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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Independent headline claims defensive war is illegal

The Independent, famous for publishing the baby - eating Sharon cartoon, has proven again that its editors are incompetent, mendacious and biased with the following headline: "Secret memo shows Israel knew Six Day War was illegal." It is published here:

The Independent offers not a scintilla of of proof for their assertion. Not even close. Defensive war is not illegal. Egypt had given Israel Cassus Belli by closing the straits of Tiran. Jordan and Syria were firing on Israeli towns. How could the Six Day War have been illegal?

What Independent tells us instead has no relation at all to the headline:

A senior legal official who secretly warned the government of Israel after the Six Day War of 1967 that it would be illegal to build Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories has said, for the first time, that he still believes that he was right.
Meron said nothing about the war at all. The memo was sent after the war. The Israeli government could not have known anything about it before the war. The settlements were not contemplated until after the war. What could the Independent be going on about?
A different version of the same nonsense was written up in an AFP story as:
A SECRET memo proves that the Israeli government knew that its occupation of Palestinian land was illegal...
In this case, the mistake is that the article says Israel knew the occupation is illegal. Meron wrote nothing about the occupation. Britain, France, the United States and USSR occupied German. It was not "illegal."
Meron's opinion regarding the settlements is a different matter.
Ami Isseroff

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UN Envoy not concerned about Qassam fire or Israeli casualties at all.

As the article states:
"I'm very troubled by the level of violence here," Williams said. "I think the UN, the international community in general, have been very concerned about the level of intra-Palestinian violence, but also by the Israeli attacks which I know have caused civilian deaths, considerable numbers."
But he is not at all concerned about the Qassam rockets that cause the Israeli attacks.
Ami Isseroff

International community concerned about intra-Palestinian fighting, Israeli attacks on Strip, Michael C. Williams says following meeting with Abbas in Gaza City
Associated Press Published:  05.26.07, 16:40 / Israel News

The new UN Envoy to the Middle East said Saturday he's very troubled by fighting among Palestinian factions and the recent Israeli air strikes in Gaza.
International Community

The envoy, Michael C. Williams, met in Gaza City with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr.

"I'm very troubled by the level of violence here," Williams said. "I think the UN, the international community in general, have been very concerned about the level of intra-Palestinian violence, but also by the Israeli attacks which I know have caused civilian deaths, considerable numbers."
Abu Amr said the Israeli escalation was "very serious" and urged the international community and the UN to interfere to put an end to the attacks.
In recent days, Israel has unleashed dozens of air strikes at Hamas targets, in response to a Hamas rocket barrage from Gaza on Israeli border towns. Nearly 50 Palestinians were killed in the air strikes, and an Israeli woman was killed by a rocket.

Earlier this month, more than 50 Palestinians were killed in factional fighting between Hamas and Abbas' Fatah movement.
Nabil Abu Rdeneh, Abbas' aide, said the president is "working hard" with the factions to achieve a mutual ceasefire, which he will then discuss with the Israelis.
The continued attacks "only help in inflaming the situation," he said.
A Fatah delegation, led by Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Azam al-Ahmed and Rouhi Fatouh, council to President Abbas, is scheduled to leave for Cairo Saturday to advance dialog with Egyptian leadership regarding the ceasefire between rival Palestinian factions in the Gaza strip.

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A regular day down in Sderot

A regular day in Sderot, and how was your day today?

One rocket hits apartment in Sderot, man sustains light injuries from shrapnel; rest land in open areas
Yael Branovsky Latest Update:  05.26.07, 21:12 / Israel News
Five Qassam rockets fired by Palestinians in north Gaza Saturday evening landed in the western Negev region.   
A Sderot resident sustained light injuries from shrapnel when one of the rockets hit his apartment building. A second rocket fired at the southern city landed on a street, in close proximity to another apartment building. One person was treated for shock.
The remaining Qassams landed in open areas south of Ashkelon, in the Zikim and Yad Mordechai areas.

Two additional rockets launched in the early morning hours landed in open areas as well.
 On Friday night two rockets hit Sderot. One of the rockets slightly damaged a house, and four people sustained light injuries from shrapnel. The second rocket landed in the city's industrial zone and struck a warehouse, but no injuries were reported.
 Earlier in the day five Qassams landed in open areas near Sderot and south of Ashkelon.

