jewish refugees into Palestine. Eddie said, "Harry Truman will do what's right if he knows all the facts ... But I'm no Zionist, so first I need the facts from you."
Arriving in Washington, Eddie called the president's appointments secretary, Matt Connelly, who gibed, "What the hell are you doing here without his permission?" When Jacobson and Granoff were ushered into the Oval Office, Truman said, "Sit down, you bastards!" As Eddie recalled, after Truman signed dollar bills for their children and asked about business in Kansas City, he and the president talked "takhles"—a Yiddish term that means "with serious purpose."

Making their case for a Jewish homeland, Granoff and Jacobson insisted they would never ask Truman to act against America's best interests. "You guys wouldn't get to the front gate if I thought any differently," said Truman. "You bastards are the only ones that never tried to embarrass me in any way."
Before retiring at night, Truman donned a green eyeshade and put his hawklike nose in a history book. He had "tried to increase my knowledge all my life by reading and reading and reading"—especially biography and history, insisting, "There's nothing new in human nature ... The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know." As a nearsighted boy in Independence, Harry devoured a gold-trimmed, four-volume history called "Great Men and Famous Women—from Nebuchadnezzar to Sarah Bernhardt." From the tales he read, he always remembered Cyrus the Great, the Persian king of the sixth century B.C., who enabled the Jewish people to leave their exile and go back to Palestine.
In October 1947, Jacobson implored the president to back a U.N. committee's proposal for Jewish and Arab states in Palestine. He wrote, "Harry, my people need help and I am appealing on you to help them." Loy Henderson, assistant secretary of State, warned that if the U.S. had anything to do with founding a Jewish state, it would jeopardize oil supplies in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and the "whole Arab world" would become the "enemy" of the United States.
The president endorsed Palestine's partition, but warned that the U.S. would not give money to a Jewish state, and that it lacked deployable forces to defend it from the Arab armies. Furious that Truman had overruled him, Henderson tried to whittle down the territory allotted for the Jews. He argued that the town of Jaffa was "essentially Arab" and that Arab herdsmen required the Negev desert for "seasonal grazing." But after making it into the Oval Office, Chaim Weizmann, chief of the World Zionist Organization, unfolded maps and persuaded Truman that losing the Negev would undermine a Jewish state by blocking vital access to the Red Sea.
In late November 1947, at the U.N.'s temporary quarters in a converted skating rink at Flushing Meadows, Queens, Palestine's partition came up for a vote by the General Assembly. Arguing that U.S. prestige would suffer if allies like the Philippines and Haiti were seen voting against it, Clark Clifford persuaded Truman to let his aides lobby for partition. As Clifford recalled, "I kept the ramrod up the State Department's butt."

In January 1948, Truman's secretary of Defense, James Forrestal, told him that enforcing partition might require as many as 160,000 American ground troops. Loy Henderson proposed that since partition could not be imposed without a military commitment that Truman would not make, the U.N. should govern Palestine as a trustee when Britain withdrew in May. Horrified that Truman seemed to be wavering on a Jewish state, Chaim Weizmann rushed to New York, hoping to see the president. But Truman told his aides he had seen enough Zionists: "The Jews are so emotional, and the Arabs are so difficult to talk with that it is almost impossible to get anything done." B'nai B'rith's Frank Goldman called Eddie Jacobson in Kansas City. The president was "washing his hands" of Palestine: "You must help us, Eddie."
Jacobson wired Truman, "I have asked very little in the way of favors during all our years of friendship, but I am begging you to see Dr. Weizmann as soon as possible." Tired of what he called Zionist "badgering," the president wired Eddie that the Palestine problem was probably "not solvable." Refusing to give up, Jacobson flew to Washington in hopes of changing his mind, and when Matt Connelly let Jacobson into the Oval Office, Connelly warned him not to mention Palestine. Truman told his friend, "Eddie, I know what you are here for, and the answer is no."
Surprised at his own "nerve," Jacobson asked the president to reconsider, which touched off an explosion. Truman bellowed that the "Eastern Jews" had "slandered and libeled" him since the moment he became president. He didn't want to discuss "Palestine or the Jews or the Arabs or the British." Let the United Nations handle it. Tears rolled down Eddie's face. He felt "shocked" and "crushed" that his "dear friend" was "as close to being an anti-Semite as a man could possibly be."
Jacobson's eye caught a replica of the courthouse statue in Jackson County, Missouri, that Truman had worked so hard to build. Improvising, he said, "Harry, all your life, you have had a hero. You are probably the best-read man in America on the life of Andrew Jackson." He recalled Truman sitting in a corner of their failed store, "reading books and papers and pamphlets" on Old Hickory. "Well, Harry, I too have a hero—a man I never met, but who is, I think, the greatest Jew who ever lived ... Chaim Weizmann. He is a very sick man ... but he traveled thousands of miles just to see you ... Now you refuse to see him just because you are insulted by some of our American Jewish leaders—even though you know that Weizmann had absolutely nothing to do with these insults ... It doesn't sound like you, Harry ... I thought you could take this stuff they have been handing out."

Deep in thought, Truman drummed his desktop, then swiveled in his chair to gaze at the South Grounds, turning green with spring. For what seemed "like centuries," Eddie held his breath. Then the president spun back around and uttered the most "endearing" words Jacobson had ever heard him speak: "You win, you bald-headed son-of-a-bitch! I will see him."
On Thursday, March 18, after dark, Chaim Weizmann was slipped into the Oval Office. The president could never pronounce Weizmann's first name, so he called him "Cham." Truman pledged to "press forward with partition." Worried about leaks, he did not even tell his secretary of State about Weizmann's visit.
The next day, Truman's U.N. ambassador, Warren Austin, seemed to reverse U.S. policy when he told the Security Council that since peaceful partition into Jewish and Arab states seemed impossible, the United States now believed that the U.N. should rule Palestine as the world's trustee. Informed that Austin had just trampled the president's private promise to Weizmann, Eddie Jacobson couldn't believe it: "I was as dazed as a man could be." Feeling "physically sick," he collapsed into bed for two days.
Unfolding his Saturday morning newspapers, Truman was incensed to read about his administration's "badly bungled" somersault on partition. "This morning I find that the State Dept. has reversed my Palestine policy," Truman told his diary. "The first I know about it is what I see in the papers! Isn't that hell? I'm now in the position of a liar and a double-crosser. I've never felt so in my life." Truman inveighed against the "people on the 3rd and 4th levels of the State Dept. who have always wanted to cut my throat." The president called in Clark Clifford: "How could this have happened? I assured Chaim Weizmann I would stick to it. He must think I am a s--t-ass ... My God, how can I ever face Weizmann again?"
Recovering in kansas City from what he called "Black Friday," Eddie Jacobson took a call from Chaim Weizmann, who told him not to "feel badly." Privately, Weizmann had been reassured that the president hadn't known of Ambassador Austin's speech in advance and that his commitment to partition still stood. Weizmann told Eddie he was now "the most important single man in the world. You have a job to do, so keep the White House doors open." Jacobson felt "encouraged" to "go on with the work which Fate put on my shoulders."

In April 1948, he eluded reporters by entering the White House through the East Gate, "something I had never done before." Briefed in advance by Weizmann, he informed Truman that a Jewish state would be declared as soon as the British left Palestine. It was "vital" for the U.S. to recognize it. As Eddie recalled, Truman "agreed with a whole heart," saying that "Henderson or a thousand Hendersons won't stop me." But he asked his friend not to mention this private pledge to anyone else.
By then, Truman had decided that the "striped-pants boys" at the State Department who put Jews "in the same category as Chinamen and Negroes" were trying to "put it over on me about Palestine." He wrote his brother he would now "do what I think is right and let them all go to hell."
On Friday, May 14, 1948, in Tel Aviv, the Jews were poised to declare their new nation at 6:00 p.m., Washington time. Truman and Clifford expected the new state to be called "Judea."
At 4 o'clock, Marshall's deputy, Robert Lovett, informed Clifford that the secretary of State would not publicly oppose recognition. Marshall had decided that he should not quit "when the man who has the Constitutional authority to make a decision makes one." Clifford told Lovett, "God, that's good news!"
In a heavily guarded art museum in Tel Aviv, David Ben-Gurion declared that after 20 centuries of wandering, there was now "a Jewish state in Palestine, to be called Israel." At 6:11 p.m. in the White House, Truman signed a document recognizing the Jewish state's "de facto authority," and scrawled the word "Approved." Thinking of Weizmann, he said, "The old doctor will believe me now!" Marshall kept his promised public silence about Truman's decision, but he never spoke to Clark Clifford again.
Chosen as first president of Israel, Chaim Weizmann invited Jacobson to New York, where the good doctor asked him to be "temporary spokesman for the baby state." Eddie wrote, "What a thrill that was! The Lord is sure good to me when He gives me these honors." Eddie flew to New York. When his airport limousine approached the Waldorf, he saw a huge crowd staring up at the new blue and white Star of David flag, flying "beside the stars and stripes of my own country." He wrote, "That was the payoff!" As Jacobson later recalled, "I stood on the sidewalk like a fool, and cried and cried and cried."
In late May, President Weizmann came to Washington, feeling like a "happy man" with a "light heart." Crowds sang the Israeli anthem "Hatikvah." In the White House Rose Garden, Weizmann gave the president a Torah. "Thanks," said Truman. "I've always wanted one of these!"
The presidential campaign of September 1948 found Truman running well behind Thomas Dewey, with Henry Wallace and Strom Thurmond siphoning normally Democratic votes from the left and the right. Clifford had expected that if the president recognized Israel, Jewish donors would pony up for his campaign. But Truman had warned him that by fall, the Jews would say "we've done nothing for them recently." They would be "off and on" him "sixteen times by then."
When Truman won his surprise election victory in November 1948, he lost New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan, all abundant with Jewish voters. Much of the blame went to Wallace, who complained that Truman wasn't sufficiently pro-Israel. After his victory, Truman wrote Chaim Weizmann that his "elation" on being reelected must resemble Weizmann's when the Jews had proclaimed their state. The man who had once castigated what he called Jewish "underdogs" for being "intolerant" and "cruel" now told Weizmann that he and Israel were clearly both underdogs: "We had both been abandoned by the so-called realistic experts on our supposedly forlorn lost causes. Yet we both kept pressing for what we were sure was right—and we were both proven to be right."
In the end, Truman recognized Israel for many different reasons. The Jews' display of military strength in Palestine had convinced him that U.S. troops would not be needed to defend them. He feared that letting the Russians recognize Israel first would give them a foothold in Palestine. Truman was also motivated by sheer politics. With a tough campaign ahead, he felt that if he did not recognize Israel, the backers of a Jewish state would make his life a living hell. For the hard-bitten Marshall, who operated from cold facts on the ground, Israel was chiefly a potential burden for an overstretched U.S. military. But Truman realized helping to found a Jewish state was a historic act that might qualify him for some future edition of "Great Men and Famous Women."
His favorite psalm had always been, "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion." By recognizing Israel, Truman knew he would be forever damned by people who did not want the Jews to have their own state—or who did not want it in Palestine. But as Truman always told himself, the ultimate test of any presidential decision was "not whether it's popular at the time, but whether it's right ... If it's right, make it, and let the popular part take care of itself."

In 1949, wearing a lucky hat inscribed by Truman, Eddie Jacobson made a pilgrimage to Israel, where he was feted by President Weizmann and Prime Minister Ben-Gurion. A Kansas City rabbi told reporters that Jacobson should be president of Israel. Truman wrote his old friend that Israel "couldn't nominate a better man, but I sincerely hope you won't take it." Jacobson explained that it was just "a silly dream of a very emotional rabbi." He was "too proud of my American citizenship to trade it for any office in the world."
When Truman retired in 1953, Eddie wanted to be escort for the ex-president's first visit to the nation whose birth they had both midwived: "I sincerely hope my dream comes true." But in 1955, Eddie died of a massive heart attack. As a daughter remembered, when Truman called on the mourning family, he "put his head in his hands and started to sob," exclaiming, "I've lost my brother!"

In 1965, an Eddie Jacobson Auditorium was built in Tel Aviv. Truman hoped "at long last" to "make my journey" to Israel, but a bruising fall in the shower had made him old almost overnight. Instead he wrote a tribute to "my great and irreplaceable friend," saying that Eddie's name "should be forever enshrined in the history of the Jewish people." Interviewed by an Israeli reporter in Independence, Truman said, "Now remind me, how did Eddie use to say 'congratulations' in Hebrew—Mazel something? ... Yeah, tov. Mazel tov!"
Truman once said that "a weeping man is an abomination." But with his reverence for the Bible and ancient history, Truman was profoundly moved to know he had helped regather the Jews in the Holy Land. Told that an Israeli village had been renamed "Kfar Truman," the stricken president had to cover his face with a handkerchief. Soon the president was proudly comparing himself to the ancient Persian king who had enabled the Jews to return to Zion. During a visit to the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York just after Truman left office, Eddie Jacobson introduced his old friend by saying, "This is the man who helped to create the state of Israel." The ex-president brought Eddie up short: "What do you mean 'helped create'? I am Cyrus! I am Cyrus!"
From Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789-1989 by Michael Beschloss. Copyright 2007 by Michael Beschloss. To be published by Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Palestinians: Back to the drawing boards

Self explanatory?
Violent clashes between rival Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip have left up to 10 people wounded.

The clashes on Friday erupted within 48 hours of Palestinian security forces having begun deployment
in Gaza under a new security plan.
The new plan seems to have some flaws.
Must be due to the Israeli occupation, right? What's that you say? No Israeli soldiers in Gaza. Hm...
Ami Isseroff

Violent clashes between rival Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip have left up to 10 people wounded.

The clashes on Friday erupted within 48 hours of Palestinian security forces having begun deployment in Gaza under a new security plan.

Hamas said the fighting began before dawn when members of the national security forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the president, detained a member of Hamas's armed wing.

The man was detained because he was suspected of being involved in firing on security forces overnight, according to a source with the national security forces.

Hamas fighters responded by storming the facility where the man was being held and freeing him. At least two members of the national security forces were injured, one seriously, in the gun fight.

Security plan

The security deployment started late on Wednesday, with forces setting up checkpoints and taking up positions at main intersections and government buildings.

The increased presence of security began shortly after Abbas and Ismail Haniya, the prime minister, agreed to finalise the security plan details and hold intensive talks starting on Thursday with security chiefs to agree on implementation mechanisms.

On the streets in Gaza, residents welcomed the security forces, hoping that it would end the lawlessness.

Public demand for the restoration of law and order had reached a new peak after incidents of armed robbery, kidnapping, and bombings reached an all-time high while security forces seemed unable to contain the lawlessness and violence.

Source: Agencies

Continued (Permanent Link)

Countering the Palestinian Lobby

The Palestinian lobby, which does not allow anyone to say a word against Palestinian officials, is at work in Washington DC. They are running an anti-Israel ad campaign, offered as a "public service" by the Washington DC transit authority. What will they show as a public service next?
Standwithus is doing something about it. This press release is especially important since another major Israel advocacy group decided that replying to subway advertisements is not a priority. If we make believe it is not there, it will go away, right?
It is good to see that someone is taking action.
It states:
SWU contends its ads point to the real tragedy for Palestinian children.  Extremists and Palestinian media, schools and mosques indoctrinate them with hatred and encourage them to engage in violence and aspire to be suicide "martyrs."  "Teaching hatred and violence to little kids and pre-teens is a form of child abuse, and dooms hopes for a better future.  Peace, understanding and tolerance must be taught," stated Rothstein.
The Palestinian Mickey Mouse character who teaches kids to be suicide bombers is a case in point. I wonder if the Palestinian campaign will feature him?
Ami Isseroff

310/245-4109 - cell
310/836-6140 - office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                Contact:  Roz Rothstein
May 10, 2007                                                                         310/245-4109 or 310/739-2682   


 (Los Angeles, CA) -- StandWithUs (SWU), a Los Angeles-based international education organization, will launch a month-long ad campaign in mid-May through June 11, urging Palestinians to teach their children peace instead of hate, and urging Palestinian extremists to reform. 

SWU's ads will appear in 20 downtown Washington DC metro stations to counter the misinformation in an anti-Israel ad campaign scheduled to run in the stations concurrently.   The anti-Israel ads, sponsored by the "US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation," (ETO) depict a Palestinian child dwarfed by an Israeli tank and call for the U.S. to cut aid to Israel until it ends the "occupation" of Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

According to SWU, the anti-Israel ads misinform the public about occupation, funding, and responsibility for violence.   Israel withdrew completely from Gaza in 2005 and from over 40% of the West Bank almost nine years ago.  The land was turned over to the Palestinian Authority and 98% of Palestinians are self-governing under its rule.  Unfortunately, the 2005 withdrawal did not promote peace.  Instead, rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel rose four-fold.   Furthermore, the ETO ad implies that the U.S. only aids Israel.  But America has also given billions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians either directly or through the United Nations over the years.

SWU especially objects to the misleading picture of a Palestinian child apparently threatened by an Israeli tank and charges that the ETO ad is deceptive and emotionally manipulative. "Israel is not fighting children.  It is defending itself against extremists like Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad whose charters call for Israel's obliteration and whose terrorist attacks target civilians, including school children and toddlers," stated Roz Rothstein, SWU's international director.

