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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Hezbollah: Dissent over the party of God

"Let's have a party" - Party of God that is. Intentional blindness about the declared genocidal intent of both Hezbollah and Hamas is amazing. They say "genocide" "right on the label, in their charter documents.

Goodheart takes London Review of Books to task for refusing to acknowledge anti-Semitic statements by Hassan Nasrallah. But Hezbollah program, like the Hamas Charter, openly proclaims their intent:

Our primary assumption in our fight against Israel states that the Zionist entity is aggressive from its inception, and built on lands wrested from their owners, at the expense of the rights of the Muslim people. Therefore our struggle will end only when this entity is obliterated. We recognize no treaty with it, no cease fire, and no peace agreements, whether separate or consolidated.

Allah hu Akbar!

Don't forget that Al Andalus (Spain) is also built on lands wrested from their Muslim owners -- with far less justice, and much more brutally. Anyhow, one doesn't need to scrutinize the sayings of Nasrallah to understand that Hezbollah is a genocidal organization, and it was so from its inception.

Ami Isseroff

The London Review of Hezbollah
By Eugene Goodheart
Dissent Magazine
Winter 2007

Critics, mostly though not exclusively European, who hammer away at Israeli misbehavior often show no concern about the dangers that beset Israel. Their one-sided animus verges on scandal. Criticism of Israeli behavior may be justified, but it loses credit when it is not balanced by an unequivocal repudiation of the rhetoric and actions of Islamic fundamentalists: Holocaust denial, fantasies of genocidal anti-Semitism, the elimination of the state of Israel, suicide bombings, and indiscriminate killing of civilians.

The London Review of Books is an egregious instance of this one-sidedness. Almost every issue contains several articles devoted to attacks on Israel, and the target is not simply the governing party, but the whole spectrum of Israeli political life. Absent from the columns of the Review are the injustices and cruelties of political Islam. In an article by Charles Glass, Lebanon's Hezbollah is eulogized for its capacity to learn from mistakes, its decency in treating prisoners, "its refusal to murder collaborators," its intelligent use of "car bombs, ambushes, small rockets and suicide bombers." Glass speaks of Hezbollah's uncompromising political program, of which he apparently approves, without mentioning that at its core is the destruction of Israel...In a letter to LRB printed in the September 7, 2006, issue, I pointed out that Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, is not simply a resistance fighter, he is also an anti-Semite with genocidal fantasies. I cited the following statements attributed to him: "If they [the Jews] all gather in Israel it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide." "They [the Jews] are a cancer which is liable to spread at any moment." I also noted that the name "Party of God," should worry anyone of enlightened, democratic persuasion, but does not seem to bother Glass. (Would he be equally indulgent of the religious fanatics in Israel who assert their divine right to Greater Israel?) Parties of God, wherever they are to be found, mean tyranny should they ever acquire power. In the article, Glass mentions the fact that he had been kidnapped by Hezbollah at a Syrian checkpoint. Wanting to prove that the movement was independent of Syrian control, he writes that when "Syria insisted that I be released to show that Syrian control of Lebanon could not be flouted [1] Hezbollah, unfortunately, ignored the request." What virtue! In my letter, I wondered whether he had not succumbed to Stockholm syndrome.

His response, printed in the October 5, 2006, issue, focused on the anti-Semitic statements attributed to Nasrallah, which he dismissed as fabrications, "circulated widely on neo-conservative web sites." ...

I wrote back to the LRB, first noting that in invoking the nefarious neocons as the vehicles of fabrication, Glass reminded me of the apologists for the Soviet Union who denied the existence of anti-Semitism in their beloved country, because the reports of its existence came from the bourgeois press. I challenged the LRB to make a disinterested effort to determine whether these statements were fabrications. Its animus against Israel was clear and bad enough; a willingness to indulge anti-Semitism, a much more serious matter. If they are not fabrications, the journal has a moral obligation to say so and to repudiate the kind of article that Glass has written.

While waiting for a reply, I decided to look into the literature on Hezbollah, and what I found left no doubt about its view of the Jews. Here is Nasrallah in one of his diatribes against Israel: "If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice I do not say the Israeli." [1]
Quoted in Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Hizbu'llah: Politics and Religion, University of Michigan Press, 2001, p. 170. Original source, televised interview, Muhammad Fnayash. Wuhhat Nazar Future Television (FTV, July 2, 1997).

Naim Qassem, the deputy secretary general of Hezbollah, author of Inside Hezbollah, which Charles Glass cites for its humane view of how collaborators with Israel should be treated, has this to say: "The history of the Jews has proven that, regardless of the Zionist proposal, they are a people who are evil in their ideas" (Quoted in Saad-Ghorayeb, p. 174; original source, Abbas al-Mussawi, Amiru'l-Zakira, Dhu al-Hujja 1406). Hezbollah's denial of the existence of the Holocaust takes many forms. "The Jews have never been able to prove the existence of the infamous gas chambers." Only "160,000 civilians died [and this was] as a result of US bombing of Germany." Jews collaborated with the Nazis in killing their brethren: "From what we know about the Jews, their tricks and their deception, we do not think it unlikely that they partook in the planning of the Holocaust." Saad-Ghorayeb, the source of these quotes, is a Briton of Muslim Lebanese extraction, who is sympathetic to Hezbollah. "As a Lebanese, I was appalled by the apparent ease with which this movement was accused of sundry terrorist activities by Western journalists and policy-makers, and on their insistence on referring to its guerrilla fighters, who were practicing their legitimate right to resist a foreign occupation, as terrorists." She writes favorably of Hezbollah's political evolution in Lebanese society, so there is no reason to doubt the scholarly accuracy of her representation of the movement's unreconstructed view of Israel and the Jews. (As I write this, I am pleased to see a letter to the LRB from the distinguished lawyer and literary scholar Anthony Julius, citing Saad-Ghorayeb as evidence for Hezbollah's anti-Judaism. Julius invited Glass to confirm the implication of his response to my letter that I am wrong in attributing anti-Semitism to Hezbollah and to comment on the "material assembled by Saad-Ghorayeb." So far there has been no reply from Glass, nor any statement from the editors on the matter.)

Unlike Bernard Lewis, Saad-Ghorayeb characterizes Hezbollah's view of the Jews as anti-Judaism rather than anti-Semitism. She contends that unlike Christian anti-Semitism, the radical Islamic animus against Jews, which has its source in the Koran, is not racialist. And yet she speaks of the "scriptural basis" of Hezbollah's depiction of the Jews as a people "whose blood [a racialist trope] is full of enmity towards mankind." In any event, it is not clear to me that the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism makes any practical difference. What is interesting is that Saad-Ghorayeb sees Hezbollah's animus against Jewry as not deriving from its anti-Zionism (Lewis's view), but from a deeper source: its inveterate hostility to Judaism. The enemies of the movement are Jews who adhere to Judaism and to Zionism, which, Hezbollah believes, has its source in Judaism, despite the existence of secular Zionists. Because they believe that Jews who have no commitment either to Judaism or Zionism are a negligible constituency, they have no inhibitions about demonizing Jewry as a whole. Saad-Ghorayeb cites passage after passage demonstrating Hezbollah's hatred of Judaism and its desire for its disappearance. The movement arose as a reaction to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, but its hostility is not confined to Israel and its supporters. Can we then take seriously Glass's benign view that the movement, in becoming "a sophisticated and successful political party . . . [has] jettisoned its early rhetoric about making Lebanon an Islamic Republic," and now speaks "of Christians, Muslims and Druze living in harmony"? Apparently the Jews, having no place in this harmony, will simply disappear.

Alas, Charles Glass appears to be either ignorant about his subject or writing in bad faith. He is an example of moral obtuseness or callousness (it is hard to find the right word for it) in what has become an influential view among a group of American and European intellectuals. The moral logic of this view goes something like this. Israel is militarily powerful, supported by the United States, the most powerful nation in the world. Its adversaries in the Islamic world are weak, and when one measures the relative devastations caused by confrontations between the powerful and the weak, the burden of guilt falls on the most powerful. Whatever violence or cruelties issue from the weak are then morally justified by weakness. Here is Glass again: "Like Israel's previous enemies, Hezbollah relies on the weapons of the weak: car bombs, ambushes, occasional flurries or small rockets and suicide bombers. The difference is that it uses them intelligently, in conjunction with an uncompromising programme." Glass says nothing about the devastation caused by weapons of the weak. He ignores the fact that the strength of "the weak" lies in elusiveness, in the capacity to hide behind the civilian population, and in the code of martyrdom. In placing a lower valuation on human life than does the adversary, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups have a distinct strategic advantage. How do you deter a person willing to die for his cause from committing an act of violence?

What, one might ask, is accomplished by the glib and unthinking support of the use of "the weapons of the weak"? Sympathy for terrorist groups only encourages war-perpetuating intransigence on both sides. Has Israel been guilty of the use of disproportionate use of military power? I believe it has and should be held to account. Israeli power has been a response to the provocations of "the weapons of the weak," and the response has too often been destructive and self-destructive in its excesses. In its recent incursion in Lebanon, it has achieved a result similar to our misadventure in Iraq: a large number of civilian casualties, widespread devastation of the land, burgeoning resentment from a large portion of the Lebanese population that had been angered by Hezbollah's provocations. Israel failed to achieve its aims at great cost to Lebanon and to itself.

But then the question arises, "What should be the appropriate response to suicide bombings and Katyusha rockets?" There is no easy answer to this. But it is a mark of callous indifference to the fate of a country, indeed of one's own country, when another contributor to the London Review of Books, Yitzhak Laor, chastises two of Israel's most prominent critics of their own government, Amos Oz and David Grossman, for asserting the right of Israel to respond to violence against it. Grossman, for example, writes, "There is no justification for the large-scale violence that Hezbollah unleashed this week, from Lebanese territory, on dozens of peaceful Israeli villages, towns and cities. No country in the world could remain silent and abandon its citizens when its neighbor strikes without provocation." To which Laor replies irrelevantly, "We can bomb, but if they respond they are responsible for both their suffering and ours" ( LRB, August 17, 2006, p. 11). What would Laor advise as a response to such an attack? He does not say. Apparently, all that is required is for Israel to flagellate itself for what it has inflicted on others.

Let us say that Israel did not respond to provocations. Would that change Hezbollah's behavior toward Israel? Not if, as Glass tells us, its program is uncompromising. Nothing that Israel can offer the Palestinians short of its self-eradication will satisfy Hezbollah. Indeed, it has even expressed a preference for a hard-line, Likud-led government to that of the Labor Party—for that would justify its intransigence. The movement has a long view. "Even if hundreds of years pass by, Israel's existence will continue to be an illegal existence" (Saad-Ghorayeb, p. 135). It is hard to fathom what sympathy for Hezbollah by critics of Israel like Glass and Laor can accomplish in the way of achieving a peaceful solution to the conflict. On the contrary, they would seem only to foster a hardening of attitudes on all sides. In all the talk about the asymmetry between powerful Israel and its weak adversaries, what is overlooked is the asymmetry that strongly favors its adversaries. Israel has only one war to lose for its existence to come to an end. Its adversaries, miserable as their condition is, can survive war after war. In its one-sided obsession with Israeli transgressions, the London Review of Books, offering no constructive advice for ending the conflict, contributes to its perpetuation by supporting one side of the intransigence. Its indulgence of a virulently anti-Semitic movement is simply shameful.

Eugene Goodheart is Edythe Macy Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Brandeis University. He is the author of many books of literary and cultural criticism as well as a memoir, Confessions of a Secular Jew .


1.) Quoted in Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Hizbu'llah: Politics and Religion, University of Michigan Press, 2001, p. 170. Original source, televised interview, Muhammad Fnayash. Wuhhat Nazar Future Television (FTV, July 2, 1997).

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Jewish Agency gets $2 million in emergency aid for Sderot

The generosity of North American Jews is touching and it is symbolic of their bond to Israel. Unfortunately it will take more than a week of summer camp to bring security to Sderot residents. Even more unfortunately, the Israeli government is not ashamed to accept charity in order to do for the residents of Sderot what a responsible government should have done a long time ago. As long as there is danger, the children must be evacuated like the children of London during the blitz. Not for a week, but for many months perhaps. And of course, it cannot be the ultimate solution.
Jewish Agency receives $2 million for emergency aid to Sderot residents

United Jewish Communities, UIA Canada and Keren Hayesod to fund camp for 8,000 children from Sderot area

The Jewish Agency has received $2 million in emergency funding from the United Jewish Communities, UIA Canada and Keren Hayesod to bring all 8,000 children living in Sderot and the surrounding area to a week-long camp in the safety of center of the country. Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielski made the announcement of the emergency assistance during a tour of Sderot on Friday. (May 18).

When Sderot came under attack earlier in the week, the Jewish Agency began providing residents with emergency assistance. On Wednesday, the Jewish Agency brought a group of 250 children and teens to attend the Israel soccer cup final in Tel Aviv. Thursday the Jewish Agency brought a truckload of essential shelter supplies, including electric appliances, emergency lighting, and cleaning materials to Sderot residents. Today, the Jewish Agency will bring 150 youth from the area for a weekend in Jerusalem; the  children and teens will stay at Jerusalem youth hostels and will visit tourist and amusement attractions.

The Jewish Agency has also made available $20,000 from its Victims of Terror Fund for immediate assistance to those who have been injured in the Kassam rocket attacks. Also, it will provide financial assistance to businesses damaged in the attacks.

"Just as we did in the North during the war in Lebanon last summer, the Jewish Agency and our partners the UJC, UIA Canada and Keren Hayesod, are here to help the residents of Sderot and surrounding area who are under attack and living under impossible conditions," said Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielski on a tour of Sderot on Friday to oversee Jewish Agency assistance to the area.

for further information contact:
michael jankelowitz
liaison to foreign press
jewish agency for israel

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

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Hamas blows up good, like a terrorist had oughta

Quoth the Hamas:

Abu Obayda: All options is open including martyrdom operations
"Hamas blows up good, like a terrorist had oughta"
"What do you want, good grammar or good terrorism?"

The "Zionist military escalation" was the result of an incessant rain of Qassam rockets. The "martyrs" are all terrorists launching Qassam rockets, which are duly listed in the article.

The rest of the headline is even more interesting:

"All options is open including the martyrdom operations in the occupied Palestinian land in 1948".

"The occupation" is in all of "Palestine" and can only be ended with the destruction of Israel. What is you thinking of that?

Ami Isseroff

Abu Obayda: All options is open including martyrdom operations
Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades Information Office website
May 18th, 2007
[Hamas Web site]

Palestinian sources reported that Five members of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, were martyred on Friday morning and several others were wounded in a series of raids by Zionist fighter jets. The strikes targeted several Palestinian military bases and metal workshops. The martyrs toll as a result of the Zionist military escalation in Gaza, Thursday morning, has now risen to nine, in addition to dozens of injuries.

Palestinian sources reported that the Zionist F-16 fighters launched three rockets at an Al-Qassam site east of Gaza City, a blacksmith's workshop and a group of Palestinian fighters east of Shija'aia on Friday morning. Five activists were martyred as a result and their bodies were torn to pieces and burnt.

According to the director of ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian ministry of health, Mu'awya Hassanein, five dead bodies arrived at Al Shifa Hospital. Hassanein added that several injuries also arrived, all of them in critical conditions.

According to Mu'awya Hassanein, ambulances cannot reach the areas which have been bombarded because the Zionist fighter planes continue to dominate the skies and target every moving object. He added that coordination with the Red Cross is ongoing because there are reports of greater numbers of dead people in areas that have been struck.

On Thursday, four people were killed and at least 50 injured in five separate Zionist air strikes on Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip. In the first strike, the Zionist fighter jets bombarded a base of the Hamas loyalist Executive Force in Gaza City, killing one and injuring dozens, in addition to destroying the building. Another air raid killed one and injured at least eight. Later on Thursday, Zionist jets struck a vehicle owned by Rafah municipality killing two workers.

In the same context, and In an exclusive contact with Abu Obayda, the spokesman of the Qassam Brigades said " All options is open including the martyrdom operations in the occupied Palestinian land in 1948".

Ezzedeen Al Qassam continued its operations against the Zionist settlements and the military bases. The Brigades declared in a statement the operations statistic in Thursday and it was as the following:
Operation:10 mortars ~Target:"Sofa" site ~Time:03:15
Operation:2 Qassam rockets ~Target:"Nir Eshaq" settlement ~Time:03:30
Operation:5 Qassam rockets ~Target:"Sedrot" settlement ~Time:08:00, 08:30,
and 09:20
Operation:2 Qassam rockets ~Target:"Nahil Oz" settlement ~Time:17:00
Operation:One Qassam rocket ~Target:"Miftahim" settlement ~Time:18:10
Operation:One Qassam rocket ~Target:"Sedrot" settlement ~Time:18:50
Operation:One Qassam rocket ~Target:"Miftahim" settlement ~Time:18:50
Operation:One Qassam rocket ~Target:"Asqalan" settlement ~Time:19:33
Operation:2 Qassam rockets ~Target:"Biery" settlement ~Time:19:50
Operation:2 Qassam rockets ~Target:"Kfar Azza" settlement~Time:20:30
Operation:One Qassam rocket ~Target:"Kfar Mimon" settlement~Time:20:45
Operation:2 Qassam rockets ~Target:"Bad Murdakhai" settlement~Time:23:30
Operation:2 Qassam rockets ~Target:"Sedrot" settlement ~Time:00:00
Operation:One Qassam rocket ~Target:"Asqalan" settlement ~Time:00:00

Abu Obayda added" These operations are part of the responding campaign against the occupation assault on the Gaza Strip, and the continued targeting of innocent Palestinian civilians and their installations in the West Bank".

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At the end of days?? Saudi: "stop fighting Israel"

Read the fine print though:
"Our Palestinian brothers have to stop fighting not just with each other," al-Saud told reporters at the Jordan-based World Economic forum.
"I would also call them to stop fighting Israel with military methods."

Last update - 18:54 19/05/2007   
By Haaretz Staff and DPA

Saudi diplomat Turki Al Faisal Al Saud Saturday urged Palestinians to stop shedding each other's blood, and also called on them to stop directing their weapons towards Israel.
"Our Palestinian brothers have to stop fighting not just with each other," al-Saud told reporters at the Jordan-based World Economic forum.
"I would also call them to stop fighting Israel with military methods."
"It is a shame that we point our wrath and anger at our fellow Arabs and Muslims in a more deadly manner than we do our enemies," said al-Saud on Saturday.
Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa on Friday called for fighting between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah to stop, but blamed the battles on Israel and what he called its continuation of an economic siege on the Palestinian areas.
Israel carried out a series of strikes Friday in response to the barrage of Qassam rockets fired at Israel throughout the past week.
"The inter-Palestinian fighting cannot be averted because the Israeli troops surround the Palestinian fighters and besiege the Palestinian people to starvation limits at a time when the unemployment rate was exceeding 70 percent," Moussa said.
The siege of the Palestinians "has created a psychological atmosphere that degenerated into the present situation," he said, but added that the feuding between Hamas and Fatah "cannot be justified."
"This fighting should stop because it harms the Palestinian and Arab attitudes and benefits Israel," he said.
Moussa made the remarks to reporters on the fringes of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting that opened earlier in the day at the Dead Sea.
Moussa rejected anew Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's offer to open negotiations with Arab leaders, saying "we don't need formal visits and media propaganda."
"Israel has first to stop settlements and talk directly to the Palestinians and realize that the Arab peace plan is quite clear and represents an unequivocal message of peace," he said.
The Arab League chief said that the participants in a plenary session about peace, stability and international relations in the region had expressed worry over the situation and urged the U.S. to take a more neutral approach to the issues.
The members "came to the conclusion that the situation in the region is extremely bad and that the United States should change its pro-Israel policies," he said.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Oliver North: Will Israel Have A 60th Birthday?


Will Israel Have A 60th Birthday?


WASHINGTON -- Fifty-nine years ago this week, David Ben-Gurion spoke into a radio microphone and declared, "We hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine, to be called Israel." Almost immediately thereafter, President Harry Truman signed a directive ordering that "The United States recognizes the provisional government as the de facto authority of the new State of Israel," -- making ours the first country to acknowledge the new nation.

At its founding on May 14, 1948, the tiny Jewish state, about the size of New Jersey, had a population of less than 850,000, and was surrounded by enemies intent on its obliteration. Today, 6.4 million people call Israel home, and it remains the only functioning democratic government in the neighborhood. As it was in the beginning, and is now, powerful opponents in the region remain committed to annihilating what they describe as "the Zionist entity." Unfortunately, some of those hostile neighbors may soon acquire the means of achieving their goal.

In the United States, Independence Day is a national holiday -- a day of relaxation, a time for picnics, concerts, parades and fireworks. Not so in Israel, where Independence Day is a time for heightened alert -- and an annual military exercise -- just in case a threatening neighbor decides it's a good time to attack. Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization that operates under the protection of the United Nations, commemorated the 59th anniversary of the founding of the first Jewish state in 2,000 years by firing eight rockets into the Israeli town of Sderot. The missiles landed on a school building, injuring 17 civilians, including women and children.

But according to friends with whom I worked for years in counter-terrorism, a handful of Katusha rockets from Gaza or the West Bank are the least of Israel's concerns at the moment. My Israeli sources say that this year's annual defense exercise focused on "the threat of Syrian military units joining Iranian-supported Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon in a major offensive against Israel."

Israeli newspapers confirm this information. The Jerusalem Post reports that this year's exercise was intended to test Israeli Defense Forces' "performance and interaction in a war game simulating an all-out regional war." On Tuesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz, both targets of intense criticism for failures in planning and decision-making during last summer's campaign against Hezbollah, participated actively in the annual exercise. This is the first time senior political figures have been directly engaged in such a drill.

"What you're not seeing in the press are other measures that are being taken to prepare for an attack," a retired Israeli official told me. "Last summer's engagement on our northern border exposed major deficiencies in civil defense, medical evacuation procedures, logistics support and planning for dislocated non-combatants. We must urgently address these problems because time is running out."

The sense of urgency may be well founded. While Israeli civilians marked their country's birth and Israeli soldiers were figuring how to defend their country from attack, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) -- the U.N.'s toothless "nuclear watchdog" -- "discovered" that Iran was moving "much more rapidly than expected" to enrich uranium.

Last month, Mohamed ElBaradei, the IAEA director general, dismissed claims by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Tehran had activated 3,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium. Now ElBaradei tells The New York Times that the Iranians have "solved the technological problems" and are moving ahead with enrichment. Evidently The New York Times did not see any connection between this revelation and Ahmadinejad's description of Israel as "a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by a single storm."

When I queried my Israeli friends about this development, one replied, "Why is anyone surprised? The IAEA didn't know that the Indians, Pakistanis or North Koreans were enriching uranium until they all built bombs. So, do you expect us to wait for an Iranian nuclear weapon on Tel Aviv before we act?"

By "you," my friend didn't mean me, he meant the United States, the first nation to recognize the existence of Israel. I didn't have the heart to tell him that the survival of the Jewish state isn't on the minds of many here. In the salons of Washington, the discussion is all about how to extricate ourselves from the war in Mesopotamia.

While sipping lattes, editorial board members conclude that things aren't going well, so we must end our involvement with the same lack of commitment as that binding a Hollywood marriage. It's been five years, after all -- longer than World War II. Our drive-thru culture and ADD-afflicted electorate just don't have the staying power to defeat a determined enemy.

The war is lost, says Harry Reid. Democrats demand withdrawal. The White House stumbles and stammers to try to explain the threat. Terrorists plotting to attack a major military base in our homeland are rooted out and the mainstream media gives it the same attention as teenagers apprehended painting graffiti under a bridge.

If Israelis want to celebrate a 60th birthday, they better not count on Washington. If it had been up to this crowd, the Jewish state would have been destroyed long ago.