The IDF responded Saturday to the incessant rocket fire with a strike on a Hamas post in Gaza City's Zeitoun neighborhood. Five members of the group's special security forces were killed in the attack.

First Published:  05.26.07, 20:35

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Another Day, Another Israel Boycott

Another boycott is announced, presumably on the initiative of groups like the Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, an extremist group that tells youth that those who engage in dialogue are traitors and that Seeds of Peace is the "most dangerous" dialogue group.

Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine signs dozens of leading British architects to petition condemning Israeli 'oppression of Palestinians'; group accuses Israeli architects of complicity in 'unjust action' as illegal settlements 'couldn't have been realized without their help'
Ynet Published:  05.26.07, 14:36 / Israel News

Dozens of British architects signed a petition which charges Israel with oppressing the Palestinian people and accuses their Israeli counterparts of being complicit in "unjust action" against the Palestinians.

The petition was initiated by a group calling itself Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP), which managed to recruit the Royal Institute of British Architects Jack Pringle as well as many of the UK's top architects to sign the document.
Referring to the construction of Israeli communities in places where there were previously Palestinian villages, the group writes: "Israeli architects and planners, knowingly or not, have become a part of this situation. Israeli settlements built after the 1967 War, considered illegal under international law, could not have been realized without their help."

In an interview with the Guardian published Saturday, a spokesperson for the group said the "complicity" of Israeli architects was "clearly unethical, immoral and contravene(s) universally recognized professional codes of conduct."
"We ask the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) to meet their professional obligations to declare their opposition to this inhuman occupation," he said.

Architect Will Alsop told Building Design magazine that he and his colleagues felt compelled to act. "This is not against Israel, it's for Palestine," he said. "I think the Palestinians are living in a prison. I'd like fellow colleagues in Israel to feel some responsibility about this shabby treatment. Architects are a fairly humanitarian lot and perhaps they could help."

 The petition was harshly received by the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Its chief executive Jon Benjamin said: "What they are saying is that they have a certain view and that Israeli architects must publicly declare that to be their position as well."   
Benjamin added that it would be more beneficial to "encourage the two sides to work together".
The architects' lobby is the latest in a series of petitions by British academics that have come out against Israel with severity, and even launched a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

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Does Hamas have a bigger and better missile?

This Debkafile story not verified as yet by other sources. It is known that Hamas has been extending the range of Qassam missiles, and occasionally some long range ones hit Ashqelon.  

DEBKAfile Exclusive: Hamas's new, extended-range, high-powered missiles go into service against Israeli populations


May 26, 2007, 11:59 AM (GMT+02:00)

Home blasted in Sderot

Their crews fired their upgraded weapons out of Gaza's Palestinian refugee camps Friday night, May 25, using their inmates as human shields against the Israeli Air Force, instead of exposing their operatives to Israeli air attack in the north. Using standard explosives, the upgraded weapons pack an extra punch and reach deeper into Israel.

One of these upgraded missiles, which exploded Friday night in Sderot's Neve Eshkol neighborhood, blasted every flat in a four-story residential building, spreading fragments over a wide area with the effect of a cluster bomb. Every window was smashed, doors and windows wrenched out and ceilings collapsed. Many of the occupants were away else the casualties would have been greater than 4 injured and 10 in shock.

Israel air strikes have therefore focused on catching the vehicles of Hamas operatives on the move, "links in the operational missile chain." Overnight Friday and early Saturday, six terrorist targets were struck in Israeli air raids, described as "links in the operational missile chain." They included a position of Fatah leader, Mahmoud Abbas' Presidential Guard, supposedly fighting Hamas and committed to stopping its missile offensive against Israel. Instead these Fatah operatives are collaborating with Hamas in its anti-Israel missile campaign, which is why Egypt' mediation efforts, which continue Saturday, May 26, for a halt in the campaign are getting nowhere. Egyptian intelligence minister Omar Suleiman has invited the various Palestinian organizations' political chiefs for separate talks in Cairo Saturday, instead of a round table. He knows they have no control over the Hamas military challenge to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority and the missile campaign against Israel. It is led by the maverick Hamas Executive Force chief, Ahmed Jabari and is orchestrated from Tehran. For Cairo, it is an urgent priorirty to restore its waning influence in the radicalized, embattled Gaza Strip.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Nobel Prize Winning Physicist Steven Weinberg cancels UK visit - "not a boycott"