Underscoring this message, SWU's ads call public attention to these Palestinian extremists and to the indoctrination of Palestinian children. The SWU ads show photos of Palestinian toddlers whose parents dress them as terrorists and of Palestinian pre-teens at a terrorist training camp. The text calls for Palestinians to teach peace to their children and for extremist groups to moderate and amend their charters which call for Israel's destruction.  The ads stress that Israel is seeking a partner for peace. 

SWU contends its ads point to the real tragedy for Palestinian children.  Extremists and Palestinian media, schools and mosques indoctrinate them with hatred and encourage them to engage in violence and aspire to be suicide "martyrs."  "Teaching hatred and violence to little kids and pre-teens is a form of child abuse, and dooms hopes for a better future.  Peace, understanding and tolerance must be taught," stated Rothstein.

 "Israelis and many Palestinians long for peace, but it can begin only when the younger generation is taught tolerance and instilled with a vision of co-existence for a better future," comments Esther Renzer, SWU International President.  "Hopefully, our ads will help Americans understand the tragic problems within the Palestinian Authority so they will support constructive policies essential to advancing peace."

 StandWithUs is an international, non-profit Israel education organization that hosts speakers and conferences, offers website resources and creates materials widely distributed in universities, libraries, high schools, churches and communities that teach about Israel. Based in Los Angeles, SWU has offices and chapters in New York, Detroit, Michigan, San Francisco, Orange County (CA), Buffalo and Israel.  For more information, visit:

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Hamas Backs Mickey Militant - Terrorist Rodent to stay on the air

Those who were disappointed that our favorite entertainment character would no longer be teaching kids to blow themselves up, as reported recently (see Hamas TV drops militant Mickey Mouse , can relax.
Mickey Militant, like Mickey Mouse, is indomitable. With the backing of the "democratically elected" Hamas government, Mickey Militant will go on teaching tots genocide and terror, according to an AFP story:
GAZA CITY (AFP) - A Hamas-run television station defied Israel and the Palestinian government on Thursday by refusing to axe a controversial children's cartoon in which a Mickey Mouse lookalike calls for resistance.

"Al-Aqsa TV refuses this pressure and refuses to cull its programme or alter any of its content," said Fathi Hamad, chairman of the Al-Aqsa Television board in Gaza City, lashing out at Israeli and Western "interference".

"This campaign of criticism is part of a plan orchestrated by the West and the occupying power to attack Islam on the one hand and the Palestinian cause on the other," he said.

"We have our own ways to educate our children and any criticism of this approach is shocking interference in our internal affairs," said Hamad.
From his point of view, he is right. It is a democracy. The Palestinians voted for the genocidal Hamas, and they want Mickey Militant to teach their kids how to blow themselves up. As Mickey tells the kids:
""You and I are laying the foundation for a world led by Islamists,""
And so are you, if you support the Hamas government.
Who's the little rodent, who's gonna blow up you and me?
Mickey Militant , Mickey Militant ,
Forever may we hold your banners high high, Hi, Hi!
M*I*C - See you in Hell, Zionist Dog
K*E*Y - Why? 'Cause we hate you.
Ami Isseroff

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Olmert vs State of Israel: Politics and Poker

Gideon Samet sums up the defense of the Olmert camp, which seem to be "he is less bad than the alternatives."  Samet is unhappy about it, but we have to face facts. The only viable opposition to Olmert is Benjamin Netanyahu. He is supported only by amnesiacs of the right and left, who forgot both how much he succeeded in annoying the Americans and cutting social services on the one hand, and how quickly he caved in to "negotiations" pressure at Wye and in Hebron on the other hand. Tzippi Livni has not proven herself, Shimon Peres arouses derision and contempt, Barak is remembered for unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon, and Ami Ayalon has no political experience.
The solution, perhaps, is to fold the Kadima and Labor parties into a center left party that might be headed by Ami Ayalon, and might one day provide an alternative. Meanwhile, Ami Ayalon never ran for dog-catcher, which is a distinct liability for a politician. 
Perhaps after the war this summer, the problem will be solved. The Syrians will appoint a governor.
Ami Isseroff
Open season on Olmert's competitors
By Gideon Samet

There's a new game in town. Some commentators don't want to see Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resign, but find it a bit unpleasant to say so outright. It's a bit like those scenes in Westerns when the gunman explains to the barman which bottle he wants to drink from - to illustrate, he shoots all the other bottles on the shelf. In the same manner, since the interim Winograd Committee report was published, we have heard Olmert's fans mumbling faintly, going through the motions, about how harsh the findings are, but the whisper is accompanied by a fanfare about the flaws of the candidates to succeed Olmert.
It's true that the three main candidates - Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres - facilitated the work of the gunslingers. Benjamin Netanyahu opted for silence, so Olmert's supporters are making do with the familiar noise: "If so, you will end up with Bibi." Veteran columnist Nahum Barnea wrote a witty eulogy of Livni in the mass-circulation daily Yedioth Ahronoth.
"A regrettable event befell Tzipi Livni this week," he wrote. "When she took the stage, she tripped. Beneath the heavy makeup she was pale, frightened, tense to the point of cracking."
What was Livni's mistake? Did she blunder in war? No, this "Joan of Arc," as the column dubbed her, sweated when she threatened Olmert.
And the prime minister? As Barnea saw it, the clash with Livni gave Olmert an opportunity to demonstrate sangfroid in times of crisis. Ministers told the commentator that Olmert displayed "impressive self-control." And when he added, "You can make a mistake. You must not sweat," it was far from clear whether this was an insight about the fate of politicians or the writer's annex to the Winograd report.
This selection of Barnea's quotations is not accidental. True, with regard to Olmert he is not only a newspaper, he is also an old friend. But as an Israel Prize laureate and an exemplary journalist, his analysis of the year's most important event justifies close examination. He also shot at Shimon Peres' bottle and mocked the man for being not only one of a kind but "one of all kinds," who was running to succeed a prime minister and a president without declaring his candidacy. "Uri Geller," he wrote contemptuously, "you have a successor." The attack succeeded.
After Olmert managed this battle, too, with sangfroid and volunteered help on the way to the presidency, Peres this week disintegrated as a competitor for the premiership.
And as for Netanyahu, Barnea related that he had barely stopped short of delegitimizing the Winograd Committee before the report's publication, and now, abracadabra, the report is a "first-class ticket" to the Prime Minister's Office. Other writers this week still marked Dan Halutz, the former chief of staff, as the perpetrator of the original sin, and dripped with venom in what read more like theater criticism at Barak's press conference. From Barak's fog of battle emerged a clear statement of Olmert's guilt, but the "yesterday in the theater" columns resonated with a complaint that the pretender to the leadership spoke to them too faintly.
There is something to this viewpoint, provided it does not come from followers and confidants of the prime minister, whose leadership flaws in connection with the war are a lot more serious than a stutter. But behind the disqualification of all his competitors lie some very problematic assumptions.
Along with the cases of veiled personal preferences, there is a broader explanation in the shooting range of why this list of who is unsuitable, and for what reasons, cropped up. At its basis is a fatal skepticism about the ability of Israeli democracy to bring forth anything better than a leader who failed (and was not elected to his post) and a ruling party that is not a party. It smacks of automatic, and depressive, non-confidence in any figures, some of them defeated in the past, in contrast to a politician whose failure cries out to the heavens but is of recent origin.
From gunshot to gunshot the shelf is emptying. Soon enough, all that will be left is the empty bottle of Ehud Olmert.

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Abrams: Peace effort is talk for benefit of Arabs, EU

As I noted elsewhere, there are good reasons to expect that peace negotiations cannot succeed at this point in time, but Israel must nonetheless negotiate.
It appears that the US is under similar pressure to at least appear to  push the peace process forward.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 01:31 11/05/2007   
By Shmuel Rosner, Haaretz Correspondent

U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams on Thursday told a group of Jewish Republicans that the efforts the United States is now investing in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is aimed at lessening the pressure from "Arabs and the Europeans, who weren't happy with the United States" in its past approach.
Abrams was quoted by sources present at the meeting as saying Arab and European states want "to see that there's at least an attempt or energy" being exerted by the U.S. to move the peace process forward.
Abrams explained that the talks are sometimes not more than "process for the sake of process."
The comments were made during a breakfast meeting of a forum of Jewish Republicans directed by Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia, chief deputy minority whip.
Some of the attendees understood Abrams' comments as an assurance that the peace initiative promoted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice doesn't have the full backing of President George W. Bush.
"He was basically telling us that he [the president] will not let it go out of hand,?one of them said.
Abrams has long been seen by Americans and Israelis as the more skeptical member of the team responsible for Middle East diplomacy.
About two weeks ago, Haaretz reported that "Rice even has to contend with skeptics within the ranks of her own department, most notably Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams, who holds the Israeli-Palestinian portfolio in the White House. Israeli Foreign Ministry sources say that Abrams believes her plan will likely fail."
However, people close to Abrams say that it is wrong to portray him as someone who is not in tune with Rice.
The National Security Council, in a statement released Thursday, claimed that "It is inaccurate to suggest that the White House and State Department are at odds on this issue, for the entire administration - including Mr. Abrams - is committed to pursuing it and the rest of the President's agenda."
A Washington diplomat commenting on Abrams' remarks told Haaretz that "it might make him uncomfortable because of the tone, but he really didn't say anything new."
The diplomat pointed to comments made by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni during a visit to Washington two weeks ago, that "we should negotiate because it's better than sit and do nothing."
This is, the diplomat said, the same "approach expressed by Abrams. There are reasons to negotiate even if you don't expect a lasting peace to come out of it."

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Israeli FM Livni meets Egyptian officials

FM Livni met with President Mubarak and FM Gheit in Cairo earlier today.
10 May 2007
(Communicated by the Foreign Minister's Bureau)

Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met today (May 10) in Cairo, with the participation of Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abdul Gheit. At the end of the meeting, Foreign Minister Gheit announced that it is the intention of the Arab League preparatory team, which includes the foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan, to visit Israel within the next few weeks as representatives of the Arab League. This will be the first visit by official representatives of the Arab League in Israel.

In the course of the meeting, Foreign Minister Livni raised the question of the security situation in the Gaza Strip. FM Livni detailed the problems of growing Hamas military capabilities and the continual firing of Kassam rockets into Israel. She stressed that this is an unacceptable situation from Israel's point of view.

With regard to the Arab initiative, the Foreign Minister emphasized the importance of the Arab world's support of the Israel-Palestinian peace process, especially the need for pan-Arab support of moderates in the Palestinian Authority.

Minister Livni indicated Israel's desire to strengthen bilateral ties with Egypt and to increase the number of visits at the ministerial and senior official levels.

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Olmert - IDF let itself down;Halutz-IDF should have finished the war sooner

Halutz told the committee that the army's greatest failure was its inability to bring the war to a swifter conclusion. "Without a doubt, I recognize that at the end of the day that was the most blatant non-achievement or failure," he said.
Last update - 12:24 10/05/2007   
By Nir Hasson and Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondents, and Haaretz Service

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Winograd Committee investigating the Second Lebanon War that he believes the Israel Defense Forces "seriously let itself down" during the war, according to testimony published by the committee Thursday.
The committee published the partial testimonies of the prime minister, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and wartime chief of staff Dan Halutz on Thursday, less than two weeks after publishing its scathing report on the government's handling of the war.
Olmert added that "since taking over as prime minister, I was always focused on one issue - the north."
He stressed that it is important to differentiate between the soldiers and the IDF command. "I wouldn't make a sweeping generalization," he said. "The combat soldiers were excellent."
"Something in the conception of activating the forces, something in the conception of commanding the forces, something was not what we expected it to be," he continued. "There is no doubt that it caused a disparity between our ability to achieve and what we actually achieved."
The prime minister told the committee he believed that the strategy for dealing with the threat presented by Hezbollah could not be fixed in past conceptions, but rather various methods should be combined in order to produce results in the field.
He stressed in his testimony that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was partner to all the important diplomatic discussions. "There were no decisions that were made [on that issue] ... without the foreign minister's participation."
Olmert added that prior to the war he was told by Halutz that the army was prepared, and that all operational plans were ready and approved.
Nonetheless, he stressed that the army's role is to carry out military missions in the best possible manner, and that the political echelon's role is to take into consideration the broader picture.
"I told the chief of staff several times and I also told other commanders - they don't see the entire picture," said Olmert. "They can't see the entire picture and they don't need to see the entire picture. That isn't their job. Their job is to carry out their mission in the best, most effective way, that is cheapest in terms of the human cost, and in the best way for Israel."
"The comprehensive picture of all the aspects, all the complexities, of relationships and sensitivities - all those things, are the responsibility of [the political] echelon," he added.
The prime minister added that the botched bombing in Kfar Kana, in which dozens of civilians were killed, was a serious breaking-point. "The fact is, if Kana hadn't happened, there is good reason to believe that we would have been in a very good position to complete the process."
Olmert also addressed his speech before the Knesset on July 17, in which he outlined the war's objectives, including securing the release of abducted IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.
"There are things you say because they must be said," he explained. "There is a diplomatic system, a public relations system, and there is the domestic morale of the Israeli public, which is in bomb shelters and is under fire. There are abducted soldiers, and I need to instill hope in them, that is also a consideration."
When asked by committee member Professor Ruth Gavison what he would do differently if he could, the prime minister answered that he would have met more often with the seven senior ministers placed in charge of making the wartime decisions.
"I'm assuming that I certainly made mistakes," he said. "At the major junctures in which decisions were made, we acted responsibly and I believe very reasonably."
Peretz: I instructed Halutz to present alternative IDF positions

Peretz told the Winograd Committee that he was unaware of any lack of training within the IDF, nor did the army inform him that it was unprepared for the war.
The defense minister said he instructed Halutz during the war to present alternative positions, and not just the official IDF position.
"I decided and instructed the chief of staff that as far as I was concerned it was very important that the IDF position be the one presented by the chief of staff, but should their be different positions, that are completely different, I would very much like for those positions to be expressed as well," he said.
The defense minister added that his working relationship with the wartime chief of staff was "good, proper, and organized," and had a "completely clear definition of authority."
Halutz: Army failed to bring war to swifter conclusion

Halutz told the committee that the army's greatest failure was its inability to bring the war to a swifter conclusion. "Without a doubt, I recognize that at the end of the day that was the most blatant non-achievement or failure," he said.
Given the information we had, with the means that we had at our disposal, we could have achieved a lot more if we had been more determined," he continued. "We didn't have to be more daring, just more determined, take the initiative more, and be more responsible. Those are the three parameters: determination, initiative, and responsibility."
"There were to many incidents of passing up the buck," added Halutz. "Everyone is looking one level up instead of one level down. When you look one level down, you are a commander, when you look one level up you are looking for commanders."
Halutz also criticized the government's restrained policy of containing Hezbollah, saying when he commanded the Air Force he became convinced it was a misguided policy.
"I can't bring anything now that supports this statement in a document, but in February or March 2006 during a deliberation I held with the General Staff, I said that once the new political leadership would become stable and stronger, I intend to approach it and recommend we reconsider the policy of containment," he said.
The former IDF chief added that the army plays too large a role the determining comprehensive strategy.
"[The army] determines the strategic purpose, which is a diplomatic purpose in certain ways, and combines force and diplomacy, and it brings it for approval, which it usually is," he said. "[The army] is the one that must think about an exit strategy ... not because that is part of its job but because that has developed as the modus operandi in the State of Israel."
Halutz also said that "the IDF has turned into a kind of national punching-bag, and it has become more and more popular to beat it."
"What once was strong in Israel - the defense lobby - has been replaced by the social lobby," he added. "The backing that was given to the military has dwindled on a basic level."
Regarding his cooperation with Peretz on a personal level, Halutz said the relationship was businesslike. However, "because I worked under two defense ministers," he said, "it requires a lot of time and a lot of attentiveness. I found a minister who was less attentive to our problems."
Panel members Gavison, Einan: Testimonies shouldn't be released

The publication of the testimonies was accompanied by a press release on behalf of two of the committee members, Gavison and Major General (res.) Menachem Einan, in which they expressed their opposition to publishing the testimonies.
"It is a mistake to treat the testimony that was given to us in camera as if the only harm they could cause is to ? state security or foreign relations," they said, warning that the release of testimony could lead to a situation in which officials will not cooperate fully with future inquiries.
In his testimony, Olmert said: "I really feel that I can talk to you about everything, and I know what I say won't leave this room."

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Report: Japan may resume direct aid to Hamas gov't

One by one, they are falling...
Last update - 13:25 10/05/2007   
By Reuters

Japan is leaning towards resuming direct aid to the Palestinian Authority government for the first time in more than a year, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Thursday.
The Quartet of Middle East peace brokers - the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union - suspended direct aid to the PA after the election of Hamas.
Quartet members have said they would not restart direct aid until the unity government fully met their demands to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept existing interim Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements.
But the formation earlier this year of a unity government with the more moderate Fatah faction has led to calls for the resumption of direct aid, most recently on Wednesday from members of the European Parliament's Socialist Group.
According to the Yomiuri report, Japan will send Foreign Ministry officials to talks with Palestinian Authority officials on concrete uses of official development assistance [ODA] sometime next month.
It added the aid was most likely to be awarded to projects and areas under the authority of non-Hamas cabinet members.
Japan's last direct aid to the PA was some $500,000 in December 2005, but it has since provided aid through international agencies and non-governmental organizations, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said.
A Foreign Ministry official quoted by the Yomiuri said aid to the Hamas government was suspended out of fear that it could be used in militant activities, but the Yomiuri said the foundation of the unity government could open the way to resume aid.
But a Foreign Ministry official told Reuters nothing had been decided and that aid had been suspended since 2005 mainly due to poor security conditions that made it hard to carry out projects.
Japan has been a substantial aid donor to the Palestinians through the years, disbursing roughly $900 million through various routes from 1993 to the end of March this year.
Last summer, then-prime minister Junichiro Koizumi pledged nearly $30 million through international agencies to help keep basic services functioning in the PA.