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US urges restraint in response to rocket blitz

Imagine these headlines:
"England Evacuating Towns Because of V-2 Rocket Strikes"
"British Industry Paralyzed by Rocket Strikes"
"British Prepare major Cities for Rocket Strikes"
"US Urges Britain to Exercise Restraint in Responding to V-2 Strikes."
Since the start of the Blitz, 90 percent of industries in Eastern Britain have reported a drastic decrease in the number of customers, suppliers and service providers who have come to the factories.
They are unimaginable. At the height of the Blitz, Churchill announced to cheering crowds that there would be no letup in the retaliatory bombing of German civilian targets. Yet the US did not urge Britain not to contribute to the cycle of violence. On the contrary.
In Israel, the Blitz is repeating itself in miniature. The same constant terror, the same fear, the same disruption of daily life. It has gone on for months. Towns are being evacuated. Major cities are threatened:
...police are taking steps to prepare for a Qassam strike on the southern city of Ashkelon.
Qassam fire in recent days has cost NIS 65 million in damage to industry
Eight hundred Sderot residents had been evacuated by the Defense Ministry earlier on Thursday to facilities run by the Association for Soldiers' Welfare in the area. 
The US State Department insisted on allowing participation of the Hamas in Palestinian elections. They probably played a major role in encouraging Israeli disengagement from Gaza, and discouraging proper security measures. They are in large  part responsible for the current mess. They have this to say:
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack urged restraint on all sides
What would you do if rockets were falling on your city? Just a few. Maybe thirty a day. Little tiny rockets that could only kill your kid or leave you without a leg. How would you feel if Sean McCormack urged restraint on you?
Please write to the State Department and to US President Bush
and ask them to stop asking Israel to do the impossible.
Please get the vaunted "Israel lobby" and the supposedly high-powered AIPAC to do something to actually help Israel.  
Ami Isseroff

By Haim Bior and Mijal Grinberg, Haaretz Correspondents, and Agencies

The southern district police commander said on Friday that police are taking steps to prepare for a Qassam strike on the southern city of Ashkelon. Commander Uri Bar-Lev said that police have been placed on high alert in Ashkelon and have expanded their presence in the city and in communities near the Gaza Strip.
Three Sderot residents were lightly wounded and several people were treated for shock Friday morning when a Qassam rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza hit a residential building in the Negev town.
The rocket was one of at least nine to hit the western Negev on Friday. Another rocket caused a fire in a field in Sha'ar Hanegev.
The rocket fire intensified this week, sparking an Israel Defense Forces operation in the Gaza Strip that began Thursday.
Palestinians fired some 30 rockets on Israel on Thursday, and about the same number on Tuesday. One of the rockets fired Thursday slammed into a high school on the outskirts of Sderot, lightly wounding two people. Two others were wounded Tuesday, one of them in moderate to serious condition.
Hamas' military wing has announced that it will execute anyone who attempts to interfere with the rocket fire on Israel, Israel Radio reported Friday.
Manufacturers: Qassam fire costs industry NIS 65m

Qassam fire in recent days has cost NIS 65 million in damage to industry in Sderot and the western Negev, the Manufacturers Association of Israel said Thursday.
Some 85 percent of the 40 large factories operating in the western Negev are suffering from employee absences since last week's increased hostilities, according to Yehuda Segev, the director general of the Manufacturers Association.
Some 150 workers have abandoned their workplaces this week, Segev said.
"If there is no improvement in the security situation in the Western Negev, the number of workers abandoning [their workplaces] will increase significantly at the beginning of next week, since additional workers and their families left Sderot this weekend to spend time somewhere safer. Most likely, they will not return to work on Sunday," said Segev.
He added that according to an association survey, 92 percent of industrial factories in the area have reported that they are unable to hire temporary employees to replace their regular workers who have left. Twenty-five percent of the industries have moved their offices to safer regions, and 25 percent have also said that they have seen a drop in local orders.
Since the middle of 2006, 90 percent of industries in Sderot and the Western Negev area have reported a drastic decrease in the number of customers, suppliers and service providers who have come to the factories.
"The government is marching confidantly toward the second Winograd Committee report concerning its failures in dealing with the future of industrial areas in Sderot and Sha'ar Hanegev," claimed Segev. The cabinet must define the Sderot and Western Negev region as "confrontation line" areas, as the North was defined during the Second Lebanon War.
This would allow workers in the region to be granted tax breaks. In addition the government must allocate NIS 50 million for protection of the factories to allow the 5,000 employees to work in a safe environment without having to miss work.
Defense Min. halts evacuation of Sderot after 2,500 leave city
The Defense Ministry on Thursday halted the evacuation of the western Negev city of Sderot after some 2,500 of its residents had already left the city.
Eight hundred Sderot residents had been evacuated by the Defense Ministry earlier on Thursday to facilities run by the Association for Soldiers' Welfare in the area. However, the evacuation was later halted due to the large number of residents demanding accommodations and low availability.
Dozens of Sderot residents stormed the office of Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal after learning the evacuation had been cut short, demanding action to protect them.
In addition to the 800 residents evacuated by the state, Russian-born Israeli businessman Arcadi Gaydamak also provided some 1,600 residents with hotel rooms in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Be'er Sheva, which he personally funded.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited Sderot on Thursday and told residents of the border town that the government would stand firm and work to reduce the Qassam attacks.
Olmert's spokeswoman Miri Eisin said the prime minister told Sderot residents during a visit lasting several hours that "we have to stand strong" and pledged government help. But, as Israel mounted a series of air strikes and a ground raid in Gaza, Olmert made no comment on operational specifics, she said.
Also meeting relatives of some of those injured in recent days was Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who himself lives in Sderot.
"The prime minister ... expressed his empathy and how much he and the government are there for the people of Sderot," Eisin said, adding that two rockets had landed during the visit.
"He talked about the fact that we have to stand strong," she said. "That we have to get down the amount of attacks."
Olmert has opposed evacuating Sderot, Peretz' home town, where one rocket slammed into a house near the defense minister's own on Wednesday. Peretz has proposed that sizable numbers of residents be brought out of the city for a "break" from the rocket attacks, which have continued sporadically for the last five years.
Many families also left the city on their own accord to stay with friends or relatives in other cities. Schools in the city were closed Thursday for the second day in a row.
In response to increasing Qassam attacks on Sderot, the Defense Ministry has implemented two command centers in the town. It has deployed over one hundred soldiers whose task is to go from door to door, checking if residents require assistance.
Dozens of welfare services workers have also been sent to verify the condition of the town's 2,300 elderly citizens, 350 disabled people and 80people with intellectual disabilities who are known to the bureau.
Deputy Defense Minister Efraim Sneh said the systems put in place Thursday were prepared seven months ago, during the last bout of concentrated rocket attacks on the town. They were not applied at the time because the attacks waned.
Sneh denied that the measures have been implemented as a response to the evacuation funded by Arcadi Gaydamak.
Approximately 320 elderly and disabled citizens were evacuated by welfare services. A further 75 disabled people and their families were evacuated to hotels in Arad, in Israel's south, for a three-day holiday financed by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
Around 150 elderly citizens were evacuated to two hotels in Jerusalem, and the families of 20 intellectually disabled residents were accommodated in Jaffa Community Center for one week funded by the National Association for the Habilitation of the Mentally Handicapped in Israel.
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack urged restraint on all sides but said Israel had the right to respond to rocket attacks from Hamas.

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Israel strikes again in Gaza as rockets and civil war continue

This is the sort of support Israel can give to Fatah...
Last update - 15:21 18/05/2007   
By Avi Issacharoff, Amos Harel, Aluf Benn and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents, and News Agencies

The Israel Air Force fired two missiles at a Hamas installation in the central Gaza Strip on Friday, Palestinian security officials said. The strike came hours after four Hamas members were killed in air strikes, as Israel began its second day of a military operation aimed at stemming Qassam rocket fire on southern Israel
There were no casualties in the attack on the Hamas Executive Force building between the towns of Khan Yunis and Dir el-Balah. The IDF confirmed it carried out a strike on a Hamas target south of Dir el-Balah, but gave no further details.
A Hamas spokesman told the group's television station that he didn't expect any casualties because the group had evacuated key locations likely to be targeted by Israel.
A senior Israel Defense Forces official said Friday that the military would continue attacking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip for as long as necessary, but expressed reservations regarding an extensive ground operation at this time.
"We have to think from the end to the beginning," he said. "The question is where does an operation like this place us on the day after."
At least 10 Palestinians, most of them Hamas operatives, have been killed in Israeli air strikes since Thursday. Palestinian militants fired about 70 Qassam rockets at the western Negev this week, causing several injuries.
The official said Israel does not know which Hamas leader to speak to about the situation in Gaza, saying that the Hamas military wing in Gaza "operates according to its own considerations" and does not always listen to Hamas political bureau head Khaled Meshal.
All the same, he said the clashes between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza are not expected to put Israeli captive soldier Gilad Shalit's life at risk. Shalit was abducted by Palestinian militants near Gaza on June 25.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told dozens of diplomats at a briefing at the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv that Israel is not prepared to tolerate continued Qassam fire on the Negev. She said Israel attempted to advance peace by withdrawing from Gaza in 2005, but must now exert pressure on the extremists there.
"Sometimes there are needs to show determination, to put a pressure on the extremists, to put a pressure on these terrorists, in order for them to understand that this is not something that is tolerable," Livni said in an English statement. "I think that for too long the international community took this situation in the south part of Israel as acceptable, as part of life in Israel - and it's not. And enough is enough."
Four Hamas men killed in IAF strikes on Gaza

At least four Hamas operatives were killed in two separate Israel Air Force strikes in the Gaza Strip early Friday. The army said the building targeted in one of the strikes, near the Karni crossing, was used as a meeting place for Hamas members and is suspected of housing a tunnel used to smuggle weapons and contraband into Israel, Israel Radio reported.
Also Friday morning, the army attacked and hit a rocket-launching cell in Gaza after several Qassams were fired at the Sderot area, Israel Radio reported.
Meanwhile, Palestinian militants continued to launch a barrage of Qassam rockets at Israel on Friday. At least nine rockets hit the western Negev in the morning, lightly wounding three Sderot residents, a day after some 30 rockets hit the area.
The cabinet will meet Sunday to decide whether to escalate the military response.
Six Palestinians killed in air strikes Thursday

The IDF stationed artillery batteries along the Israel-Gaza border on Thursday, also for the first time since November, although no shots were fired. Six Palestinians, at least three of whom were Hamas operatives, were killed in five Israeli aerial attacks on Gaza on Thursday. Such strikes are expected to continue in the coming days.
Palestinian sources said three of the casualties were a father and his two sons. However, the IAF said it had fired a missile at a car in Rafah carrying a launch crew that had fired rockets at nearby Kerem Shalom shortly before.
The tank incursions, accompanied by infantry, took place at two locations in Gaza - the Strip's northern tip, and a ridge west of Sderot. Both incursions stayed within a kilometer of the border. Their main goal was to assist in spotting crews launching Qassams, and they are expected to remain there for a few days.
The incursions were also meant to signal to the Palestinians that continued rocket fire could lead to a major ground operation in Gaza. Thus far, the government has not approved any more substantial ground operations, but the IDF believes that if the Qassam strikes result in heavy casualties, this decision could change.
A senior army officer expressed satisfaction Thursday over the government's decision to allow the limited ground incursion, as well as the decision to resume assassinations of Hamas operatives. The army's basic approach remains unchanged, he said. It wants to avoid escalation or intervention in the internal Hamas-Fatah clashes. However, he added, if the rocket attacks on Sderot continue, escalation may be unavoidable, and the army must prepare for this.
Fatah-Hamas clashes continue
Meanwhile, the Fatah-Hamas clashes continued despite the latest cease-fire, killing at least three people in Gaza - one from Hamas and two from Fatah - and causing Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to cancel a planned visit to the Strip. Altogether, at least 44 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting began on Sunday.
The clashes have intensified the disagreement in Israel's security establishment over the balance of forces between Hamas and Fatah. While the IDF believes that Hamas is winning the battle against Abbas' forces - with some even saying that Fatah is finished as a significant fighting force in Gaza - other defense officials say the army's assessment ignores the facts.

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"Western" (*S) officials ask Israel to help Abbas fight Hamas

"Western" (*S) officials are pressuring Israel to help Abbas  and the Fatah. Mohamed Dahlan once warned Israel not to help the Fatah, because that would discredit them. Anyhow the "Western" officials of an unnamed country, who are themselves involved in a hopeless war in another Middle Eastern conflict, want Israel to support another basket-case army, just as they are doing in that other nameless country whose name ends in "q."  
The Western (*S) officials who insist that Abbas has a real viable military force are the same guys who praise the ***qi army. But the *S keeps shipping arms to Fatah and they keep falling into hands of Hamas.
Israel should be wary of taking security advice from the designers of the ***q war.
Anyhow, there is no reason for Israel to help Abbas until he at least openly says he is willing to fight terror and enforce law and order, and to actually fulfill the terms of the Oslo accords. Abbas has signed a unity agreement with the Hamas that contravenes the Oslo treaties, he refuses to act to stop terror, and he has said over and over that the guns will be used only against Israel.
Only the Hamas seems to launch attacks on the Fatah. Fatah is not doing anything to stop rocket attacks, and only defends itself or retaliates for Hamas attacks in an ineffectual way.
In the 1930s, the United States shipped scrap iron to Japan. A lot of it was returned by air mail - over Pearl Harbor. Israel should not be forced into policies that will have a similar outcome. 
Israel would like to support the position of the "Western" country, and we understand their undying love for Israel, and we desire peace, but it is really too much to ask us to finance our own destruction.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 08:45 18/05/2007   
By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent

Western security officials have asked Israel to give Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas the tools he needs to fight Hamas - first and foremost, the ability to pay his security services' salaries.
The request came after the security officials said forces loyal to Abbas fought well in a battle against Hamas men near the Karni crossing on Tuesday, contrary to reports in the Israeli media. The officials said Abbas' loyalists demonstrated courage and resolution in thwarting an attack by a larger, better armed and better trained Hamas force. They said two different forces of Abbas loyalists had cooperated to ward off the attack, despite heavy losses.
"The soldiers did as they had been trained and overcame a larger, better-equipped force, although they were from two different units, and despite the fact that the commander of one unit had been killed, and the commander of the other was not in the area," one of the Western officials said.
Israel's security establishment, however, is still divided over whether to help Abbas fight Hamas, with opponents arguing that Fatah has already lost in any case.
Though several Arab states have promised Abbas money, only the United Arab Emirates has delivered.
The inquiry shows that Hamas launched a surprise offensive on the Palestinian Presidential Guard positioned in a small base near the Karni crossing. The Presidential Guard consisted of new recruits and youngsters just out of training. The Hamas fighters outnumbered them, were more experienced and were armed with RPG rocket launchers and vehicles.
At 3 A.M. Hamas attacked the base and moved froward. The commander of the Presidential Guard was out of the Gaza Strip, but the chain of command worked well, and the attacked unit asked the Palestinian National Security branch in the area for assistance.
The National Security troops encountered Hamas resistance and sustained considerable losses, but continued pressing forward until they joined up with the Presidential Guard.
The commander of the National Security battalion, who approached the border fence, was shot dead by the Israel Defense Forces, but his deputy took over the command. The joint Presidential Guard and National Security force organized themselves, launched a counterattack and reconquered the base from Hamas.

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Gilad Sharon asks a good question

Gilad Sharon asks a good question. Why does Egypt hate us? 
He writes:
The Egyptian press and the anti-Semitic cartoons published in it, as well as the curricula in schools, also reflect hatred. In Israel, this is received with forgiveness and delicacy; they are so sensitive, the Egyptians. We wouldn't want to insult them.
A better question, is why doesn't Israel insist on enforcing the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, which forbids incitement such as he describes? If we don't care, how can we blame the Egyptians? The Egyptian press has published articles that claim Hitler was right, and didn't finish his work. This is not only against the Israel-Egypt peace treaty. It is a violation of the international convention on genocide. Every year in October, the Egyptian government celebrates a victory holiday, commemorating its Yom Kippur war "victory." This is accompanied by vulgar incitement: cartoons of Egyptian superman trampling Jew-caricatures and the like. Israel doesn't protest against any of this, doesn't raise the issue. Israel does not demand compensation for the property of Jews expelled from Egypt in 1954 either.
If we do not defend our rights, if we have no respect for ourselves, how can we expect others to do so?
Egypt hates us because we allow ourselves to appear despicable to them.
Ami Isseroff
By Gilad Sharon

Israel signed a peace treaty with Egypt, Egypt got all of Sinai and Israel is not threatening Egypt. What is the reason, then, for all the hatred and enmity, the arms smuggling and all the other bitterness Egypt is feeding us?
Let us suppose that weapons and ammunition were regularly being smuggled from the city of Eilat into Egypt, and used there in terror actions. Would anyone believe that Israel was not capable of dealing with the problem? Is what we are seeing haplessness and impotence on Egypt's part - or is it vile behavior and an intentional effort to stoke terror? Even though the first elements do exist in Egypt, in this case what we are seeing is intentional.
Such smuggling, or should we say weapons shipments, cannot occur without the knowledge and encouragement of Egyptian intelligence. Much testimony has been gathered that states that at the time of the recent explosion of tunnels beneath the Philadelphi Route, reverberations were heard on the Egyptian side, close to security forces' bases.
The hatred for Israel in Egypt is not limited to the masses. The lawyer of Israeli Azzam Azzam, a Druze man accused a decade ago of spying for Israel, has been boycotted by the Egyptian Bar Association, which purports to be an enlightened organization that represents knowledge and progress. But lo and behold, its position is that it was forbidden even to represent the Israeli. In Israel, every murderer - even the most despicable - has legal representation. But within the circles of Egypt's intelligentsia, it is prohibited to represent an Israeli.
The Egyptian press and the anti-Semitic cartoons published in it, as well as the curricula in schools, also reflect hatred. In Israel, this is received with forgiveness and delicacy; they are so sensitive, the Egyptians. We wouldn't want to insult them.
Egypt allows despicable terrorists like Hamas' Khaled Meshal to move about in its territory - terrorists whose arrest Israel would demand of any country, and indeed any properly run country would indeed arrest them. But in dictatorships like Egypt or Syria, he is allowed to move around freely. And we don't even protest this.
What feeds this hatred? Perhaps there is no acceptance by Egyptians of our right to live here in security. Otherwise, it is hard to explain why they are always the most hostile toward Israel in the Arab League and at the United Nations, and in the pressure they apply to Muslim countries not to establish ties with Israel. It is hard to explain Egypt's extensive military acquisitions, a country without enemies and with grave domestic problems. Why does it need an army like that? And why does that army carry out training maneuvers based on hostile scenarios vis-a-vis Israel? Why do Egyptians make it difficult to evacuate Israelis who are injured in Sinai in terror attacks or accidents?
This attitude does not come from identification with the Palestinians because such things were evident even in 2000, when in Israel there were people who were ready to give the Palestinians everything and they simply were not prepared to take it. Peace is a good thing, and certainly it is preferable to the alternative, but let us admit that apart from the smuggling of weapons, drugs and prostitutes, we have not received anything from Egypt.
Twice Egypt lost Sinai to Israel - once for a short while and once for a longer period. This was because of Egyptian aggression, and the support and encouragement the country gave the Palestinians. Now the Egyptians are sending materiel in, which is the fuel for the terror that is spilling our blood. Will they never learn?
Even if people read these remarks in Egypt, their intention will be misunderstood: Instead of Egyptians saying to themselves, maybe we will stop supporting harm to innocent people - they will take them as an insult. Too bad. Because that isn't the intention.
The author is a farmer and businessman, and a son of former prime minister Ariel Sharon.

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For Sderot: Please join the ISM - Israel Solidarity Movement to save the civilian terror victims of Sderot

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, May 18, 2007 4:13 PM
Subject: For Sderot: Please join the ISM - Israel Solidarity Movement to save the civilian terror victims of Sderot

Christians and Jews are trying to help Sderot (see below). What is needed is an Israel Solidarity Movement - ISM - that will send volunteers to Sderot, so that Hamas terrorists will know that they are aiming at foreigners - Christians, Muslims and Jews who want to prevent violence, and that they may kill them.
Christian Peace Teams in Sderot - where are you?
Sderot is a great destination for Birthright unplugged.
Non-violent pro-Palestinian groups - this is a chance to prove your commitment to non-violence!
Brit Tzedek Veshalom and other "pro-Israel" groups - where are you?
Tikkun Olam people - we need your help!
Ami Isseroff
By Mijal Grinberg, Haaretz Correspondent

On Thursday, in light of the security situation, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), a private organization funded mainly by contributions from the United States, announced it would fund the work to increase Sderot's protection against Qassams, which could start in the coming days.
Scenes of dozens of people shoving each other and begging to get on buses leaving Sderot proved a painful illustration of the frustration and fear of the residents. One reason for the pressure they are under is the sense of insecurity stemming from the lack of shelters in the city.
Haaretz sought to understand how much money has been invested in the town in recent years and where - in lieu of the state - private bodies have stepped in.
The demand to reinforce houses in the area around the Gaza Strip arose in March 2001, when the first Qassams landed. Out of the four regional councils and the city of Sderot, the reinforcement of the houses in Kibbutz Nahal Oz was approved. But even that stopped. As the situation deteriorated over the past year, attempts were made to get approval to reinforce 5,000 homes within seven kilometers of the Gaza Strip those with tile roofs and no shelters or secure rooms.
In February, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised the heads of the regional councils that reinforcement would be approved and pledged NIS 300million for the job. Some NIS 10 million has been approved for an initial survey. Since then, the Home Front has submitted to various bodies an estimate of NIS 900 million for necessary reinforcement. Alon Schuster, the head of the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, and his predecessor, MK Shai Hermesh, believe the cost is lower.
"I want to stay," one resident, a neighbor of Defense Minister Amir Peretz, said. "But let them reinforce the house."
On Wednesday a private contractor approached tycoon Arcadi Gaydamak about reinforcing the city. Gaydamak took one meeting with them, and on Friday he is expected to tour the city to estimate costs.
Sderot has 58 public shelters, none of which are suitable for extended stays. According to the city's security officer, 30 shelters "have no basic infrastructure like electricity and can't be inhabited even for five minutes."
Twenty-eight shelters are being used for other purposes like afternoon day care centers or synagogues, and lack shelter equipment. A request for funding to improve infrastructure in the shelters was submitted to the Home Front Command, but the funding has not been received.
With regard to the kibbutzim, according to local estimates, each kibbutz has about 15 to 20 shelters, most uninhabitable for long periods. The money to change the situation, millions of shekels, has not been found.
Last June a Qassam fell on a school in Sderot. As a result, its was decided to move ahead on reinforcing the schools. Twenty-four schools were given reinforced spaces where students would go if the alarm was sounded. Parents and others argued that full protection was
necessary, and petitioned the High Court. In the end it was decided to fully reinforce classrooms in grades one through three, but this has not been started; 151 public kindergartens have been reinforced.

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Tarek Heggy: If I were a Copt !!

by: Tarek Heggy
[This is the full version apparently]
·        If I were a Copt I would have split the skies of Egypt and the world with the sound of my voice decrying the oppressive climate in which Egypt's Copts are living today.
·        If I were a Copt I would have let the world know of the inequity that has plagued the lives of many Copts since 1952 and kept them from occupying the political and senior administrative posts they deserve.
·        If I were a Copt I would have cried out against the gross injustice of making me pay taxes allocated by the State to Al-Azhar which does not admit Copts to any of its faculties.
·        If I were a Copt I would have vented my anger at being forced to pay taxes that are used to build tens of mosques when the Egyptian state has not paid a penny in the construction of a single church since 1952, with the exception of a donation made by President Nasser forty years ago towards the costs of building St. Mark's Cathedral in Abbaseya.
·        If I were a Copt I would have raised my voice against the absence of a single Copt from many legislative councils in Egypt today.
·        If I were a Copt I would have written one article after another about the way the mass media ignore my concerns and religious feasts as though Egypt's Coptic population does not exist.
·        If I were a Copt I would have let the whole world know how Egypt's Coptic history is not given its rightful due in Egyptian educational curricula and how the study of the Arabic language in schools is no longer the study of literary texts, poetry, novels, plays and short stories but of Islamic scripture which rightfully belongs in classes teaching religion to Muslim students.
·        If I were a Copt I would have made the world sit up and take notice of the difficulties Copts have in obtaining a license to build a church [out of their own funds, not from the proceeds of the taxes to which they contribute].
·        If I were a Copt I would have brought to the attention of international public opinion the outrageous comments made by some Muslim writers about Copts, such as their contention that Copts should never assume public governance, that they should pay the gezya [a special tax imposed on non-Muslims in medieval times], and that they should not serve in the armed forces. I would have translated obscurantist writings like the nonsense published by Dr. Mohamed Emara with funding from Al-Azhar, whose budget is made up of the contributions of taxpayers, including Copts, who are then vilified in books published at the expense of the state.
·        If I were a Copt I would have led a campaign both inside the country and abroad demanding the removal of the box marked "Religion" from the Egyptian identity card. For why should any person dealing with me need to know what religion I belong to?
·        If I were a Copt I would have led a campaign against the Egyptian bureaucracy that has allowed the Personal Status Law for non-Muslims to fester in closed drawers for nearly a quarter of a century, leading Copts to refer to it jokingly as the Personal Disaster Law instead of the Personal Status Law (a play on the letter "h" in the Arabic word ahwal, or status which, depending on whether it is pronounced gutturally or glottally, gives these two very different meanings].
·        If I were a Copt I would have let the world know the Coptic issue in Egypt is but one manifestation of a mindset that has taken hold in this region of the world, and called upon humanity as a whole to force it to retreat from its dark and dangerous path.

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Israel-UK Academic boycott meeting

Israeli and British academics met to discuss the proposed British UCU boycott of Israeli universities.
The following response seems to me to rather anemic:
At the Brighton meeting, Professor Zvi Hacohen of Ben-Gurion University, a senior official in Israel's lecturers' union, presented two arguments against the boycott: "First, there is widespread cooperation between our universities and Palestinian and Jordanian universities; the proposed boycott will damage this cooperation. Additionally, you must understand that Israeli institutions and universities are not political organizations, and they have no influence over the policies of the government or the parties."
Discussion of the following issues is absent from this report:
  • How did we get to the point where a large number of academics believe that:
"Israel commits terrible, exceptional crimes in the occupied territories."
  • Are Israeli "crimes" worse than blowing up dozens of people in a hotel or discotheque?
  • How can a "progressive" labor union lend support to the genocidal Hamas government?
  • What message, exactly, is sent by boycotting Israeli Arab academics?
  • How can the EU, which funds the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, boycott Israeli universities because of "crimes?"
Ami Isseroff

Last update - 08:04 18/05/2007   
By Assaf Uni, Haaretz Correspondent
BRIGHTON, England - Two very different groups of academics met at the University of Brighton on Wednesday. On one side of the table were five local representatives of Britain's University and College Union, the sponsors of a resolution proposing an academic boycott of Israel. On the other were four Israeli academics who came to Britain to fight the proposal. They only managed to agree on one issue: Their argument should be conducted politely.
"Israeli universities cooperate with the occupation, and therefore, all coopertion with them should be boycotted," declared Tom Hickey, one of the Britons. "Israel commits terrible, exceptional crimes in the occupied territories."
However, he added that he would be willing to cooperate with any Israeli college that publicly denounced its government's activities.
Dr. Jonathan Rynhold of Bar-Ilan University retorted angrily: "You are imposing standards on Israel, and Israeli academe, that you do not demand of any other country, not even British academe, of which you are a part. And you treat the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as if it were completely one-sided."
"It is one-sided," responded Hickey.
The UCU proposal is part of a growing wave of British initiatives to boycott Israel. These include decisions for an academic boycott approved by the AUT and NATFHE the two lecturers' unions that later merged to form the 120,000-strong UCU in 2005 and 2006, respectively; last month's decision by Britain's National Union of Journalists to boycott Israeli products; the Anglican Church's decision to divest from companies doing business with the Israel Defense Forces; a demand for Israel's expulsion from the World Medical Association by 130 British doctors; and boycott calls by leading British architects.
Though both AUT and NATFHE approved academic boycotts, the decisions became void when the two merged last year. Therefore, Hickey has introduced a new boycott proposal at the UCU's annual conference, which takes place on May 30 and June 1. Among other things, the proposal demands that no more European Union funds reach Israeli universities.
Worried by the growing trend, Israeli academe which largely ignored the early boycott proposals has geared up to fight this one.
"In practice, our work has just begun," said Ofir Frankel, who coordinates the activities of Bar-Ilan's International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom. "If we manage to thwart the proposed boycott at the conference at the end of the month, that would be wonderful, but our goals are designed for the longer-term. We want to influence public opinion among British academics and provide them with a true picture of Israeli academe."
"Over the last year, you can sense that Israeli academe has united behind our goal," she continued, adding that she plans to attend the conference with a group of Palestinian students who study at Israeli universities, and they will present their work at the same booth.
At the Brighton meeting, Professor Zvi Hacohen of Ben-Gurion University, a senior official in Israel's lecturers' union, presented two arguments against the boycott: "First, there is widespread cooperation between our universities and Palestinian and Jordanian universities; the proposed boycott will damage this cooperation. Additionally, you must understand that Israeli institutions and universities are not political organizations, and they have no influence over the policies of the government or the parties."
But the British academics were not impressed. "My belief that we need to work for a boycott was only strengthened," said one, Bob Brecher. "The very fact that this delegation came here shows that the academic establishment in Israel is central and influential."
From Brighton, the Israelis proceeded to Birmingham and Manchester to meet undecided voters; they also met with British parliamentarians.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Peres, Italians, offer help to Fatah in Gaza

Perhaps an international force could save Gaza from itself, or not.
Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa delivered himself of the following nonsense:
"We should condemn in the strongest terms what is going on in Gaza. But we have to be vigilant and not lose sight of the reasons, the root causes," Moussa said, mentioning poverty and unemployment.
"[This is] a situation that has been imposed on the Palestinians unjustly and unfairly and led to this agitation in Gaza."
Let's suppose for a moment that the poverty is caused by the Zionists, as in Moussa's fantasy. In 1948, Jerusalem was under siege by the Arab forces. Jews did not start murdering each other wantonly. This is not what normal people usually do under siege. If there is really an effective blockade, where are they getting the guns from?
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 21:20 16/05/2007   
By News Agencies

Israel is ready to help Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas as his Fatah faction battles Hamas in Gaza, Vice Premier Shimon Peres said on Wednesday.
At a news conference after a meeting with Estonia's prime minister, Peres said Israel would not intervene directly in hostilities but would respond to specific requests from Abbas.
"We should help Mr. Abbas in his fight against the terrorists," he said in answer to reporters' questions.
Asked about possible direct measures, Peres said: "We can only respond to Mr. Abbas's requests for help. We will not intervene in the war itself but if Mr. Abbas will request specific help, we will supply [it]."
Peres was in Estonia for the opening of the Baltic state's first synagogue since World War Two.
At least 13 Palestinians were killed in fighting in Gaza on Wednesday, bringing the four-day death toll to at least 37.
Italy offers to send troops to help quell fighting in Gaza
Italy would consider sending peacekeepers to the Gaza Strip if the Palestinian government requested help to end factional fighting, Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said on Wednesday.
But D'Alema called for political pressure, including from the Arab world, to end the fighting between Hamas and Fatah.
"If the Palestinian Authority asked for international help to guarantee security in Gaza, that could be considered," he aid. "Still, I believe that at this moment, one must exercise political pressure on the sides that are clashing that are paradoxically part of the same government."
Italy is leading the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon. D'Alema said last year that if the Lebanon force proved effective, a similar force could be used in Gaza.
D'Alema was speaking after a meeting with Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, who also condemned the fighting in Gaza during a joint news conference.
"We should condemn in the strongest terms what is going on in Gaza. But we have to be vigilant and not lose sight of the reasons, the root causes," Moussa said, mentioning poverty and unemployment.
"[This is] a situation that has been imposed on the Palestinians unjustly and unfairly and led to this agitation in Gaza."