The article notes:
An American physicist and Nobel Prize laureate who withdrew from a speaking engagement at a London university, citing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment in the U.K., says he is not calling for a boycott of Britain.
The International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom at Bar-Ilan University, which coordinates Israeli efforts against boycotts, said it respects but does not endorse Weinberg's position.
"Although we respect Prof. Weinberg's decision and sympathize with his feelings, we do not believe counter-boycotts are an effective way of dealing with the situation," the board said in a statement.
Apparantly the International Advisory Board has reading comprehension problems. Weinberg said he is not calling for a boycott. Isn't he allowed to cancel a visit because he feels queasy about anti-Semitism in U.K.? Or do all Jewish academics have a duty to go to U.K. no matter what??
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 07:45 25/05/2007   
By Charlotte Halle, Haaretz Correspondent

An American physicist and Nobel Prize laureate who withdrew from a speaking engagement at a London university, citing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment in the U.K., says he is not calling for a boycott of Britain.
"I'm not calling on anyone else not to go to Britain," Prof. Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1979, told Haaretz on Thursday night. "I don't want to say I'm cutting ties with the U.K. - I love England. I just feel personally uncomfortable going with the atmosphere there at the moment. It's increasingly hostile to Israel, especially in the intellectual world."
Weinberg told the Imperial College in London, where he had been invited to speak in July in honor of Pakistani physicist Abdus Salam, that his decision was motivated by a move by Britain's National Union of Journalists to boycott Israeli products.
"I just felt this was too disgusting and I didn't want to go there this summer," Weinberg said. "I see in the British press and the BBC signs of a very strong anti-Israel bias - a kind of blind hostility that whatever Israel does, it is always in the wrong - so this is not an isolated action of a small group of anti-Semitic conspirators. This represents a widespread feeling among British journalists."
Weinberg said he sent the letter before learning that 120,000 members of the University and College Union were asked to vote on a proposed boycott of Israeli universities at its annual congress in Bournemouth on Tuesday and before he knew about the call in March by 130 British doctors to boycott the Israeli Medical Association.
Weinberg said he is against boycotts, and specifically boycotts of Israel: "To boycott Israel today would be like boycotting Czechoslovakia in 1938 when Hilter was complaining the Czechs were being unpleasant to the Germans in the Sudetenland."
Weinberg also pulled out of a 2006 conference at Durham University due to a boycott of Israeli academics imposed by the British National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education.
The International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom at Bar-Ilan University, which coordinates Israeli efforts against boycotts, said it respects but does not endorse Weinberg's position.
"Although we respect Prof. Weinberg's decision and sympathize with his feelings, we do not believe counter-boycotts are an effective way of dealing with the situation," the board said in a statement.

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Clueless Martin Indyk or clueless Israel government ??

A very interesting inteview with ex-ambassador to ISrael Martin Indyk, at CFR:

He is asked:

Why doesn't Israel send its troops into Gaza and clean them out?

His reply:

It may eventually lead to that; in fact, it probably will. But since the intifada broke out in October 2000, Israel has been very reluctant to send its army into the cities and refugee camps of Gaza. But in April 2002, [former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon sent the army into the West Bank where it remains to this day, and basically destroyed the infrastructure of terror there quite effectively. It did not do this in Gaza, and hasn't yet; the reasoning as I understand it is that the suicide bombings were not coming from Gaza, they were coming from the West Bank. The cost in terms of Israeli soldiers' lives and the lives of Palestinian civilians would be very high in the kind of cleanup operation that you're talking about.