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Report of the Arab Commission on the Lebanese War

The Arab Commission

Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, made a remarkable statement last week. He praised Israel for conducting an inquiry into last year's war with Hezbollah — an inquiry that accused Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of "serious failure in exercising judgment, responsibility and prudence."

Mr. Nasrallah was quoted by the BBC as saying Israelis "study their defeat in order to learn from it," in contrast with the Arab regimes that "do not probe, do not ask, do not form inquiry commissions ... as if nothing has happened."

One has to be impressed by his honesty, but he did not take it all the way, since the Arab leader who most needs to be probed is Mr. Nasrallah himself. He started the war with Israel, which was a disaster for both sides. If there were an honest Arab League Inquiry Commission into the war, here is what it would say about him:

On July 12, 2006, Hezbollah fighters directed by Mr. Nasrallah abducted two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others in an unprovoked attack across the Lebanon-Israel border, on the pretext of seeking a prisoner exchange. This triggered a war that killed about 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis. After interviewing all relevant parties, the Arab League Commission finds Mr. Nasrallah guilty of a serious failure of judgment, responsibility and prudence — for the following reasons.

1. Mr. Nasrallah demonstrated a total failure to anticipate Israel's response to his raid. He assumed Israel would carry out the same limited retaliation it had with previous raids. Wrong. He failed to take into account the changed circumstances in Israel. The kidnapping of an Israeli soldier in Gaza a few weeks earlier, plus the fact that a new chief of staff of the Israeli Army, a new prime minister and a new defense minister had just taken office and all felt they were being tested, triggered an enormous Israeli response. Some 1,200 Lebanese died because of this gross error in judgment.

2. In unilaterally launching a war against Israel, without a vote of the Lebanese cabinet — of which Hezbollah is a member — the militia did grievous harm to Lebanon's fragile democracy and democratization in the Arab world. All the fears that if you let an Islamist party into government it will not respect the rules of the game were fulfilled by Hezbollah.

3. Iran and Syria gave Hezbollah its rockets for their own deterrence. Hezbollah was their long arm to pressure Israel into political compromises and to threaten Israel if it attacked Iran or Syria. By launching all these rockets prematurely, without strategic purpose, Hezbollah has diminished its capability and Syria's and Iran's. The commission can't find a single strategic gain from Mr. Nasrallah's actions.

4. When the war started, Hezbollah's fighters were sitting right on the border with Israel, operating freely. This was a real threat to Israel. As a result of the war, Hezbollah was pushed off the border by Israel and, in its place, the U.N. inserted a new peacekeeping force of some 10,000 troops, including a big European contingent, led by France and Italy. Yes, Hezbollah still has fighters in the area, but it has lost its military infrastructure, and can't attack Israel now without getting embroiled with France and Italy — a huge strategic loss for Hezbollah.

5. Israel had allowed its ground forces to be degraded in order to invest more money in its air force's ability to deter Iran and into policing the West Bank. Hezbollah's attack exposed just how degraded Israel's army had become. As a result, Israel has embarked on a broad upgrade of its military. In any future war Arab armies will meet a much better trained and equipped Israeli force.

6. Hezbollah claims that its Shiite militia, in attacking Israel, was serving the security needs of Lebanon. But Israel's response to Hezbollah's attack has resulted in billions of dollars of damage to Lebanese homes, factories and roads, with Shiite areas the worst hit and with zero security benefit to Lebanon.

Lebanon has had to rely on Arab and Iranian charity to rebuild. Israel, by contrast, suffered relatively minor damage and, after the war, its economy enjoyed one of its greatest growth spurts ever, as foreigners invested a record amount in Israel's high-tech industry.

In sum, Mr. Nasrallah may have won popularity for himself and Hezbollah by fighting Israel. But so what? Today, less than a year after a war that Hezbollah called a "divine" victory, Lebanon is weaker and Israel is stronger. That's what matters. And that is why, if the Hezbollah leader had any honor, he would resign.

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Report: Freedom fighters plan to attack on US

Florida-based TV network says terror group training suicide bombers in secluded South American region, brainwashing locals against Israel, US; Paraguay: Mossad, FBI agents operating to thwart plan
Yaniv Halili Published:  05.10.07, 09:03 / Israel News

Hizbullah has set up a training facility in South America as part of its plan to launch terror [OOPS - there's the T word]  attacks against the United States, the American Spanish-language Telemundo television network reported.

According to the report, the terror [there it is again]  group is operating in a relatively secluded area on the Paraguay-Argentina-Brazil border, where it is collecting funds, brainwashing locals against the US and Israel and training the next generation of suicide bombers.
The activity is being conducted in forests near the city of Ciudad Del Este in Paraguay, which has a large Muslim population.
Washington fears that Hizbullah members are planning to infiltrate the US through its breached southern border with Mexico to carry out attacks.

It is suspected that Imad Mugniyah, the terror group's elusive mastermind, is running the South America operation.

Paraguayan officials said Mossad and FBI agents are operating in the area to collect intelligence on Hizbullah's intentions.

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Until the Arab Palestinians accept responsibility

By Shlomo Avineri

The Palestinians will mark the annual Nakba Day on May 15, as they have done in previous years. We must listen to their voices. As human beings and as Jews we must listen and be attentive to the other's pain, even if the other is - at the moment - our enemy. However, we must listen critically.
First and foremost we may ask, why May 15? It was on this day that the British Mandate on Palestine ended and the State of Israel was established. But the United Nations' resolution of November 29, 1947 also stipulates that an Arab state was to be established on part of Palestine this very same day. This resolution gave the seal of international approval to erecting two nation states on the controversial territory of mandatory Palestine.
Do the Palestinians mention this along with their rejection of the compromise resolution proposed by the international community, in the form of the partition plan?
With all due understanding and empathy to the Palestinians' suffering, the way the Nakba, the "catastrophe," is presented in the Palestinian and pan-Arab narrative raises several questions. It is portrayed as something terrible and evil that happened to the Palestinians. There is not even an iota of introspection, self-criticism and readiness to deal with the Palestinians' own contribution to their catastrophe.
We can understand - without justifying it - the Palestinians' rejection of the partition plan, just as we can understand - without justifying it - the Revisionist Zionist position negating the partition. But most of the Jewish community accepted the idea. And if most of the Palestinians had accepted it, then an independent Palestinian state would have risen on part of Mandatory Palestine in 1948, without war and without refugees.
The Palestinians are not prepared to deal with this complex reality. After 1948 quite a few books were written in Arabic about the Arabs' defeat in their war against Israel. To this day no book has raised the question of whether, perhaps, the Arabs erred in rejecting the compromise - painful as it may be - of the partition? Perhaps they would have done better if, like the Zionists, they had gritted their teeth and accepted the half-full glass?
A much used expression in Jewish tradition says "because of our sins we were exiled from our land." This expression is religious, but it indicates that the Jews viewed their exile in a self-critical manner. It would have been easy, of course, to blame the Romans and the other nations for their fate. But the Jewish narrative did not do so and viewed both the destruction and exile as deriving, among other things, from the Jews' own actions and shortcomings.
Every nation, especially a defeated one, sees itself as a victim. But most of the nations that were defeated - Germany after World War II is the classic example - also looked at themselves, at their society, values and actions.
Far be it from me to maintain that in 1948 the Jews were "right" and the Arabs were "wrong." What troubles me and other Zionist Israelis wishing to be attentive to the Palestinians' pain and willing to help rectify injustices and accept a historic compromise, is the Palestinians' complete unwillingness to acknowledge that in 1948 they and their leaders made a terrible historic mistake - of both political and moral proportions - by rejecting the international compromise they were offered.
It is for this reason that the Palestinians' customary comparison between the Nakba and the Holocaust is so outrageous. Did the Jews of Germany and Europe declare war on Germany? Were the world's Jews offered a compromise that they rejected? Europe's Jews were murdered by the Nazis because they were Jews. What does that have to do with the Palestinians' decision to refuse the UN's compromise proposal and go to war?
It would not be exaggerated to say that there will be no true compromise between Israel and the Palestinians without a readiness on their part - however minute and partial, for the "truth" is always complex - to admit that they, too, are partly responsible for what happened to them in 1948.
Shlomo Avineri is a professor of political science at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Hamas TV drops militant Mickey Mouse

Who's the little rodent, who's gonna blow up you and me?
Mickey Militant, Mickey Militant,
Forever may we hold your banners high high Hi Hi!

As Mickey says:
""You and I are laying the foundation for a world led by Islamists,""

M*i*c - See you in Hell, Zionist Dog

K*e*y - Why? 'Cause we hate you.

"Palestine is our land and the Jews are our dogs."

Well you won't have Militant Mouse to kick around for a while.
Update and PS: The Hamas TV drops militant Mickey Mouse


A program using a Mickey Mouse-like character to urge Palestinian children to fight Israel and the West and work for world Islamic domination has been pulled off Hamas's television station for "review," Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti said Wednesday.

Barghouti said the use of the cartoon character in such a role represented a "mistaken approach" to the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation.

Opinion: Fine-tuning Arab television

Barghouti wrote that following a request from his ministry, the program was pulled from the Hamas-affiliated Al Aksa TV and "placed under review."

In the statement, Barghouti said his ministry "would continue to ensure freedom of expression and freedom of the press, but that media outlets breaking the law would be penalized."

Barghouti complained that the Mickey Mouse story continued to receive attention by "some American television stations" after it was resolved, and that media did not broadcast video of Israeli human rights violations supplied by his ministry in recent weeks.

Israel has long complained that the Palestinian airwaves are filled with incitement.

"You and I are laying the foundation for a world led by Islamists," the cartoon character squeaked on a recent episode of the show, which is titled "Tomorrow's Pioneers."

"We will return the Islamic community to its former greatness, and liberate Jerusalem, God willing, liberate Iraq, God willing, and liberate all the countries of the Muslims invaded by the murderers."

Children call in to the show, many singing Hamas anthems about fighting Israel.

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Ban wants to Ban Israeli surveillance of Lebanon that uncovered smuggling

UN Secretary Ban notes that Israeli overflights have uncovered arms smuggling to Hezbollah:
UNITED NATIONS - Illegal arms traffic into Lebanon across the Syrian border, mainly to Hezbollah fighters, is reported to be taking place on a regular basis, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday.

In a report to the UN Security Council, Ban said news of arms shipments, including "detailed and substantial" reports from Israel, and other nations, showed the need for a team he was sending to propose ways of monitoring of the border.
But rather than banning the arms shipments, Ban has a different solution:
Ban also singled out Israel Air Force jets and unmanned aerial overflights and said again he had asked the government to "cease fully" these "violations of Lebanon sovereignty."
With no Israeli overflights, there will be no reports of smuggling. Problem solved, right?
Ami Isseroff

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Fort Dix Islamist attack on Infidels: Shame on Washington Post for using the "T" word

Fighters who wanted to attack Fort Dix, occupied by the USA imperialist colonialist infidels, are mistakenly characterized as "Terrorists" in this Washington Post story:

CHERRY HILL, N.J., May 8 -- A group of would-be terrorists, allegedly undone after attempting to have jihad training videos copied onto a DVD, has been charged with conspiring to attack Fort Dix and kill soldiers there with assault rifles and grenades, authorities said Tuesday. 
This slander by the Washington Post is repeated:
Five men -- all foreign-born and described as "radical Islamists" by federal authorities -- allegedly trained at a shooting range in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains to kill "as many soldiers as possible" at the historic Army base 25 miles east of Philadelphia. A sixth man was charged with helping them obtain illegal weapons.

FBI and Justice Department officials said the arrests were the result of a 16-month operation to infiltrate and monitor the group. It was portrayed as a leaderless, homegrown cell of immigrants from Jordan, Turkey and the former Yugoslavia who came together because of a shared infatuation with Internet images of jihad, or holy war.
Authorities said the group has no apparent connection to al-Qaeda or other international terrorist organizations aside from ideology, but appears to be an example of the kind of self-directed sympathizers widely predicted -- and feared -- by counterterrorism specialists. The defendants allegedly passed around and copied images of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the martyrdom videos of two of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers.
I am shocked. How could they be terrorists, if they were attacking an army and not civilians? Why are they more "terrorist" than the Hezbollah, which Washington Post calls "militants"? Don't we have to seek the underlying causes of their act in the fundamental injustice of Western imperialism, and the occupation of Fort Dix and other parts of Dar al Islam, which causes such hardship to the freedom fighters?  
CAIR is no doubt preparing an effective  protest against this slander on Islam. "If you don't stop calling us terrorists, we'll blow you to kingdom come."
Ami Isseroff

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BBC "infidels" examining tape of reporter kidnapped by Palestinian Islamist "militants"

A group claiming to be the Palestinian kidnappers of BBC reporter Alan Johnston have given Al-Jazeera a tape, and  BBC is examining it
The groups demands:
  "We demand from Britain that it release our prisoners and particularly Sheikh Abu Qatada the Palestinian and in this regard we do not forget our prisoners in other infidel countries and we say to all of them free our prisoners or we will do the same to you.
"We won't make an exception for anyone. If you need money to release our prisoners we will give you all you need up to the last dirham we have."
The group that kidnapped him are the Jaish al-Islam (Islamic Army). I thought Islam is the religion of peace. How could there be an "Islamic army?" There are the same group of "militants" who kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Remember, BBC infidels, they are "militants," not terrorists.
A sad day for the infidels at the BBC, who have done so much to publicize the cause of the Palestinians, without understanding what that cause really might be. 
Ami Isseroff

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Livni Statement at Press Conference with Steinmeyer - No German speakers in Israel MFA

Please note:
"[Note: FM Steinmeier spoke in German. Translation into English unavailable.] "
That is strange. Hopefully his remarks were translated when he spoke, so that non-German speakers could understand them, and there should be a tape of the translation. Or perhaps the Israelis just smiled, understood nothing and said "Dankeschoen?"
Ami Isseroff
Information Department, Israel Foreign Ministry - Jerusalem

Statement by Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni at Press conference with German FM Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Jerusalem, May 7, 2007
[Note: FM Steinmeier spoke in German. Translation into English unavailable.]

FM Livni: I would like to welcome a friend to Israel, Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who came to Israel after visiting some other states in the region. It was a great opportunity to discuss the situation in the region, the relations between Israel and the Palestinians, what I hope are maybe the new opportunities in the region, and also the sensitive situation in Israel and in the Palestinian Authority.

Of course, there are challenges and difficulties, but the Israeli government policy is that stagnation is not the best policy, and we are trying to work with the Palestinians in order to promote a dialog on some issues that can give the Palestinians a political horizon.

The dialog between Israel and the Palestinians is based on the nature of the Palestinian state and, for me, it was, of course, interesting to hear in the report [from my colleague] of meetings with some representatives of the Arab League, news of how some of our neighbors see the situation and the best way to promote the process.

We discussed also of course, the Iranian threat, the situation in Lebanon, and the need to provide an answer to the rearmament of the Hizbullah.

So, for me, it was fruitful and enlightening discussion, and thank you again.

In response to questions, FM Livni added:

The sensitive political situation in Israel is not a secret, but I do believe that when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, when it comes to the Israeli need to normalize its relationships with the entire Arab world, the Israeli government represents a vast majority of Israelis. Although there are differences between what is called left and right in Israel and maybe between different political parties in Israel, when it comes to promoting a peace process, to living in peace with the Palestinians, to the goal of two states living side by side in peace - this is something which represents the Israeli public. So, of course, we have to face the current sensitive situation, this crisis, and this is something that we are going to face in the next few weeks. But I believe and I hope that since, as I have said before, stagnation is not the best policy, that even during these sensitive days we can do the right thing in order to represent the Israeli interest in peace.

I will be going to Cairo on Thursday this week. This was published by the Egyptian foreign minister, so I can share it with you.

The idea is to speak. Of course, there are some bilateral issues between Israel and Egypt. When it comes to Sinai, or the Egyptian and the Palestinian border, it is crucial to halt the smuggling of weapons from Sinai to the Gaza Strip. This is something that, of course, will be raised. But there is also the Arab League initiative and the fact that the Egyptians plus the Jordanians are those who were nominated to represent the Arab League ideas to Israel, and I am sure that this will be part of the agenda in my meetings in Cairo, and I am looking forward to it.

But I would like to say something basic on the Arab League initiative. When it comes to the Arab role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I think it is crucial. The idea of normalizing relations with Israel, of course, is a positive development for Israel. These are good signs. We believe in normalizing the relations between Israel and the Arab world.

Of course, the linkage between the relations of the Arab world with Israel to the Israel-Palestinian conflict is something which we can understand. But I do believe that to simply present a plan to Israel, saying that these are the parameters for the final status agreement - this is wrong, I think that this can lead to stagnation.

The idea is that Israel and the Palestinians should negotiate the final status issues on a bilateral track. I believe that the Arab League can support the Palestinians in times of concessions, because, clearly, any agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is based on concessions on both sides. And it is about time that the Arab League supports the moderates in the Palestinian Authority and enables them to compromise on certain issues which relate to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and not to adopt a position of "take it or leave it."