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Israel begins evacuation of Sderot

Israel begins evacuation of Sderot, amid a hail of rocket fire and an unclear situation in Gaza.
Last update - 10:36 17/05/2007   
By Aluf Benn, Amos Harel and Mijal Grinberg, Haaretz Correspondents

As Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz sparred over the issue of whether to evacuate the residents of Sderot, seven Qassam rockets struck the embattled area early on Thursday, one of them slamming into a high school, lightly wounding two people.
Another rocket hit the yard of a house, without causing injury. Palestinian gunners struck Sderot and its environs with more than 30 Qassam rockets on Wednesday alone.
Following a decision by Olmert on Wednesday, the military prepared to take 'harsh' measures in an effort to stem new attacks.
Israel Radio reported Thursday that the Defense Ministry had begun evacuating a number of Sderot residents to a Association for Soldiers' Welfare hostel in the northern town of Givat Olga.
Olmert has opposed evacuating Sderot, Peretz' home town, where one rocket slammed into a house near the defense minister's own on Wednesday. Peretz has proposed that sizable numbers of residents be brought out of the city for a "break" from the rocket attacks, which have continued sporadically for the last five years.
Municipality officials said that many families have already left the city on their own. Schools in the city will be closed Thursday for the second day in a row.
Hundreds of Sderot residents have signed up for a program to receive rooms in Society for Soldier's Welfare hostels in other areas of the country. Sderot city officials and the Defense Ministry have opened an information hotline for Sderot residents interested in leaving the city.
In tandem, tycoon Arkadi Gaydamak has funded rooms for some 600 Sderot residents in a Be'er Sheva hotel.
Harsh response

The disagreement over evacuation came as Palestinian militants continued their rocket barrage on the western Negev on Wednesday, firing some 30 rockets at the area, wounding two people.
During consultations between Olmert, Peretz and senior members of the defense establishment on Wednesday, it was decided to resume the assassinations policy, targeting militants, as well as other, unspecified actions.
"Israel will not be able to continue and show restraint when its citizens are being targeted, and therefore it was decided to respond harshly," Olmert said after the meeting.
"It was decided to authorize the IDF and the defense establishment to carry out a series of actions in order to target those launching Qassam rockets and their leadership, to disrupt their ability to launch rockets and to strike the terrorist infrastructure," a statement said.
A political source in Jerusalem said that Olmert had changed his mind and decided to end the "policy of restraint" following intelligence assessments that Hamas intends to escalate its attacks against Israel.
The intelligence reports, presented during the meeting, suggest that the recent hail of rockets on Sderot were directly linked to the internecine fighting between Hamas and Fatah in the Gaza Strip. They stressed that the bombing would continue and even escalate.
Gaydamak launches evacuation of his own

Russian-born business tycoon Arcadi Gaydamak has added complexity to the debate over evacuating Sderot, by taking hundreds of Sderot residents to the Golden Tulip hotel in Be'er Sheva.
The possibility of evacuating people from Sderot was raised Wednesday by Peretz during a meeting with defense officials called by Olmert to discuss the developments in the Gaza Strip and the constant bombardment of Sderot.
"Gaydamak is evacuating people, and he will take over the whole thing," Peretz said. "He sent buses and we need to consider an evacuation."
Olmert opposed the idea. "I am not willing to evacuate Sderot. These are precisely the sort of scenes that Hamas is waiting for. During the war [in Lebanon], when 200 Katyushas fell every day, we did not evacuate entire towns. I don't need to compete with Gaydamak's buses," Olmert said.
"I'm not talking about an evacuation, but a break," Peretz said.
"A break is fine," Olmert said.
The two were referring to what Gaydamak offered residents of Sderot last summer, when he sent thousands at his expense to Eilat to recuperate from the stress of the bombing.
Wednesday night Peretz authorized in principle a plan for the evacuation of hundreds from Sderot for a few days. The idea is to take the evacuees to facilities of the Association for Soldiers' Welfare all over Israel. Priority in the evacuation would be given to the elderly, the infirm and people with no family members.
Peretz is expected to confirm the authorization on Thursday.
According to an analysis by the Home Front Command carried out under orders from Peretz, there are 2,600 Sderot residents who are eligible due to their status as "needy population."
Nonetheless, by last night only 400 spots were prepared to receive evacuees, and only for a few days.
For his part, Gaydamak is also evaluating the possibility of undertaking the reinforcement of homes in Sderot. In consultation with a construction firm, Gaydamak decided to make a visit to the town Friday to evaluate the extent of the project, first hand.

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Qassam terror in Sderot: Where are the Christian Peace Teams?

The "harmless" Qassam rockets continue to terrorize residents of Sderot, who are preparing for "temporary evacuation."
I first wrote about the myth of the harmless Qassam rocket about a year ago. Qassam rockets kill. Qassam rockets terrorize. Qassam rockets make it impossible for ordinary people to live ordinary lives. Qassam rockets are crimes against humanity and war crimes, targetting innocent civilians for no reason. But the humanitarian organizations are silent.
Masha Rifkin wrote:
I ran outside and found a circle of women, Natasha at the center, trying to comfort a young girl. Hyperventilating, choking on her tears, yelling for her mother, over and over again. Another "anxiety victim."
Natasha quickly poured cold water on the girls face, and embraced her. The girl clawed Natasha's back and shoulders, leaving deep scratches. Eventually her breathing returned to normal, when it came again: Tzeva adom, tzeva adom.
The girl fell to the ground screaming, "No, no, no, no, no!"
As I write this, Kassams are hitting Sderot. Children are screaming, mothers are collapsing in despair, and doctors are pulling shrapnel out of the bodies of Jews.
It would not be better if the shrapnel was in the bodies of non-Jews, Marsha. Perhaps what is needed is to bring a thousand non-Jewish volunteers to Sderot, to show solidarity with the victims. Where are the Christian Peace Teams?
Ami Isseroff
Masha Rifkin,

The first Tzeva Adom (Color Red) Kassam rocket warning siren went off while I was across the street from my office, using a friend's computer on the fourth floor.
As usual, we stepped into the corridor - the safest place in the apartment building - and waited.
I counted: 15, 14, 13... I had gotten to 12 when I heard the screams. It was a type of scream I couldn't recognize, half laughter, half terror, complete madness: 11, 10... it hit. A block away at most.
Everyone else raced outside; it wasn't until 30 seconds later - when I woke from my daze - that I realized the screaming hadn't stopped.
I was about to join everyone outside when, once more, Tzeva Adom: 15, 14... I had barely reached 13 when it crashed, shaking my entire body - half a block away.
My phone rang: It was my boss, Natasha, telling me to immediately come back to the office, as the fourth floor of any building was not safe.
My roommate in Tel Aviv, Jackie, was with me for the day, curious about my work in Sderot, and we ran back across the street to my office, as quickly as we could.
Natasha looked us over, then asked if we had heard the scream. She said a young mother was pushing her child in a stroller when the first siren went off.
She should have had enough time to pick up her son and rush into a nearby basement. Instead, she knocked the stroller over, child inside, and fell to the ground - screaming. She didn't stop until Natasha and others carried her and her child to a neighbor's apartment.
What do you picture when you read about Sderot's "anxiety victims?" It's this woman, convulsing, flailing. It's her inability to think rationally - to protect her child. She was only able to collapse, beating the ground.
Natasha, Jackie and I sat in the social work office, trying to work. That's what you do in Sderot. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. We didn't get much done as every few minutes we received phone calls from hysterical parents. It was 7 p.m., parents were still at work and their children alone at home.
All I could hear was Natasha screaming on the phone: "Calm down... calm down. listen to me, breathe! I won't talk to you until you breathe. Listen, your children are fine. No, I don't know why they're not picking up the phone. They probably ran downstairs. I said calm down."
Then Purim Yaakobov walked in; I will be taking her son to a summer camp in the States in June, and we had set this meeting last week. She had walked amid the Kassams to keep the meeting.
Yaakobov was still dressed in black, mourning her husband, who was killed by a Kassam six months ago. She lowered herself slowly onto a chair, her face absolutely white.
She was reliving her husband's death. She took my hands and, tears rolling down her cheeks, pleaded, "Please, I have nothing. I have no one. My sons are everything. Promise me he will be happy. I need to hear it from you, please, they are all I have."
Jackie - experiencing her first Kassams - threw her arms around her. Yaakobov left the office, and then... Tzeva Adom.
We ran into the corridor; there were many of us now, as the student volunteers were holding a meeting. I tried to count down from 15 again, but was interrupted by a student. She was laughing: "Hamas and Fatah finally made up, and in celebration, they're firing a nice salute to us!" she said.
We all burst out into fits of painful laughter... Boom.
The laughter stopped, and someone said what was on all of our minds: "That one was really close."
Again I heard screaming; I looked around and realized that Natasha was no longer there. Suddenly I heard her voice, "Masha, water! Hurry!"
I ran outside and found a circle of women, Natasha at the center, trying to comfort a young girl. Hyperventilating, choking on her tears, yelling for her mother, over and over again. Another "anxiety victim."
Natasha quickly poured cold water on the girls face, and embraced her. The girl clawed Natasha's back and shoulders, leaving deep scratches. Eventually her breathing returned to normal, when it came again: Tzeva adom, tzeva adom.
The girl fell to the ground screaming, "No, no, no, no, no!"
As I write this, Kassams are hitting Sderot. Children are screaming, mothers are collapsing in despair, and doctors are pulling shrapnel out of the bodies of Jews.
Cornell University junior Masha Rifkin of Newton, Massachusetts, is a volunteer at the Mishol social work office in Sderot.

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Dr Death from Gaza: Physicians Without Borders staffer plotted to assassinate Olmert

This comes under the head of EU supported humanitarian activities, one supposes.
Yaakov Katz, THE JERUSALEM POST  May. 17, 2007

A Palestinian from the Gaza Strip who works for the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders has been arrested for allegedly plotting to assassinate Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) revealed Thursday.
Mazab Bashir, 25, from Deir el-Balah began working with Doctors Without Borders five years ago.
On April 19, he confessed during a Shin Bet interrogation that for months, he had been collecting intelligence on senior Israeli officials - including Olmert and a number of Knesset members.
Bashir met with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in September 2006, and said that the assassination was meant to avenge the deaths of Palestinian civilians.
Bashir also underwent arms training with the PFLP, and was picked to carry out the planned assassination.
He told the Shin Bet that he had collected information on the Internet to use to target MKs, but then realized that the MKs in question did not live in Jerusalem, the only Israeli city to which his permit granted him access.
According to the officials, after the doctor realized that the security surrounding Olmert was impenetrable, Bashir decided in December 2006 to kill David Be'eri, head of the Elad organization, a group involved in purchasing Arab homes in Jerusalem's Old City.
That same month, he underwent combat training in the Gaza Strip in order to learn to kill without using weapons.
In January 2007, Bashir again entered Israel again on behalf of Doctors Without Borders, and began collecting information on Be'eri. He made additional trips to Jerusalem in February and March, and on April 18. He was arrested on April 19.
During his interrogation, Bashir said he had planned to return to Gaza to complete his combat training and learn, among other things, how to break necks. He said he intended to use his skills to kill Be'eri.
Elad has increased Be'eri's security following the threats to his life.
Bashir was indicted Thursday in the Jerusalem District Court.

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UC Intifada: Blowing up absurd

Reut Cohen has some great videos of the MSU anti-"Zionism" fest at UC Irvine
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3. Marxist Lenni Brenner joined forces with that great progressive, the Holocaust Denying Rabbi David Weiss, friend of David Duke. She tells us:
Rabbi Yonah Bookstein dressed up as a clown since the entire MSU week is ridiculous, filled with condoning of Hamas & Hezbollah. Terrorism, moreover, is often referred to as "freedom fighting" by speakers (and students) with the MSU.

Some MSU events during the week were titled "The UC Intifada" and "Hamas."
"UC Intifada" is a great name, isn't it? They are going to free occupied California. That makes sense. California belonged to Spain. Spain was once part of Dar al Islam. It was called "al Andalus." The Christian colonialist crusader imperialists took California from the Spanish, and these folks are going to liberate it.
In the 60s, students read, "Growing up absurd." Today, they should be reading, "Blowing up Absurd."
Ami Isseroff

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Ha'aretz: Only Israeli occupation can save Fatah in Gaza

This is a startling and stark analysis from Ha'aretz, a dovish newspaper.
The Gazans are repeating one clear message: only Israeli occupation will save them. There is no other solution on the horizon.
The question is, whether saving Fatah unconditionally is in Israel's interests or the interests of peace. In 1970, Israel allowed thousands of fleeing Fatah/PLO people into the West Bank from Jordan. They expressed their gratitude by founding the Black September movement and carrying out the Munich Olympics massacre.
What could Israel gain from reoccupying Gaza, other than world opprobrium, if the move is not coordinated with the international community and does not eliminate all the armed groups?
Ami Isseroff
Haaretz Correspondent
Last update - 04:29 17/05/2007

Four days into the current round in the Palestinian civil war in the Gaza Strip, with Fatah fighting Hamas, several phenomena have emerged:

1. Hamas has won every confrontation since fighting started Sunday. Its military dominance and supremacy are clear. Nearly all the fatalities have been from Hamas attacks. Even the five Hamas militants killed Wednesday died in an assault by their comrades against a Fatah force that took them hostage. Hamas is conducting itself like a military organization: It moves its forces, positions snipers, uses light artillery (mortars, for example), sets up ambushes in strategic locations, and systematically targets Fatah's leadership in the Gaza Strip, based on hit lists it has drafted.

2a. Fatah's leadership vacuum is the main reason for the group's defeat in the current round. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is still not showing signs of leadership. He is still afraid to take definitive action against Hamas, even though Hamas is harming the symbols of his authority. Last night he issued a statement, again, ordering a cease-fire, even though most of his men have been on the defensive since the fighting began and have
not initiated action.

2b. The leadership vacuum is even more blatant given Mohammed Dahlan's absence from the region. The Palestinian national security adviser managed to rally Fatah's loyalist groups during the previous round of fighting.
Dahlan even initiated action against Hamas, including the raid on the Islamic University, a hotbed of Hamas activity. It is not clear whether Hamas planned this current outbreak after confirming Dahlan was out of the picture, but the fact of the matter is that this round caught Dahlan hospitalized in Cairo following back surgery. If the fighting ends soon, Dahlan will come out as the only man in Fatah capable of preventing Gaza from falling to Hamas.

3. The Israel Defense Forces attack against the Hamas Executive Force headquarters in Rafah was not aimed at putting an end to the Qassams. Such attack actually may strengthen Hamas' standing among the Palestinians. But
in view of television shots of Sderot being evacuated and given the approaching Labor primaries, the Israeli leadership is finding restraint difficult.

4. The Gazans are repeating one clear message: only Israeli occupation will save them. There is no other solution on the horizon.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Egyptian Grand Mufti: Protocols of the Elders of Zion are a Fiction, and I never endorsed them

This is a remarkable and important statement.
The Grand Mufti of Egypt in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram:
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – a "fictitious book" that "has no truth to it"; in his article he categorically denies having written the foreword to the 2003 edition of The Protocols , which was attributed to him
January 2007

Dr. Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, denies having written the foreword to The Protocols, which is a "fictitious book" that "has no truth to it" (Al-Ahram, January 1, 2007 )

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and their Biblical and Talmudic Roots (an edition published in Egypt in 2003). The book's anti-Semitic foreword was thought to have been written by Dr. Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt

1. In 2003, a new edition of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, titled The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and their Biblical and Talmudic Roots, was published in Arabic in Egypt . That edition was published jointly by Dr. Ahmad Hijazi al-Saqa (Professor of Comparative Theology in Al-Azhar University ), and Hisham Khadr (a journalist working for Qatari newspaper Al-Sharq). That edition of The Protocols was—and, in our opinion, still is—distributed among Arab/Muslim communities in Britain and, in all likelihood, in other countries outside of Egypt.

2. The 2003 edition of The Protocols features a detailed foreword attributed to Dr. Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt and Lecturer of Islamic Jurisprudence Sources in Al-Azhar University . The foreword contains blatant incitement against the Jewish people and rules that it was the Jews who wrote The Protocols. Such a foreword provided that edition with an air of Islamic religious dignity and authority.

3. On January 1, 2007 , more than three years after that edition of The Protocols made its appearance, a clarification on behalf of the Grand Mufti was published in Egypt 's popular daily Al-Ahram, in the section titled "Religious Thought" (p. 13). In that article, the Grand Mufti categorically denies having written the foreword to "that fictitious book [ The Protocols ], which has no truth to it". Therefore, the Grand Mufti says that he sent a legal warning to the Egyptian publishing house of The Protocols, demanding it to remove the foreword from the copies of the books that it has and not publish it again without his permission.

4. To the best of our knowledge, such an article is highly unusual both in terms of its contents and in terms of its wording. It is highly significant, being a public renouncement of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in a popular Arabic-language newspaper by a senior Muslim-Arab religious personality, commanding extensive religious authority in Egypt and in the Sunni Muslim world. See Appendices for the article and its full translation.

Appendix A

Translation of the article in which the Grand Mufti of Egypt denies having written the foreword to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion 1

A Binding Warning

By Dr. Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of the Republic [i.e., Egypt ]

[Unfortunately,] I was forced to stop [writing] a series of articles [about] the sources of Islamic legislation; the reason is that I am very saddened by the [grave situation] of several publications, which in no way represent what is happening in the [field of Arabic-language] publishing-not in Egypt and not in the Arab world. [For these publications contain] lies, fabrications, and false attribution.

[This time] I am talking from personal experience, for I was surprised to find a book titled The Protocols of the Elders of Zion . I was likewise surprised [to discover] my name on it, with my original title—a lecturer in the esteemed university of Al-Azhar. Seeing my name [in the book] made me wonder; [so] I lifted my eyes [to read] what it said above [my name], and came across the word "foreword". I was even more surprised when I saw the year of publication, the year 2003, and [the name of] a publishing house called Maktabat al-Nafidha. Furthermore, the [book's main] title included, in addition [to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the sub-heading:] "and their Biblical and Talmudic Roots".

[Furthermore,] the first page [of the book] states [that the authors are] Dr. Ahmad Hijazi al-Saqa and Hisham Khadr. Well, I do not remember writing a foreword to that fictitious book, which has no truth to it. 2 Likewise, I recalled the meetings I had with the lecturer Dr. Abd al-Wahab al-Masiri, 3 who specializes in Jewish studies and pertaining subjects, and the long, extensive evidence [he presented to me] to prove that the document, or the book, has no truth to it—as we have believed 4 for a long time. Then I asked myself: "do you [suddenly] have amnesia? Did you write such a foreword to this book and forgot [about it]? And what did you say in it [i.e., in the foreword]—did you criticize it [the book] and ruled it out?" as it is etched in my memory.

Well, I started reading the foreword, and was surprised at how poorly-written it was, surprised by the [weak] arguments and citations, which cannot be attributed to me. What is more, it is inconceivable that I should use such statements, for I am no expert on the Torah to be quoting such things [i.e., verses] from it, and it is not my custom to seek the aid of the residents of the world, as written on page 13 by [the author of] the foreword, who spreads falsehoods: "O residents of the world, these are the Jews, be sure to notice: they are a people cursed by Allah, their Maker. They help the corruptors corrupt the land and the wicked spread wickedness in the world. But we Muslims want nothing from them except for them to convert to Islam, for 'If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost' [in the afterlife, i.e., those who go to hell]—[the Quran, Surat] Aal 'Imran [3], [verse] 85.

At that point, I became aware that these were not my words and that the name Ali Gomaa, which appeared on the cover of the book, could not be mine but was probably somebody else's name [with the same name and title]. [That is what I believed,] until I saw [my own full name and titles] at the end of these falsehoods, on page 14: Dr. Ali Gomaa Muhammad Abd al-Wahab, Lecturer of the Sources of Islamic Law in the University of Al-Azhar.

I [immediately] contacted the University of Al-Azhar, which I know well, to look for my "double", the possibility of whose existence is a billion to one—impossible odds, in light of my acquaintance with all those well versed in Islamic law in the entire world, not just in the University of Al-Azhar. [After my investigation,] I realized that I was being the victim of a criminal act since the year 2003, that criminal act being the illicit use of my name on those fabrications, of which I did not know up until now. Well, what could those [responsible for that criminal act] be preparing for us? Why are they doing this? They only do damage; they do no good. [Therefore, all] I can say on this occasion is: Allah is enough for us; He is the best protector [a quote from the Quran, Surat Aal 'Imran, verse 173], for the protection of Allah and His Messenger [Prophet Muhammad] is enough for me.

[In light of the above,] I sent a legal warning to the publishing house, demanding it to immediately remove the foreword from the books [i.e., copies] it has, and not publish it [the foreword] again in that book or in any other book which includes the foreword attributed to me, without my knowledge. [In this context,] I would also like to note that each foreword that I write bears my signature and stamp and is written on documents bearing my name, in Arabic and in English. [Furthermore,] after entering the office of the Grand Mufti [of Egypt ], I also added the emblem of Dar al-Ifta' [the official institution responsible for issuing binding Muslim religious rulings] and its official seal. Therefore, that foreword, of which I knew nothing until now, and into which I am trying to inquire, is a false one--unless it fulfills the criteria I have mentioned [above].

[While writing,] I remembered Abd al-Wahab al-Sha'arani's old complaint about the falsification of some of his books by some ill-wishers. I also remembered what Imam Al-Suyuti had to say about that, particularly in his book Al-Tahadduth bi-Ni'mat Allah [Glorifying Allah's Virtues]. I also remembered the words of [other Islamic] religious scholars about attributing words to a person who did not say them, likening it to attributing a child to another father. It seems that these [Muslim] religious scholars imply that such [phenomenon] can be described as "a criminal act of intellectual prostitution", for "we belong to Allah and it is to Allah that we return" [a quote from the Quran--Surat al-Baqara (2), verse 156—usually said on the occasion of a person's death, meaning acceptance of God's judgment. In this case, the author means to say that a disaster has befallen him (see below), but that, ultimately, everything is in God's hands].

Perhaps the words of [Allah], may He be glorified, [in the Quran]—"And those who do not give false testimony, [even] when they pass by idle talk, [they] pass by with dignity"--[ Surat ] Al-Furqan [25], [verse] 72—can be of some consolation in light of our disaster [today]. Indeed, Prophet [Muhammad], may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him, attributed considerable importance to this criminal act [false testimony], by saying: "Do you want me to tell you what are the three greatest wrongs?" They answered: "Indeed, O Prophet of Allah." Then [Prophet Muhammad] answered: "Polytheism, disobeying one's parents"--he said that while leaning [against something], and then he sat up straight [before mentioning the third wrong, to emphasize its gravity by changing the position of his body]--and telling fabrications." [The storyteller of that tradition] said: He [Prophet Muhammad] said those things [about the third wrong] over and over again, until we said: "We wish he would be silent." [That tradition] appears in Al-Bukhari's [authorized collection of Muslim traditions]. [In addition,] Prophet [Muhammad], may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him, considered lying in public to be one of the future signs of corruption which herald the Day of Judgment. It was [also] said [regarding the above] on behalf of Prophet [Muhammad], who said that among the signs of the Day of Judgment are the breaking up of family relations and perjury in public. [That tradition] is told by Al-Hakem, in [his book] Al-Mustadrak . 5

[In this context,] the poet says:

So many wretched people spread lies

[For] they do not fear God nor are they concerned with their disgrace

So eager were they to kill innocent lives

So that [in the end] nothing but sin and evil will they embrace

Appendix B

The original article (Al-Ahram, January 1, 2007, p. 13, in the section
titled "Religious Thought")

1 The text in bold was highlighted by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center .

2 It should be noted that the Grand Mufti uses a strong word--"fictitious"--to describe his most negative opinion of the book, that is, to say that the book is ridiculous, erroneous, and unimaginably nonsensical.

3 Dr. Abd al-Wahab al-Masiri is an Egyptian intellectual who "specializes" in writing about Jewish and Zionist religion. He has published many books of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist character. In one of his books, The Protocols, Judaism and Zionism (2003), he states that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a fake, prejudiced document, which causes damage to the Arabs since it imbues the Jews with great ability which does not actually exist. For details see our Information Bulletin dated October 29, 2006: "The Arab hate industry: Egypt continues as a center for the publication of crude anti-Semitic literature encouraging hatred for Israel, the Jewish people and the West, and in effect justifying the use of violence against them".

4 The verb "believed" appears in plural in the Arabic original. The author could be referring to himself or to other similar-minded thinkers, but the verb does not refer only to him and to Dr. Al-Masiri.

5 "The completion", that is, a book containing hadiths (traditions) that complete those found in the known collections of hadiths.

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Leadership in Crisis: The Winograd report

An expert management consultant gave his views on the Winograd report. Dr Sydney Engelberg considers that it is a problem in crisis management. Notes from the lecture include:
Leadership in a crisis situation: competency of the leadership is paramount in dealing with a crisis. It must firstly build an environment of trust in the population, to allay fear, anxiety and uncertainty.
It needs the creation of an expanded mindset when dealing with a crisis.
One must be able to identify not only the obvious, but also the obscure vulnerabilities which caused the problem in the first place. One must look ahead and identify obscure threats before they eventuate.