Increasingly, cabinet ministers in Israel are talking privately and even publicly about going in, cleaning it out, and withdrawing in favor of NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] forces, or some other international forces, that are capable of coming in behind Israel's withdrawal and exercising control there. I personally find this fascinating because four years ago I thought that was the best solution in Gaza, and advocated a trusteeship for Gaza and the West Bank, in which international forces would intervene under a UN mandate, and basically create the conditions and oversee the building of the institutions of government for an independent Palestinian state in a transition arrangement. The Israelis at the time, except for those on the far left, thought this was a terrible idea. But the Israelis learned from the experience in Lebanon over last summer, where they did not exactly go in and clean out Hezbollah, but nevertheless when they withdrew, a more robust international force was put in place in southern Lebanon, which moved Hezbollah away from the border and made it more difficult for Hezbollah to operate against Israeli settlements in the northern part of Israel.

If Israeli Ministers are really considering that, they are nuts. In the first place, no international force will have the intelligence capability of the IDF and none are willing to do it anyhow. In general, all of his ideas sound like a utopian nightmare, unrelated to the reality of chaos in Gaza. A Nato or American or UN force in the West Bank and Gaza would look something like a coalition force in Iraq or a Nato force in Afghanistan. Who wants that?

Secondly, what Israel learned from Lebanon, or should have learned, is that we got a disaster because we started a war without thinking of how to finish it. Nobody with half a brain would repeat that fiasco. If the Israeli government does it, and you come to me complaining about my bad prophetic abilities, I will respectfully ask that you read the first part of that sentence again.

Ami Isseroff

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Sex in Egypt: Adult Breastfeeding Setback

Sex life in the Middle East took a decided turn for the worse recently. Convervative officials at Al-Azhar university interfered arbitrarily with the academic freedom of an Al-Azhar cleric, Ezzat Attiya, the head of Al-Azhar's Department of Hadith. Attiya had issued a very forward looking Fatwa that ruled that adult men could breast-feed from female work colleagues as a way to avoid breaking Islamic rules that forbid men and women from being alone together. Yummy! "The work family that nurses together, stays together" seems to sum up his views.
His ruling was intended to allow women to work in close proximity to men, a practice generally forbidden in Islam. Breastfeeding of a child is considered to establish a family bond in Islamic law, such that children nursed by the same mother cannot marry. Attiya argued that if a man nursed from a co-worker, it would establish a family bond between them and allow them work side-by-side without raising suspicion of hanky-panky.
A sad day for academic freedom in the Middle East! A veritable Nakba for hanky-panky in Egypt. Not since Rabbi Ovadia Yossef ruled that the urine of women is kosher have we seen such an intelligent religious ruling.
Ami Isseroff

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

When going gets tough, the tough get going: Sderot mayor plans to resign post

What happened to courage under fire?
Sderot mayor plans to resign post
rebecca anna stoil and jpost staff,

Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal announced he was planning to resign after the current situation calms down.

Moyal made the announcement during a meeting of mayors and regional council leaders from the North who came to show solidarity with Sderot on Thursday afternoon.

Moyal has increasingly voiced frustration with the government's treatment of the beleaguered western Negev city, which he has led since 1996.

The chainsmoking mayor told The Jerusalem Post that he has been working
around the clock, and even lost five kilos during the last week.

Earlier Thursday, three Kassams were fired at Sderot, but landed in open fields and caused no casualties. A car sustained damages when the fourth rocket landed, around 1 p.m.

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Iran Defying UN, evading IAEA

The important and worrisome news of the IAEA report is not the assessment that Iran could build an A-bomb in three to eight years, since we already knew that. The Washington Post however, tells us more in their report,
The IAEA report said that Iran has significantly accelerated its enrichment capability and has not provided a range of verification information to the agency. The IAEA's "level of knowledge of certain aspects of Iran's nuclear-related activities has deteriorated," the four-page document said. The report described the last 60 days of activity since an assessment in March led to the adoption of a U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution against Iran. That resolution stepped up the sanctions initially authorized in December.
What we don't know, is more important than what we know. We know that according to the IAEA, Iran could produce a bom in three to eight years. We can't possibly know that they are not in fact weaponizing their fissionable materials, since they are not providing the information. The information they are not providing is not about prices of rice in Qom, is it? If they are not providing information, then they have something to hide, and anyone can figure out what it is.
Ami Isseroff  

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IAEA: Iran can have a bomb in three to eight years