I believe that this will be a part of the upcoming agenda between Israel and the Arab world. Of course, Israel has its own position about the way to promote the process, how to end the conflict, and the parameters of how to translate the vision of two states living side by side in peace into a more concrete plan.

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Support for the democratically elected Palestinian government: What it means

The slogan of those who insist on recognition for the Hamas-led Palestinian entity is "recognize the democratically elected government of the Palestinian people." They are not bothered by the genocidal program of the Hamas that is spelled out in their charter. That is only aimed at Jews after all. But they might be bothered by this report that a UNRWA school in Gaza was attacked for spreading Christianity. Attacks of this kind are apparently fairly common and sanctioned by the Hamas:
In September, Palestinian gunmen attacked and set fire to the Young Men's Christian Association headquarters in Qalqiliya, a large West Bank city controlled by Hamas. Qalqiliya was previously administered by Israel, but was handed to the Palestinian Authority as part of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

One political source in the city told WND at the time of the attack, "the identity of the attackers is well known to Hamas. We don't expect the Hamas-controlled police, the Hamas city council or the Hamas Interior Ministry to do anything about this attack."

The source called the arson a "warning to YMCAs and Christian groups in the Palestinian areas that they are not safe."

One Christian leader, an aide to Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch Michel Sabah who asked his name be withheld out of fear of Muslim retaliation, called the threats against Qalqiliya's YMCA part of a
general trend of Christian persecution in Palestinian areas. 
"It's been happening all over the West Bank and Gaza," said the aide. 
There have been rampant reports of abuses and persecution in several West Bank towns taken over by the PA.
Anti-Christian riots have been reported in Ramallah, Nazareth and surrounding villages, as well as in towns in Gaza. In Bethlehem, local Christians long have complained of anti-Christian violence. The city's Christians once made up 90 percent of the population, but have declined drastically since the PA took control in December 1995. Christians now make up less than 25 percent of Bethlehem, according to Israeli surveys.

Some analysts called the recent bombings of secular and Christian institutions in Gaza recent indications Hamas may be seeking to impose Islamic rule on the Palestinian population.
Remember this when your group votes on whether to boycott Israel and support the "democractically elected Palestinian government."
Ami Isseroff

Posted: May 8, 2007
6:34 p.m. Eastern

By Aaron Klein
© 2007
JERUSALEM – A deadly attack yesterday against a United Nations school in the Gaza Strip was carried out by an Islamist extremist group, according to a statement faxed to WND claiming the U.N. was targeted because the international body was "spreading Christian missionary activity."

"The UN is spreading Christian missionary activity. We will keep hitting them and trying to kill them. They are trying to convert our Muslims under the cover of an international organization," said the statement, signed by the group Jihadia Salafiya.

Until now, Jihadia Salafiya has operated in Gaza as an Islamic outreach movement seeking to make secular Muslims more religious, but the overall leader of the organization, Abu Saqer, confirmed to WND today his organization recently opened what it called a "military wing" to target individuals, establishments and groups it claims are "corrupting Islam."

One person was killed yesterday when unidentified attackers hurled grenades at a U.N.-run school in the Gaza Strip after announcing on loudspeakers they were angry over the participation of boys and girls in a sports event. 

Six other people, including at least one pupil and a school principal, were wounded in the attack, which local residents blamed on "Muslim extremists."

Witnesses told reporters gunmen arrived at the school and warned through loudspeakers against letting boys and girls participate in the sports day.

The gunmen said the event "taught children immoral values."

Targeting Christians

Yesterday's attack was the latest in a string of violence against Christian and non-Muslim establishments in Gaza since Israel withdrew from the territory in 2005.

Last month, Palestinians bombed a Christian book store funded by American Protestants that exclusively sold Christian books. Two nearby Internet cafes also were bombed.

At the time, Abu Saqer, who didn't take credit for the attack, told WND the Christian bookstore was "proselytizing and attempting to convert our people."

"As a principle we believe that Jews and Christians will always do everything in order to keep Muslims far from their religion," Abu Saqer said.

In September, Palestinian gunmen attacked and set fire to the Young Men's Christian Association headquarters in Qalqiliya, a large West Bank city controlled by Hamas. Qalqiliya was previously administered by Israel, but was handed to the Palestinian Authority as part of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

One political source in the city told WND at the time of the attack, "the identity of the attackers is well known to Hamas. We don't expect the Hamas-controlled police, the Hamas city council or the Hamas Interior Ministry to do anything about this attack."

The source called the arson a "warning to YMCAs and Christian groups in the Palestinian areas that they are not safe."

One Christian leader, an aide to Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch Michel Sabah who asked his name be withheld out of fear of Muslim retaliation, called the threats against Qalqiliya's YMCA part of a
general trend of Christian persecution in Palestinian areas.

"It's been happening all over the West Bank and Gaza," said the aide.

There have been rampant reports of abuses and persecution in several West Bank towns taken over by the PA.
Anti-Christian riots have been reported in Ramallah, Nazareth and surrounding villages, as well as in towns in Gaza. In Bethlehem, local Christians long have complained of anti-Christian violence. The city's Christians once made up 90 percent of the population, but have declined drastically since the PA took control in December 1995. Christians now make up less than 25 percent of Bethlehem, according to Israeli surveys.

Some analysts called the recent bombings of secular and Christian institutions in Gaza recent indications
Hamas may be seeking to impose Islamic rule on the Palestinian population.

Israeli officials say Hamas in the Gaza Strip has established hard-line Islamic courts and created the Hamas Anti-Corruption Group, described as a kind of "morality police" operating within Hamas' organization. Hamas has denied the existence of the group, but it recently carried out a high-profile "honor killing" widely covered by the Palestinian media.
A Hamas-run council in the West Bank came under international criticism last year when it barred an open-air music and dance festival, declaring it was against Islam.

'West can learn from Islamic values'
In response to the uproar, Hamas chief in Gaza and former foreign minister Mahmoud al-Zahar told WND: "I hardly understand the point of view of the West concerning these issues. The West brought all this freedom to its people but it is that freedom that has brought about the death of morality in the West. It's what led to phenomena like homosexuality, homelessness and AIDS."

Asked if Hamas is seeking to impose hard-line Islamic law on the Palestinians, al-Zahar responded, "The Palestinian people are Muslim people, and we do not need to impose anything on our people because they are already committed to their faith and religion. People are free to choose their way of life, their way of dress and behavior."
Al-Zahar said his terror group, which demands strict dress codes for females, respects women's rights.
"It is wrong to think that in our Islamic society there is a lack of rights for women. Women enjoy their rights. What we have, unlike the West, is that young women cannot be with men and have relations outside marriage. Sometimes with tens of men. This causes the destruction of the family institution and the fact that many kids come to the world without knowing who are their fathers or who are their mothers. This is not a modern and progressed society," al-Zahar explained.

The terror chieftain told WND the West can learn from his group's Islamic values.
"Here I refer to what was said in the early '90s by Britain's Prince Charles at Oxford University. He spoke about Islam and its important role in morality and culture. He said the West must learn from Islam how to bring up children properly and to teach them the right values."

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Israel will donate $5 million for Darfur refugee aid

It is good to read that Israel will donate $5 million to Darfur refugees. It would be better to read that Israel and other countries were working on effective action to stop the genocide, and that Israel and other countries are accepting refugees from Darfur. The report states:

The proposed donation will put Israel on the top 10 list of countries who have donated most to Darfur refugees.

With all the billions coming out of the oil wells in the Persian Gulf and Russia, $5 million should not put Israel in the top ten list of donors.

Ami Isseroff

Foreign ministry receives recommendation to donate millions in aid, equipment to victims of Darfur genocide

Itamar Eichner

Published: 05.09.07, 10:14

The Foreign Ministry will donate NIS 20 million ($5 million) to victims of genocide in Darfur, Sudan, following a recommendation presented by Daniel Miron, head of the Ministry's Human Rights Division.

"Israel cannot stand by while such a severe humanitarian crisis is taking place - the most severe in the world today - without trying to reach out and help," he said.

Miron headed the team in the ministry responsible for compiling the recommendations for aid.

Foreign Ministry Director General Aaron Abramovich is expected to hold several meetings regarding the proposed donation.

According to the recommendation, Israel will transfer NIS 16 million ($4 million) to four international aid organizations, and purchase $1 million worth of medicine and water desalination equipment from Israeli companies, which would be given to the refugees.

In addition, the ministry's Center for International Cooperation (MASHAV) intends on establishing a camp in Kenya where two Israeli doctors will be sent in order to care for hundreds of patients.

Israel has donated about $200,000 to genocide victims in Sudan over the past three years, while the international community has contributed about $1.8 billion in the past five months.

The proposed donation will put Israel on the top 10 list of countries who have donated most to Darfur refugees.

The United Nations has labeled the situation in Darfur as the most severe humanitarian tragedy in the world today.

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The forgotten refugees... Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries

The forgotten refugees...

U.S. Congress Focuses Attention on Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries

A US Congressional Hearing took place on Capitol Hill. Rep. Ackerman told how Jews lost their "entire businesses, not just their personal assets, but the property of entire communities; and most painful of all, not only did they lose their personal dignity and security, but their entire national identity."

Washington D.C. (PRWEB) May 8, 2007 - Jews in Arab countries "were compelled to leave their homes because of circumstances that included terror and government edicts;" so stated Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) who, as Chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, stressed that: "Jewish refugees from Arab lands are of great concern to the Committee."

These statements were made during a Congressional Hearing that took place on May 8, 2007 on Capitol Hill. Rep. Ackerman told how Jews lost their "entire businesses, not just their personal assets, but the property of entire communities; and most painful of all, not only did they lose their personal dignity and security, but their entire national identity."

Other members of Congress who were in attendance and made statements included: Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), Rep. David Scott (D-GA), Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Rep. Ron Klein (D-FL), Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC), and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX).

Testifying as expert witnesses were Dr. Howard Sachar, Professor Emeritus of History and International Affairs at George Washington University, and Dr. Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland.

The ranking Republican on the Subcommittee, Rep. Mike Pence remarked how Jews from Arab countries "have suffered pogroms, exiles, confiscation of property - all for the alleged crime of Zionism." In addition, Rep. Pence called attention to the ill treatment of Palestinian Christians by Palestinian Arabs. He noted that the percentage of Christians in the Palestinian Territories has dropped from 10% to 8% in the last two decades, a situation he called "outrageous and tragic."

In commenting on a lack of awareness about Jewish refugees, Rep. Ackerman added that "Jewish refugees have been successfully absorbed in Israel and elsewhere and, perhaps, as a result, their claims and misfortune have been largely ignored." Rep. Pence concurred: "There is a great deal of world opinion about one group of refugees (i.e. Palestinians). There is a great deal of world ignorance about the other (i.e. Jewish refugees)."

Additional initiatives on behalf of the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab countries will be undertaken on Capital Hill over the next few months. On May 15-16, 2007, a delegation comprising officials of major Jewish organizations will be making representations in support of Senate Resolution 85 and House Resolution 185 - both on the rights of Middle East refugees. Over the course of two days, meetings will be held with senior officials of some 20 Senators and Congressmen, seeking additional co-sponsors for these Resolutions that call for US recognition and support for the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

On June 19, 2007, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus will convene a special Hearing on the mass violations of human rights of Jews under Islamic regimes and their subsequent flight from their longtime residences in Arab countries throughout North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf Region. Under the auspices of its Chairman, Congressman Tom Lantos, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus will hear from legal experts on the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab countries as well as from 'living witnesses' - Jews who will testify as to their plight in, and flight from, the Arab countries in which they were born.

For additional background on these events, and/or more information on the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries, contact Stanley A. Urman, Executive Director of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries at 917-640-8028.

Note: a Webcast-video of the event can be seen at the following link:

Contact: Stanley Urman or Shelomo Alfassa: 917-640-8028

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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

BBC fiction about why Jews "left" Iraq

Anti-Zionist propaganda has spread a myth that Jews lived happily in Arab countries until evil Zionists somehow forced them to leave. BBC distorts the reasons why Jews escaped Iraq.
The Farhoud mentioned below was a pogrom against the Jews of Baghdad, during the pro-Nazi coup engineered there by the escaped Palestinian Nazi Grand Mufti Hajj Amin Al Husseini. It is rather surprising if the British do not mention this little incident, since they went to quite a bit of trouble to put down the revolt in 1941.
And let's not forget that the Jews of Iraq left behind all their property. That doesn't sound like "voluntary" immigration to me.
Point of No Return explains

Suddenly, Jews from Iraq living in Israel have become BBC news. The bad news is that, while its interviewees wallow in nostalgia, this article misrepresents the true context in which the Jews left Iraq in 1950 -51.

Jews from Arab countries never 'flee' - like Palestinian refugees - they always 'emigrate' - and for religious reasons. The article also assumes that the UN decision to partition Palestine in 1947 was the turning point in the
Jews' fortunes. In fact, conditions for the Jews began to deteriorate in the 1930s, culminating in the massacre of 180 Jews in the 1941 Farhoud, seven years before the establishment of Israel.

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United States had a plan for attacking Israel in 1967

The extent of US support for Israel should not be judged from festive pronouncements of politicians. Speeches are speeches, but reality is another matter.
In 1967, the United States had a plan for attacking Israel in order to stop its progress in the war that was sure to break out.
This plan was seriously considered despite all of the proclamations about U.S. - Israel friendship, only democracy in the Middle East etc. As the Godfather explained, "business is business."
Anyone who is foolish enough to take US pronouncements on friendship with Israel for granted, should remember that this plan existed, and might have been put into effect.  The truth is, apparently, that all the Middle East states are viewed equally and any of them, including Israel, could be the target of an American attack. We are no better than Iraq, Egypt or Iran for the United States government.
Ami Isseroff