But even the obvious vulnerabilities were not identified. For example, the bomb shelters were not necessarily well maintained; they were inadequate for the population who were sick, infirm or immobile; not sufficient thought was given to those who would need special care and the government should not have relied on the good graces of an individual to create a tent city in the South for the refugees from the North. They should have provided it immediately.

Wise decision making is necessary. An embarrassing situation evolved with government paralysis ! Taking courageous actions and risk taking are all part of efficient crisis management, but these were not forthcoming.
The above is the same as saying the government did not function, which everyone in Israel could see. For that, I am not sure I needed an expert opinion. There is something to the "expanded mindset" comment though. Olmert always impressed me as a very pedestrian type. If there is a routine job to do, and it is clear what must be done, he will do it competently. If he has to chart his own vision or his own course, it is doubtful he would be able to do it. On the other hand, Olmert certainly did some risk taking, getting into a war for which he was unprepared. Evisdently, he did not have the imagination and understanding to realize that he was taking any risks, however.  
The notes continue:
The Northern border has been quiet for a longer period than for the last 40 years;
A man fell off the top of the Empire State Building. As he was falling, someone asked him, from the 50th story, how it was going. He said, "So far so good." History is about process and direction. It is not so relevant if the northern border is quiet.
The notes of our blogger conclude:
The army is already well on the way to rectifying the errors of the Lebanese war; 
We don't know that that is true until it is tested. We have heard about these corrections in the past, after every war.
The biggest problem I have with the whole approach is that the failures of the Lebanon war indicate a system failure, not something correctable by better management and tinkering with personnel: government and society failed almost all along the line, except for bravery and resourcefulness of individuals. That is the real lesson of the Winograd report, that is contained in the final paragraph, and which everyone wants to avoid. The ministers and officers bear formal responsibility, but the failures were due to decisions of previous governments as well as their own, and to actions of media, of local officials and of citizens. For example, there should not have been a crying, hysterical lady evacuating the north, but these things happen. Certainly she should not have been shown on television even once, but she was shown repeatedly! The defense budget was cut in previous administrations. But the budget was cut because citizens wanted less taxes. Everyone knew the budget was being cut and understood the risks and said nothing. Everyone knew that Amir Peretz was not qualified to be defense minister, but none of us did much about it. And now, everyone understands that Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz must resign, but few are doing much to make it happen.
Ami Isseroff 
Cross-posted:   Israel News  Middle East Analysis

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Israel to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Israel is apparently joining the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development , or it might become a "nonmember economy" like Brazil, China or Russia.
OECD is a club consisting mostly of developed states dedicated to democracy and free market economics. Members include Austria,Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, USA.
Ami Isseroff
Israel to Join OECD
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD; ) Ministerial Council Meeting in Paris today (Wednesday), 16.5.07, approved a decision ( ) to open accession discussions with Israel.

This decision is the fruit of a complicated and comprehensive working process that was carried out over several years by the Prime Minister's Office, the Bank of Israel and the Finance, Foreign, Justice and Industry,
Trade and Employment ministries.  The decision attests to respect for the Israeli economy and constitutes international recognition of the State of Israel's achievements as a democratic and developing country, and of its ability to contribute both to the global economy and to the organization. The decision to invite Israel to begin the process of joining the OECD is an important diplomatic achievement.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who accelerated the aforesaid process during his tenure as Industry, Trade and Employment Minister, praised the decision:

"This is a step that expresses confidence in the Israeli economy, in its strength and in its ability to develop.  The great jump that the Israeli economy has made in recent years will receive significant encouragement. There is no doubt that the country will be able to enjoy additional investments from all over the world.  My Government, which has set as a goal the improvement of residents' quality of life and the reduction of gaps through increased growth, can now be proud that the process of entering the OECD has begun and that we are on the road to additional growth.  I will see to it that all relevant Government ministries and bodies will make every effort so that the timetable for entering the OECD is as short as possible."

The membership process is expected to take one to one-and-a-half years.  It will be necessary to pass legislation, enact reforms and meet the organization's standards.  After the membership process is completed, Israel will be able to benefit from assistance in encouraging investments, the upgrading of the economy's credit rating, improvements in competitiveness, etc.

See the Finance Ministry International Affairs Dept.'s website at

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Continued (Permanent Link)

Gaza violence continues; truce is "shattered"

The new  Palestinian ceasefire agreement is now considered "shattered" as thirty seven people have been killed since Sunday. What appears to be happening is a concerted effort by Hamas to drive Fatah from Gaza. These things don't just happen, especially as the violence flares up repeatedly after each "cease fire." Candidates for catalysts include the secret police and military intelligence of several Middle Eastern countries. The events look quite a bit like those of the Lebanese civil war, which was orchestrated by the Syrians.
The Palestinian
Maanews service reports:

Gaza - Ma'an - (Updated 15:45) - The death toll on Wednesday continues to rise. Palestinian medical sources have confirmed seven more deaths in the Tel Hawa district of west Gaza City as a result of the ongoing Fatah-Hamas clashes.
This brings the death toll as a result of inter-Palestinian fighting to 37 since Sunday morning.
The 12th truce brokered between the feuding factions of Hamas and Fatah since December collapsed at dawn on Wednesday when gunmen besieged the house of the Palestinian domestic security chief, Rashid Abu Shbak, in the west of Gaza City, killing four of his guards.
Over 100 Palestinians have been injured as a result of these most recent factional clashes in Gaza.
Five Executive Force members killed
The director of the Palestinian Preventive Security force, Yousef Issa, reported that five Executive Force members opened fire at the residential neighbourhood where he lives on Wednesday afternoon. Issa added that the Preventive Security forces arrested the five EF members but while they were being transferred to a car belonging to the Preventive Security, Hamas gunmen opened fire at the car, killing their own men in addition to two members of the Preventive Security service.
Meanwhile, an EF spokesman denied the report and accused the Preventive Security of executing the five EF members.
The bodies of the five EF members were taken to Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City while those of the Preventive Security forces were sent to Al-Quds Hospital also in Gaza City.
Later, the residential building was set ablaze and several apartments were burnt. Residents of the building reported that house to house search is conducted in the building where several Fatah leaders live.
Dawn attack on domestic security chief's house
At dawn on Wednesday, armed men surrounded Abu Shbak's house in the Tel Hawa district of the city and fired grenades. Palestinian medical sources confirmed that four guards were killed by the gunmen's bullets, naming Hamada Abd Rabbo and Ahmad Hameida as two of the dead. In addition, eight other Palestinians were injured.
The medical sources added that Abu Shbak's guards managed to evacuate Abu Shbak's wife and children and transfer them to a safe location before the attack.
Fatah spokesman, Abdul-Hakim Awad, accused members of the Hamas loyalist Executive Force of "slaughtering" Abu Shbak's guards.
Clashes prevent medical assistance
Armed clashes are continuing on Wednesday morning in more than one location across the strip. Particularly fierce clashes have been reported in the Tuffah and Tel Hawa districts of Gaza City. Shots have also been fired at the Egyptian delegation which brokered this most recent, short-lived ceasefire; nobody was injured.
Violent clashes, in which shots were being fired from all directions, have also prevented ambulances from reaching the injured.
Gunmen also opened fire on Wednesday at a car belonging to the Palestinian medical relief services, resulting in the serious injury of a female nurse, Zahr Shubat who received a bullet to the head.
The Palestinian ministry of health announced on Tuesday it was on alert in all hospitals and medical centres in the Gaza Strip. The minister of health, Radwan Al-Akhras, who is currently in Geneva, Switzerland, called for an emergency meeting in order to discuss the latest developments resulting from the current chaos, and the large number of victims of the inter-factional fighting.
The meeting was held by video conference in the ministry's headquarters in Gaza and the West Bank. The minister participated from Geneva. The central emergency room demanded that all security services and armed men cooperate and facilitate the passage of ambulances and medical staff throughout the Gaza Strip in order that they may carry out their jobs without jeopardizing any lives.
Meanwhile, the residents of An-Noor tower, a residential building near the old Palestinian interior ministry in the Tel Hawa district of Gaza City, have appealed to the clashing gunmen to cease fire so that residents who have been injured during the ongoing clashes in the area can be evacuated.
A resident of the building said that all the residents gathered in the ground floor after shells hit several apartments causing injuries. He called for the fighting to cease until women and children can be transferred to a safe shelter.
Palestinian medical sources announced on Wednesday morning that Hassan Sweidan, a member of the Palestinian preventive security service, had been shot dead by a sniper near the An-Noor tower in Gaza City.
Palestinian medical sources also announced the death of another member of the preventive security service, Mahir Radi, 37, near the An-Noor towers in Gaza City, on Wednesday morning.
Other Fatah leaders targeted
A member of Palestinian President Abbas' presidential guards, known as Force 17, was also killed on Tuesday night near the headquarters of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, in Gaza City.
There was another attack on the house of Samir Mashrawi, another Fatah leader, but it was stopped before any injuries or casualties resulted. Eyewitnesses reported that Hamas members besieged Mashrawi's house for several hours and demanded the residents of the neighbouring houses to evacuate.
The new ceasefire agreement, reached on Tuesday night through mediation by the Egyptian security delegation in Gaza City, had called for hostilities to cease at 12 o'clock midnight. All checkpoints in the streets of Gaza were to be removed, all armed men were to withdraw from the streets and all abductees, taken from both sides, were to be exchanged.
At the time, the chief of the Egyptian delegation, Maj. Gen. Burhan Hamad, expressed optimism for the agreement between Fatah and Hamas. Maj. Gen. Hamad also assured he had formed a committee to ensure the implementation of the agreement including representatives from the presidency, the government and the Egyptian delegation.
By Tuesday at midnight, 16 Palestinians had been killed; the latest was a member of Hamas' armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, called Isam Al-Juju, and an 18-year-old Palestinian youth. Some sixty Palestinians were reported to be injured.
'Dangerous escalation'
The Fatah movement condemned the attack on Abu Shbak's home on Wednesday morning. A statement issued by Fatah in the northern Gaza Strip said, "Hamas has burned all the vessels and amputated all the hands extended to get the Palestinian people through this bloody cycle of violence."
The statement called on Fatah members at all levels to prepare for all possible options "to respond to these atrocities in accordance with this dangerous escalation."
The statement added, "No sooner has the ink of the last of many written agreements with Hamas dried than the mob members of the Executive Force and the [Hamas military wing] Al-Qassam wrote another document, but with the blood of six martyrs who were assassinated in an ambush.
"They broke into the home of the resistance struggler, Major General Rashid Abu Shbak, the director of domestic security. This was a dangerous escalation, which came simultaneously with the targeting of the home of Samir Mashharawi and Mahir Miqdad. This has confirmed that this group who went astray has reached an unprecedented level."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Bernard Lews: Was Osama Right? (about Western weakness)

Was Osama Right?
Islamists always believed the U.S. was weak. Recent political trends won't change their view.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
During the Cold War, two things came to be known and generally recognized in the Middle East concerning the two rival superpowers. If you did anything to annoy the Russians, punishment would be swift and dire. If you said or did anything against the Americans, not only would there be no punishment; there might even be some possibility of reward, as the usual anxious procession of diplomats and politicians, journalists and scholars and miscellaneous others came with their usual pleading inquiries: "What have we done to offend you? What can we do to put it right?"
A few examples may suffice. During the troubles in Lebanon in the 1970s and '80s, there were many attacks on American installations and individuals--notably the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, followed by a prompt withdrawal, and a whole series of kidnappings of Americans, both official and private, as well as of Europeans. There was only one attack on Soviet citizens, when one diplomat was killed and several others kidnapped. The Soviet response through their local agents was swift, and directed against the family of the leader of the kidnappers. The kidnapped Russians were promptly released, and after that there were no attacks on Soviet citizens or installations throughout the period of the Lebanese troubles.
These different responses evoked different treatment. While American policies, institutions and individuals were subject to unremitting criticism and sometimes deadly attack, the Soviets were immune. Their retention of the vast, largely Muslim colonial empire accumulated by the czars in Asia passed unnoticed, as did their propaganda and sometimes action against Muslim beliefs and institutions.
Most remarkable of all was the response of the Arab and other Muslim countries to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. Washington's handling of the Tehran hostage crisis assured the Soviets that they had nothing to fear from the U.S. They already knew that they need not worry about the Arab and other Muslim governments. The Soviets already ruled--or misruled--half a dozen Muslim countries in Asia, without arousing any opposition or criticism. Initially, their decision and action to invade and conquer Afghanistan and install a puppet regime in Kabul went almost unresisted. After weeks of debate, the U.N. General Assembly finally was persuaded to pass a resolution "strongly deploring the recent armed intervention in Afghanistan." The words "condemn" and "aggression" were not used, and the source of the "intervention" was not named. Even this anodyne resolution was too much for some of the Arab states. South Yemen voted no; Algeria and Syria abstained; Libya was absent; the nonvoting PLO observer to the Assembly even made a speech defending the Soviets.
One might have expected that the recently established Organization of the Islamic Conference would take a tougher line. It did not. After a month of negotiation and manipulation, the organization finally held a meeting in Pakistan to discuss the Afghan question. Two of the Arab states, South Yemen and Syria, boycotted the meeting. The representative of the PLO, a full member of this organization, was present, but abstained from voting on a resolution critical of the Soviet action; the Libyan delegate went further, and used this occasion to denounce the U.S.
The Muslim willingness to submit to Soviet authority, though widespread, was not unanimous. The Afghan people, who had successfully defied the British Empire in its prime, found a way to resist the Soviet invaders. An organization known as the Taliban (literally, "the students") began to organize resistance and even guerilla warfare against the Soviet occupiers and their puppets. For this, they were able to attract some support from the Muslim world--some grants of money, and growing numbers of volunteers to fight in the Holy War against the infidel conqueror. Notable among these was a group led by a Saudi of Yemeni origin called Osama bin Laden.
To accomplish their purpose, they did not disdain to turn to the U.S. for help, which they got. In the Muslim perception there has been, since the time of the Prophet, an ongoing struggle between the two world religions, Christendom and Islam, for the privilege and opportunity to bring salvation to the rest of humankind, removing whatever obstacles there might be in their path. For a long time, the main enemy was seen, with some plausibility, as being the West, and some Muslims were, naturally enough, willing to accept what help they could get against that enemy. This explains the widespread support in the Arab countries and in some other places first for the Third Reich and, after its collapse, for the Soviet Union. These were the main enemies of the West, and therefore natural allies.
Now the situation had changed. The more immediate, more dangerous enemy was the Soviet Union, already ruling a number of Muslim countries, and daily increasing its influence and presence in others. It was therefore natural to seek and accept American help. As Osama bin Laden explained, in this final phase of the millennial struggle, the world of the unbelievers was divided between two superpowers. The first task was to deal with the more deadly and more dangerous of the two, the Soviet Union. After that, dealing with the pampered and degenerate Americans would be easy.
We in the Western world see the defeat and collapse of the Soviet Union as a Western, more specifically an American, victory in the Cold War. For Osama bin Laden and his followers, it was a Muslim victory in a jihad, and, given the circumstances, this perception does not lack plausibility.

From the writings and the speeches of Osama bin Laden and his colleagues, it is clear that they expected this second task, dealing with America, would be comparatively simple and easy. This perception was certainly encouraged and so it seemed, confirmed by the American response to a whole series of attacks--on the World Trade Center in New York and on U.S. troops in Mogadishu in 1993, on the U.S. military office in Riyadh in 1995, on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000--all of which evoked only angry words, sometimes accompanied by the dispatch of expensive missiles to remote and uninhabited places.
Stage One of the jihad was to drive the infidels from the lands of Islam; Stage Two--to bring the war into the enemy camp, and the attacks of 9/11 were clearly intended to be the opening salvo of this stage. The response to 9/11, so completely out of accord with previous American practice, came as a shock, and it is noteworthy that there has been no successful attack on American soil since then. The U.S. actions in Afghanistan and in Iraq indicated that there had been a major change in the U.S., and that some revision of their assessment, and of the policies based on that assessment, was necessary.
More recent developments, and notably the public discourse inside the U.S., are persuading increasing numbers of Islamist radicals that their first assessment was correct after all, and that they need only to press a little harder to achieve final victory. It is not yet clear whether they are right or wrong in this view. If they are right, the consequences--both for Islam and for America--will be deep, wide and lasting.
Mr. Lewis, professor emeritus at Princeton, is the author, most recently, of "From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East" (Oxford University Press, 2004).

Continued (Permanent Link)

Palestinians got three times as much aid despite (or because of) boycott

This fact has been reported before, and is studiously ignored by everyone who claims that the boycott is "strangling" Palestine.
Last update - 11:53 16/05/2007   
By Amira Hass, Haaretz Correspondent
Donations to the Palestinian Authority almost tripled last year as a result of the international boycott of the Hamas government, according to a report published this month by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Aid in 2006 totaled $900 million, up from $349 million a year earlier.
The boycott meant that most countries refused to channel money directly to the PA, and Israel refused to transfer the tax revenues it collects on the PA's behalf.
However, Arab and Western nations continued and even increased their donations, channeling them through either a "Hamas bypass" mechanism known as the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM), or the office of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. This money, which compensated entirely for the halt in Israeli tax transfers, partially financed the salaries of PA employees and was used to make welfare payments to the needy.
Normally, Israeli tax transfers cover about two-thirds of the Palestinian Authority's budget. Had economic activity in 2006 continued at the same level as the year before, they would have reached an estimated $800 million last year. But in fact, the PA's gross domestic product fell by 8 to 10 percent in 2006.
According to the report, the biggest contributor to the PA last year was the Arab League, which gave $448 million.
The European Union gave $219 million and the World Bank gave $42 million. In addition, the government obtained an estimated $180 million by smuggling in cash from abroad.
The report noted that, in part because less money was funneled directly to the PA, the trend toward greater financial transparency was reversed in 2006, even though the PA's donors have pushed for transparency for years.
For instance, instead of monthly reports on the utilization of the PA's budget, reports were published only semiannually, violating the PA's budget law.
Abbas' office issued no comprehensive data on its expenditures or receipts of money from abroad, while the Palestinian Investment Fund did not fully report its dealings with either the banks or Abbas' office.
Overall, TIM meant that the PA Finance Ministry had no control over income and expenditures and could not draft a budget for 2006, while its 2007 budget proposal lacked relevant data such as income and expenses for 2006 or the number of public-sector employees. It also caused other government offices to lag in payments to suppliers and resulted in the government's total expenditure falling 31 percent in 2006 to $1.37 billion. Its payments for salaries in particular dropped from $1 billion in 2005 to $655 million.
TIM also resulted in bureaucratic duplication and financial uncertainty for the recipients, the report said. For example, many employees did not receive their salaries regularly.
The document was written by Dr. Karim Nashashibi, who until two months ago was the International Monetary Fund's representative for the West Bank and Gaza.

Continued (Permanent Link)

IAF hits Hamas Gaza Headquarters; Hamas-Fatah clashes rage

IAF is responding to violence in a limited way...
Last update - 14:42 16/05/2007   
By Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondents, and News Agencies

Israeli aircraft, apparently responding to repeated Hamas rocket barrages against the Negev over the last two days, fired missiles Wednesday into a Hamas operations headquarters in the southern Gaza area of Rafah, and Palestinian officials said four Hamas gunmen were killed in the attack.
The attack came as Hamas-Fatah violence raged for a fourth day in the Strip, with the death toll in the internal clashes soaring to at least 41, 11 on Wednesday alone. The fighting left a cease-fire between the sides in tatters and residents of the Strip afraid to leave their homes.
Nearly 30 Qassams have rocked the western Negev since Tuesday. A woman was seriously injured and some 30 others moderately to lightly wounded in the Tuesday attacks. No new injuries were reported Wednesday, when as many as eight Qassams hit the Negev. One of the Qassams struck a house next to the Sderot home of Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who was away in the north at the time.
"I can confirm that the IAF [Israel Air Force] fired from the
air in southern part of the strip," an IDF spokeswoman said without mentioning any specific target. Palestinian medical officials confirmed that the four were Hamas gunmen.
Earlier in the day, Hamas forces shot dead six bodyguards from the rival Fatah movement on Wednesday and mistakenly ambushed a jeep carrying their own fighters, killing five of them, in the bloodiest day of Palestinian
infighting since violence erupted in the Gaza Strip four days ago.
The streets of central Gaza City echoed with the rattle of gunfire, and were empty except for gunmen in black ski masks. Terrified residents huddled in dark homes after electricity to some downtown neighborhoods was cut off by a downed power line.
At mid-day Wednesday, policemen from the Fatah-allied Preventive Security
organization arrested five Hamas men and were driving them through Gaza City when the vehicle was ambushed by Hamas fighters, Preventive Security officials said.
Five of the Hamas men were killed, along with two Fatah men, they said. The exact circumstances of the incident were not immediately clear.
Hamas radio reported that a Hamas man was killed in another clash, and a nurse traveling in an ambulance was shot in the head after being caught in the crossfire, hospital officials said. Her family said she was brain dead and being kept alive by a respirator.
At least two other Fatah men were killed on Wednesday. The circumstances of their deaths had yet to be confirmed.
Hamas storms home of Fatah chief
Early Wednesday, Hamas gunmen fired mortars and pipe bombs at the home of
Fatah security chief Rashid Abu Shbak, before storming inside and killing six bodyguards, Palestinians security and medical officials said.
Abu Shbak and his family were not home at the time of the attack, but the
house was guarded by at least a dozen of his bodyguards. Dozens of
reinforcements from the Preventive Security organization, which Abu Shbak used to head, were sent in to join the fighting.
Fighting raged close to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's heavily guarded compound Wednesday morning, which was also targeted by Hamas mortar fire overnight, and the bodies of two Fatah gunmen could be seen sprawled on the street nearby. Abbas, leader of Fatah, was not present.
The new spate of violence came one day after Hamas-Fatah fighting claiming the lives of at least 15 Palestinians in the worst single day of clashes since the two parties agreed to form a unity government in February.
Abdel Hakim Awad, a Fatah spokesman, angrily accused Hamas' leadership of the attack on Abu Shbak's house. "All (Hamas) are killers from top to bottom, all are implicated," he said, charging that the Islamist group wanted to turn Gaza into a new Somalia or Darfur.
In a further response to the Wednesday killings, the spokesman of a Gaza armed wing of the Fatah movement called on Abbas and all Fatah cabinet ministers to resign immediately from the PA unity government, Israel Radio reported.
"Abu Mazen must declare a state of emergency," said the spokesman, identified as Abu Qusai, referring to Abbas by his nickname. "The unity government is a lie. There is no unity in the Palestinian people."
Earlier on Wednesday, mortars struck near Abbas' office but caused no injuries. The salvo followed a grenade attack at a Hamas position at the Interior Ministry in Gaza.
Gunmen shot and wounded a top Egyptian official in Gaza on Wednesday as he tested whether a shaky ceasefire deal between feuding Fatah and Hamas loyalists was holding, a Palestinian security official said.
The Egyptian was shot in the hand as he walked along a Gaza street with the Palestinian cabinet secretary Ghazi Hamad of Hamas and a Fatah official, in a bid to see whether the armed rivals were sticking to the truce agreed on late Tuesday.
The Egyptian was among a team involved in mediating the truce and trying to put an end to the fighting.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said late Tuesday that the factions had agreed to a new cease-fire, and would pull their gunmen off the streets at midnight. The accord was the third such agreement in as many days.
Most of the dead were members of the Presidential Guard affiliated with Fatah, killed in an incident that took place near the Karni cargo crossing.
Hamas gunmen riddled a Fatah police jeep with gunfire at close range, killing eight. The incident took place after the shelling of a police camp as Fatah reinforcements were speeding to the area.
Hamas had attacked a training camp of the Palestinian National Security force, another pro-Fatah organization, using machine guns, mortars and missiles.
Sources said the vehicle overturned and the Hamas gunmen approached and executed the wounded at close range. "It was unbelievable. May God help us," said an eyewitness working in a nearby factory.
Two Palestinian policemen who fled toward the border fence were mistakenly identified by Israel Defense Forces troops as militants trying to attack the Israeli side of the Karni crossing.
The IDF Spokesman's Office confirmed that the IDF soldiers shot at two armed men who approached the security fence, killing one and wounding the other.
The attack was the deadliest single incident in the recent surge of factional fighting, which has claimed 23 lives.
In the early morning, a Hamas militant was killed at the hands of Fatah gunmen.
Later in the afternoon a Fatah member was killed during an attack against the Preventive Security headquarters in the neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa.
Two hours later, two members of Hamas were shot dead, and another Hamas man was killed in Gaza City.
A Palestinian man who was critically injured in the fighting later succumbed to his wounds.
A total of 27 Palestinians were wounded in Tuesday's fighting.
In a conversation with Abbas on Tuesday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told the Palestinian Authority chairman that the clashes in Gaza had 'crossed a red line' and said that both sides must put an end to violence.
Later in the day, Western sources said hundreds of fighters loyal to the Fatah faction crossed into Gaza from Egypt as possible reinforcements in fighting against Hamas militants. Fatah said the group that crossed into Gaza did not do so to fight Hamas.
The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt was briefly opened to readmit a 450-strong Fatah contingent into the coastal strip, according to the sources, who spoke in Israel on condition of anonymity. The sources said the crossing was opened, with Israeli consent, in only one direction to allow in the Fatah contingent. Once they crossed into Gaza, the crossing was re-closed.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Five more die in Gaza; Fatah forces outnumber Hamas - 14 to 1

Palestinian cease fires don't seem to work out too well. After the latest one, on Tueday, 5 more were killed this morning, according to Jerusalem post. The Post claims 15 people were killed yesterday. Other sources said nine were killed.
Israelis debate, under US pressure, whether to give more support to Fatah against Hamas, but Fatah it seems, already outnumber Hamas 14 to 1.
Fatah forces on PA payroll for Gaza clash already outnumber Hamas 70,000:

Table prepared by Danny Rubenstein and Reuters - published in Haaretz Hebrew
edition 16 May 2007
translation by Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA

Fatah forces:
A:  On PA payroll:
4,200-5,000 Presidential Security
30,000  Civil Police, Preventive Security, Civil guard units
5,000 General Intelligence Service
30,000 Force 17, Navy Police, Military Intelligence
69,200-70,000 on PA Payroll

B: Militias
Few thousand  Al Aqsa Brigades

Hamas forces:

A: On PA payroll
5,000 +  Operations [Executive]  Force (AL: On PA payroll)

B: Militias
Few thousand Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades
Over thousand Popular Resistance Committee  (mostly Hamas supporters)

Others militias not affiliated with either Hamas or Fatah:
Few hundred - Islamic Jihad
Few hundred - National Front For The Liberation of Palestine
Small - Democratic Front
Few members - Radical Moslem groups

Few score -  Family gangs

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Continued (Permanent Link)

Jordanian Palestinian option fizzles: Debkafile tells us why its prophecy failed

DEBKAfile has an explanation for why its prophecy about the Jordanian-Palestinian option fizzled. I predicted snow yesterday. God was going to surprise us, but God heard about my prediction and called it off.
It could be, right? I mean, you never know.
This looks mighty suspicious to me:
To calm Palestinian tempers, prime minister Maaruf al-Bakhit went over to the big Wahdath Palestinian refugee camp near Amman Saturday, May 12. He assured its leaders that government recognition would soon be granted for their rights of permanent residence in the Jordanian kingdom and the ownership of land and their homes, all hitherto denied.
Palestinians are Jordanian citizens and therefore they have "rights of permanent residence." "Right of Return" doesn't mean that Palestinians would be forced to leave the kingdom. If any of this is true, Abdullah was in really big trouble, since he is married to a Palestinian.
Ami Isseroff

DEBKAfile reveals why Jordan's Abdullah called off Ramallah trip at last minute: a dispute with kingdom's Palestinian community

May 11, 2007, 12:05 PM (GMT+02:00)

Sunday, May 13, part of the royal entourage was already aboard two of the three royal helicopters ready for takeoff for Ramallah. There, a meeting had been scheduled between the king and Mahmoud Abbas on Amman's plan to restore Jordan's influence on the West Bank as the centerpiece of a new peace drive. However, Jordan's Palestinian community was roused to fury by DEBKAfile's exclusive and detailed disclosure of the plan on Friday, May 11. Ramallah too was seriously embarrassed. (This disclosure appears in a separate item on this page.)