There is no longer any doubt that Iran can have a nuclear weapon in a very short time, and that it is heedless of UN resolutions calling upon it to stop the enrichment program. It is not Zionist neo-con scare propaganda, but the report of the head of the IAEA,  Mohamed ElBaradei. It is not published in Jerusalem Post or World Net Daily, but in Al-Jazeera.
The Iranian excuse is lame:
The Islamic Republic denies seeking nuclear weapons, saying its programme is a purely civilian one designed to generate electricity.
To generate electricity, you do not need a heavy water reactor like the one at Arak, and you do not have to deny UN inspectors the ability to see key installations. Iran has among the worlds largest proven reserves of gas and oil, which it is not exploiting. Why do they need nuclear energy to make electricity?
What is the US government waiting for? What is the world waiting for?
Ami Isseroff
Iran may be between three and eight years away from producing a nuclear weapon, should it decided to do so, Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has said.

His comments came on Thursday, as Iran vowed to continue with its nuclear programme, saying the West was trying to prevent it from becoming a world power.

ElBaradei told a news conference in Luxembourg that he tended "to agree with people like John Negroponte and the new director of the CIA ... that even if Iran wanted to go for a nuclear weapon, it would not be before the end of this decade or sometime in the middle of the next decade".

The Islamic Republic denies seeking nuclear weapons, saying its programme is a purely civilian one designed to generate electricity.

ElBaradei said the IAEA had seen no evidence that Iran was trying to "weaponise" nuclear material.

However, he added that Tehran was continuing to move towards confrontation with other world powers by accelerating its nuclear programme despite calls by the UN Security Council for it to suspend uranium enrichment.

But on Thursday, in a speech to a gathering of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, ruled out the possibility of a suspension of the country's nuclear programme.

"The enemy wants Iran to surrender so it won't have any say in the world," he said, according to state-run television.

"The aim of the enemies in thwarting Iran's exploitation of peaceful nuclear technology, is not based on any technical reasons. They want to hit at the source of the [Iranian] regime's progress."

"If Iran's right to nuclear technology is confirmed, all nations of the world will gather under Iran's political banner. The enemies of Islamic Iran know this, and for this reason they have mobilised."

'New sanctions'

The US has urged new sanctions against Iran, in addition to the two sets of measures agreed by the UN Security Council in December and March.

Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, said on Thursday that France backs the rapid adoption of "new sanctions" against Iran if it maintains its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment.

"There is still time for Iran to suspend its enrichment-linked activities. Otherwise, as foreseen by Resolution 1747, we will have no choice but to take things forward at the Security Council," he said in a statement released in Paris.

On Wednesday the IAEA issued a critical report that said Iran had expanded its uranium enrichment programme in defiance of UN demands for its suspension, and warned that the watchdog's knowledge of Iran's activities was shrinking.

Source: Agencies

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Lebanese crushing democratic resistance

We do not understand why world media and the UN do no uphold the legitimate right of resistance of Fatah al Islam.
Lebanese Army resumes battle against Fatah al-Islam
Defense minister issues stark warning: 'their fate is arrest, and if they resist ... death'
By Hani M. Bathish
Daily Star staff
Thursday, May 24, 2007

Lebanese Army resumes battle against Fatah al-Islam

BEIRUT: Renewed fighting broke out between the Lebanese Army and Islamic militants at the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp late Wednesday, witnesses said, ending a day-long cease-fire during which thousands of civilians fled the camp. The Fatah al-Islam militant group had vowed earlier in the day to carry on the fight, while Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr issued an ultimatum Wednesday afternoon telling the militants to surrender or face "military action."

"The army will not negotiate with a group of terrorists and criminals," Murr said in an interview with Al-Arabiyya television channel. "Their fate is arrest, and if they resist the army, death. There are two choices: The first one, which we prefer, is that they surrender ... the other, which we don't like ... is military action."

Three days of fierce fighting between Fatah al-Islam militants and the Lebanese Army have left 32 soldiers and dozens of civilians dead. Conflicting reports put the number of militants dead at between 22 and 60, making the clashes north of Tripoli the deadliest internal conflict the country has seen since the 1975-90 Civil War.

Army sources said the body of Abu Midian, the second-in-command of Fatah al-Islam, was recovered Wednesday night. The body was picked up by Lebanese Civil Defense near the Abdeh army checkpoint at the north end of the camp.

The Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation reported Wednesday that camp notables and religious figures had met with Shaker Absi, the Palestinian leader of Fatah al-Islam, to extend an offer to end the fighting. The detail of the offer were unknown, as was Absi's response.

A Central News Agency (CNA) report Wednesday said Fatah al-Islam's headquarters inside the camp had been completely destroyed and that Absi was wounded in the shoulder.

The report could not be independently confirmed.

A militant going by the name Abu Hureira who identified himself as Fatah al-Islam's deputy leader told The Associated Press inside the camp Wednesday that "if [soldiers] advance toward the camp, we will open fire."

"They will not enter except over our dead bodies," he was quoted as saying.

Fatah al-Islam militants temporarily took over a mosque in the center of the camp at around 3 p.m. Wednesday, confiscating medicine left by aid workers.

A judiciary source said late Wednesday that the army had taken 10 Fatah al-Islam militants into custody and that they were being questioned.

Security forces collected the bodies of 15 militants in North Lebanon Wednesday, the source said on condition of anonymity. The deceased were carrying fake identity documents indicating Lebanese, Palestinian, Yemeni and Bangladeshi nationalities, the source said.

An army source told The Daily Star Wednesday that soldiers had not entered the camp.

Soldiers recovered the bodies of militants from areas bordering the camp, not from inside, he said.

The CNA reported on Wednesday that 17 bodies with fake identity papers had been recovered from inside the camp.
Two bodies of militants taken from around Nahr al-Bared had been identified, the judiciary source said.

Fatah al-Islam militants were seen patrolling the Nahr al-Bared camp as thousands of residents continued to flee.

The source confirmed media reports that an attempt by militants to flee the camp by boat last night had been thwarted.

"Two small boats were spotted, and both were hit and sunk," he said. "There were no survivors as they were too far out at sea."

The army source denied any coordination with the main Fatah faction to uproot Fatah al-Islam from Nahr al-Bared.

"This is an internal matter they have to resolve themselves," he said, adding the army did not need any assistance.

The commander of Fatah in Lebanon, Brigadier Sultan Abu al-Aynayn, also denied Wednesday any coordination, saying an agreement had to be reached among all Palestinian factions and the Lebanese authorities over the best way to uproot Fatah al-Islam from the camp.

He described the group as a "time bomb."

In a statement issued Wednesday, the army said attacks against army positions around the Nahr al-Bared camp Sunday were an attempt to destabilize the country and assail the standing of the government and its institutions.

"The army's firm and rapid response ... has thwarted the plans of the terrorists," the statement said.

The army would follow through on "the guarantee to preserve the lives of our Palestinian brothers both inside and outside the camps," it added.

Abu Imad Rifai, the Lebanon representative of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, warned the army on Wednesday against adopting a military solution in haste.

"There is a conviction on the part of many [Palestinians] that a military solution cannot lead to results or end the battle once and for all. There should be another mechanism [for a solution]," Rifai said in an interview with Hizbullah's Al-Manar television. - With agencies


Kouchner heads for lebanon first

PARIS: New French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner will travel to Lebanon for a two-day working visit on Thursday, his office said. It will be the first time that Kouchner, an appointee of President Nicolas Sarkozy, has traveled outside Europe in his new job.
Kouchner will hold talks with "the main political leaders of the country," including Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Speaker Nabih Berri, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.
"The aim of his visit is to reaffirm France's solidarity with Lebanon and with its people in this critical period, and to reaffirm the importance we attach to the independence, sovereignty and stability of this country," the statement said. - Agencies

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Election campaign: Syrian Style

Things are really heating up in the Syrian Presidential election campaign. With elections coming up May 25, there is a close contest between Bashar Assad and... Bashar Assad.
This type of election has the advantage of eliminating confusion and doubt. It doesn't prevent unethical campaign practices though.
Some suggested campaign slogans for Mr. Assad:
"Vote for Bashar Assad, because nobody else is running."
"I may not be the best president you ever had, but I am the only one you are going to get."
From Syria, a friend explains how Assad persuades Syrians that he is the best candidate in the field (and the only one):
Our kids finished the final exams early this year because of election.
The director of the school of my daughter N--- (10th grade) told the
girls in the school to return to the school after few days to
participate in a parade to support Bashar for presidency. N--- told her
that her parents refuse to allow her to do that. The director said that N---'s parents
should look for a place in a private school because she will not be
accepted next year in its public school. My wife went mad and called the
director and shouted at her in anger. I became afraid of a Mukhabarat
The best campaign slogan for Assad might be this:
"Danger: The Surgeon General of Syria has determined that not voting for Bashar Assad is hazardous to your health."
Ami Isseroff