By Amir Oren

The end of the story is known: During the Six-Day War, no battles were waged between the Israel Defense Forces and the United States. True, the American spy ship "Liberty" was attacked by mistake, but neither side initiated exchanges of fire. What is not known - and because of it, the story is riveting nevertheless - took place in the background. For some time, the United States had had an emergency plan to attack Israel. In May 1967, one of the U.S. commands was charged with the task of removing the plan from the safe, refreshing it and preparing for an order to go into action. However, the preparations lagged behind the developments in the diplomatic arena, and even further behind the successes of Israel's air force and armored divisions in Sinai. The general who was planning to attack Israel made do with extricating frightened American citizens and a panic-stricken ambassador from Jordan.
This unknown aspect of the war was revealed in what was originally a top-secret study conducted by the Institute for Defense Analyses in Washington. In February 1968, an institute expert, L. Weinstein, wrote an article called "Critical Incident No. 14," about the U.S. involvement in the Middle East crisis of May-June 1967. Only 30 copies of his study were printed for distribution. Years later the material was declassified and can now be read by everyone, although details that are liable to give away sources' identities and operational ideas have remained censored.
Strike Command, the entity that was to have launched the attack on Israel, no longer exists. It was annulled in 1971 for domestic American reasons and superseded by Readiness Command, which was abolished in the 1980s in favor of Central Command (CENTCOM) - which today includes forces in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Afghanistan - and the Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
The general who oversaw the planning in 1967 was Theodore John ("Ted") Conway. In Israeli terms, taking into consideration all the relevant differences, he can be likened to Avraham Tamir and Yuval Ne'eman, Aharon Yariv and Giora Eiland. Conway was a talented but forgotten officer, who did not leave a powerful impression on the history of the army that made use mainly of his brain; he did more participating than actual fighting in his generation's wars. His qualities as a curious and intelligent planner, a quick study who was creative in his solutions, led his commanders to assign him to headquarters and deprived him of the prospect of leading fighting forces.
That didn't stop Conway from advancing through the ranks. In the last decade of his service he moved up quickly to the highest level - that of four-star general - at the age of 56, as head of Strike Command. It was in this last post, ahead of his retirement, that he served as the crisis of May 1967 unfolded. It was his last opportunity to see whether what he had conceptualized could truly be realized.
'Subway' soldiers
Conway, who hailed from Indianapolis, described himself jestingly as one of the "subway" soldiers, as New Yorkers who enlisted to serve in World War II were sometimes described: short men, whose dimensions suited the crowding on the underground trains. He was a small, coiled spring, a physical fitness zealot. Every New Year's Day he made his officers take part in a 16-kilometer run, so that they would not spend the holiday watching television in a beer-induced stupor on the couch.
In the 1930s he was sent to Paris to study France, its language and culture, in order to return to West Point and teach the cadets about them. His exposure to Europe peeled away the provinciality that characterized the American officer corps at that time. During World War II, in the course of his service in North Africa, Italy and France - sometimes as an interpreter and liaison between the U.S. and British forces, and between both of them and the French forces - Conway acquired expertise and an understanding of the complexities of security and diplomacy on both shores of the Mediterranean. If the U.S. Army was going to have to act in the Middle East, there was no officer more suited than him to command the forces in the period of the Six-Day War.
As a 30-year-old captain at the start of the American involvement in the world war, Conway volunteered for the paratroops, but was disqualified because of his age. A decade later, after two years in military colleges, he discovered that the only way to avoid being assigned to a desk job in the Pentagon was to volunteer for the paratroops. He tried again, and this time, as a colonel of 40, he was given command of a brigade.
In October 1961, when President John Kennedy paid a visit to Fort Bragg, the headquarters of the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division and of the Special Forces, the then 50-year-old Conway was already the commander of the division, had parachuted with his troops and marched back to base with them in a trek of 135 kilometers. His deputy, Ed Rowny, later recalled the presentation Conway prepared for Kennedy: He divided the division into five units and dressed each of them in a different uniform, in order to demonstrate the division's flexibility to carry out missions anywhere in the world. One group was in standard battle fatigues, ready to be airlifted to Europe; a second was in jungle camouflage fatigues, ready to deploy to Vietnam; a third wore desert camouflage fatigues; a fourth wore winter uniforms of the Korean War type; and the fifth, equipped with skis and wearing white ski suits, was available for Arctic operations.
Within a few months, Conway's clever presentation of worldwide readiness sparked an imitation. At MacDill Air Force Base, near Tampa, Florida, the headquarters of Strike Command, an officer demonstrated for the camera of the ground forces monthly journal Army just how ready every soldier there was for any mission anywhere: They had not one duffle bag and not two, but three: one Arctic, one tropic, one miscellaneous.
Worrisome gaps
Strike Command (STRICOM) was established in January 1962 at the order of President Kennedy and his secretary of defense, Robert McNamara, in order to fill two worrisome gaps in U.S. military deployment. The first was a crying need for fit and available General Staff reserves for immediate posting to the main arena (Europe) or the secondary arena (Korea), where most of the ground forces outside the United States were deployed.
The creation of STRICOM was welcomed enthusiastically by the air and ground branches, but opposed by the U.S. Navy and Marines. The latter two branches were unable to torpedo the establishment of STRICOM, because the chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were all, consecutively, generals from the army. The commander of STRICOM also came from the ground arm: first General Paul Adams and then, four years later, Conway.
The second gap lay in the world map: in Africa and Asia. Between the arena of responsibility of the European Command, EUCOM, and that of the Pacific Command, PACOM, lay a vast area, from Egypt via the Arabian Peninsula to Iran, without command responsibility. Until the end of the 1950s, the Americans preferred to leave that region to the British as part of the Western bloc's distribution of labor. However, as Britain continued to grow weaker, gradually losing its hold in the region and finally ignoring American policy altogether (in the Suez crisis of 1956), Washington became convinced that improvising in emergency situations was untenable.
It was decided that STRICOM, as an external contractor from Florida, would prepare the ground and the hearts for U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. To that end, and at the request of the State Department, the command received another acronym, MEAFSA, referring to the sectors under its responsibility, for fear that newly independent governments in Asia and Africa would look askance at the explosive term "Strike."
Spokesmen for Strike Command took pride in plans that placed 225,000 troops at its disposal in eight ground divisions and more than 50 combat, transport and refueling squadrons. The command's major expertise was far more modest: preparing an airborne force - a battalion or at most a brigade - for offering rapid assistance to friendly governments, or rescuing civilians who were caught in battles between rebels and the army of a friendly regime. That proficiency was put to the test in operations in the Congo and the Dominican Republic.
Conway, who earlier had contrived to escape the labyrinth of the Pentagon in favor of field posts, discovered that in the remote Tampa of the mid-1960s he was "out of sight, out of mind," as he noted years later when he dictated his memoirs: Far from both Washington, where the decisions are made, and far from the Middle East, where he was barred from setting up his headquarters.
He did pay occasional visits to the region, flying in his executive jet, "The Princess." He developed particularly close relations with the emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie. He also became friendly with Jordanian King Hussein and visited Cairo for talks with the chief of staff, Mahmoud Fawzi, a few months before the Six-Day War.
The American approach to the Arab states was then quite simplistic: good Arabs and bad Arabs - meaning, good Arabs and Nasser. The good Arabs resided in North Africa, in the formerly French (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia) and Italian (Libya) states. East of there were Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, good Arabs (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon) who were afraid of Nasser, and relatively bad Arabs who were somewhat with Nasser and somewhat against him (Syria, Iraq). The underlying assumption of American policy was that when push came to shove, such as in an Egyptian-Israeli war or a clash between the West and the Soviet Bloc, the Arabs would split into two camps. Moderate North Africa, under the responsibility of EUCOM, would not intervene; Nasser would cause havoc and might need treatment by STRICOM.
This assumption, which fell apart in light of the reality that unfolded in the Six-Day War, was based in part on the open enmity between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. In the 1960s, the Egyptian army became bogged down in aiding the rebels in Yemen against the monarchy there, and against Saudi Arabia, which was assisting it. Following Egyptian bombings inside Saudi territory, Kennedy ordered Strike Command to send half a combat squadron to help the Saudis, with rules of engagement that included readiness to down planes.
John Kennedy's assassination and the rise to power of Lyndon Johnson improved Israel's status in Washington. For American Jewry, the political and personal channels to Johnson were more open, warm and influential. Johnson did not share Kennedy's intransigent opposition to the reactor at Dimona. The secretaries of state and defense, Dean Rusk and Robert McNamara, stayed on under Johnson, but the new president appointed to three key positions officials who were more sympathetic to Israel than their predecessors: Walt Rostow as national security adviser, Richard Helms as CIA chief, and General Earle Wheeler as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Adherence to armistice
The planning of operations against the IDF remains in the defense apparatus as a persistent relic of a declared American policy that seeks to achieve a holy balance in the Israeli-Arab conflict. Its origins go back to the 1950s and the tripartite U.S.-British-French declaration against arms sales to either side. The Soviets exploited this policy to sell arms to the Arabs, and the French looked after their own interests when they supplied weapons to Israel, but the Americans preserved an outward appearance of egalitarianism.
Washington's support for the existence, independence and territorial integrity of all the states of the region was translated into adherence to the armistice lines of 1949: not to allow Egypt, or any combination of Arab states, to destroy Israel, but also not to allow Israel to expand westward, into Sinai, or eastward, into the West Bank. The American pressure in this regard brought the IDF back from El Arish in Operation Horev in 1949 and from Sinai in 1956. A version of it would appear in Henry Kissinger's directives after the IDF encircled Egypt's Third Army at the end of the Yom Kippur War of 1973.
On May 20, 1967, according to L. Weinstein's confidential study for the Institute for Defense Analyses, cable No. 5886 of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was sent to EUCOM and STRICOM. STRICOM was asked to refresh the emergency plans for intervention in an Israeli-Arab war - one plan on behalf of Israel and the other, on behalf of the Arabs.
Conway replied four days later. He was doubtful about combat intervention and preferred an operation to evacuate American civilians from Israel and from Arab states. He also emphasized the need for political coordination in order to secure rights to use foreign bases, particularly Incirlik in Turkey, but also in Libya and Spain, and overflight rights. On May 25, STRICOM and EUCOM were asked to send officers familiar with the commands' plans to assist with planning at the Pentagon.
The next day, the Joint Chiefs asked Conway for his view on the question of American support for Israel. The government of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol implored the Johnson administration to take action to lift Nasser's closure of the Straits of Tiran. Johnson did not want a U.S. operation, but he was also not keen on the two other alternatives: a unilateral Israeli operation, or an Egyptian operation, which would jeopardize Israel's existence.
Conway was asked for his opinion about how the United States should act if the war were to be launched by an Arab action or, alternatively, by an Israeli strike. "The ultimate objective would be to stop aggression and insure the territorial integrity of all the Middle Eastern states," he was informed in cable No. 6365 of the Joint Chiefs, with a copy to EUCOM.
Conway's reply to this, dated May 28, is described in the top-secret study as "a strong plea for complete impartiality." The United States was liable to lose its influence to the Soviets, the general warned, and therefore it must demonstrate "strict neutrality" and avoid open support for Israel. The true importance of the Middle East lay in the American-Soviet context of the Cold War, Conway argued, and the American stance must derive from those considerations, not from "local issues." Only as a last resort should the United States take unilateral action - and then only to put an end to the fighting. In the estimation of the STRICOM commander, the Egyptian forces were deployed defensively, whereas the Israelis were deployed in rapid-strike offensive capability.
On May 29, Conway recommended that any U.S. intervention be launched early in order to ensure the territorial integrity of all the countries involved; restoring the status quo ante would become more complicated as the attacking army captured more territory. It might be difficult to determine which side had launched the hostilities, he noted, but the American response should be identical in both cases: a display of force, warnings to both sides, and if that should prove insufficient, "air and naval action to stabilize the situation, enforce grounding of aviation of both sides plus attacks on all moving armor or active artillery." Following the cease-fire, U.S. ground forces would be moved in for peacekeeping missions. The return of territories would be achieved primarily by diplomatic means, with military force to be used only if "absolutely necessary."
'Reasonable bounds'
While Conway represented the feelings on the ground, General Wheeler was attentive to the president. In an internal directive, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs recalled that Israel had repeatedly requested joint planning, but had been told that there was no authorization for this. At the same time, Wheeler continued, this possibility could not be ruled out, and the Joint Chiefs should therefore prepare an operational concept for the use of American forces to assist Israel, if war should erupt and if the relevant political decision were taken.
Wheeler barred the distribution of the planning concept to subordinate levels. A preliminary paper was prepared by June 5, the day the war erupted, and became outdated even before it could be used. On June 6, when the success of the Israel Air Force was known, and as the divisions under Israel Tal, Ariel Sharon and Avraham Yoffe advanced into Sinai, the Joint Chiefs sent McNamara top-secret memorandum No. 315-67, recommending that the United States not intervene militarily, that it continue to work through the United Nations and bilateral diplomatic channels, including consultation with the Soviets, to stop the war, and that logistical support for all sides be suspended.
The American sigh of relief at the demise of the worst-case scenario - the danger that Israel would be destroyed - was replaced by the fear that the Arab defeat had been so crushing that the Soviets would intervene on their behalf, or at least would reap a diplomatic profit. Because the United States did not know what Israel was aiming at, despite declarations by Eshkol and by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan that Israel had no territorial ambitions, the administration "now felt that it was necessary to limit [the Israeli] success to reasonable bounds."
In the years prior the war, Strike Command held a series of surprise exercises - "Bold Shot" and "Rapid Strike" - to examine the ability of the forces to organize without any prior warning, board a transport plane and prepare themselves for a parachute drop into battle. The last exercise in the series, held at the end of March, was based on the scenario of a crisis in an African country. Even against a small rebel force, a battalion of paratroopers needed four days from the start of the crisis, and two days from the time the order was received, to reach the target. In order to stop armored divisions in the desert, at the pace the IDF was keeping in June 1967, a force that embodied an internal contradiction would have been required: i.e., one that was both heavier, but also faster than what was available. Even if Johnson had made an unreasonable decision to use his army to block the IDF as it sped to Suez - contrary to his inclinations, the advice of his aides and what his confidants in the American Jewish community said - he would not have had the requisite military capability. The IDF was faster than the planners, decision makers and paratroopers of the United States.
True, we can conjecture that the appearance of an American force opposite the IDF would have had the effect of a tripwire that can block whatever is approaching, on the assumption that Israel would have been careful not to step on the little piece of metal cable that would have brought about even more massive American intervention - but this possibility is not hinted at in the American documents. The "Liberty" incident, which stemmed mainly from failures of coordination between the intelligence elements that ran the ship - the Joint Chiefs, EUCOM and the Sixth Fleet - illustrated how dangerous it was to deploy units without a uniform and clear chain of command in a combat zone.
In his memoirs, General Conway took a swing at his rival, Admiral McCain, over the "Liberty" issue. It was a tragedy of errors in more ways than one. Nasser had fabricated the idea of an intervention by the Sixth Fleet in Israel's favor; this was, as mentioned, a type of operation that had been planned secretly for an emergency, but was never implemented. The Pentagon initially attributed the attack on the ship to Egypt, as a kind of reaction to the fictional intervention. If Israel had not forwarded a surprising admission of its responsibility for the attack, Sixth Fleet aircraft would have been sent to attack Egyptian targets. The made-up story of the intervention would have become fact, by mistake, and Israel would have been accused of fomenting it.
Two retired IDF major generals - Israel Tal and Shlomo Gazit, who was then head of research in Military Intelligence - said recently, upon hearing the secret plan of the U.S. military, that Israel had no knowledge of this. The IDF fought the Egyptians, the Jordanians and the Syrians without imagining that it might find itself confronting the Americans as well, in their desert camouflage fatigues. This is the detail that is missing in Conway's memoirs: Did he study the events of the previous war, in 1956, and of all possible places in Sinai choose to parachute a battalion precisely in the Mitla Pass?

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Books: Jerusalem 1913

Jerusalem has a modern history as well as an ancient one. Undertstanding how it got to at the center of the Israeli Palestinian conflict - from being a backwater in a Muslim empire - is crucial to understanding the controversy and the motivations for Palestinian claims.
Jerusalem Before Israel
At the twilight of empire, the origins of conflict.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Editor's note: The roots of Arab-Israeli enmity are usually traced to Palestine's administration as a British Mandate (1920-48). But in "Jerusalem 1913," Wall Street Journal reporter Amy Dockser Marcus--the paper's former Middle East correspondent (1991-98) and the winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for her coverage of improving cancer-survival rates--finds that the conflict's origins lie deeper in the past, in the Ottoman Empire before World War I. She begins by noting a long period of mutual accommodation that would vanish with the rise of modern nationalism. Some excerpts:

The Ottoman occupation of Jerusalem in the 16th century until the early 20th was often marked by peaceful coexistence: "Twice a year, Jews, Muslims, and Christians celebrated together at the shrine of Simon the Just, a popular biblical figure. For a single coin, you could buy a ride to the tombs on a camel or donkey. Their owners would lead the animals from caféeto cafe soliciting business, the colored rocks worn around the beasts' necks to protect them from the evil eye clicking rhythmically as they made their way down the street. During the monthlong Muslim holiday of Ramadan, nighttime shows featured entertainers who would make shadow puppets against the walls of the café, often using the puppets' dialogue to poke fun at local officials or make veiled political commentary on the latest events. During the Jewish holiday of Purim, children from all over the city dressed up in colorful costumes to celebrate and exchange sweets. The Arabs even had a name for Purim in their own language, which translated as 'the sugar holiday.' "

Theodor Herzl, the author of "The Jewish State," which called in 1897 for a Jewish homeland, visited Palestine after the first Zionist Congress that same year had settled on it as the best site for a Jewish home: "Herzl was everywhere greeted as a kind of prophet. Children lined up at the village gates to sing to him, dressed in white, freshly laundered linen and bearing gifts of chocolate. Old men rushed to his side clutching bread and salt, a traditional gesture of hospitality. Groups of farmers left their fields and rode out to meet him on horseback, cheering him on and shooting their rifles in the air as he approached.

"During an appearance at one Jewish settlement, three elderly men trailed behind him as he walked, falling to their knees to kiss the tracks he left in the sand. That incident so unsettled Herzl that afterward he made certain never to be seen riding a white donkey while in the country, for fear that people would think he considered himself the Messiah and turn him in to the Ottoman authorities."

World War I dissolved the Ottoman Empire, leaving Palestine, the nascent Jewish homeland, in the hands of British administrators for nearly 30 years. After gaining its independence in 1948, the country newly named Israel joined the United Nations the following year: "After the state of Israel had been founded and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was well under way, many looked back, trying to pinpoint the moment when they realized that that conflict was inevitable. David Ben-Gurion, who became Israel's first prime minister, said it was the day in 1915 that he sat on a train waiting to leave Jerusalem at the order of [Ahmed Djemal, the city's Ottoman ruler], who banished many known Zionist activists from the city.

"Ben-Gurion had tried to turn himself into an Ottoman--studying Turkish, attending law school in Constantinople, trying to organize a Jewish legion to fight on behalf of the Ottoman Empire in the war, and even donning a red fez. But all these gestures had been to no avail, for at the end of the day, Djemal had looked at him and seen not an Ottoman but an advocate for a future Jewish state, and had him jailed in Jerusalem. . . . Upon his release from jail, he was exiled to Alexandria. Later, in his books and memoirs, he recalled vividly a particular moment on the train, when an Arab acquaintance of his, whom he called Yeya Effendi, walked by and saw him waiting to leave. The men embraced, exchanged news and greetings, and then Yeya Effendi asked him where he was going.

"Ben-Gurion told him that he was being exiled, ordered never to return to Jerusalem. Yeya Effendi held him in the embrace of a true friend, mourning his loss of their shared city. Then he looked at Ben-Gurion and said something that Ben-Gurion pondered for the entire train ride to Alexandria. 'As your friend, I am sad,' Yeya Effendi told him. 'But as an Arab, I rejoice.' "

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Israel will respond 'severely' to Qassam rocket fire

Escalation begins?
Last update - 22:26 07/05/2007   
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that Israel would "respond severely" to the ongoing Qassam rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, saying the fire "threatens civilian lives in the northern Negev," according to a statement released by the Prime Minister's Office.
"The Qassam attacks constitute a tangible threat to Israel," said Olmert, during a meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. "Israel cannot show restraint forever."
The Israel Air Force fired on a Qassam-firing squad in northern Gaza on Monday, wounding one militant, hours after a Qassam rocket hit a house in the center of Sderot. On Sunday, two people were wounded, one moderately, when a rocket hit a gas station near the western Negev town.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reiterated a call for the PA "to take all actions needed to halt immediately the firing of rockets against Israeli population centers, which by definition target civilians."
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni however cautioned Monday against a hasty decision to invade Gaza over the continued rocket strikes, saying the government must not repeat mistakes of the Second Lebanon War.
Livni requested that the military echelons present its plans, as well as a number of alternative options, and that the Foreign Ministry be involved in any decision on how to proceed.
"I think that the time has come to change the way of working, both in the government and in the relationship between the military and diplomatic echelons," she told a joint press conference Monday following a meeting with Steinmeier.
"As a member of the cabinet, I expect that there will be a debate during which the military echelon will present its plans," she said.
"The situation in Gaza is complicated, and the government must hold a comprehensive and considered decision-making session."
The foreign minister also touched on the partial report released last week by the Winograd Committee, saying that in light of the panel's findings, she expects a change in the decision-making processes.
"These decisions are only apparently security related. The Foreign Ministry must be party to them," she said. "I expect to be given alternatives and discuss [them] in depth so that a decision can be made on the matter."
Steinmeier met separately with Livni and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem on Monday to discuss the peace process and the Winograd report.
The German foreign minister, whose government currently holds the presidency of the European Union, invited Livni to discuss the Middle East peace process at an upcoming meeting of EU foreign ministers.
"I told Tzipi today that I'd like the Israeli foreign minister to seize the opportunity, to present her views to the European foreign ministers one more time," he said.
The Palestinian foreign minister, Ziad Abu Amr, is scheduled to address the next meeting of foreign ministers. Livni would attend the following session, Steinmeier said.