The 3.5 million Palestinians of the Hashemite kingdom (more than half the total population of 6 million) suspect the plan to link Jordan to the West Bank is merely a device to get rid of them by relocating them in the future Palestinian state. Indeed the last thing Jordan's Palestinians want is repatriation under the "right of return," although it is demanded as a central proviso of every Arab master plan for peace with Israel, including the Saudi blueprint of 2007.

To calm Palestinian tempers, prime minister Maaruf al-Bakhit went over to the big Wahdath Palestinian refugee camp near Amman Saturday, May 12. He assured its leaders that government recognition would soon be granted for their rights of permanent residence in the Jordanian kingdom and the ownership of land and their homes, all hitherto denied.

Still up in arms, Jordan's Palestinians then turned to Ramallah and asked Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to force King Abdullah to make a formal commitment to respect their rights of residence in… Jordan.

This demand put Abbas in a cleft stick: On the one hand, he was reluctant to let the largest external Palestinian community down, but on the other, he could hardly fight for its permanent settlement outside the future Palestine. This would make nonsense of his and the Arab League position that Israel must grant the "right of return" in any peace accord.

Faced with irreconcilable options, Abbas asked the king to deny the DEBKAfile report - especially the former Jordanian prime minister' Abdul Salem Majali's meetings with Israeli politicians.

Abdullah was unable to satisfy Abbas without derailing an important diplomatic enterprise solidly backed by leading court advisers and Jordan's security services. He would also look bad after urging world leaders, including George W. Bush, to hurry up and achieve a breakthrough in the stalled Middle East peace process before the end of 2007.

In these circumstances, the King of Jordan decided two hours before his scheduled takeoff for Ramallah Sunday, to pluck a downpour of rain out of the blue skies overhead.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Torture in the Middle East - Doesn't it get you angry?

This press release about arrests and torture -- state terrorism --  alerts us once again to the  terrible situation in the Middle East.  The article states:
....the 80 young men arrested are under severe torture and pressure by ... authorities but have not been officially charged yet.
Where is the committee against torture? How come they are not protesting? Where are the UN condemnations? This is an open and shut case. Eighty young heros of the resistance are being tortured by the colonialist forces of occupation and racist Zionism. Nonetheless,  the rights groups are silent. HRW says nothing. Amnesty says nothing. Hey folks, TORTURE - aren't you against TORTURE? Silence! They must've been bought out by the Zionists in the Bush adminstration.
Oh, wait a minute. This is not happening in Israel. It is happening in Iran! The people are not suspected "militants:"
Right now, they are held on the account of participation in a party where alcohol beverages were found, music was playing and young people were dancing. Further, they found 16 young men who were wearing customs[probably "costumes" -a.i.]
That explains it. It is OK to torture people if they are wearing costumes and dancing. And oh yes, the report is from the Iran Queer Organization. That really explains everything. Who cares about rights of homosexuals?  Certainly not apologists for the Iranian regime. Torture away, mullahs!
Ami Isseroff

Urgent Press Release about the arrest of 80 young men in Esfahan - Iran

 May 14, 2007

According to new information from Iran , the 80 young men arrested are under severe torture and pressure by Iranian authorities but have not been officially charged yet. Right now, they are held on the account of participation in a party where alcohol beverages were found, music was playing and young people were dancing. Further, they found 16 young men who were wearing customs . It is worth to note that in Iran it is very common for young people to participate in costume parties where individuals wear different outfits. 

Obviously this crackdown is yet another systematic violation of human rights, along with brutal suppression of women's and labor's movements in Iran and must be strongly protested by all human rights organizations as yet another violation of people's private rights and liberties. This means that for now, what is urgently needed is to strongly object to this gross violation of human rights and the invasion of young people's lives and dignity. 
Since these young men are still waiting to be officially charged, it is imperative that interested organizations, for now, avoid naming these arrests as gay crackdown until further notification. We strongly urge you to be vigilant and alert for the next few days and we are immensely grateful for your concerned follow up until the fate of these individuals is determined. In the next few days we will do everything in our power to relay information to all of you especially if and when these young men are officially charged and sentenced by Iran 's judicial authorities. 
Further information will be posted on the IRQO website.

IRanian Queer Organization – IRQO
Formerly Persian Gay & Lesbian Organization – PGLO

Continued (Permanent Link)

Hamas committed to terror and "Right" of Return

Here is good news for those who thought the Hamas are going soft:
"Our battle will remain against the occupation and its soldiers as no external or internal attempt to deviate us from this direction would  succeed", the Movement further asserted.

It also stressed that any attempt to circumvent the right of return of the Palestinian refugees would fail as the RoR issue is a sacred issue for the Palestinian people and is considered as one of the main pillars of the Palestinian question.

"The RoR is a red line that no one has the right to forgo, and no agreement can waive or preempt it", the Movement, moreover, underlined.

The Movement, furthermore, highlighted that although it was participating and leading the PA unity government, it will remain holding to the resistance option as a strategic option for liberation.
Finally, the statement underscored that the Palestinian issue will remain the central issue of the Arab and the Muslims, hailing the Palestinian people for defending the Aqsa Mosque and foiling schemes to drop the Palestinian people's liberation project.

In this context, Hamas urged the Arab and the Muslims, rulers and ruled, to shoulder their religious and national duties towards that issue, and to morally and financially support the Palestinian people in order to enhance their struggle against the occupation and remove it once and for all.

Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Another euphoric appraisal of Sarkozy

Sarkozy is not going to help Israel much. Get over it. The less you expect, the less you will be disappointed. All those who are writing enthusiastic paeans like the one below are riding for a fall.
Ami Isseroff

Jerusalem Issue Brief

Institute for Contemporary Affairs

founded jointly at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

with the Wechsler Family Foundation


Vol. 6, No. 30    15 May 2007



The Sarkozy Victory


Freddy Eytan



  • Sarkozy's victory is a defeat for the old ideological Left that has been appearing to many French voters as increasingly obsolete since the collapse of the communist Soviet Union.


  • Sarkozy's victory also marks a crushing defeat for the extreme anti-Semitic Right and for all the extremists in the Muslim world, and sounds a clear warning to all who violate law and order among the immigrants in France.


  • This is a victory for the sober and liberal Center-Right that advocates real reforms in French society and in Europe with an emphasis on the developing world economy, the free market, and globalization.


  • Sarkozy opposes the enlargement of Europe and especially the inclusion of Muslim Turkey; instead he has spoken about a union of Mediterranean countries that are to form an economic community.


  • For Sarkozy, both the U.S. and France face the very same security challenges from international Islamist terrorist organizations.


  • If Israel can cultivate ties judiciously with Sarkozy while not subjecting him to a bear hug, he will undoubtedly respond by being an advocate for Israel. Clearly, the change in France's Middle East policy will not be drastic and Paris has many interests in the Arab world and will preserve them.


There are many in Paris who see the victory of Nicolas Sarkozy as a celebration of the values of democracy and French patriotism, as well as an impressive achievement for an immigrant's son who with determination reached the prized position of the French presidency. Globally, the Sarkozy victory is being viewed as a potential political earthquake that may fundamentally change many of the foundations of French foreign policy that were enunciated over the last fifty years. The editor-in-chief of Le Monde Diplomatique, Alain Gersh, told "We are witnessing the emergence of a new ally to the U.S. in Europe."1



Without Shortcuts


Nicolas Sarkozy was born on 28 January 1955 when socialist and colonialist France was licking its wounds from the defeat in Vietnam, bogged down in the war in Algeria, and struggling against pro-independence agitation in Morocco and Tunisia. That same year, the government of Pierre Mendès-France fell and Winston Churchill resigned from political leadership in Britain. At the same time, across the Iron Curtain, the Warsaw Pact was signed and in the Middle East tension mounted at the Egyptian-Israeli border . Colonel Nasser threatened to nationalize the Suez Canal and boasted about the flow of Russian weaponry to the Arab countries. These were the defining events for a generation of politicians that ruled France for the next 50 years.


Sarkozy comes from a very different historical context and background than his predecessors. He is coming to power as France and the Western Alliance, as a whole, are engaged in a war on Islamist terror. His personal story is that of the son of a Jewish immigrant who defied conventions in a conservative and Catholic country. Sarkozy's grandfather on his mother's side was a Spanish Jew from Salonika, and his father was from a prominent Hungarian family. He was raised by his mother and, as a result, spent a great deal of time with his grandfather who converted to Catholicism, but nevertheless had to hide during World War II because of his Jewish roots. At the end of a difficult childhood in which he was a mediocre student in a gymnasium, he became a fervent member of the Gaullist Party's young gu ard. Instead of the classic path that leads through the aristocratic hothouse of the prestigious ENA school, he chose to study law and political science like other students from the general population, financing his studies by selling ice cream.


In 1983 when he was only twenty-seven, he was elected mayor of Neuilly (an upscale suburb near Paris). For ten years he built up his status and gained sympathy among the local Jews as he often visited the synagogue. He identified with the struggle against anti-Semitism, and his first visit to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem strengthened his resolve against racism and reinforced his sympathy for Israel.


In 1993 he was appointed government spokesman and minister of budgets. Notable for his use of clear, no-nonsense language, he showed himself a man of action who kept his promises. A decade later when he was only forty-seven, he announced to the French on television that he was running for the presidency and, overnight, became a staunch and uncompromising opponent of his political rivals including outgoing president Chirac.



A Defeat for Socialism


This is the third consecutive presidential race that the French Socialist Party has lost. Indeed, Sarkozy's victory is a defeat for the old ideological Left that has been appearing to many French voters as increasingly obsolete since the collapse of the communist Soviet Union. Sarkozy's victory also marks a crushing defeat for the extreme anti-Semitic Right and for all the extremists in the Muslim world, and sounds a clear warning to all who violate law and order among the immigrants in France. This is a victory for the sober and liberal Center-Right that advocates real reforms in French society and in Europe with an emphasis on the importance of the developing world economy, the free market, and globalization. Sarkozy takes clear positions and favors a free and unified Europe that will wield political weight and spread principled messages in the world. He opposes the enlargement of Europe and especially the inclusion of Muslim Turkey; instead he has spoken about a union of Mediterranean countries that are to form an economic community.



A Pro-American Attitude


The new president of France also does not hide his sympathy for the democratic values of the United States and its policy of resolving conflicts in the world, though he opposed the military intervention in Iraq. He is not ungrateful like his predecessors, often mentioning America's contribution to France's liberation from the deadly yoke of the Nazis. He spoke openly about this friendship with America in his victory speech. For Sarkozy, both the U.S. and France face the very same security challenges from international Islamist terrorist organizations.


If Sarkozy seeks to improve U.S.-French relations, this will undoubtedly affect his policies toward the Middle East. In the past, Washington and Paris had serious differences over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iraq, in particular. While Sarkozy will not back the Bush administration with a carte blanche, the U.S. is likely to sense a reduction of political pressure from Paris over its traditionally more pro-Israeli positions.


In the coming months Sarkozy will seek to unify the ranks and head a small, compact, fresh government. Next month that government will aim for an overwhelming victory in the parliament, thereby attaining a solid majority for implementing his policy. To achieve that kind of parliamentary majority, Sarkozy has been willing to reach out to the political left as well. He has considered the appointment of Hubert Vedrine as foreign minister despite his anti-American and anti-Israeli policies in the past. Another Socialist candidate for foreign minister, who was reportedly approached by Sarkozy more recently, is Bernard Kouchner, a former minister of health who founded "Doctors Without Borders."  He headed the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo and has been one of the strongest international advocates of humanitarian intervention against dictatorships. Whatever he decides , it should be remembered that Sarkozy, as president, will ultimately control French foreign policy directly from the Eylsee Palace.


There is no doubt that a new era has begun in France, and the voice of Paris will be heard loudly and clearly in Europe and the world.



A New Opportunity for Israel


The Israeli government needs to exploit the momentum to strengthen relations with France and with its sincere friend, Nicolas Sarkozy, while improving its image and its poorly articulated positions in the world. If Israel can cultivate ties judiciously with Sarkozy while not subjecting him to a bear hug, he will undoubtedly respond by being an advocate for Israel. Clearly, the change in France's Middle East policy will not be drastic and Paris has many interests in the Arab world and will preserve them. Presumably the French foreign ministry will pressure the new president to conti nue the same policy as his predecessors.


One thing, however, is now clear: France will no longer speak in two voices and will no longer practice the sort of diffident, hypocritical, ostrich policy conducted by the previous five presidents of the Fifth Republic. Sarkozy has unequivocally affirmed the State of Israel's right to live within secure, recognized, and defensible borders. He also, unlike his predecessors, calls for border adjustments and a solution in the framework of a united Jerusalem. He favors the establishment of a "viable" Palestinian state on condition that it must recognize Israel and fight corruption and terror. He has repe atedly reiterated that the security of Israel is not negotiable.


Sarkozy is well acquainted with French Jewry, which voted for him by an overwhelming majority, and with the French citizens in Israel, and he will continue to preserve French Jewry's identity and provide it with maximal security. In sum, a new leadership has arisen in France that will work diligently along with the United States, Israel, and the Western countries for a world that is free, stable, democratic, and uncompromising in the struggle against global terror and the Iranian threat.


Since the establishment of the Fifth Republic in 1958, France's foreign policy has not fundamentally changed. General de Gaulle devised an ambitious policy for an independent European power without American tutelage. He split France off from NATO's military command and took isolationist positions with an emphasis on "the greatness of France" in the world. He preached morality to all world leaders and even warned that whoever went against his views was errant and misleading and for this "would be punished." This occurred regarding Israel on the eve of the Six-Day W ar, when he made his unfortunate decision to slap an embargo on arms shipments to the Middle East. All four presidents who came after him adopted his policy, not least during the twelve-year tenure of outgoing president Jacques Chirac.


This policy has failed. It has weakened France in the international arena and caused a deepening confrontation with the United States.


Sarkozy can be expected to try to amend the distortion. As a charismatic leader with a pro-Atlantic worldview, he will base French foreign policy on the two factors that have changed international, and particularly French, diplomacy: the end of the colonialist era, and the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union.



After 9/11


The events of 9/11 in the United States have intensified the struggle against global terror, and only close cooperation in the intelligence domain among all the countries of Europe, hand-in-hand with the United States and Israel, can deter the extremist organizations from carrying out attacks. Sarkozy, having served as internal security minister, has rich experience in this field and undoubtedly will implement his operational plans while consulting more with Israel and the United States. Unlike his predecessors, he sees Hizbullah and Hamas as terrorist organizations.


A visit to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem in December 2005 strengthened Sarkozy's resolve to fight racism, anti-Semitism, and Holocaust denial. He can be expected to take energetic action and to institute an information campaign, especially among young people.


The Iranian nuclear threat will undoubtedly be the issue that greatly occupies him as president. He agrees with the Americans that all resources must be used to stop Iran from having nuclear weapons, and he will work in Europe for the adoption of a harder line. In his first speech after his election, Sarkozy warned Iran, Syria, and Libya that they could no longer play the game of using Europe against America.2


With Tony Blair's resignation from the leadership of Britain, Sarkozy will become the main advocate for greater pro-Americanism in Europe and for enhancing cooperation between the two blocs. He will receive backing for this new policy from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Undoubtedly the Berlin-Paris axis will gain strength, and countries formerly under Soviet rule like Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and the Baltic states will take an even more pro-Atlantic line. Sarkozy, who is an enthusiastic champion of work, diligence, a free economy, and globalization, will find attentive listeners in these countries. H e will also work to prevent the entry of new countries into the European Union and, as noted, will strongly oppose the accession of Muslim Turkey, currently undergoing difficult tests. Finally, he hopes to keep NATO a Euro-centered organization in which European and American capabilities compliment one another.


The new president of France, who will soon visit Washington, will speak in simple and clear language. Unlike his predecessors, he will not preach morality. He knows that despite legitimate disagreements, France and the United States are in the same camp and in the same battle to raise the flag of freedom and democracy in the world.


*        *        *




1.  "Is Nicolas Sarkozy Europe's New Blair," The Journal of Turkish Weekly, May 11, 2007.

2.  Amir Taheri, "Pro-American Turn in French Foreign Policy," Arab News, May 12, 2007.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Persecution of Christians in the Middle East

Those who are concerned about the plight of Christians in the Middle East, should consider the plight of the Egyptian copts.
Ami Isseroff

Egyptian Muslim Intellectual Criticizes Egypt's Treatment of Copts
Against the backdrop of the recent tension between Muslims and Copts in Egypt, Egyptian Muslim intellectual Tarek Heggy wrote an article titled "If I Were a Copt" in which he sharply criticized the Egyptian regime's policy towards its Coptic Christian population.
The following are the main points of the article:(1) 
"If I were a Copt, I would flood Egypt, and the world, with the facts about the overall atmosphere that is pressuring the Copts in Egypt today.
"If I were a Copt, I would familiarize the world with the injustices caused to many Copts in Egypt since [the Free Officers Revolution in] 1952. They don't get the high-level political posts and executive positions that they deserve, not to mention their sparse [representation] in parliament.
"If I were a Copt, I would create a ruckus in Egypt, and in the world, over the fact that I pay taxes with which the state funds Al-Azhar University, while [Al-Azhar] does not permit Copts to attend any of its institutes.
"If I were a Copt, I would make a huge commotion in the world, because my taxes fund the construction of dozens of mosques, but, since 1952, the Egyptian state has not participated in the building of a single church, except for president Gamal Abd Al-Nasser's participation in funding the construction of the St. Marc Cathedral in Al-'Abasiyya, 40 years ago...
"If I were a Copt, I would publish articles, one after another, about how the [Egyptian] media ignores matters [concerning me] and my religious holidays – as if I and the Copts did not exist in Egypt.
"If I were a Copt, I would tell the entire world [how] the Coptic history of Egypt [is handled] in the Egyptian curriculum, and how the study material for the Arabic language no longer [includes] literary texts, qasidahs, poetry, stories, plays, and legends, but [only] Islamic texts which [belong] with the study material for religion [class] for Muslim pupils.
"If I were a Copt, I would flood the world with complaints about the suffering Copts go through [merely] in order to obtain a license to build a church – with their own funds, not with the public taxes that [they] participate in paying.
"If I were a Copt, I would bring the world to its feet because of the terrible things that some Muslim writers write and disseminate – about how a Copt should not be permitted to be the head of state, on [how a Copt should pay] the jizya [poll tax paid by protected non-Muslims under Islam], and how Copts should not be drafted into the military... [such as] the idiotic statements by Dr. Muhammad 'Imara [from Al-Azhar] – whose budget comes from the taxpayers, including the Copts...(2)
"If I were a Copt, I would conduct a campaign within [Egypt], and outside it, to abolish the 'religion' entry on the Egyptian identity card. Why should someone who conducts a relationship with me on the general and public level want to know what my religion is?...
"If I were a Copt, I would make the world understand that the issue of the Copts in Egypt is one of the symptoms of a [certain] mentality, whose influence has spread through this region of the world, and that all humanity must force [those] with this mentality to reconsider this discriminatory path."  
(1) Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), May 12, 2007.
(2) Dr. Muhammad 'Imara's book, Fitnat Al-Takfir Bayna Al-Shi'a Wal-Wahhabiyya Wal-Sufiyya ("The Civil Strife of Takfir Between Shi'ism, Wahhabism, and Sufism"), published in December 2006 by the Supreme Council for Muslim Affairs of the Egyptian Ministry of Religious Endowments, accused the Christians of heresy and permitted the killing of non-Muslims. Following the subsequent uproar, 'Imara apologized and explained that he had only been quoting ancient sources permitting the killing of non-Muslims. Al-Qahira, (Egypt), February 6, 2007.

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

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

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

Continued (Permanent Link)

Liberal anti-Zionism - Nakba day thoughts

 A thought on "Nakba Day"

"Liberal" Anti-"Zionism" - 'Palestine is our land, The Jews are our dogs'

This report of the Stephen Roth institute shows that 2006 was marked by a rise in so-called "anti-Zionist" activity, resulting in about 600 violent incidents and several major attacks. The Lebanon war provided the excuse for this "anti-Zionist" activity, which was greatest apparently in the UK and France.

The content of this "anti-Zionist" activity and the targets of attacks shed light on the question of whether or not "criticism of Israel" might be anti-Semitism, and whether such criticism is a good cause to be endorsed by liberals everywhere.

 In the USA:

One striking example was the revival of an anti-Jewish slogan from the Middle East, chanted in Arabic, "Filastin hi arduna wa al- yahud kilabuna!" ("Palestine is our land and the Jews are our dogs!") − documented at rallies in San Francisco, Chicago and New York City, among others. These demonstrations were organized by the IAC, ANSWER Coalition, the ADC, and CAIR. Another common catchphrase at anti-Israel and anti-war rallies in recent years (also in Arabic) has been: "Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad will return!" evoking the Qur'an's account of a battle between the Islamic Prophet and a Jewish tribe, which resulted in the subjugation of the Jews of Arabia. Notably, some of the more radical chants were in Arabic.

The liberal and progressive slogan "Palestine is our land and the Jews are our dogs!" was first chanted in 1920 by crowds organized by the Grand Mufti Hajj Amin Al Husseini, a follower of Adolf Hitler. They were attacking Jews in order to protest the occupation of their land.

More about liberal anti-Zionism here.

Cross posted:    Latest Israel News   Middle East Analysis

Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Palestinians kill twelve in Gaza terrorist in-fighting.

Yet another agreement between Palestinian terror groups has been followed by violence. Twelve people were killed on Tuesday as of about 10:30 AM local time. Dare the Palestinians risk more such "agreements?" Maan News, a Palestinian news service, has the story
Ami Isseroff
New agreement between factions fails to end fierce clashes in Gaza; 12
killed today

Date: 15 / 05 / 2007  Time:  10:31

Gaza - Ma'an - After two days of brutal clashes on the streets of Gaza, the rival factions agreed to end the fighting. The new treaty included an agreement to deploy joint Palestinian security forces on the streets, but failed to end the fierce inter-factional clashes. Fresh fighting erupted on Tuesday in several areas of the Gaza Strip leaving behind several victims.
The death toll has now risen to at least eighteen people since Sunday.
Clashes at Karni Crossing
Nine members of the Palestinian national security forces were killed and 10 injured in clashes that erupted near the Mintar (Karni) crossing.
According to the director of ambulance and emergency department in the Palestinian ministry of health, Mu'awiya Hassanein, the victims were evacuated from the eastern border of Gaza City, near the Malka square and taken to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al-Balah.
Since the morning hours, there have been violent clashes at the Karni crossing between armed gunmen affiliated to Hamas, and the presidential guards and the national security forces, which are affiliated to Fatah. Machine guns and different kinds of shells have been used.
There were contradictory stories about the death of the security forces' members. The leadership of the national security forces accused the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, of "obstructing a car belonging to the Palestinian national security forces near the evacuated Israeli settlement of Netsarim, before forcing them out of the car and liquidating them on the spot by shooting them in their heads."
According to the statement, Adel Abu Amra, Ahmad Abu Ayyada, Hassan Tawaheen, Bassam Kawari' and Sayf Abu Rashid were identified amongst those killed.
'200 Palestinians risk massacre'
The spokesperson of the Palestinian presidential guards, Ali Al-Qaisi, said "members of Al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas and the executive force have been attacking the Karni (Mintar) crossing with machine guns and mortar shells and other homemade explosives since the morning."
He told Palestinian TV that there are several injured members of the Palestinian national security forces at the crossing. He also warned of a massacre similar to the one at the Quraysh station, south of Gaza City, where dozens of trainees were killed in the clashes which preceded the Mecca agreement.
Al-Qaisi also warned of the mortar shells hitting the natural gas stores inside the crossing and other flammable materials. He appealed to all Palestinian and nationalistic factions to intervene in order to rescue 200 Palestinians caught inside the crossing.
The spokesperson of the executive force, Islam Shahwan, denied that any of the executive force members participated in the attack at the Karni crossing. He expressed astonishment that the executive force is mentioned in association with the ongoing cycle of violence in Gaza.
Gunmen on the roofs
Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said that one of their leaders, Ibrahim Maniyya, was killed by the presidential guards as he passed their military station in his car, east of Gaza City.
Al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement that they would deal with the perpetrators as "collaborators with the Israeli occupation."
Security sources stated that the checkpoints are still spread in most of the streets of Gaza City, while gunmen are stationed on the roofs of the buildings.
12 killed on Tuesday
The death toll of the bloody clashes in the Gaza Strip reached 12 on Tuesday after medical sources reported that a Palestinian had been killed in clashes in the area of the Ansar compound south of Gaza City. They said that the Ash-Shifa hospital received an unidentified dead body.
Earlier, another member of the Palestinian preventive security service was killed in armed clashes in Gaza City.
Palestinian medical sources reported that a member of the preventive security service, Yousif Muteir, was killed and 2 others were injured in clashes that erupted near the headquarters of the preventive security in the Tel Al-Hawa neighbourhood, south of Gaza City.
According to the medical sources, the injuries of the others are moderate.
Factional agreement
Earlier, two delegations representing Hamas and Fatah met with the Palestinian prime minister and agreed to withdraw the gunmen from the streets and exchange abductees.
Unidentified gunmen abducted a lecturer from the Islamic university, Muhammad Radwan, and took him to an unknown destination.
Palestinian minister of information, Mustafa Barghouthi, also formal spokesperson of the unity government, said on Monday evening that the meeting between President Abbas and government ministers in Ramallah reached an agreement to support the government's decisions and implement them.
During the meeting, President Abbas telephoned convenors in Gaza City, Prime Minister Haniyeh and representatives of Hamas and Fatah. In both meetings, it was decided to withdraw the factional gunmen and the security forces from the streets and establish a joint operation room, including all security services, to start implementing the security plan.
Barghouthi affirmed that President Abbas confirmed his support "both spiritually and materially" to Prime Minister Haniyeh and his government, and he gave orders to all security services to be under Haniyeh's command through a joint operation room.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel welcomes Arab Peace Initiative

Information Department, Israel Foreign Ministry - Jerusalem
Jerusalem, 15 May 2007

Behind the Headlines: Israel receptive to moderate Arab peace plan

In 1947, the desire of the Jewish community in mandatory Palestine to establish a peaceful, democratic, and Jewish state led it to embrace United Nations Resolution 181 which envisioned two homelands, Jewish and Arab, living side by side in peace and security. Today, despite decades of having to defend its existence, Israel's goal remains the achievement of genuine peace with all its neighbors.