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Poll: Israelis prefer Netanyahu over Barak as PM 36%:17%, Netanyahu 35% over Ayalon 31%

Poll: Israelis prefer Netanyahu over Barak as PM 36%:17%, Netanyahu 35% over
Ayalon 31%
Dr. Aaron Lerner     Date: 24 May 2007

The following are the results of a telephone poll of a random sample of 508
adult Israelis (including Israeli Arabs) carried out by Maagar Mohot Survey
Institute (headed by Professor Yitzchak Katz various days in May, 2007.

Who is the candidate you prefer to serve as prime minister - Binyamin
Netanyahu or Ehud Barak?
Netanyahu 36% Barak 17% Neither and other answers 47%

Who is the candidate you prefer to serve as prime minister - Binyamin
Netanyahu or Ami Ayalon?
Netanyahu 35% Ayalon 31% Neither and other answers 34%

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

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Giora Eiland Intelligent solutions for Gaza rockets

Giora Eiland provides some professional and intelligent options for ending Gaza rocket attacks. They do not require Israel to re-occupy the Gaza Strip and fall short of dismantling the Palestinian authority. They are intelligent and professional and relatively moderate.
The problem is that they probably will not work.
Option A:
 Option A: Capturing areas in the Gaza Strip, particularly the Philadelphi Route - while not sufficing with capturing the Route, which  is too narrow to protect, and widening it. The implication of this would be the destruction of hundreds of homes in Rafah and thousands of homeless people. This will create an international outcry and spark the ire of the Egyptians – which is a good thing! Israel would insist that it would withdraw its troops only if and when a satisfactory security arrangement is hammered out. Such a settlement is possible and Israel should reach an agreement on it with the US prior to an operation.
As long as Hamas is in power outside the captured areas, our soldiers will be sitting ducks for kidnapping schemes and other guerilla actions.
Option B:
Option B: Israel announces that as far as it is concerned Gaza is a political entity (separate from the West Bank,) which is ruled pragmatically and formally by Hamas. As this entity is in a state of war with Israel, Israel would have to take three measures:

  • Immediately close off border crossings between Israel and Gaza (as Gaza is open to Egypt, supplies to and from Gaza could be transferred through there.)

  • Announce that in several months Israel would cease to supply water, electricity and fuel.
  • Since Gaza is an enemy state in a state of war with Israel, every governing institution in Gaza and the infrastructure serving the belligerent effort against us, including roads and bridges, should be targeted.
Any such activities will build tremendous sympathy for the persecuted Palestinians around the world. As they, like the Option A, would drag on for months, Israel would find itself increasingly isolated, and also subject to increasing Hamas attacks. The State Department birdie that says "excercise restraint" will be trotted out of its cage on a daily basis, and Condoleezza will be on the phone a lot, warning Israel not to harm the democratically elected government of Mahmud Abbas.
The only real solution is either to get an international force to govern Gaza and make order, or failing that, to reoccupy Gaza and disarm the Hamas. Whatever is done, must be over in a few days. However, it is not practical to do that now. When the rockets reach Ashqelon, it will have to be done.  Israel should be doing much more to try to get a diplomatic solution to the problem, and to prepare world opinion for the possibility of Israel action.
Ami Isseroff

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IAF attacks Gaza Terror Funders

**IDF aerial attacks on businesses in Gaza involved in transferring funds to terror organizations - May 24, 2007

Information Department, Israel Foreign Ministry - Jerusalem
Jerusalem, 24 May 2007

IDF aerial attacks on businesses in Gaza involved in transferring funds to terror organizations
(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

Tonight, the IDF carried out aerial attacks against money changers' offices and businesses in the Gaza Strip which have been transferring funds from Iran, Syria and Lebanon for the funding of the terrorist activities of Hamas and other organizations.