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Israeli government may have postponed Rice trip for internal political reasons

The report states:
 "It emerged Monday that Rice's visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, in which she was expected to prod both sides to carry out proposed U.S. benchmarks aimed at resuming peace talks, was delayed due to a political crisis brewing in Jerusalem."
Draw your own conclusions.
Last update - 10:31 08/05/2007   
By Haaretz Staff

A senior government source said that the decision to postpone a visit to Israel by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is "unprecendented," Israel Radio reported Tuesday.
It emerged Monday that Rice's visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, in which she was expected to prod both sides to carry out proposed U.S. benchmarks aimed at resuming peace talks, was delayed due to a political crisis brewing in Jerusalem.
Rice was due to arrive around May 15, but Israeli and Palestinian officials said the visit would be postponed due to the storm threatening Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government.
The radio quoted the source as saying Tuesday that the delay could be interpreted in the region as Washington's belief that there is no way to advance the peace process at the moment due to the turmoil in Israel.
According to the report, the source said that the decision to postpone had taken them by surprise, and that even as late as Monday, there had been coordination meetings with American officials at the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack confirmed the change in plans and suggested Rice was putting off the trip because of the Israeli political turmoil.
"It's possible that she could make a stop in the Middle East on this trip, although I would not expect, on this trip, that she would travel to Israel and the Palestinian areas," he said. "There's obviously a lot of politics in Israel that they are working through at this point but we are going to continue our efforts to advance the Israeli-Palestinian track."
It was not immediately clear when Rice would return to Israel and the Palestinian Authority or where else she may visit in the Middle East on the trip.

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Monday, May 7, 2007

Edgar Bronfman resigns as head of World Jewish Congress

Edgar Bronfman resigns

World Jewish Congress President Edgar Bronfman has resigned. His resignation came Monday at a steering committee meeting of the organization he has led for nearly 30 years.

The resignation caps weeks of turmoil within the organization after the firing of Israel Singer, a longtime senior official. WJC affiliates in Europe, Latin America and Israel had expressed dismay over the way he was fired. Representatives of those groups flew to New York for Monday's meeting.
The resignation comes two years before Bronfman had intended to step down and just days after he put out a public statement saying he would not resign.

The steering committee will select a new president on June 10, according to WJC officials. Likely candidates appear to be Mendel Kaplan,
the chairman of the WJC executive, and Ronald Lauder, the philanthropist and president of the Jewish National Fund. Matthew Bronfman, Edgar's son, is not a candidate, according to several sources. Pierre Besnainou, head of the European Jewish Congress, said he backed Mendel Kaplan, as Bronfman's likely successor. "We  support Mendel Kaplan," said Besnainou, who had publicly called for Bronfman's resignation in the weeks leading up to Monday's meeting.

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American Jewish Congress: new Liberal President to pursue social issues

To me it is strange that American Jews are more worried about abortion or Pakistan than about the fact that they might be a dying breed. I wonder if dinosaurs and homo erectus spent their last years fighting federal encroachment on privacy.

After election of new president, AJCongress vows return to liberal roots

By Nathan Guttman Published: 05/07/2007

The Forward

Washington -- One of America's most storied Jewish organizations is making a policy U-turn as it re-embraces an aggressively liberal domestic agenda.

Last Sunday, the American Jewish Congress elected a new president, who vowed to change course and refocus the group on domestic policy, including abortion rights, separation of church and state separation, and outreach to other ethnic communities.

The new president of the AJCongress, Richard Gordon of New Jersey, was elected in a unanimous vote and will replace Jack Rosen, who will stay on as the group's chairman, a job that was created for him when he first left the organization's presidency three years ago. But Rosen, who in the past seven years has shifted the organization's focus to foreign policy while forging strong ties with President Bush, is expected to have less influence on the direction of the AJCongress in future years. At times, Rosen's efforts appeared to boost the sagging national profile of the AJCongress, but they also alienated many of the group's liberal members and chapters across the country.

In his acceptance speech Sunday night, Gordon said that the organization needs to "reclaim its place as the attorney general of the Jewish people" — a reference to its championing of mostly liberal causes in the court system. The AJCongress has focused in recent years on promoting energy independence in the United States, forging ties with moderate Muslim countries and fighting antisemitism around the world. Now, the new president said, the goal is to make the organization a leader on issues of social justice.

Gordon comes to the leadership post of the AJCongress after a long career with Democratic lawmakers. Now a lawyer in the private sector, Gordon was director of policy for Indiana's former governor and current senator, Evan Bayh, and he also worked with Mario Cuomo and Walter Mondale. Gordon is a close friend of Bayh, who, when congratulating him on his election as president of the AJCongress, said, "I don't have a better friend in this world."

After Rosen's election as president, with the AJCongress facing financial difficulties and a decline in membership, the organization put domestic issues on the back burner and focused more on foreign policy. In recent years, the AJCongress was the first Jewish group to forge ties with Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf. The highlight of the group's legislative efforts this year was a congressional resolution passed last month deploring terrorist groups' use of civilians as human shields.

According to officials at other Jewish organizations, the shift in focus was clear. "They're not with us on education, on hate crimes or on immigration," said a Jewish organization's senior official who deals with legislative issues.

Even with the shift in focus, the AJCongress has continued to lag behind other organizations. According to tax filings, two years ago the AJCongress raised $3.2 million and reported revenue of $5.7 million, compared with $43 million and $50 million for the American Jewish Committee.

Both organizations, as well as the Anti-Defamation League, held major conferences this week — underscoring what many observers view as the wide gap in terms of fundraising and influence between the ADL and the AJCommittee on the one hand, and the AJCongress on the other.

"The American Jewish Congress was like a Chrysler, facing Jewish Toyotas that are attracting the public," said Jonathan Sarna, a Brandeis University professor.

According to Sarna, with its renewed liberal focus the AJCongress is returning to its roots, but it will face tough challenges in the increasingly conservative federal court system.

"They are caught on the horns of a significant dilemma," Sarna said. AJCongress leaders "can either change their views and undermine their own heritage, or they can stick to their old approach and face a difficult time in court."

In his speech Sunday, Gordon said that the main issue at stake is the separation of church and state, which he said has "taken a beating" in recent years. Referring to attempts by the Bush administration, Congress and courts to allow more involvement of religion in the public sphere, the new AJCongress president vowed to fight the "steady creep" of programs such as faith-based initiatives, prayer in public facilities and school vouchers.

In a letter Sunday to delegates of the AJCongress's annual convention, which took place in Washington this week, Gordon wrote, "Over the years that focus has shifted somewhat to other areas and we have lost track of our association as defenders of the first amendment."

The agenda unveiled by Gordon also includes a call for action against government measures that limit privacy and due process in the name of homeland security. Gordon has made it clear that he intends to reinvigorate the organization's legal department, which is in charge of issues relating to human rights and personal liberties.

Sources in the organization said that the need for a change of course in the AJCongress was felt for a while, and that leaders of the group believe that it is time to move away from the more hawkish and foreign-policy-focused agenda promoted by Rosen, the outgoing president.

At the same time, the organization has sought to balance Gordon's liberal-leaning agenda with the election of Herb London as chair of the group's council of governors. London is president of the Hudson Institute, a leading conservative think tank, and was described by officials in the AJCongress as being close in his views to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Also, the group does not intend to give up programs that were initiated by Rosen, such as the focus on energy independence and fighting terrorists' use of civilians as human shields.

Though he will not have the same influence as before, Rosen will still continue to lead projects he began as president, mainly those dealing with Pakistan.

When handing over the presidency to his successor, Rosen made clear he does not believe that the AJCongress should give up on foreign policy issues. "To be secure, our people have to have a say on global events," Rosen said.

An anecdotal tale, told during the AJCongress conference in Washington this week, helps illustrate the major role Jack Rosen plays in the group and the perception that he has managed to secure national and international recognition for the organization.

Roberta Seid, a convention delegate, stood up and told the crowd about the cab ride she had from the airport. After telling the taxi driver, who was of Pakistani origin, that she was heading to the conference of the AJCongress, the driver seemed extremely pleased.

"Is Jack Rosen still there?" the taxi driver asked. "He is a very important person in Pakistan."

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Herod's grave discovered in Herodion

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem 7 May 2007

We have just been informed that one of the Hebrew newspapers intends to publish a piece tomorrow about the archaeological revelation that will be presented in detail on Tuesday, May 8, at the press conference at the Hebrew University about which you have previously received notice.

We are therefore informing you now that the subject of the press conference will be the discovery of the grave and tomb of King Herod at Herodium.  No details have been conveyed by us about this; rather the newspaper that intends to publish the story found out about it through independent means;
it has no first-hand information from the archaeologist who made the discovery. This information will only be presented at the press conference which will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Litwinsky Senate Hall on the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University.

Orit Sulitzeanu
Dept. of Media Relations
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

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Israel and Iran: Remembrance of things possible

What might be...
JERUSALEM (AP) - When Iranian agents boarded an airplane that made an emergency landing in Tehran, the only Israeli passenger on board feared the worst.

Instead, he left with a gift of a wooden music box and an invitation to return when times are better.

Israeli scientist Benny Medvedev told Israeli news media he spent several harrowing hours in Tehran over the weekend after a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to India made two emergency
landings due to mechanical problems. Israel and Iran are staunch enemies and have no diplomatic relations.

When the crew informed the 123 passengers the plane was landing the first time Friday, the terrified Medvedev tried to persuade the pilot to let him stay in the cabin, he told the Yediot Ahronot ewspaper.

The pilot refused and the Israeli sat between British tourists with the hope he would not be discovered as the only Israeli on the airplane, he told Yediot. But when the Iranian security boarded the airplane, they walked directly to Medvedev.

"For the first hour I was terrified to death," Medvedev told the daily.

"Like everyone else I serve in a (Israeli reserve) combat unit...I didn't want to get off the airplane but I didn't have a choice."

Medvedev feared he would be taken away and never be heard from again, he said. But the Iranian security men quickly allayed his fears.

"They told me: 'We know you are Israeli but you don't have anything to be worried about. We will help you with anything you need,"' Medvedev said.

Medvedev, a researcher at Israel's Institute for Earth Sciences, was allowed on his laptop to connect to the Internet and send an e-mail to his boss, he said.

His superior immediately contacted Israel's Foreign Ministry, which considered the matter grave enough to inform Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Yediot reported. Livni was updated on Medvedev's situation throughout the day and Israel's consulate in Mumbai, India, was also contacted, the daily said.

The passengers were forced to spend the night in the airport's international lounge, the Haaretz newspaper said. Even after the flight was resumed the next day, additional mechanical problems 40 minutes later forced it to return to Iran again, Medvedev told Yediot.

"The security people treated me very well," Medvedev told the Y-Net website.

"I even received a gift of a wooden music box. They invited me to visit again and I invited them to visit Israel, when there will be peace."

Medvedev's story appeared on the front pages of most of Israel's newspapers Sunday. Yediot published photos of him being greeted by Israeli diplomats in Mumbai, along with him wheeling a cart with the wooden box and a duty-free bag from the Tehran airport.

Iranian forces captured 15 British sailors and marines March 23 as they boarded ships in the Persian Gulf to check for contraband goods. Iran charged them with being in its territorial waters but eventually freed the team.

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The real battle lines in the "war of civilizations"

A man writes:

Previously, I had written that the war on terror was not only about security; we also highlighted the importance of improving education and religious discourse, and doing away with the features of extremism, however, today, it is inevitable that we approach the region, which seems, through the silence that surrounds it, to have become immune from blame, and it is always compulsory that discourse is addressed to the state, whether Saudi Arabia or otherwise.

At this point I would say that in the same manner that the state and the Saudi government has responsibilities and duties, every citizen has responsibilities and duties to protect himself, his family and his country. Where are the parents of those young men who became time-bombs whilst still in their adolescence? How did they go abroad to receive training on how to use weapons and change psychologically to such an extent, becoming time-bombs without their families sensing it?

In many quarters, this discourse will be dismissed by the politically correct as neocon rhetoric. Everybody knows that suicide bombers and terror are born of desperation, right? If we want to seek the real causes of terror, then we have to look in Tel Aviv and Washington, right? We have to liberate the oppressed victims of American and Jewish tyranny. So this man must be a Zionist, a neocon or a Fox News journalist.

But this man is not a "Zionist" neocon. He is not a journalist for Fox News. He is Tariq Alhomayed, editor in chief of As-Sharq Al-Awsat, a Saudi Arabian journalist writing for a Saudi-run newspaper.

The epiphany is perhaps caused by the realization that the genie of terror and hate, once unleashed, does not stop abroad. As he writes:

If the Saudi authorities had been unsuccessful in uncovering the recent terrorist plot in the kingdom, the consequences would have resembled a destructive earthquake. The magnitude and the hideousness of the plans and the extent of their destruction are astonishing to any human being.

In reality, the fight of Al-Qaeda and its allies, and the fight of Mr. Ahmadinejad and his allies, the Hezbollah and the Hamas, are not aimed at the "Zionist entity" or the Great Satan, but rather at other Muslim and Arab regimes first and foremost. Osama Bin Laden made it clear that he wants to replace the "infidel" government of Saudi Arabia. He has his reasons we are sure. Who could not find reasons for wanting to rule a country that has one third of the world's proven petroleum reserves?

Alhomayed continues:

On my way from Washington, as I prepared to stay in Jeddah from where I would travel to London to resume my work, I registered my children in an international school in Jeddah so that they would not be affected by switching from one curriculum to another when my daughter turned to me and asked, "is it true that Jews originate from monkeys?" I asked her who had told her that and she replied, "A teacher, and she said that they are criminals because of what they are doing to the Palestinians and that they occupy their land."

I explained to my daughter that though the latter of the teacher's information may be correct and that they cause atrocities that she was too young to understand, her teacher had committed a crime against her as she was teaching her lies!

Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle!  Actually, I am a monkey's nephew if Charles Darwin was right, and so is Mr. Alhomayed, though it is forbidden to teach such things in Saudi Arabia. Now, if only Mr. Alhomayed had a bit more insight into the origins of the conflict between the Jews and Arabs of the country between the river and the sea, it would be even better. But we cannot ask for everything.

Mr. Alhomayed  asks:
Why is it the case that anyone who seeks to explain matters in a rational manner is presented as anti-religion? Nobody can prohibit you from practicing your rituals but who gives you the right to denounce some individuals as non-believers whilst praising others? For how long will the denial and placing the blame on others continue? Who is the "other" at a time when we see terrorism devastating the world and we know who the perpetrators are. They are damaging the Islamic religion and our countries.
Mr. Alhomayed asks good questions. Is it not always the case, and always has been the case in repressive societies, that "anyone who seeks to explain matters in a rational manner is presented as anti-religion?." (Or a traitor to the state). We have only to study the careers of Mr. Galileo Galilei and Mr. Darwin to know that it is so. Those who have power and keep it by force are always afraid of those who have knowledge and those who question. Truth is a deadly weapon.  The Middle East has not usually been a healthy place for people who ask questions.
It is even more interesting to ask why there are those in the West who insist on taking the part of the terrorists and the reactionary oppressors, and who insist on undermining the position of Muslim moderates. In reality there is a "war of civilizations" being fought here. But it is not a war between Muslims versus Christians and Jews. It is a war between those of us, whether we are Saudi or Jordanian or American or Israeli, Jewish, Christian, Atheist or Muslim, who understand that terror is reactionary and destructive, and those who have the illusion that it is "progressive" "resistance" against "colonialism" and "Zionism,"  whether they are living in Tehran or the caves of Afghanistan,  or writing for Counterpunch, The Guardian or The Nation. The main protagonists in this war are not in London or Tehran, but in Riyadh and Cairo and Damascus and Beirut and Jeddah and hiding out in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Inhabitants of the Middle East recognize this war, because it is extension of all the classic wars of the Middle East: the war of the cities against the desert. If we win the war, we can make a Middle East of all its citizens, that might indeed rival the Caliphate of Harun al Rashid - not dreams of ancient glories, but the substance of future prosperity. If we lose the war, then there will only be the wind whistling through the palm trees, blowing sand over the ruins of our cities, and a few miserable people living under the yoke of disease, poverty, repression, ignorance and the desert, as has been the case here for hundreds of years.
In brief, it is a war to make the Middle East safe for those who ask questions.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Who's the leader of the club that's made for Ahmad and Fatma?