Israel has no desire to control the lives of Palestinians, and wishes only to defend its citizens. When Palestinian terrorists target Israelis, they not only undermine the national aspirations of Israelis, they also bring death and tragedy to their own people by distancing the realization of Palestinian national aspirations.

Terrorism must be repudiated by all who share the moderate vision of peace throughout the region. This is a vision that can be realized by the creation of a stable, prosperous, and peaceful Palestinian state - one that will answer the national claims of the Palestinian people in the West Bank, Gaza and elsewhere.

In the Middle East, stagnation leads to violence. Israel's policy is to find a common denominator with the Palestinians, which will allow progress while at the same time providing a political horizon for the Palestinians and greater security for Israelis. While seeking ways to prevent stagnation, the international community has insisted that the path to Palestinian statehood must include their acceptance of three basic principles of the "Quartet": recognition of Israel, renunciation of terrorism, and acceptance of all previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements and obligations.

Given the often violent opposition within the Palestinian Authority between its Fatah component, which accepts the Quartet principles, and its Hamas-led government, which still opposes Israel's existence, the support of the forces of moderation in the international arena and the Muslim world is essential.

The Hizbullah, al-Qaida and Hamas terrorist groups, and states founded on Islamist extremism, like Iran, threaten not only Israel, but the entire world in a global showdown between extremists and moderates. The extremists must be fought, while engaging with and strengthening the moderates. Israel will continue to maintain a dialogue with the moderates in the Palestinian Authority, and seeks to develop such a dialogue with the moderates in the Arab world as well.

The Arab states have a particularly important role to played. Moderates on the Palestinian side need pan-Arab support for the compromises a final agreement with Israel will entail. Arab moderates can act as a catalyst for Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation.

For this reason, Israel views positively the recent initiative advanced by Saudi Arabia as a vehicle for Israeli-Arab interaction to promote the peace process. This is an important development that Israel welcomes, and it is ready to engage Arab states in dialogue to advance it.

The Arab League initiative is positive in calling for normalization of relations with Israel. However, it contains some problematic aspects as well, such as insistence on a Palestinian "right of return" and a predetermination of the border issues.

It must be understood that the establishment of a Palestinian state must resolve the Palestinian claim of 'return' - just as the establishment of Israel provided the answer to the historic aspirations of the Jewish people to return to their homeland. Similarly, it must be understood that the 1967 ceasefire lines were not permanent, and there was no continuous territorial connection between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The League's insistence regarding the refugees and territory shows an unrealistic aspiration for gains beyond what existed in 1967.

At her 10 May meeting in Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit and her Jordanian counterpart Abdul Ilah Khatib, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni stated that the Arab countries could play an "important role" in helping Israel and the Palestinians make peace. "I do believe that the Arab world has a very important role in order to enhance, to support both sides in order to achieve peace," she said. At the end of this meeting, Foreign Minister Gheit announced that it is the intention of an 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.

"I do believe that this is a beginning that can help both sides and help the region ... to achieve peace," Livni said. "We share the same goal - all the moderates in the region - of two states living side by side in peace... there are some new opportunities in an understanding of the Arab world of the need to support the peace process."

Israel applauds the Arab League's move to support the moderates in the Palestinian Authority and help them reach compromises with Israel. However, the conflict cannot be resolved as long as the violence continues. Israel encourages the truly moderate forces of the Muslim world to pressure the Palestinian leadership to cease violence and fulfill their commitments, so peace can emerge on the political horizon.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel cannot act due to US pressure

The following item from Middle East Newsline indicates that the US government is preventing Israel from acting in Gaza to stop Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli towns.

GAZA CITY [MENL] -- The United States has assured the Palestinian Authority that Israel would not invade the Gaza Strip.

PA sources said the State Department sent a message to the PA that the Israeli military was ordered not to conduct large-scale operations in the Gaza Strip. The sources said the military restraint came in wake of U.S. warnings to the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

"We've received assurances from the highest levels in the U.S. government that Israel would not launch a large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip," a PA source said.

The U.S. assurances were relayed to the PA amid military pressure on the Israeli government to invade the Gaza Strip. The military has warned that only an Israeli ground operation could reduce Palestinian missile strikes from the Gaza Strip.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Stop the Al-Awda conference

The Hilton hotel in Garden Grove California has agreed to host a displaced Al-Awda conference. Al-Awda means "the Return." The group became active in 2000, helping in the successful effort to sabotage Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. They made it clear that any Palestinian who surrendered the "right" of return would be considered a traitor. Their demonstrations feature posters with the democratic and liberal slogan "Palestine is our land and the Jews are our dogs." That is the liberal, public face of Al-Awda. This conference is to be closed to media and outsiders however, and  presumably delegates will be more frank...
Perhaps what is really needed to dissuade them from doing it is an announcement of  picketing and boycott of the Hilton chain. It should not be needed in a better world.

Not everything that Lee Kaplan writes is true. Be cautious about Lee Kaplan's assertions. For example, the contention that Sami Al Arian was convicted seems not be borne out by factual evidence. He was acquitted on many  charges and eventually copped a plea. It is not so relevant, because Al-Awda is a thoroughly bad group with or without Al-Arian. It is also probably hard to make a case that ISM and Al-Awda are related, though they MIGHT be.

In any case, after reading what is below, please write to these addresses:


Write Vice chancellor James Sandoval (  ) and Chancellor France Cordova ( ) and praise UC Riverside for doing the right thing once the truth emerged.

PEOPLE TO PRESSURE: (Phone, mail, pickets)

The corporate offices of Hilton Hotel Corporation  and the Mayor of Garden

Stephen F. Bollenbach, CEO
Hilton Hotels Corporation World Headquarters
9336 Civic Center Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
310-278-4321 phone  VP Cpmmunications    Mgr. Embassy Suties. Garden Grove

Mayor of Garden Grove
William Dalton
11222 Acacia Pkwy
Garden Grove, CA 92840
(714) 741-5100
Please be calm and respectful, and do not make accusations you cannot prove.

Maybe Paris Hilton should get involved :-)

Perhaps the Hilton chain is anxious for the publicity they could get. They could be as famous as the Munich Beer Hall where Hitler began his putsch.

Ami Isseroff

How Stop the ISM Stopped Al Awda at UC Riverside
By Lee Kaplan and the Stop the ISM Team
Well, it finally happened: UC Riverside, an American taxpayer-supported public university that was to be the venue for the next international  conference of Al Awda, a.k.a. the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, informed Stop the ISM last Sunday morning that the Fifth Annual International Al Awda Conference that was scheduled there for the weekend of May 24-26th has been canceled.

This marks only the second time an American university took enough responsibility to not allow itself to be duped into hosting unconditionally an anti-Semitic hate fest that masquerades itself as an educational event about the Middle East, the other campus being Rutgers in 2003. Al Awda's conference was set to be a training and strategy session for boycotting American and Israeli Jewish businesses and even some American Jews, and to work toward the goals of Hamas to destroy Israel. Al Awda's motto has always been "From the river to the sea," meaning the organization was not in favor of a peaceful two state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but in the ultimate destruction of Israel and its Jewish and Christian population. Al Awda's founder once called Jews who live in Israel "a disease."
 According to Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs James Sandoval at UC Riverside, the student organizers advised him "without explanation" that the event was being canceled. While Sandoval maintained the cancellation of the event was the decision of the student organizers that included the Students for Justice in Palestine and Muslim Students Union at UC Riverside, both International Solidarity Movement-affiliated groups, the UC Riverside administration deserves praise for setting up ground rules that obviously made the event too risky for the organizers to conduct on campus. The UC Riverside Muslim Students Union, like others across the US, has enjoyed an affinity for Hassan al Banna, the inspirational precursor to al Qaeda. Accordingly, anti-Semitism, and hatred for America and Israel were all on the Al Awda menu.
After considerable prodding by Stop the ISM, Assistant Vice Chancellor Sandoval set up three restrictions on the event that Al Awda obviously could not abide by.  First, was an objection to a disclaimer posted on the Al Awda website that "the convention host committee reserves the right to decline any reservation at its sole discretion for any reason." A similar disclaimer on the Al Awda website last year for the same conference at San Francisco State University was removed after Stop the ISM called attention to it with the SFSU administration. Public taxpayer-supported universities are not places where people can be barred because of their ethnicity or point of view as long as they behave in a lawful manner. At SFSU some Jews who support the existence of a Jewish state found their reservation requests ignored by the organizers. When notified the same thing was happening at UC Riverside, Sandoval intervened and insisted that the conference be open to anyone who could pay the entrance fee and attend in the spirit of an open university. He made Al Awda remove the restriction from their website.
Next came the issue of security. At the previous SFSU Al Awda Conference, the organizers had goons from their organization follow anyone around who they deemed as reporting what was really going on inside the event. The press was intimidated. This reporter was accosted more than once and even followed into the men's room. Sandoval agreed such conduct should not be allowable at a public university and assured Stop the ISM that only UC police officers, some brought in from other campuses, would have sole authority for security. At the previous SFSU event some people were harassed even for taking notes or asking questions. 
Of most importance was a decision made by Sandoval that cameras and recorders would not be banned at the UC Riverside event. In all other Al Awda and ISM events, cameras and recorders are banned to prevent outsiders from seeing the anti-Semitism and outright support for terrorist groups overseas that goes on. Sandoval advised the organizers that UC Riverside was not to be used for secret meetings that the public could not scrutinize for legitimacy.
Apparently, the above three requirements were more than the Al Awda organizers could handle. Al Awda released this message today:

NEW VENUE: Embassy Suites Hotel - Anaheim South, 11767 Harbor Boulevard, Garden Grove, CA 92840

DATE: May 25-27, 2007
The host committee of the Fifth Annual International Al-Awda Convention announces a change in venue. The convention will now be held at Embassy Suites Hotel - Anaheim South, 11767 Harbor Boulevard, Garden Grove, CA 92840. The convention will take place on the May 25-27 memorial day week-end.
The date of the convention commemorates the Nakba, the 59th year since the "State of Israel" was declared on stolen Palestinian land, and which led to the Zionist occupation of all of Palestine.
The community-based local host committee currently includes the Southern California chapters of Al-Awda (Al-Awda Riverside, Los Angeles and San Diego), Students for Justice in Palestine at UCR, The Palestinian American Women's Association, The Free Palestine Alliance, The National Council of Arab Americans, The Middle East Cultural and Information Center, The Muslim Students Association at Palomar College, The Muslim Students Association at UCSD, Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA, The Muslim Students Union at UCR, The Arab Community Center of the Inland Empire, Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid - Southern California, Students for International Knowledge at CSUSB, and The Muslim Students Association at CSUSB.
The Fifth Annual International Al-Awda Convention promises to be an amazing three-day event from speakers and workshops, film showings, to a Palestine Cultural Dinner Event. The opening will be held on the evening of Friday 25 May and include a moving event at which survivors of the Nakba, the great catastrophe, share their recollections of their first-hand experience in 1948.

On Saturday May 26, the convention will devote itself to political assessments, and to developing the ongoing work of organizing right to return campaigns such as refugee support, media work, student, art/culture, etc., in addition to our recruitment and outreach projects.
On Sunday May 27, the convention will arrive at its resolutions based on the concrete recommendations of the various workshops.
The Saturday evening Palestinian Cultural Dinner Event will include keynote addresses as well as music by world-renowned maestro Dr. Nabil Azzam, poetry readings and more. A Naji el-Ali exhibition will also be on display in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of his assassination. The cartoons for this exhibit were kindly provided by Khalid el-Ali, his son.

Among the confirmed convention speakers are:
Dr. Jamal Zahalka, new leader of Balad (National Democratic Assembly, al-Tajamu' al-Watani al-Dimuqrati) who will discuss the current situation of Palestinians living in the areas of their country occupied in 1948 and in the context of the persecution of Dr. Azmi Bishara, former leader of Balad.
Leila Al-Arian, journalist, daughter of political prisoner Sami Al-Arian.
Dr. Naseer Aruri, former member of The Palestine National Council.
Elias Rashmawi, National Coordinator National Council of Arab Americans.

The host committee decided to move the convention from the University of California at Riverside to the Embassy Suites Hotel - Anaheim South when new unacceptable conditions were demanded by certain UCR administrators well after they had approved the venue. For example, the administrators levied new administrative, security and other fees in the thousands of dollars which the hosts of the convention at UCR viz. the Students for Justice in Palestine would be expected to pay. Such prohibitive fees are highly unusual and have almost certainly never before been levied at UCR on any other student group. Additionally, the university administrators insisted that Zionists be allowed to attend the convention, and that they film the convention and its participants, a remarkable attempt at intimidation.

All these new conditions and unreasonable demands were considered by the host committee as an attempt to shut down the Fifth Annual International Al-Awda Convention. Hence, the committee decided to move the convention to the Embassy Suites Hotel - Anaheim South, 11767 Harbor Boulevard, Garden Grove, CA 92840 - The committee felt that this private venue would provide a safer and more secure environment for our community and convention attendees.
All of the guests listed above call for Israel's destruction, and are supporters of Hamas and the terrorists who kill US soldiers in Iraq. Al-Arian was convicted of being the US head of Islamic Jihad [Not true apparantly - A.I.]  and involved in killing over 100 people  in terrorist attacks [As far as is known, Al-Arian did not kill anyone, only Islamic Jihad did], including some Americans. The Boycott being promoted also wants US businesses such as Coca Cola, Starbucks, Blockbuster Video and Home Depot boycotted because they have Jewish executives or do business with Israel.

Stop the ISM earlier provided the UCR administration with ample photographic evidence and proof over the last thirty days that Al Awda is linked with American Nazi Party organizations such as the Aryan Nations due to their commonality in Jew-hatred, that it engages in blatant anti-Semitism on its affiliated websites and violates US law regarding promoting a boycott of Israeli businesses that was set up by the Arab League. Secondary boycotts of American businesses that do business with Israel are also considered illegal and Al Awda clearly stated on their website their goal was also to boycott American Jews by boycotting certain American firms.  Photographs of Al Awda organizers in San Francisco waving Palestinian flags with red fists dripping with blood on them and exhortations in Arabic that "Palestine is ours and the Jews are our dogs!" sent to the UC Riverside authorities over the last month were not enough to sway the administration to take action at first, allegedly, because the University counsel found "nothing illegal" about it, however, campus restrictions on secretive or abusive behavior apparently were enough to make the event be canceled.
Other evidence over the succeeding weeks since the announcement of the event that Stop the ISM provided to the UCR administration included specific examples of Al Awda's blatant anti-Semitism by exhortations to murder Jews.  Such evidence included poetry on the Web by an international Al Awda leader exhorting murder and suicide bombings. Since the UCR event was billed as an "International Al Awda event," calls for suicide bombings and killings were hardly appropriate for a California state campus.
Vice Chancellor James Sandoval deserves some credit for not playing the complete fool to Al Awda, by at least setting some ground rules for the event that the organizers no doubt felt they could not adhere to. One was the removal of a disclaimer on the Al Awda website saying the organizers had the right to bar anyone from attending the conference for any reason. That disclaimer was posted on the Al Awda website. San Francisco State University, that hosted last year's national conference, also required the organizers to remove such a restriction from the event that did take place on that taxpayer-supported campus after Stop the ISM pointed the disclaimer out.  Despite that, some who support Israel's right to exist found their reservations ignored or missing at SFSU when that conference took place.  Sandoval intervened after being notified of the restriction on the Al Awda website and advised the organizers that since UCR is a public university, nobody could be barred from the event.
The Arab irredentist group Al Awda  has always managed to get by on plausible deniability whenever it came to its outright support for anti-Semitism and the annihilation of Israel, but when the organization came under potential open scrutiny this time, it canceled its own event. In the past, Al Awda has not allowed cameras or video recorders at their events, an ISM tactic, because these events are really terrorist-support strategy festivals, not peace or educational events. The fact is the US Civil Rights Commission just came out condemning anti-Semitism on US colleges that is masked as Middle East "discussion" or only criticism of Israel must have also played at least some role in the UCR administration's requirements for this Al Awda conference that the organizers found unacceptable.
 Al Awda has now moved this conference to private property where they can bar people from seeing what goes on inside. The universities have provided a low cost or free venue in the past and fostering the image of an academic event for conferences like these that belong in despotic totalitarian-state Middle Eastern universities, not on an American campus. Al Awda attendees, although mostly Palestinian Arabs, also voice their unwavering international support for the Ba'ath Party that supplies terrorists who kill American soldiers in Iraq.
Whatever the reasons for the cancellation of this event, UC Riverside deserves praise for conducting itself like a professional institution of learning, not an indoctrination center for Jew-haters. Whether this had something to do with the new finding by the US Civil Rights Commission about campuses being disabused by anti-Semitism masking as political discussion of the Middle East is not the issue; for once, a major American university conducted itself in an intelligent manner that treated veiled anti-Semitism as being every bit as objectionable as attacks on any other ethnicity. Meanwhile, the Al Awda show will still go in Garden Grove, California, but not on a college campus partially subsidized at taxpayer expense.
write Vice chancellor James Sandoval (  ) and Chancellor France Cordova ( and praise UC Riverside for doing the right thing once the truth emerged. Perhaps other universities will now finally catch on to the ISM and its affiliates like Al Awda. At the same time, get on the phone to
the corporate offices of Hilton Hotel Corporation  and the Mayor of Garden Grove:
 Stephen F. Bollenbach, CEO
Hilton Hotels Corporation World Headquarters              
9336 Civic Center Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
310-278-4321 phone  , VP Communications
Mayor of Garden Grove
William Dalton
11222 Acacia Pkwy
Garden Grove, CA 92840
(714) 741-5100

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Who is winning the battle for Jerusalem?

This is a rather optimistic, and perhaps unjustified view of the Israeli position in Jerusalem today. We will not know who won for perhaps another hundred years.
May. 14, 2007
For the Arab residents of Jerusalem, the construction of the security fence around the city has been both a blessing and a curse.
Those living on the Israeli side of the fence feel more comfortable now that they know Israel has no intention of cutting them off from Jerusalem.
These residents enjoy freedom of movement, work in Israel and are entitled to all the privileges that Israeli citizens receive.
In the past four years, thousands of Arab Jerusalemites living outside the municipal boundaries of the city have moved back into Jerusalem for fear of being left on the other side of the security fence. Many of them abandoned their large houses and villas in favor of small and expensive apartments inside the municipal boundaries of the city.
The security fence has virtually cut off the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem from the West Bank, making the Arab residents fully dependent on Israel's economy. Dozens of merchants who owned businesses in Ramallah and Bethlehem have moved back to the city in the past few years.
"People see the anarchy and instability in the Palestinian Authority areas and prefer to leave to a safer place," explained Ibrahim Barakat, a businessman from Beit Hanina, a large Arab neighborhood in northern Jerusalem. "Also, people are afraid of losing their status as permanent residents of Israel and that's why they are moving back into Jerusalem. After all, life inside Israel is much better than the West Bank."
But perhaps the most significant change that took place over the past few years has been Israel's success in eliminating the presence of a Palestinian political address in east Jerusalem.
The death of Faisal Husseini, the top PLO representative, and the subsequent closure by Israel of Orient House, the unofficial PLO headquarters in the city, eliminated one of the most prominent symbols of Palestinian sovereignty in Jerusalem.
Today, PA officials can't hold political meetings in Jerusalem for two reasons: first, they can't enter the city as easily as they used to because of the security fence and second, Israel does not allow such meetings to take place inside the city.
The construction of the fence, together with strict Israeli security measures, also resulted in a sharp decline in the activities of PA security agents inside the city. Until a few years ago, hundreds of PA security agents were operating almost freely in the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, sometimes kidnapping residents to Ramallah or Jericho for "interrogation."
The departure of Faisal Husseini from the scene in 2001 left a huge political vacuum in east Jerusalem that has yet to be filled. Six years later, no Palestinian leader has been able to step into Husseini's large shoes.
The absence of Husseini and Orient House has strengthened the Arab population's ties with the Israeli establishment.
In recent years, for instance, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of residents who seek the help of the Israeli police in solving various problems.
Although different services provided by the state to the Arab residents continue to be relatively insufficient, there is no ignoring the fact that Israeli institutions remain the largest employer of Arab Jerusalemites.
Thousands of teachers are employed in dozens of schools run by the Jerusalem Municipality and the Ministry of Education.
These teachers receive higher salaries and better privileges than their colleagues who work for private or PA-controlled schools inside the city.
In addition, there has been a significant improvement in health services to Arab residents with the opening of scores of medical centers and clinics by Israel's Kupot Holim Clalit and Meuhedet. These centers employ thousands of doctors, nurses and administrative workers from east Jerusalem.
Thousands of Arab Jerusalemites have also replaced the West Bank and Gaza Strip laborers who used to work in Israel until the beginning of the intifada in September 2000. As holders of Israeli ID cards, the Arab residents of Jerusalem receive higher salaries and are entitled to most privileges, including National Insurance payments. The Arabs of Jerusalem are free to work in any part of the country and are not subjected to any restrictions.
Yet not all the Arab residents have benefited from the "disengagement" from the West Bank. Many continue to live outside the municipal borders of Jerusalem [in the West Bank] because they can't afford to pay high rent and municipal taxes [arnona] in Beit Hanina, Shuafat and other Arab neighborhoods. Moreover, the security fence and checkpoints around the city have cut them off from their work places and relatives.
Attempts by Hamas and other Palestinian groups in the past three years to establish centers of power in the Arab neighborhoods have been repeatedly crushed by Israel. Three Hamas legislators from east Jerusalem, including the minister for Jerusalem Affairs, Khaled Abu Arafeh, have been in detention since the abduction last June of IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit.
"Let's be honest, we have lost the battle for Jerusalem," admitted a Fatah legislator from the city. "The Palestinian Authority hasn't done anything to preserve the Arab and Islamic character of Jerusalem. The Arabs in Jerusalem have lost confidence in the Palestinian leadership and that's why most of them prefer to live under Israeli control. Frankly, when I see what's happening in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, I can understand why."

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Sarkozy will disappoint Israel

The election of Nicholas Sarkozy to the French Presidency was greeted with incautious and almost unalloyed joy by Jews and supporters of Israel. Headlines that announced that "the Jew" had become President were among the  silly, groundless and tasteless commentary. Just because someone had Jewish ancestry, it doesn't mean they will be pro-Israel or "good for the Jews." Karl Marx and Torquemada the inquisitors are sobering reminders of that fact.
Israeli officials, apparently unaware of the possibilities, were shocked that Sarkozy picked Socialist Hubert Vedrine as Foreign Minister. Vedrine's record makes someone like James ("F the Jews") Baker III look like a great Zionist.  During the Intifada II, Vedrine advocated sanctions against Israel.  
In January, Vedrine had told al-Hayat that:
 "Palestinians... endure misfortune and utter chaos, viewed as the outcome of a policy suggested by the US and Israeli right-wing parties."
Vedrine is also open to recognition of Hamas:
"With respect to France, I always call for keeping dialogue channels open with Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas. I would not be the least be stunned should France follow this path," he said.
Nonetheless there are those in the Israeli foreign ministry who try to find "explanations" -- Vedrine will be dependent on Sarkozy, Vedrine has good contacts in the Arab world etc. No doubt, there were Jews who found "explanations" for Torquemada's policies as well.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Startling finding: There are anti-Semites in Poland

A new study by the ADL shows that a large portion of Europeans feel Jews are too powerful in business, a sentiment that is increasing in some countries. In Poland and Spain, these percentages were especially high. Nobody asked Jews if they think Europeans are are too powerful in business.  
In Poland, 39% of the people still blame Jews for killing Christ. On the other hand, nearly half the people in every country think the Jews talk too much about the Holocaust. Apparently they believe Jews should turn the other cheek, but Christians should not do so. Jews probably talk too much about everything.
Imagine - a study that found that Poles are anti-Semites! What will they discover next?
Ami Isseroff

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For Fatah - Read "ARVN"

The Fatah are begining to look a lot like some other US supported armies: Chinese nationalists, Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and the Iraqi army, for example. They get lots of US equipment, some of which disappears, and they keep losing battles to supposedly weaker foes, because of lack of motivation, lack of training or both. Hamas stole the US weapons intended for Fatah according to this story, and Hamas is driving Fatah out of the Gaza strip, and Fatah is infiltrated by Hamas:
Hamas ambushed a convoy in the Gaza Strip on Sunday and seized a stockpile of US weapons transferred in recent months to militias associated with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, according to Hamas and Fatah sources.

"We obtained the US weapons and will keep hijacking any assistance the Americans provide to Fatah. Our fighters are aware of the American and Israeli conspiracies to topple our government. We're trained and well prepared to defeat the American-backed (Palestinian) agents," said a top member of Hamas' military wing in the Gaza Strip.

According to Israeli and Palestinian security officials and Hamas sources, Hamas militias have taken almost complete control of the northern Gaza Strip in recent months, including areas from which rockets are regularly launched from the territory into nearby Jewish communities.

The officials said Fatah is restricted to acting in a half-mile radius in the vicinity of a major Fatah military compound. Hamas has set up roadblocks and checkpoints throughout northern Gaza to ensure Fatah militias remain near their compound.

After a Fatah gunman shot a Hamas member on Sunday, a Fatah convoy of three trucks was stopped by Hamas at a makeshift checkpoint at Dabit Circle, a northern Gaza town, according to Hamas sources. Hamas abducted 18 Fatah gunmen and seized stockpiles of American weapons that were in the vans, the sources said.

Hamas won most battles

The US has transferred large quantities of weapons to Fatah in recent months to back Abbas' military organizations against Hamas. Fatah and Hamas engaged in months of factional clashes until the two forged a unity government in February. But renewed fighting in Gaza in recent days has threatened to torpedo the unity deal.

The last confirmed US weapons transfer to the Palestinians took place last May and consisted of 3,000 assault rifles, but WND reported multiple others transfers were since delivered to Fatah, including a cache of 7,000 rifles last January and about 8,000 assault rifles in February.

While the weapons were meant to bolster Fatah in Gaza, Hamas has reportedly won most battles against the US-backed militias. WND reported last month that a Fatah militia in Beit Lehiya, a major city in the northern Gaza Strip, surrendered to Hamas forces after reaching an agreement in which the Fatah militants stated they will evacuate the city and altogether depart the Gaza Strip.