Who's the leader of the club that's made for Ahmad and Fatma?
Who's the little rodent that wants to kill you and me?
Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin - May 6, 2007

Hamas steals Mickey Mouse image to teach hate and Islamic supremacy

by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
Palestinian Media Watch:
p:+972 2 625 4140e:
f: +972 2 624 2803w:

The Hamas Television is using a clone of Disney's Mickey Mouse to teach children to hate Israel and America, and aspire to Islam's inevitable and impending world domination.

The squeaky-voiced Mickey Mouse lookalike, named Farfur, is the star of a weekly children's program called Tomorrow's Pioneers on the official Hamas TV station (Al-Aqsa TV). Farfur and his co-host, a young girl named Saraa', teach children about such things as the importance of the daily prayers and drinking milk, while taking every opportunity to indoctrinate young viewers with teachings of Islamic supremacy, hatred of Israel and the US and support of "resistance" - the Palestinian euphemism for terror.

Farfur tells children that they must pray in the mosque five times a day until there is "world leadership under Islamic leadership." The earnest and soft-spoken Saraa' explains that the nucleus of this world Islamic leadership will be from "all of Palestine," i.e., including Israel. Farfur refers to Israel as "the oppressive invading Zionist occupation," which the children must "resist."

In a religious warning that is striking, considering the young age of the target audience, Saraa' announces that after death, the children will have to answer to Allah for what they did or did not do for the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and for Palestinian prisoners:

"I remind you that Al-Aqsa and the prisoners are a responsibility on our shoulders, and Allah will ask us on Resurrection Day what we gave for their sake."

The writing in this show is quite sophisticated. Farfur's performance is unquestionably funny and entertaining, as is the character's comic timing. For example, as he rhymes off a list of world figures, he chirps: "We will win, Bush! We will win, Condoleezza! We will win, Sharon!" Then, without missing a beat, he quips, "Ah, Sharon is dead" (sic), reinforcing his message that the plan for world domination is progressing.

Using a character based on an appealing, world famous and beloved icon like Mickey Mouse to teach Islamic supremacy and resistance as Islamic duty is a powerful and effective way to indoctrinate children.

The effectiveness of this program is heightened by including child viewers, who phone in to the show and recite poems with images of hate and violence; for example, "We will destroy the chair of the despots, so they will taste the flame of death;" and, "Rafah sings 'Oh, oh.' Its answer is an AK-47. We who do not know fear, we are the predators of the forest."

It is unclear what screening process, if any, is used in the selection of the poems to be recited. Either the themes are selected by the screeners, which reinforces the hate orientation of the program, or they are the initiative of the children and parents, which demonstrates the great success of the show's hate messages.

Click here to see selections of Farfur - the Mickey Mouse clone
* * *
Below are some excerpts from three recent programs:

Farfur: "We are setting with you the cornerstone for world leadership under Islamic leadership. Isn't it so, Saraa'?"

Saraa': "Yes, our beloved children."
Farfur: "You must be careful regarding your prayer and to go to the mosque for all five [daily] prayers. I say, in the mosque and in the first rows, until we can lead the world."

Saraa': "We remind you that we, the great ones, started this program to lead this world. The nucleus, with the will of Allah, will be from here, from Palestine. We will carry the concern of this [Islamic] nation that awaits us."

Farfur: "From Palestine, oh Saraa', what do you mean? From Gaza, Jerusalem,

Ramallah, or from all of Palestine?"

Saraa': "Yes, from all of Palestine" [i.e., includes Israel -editors].

Farfur: "If so, my beloved young ones, with the will of Allah, we will lead the nation from here, from Palestine."

Saraa': "Our beloved children, many say that we had glory [in the past], and we had culture, and the Muslims had greatness and respect. But with the will of Allah, we, tomorrow's pioneers, will restore the glory of this nation."

Farfur: "Yes, we, tomorrow's pioneers, will restore to this nation its glory, and we will liberate Al-Aqsa, with Allah's will, and we will liberate Iraq, with Allah's will, and we will liberate the Muslim countries, invaded by murderers."

Saraa': "Yes, they are children occupied by the Jews, but with the will of Allah, we will resist and protect against the Zionist occupation."

Farfur: "Until we win, with the will of Allah, we will resist until we win."
[Al-Aqsa TV, April 16, 2007]
* * *

Saraa': ".We remind you that we will lead this world, and the center of the leadership, with the help of Allah, praise him, is from here, Palestine, and will burst out across the world."

Girl: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

Boy: "Doctor."

Saraa': "You see, Farfur, everyone is ambitious and wants to lead the world. You. want to lead the world, Ahmad?"

Ahmad: "Yes."

Saraa': "It's important."

Farfur to the girl: "Fatima, you hear me? What do you say to the prisoners in the prisons of the oppressive invading Zionist occupation.?"

[Esraa' sings a song, Farfur is delighted until the words] ".we will surrender ourselves."

Saraa': "Esraa', it's not a good song. Why?"

Esraa': "Because it has surrender."

Saraa: "We don't surrender, we want to resist against the enemy, isn't it so, Farfur?. We want to resist against the enemy, and we don't want to

[Farfur compares Abu Jahal, who was the most prominent enemy of Muhammad in Mecca, to Sharon]

Farfur: "Allah willing, this country, its children, its men, its women and its elderly - will win - we will win, brothers. We will win, Bush! We will win, Sharon! Ah, Sharon is dead. We will win, Mofaz. Mofaz left. We will win, Olmert, we will win Condoleezza . We will win."

Saraa': [Final words] ".I remind you that we are the ones who will carry the concerns of this [Islamic] nation, and we will lead this world, and I remind you that Al-Aqsa and the prisoners are a responsibility on our shoulders,
and Allah will ask us on Resurrection Day what we gave for their sake."
[Al Aqsa TV, April 23, 2007]
* * *
The hostess explains to Farfur that one must aspire to memorize the entire Quran. "Because we want to lead the world, so [therefore] we want to memorize the [entire] Quran."

[The girl Harwa recites a song:]

"We liberated Gaza by force
From your death.
The people firmly stand
In their fire is a flame
Rafah sings "oh, oh"
Its answer is an AK-47
We who do not know fear
We are the predators of the forest."
Another child, Muhammad, reads lines from a poem:
"Oh Jerusalem, we are coming.
Oh Jerusalem, we will never surrender to the enemy,
We will never be humiliated,
It is beloved Palestine that taught us what to be
And taught us to be the soldiers of the Lord of the Worlds
We will destroy the chair of the despots, so they will taste the flame of
We will lead a war."
[Al Aqsa TV, April 30, 2007]

 Please feel free to forward this bulletin, crediting Palestinian Media

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send an e-mail to with "SUBSCRIBE" in the subject line.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Oppressors machine gun Palestinian refugee school

Evil oppressors killed and wounded Palestinians at a UN run school. Who could these depraved Zionist colonialists possibly be?

One Palestinian was killed and six others were wounded Sunday when gunmen opened fire at a school run by the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, security sources said.
Gunmen from a religious extremist group opened fire and threw grenades at the entrance to the school in the southern town of Rafah as students, parents and teachers were leaving after a party, they said.
The dead man was identified as Majid Abu Shamallah, a bodyguard with an official from president Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party who was at the event.
John Ging, Gaza director of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), was at the school when the attack was carried out but "he is all right," an official with the agency told AFP.
Three of the alleged gunmen have been detained by Palestinian security forces, a security source said.
"As the party was ending and people, parents and children were leaving the school, the Salafist group threw two grenades and opened fire," a security source said.
A group that described itself as Salafist, a strand of puritanical Islam, on Saturday "sent a statement threatening to sabotage the celebration organized by UNRWA because they are against organizing such an event," the source said.
On March 16, Ging escaped unscathed when gunmen fired on his convoy just after it crossed into the unruly territory from Israel.
UNRWA, the largest U.N. agency with more than 25,000 employees, was founded after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war to provide relief for Palestinian refugees uprooted by the war.
Today the agency provides education, health, relief and social services to more than 4.3 million Palestinian refugees registered in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
In the Gaza Strip alone, UNRWA cares for nearly one million refugees.(AFP-Naharnet)
Beirut, 06 May 07, 15:14

Continued (Permanent Link)

Lebanese opinion about Winograd

Lebanese appear to be divided about the Winograd committee report. Some Lebanese like Rami Khouri wrote that the Winograd report mainly provokes Arab disdain, but Khouri, though considered a moderate (everything is relative) can usually be counted on to write Op-Eds with the "true Middle-Eastern flavor."
Other Lebanese have a different opinion. For example, the top Hizbullah commander in southern Lebanon, Nabil Qaouk, is celebrating the Winograd report:
"While the entire Arab world celebrates the Winograd report, the group in power (a derogatory nickname for the government) panicked. Should the resistance be rewarded with a government that is more hostile than the Israeli entity?"
Still others see a different lesson in the report:
Many criticize Hezbollah's actions and the fact the Lebanese state has allowed the terrorist organization to escape without due payment for its decision to abduct two IDF soldiers last July 12, which provoked Israel to go to war.
Left-wing opposition legislator Elias Atallah spoke for many in his damning editorial in the daily Asharq Al-Awsat called "Where is the Lebanese Winograd Committee?"
"I envied the enemy for their ability to confront their leaders with their errors. They change governments as if they were changing hairstyles, without inflicting damage to their public. Our rulers, by contrast, are not answerable."
Lest he be suspected of pro-Zionism - which in Lebanon can spell a death sentence - Atallah reiterated that he regarded Israel as Lebanon's bitter enemy. "I nonetheless recognize that in Israel, the government must answer to the public. And so, they learn lessons and learn from experience," he wrote.
Another prominent journalist, Edmond Saab, editor-in-chief of An-Nahar, called for a state inquiry into Hezbollah's accountability for the war and the devastation it has caused in Lebanon. "An investigation of a military and legal nature is an appropriate measure. We must investigate whether Hezbollah erred in miscalculating the Israeli retaliation.
Saab named the lack of public scrutiny in postwar Lebanon as a cause of the political mayhem that engulfed the country in recent months. "Had we launched our own mini-Winograd committee, it would have served to resolve the prolonged and protracted political stalemate that we witnessed between the coalition and Hezbollah," he wrote.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Torture - Bet'selem versus Israel Ministry of Justice: When will Hamas and Hezbollah issue a report like this?

The report below was issued by the Israel Ministry of Justice in reply to a Betselem challenge regarding allegations of torture and improper treatment by Israeli authorities of terror suspects.

Among other things it states:

The IDF has been striving to assimilate the judicial rules affecting both proper conduct in combat and in conjunction with the civilian population, among its soldiers by means of training and teaching. Officers of the Military Attorney General's Law School, who lead the training in this field, have held numerous lectures on the subject in recent years, in which thousands of soldiers took part. The training focuses, among other things, on the duty of IDF soldiers of all ranks to provide humane and proper treatment to detainees captured by the IDF, while maintaining their dignity as human beings.
Suppose you are interrogating a female would-be suicide bomber, who entered Israel with her underwear full of explosives, on the pretext of seeking urgent medical treatment in Soroka hospital. Her intention was to blow up the hospital, doctors and patients as well as herself. How do you maintain the "human dignity" of such a person, and what human dignity has she left to herself? It is a difficult problem, I would think.

The report below is certainly not perfect, and the use of torture is regrettable. It should be pointed out that Betselem is an Israeli organization. Accordinlgy, we are anxiously awaiting the protests of Lebanese and Palestinian human rights organizations concerning the treatment of Israeli soldiers detained in Gaza and Lebanon, and likewise the replies of the Hezbollah and the Hamas, and thespective Lebanese and Palestinian judicial authorities. Do you think we will have to wait a long time?

Ami Isseroff

State of Israel
Ministry of Justice
The Department for International Agreements and International Litigation The following is a translation of the Hebrew version, In case of divergence of interpretation, the Hebrew text shall prevail.

Date: 8 Iyar, 5767
28 April 2007
Re: 2752
Mr. Yechezkel Lein
8 HaTa'asiya St.,
Jerusalem 91531

Dear Sir,

Re: Reference to "B'tselem" Draft Report "Torture and Abuse towards
Palestinian Detainees"

Your letter regarding our reference to the abovementioned draft report was received by our office, and our response is as follows:


1. The report was based upon a non representative sample that seems to have been deliberately chosen which distorts the reality prevailing in the course of arrest and interrogation of security prisoners.

2. Presenting a report which includes description of cases with no identifying details and without allowing the relevant authorities, headed by ISA and the IDF, to review those specific cases raised within, effectively denies these authorities the opportunity to examine the claims raised in the

Claims regarding the Operational Rank

A. IDF soldiers

3. An enquiry held resulted with the following findings:

3.1. The admittance procedure in a detention facility:

3.1.1. The procedure, except for rare circumstances, is extremely short, and contrary to claims raised in the report, does not include undressing of detainees, except for strictly defined cases.

3.1.2. Includes a mandatory examination by either a medic or a physician, in order to determine aptness for arrest.

3.1.3. Includes an inquiry about injuries, if occurred, during the arrest and escort, and if the detainee claims that he was beaten or if signs of violence are found on his body, the details of the case are transferred to the Military Police for investigation.

3.2. A professional Escort squad has been established in order to insure proper conditions during transfer of detainees between facilities.

3.3. Every case of deviation from the rules of conduct, including such rare cases where cursing or beating occurs, is examined and treated. As aforesaid, additional information about the cases mentioned in the report would have allowed the IDF to check each such individual case.

4. The IDF has been striving to assimilate the judicial rules affecting both proper conduct in combat and in conjunction with the civilian population, among its soldiers by means of training and teaching. Officers of the Military Attorney General's Law School, who lead the training in this field, have held numerous lectures on the subject in recent years, in which thousands of soldiers took part. The training focuses, among other things, on the duty of IDF soldiers of all ranks to provide humane and proper treatment to detainees captured by the IDF, while maintaining their dignity as human beings. Lectures on these subjects are also incorporated as an integral part in the IDF basic training, including officers training and courses held in the IDF's Tactical Command Academy. The Military Law School also provides designated lectures focused on proper treatment of detainees.

5. In addition, the Military Law School produced various guidance materials, including educational computer programs in the aforesaid fields, which allow effective guidance for multiple populations. These programs, commonly used as vital guidance tools of IDF soldiers and officers, refer, inter alia, to proper treatment of detainees while emphasizing the strict prohibition of applying inhumane or degrading treatment to detainees captured by IDF forces.

B. Israeli Police Officers

6. Israeli police officers that operate in police detention facilities, in which ISA interrogators operate, comply with law and its frame, and the treatment of detainees held in these facilities, including security detainees, is compatible to the law as well as internal police regulations and is subject to continuous scrutiny by the Department for the Investigation of Police Officers in the Ministry of Justice and of the courts.

C. Interrogators of the ISA

7. The Israel Security Agency is responsible by law for the safeguarding of Israel's security, regime, and state institutions, from terror threats, espionage and other threats. In order to do so, it has the duty to foil and prevent any unlawful activity aiming to harm the aforesaid targets.

8. In order to fulfill its purpose, the Agency performs, among other things, investigations of suspects in terrorist activity. The main goal of such investigation is data gathering intended to foil and prevent terrorist acts.

9. The day by day fighting against terrorist infrastructure that seeks to carry out terrorist attacks and to spread death and destruction within the state of Israel, obligates the security services, including the interrogators of the Israel Security Agency, to make every effort to foil and disrupt such aspirations. The last few years saw many civilians' lives saved as a direct consequence of data originating from those investigations.

10. The report itself refers to a group which is named in the report as "ordinary" detainees, concerning interrogatees which were arrested between 13 - 17 of July 2005, when on the day of July 12, 2005 there was a terrorist attack in the city of Netanya, that caused the death of five people and the injury of many others. (The other group - mentioned in the report as "senior detainees" - includes Palestinians arrested between July 2005 and January 2006).

11. Following the abovementioned terrorist attack, suspects associated with the attack were arrested and interrogated, and as a result of the interrogations, the perpetrators of the attack, as well as the terror infrastructures that supported them, were exposed. In addition, more terrorist units were exposed and weapons that were to be put in use in future terrorist attacks were handed over.

12. Due to confidentiality reasons we can not address here, in details, the interrogation techniques mentioned in the report, and therefore may not address each and every claim raised in the report in this context. Furthermore, since the report does not mention specifically the names of the detainees who have initiated the complaints, the accuracy of the claims cannot be examined. We will state, however, that the report is fraught with mistakes, groundless claims and inaccuracies.

13. In order to illustrate the inaccuracy and the tendentiousness of the report, a few salient examples can be pointed out. The claims, for instance, as if the ISA uses measures intended to cause "detachment" of the interrogatees from the outside world, while instilling a feeling of uncertainty about their fate, are unfounded. In this matter we would like to point that persons interrogated by the ISA receive, at the beginning of the interrogation, a document that states their rights as interrogatees in a criminal investigation, stating their right to refrain from self incrimination, their right to see a lawyer', etc. All this in contrast to the claims in the report.

14. Another example in this context is found in the claim that the Israel Security Agency deals with "designing the appearance" of the food given to the detainees, "in order to create a deterring affect", which is supposed to create disgust and deterrence among the interrogatees. This bizarre claim is unfounded and is indicative of the lack of seriousness and tendentiousness of the person claiming it.

15. As a further example, we would like to point out that there in no basis for the claim that interrogators of the ISA routinely practice the habit of "cursing and swear wording the interrogatees callously and rudely".

16. The claim as if the Israel Security Agency is involved in the undressing of the detainees as part of the admittance procedure is unfounded as well. The ISA is not involved in the detainees' admittance procedure and certainly does not instruct that detainees will be completely undressed on their arrival to the facility, as claimed.

17. We shall reemphasize that these are only examples concerning the framework of the matters, and that it is impossible to refer to each and every claim that appears in the report.

18. Regarding the issue claimed in the report concerning the use of the term "military investigation", it should be pointed out that this term has a vague meaning, hence perceived differently by different people. Despite the above, it has been recently decided that ISA investigators shall avoid using this term in general.

19. It should be clarified that ISA investigations are performed in accordance with the law, procedures and instructions, while being regularly scrutinized by Israel Security Agency supervision bodies, the Ministers' Commission for Israel Security Agency Issues, the Subcommittee fo r Intelligence and Secret Services of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Knesset, the Ministry of Justice, the State Comptroller's Office and the different legal instances of the courts.

Claims Regarding the Supervision Mechanisms

A. the Ministry of Justice

20. The ISA complaints inspector (hereinafter, "the Inspector") - an integral part of the ISA - operates independently, and no element within the ISA, including the head of the Agency, has the authority to interfere with his investigation manner or his findings and he performs a practical and comprehensive investigation which is not dependent on all other elements within the Agency.

21. The appointment of such Inspector is carefully carried out in order to avoid any conflict of interests emanating from any of the various positions held by the Inspector in the past or present, with his role as an Inspector. Accordingly, the present Inspector, as his predecessors, was not an investigator in his past career.

22. It should be emphasized that there are clear advantages for appointing an ISA member as an Inspector. Being familiar with the system, he is allowed access to all the relevant information, including highly sensitive materials, hence he is able to comprehend that information better than any external factor, since as a member of the ISA he is familiar with the organization's culture and the "organization's language".

23. The Inspector operates under the instruction and close guidance of the Ministry of Justice's specially designated supervisor, who is a high-ranking attorney in the Ministry of Justice. The Inspector is professionally guided by the supervisor which, in turn, approves the Inspector's decisions.

24. In addition, the supervisor of the Inspector is vested with the authority to initiate an examination of a complaint, whereas the ISA or the Inspector does not have the ability to prevent such examination from taking place.

25. Following completion of an Inspector's investigation, the investigation report is examined thoroughly by the supervisor. The investigation report is further examined by the Attorney General and the State Attorney when the issues mentioned in the report are sensitive or when the circumstances so necessitate


26. Complaints concerning harm to Palestinians or soldiers' behavior are solemnly inspected and examined. The Military Attorney's general policy is that complaints concerning violence of soldiers towards Palestinian residents - all the more so in abuse complaints - are investigated by the Investigating Military Police. Thus, in the year 2006, of the 71 complaints submitted regarding soldiers' violence in Judea and Samaria, 61 investigations were initiated. In the year 2005, 87 complaints of violence were submitted and 76 investigations initiated. It should be clarified that contrary to the information in the draft report, the opening of criminal investigation files against soldiers, including in such cases where unjustified violence was ostensibly involved amid arrests and holding detainees in custody, is not subject to the Military Attorney General's pre-affirmation. Military Police's investigation files are frequently opened immediately upon complaints' submission, with no instruction of the Military Attorney's Office.

27. Contrary to the claims, a special effort is devoted in order to severely judge those who abuse Palestinians or apply force unlawfully. Severe indictments are submitted in every case where sufficient evidence - gathered in full compatibility with criminal law requirements - is presented, alongside with prosecution's appeal for imposing ample imprisonment periods. In suitable cases, appeals were lodged by the prosecution to the Military Court of Appeals for aggravation of the punishments.

28. In addition, it should be pointed out that several meetings were held in the past between the Military Attorney's Office' senior officers and representatives of "B'tselem" organization. It was clarified to the "B'tselem" representatives in a number of occasions that every complaint concerning soldiers' violence communicated to the Military Attorney's Office will be seriously examined in accordance with the Military Attorney's Office policy.

29. Military Courts also pertain an uncompromising position in regard to violence offences committed by soldiers towards Palestinian detainees, as can be inferred from the following examples:

29.1. Cen/274/06 - A soldier was convicted of an offence of abuse for beating a handcuffed Palestinian detainee. Further to his demotion back to private, the soldier was sentenced to seven months of imprisonment, out of which four months were to be served in prison and the rest by a suspended imprisonment for two years, provided he would not commit any further offence involving threat or violence. The military court stated in its decision that:

"It is unnecessary to heap words as to the gravity of the act in which the defendant was convicted. The Military Court of Appeals expressed its opinion in the recent years about acts of this kind, the severe and serious fault attached to them and the severe harm to the IDF's reputation and the purity of its lines. Indeed, the defendant deserves an aggravated penalty for his acts which hold an element of harm to a helpless person, even if the person was regarded according to the defendant's point of view, as a terrorist and one who carried out shooting attacks against our forces. When the terrorist was arrested, handcuffed and could not react anymore, there is a grave prohibition to harming him in any manner and the fact that no injury or damage was caused to him can not reduce significantly the moral fault of the act".

29.2. Cen/472/05 - A soldier was convicted of an offence of abuse and a related offence of improper behavior for beating a handcuffed Palestinian detainee. The indictment was submitted against the soldier who already served a sentence of 28 days of imprisonment and had been suspended from serving as a combat soldier, following his conviction in a disciplinary court. As the military court was not satisfied with this punishment, it convicted the defendant as previously mentioned and sentenced him for an additional sentence of 45 days of imprisonment and 5 months of suspended imprisonment for two years if committing an offence concerning abuse, assault or act of violence against other person, thus in total, the soldier was sentenced to two and a half months of imprisonment. As well as demoted to private. One of the judges pointed out in his judgment that "the behavior of the defendant imposes disgrace on him, tarnishes his unit, damages the combat ethics of the IDF and reflects upon the image of the IDF on the whole and the image of its soldiers".

29.3. Cen/471/05 - A soldier was convicted of an offence of abuse and an offence of dishonorable behavior due to the beating of Palestinian detainees who were under his custody. The soldier was sentenced to a punishment of four months of imprisonment, three of which in prison and the rest by suspended imprisonment if committing an offence of abuse or violence against another person in a period of three years. In addition, the soldier was demoted back to private.

30. In accordance with the Supreme Court's recommendation in HCJ 3985/03 Bedawi v. the Commander of IDF forces in Judea and Samaria et. al, an advising committee to the Chief of Stuff was appointed, headed by a military-juristic judge, that carries out occasional inspections of the incarceration conditions in detention facilities under IDF responsibility. In addition, inspections of this matter are carried out by the Control and Supervision Unit which is subjected to the Deputy to the Chief of Stuff. Following recommendation submitted by the advising committee, several changes were recently applied in order to improve the incarceration conditions, including the transfer of authority over detention facilities to the Regional Military Police Commander, whereas authority over incarceration facilities was transferred to the Israeli Prisons Service, budgets of incarceration facilities were increased and a specialized task force responsible for escorting the detainees was established. Fully recognizing the importance of the subject, the IDF has continuously been striving to improve incarceration conditions in the few detention facilities that remain under its responsibility.

Sincerely yours,

Boaz Oren, Adv.

Deputy Director

C.c: Mr. Meni Mazuz, the Attorney General
Mr. Eran Shendar, the State Attorney
The legal advisor of Israel Security Agency
Brigadier General Avichai Mandelblit, Judge-Advocate General
Mr. Shai Nitzan, the Deputy to the State Attorney (Special Affairs)
Mr. Yoel Hadar, the legal advisor, the Ministry of Public Security
The Supervisor of the Inspector for the Complaints within ISA, the State
Attorney's Office

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Islamophobia and Londonistan: How Britain should fight terror

You know what sort of person would write something like this, right?
Britain teems with nests of serpents and scorpions of extremism who come from around the world: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Syria, Pakistan and other countries due to its flexible systems and the adoption of a policy to receive outcasts during the aftermath of World War II and the Soviet-Western conflict during which doors were opened to persecuted refugees who sought their rights....
I think they must do what other Muslim and non-Muslim countries have done before them--accept fighting extremists by cutting off the oxygen that sustains extremist groups: their newspapers, radio stations, televisions, forums, mosques and websites. Through publicity, they can raise funds, recruit volunteers and secure popular support within foreign communities. The question is: how can the codified British system allow that? The answer lies with the hesitant legislators who are practically on the brink of a terrorist war today. After all, pursuing extremist Muslims today is better than pursuing all Muslims tomorrow.
It must've been a neocon Zionist reactionary Islamophobe, right? Someone with a "Zionist" name like Goldstein or Perle perhaps. Or maybe it was a Christian Zionist zealot?
No, It was Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, who is general manager of Al Arabiya television.
This is the straight stuff. Blessings to you brother Al-Rashed. Salam Aleikum warahmatulahi.
Ami Isseroff

Britain: On the Brink of A Terrorist War


Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed
I believe that the recent court rulings against the British Muslims [linked to Al Qaeda] were the first strike in a tough war. Britain teems with nests of serpents and scorpions of extremism who come from around the world: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Syria, Pakistan and other countries due to its flexible systems and the adoption of a policy to receive outcasts during the aftermath of World War II and the Soviet-Western conflict during which doors were opened to persecuted refugees who sought their rights. The paradox is that it is in Britain, the object of hate for many fundamentalists, where these very people practice their full rights and enjoy what they were deprived of in their native countries.
Until four years ago, Britain's intellects had said that they were willing to tolerate what these people had to say out of protecting individual rights and the right to free speech and political opposition. We used to say to them that we all supported that right but that these people had no relation to freedom and unfortunately never respected the rights of others. They despised the regime that protected them and privately and publicly conspired against society. Unfortunately, these intellects turned a blind eye, believing that we pursued opponents, instead of examining the extremism phenomenon in the Arab and Muslim world to identify the nature of the problem. Several reports and articles appeared in the British media glorifying and supporting these groups both in their homelands and in Britain without realizing their extremist Fascist nature that compared to and even surpassed the capability of Nazism to destroy the social fabric.
Britain is faced with a very difficult problem, confronting a foreign enemy amid social sensitivity and slow-moving legal systems that limit its activity. A key to success is to know opponents and be capable of integrating with their community, which is possible in the Arab states because extremists share a similar background and these states have large law enforcement agencies that can detain and interrogate suspects and can even expel unwanted foreigners if it is believed that they are causing trouble. However, this is not possible to apply in Britain and therefore it will not be easy for British security to combat both the dangers of secret organizations and education provided in residential communities where extremists hide.
Unfortunately, we can only expect more terrorist operations in Britain because all indicators show that extremists have spent a number of years destroying the minds of young British Muslims under various religious and social claims, and it will not be easy to stop the waves of training or, firstly, ban extremist education.
What can the British authorities do?
I think they must do what other Muslim and non-Muslim countries have done before them—accept fighting extremists by cutting off the oxygen that sustains extremist groups: their newspapers, radio stations, televisions, forums, mosques and websites. Through publicity, they can raise funds, recruit volunteers and secure popular support within foreign communities. The question is: how can the codified British system allow that? The answer lies with the hesitant legislators who are practically on the brink of a terrorist war today. After all, pursuing extremist Muslims today is better than pursuing all Muslims tomorrow.
Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed
the general manager of Al -Arabiya television. Mr. Al Rashed is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate degree in mass communications. He has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Zionist propaganda - not from the Israel lobby

Here is an Israel advocacy article that is not written by a member of  the "Israel Lobby."

Why I Admire Israel

Washington DC, May 5, 2007/Reform Syria Blog - Farid Ghadry/ -- As a Syrian and a Muslim, I have always had this affinity for the State of Israel. As a businessman and an advocate of the free economic system of governance, Israel to me represents an astounding economic success in the midst of so many Arab failures. I measure achievement not in terms of trade or dollars going in or out (Saudi Arabia is best at that) but in terms of scientific prowess that ultimately churns the economic engine of success.

While many Arabs view Israel as a sore implant, I view it as a blessing. I should provide an example of what I mean.

In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech tragedy, we learned that friends of ours lost a daughter. Some ten days later, we visited them at their house with some other friends. Conversation surrounding the tragedy ensued and one of my dearest friends whom I have a lot of respect for objected to the story he heard about how the Israeli Ambassador to Washington, through connections, was able to have the body of Liviu Librescu delivered to his family, for religious reasons, before anyone else could have any access to their loved ones. He was fuming against the Ambassador more than against the authorities' unwillingness to deliver simultaneously the bodies of Muslims who also perished, in particular the Egyptian student Waleed Shaalan. I asked him "Did the Egyptian Ambassador call to have Shaalan's body delivered early to his family in accordance with our religious traditions?" He did not know the answer to the question but nonetheless kept fuming against the Israeli Ambassador. It was as if the Israeli Embassy did it to spite him or any other Arab. For me, it confirmed the admiration I have for a country that respects their own.

After some heated argument, almost all agreed that Arabs do not have any measure of respect for our own people (due mostly to lack of accountability) and that Arabs must embrace self-empowerment by learning how rather than why Israel begets results.

Israel's democracy and its economic prosperity are all needed in our midst in the hope that we can learn self-empowerment. It is not hard to imagine our young people learning about empowerment when they watch Israeli democracy on their television sets, but it is hard to imagine they will be able to apply it living under an authoritarian system of government. That is the reason why Arabs send their own young people as suicide bombers instead of nurturing them to grow and become citizens of the world so that one day they can use their connections to help their people like the Israeli Ambassador to Washington helped the Librescu family. How could they nurture them in an environment void of hope for their future?

Israel has, in less than 60 years, built an economy ten times that of Syria with one-fifth the population. How does one explain this fact? It is very simple: Israel is a vibrant democracy. For no fault of our own, Syria has suffered from one occupation after occupation, the latest being organically grown represented by the Assad family. One would think that a Syrian family occupying Syria is less harmful than the French occupying Syria. The truth is, it is much worse. The not-so-civilized Assad family uses much worse despotic techniques. The result is that not only Syrians suffer from lack of opportunities and stifling liberties but they also suffer from lack of hope, dignity, and pride as well; a good formula to create suicide bombers. 

When the renowned Berkshire Hathaway of Omaha fancied to invest in the Middle East, it bought shares in Israeli industrial companies on the basis of merit. I do not know of any western investment company who has bought shares in Arab public companies except for the lucrative cellular business, which are unmanageable without western know-how and equipment. That does not mean it won't happen one day, but it will certainly not happen to any of the countries surrounding Israel any time soon (with maybe the exception of Jordan) as long as self-empowerment is absent.

It is said that approximately one third of all scientific Nobel prize winners are Jewish. The ratio is mind boggling. One third comes from a universe of 15 millions Jews and the remainder two-thirds from the much larger pool of 6 billion-plus people. Arabs (mostly Egyptians) have two or three Nobel Peace and Literature Prizes (From a pool of 350 million people) but no Arab has ever won a Nobel in sciences be it chemistry, physics, or medicine. Any argument here as to why Israel is so important to the region?

The assertion made today by the likes of the ignorant Ahmadinajead, who aspires to wipe Israel off the map, and the violent Hamas, some members of which covet throwing the Jews to the sea, reminds me of the story of two factories built side-by-side. One is very successful and its employees take a good paycheck and the other is not so successful and its employees are economically deprived. The manager of the not-so-successful factory spends all his time striving to destroy the successful factory when he in fact should be spending his time learning and imitating the successful factory for his people to luxuriate in similar prosperity. If some of the Palestinians are not willing to learn (Many do want to imitate the success of the factory next door but are not given the chance to express their views or to be elevated to positions of power), we Syrians want to learn and imitate.

James A. Baldwin said: "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." To me, any dispute over shared lands is secondary to bringing prosperity to my people.

Copyrights © 2003-2007 - Reform Party of Syria (RPS) except where otherwise noted - all rights reserved.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Palestinians worried by chaos and internal security

A recent poll indicates that by far the number one issue for Palestinians is chaos and internal security:
Main reason behind your feeling of concern.
26.1%-Economic hardship of my household
34.5%-Absence of security for me and my family
16.5%-Internal power struggle
03.3%-Hamas in power
00.8%-Fateh in opposition
13.7%-Israeli occupation in general
05.1%-Family problems
The most important priority of the next government.
 56.8%-End the chaos and restore security
15.9%-Enforce the law
14.5%-Revive the economy
04.3%-Improve foreign relations with other countries
06.3%-Make peace with Israel

Making peace with Israel was not very high on the list, and the PNA government attempt at improving foreign relations is not a priority either.
After all, if you are not in the Islamic Jihad or a similar movement, Israel is not likely to bother you that much. If your son was just killed in a gang shootout, you are not interested in the fact that the Swiss and Norwegian governments are happy to hear the sentiments of Ismail Haniyeh regarding the Jewish problem.  
The poll also revealed that  Palestinians general want a peace agreement:
Support or opposition to a peace settlement with Israel.
Should Hamas take all measures possible to reach a peace agreement with
However, a peace agreement that includes a two state solution  will not change their views about the right of Israel to exist. The poll did not ask what those views are at present:
Would your opinion about Israel's right to exist change if there was a
two-state solution whereby Palestine is on the land occupied in 1967?
35.8%-Yes, it will change my mind
64.2%-No, it will not change my mind
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

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