This weekend, according to Palestinian security sources, Baha Abu Jarad, a Fatah strongman in Gaza, surrendered a large swath of territory to Hamas, nearly completing Hamas' grasp on the northern Gaza Strip.

US sends aid to Fatah

The US Congress last month approved $59 million in aid to Fatah's militias after an earlier Bush administration pledge of $86.4 million was blocked for fear the money might reach terrorist groups. The aid package contains a new qualification stipulating the money must not be used to purchase weapons.

The vast majority of the US aid is slated to bolster Abbas' Force 17 security forces, which serve as de facto police units in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. But many members of Force 17 are openly members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror organization and Israel has arrested wanted terrorists from these units.

WND last month quoted Israeli and Palestinian security officials stating intelligence and security organizations associated with Fatah, including Force 17, are infiltrated by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist organizations.

Fatah infiltrated by Hamas

A top Palestinian intelligence official told WND: "We are leading a large number of investigations and some of the results prove that such an infiltration by Hamas (of Fatah's security and intelligence forces) exists.

"I can say that in some cases we diagnosed a deep infiltration to high posts in some Fatah security services," the high-ranking Palestinian intelligence officer told WND. "In some cases we believe there are officers that are exposed to very sensitive information."

He said that since the US announced it is providing Abbas' forces with additional funds, Fatah intelligence officials at the direction of American security coordinators here have been attempting to expel Hamas infiltrators. He said the past month "dozens" of members of Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees and Islamic Jihad were found operating in the Fatah forces.

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Monday morning quarterbacking of the Six Day War

Monday morning quarterbacking of a successful war is rare. What it demonstrates is that every war is fought the wrong way and there was a better way to do it. But the fact is that the Six Day War  was a decisive victory, and the IDF did not stop after twelve casualties in Ammunition hill, as they did in Bint Jbail.
 Eviathar H. Ben-Zedeff 14.05.2007 0:35


Ammunition Hill

We were standing near our jeeps between the huge palm trees at the entrance to El-Arish. Captain Shimon, commander of our infantry reserves Recce, returned without Lieutenant Danny, his deputy. All the men were quiet, shocked. Many cried silently

There, forty years ago, we heard about the liberation of Jerusalem. We were entrenched in the sand and our agony, and wanted to cherish Danny's memory.
In 1967, I was a war correspondent with the veteran Recce Company. My brothers-in-arms were old guys. I was barely eighteen years old. Most of them were much older than me, and served as my mentors.
Since then, I have been trying to understand the military lessons of the battle to liberate Jerusalem.

The Battle of Jerusalem in the 1947-48 Israeli War of Independence is a sad story of a partial Jewish defeat in which the Jewish Quarter of the Old City was conquered by Jordan.

Following the armistice, the Etzioni 6th Brigade was reorganized into the IDF's 16th Infantry (Reserves) Jerusalem Brigade. The 16th Brigade managed the confrontation line with Jordan, including the bi-weekly convoy to supply the Israeli enclave on Mount Scopus.

During a tense incident in July-August 1961, an Israeli plan was created to send the 1st Infantry Golani Brigade and 35th Paratroopers Brigade to seize a passage to Mt. Scopus through the Sheikh Jerakh quarter held by
The operation was aborted, but the Jordanians identified their vulnerability, and fortified their posts in northern Jerusalem to prevent any Israeli military movement in this direction. As a result of the Jordanian fortifications, the Israeli plans were changed. Israeli troops, accompanied by Sherman tanks, would move south, and envelop the old city from the Government House northwards.
On June 5 1967, Major-General Uzi Narkiss, the Commanding Officer of the IDF's Central Command, had forgotten the revised plan. Colonel Motta Gur, commander of the IDF's 55th Para (Reserves) Brigade, did not know of the revised plan since he was slated to lead an airborne operation to take El-Arish on the Sinai Mediterranean shore.
Unfortunately, Gur remembered the summer 1961 plan to seize a passage to Mt. Scopus, and his men
executed that plan despite the heavy Jordanian fortification of the northern line in Jerusalem. The 55th headquarters did not accept advice, data, intelligence, or maps offered by the officers of the 16th Infantry. The 55th headquarters officers preferred to conceive and conduct the operation by themselves.

An Unnecessary Battle
Assigned to take the Jordanian post on the Ammunition Hill, the IDF's 10th Armored (Reserves) Harel Brigade had stood only about 400 yards off the Jordanian post. The 10th was led by a regular company riding Centurion tanks from the IDF's famous 7th Armored Brigade. Had the leading tanks gotten the orders, they would have turned and attacked the Jordanians from the East – their unfortified side. At a range of about 400 yards,
Jordanian targets would have been easy to kill.
The IDF could have penetrated the Jordanian line by other routes and by other means. Penetrating a fortified urban line is much easier when the attacking forces are supported by heavy weapons and aircraft. Yet, the commanders of the 55th did not use the tanks that accompanied their own brigade, or the neighboring tank battalions from the 10th. They did not call for close air support, artillery, or their own 120mm heavy mortars. Thus, the commanders of the 55th made the battle tougher than it should have been. The brave men of the 55th won the battle by showing the highest valor, courage, and sacrifice.

Lack of Professionalism
The IDF prefers create and tell mythical stories about its battles. From the battle for the Ammunition Hill in June 1967 to the battle for Bint Jbail in July 2006, IDF troops have used bravery to compensate for inadequate plans approved by incompetent commanders. To compound this sad situation, the IDF refrains from studying its campaigns and learning their lessons. And, thus, the IDF repeats its operational failures by approaching new campaigns with the old failed methods.

After a famous battle in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the commanding officer of an Armored Brigade said, "We were nuts, and therefore, we were forced to be brave." Unfortunately, this is the succinct summary of the last four decades of Israeli military history.

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Farid Ghadry - Unlikely Zionist - Part 2

Why I Admire Israel - Part 2

Washington DC, May 14, 2007/Reform Syria Blog - Farid Ghadry/ -- My last Blog about my admiration for the country of Israel got me some hate mail, a clear threat for liquidation, an interview in Maariv, a correction provided by a fellow reader, and telephone calls from RPS members and supporters. Many, many from Jewish groups, Israelis, and friends I have known for some time. I am thankful for their support.

The hate mail was mostly of sub-standard nature. Either full of illegible cursing or hate for no reason. The one we see on al-Jazeera all the time by extreme Muslim clerics trying to find gravitas in their austere world limited to the Koran and a life within a radius of few kilometers of birth.

The threats I received were clear and delivered by none other than an Arab journalist who recently spent hours with Baschar al-Assad. My wife thinks that Assad is threatening me to quit politics. I believe there is nothing more dangerous to the regime than secular Muslim Sunnis political activists willing to engage the US and Israel openly and that explains why with all of our activities, the regime has not sentenced me in absentia the way it has sentenced other dissidents; Assad does not want to draw attention to our work. My fellow Syrian members in the party want me to even visit Israel, something I am contemplating seriously. Unbelievable as it sounds, the ones who are pushing me the most to visit Israel are the secular Syrians living in very traditional countries like Saudi Arabia. They represent the best known families in Syria and are one of the most ardent supporters of RPS.

Based on my first installment in these series, thanks to a reader from Canada who sent me an email in which he points out that Abdus Salaam (born in Pakistan) shared with two other scientists a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979, and Ahmad Zewail (born in Egypt, US citizen) was the sole recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1999. Zewail is the third Egyptian Nobel laureate (the other two are Anwar Sadat and Neguib Mahfouz). Both scientists earned their prize as expatriates given that neither Pakistan or Egypt had the infrastructure necessary to reward their intellect. Thank you for the correction.

In this second installment, more facts of why I admire the Jewish state and more of our shortcomings. I have always believed that for successful countries to flourish, they must build a solid economic base from which they can project a balanced military power to defend their turf. The Russians, in the aftermath of their gains in WWII, built their military complex before developing a sustainable economic system. Russian communism fell as a result. Syria is duplicating that model, which will eventually bring the demise of the Assad regime and as hard as Assad tries to develop the Syrian economy, there are invisible and expedient forces at work helping forestall any free market initiatives as long as the system is fraught with corruption and lack of tested laws to protect capital. Violent Arab dictators, like Assad, when faced with an incapacity to build a strong economy in a system void of checks and balances tend to resort to terrorism to extract concessions in support of an ailing system. It was true yesterday, through the use of soft threats by Assad Sr. against the Gulf countries, and it is true today by Assad Jr. using proxies like Hezbollah and suicide bombers against Iraq. All of this to save his regime by saving Syria economically. 

On the other hand, Israel has followed in the footsteps of the United States but also simultaneously created a strong Army; a feat not to be underestimated. Laws to protect investments and investors are in place along with accountable politicians. Israel's success is self-made, realized under very difficult conditions that we Arabs tend to ignore. Our calls for Israel's destruction are destroying us from within. According to the CIA fact book, Israel's GDP (per capita income) is $26,200 as estimated for 2006. On the other hand, Syria's GDP is $4,000 almost 7 times less than Israel's, which means seven times less the standard of living. Mind you, the weaker Syria is the more dangerous Syria becomes and the more prosperous Syria is the less dangerous Syrians will become. If an average Syrian had a strong net worth or balance sheet, he/she would spend their time on finding ways to protect their net worth using the power of his vote. We destroy today because we have nothing to lose. Hamas won the elections because the Palestinian people voted without the benefit of a balance sheet to protect.

Israel's economic base dates back to 1953 when TASE, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, was founded. Today's companies on TASE have a total Market Cap of over $150b. That is almost $24,000 for each Israeli. Syria's stock exchange is non-existent (Plans are underway to institute one) and even if one is developed, all the companies listed anyway would either be owned by the Assad family or their cronies. Honestly, who would invest with a company owned by the ruler? Can you imagine a shareholders' meeting, which is the ultimate expression of accountability, of a Syrian company owned by Assad? If you argue for dividends, you get a jail sentence.

In Israel, the richest man Stef Wertheimer is self-made. Or how about the fourth richest man Yitzhak Tshuva who began in Netanya in a single room where his penniless family of 11 lived. In Syria, the richest man is Assad and the fourth richest man is another Assad, both of whom casually helped themselves to the tilt. Can you imagine the scandal it would cause in Israel if the prime minister just granted himself the only Israeli cellular license for free? In Syria, it is normal. That's why Israel is so important for the region. In fact, in all the Arab countries, the richest men are the presidents and the Kings of their respective countries. This top-down, highly centralized wealth spreader system is the cause of our stagnation even with all the oil reserves that one day will run out. Sciences are and will always be the engine that creates the opportunities for countries to prosper.

There was a story the other day about the increase in arid lands in Syria due partially to climate change and partially to the neglect of the Syrian government. If you fly from Egypt to Israel, people tell me that you can recognize where the border is when the land turns suddenly green as you get in Israel. In countries where water is scarce, they have adopted water management technologies to help ease supply needs by recycling water. Today in Israel, out of 1.1 billion cubic meters of water used for agriculture approximately 300million cubic meters were recycled effluents. I do not have any numbers about Syrian recycling but here is a true story for you that I heard first-hand.

An affluent lawyer in Damascus drives his car every other day for about 50 kilometers to buy his fruits and vegetables even though he can buy them easily in Damascus. One can find the largest lettuce heads and the biggest tomatoes in Damascus but he would not buy them for anything in the world. It turned out that the Syrian government uses its sewer water, without any recycling or possibly poor recycling, to water the farms surrounding Damascus. Untreated sewer water contains lots of fertilizers, which explains the size of the lettuce and tomatoes. The lawyer tells me they taste awful. I am ashamed of telling this story about my beloved Syria but the reality is that Assad spends billions on arms and missiles and the people eat sewer-laden food. If our leaders in Syria were accountable the way the Israeli leaders are accountable to their people, Syria would become a trading partner with Israel instead of lobbing its missiles, via Hezbollah, against Israelis.

But not everything is bad. There is something unique about Syria that I hope Israelis will get to see for themselves. We are truly a kind and peaceful people, which explains why, with all the oppression we are subjected to by Assad, we have not resorted to any form of violence to extract ourselves from our predicament. It is no fault of ours that we are not free to express our kindness and tendency for peace freely. Do not listen to the culture of hate permeating in Syrian societies, it is all Assad-induced to divert the attention of the people away from the miseries he and his father before him have worked so hard to inseminate us with. The day Syrians are free from Assad is the day Syrians will extend a hand of friendship to the Israelis. 

In the third installment, I will discuss why many Palestinians prefer Israeli democracy to their own corrupt rulers; why Palestinians in Syria must be given the chance to integrate and prosper the way they integrated and prospered in many Gulf countries, and why Israeli peace with Assad is not in Israel's best interests.

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

Continued (Permanent Link)

Americans thinking half thoughts about Iraq

Thomas Friedman is one of the most thoughtful American commentators about the Middle East. This is some of the most thoughtful American commentary on Iraq, but it is not even "halfway there."
Friedman writes:
any U.S. withdrawal from Iraq is likely, in the short run, to be destabilizing.
It is like saying, "having a leg amputated is likely, in the short run, to be painful." For all the countries dependent on the United States in some way, withdrawal from Iraq is going to be very "destabilizing." The short run can be very problematic. In the short run, you can die, and then the long run doesn't really matter, does it?
And here is Friedman's punch line:

You can't be serious about getting out of Iraq if you're not serious about getting off oil.

Americans might not see the big problems with statement. The hidden assumption, which is probably true, is that when the United States withdraws from Iraq, American interests in the Middle East will collapse, and America loses its oil supply. But that entails much more than Friedman seems to think.

At the level of American interest, it must be understood that the effect on America's oil supply would be fairly immediate. Friedman is right, you can't be serious about getting out of Iraq if you're not serious about getting off oil. Only his timing is off. After a precipitate US flight from Iraq, expect that either the Ayatollahs or Al Qaeda or something similar will have their hands on most of the oil spigots within five years, and they will dictate their terms for selling oil to American and European Christian sons of dogs and pigs. It is probably unrealistic to think that they will cut off the supply of oil entirely, because they like money as well as the next guy, even better in fact. Does not the Qur'an devote an entire chapter to loot and how to divvy it up?

There will still be oil. However, the oil will become more expensive, and it will come with conditions... The ultimate goal will be to reduce the economic importance of the United States and Europe. The concept is that at this point, oil is like oxygen for Western economies. Imagine if someone says "you can't be serious about getting out of Iraq if you're not serious about getting off oxygen." Let's face it, the stuff is addictive. Try going off oxygen cold turkey.  

In five years, the US and the Europeans could not sever their dependence on Arabian (or Persian) gulf oil or lessen it materially, even if they started now, though of course you have to start somewhere. The reason is that you must find a cheap alternative fuel, not just economize on fuel. Getting rid of SUVs, as Friedman suggests, is a nice gesture, but until you have a cheap fuel alternative in place. you will still need gasoline and oil and natural gas to fuel  automobiles and airplanes and most electricity generation. Growing corn is not an economically practical alternative it seems, and there are no others available.

Friedman advocates incentive programs that will raise the price of oil artificially. These will provide an incentive to produce an expensive alternative to artificially expensive oil, not a cheap alternative, and it will be many years before this alternative is produced in commercial quantities that can replace oil. There might be a minor inconvenience - a transition period of ten or twenty years without a reasonable energy supply. This will drastically reduce the scope of economic activity.

So Americans who are contemplating the withdrawal from Iraq with equanimity should consider how they are going to cope with perhaps a 1950s or 1930s standard of living. Is it so bad? You will drink iced tea instead of using air conditioning, and there might be a few other changes.

The other problem is one that doesn't seem to bother any Americans. Aside from the inconvenience of giving up SUVs and air-conditioning, there is the minor problem of what happens to the half-billion or so people of the Middle East, could will be consigned to a night of Islamist fanaticism and Arab nationalism that would replicate the chaos of Gaza from Beirut to Tehran and from Basra to Istanbul. Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Jordan and others will all be swept under in this tide, which might not bother itself with Europe for another fifty or hundred years. So it is no concern of Europeans or Americans, because in the long run we're all dead, right? 

Americans and Europeans tend to picture and conceptualize the Middle East as a very odd sort of geographic entity that looks rather like a big gas station pump.  In addition to oil, there are people here, and even if Americans don't care about us, you will feel the political repercussions of the chaos that is unleashed here if they don't finish what they perhaps should not have started.

Ami Isseroff

The New York Times
May 13, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Only Halfway There

I'm glad Democrats are keeping the pressure on President Bush for a withdrawal date from Iraq. It's the only way to keep him and Iraqis focused on the endgame. But if Democrats really want to be taken seriously on foreign affairs, they need to recognize that they have only half a policy on Iraq. And it's the easy half.

You can't be in favor of setting a date to withdraw from Iraq without also being in favor of a serious energy policy to radically reduce our dependence on oil - now. To call for withdrawing from Iraq by a set date, no matter what the situation is on the ground there - without a serious energy plan here - is reckless. All we would be doing is making ourselves more dependent on an even more unstable Middle East, because any U.S. withdrawal from Iraq is likely, in the short run, to be destabilizing.

The Middle East today is deeply troubled. If we determine that our efforts to tilt that region in a different direction - by building a decent Iraq - have failed, then our efforts to minimize our exposure to that region have to begin. But the last thing we can afford to do is walk away from the Middle East militarily while remaining chained to it economically.

More important, if Iraq totally fails, but we still believe it is in our interest to promote reform in the Middle East, a serious U.S. energy policy that permanently brings down the price of oil - by developing scalable alternative energies - is actually the best Plan B there is. You will see reform in the Arab-Muslim world only when regimes there can't survive just by extracting oil, but have to extract the talents of their people by educating, empowering and connecting them.

But to hasten that day, Democrats have to be a lot more serious about energy than they have been up to now. Everyone has an energy plan for 2020. But we need one for 2007 that will start to have an impact by 2008 - and there is only one way to do that: get the price of oil right. Either tax gasoline by another 50 cents to $1 a gallon at the pump, or set a $50 floor price per barrel of oil sold in America. Once energy entrepreneurs know they will never again be undercut by cheap oil, you'll see an explosion of innovation in alternatives.

"Right now we're looking for solutions in all the wrong places," argues the noted oil economist Philip Verleger. "The only way one can effectively address this problem today and get an immediate kick is by raising the price at the pump and keeping it there." Some of the revenue could be used to buy back the most fuel-inefficient vehicles on our roads, he added. "The best monument to 9/11 we could erect would be a mountain of crushed gas guzzlers."

There are some hopeful signs: Chris Dodd has just broken ranks and become the first presidential candidate to issue a serious, comprehensive energy plan that includes the "T word." He has called for a "corporate carbon tax" that would both help fight global warming emissions and raise gasoline prices.

"You say the word 'tax' and people usually head for the hills," Mr. Dodd told me. "But this is one where the American people can handle the truth. Unless you address the issue of price, you're not serious about moving us from Point A to Point B."

Barack Obama also just got right in Detroit's face. He went to Motown, called for much tougher fuel economy standards and bluntly told automakers and autoworkers the truth: "For years, while foreign competitors were investing in more fuel-efficient technology for their vehicles, American automakers were spending their time investing in bigger, faster cars. Whenever an attempt was made to raise our fuel efficiency standards, the auto companies would lobby furiously against it, spending millions to prevent the very reform that could've saved their industry." Those are fightin' words!

Finally, in a move that also merits praise, General Motors announced that it was joining other major U.S. corporations, like General Electric, and signing on to the United States Climate Action Partnership (U.S.C.A.P.), which calls for a cap-and-trade program to control carbon dioxide emissions. G.M. is the first auto company to do so.

None of these go far enough, but they are all new positions and may be harbingers of a new competition in which companies and candidates try to outdo each other in being serious about energy rather than phony. That would be a big deal - and it might give the Democrats a more comprehensive Iraq policy just in the nick of time.

You can't be serious about getting out of Iraq if you're not serious about getting off oil.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Lebanese: We want a Lebanese Winograd report

By Al-Mustuqbal, Lebanon , By Bassem Haghar
Even before the Winograd report we had defeated the helpless and unjust government of Lebanon. Then came the victory over the enemy's government, while the hope for additional victories continues, or should we say languishes?
How and why was the Winograd Committee, which now confirms our victory and Israel's defeat, set up? This, at the very least, is a lesson in democracy from the defeated enemy. Perhaps we always win because our enemy is not negligent in seeing justice done to those who are responsible for the extremely mild damage incurred by the society, regardless of how high their status.
The Winograd Committee report convinced us that we won, and convinced Israel that it suffered a defeat, for the first time. Our victory here collapsed or strives to bring the country to collapse, and their defeat there undermined the Olmert government and strengthened the state. The Israeli Winograd Committee said to the Israelis: From now on, don't embark on an unplanned war. The Lebanese Winograd Committee, how nice it would be to have one, to say: Don't go to war, especially if it is a destructive one, without asking me (the citizen) for permission first. My life is not for you. I will not redeem you, not with my spirit and not with my blood. I'm fed up with you, you make me ill ... so let me live as I am and as I wish to live, or go to war ... but before then, let me know, because what I know and what I have experienced does not correspond to what your are claiming. So long as Winograd is the decisive factor in your elections, let me go away. And this time, I think - and many others with me - that no one was victorious. I'm seriously thinking about fleeing to the Vatican."
The author is a Lebanese writer and translator.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

"When I grow up, I wanna blow up." , just like mommy

"When I grow up, I wanna blow up."
From Honest Reporting:

Incitement within the Palestinian media and education system is certainly not a new phenomenon. Promoting hatred and brainwashing children into a cult of death worship, this shocking form of child abuse poisons young minds and destroys any prospects for peace in the future. The international media recently took up this challenge, highlighting the appalling Mickey Mouse lookalike who incites children and promotes Islamic domination on a Hamas-run TV station.

Why does the media ignore another equally abhorrent video, which is still running on Hamas TV? Why has it turned a blind eye to this latest appalling example of Hamas's incitement of children into becoming terrorists and suicide bombers?

As documented by PMW, the four-year-old daughter of female suicide bomber Reem Riyashi sings to her dead mother and vows to follow in her footsteps. The video clip ends as the little girl picks up sticks of explosives from her mother's drawer.

The Al Aqsa TV children's program shows a child actress playing the daughter, watching Riyashi preparing the bomb and asking her mother, "Mommy, what are you carrying in your arms instead of me? A toy or a present for me?" She later sees a TV news story about her mother's suicide mission and death, and realizes her mother had been carrying a bomb.

"Only now, I know what was more precious than us . . . " she sings of the bomb.

Although she misses her mother, she vows to follow in her footsteps. The video ends as she opens her mother's drawer and picks up the sticks of explosives her mother had left there.

Reem Riyashi killed four Israelis and wounded seven at the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel in 2004. She gained the sympathy of the Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint by telling them that she had a metal plate in her leg that would trigger the metal detector. After she was taken to a room to be searched privately, she detonated the bomb hidden under her clothes.

Continued (Permanent Link)

France: Sarkozy is not a panacea for Israel

The election of Nicholas Sarkozy to the French presidency elicited a flood of childish commentary.
After so much unjustified euphoria about the election of Nicholas Sarkozy, it is refreshing to see this sober and professional analysis. Sarkozy is a French politician, operating in the French political reality. He will do what he sees best for France, and for his own political career. Partiality to Israel will not be encouraged by reminding everyone of his Jewish ancestry either, because he will have to counter accusations of being a "tool" of "the Jews."
Ami Isseroff

The French Presidential Elections of May 2007:
Implications for French-Israeli Relations

Tsilla Hershco

Perspectives Paper No. 29, May 13, 2007

(paper will appear online tomorrow, May 14, 2007)

Executive Summary: The election this week of Nicolas Sarkozy as President of France is unlikely to lead to a substantial shift in French policy towards Israel, although the tone of French-Israeli relations can be expected to improve. Even the most favorable French administration will continue to take into account France's traditional ties with the Arab world, France's significant Muslim population, and public opinion in France – which is not at all favorable to Israel. Sarkozy's promise to affect a transatlantic rapprochement does not necessarily mean a positive shift in French policy towards Israel. It is equally possible that tightened French-US (or EU-US) coordination regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (combined with a possible change in the American administration, if that occurs), may lead to enhanced diplomatic pressure on Israel. However, in spite of political disagreements, the existing dialogue as well as the gradual process of improving bilateral relations will most likely prevail.

The presidential elections in France, and especially the run-off elections on 6 May 2007, attracted world wide attention. On one side of the political duel competed the attractive, determined Segolene Royal, the left-leaning candidate of the Socialist Party (PS). Royal is the first woman in France to come this far in an election. On the other side of the arena raced her opponent, Nicolas Sarkozy, of the right-oriented Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). The charismatic, goal-driven, experienced and well-informed Sarkozy, who won the election with 53 percent of the vote, provokes mixed reactions because of his clear cut opinions, his past harsh expressions regarding the November 2005 riots and his Jewish roots (his grandfather was an immigrant of a Jewish family). The two talented and ambitious candidates, who represent a new generation of leaders in France, contributed to the media's intensive focus on the campaign.

The weighty issues on the French public agenda might equally explain the passionate interest of the media in the elections and their results. At the heart of the public debate during the 2007 presidential campaign, there were crucial domestic social and economic issues, including; the public budget deficit, unemployment, scarcity of low priced lodging, low pensions, decreasing purchasing power of French salaried employees, uncontrolled immigration policy and deteriorating systems of education and health. Above all, there was the looming apprehension of the loss of national identity.

The predominance of these issues was evident during the two and half hours of televised confrontation between the two finalists on 2 May 2007.  During the debate, the candidates spoke mostly on domestic issues, referring only briefly to major foreign policy themes such as the European constitution, the adhesion of Turkey to the EU, the Iranian nuclear ambitions, the human rights abuses in China and the genocide in Darfur.  Unexpectedly, the Middle East was not even mentioned. In fact, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as the crisis in Lebanon, issues which normally stimulate obsessive interest in France, were almost totally absent from the public debate during the presidential elections.

Middle East Policy Expectations
Eventually, the Israeli public and the media tend to regard the French presidential campaign through the prism of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the crisis in Lebanon. They often express their expectations for a change in French Middle Eastern policy which would hopefully lead to a more balanced French attitude towards Israel. Consequently, Sarkozy's victory was followed by positive reactions by Israeli media and public opinion.      

The expectations for a change probably stem from the assumption that the end of Chirac's presidency will tremendously affect French policy in the Middle East. In this context, during Chirac's 12-year rule (1995-2007), he manifested an intensive personal implication in the formulation of French Middle Eastern policy. This implication was often marked by an anti-Israeli and pro-Arab attitude. The Israeli public remembers well Chirac's hostile attitude towards Israel as well as his massive one-sided support for Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, especially during the first stages of the second Intifada.  
Israeli expectations for a change in French attitude are equally based on the friendly declarations of the newly elected Sarkozy regarding Israel as well as on his firm struggle against anti-Semitic aggressions in France. Additionally, Israelis often express their hope that Sarkozy's warm attitude towards the United States might serve Israel's interests as well.

Yet, the repercussions of these elections on French policy towards Israel should not be overestimated. Unless an extreme crisis occurs – which is not to be easily overruled in this turbulent region – no significant changes should be expected. The election results will probably lead to a more pleasant style and tone, as well as to a more balanced French attitude regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nonetheless, the main features of French current policy towards Israel will probably continue under the new French president.  

Features of French Attitudes Towards Israel

French policy towards Israel is characterized by two contradictory tendencies. On the one hand, there is a gradual process of improving bilateral relations. On the other hand, there are deep political divergences of opinion between the two countries.  

The improvement in bilateral relations was initiated at the end of 2002, as an intentional process based on French-Israeli common objectives. The amelioration of the French-Israeli bilateral relations became a formal policy in September 2003, with the signing of a detailed plan elaborated by a special high level French-Israeli committee. According to the agreement, mutual common projects in fields such as culture, economy, commerce and science were planned and executed. In addition, the agreement included the promotion of bilateral strategic cooperation.
Previously, the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000 caused a severe deterioration in Franco-Israeli relations, essentially due to French pro-Palestinian attitude. The French formal initiative to improve relations reflected their comprehension that their partial attitude towards Israel constituted a detriment to their aspirations to play an influential role in the mediation of the conflict. The French realized that in order to overcome Israeli's resentment to their diplomatic implication in the mediation, they had to demonstrate a more balanced attitude.  

Additionally, the improvement of bilateral relations was based on common perceptions and objectives such as the fight against international Islamist terrorist movements and Iranian nuclear ambitions. The July 2006 war in Lebanon constituted a major test for the improvement of French-Israeli relations. At the same time, it accentuated other points of common concern: the stabilization of the democratic regime of Fouad Siniora, the prevention of the rearming of Hizballah and the limitation of Syrian and Iranian involvement in Lebanese affairs.

The process of improving bilateral relations did not erase the political disagreements characterizing French-Israeli relations, especially since the second Intifada. The divergences are essentially connected with basic perceptions: France still believes that the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the creation of a viable Palestinian state on the territories conquered by Israel in 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital. France claims that this solution is still relevant and feasible in spite of the increasing terror and chaos in the Palestinian Authority. On the contrary, Israel insists that as long as terrorism persists, a peaceful and long-standing solution is impossible.

Additionally, conspicuous Franco-Israeli disagreements have emerged in the context of the Lebanese crisis. Thus, French refusal to add Hizballah to the list of terrorist organizations provokes harsh Israeli criticism. Another bone of contention between the two countries stems from the flight of Israeli air force planes over Lebanese airspace. France claims the flights constitute a violation of UN Resolution 1701, while Israel maintains that the operations inspect and prevent arms smuggling through the Syrian border.    

Conclusion: Will French Policy Towards Israel Change After the Election?

The results of the May 2007 presidential elections in France will not substantially change the essence of French attitudes towards Israel. Thus, the process of intensive bilateral relations and cooperation, initiated in 2002, will not be interrupted since they are based on French-Israeli common interests, concerns and perceptions. Accordingly, it is reasonable to assume that France and Israel will strengthen their strategic cooperation as result of mounting terrorist threats against the two countries.

Similarly, the results of the elections are probably not going to drastically change French perceptions of its Middle East policy.  Indeed, even the most favorable French administration will continue to take into account the weighty considerations such as French traditional ties with the Arab world, the significant French Muslim population and French anti-Israeli public opinion. Moreover, the French most likely will not modify their traditional perception regarding the creation of a peaceful Palestinian state as the only solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This perception will continue to constitute a source of political discord between France and Israel as long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues and as long as Palestinian terror and chaos prevail.

Even Sarkozy's friendly assurances towards the US and the potential transatlantic "rapprochement" do not necessarily signify a positive shift in French policy towards Israel. On the contrary, tightened US-French (or EU-US) cooperation regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, combined with a potential change in the American administration, might produce joint pressures on Israel for painful and even dangerous concessions and compromises.  

In addition, the precarious and explosive situation in Lebanon, the French traditional attachment to this country and their concern for the security of their 1,600 UNIFIL soldiers, who risk being targeted by Hizballah, might serve as further potential disagreements between France and Israel. The unstable and perilous situation in Lebanon produces a great amount of uncertainty as to various aspects of French policy regarding the Lebanese crisis. In the forthcoming period there will probably be a profound reassessment of French attitude regarding its future participation in UNIFIL (the present mandate expires in August 2007), as well as closer potential dialogue with the Syrians and the Iranians in the context of the Lebanese crisis. It seems, however, that a potential dialogue with Iran and Syria over the Lebanese crisis is not is going to compromise the firm French attitude in the Iranian nuclear issue.

Lastly, the results of the forthcoming legislative elections to the French National Assembly in June 2007 might be crucial as to the capacity of the newly-elected president to carry out the main lines of his politics. They will probably have their impact on the composition of the next French government and hence on the French interior and foreign policy, including its attitude towards Israel.

Dr. Tsilla Hershco, a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, specializes in Franco-Israeli relations.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Don't let them forget Jerusalem!

Don't let them forget Jerusalem! 
This is the 40th anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem. According to news reports, EU and US ambassadors will, as usual, snub Jerusalem day celebrations. These governments, including the US, all grant recognition to the most repugnant regimes and attend their diplomatic ceremonies. Failure to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, even de facto, renders all the declarations about friendship with Israel hollow. It is a cowardly surrender to Arab pressure.
This is not a theoretical issue. Palestinians are creating and fabricating "facts on the ground."
Palestinian publicists and officials insist that there was never a Jewish presence in ancient Jerusalem, against all evidence of Jewish sovereignty there in ancient times. Waqf excavations on the Temple Mount are destroying potential evidence of Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem, and Palestinian "experts" like Nadia abu el-Haj use "post-structuralist" wishful thinking to invent mythological  histories in which Jews never ruled in Jerusalem and Judea.
Palestinians repeat over and over their supposed historic connection and "rights" in Jerusalem. If we do not stand up for Jerusalem, we will lose all our rights to the old city and all of historic Jerusalem. Palestinian leaders including Mahmud Abbas made it clear that they want all of East Jerusalem, including all of the Old City. Even if we are willing to make a compromise for peace, that compromise cannot throw away all Jewish rights to Jerusalem without a protest.
We must likewise remind the world on every occasion of the importance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people (see also: The Ethnic Cleansing of Jerusalem )
We must not hesitate to bring up the issue of Jerusalem at every opportunity, just as the Palestinians do, and to give the US and other countries a proper sense of the attachment of the Jewish people to our capital city.
There can never be peace for Israel until and unless the world recognizes Jewish rights in Jerusalem. These rights do not have to exclude others, but they must include the Jewish nation, because Jerusalem is our historic capital.
Help your governments do the right thing!
Orthodox Jews pray to God for Jerusalem and all Jews remember Jerusalem always. Make sure that your government remembers Jerusalem too, and remembers that Jews have rights there.
Please write to officials of your country to protest.
US officials:
Ambassador Richard Jones: (this is not the best address, but it is the one published and recommended by the US embassy - it is for consular services).
President G.W.Bush (or 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC)
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Web contact form:
Make every day Jerusalem day!
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

The big boys who cried anti-Semite

Jonathan Rosenblum is to be congratulated for this intelligent and perceptive essay, which everyone should take to heart. I take issue with this statement however:
My own guess is that some of the shrill campaigns of the Anti-Defamation League's Abe Foxman have caused more negative feelings about Jews than the contrary.
Abe Foxman's job as head of the ADL is to fight anti-Semitism, so naturally, he will tend to emphasize that subject quite a bit. Foxman and the ADL also fight anti-Muslim discrimination, a fact that surprises a lot of Muslims.
Ben-Gurion said that the Jews are a paranoid people who are persecuted. A Woody Allen moment for Ben-Gurion.
Ami Isseroff

Right of Reply
by Jonathan Rosenblum
May 9, 2007

That Jews have many enemies cannot be denied. Indeed precisely because the threat posed by those enemies is so great must we think very carefully about defining anti-Semitism and about when to play the anti-Semitism card. Every time we cry anti-Semitism, especially about trivial matters, we diminish the power of the charge, and inadvertently play into our enemies hands.

For instance, I could not care less whether Winston Churchill believed, "The central fact which dominates the relations of Jew and non-Jews is that the Jew is 'different.' He looks different. He thinks differently. He has different tradition and background. He refuses to be absorbed." At one level, those words actually reflect a certain spiritual sensitivity – the recognition that the Jew is different. I only wish that more Jews today were so confident of that difference, or that the refusal to be absorbed more accurately characterized their lives.

At worse, Churchill's remarks (or those of a ghostwriter, according to his biographer Sir Martin Gilbert) reflect a social discomfort with Jews. Here too, I wish that more gentiles today felt some vague discomfort around Jews, and were as little inclined to marry us as they once were.

Many of the gentile rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust harbored sentiments about Jews considerably less friendly than those expressed by Churchill. But those sentiments neither led them to harm Jews nor prevented them from close friendships with individual Jews. And ultimately they did not prevent the rescuers from risking their lives to save those of Jews.

That is not to say that the old-fashioned genteel anti-Semitism was without consequences. The American State Department, the British Foreign Office, and the French Quai d'Orsay were (and in some cases continue to be) populated by genteel anti-Semites for decades. And that fact had an immense impact on the foreign policy of these countries towards Israel, and, no doubt, contributed to the reluctance of America and England to take in Jews fleeing Hitler, ym"sh, during World War II.

Moreover, had Churchill actually published the words quoted above, rather than just confided them to his diary, they could have been justly criticized. For such sentiments publicly expressed can be expected to be read by more violent anti-Semites as providing sanction for their hatred, and even for acting upon that hatred.

BUT THE MAJOR THREAT today does not come from those who feel that Jews are somehow different. Rather the threat comes from those who are obsessed with Jews. For obsessive anti-Semites, Jews are truly diabolical and at the root of all that is wrong with the world.

With virulent, obsessive anti-Semitism we cannot make peace and must be constantly on alert. And we do not have far to look for it today. It is all about us – in the Moslem world, on the Left and far-Right in Europe, and at the U.N.

That obsession with Jews is today most often expressed as an obsession with Israel. Israel is singled out from all the nations of the world as the greatest violator of human rights and the Palestinians as the most victimized people in the world. Enlisted in the campaign to advance this view are several large and generously-funded U.N. bureaucracies, including the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, which has gone so far as to sanction terrorism against Israeli civilians, British academic and professional unions, and elite opinion-makers in Western Europe. And that campaign has been remarkably successful. When asked to identify the greatest threat to world peace, Western European polls consistently place Israel at the top of the list.

Yet while it is almost irresistible to view the obsession with Israel as nothing more than a metamorphosis from the ancient obsession with Jews, rarely will the best way to combat attacks on Israel be to cry anti-Semitism. Critics of Israel, even the most irrational among them, have learned the effectiveness of portraying themselves as brave defenders of truth, under siege from the "Jewish community" or the "Israel Lobby," which seeks to suppress all criticism of Israel by tarring its critics as anti-Semites.

Of late, the fiercest critics of Israel – think ex-president Jimmy Carter or Professors Walt and Mearsheimer, the authors of "The Israel Lobby" – have had great success with this tactic. As a rhetorical devise it has proven a brilliant strategy: the more Jews attempt to refute the claims made by Carter or Walt/Mearsheimer, the more vulnerable they are to the charge of attempting to suppress criticism.

Crying anti-Semitism thus plays into their hands. Far more effective is demonstrating in meticulous detail the dual standards at play in judging Israel. Ma'ariv op-ed editor Ben Dror-Yemini has been doing that for the last several months in a series of comparative studies. . One study compares the death toll of Moslem on Moslem violence throughout the Mideast over the past several decades and shows how that number dwarfs the small numbers of Moslems killed by Israel, which is regularly accused of "genocidal" intent vis-à-vis the Palestinians.

Another of Yemini's studies compares the treatment of 38 million persons displaced by ethnic conflict over the last century and their subsequent absorption in areas controlled by those of the same ethnicity to the way that the Arabs displaced during Israel's War of Independence have been given permanent refugee status for themselves and all their descendants. In yet another recent piece, Yemini demonstrates that the gaps between Moslem and non-Moslem populations are much higher in Western Europe than in "apartheid" Israel, and that the rate of emigration of Arabs from Israel is far lower than the rate of emigration from any nearby Arab state.

Yemini's empirical studies,
Alan Dershowitz's patient dissection of the shoddy scholarship of the Walt/Mearsheimer paper "The Israel Lobby", and Trevor Asserson's statistical analyses of BBC Mideast coverage are far more effective than just shouting anti-Semite. At most, Dershowitz points out that Professors Walt and Mearsheimer draw heavily on secondary sources found at neo-Nazi websites.

To say more just plays into the hands of Israel's critics by allowing them to deflect attention from their distortions of fact and logic to the tactics of those refuting them.

IT IS CRUCIAL THAT JEWS DO NOTHING to make the case for those who claim that Jews are hyper-sensitive and see anti-Semites everywhere. That is why the charge of anti-Semitism is usually better left unstated even where other explanations don't leap immediately to mind.

When we cry anti-Semitism about matters that are trivial or in response to those mean us no harm, we create a boy who cried wolf problem for ourselves and make it that much more likely that we will go unheard when we complain of real anti-Semitism.

A recent incident involving Republican presidential candidate Tommy Thompson provides a ready example of the type of hyper-sensitivity that we should be careful to avoid. Ha'aretz's Shmuel Rosner described Thompson's appearance before the Religious Center Action of Reform Judaism.

In the course of his speech, Thompson described himself as earning good money in the private sector for the first time in his life. Earning money, he opined, is "sort of part of the Jewish tradition, and I do not find anything wrong with that. I enjoy that."

After being told that his remark had offended many in the audience, he returned to the podium to explain that he had been talking about "the accomplishments of the Jewish religion and the Jewish people. You have been outstanding business people and I compliment you for that. . . ." The clarification went down no better.

Perhaps Thompson can be faulted for poor staff work and not knowing his audience better. To the ultra-liberal Reform group, he would have probably been better off touting the Jewish leadership role in every modern movement for "social liberation" rather than Jewish entrepreneurship. But he is, after all, a Republican presidential candidate, not a Democrat.

More surprising, however, was this paper's editorial condemnation of Thompson. "Thompson's ill-spoken words reveal a shallowness that makes him unworthy of the office he aspires to hold. Worse, they can be used to . . . fuel anti-Semitism," said the editorial. It then went on to lecture Thomspon that freedom of speech does not cover yelling fire in a crowded theater. He was also taken to task for listing success in business as among the "accomplishments of the Jewish religion."

That reaction strikes me as way overblown, and calculated to play into stereotypes of Jewish hyper-sensitivity.

Clearly, Thompson was not trying to offend. Successful political candidates do not make a habit of insulting those who have invited him to speak. And he is not some kind of bumpkin to be summarily dismissed for his shallowness. A week later, George Will, one of America's most respected columnists, described the four-term governor of Wisconsin and former Secretary of Health Education and Welfare as the Republican candidate with the most impressive resume.

Will also praised Thompson's innovative ideas on a range of national and international issues. His welfare reforms as governor of Wisconsin provided the model for the national welfare reforms during the Clinton years.

Not only did Thompson not seek to offend, but there was nothing the slightest bit anti-Semitic about what he said. He did not suggest that Jews control all the world's wealth, or that we manipulate world stock exchanges and financial markets for their own gain. He simply said that Jews have been economically successful in America. And that is true.

(In my recent interview with Malcolm Hoenlein, excerpted in these pages, he told me that we Jews should not complain when others accuse of us of being successful or influential, and stop projecting an image of Jewish weakness.)

Nor did Thompson say that economic success was the sole contribution of the Jewish religion to the world. He was speaking as a political candidate, not as a theologian talking about the Jewish gift of monotheism.

And as a matter of fact, the Torah does take a far more favorable attitude towards the accumulation of wealth than does Christianity. There were Tannaim and Amoraim of great wealth as well as great poverty, and neither state was viewed as conferring moral superiority. With wealth goes responsibility, but those responsibilities do not undercut property rights; they are found in Yore Deah not Choshen Mishpat. The early Church fathers, by way of contrast, viewed the accumulation of more wealth than one needs for his basic subsistence to be sinful, akin to theft.

My own guess is that some of the shrill campaigns of the Anti-Defamation League's Abe Foxman have caused more negative feelings about Jews than the contrary. His is not a bandwagon the Torah community should be eager to board. 

Continued (Permanent Link)

IDF want to "encourage" Ultra-Orthodox to join the army

IDF proposes replacement to Tal Law - in order to "encourage" more students in ultra-Orthodox yeshivas to join the Israel Defense Forces. One way to "encourage" this, would be to stop subsidizing them, and to make Yeshivot charge tuition, and to arrest Haredim who demonstrate against it, just as the government arrests engineering students who protest high tuition.
Ami Isseroff

Last update - 06:20 13/05/2007   
By Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz Correspondent

The army is proposing a replacement to the Tal Law to try to encourage more students in ultra-Orthodox yeshivas to join the Israel Defense Forces. The program, the brainchild of Maj.-Gen. Elazar Stern, calls for permitting every Haredi man to join the army, enter the workforce or study upon turning 18.
The IDF's disappointment with the Tal Law, introduced in January 2003, triggered the new plan. Only 353 ultra-Orthodox youths joined the army in the four-plus years since it was passed, although there are 50,000 draft-age students at Haredi yeshivas.
The proposal was submitted recently to Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who submitted it to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who expressed support.
The proposal calls for a nine-year initial trial period. Any young man who graduates from a Haredi school at the age of 18 would be eligible. Stern believes the favorable terms offered by the program would significantly increase the number of Haredi youths who join the army, as well as the number of Haredim who choose to join the workforce.
The underlying assumption is that as significant numbers of young ultra-Orthodox men venture outside the yeshiva world, the walls will begin to crack: They will see a different way of life, their quality of life will improve as they work, and the poverty that plagues the Haredim will diminish.
According to Stern, only 30 percent of the students in Haredi yeshivas are genuinely suited to these studies; the remainder stay, at least in part, to avoid military service.
If the proposal is passed into law and is successful, only half of Haredi men over 18 will continue full-time yeshiva studies. The other half would turn to the army, higher education or the labor market, saving the state enormous amounts of money. The economy will grow and the IDF will have more people available to it. Stern is also proposing that some of the money saved be earmarked to provide free university tuition to IDF veterans.
It should be noted that 11 percent of the 2007 IDF pool of male recruits did not join the army because they are Haredi. Of all children who entered first grade last September, 23 percent were Haredim, meaning that in 12 years at least 23 percent of the population will not serve in the IDF. In practice, the figure will be even higher, since shortly before callup some religious Zionist teens enroll in Haredi yeshivas to evade service.
In contrast to both conventional wisdom and the beliefs of Judge Zvi Tal at the time of the committee he headed, the IDF wants to recruit Haredim. There is a Haredi Nahal force, but its numbers do not even suffice for a single battalion. The IDF is lacking personnel in areas such as combat support and logistics. In addition, Stern says, he wants soldiers in compulsory service to replace reserve soldiers in all operational activities and for reserve soldiers to do training only. For that to happen, the ranks of the regular army must expand.
Stern says he is willing to ensure that Haredi soldiers are provided with appropriate conditions, including food at a kashruth standard that is acceptable to them and even by issuing military orders requiring them to pray. He is willing to create a separate framework for these soldiers, even though it conflicts with his own worldview. In this framework, women would be completely out of the picture.
Stern believes that one of the problems with the Tal Law is that it allows Haredi men to decide whether to join the army not at age 18, but at 22, when they are likely to already be married with children and accustomed to living off the state.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Jerusalem: Will the real poll results please stand up?

In contrast to another story in Haaretz, this one insists that more than half of Jews are willing to divide Jerusalem. In Haaret'z's version of reality, only 43% are willing to give up parts of Jerusalem, and 96% want to keep the wailing wall. 43% cannot be a majority!
Ami Isseroff

Poll for 40-year anniversary of capital's unification shows 58 of Israeli Jews willing to make concessions in Jerusalem in exchange for peace with Palestinians
Lilach Shoval Published:  05.13.07, 02:25 / Israel News
Fifty-eight percent of the Jewish public in Israel is willing to make concessions in Jerusalem in the frame of a peace agreement with the Palestinians, a poll conducted by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies revealed on Sunday.Capital

The poll, conducted toward the 40-year anniversary of the capital's unification, showed a 5 percent drop compared to 2006.

A drop in the Israeli Jews' faith that real peace could be reached was also revealed in the poll. Only 16 percent of the public believes that peace with the Palestinians can be reached, as opposed to 20 percent in 2006.
The shift in opinion was noted among the secular public, where 21 percent said they believed peace could be reached as opposed to 31 percent last year.
Some 92 percent of the respondents said they felt it was important to have a significant Jewish majority in the capital, and 81 percent said agreed that Jerusalem, with a Jewish majority, contributed to Israel's national strength.
Sixty-two percent of Israeli Jews said they felt that Jerusalem has been becoming strictly Orthodox over the past few years, while 24 percent of Israeli Jews feel that Jerusalem is a frightening city to live in.

Ten percent of the respondents said that there was no place to hang out in the city, while 68 percent agreed that Jerusalem was the most beautiful city in the Israel.

Forty-eight percent of the respondents agreed to the statement that Jerusalem is a poor city. 
The poll, which was conducted among 500 adults comprised of a representative sample of the Jewish population in the Israel, is conducted annually and examines Jerusalem's image and importance as a component in Israel's national strength.

Another poll, taken by the Zionist Council in Israel, showed that 64 percent of Israel's residents that do not live in the capital have visited the city at least once in the past year.

Continued (Permanent Link)

International view regarding Jerusalem - a bit strange, no?

How interesting:
Sources in the German Embassy in Israel told Ynet on Sunday morning that the international community viewed Jerusalem from a different point of view.
"We believe that Jerusalem's future should be part of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Our point of view is not new and Germany must take this stance in accordance with the rest of the countries.
How strange that nobody had this point of view before 1967!

EU president Germany informs Foreign Ministry that ambassadors of European countries will not show up for events marking 40-year anniversary of capital's reunification
Lilach Shoval Published:  05.13.07, 09:06 / Israel News

The European Union countries will not take part in the celebrations marking the 40-year anniversary of Jerusalem's reunification, EU president Germany said Thursday in a diplomatic letter sent to the Foreign Ministry and the Knesset.
Ambassadors of all EU countries will not show up for the special Knesset session which will be on Jerusalem Day.
European countries do not recognize Jerusalem's reunification. As far as they are concerned, east Jerusalem, which was occupied during the Six Day War, is an occupied territory.
Among the EU countries there is a difference of opinion regarding the participation in the Jerusalem Day celebrations. Germany decided to send the letter to the official bodies in Israel, but a number of EU countries are considering violating the boycott and taking part in the celebrations.
The Egyptian and Jordanian ambassadors were also invited to take part in the events, and Foreign Ministry officials expressed their concern over the possibility that they would also fail to show up.
Sources in the Foreign Ministry noted that diplomatic moves were taken in a bid to prevent the European boycott. The ministry's spokesperson said that "Jerusalem is Israel's united capital. This week we will mark 40 years of reunification. Many guests were invited to take part in the events, including diplomats. We expect them to attend."

Sources in the German Embassy in Israel told Ynet on Sunday morning that the international community viewed Jerusalem from a different point of view.
"We believe that Jerusalem's future should be part of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Our point of view is not new and Germany must take this stance in accordance with the rest of the countries.
"We cannot force other European Union countries to accept our opinion, but we can definitely decide for ourselves. Germany cannot take part in an official event of the Israeli government, if this implies that we recognize these borders of Jerusalem."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israeli Jews unwilling to give up Jerusalem holy sites

96% of Israeli Jews won't give up Western Wall for peace. These results are hardly surprising, nor is it surprising that 89% won't give up the Temple Mount.
On the other hand, a different poll found that 78% of Israelis would not live in Jerusalem. Is this like American Jews who will not let Israel give up Tapuah or Nablus, but would not live in Israel?
The article states: "Religious and ultra-Orthodox participants expressed less willingness for concessions than their secular and traditional counterparts." But ultra-Orthodox participants are unwilling to fight in a war to defend Jerusalem....
Ami Isseroff

Last update - 08:08 13/05/2007   
Poll: 96% of Israeli Jews won't give up Western Wall for peace
By Nadav Shragai, Haaretz Correspondent

Ninety-six percent of Israeli Jews are against Israel relinquishing the Western Wall, even in exchange for lasting peace and ending the dispute over Jerusalem, a new poll suggests. According to the poll, most Israeli Jews do not believe territorial concessions in Jerusalem would bring peace.
The poll, performed at the request of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, also reveals that 89 percent of Israeli Jews are unwilling to give up the Temple Mount for a similar arrangement.
The poll, which was performed by the Tazpit Research Institute headed by Dr. Aharon Fein, found that Israeli Jews were far more willing to give up the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, as long as Israel keeps the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter - an arrangement favored by 43 percent of them.
Forty-three percent of participants said they were opposed to any form of concession in Jerusalem for real peace and the termination of the dispute. In the previous survey on the matter, only 37 percent of the participants were opposed to all forms of territorial concession in Jerusalem.
Religious and ultra-Orthodox participants expressed less willingness for concessions than their secular and traditional counterparts. For example, the survey showed that 76 percent of the religious participants were opposed to territorial concessions, as opposed to 24 percent of secular responders.
Despite the relatively high willingness among participants to give up the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, most participants nonetheless indicated they did not believe such concessions would bring peace. In total, 75.7 percent believe peace is unattainable. Only 20.3 said they believed peace could be reached in return for territorial concessions in Jerusalem.
In addition, 91.5 percent indicated they believed that maintaining a large Jewish majority in Jerusalem was imperative. Some 81.3 percent said they believed that a mostly-Jewish Jerusalem would complement Israel's moral fortitude. Another 62.4 percent said they believed that Jewish settlement in Ma'aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion serve to strengthen Jerusalem.
Sixty-six percent said the same about settlement west of the city. Some 61.3 percent expressed support for prioritizing Jerusalem so as to strengthen its status and standing.
According to the survey, the majority of Israelis regard Jerusalem as the most beautiful city in Israel. Some 81.4 of the Jerusalemites who participated said they perceived it as such, along with 67.5 of non-Jerusalemites. Despite this, 51.8 percent of Jerusalemites define the city as dirty, opposed to only 30 percent of non-Jerusalemites.
Some 47.3 percent of the Jerusalemites who participated in the poll defined the city as impoverished. Another 54 percent said they believed Jerusalem was gradually becoming more ultra-Orthodox. However, despite their critical approach of their city, only 5.3 of Jerusalemites said they considered it dangerous to visit.
By contrast, non-Jerusalemites appear to be more wary of visiting the city, with 14.5 percent indicating it as a dangerous place to visit.

Continued (Permanent Link)

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