Millions of dollars have been transferred each month to terror organizations in the Gaza Strip, which has enabled the purchase and manufacture of weaponry and the carrying out of attacks against Israeli civilians, including Kassam launchings.

During the past week close to 200 Kassam rockets were launched at Israel, killing a woman, injuring dozens and causing significant damage to property. Most of the Kassam rockets were launched by the Hamas terror organization.

The funds transferred to the terror organizations are a central motivator to their violent and aggressive activity against Israeli civilians. These funds help maintain and extend the terrorist infrastructures while increasing the supply of weapons at their disposal, paying terror operatives and enabling them to train.

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Israel Gov't to launch online PR campaign

The article states:
Maimon's team also recommended upgrading Israeli PR on the internet, claiming that a simple search on the Arab-Israeli conflict brings up thousands of websites presenting the Arab side of the story, and a relatively tiny number of sites representing the Israeli side.
No kidding! You don't say! But it says:

The team recommended that volunteers be recruited to send opinion pieces, personal columns and talkbacks to various websites to present the Israeli side of things. 
How about making our own Web sites (<g> isn't that what we are doing here?) and making Israel government sites search-engine visible??
Ami Isseroff

Gov't team recommends appointing national staff to overlook Israeli political PR campaigns, and recruiting volunteers for online PR war
Itamar Eichner Published:  05.24.07, 10:32 / Israel News
Appointing a national PR staff to instruct and coordinate all PR sources in Israel was recommended by Government Secretary Yisrael Maimom, Yedioth Ahronot newspaper reported on Thursday.

A special team headed by Maimon has spent the past three years examining ways in which the Israeli PR campaign could be improved, and published its report and recommendations this week. 
The team recommended appointing a person with extensive PR and communications experience to head the staff, as well as some security-political background.

The appointed head will be employed as director-general of a government office and be in close contact with the prime minister.
The staff head will sit in on government and cabinet meetings, and sensitive security discussions, and will instruct all PR sources on how to handle sensitive issues.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reviewed the 35-page report, and decided to adopt its recommendations in principle. The recommendations will be brought for government approval once details are cleared with the various PR bodies.

According to the report, the national PR staff will take control over the Government Press Office, which will become its operational wing.

"The PR staff is not meant to replace the activity of any other PR source in the government offices. It is meant to instruct and coordinate in the field of PR in order to ensure that the message is comprehensive, clear and consistent and that different government speakers all say the same thing," the report stated.  

"The staff's purpose is to initiate PR plans, and prepare for events in advance so as to change the situation in which PR mainly deals with responding to events. The establishment of the PR staff is not meant to replace any existing PR activity - which should continue to be carried out - by various offices and bodies."

The report also said that when carrying out security evaluations before deciding on any defense operation, PR repercussions should be considered, and a PR plan should be formed for every scenario.
At times of emergency, the national PR staff will also be responsible for raising morale and national resilience.

Online PR war needed

Maimon's team also recommended upgrading Israeli PR on the internet, claiming that a simple search on the Arab-Israeli conflict brings up thousands of websites presenting the Arab side of the story, and a relatively tiny number of sites representing the Israeli side.

The team recommended that volunteers be recruited to send opinion pieces, personal columns and talkbacks to various websites to present the Israeli side of things. 
The PR war has already begun in Sderot, as about a dozen residents who speak foreign languages were sent for an intensive course in PR principles, including practicing speaking in front of cameras and simulating interviews.
The course was organized by Israeli advocacy group, the Israel Project.

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Jordanian branding campaign

This will have a familiar ring to those who remember the Brand Israel campaign. That was supposed to show Israel as a nice place to visit for tourists. It had to be postponed because of a minor technical mis-hap: The Lebanon war. It was felt, for some reason, that photos of tourists enjoying the beaches of Haifa might not be convincing if rockets were falling a few hundred meters away.
Now Jordan has been sold the same idea. A suggested slogan, "Visit Jordan, where things do not blow up most of the time." Another good one, "Visit Jordan, get your annotated copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion."
Jordan is a beautiful and interesting country with a lot of potential (some of it realized) and a relatively reasonable government. Jordanians are a warm, hospitable and courtly people. Israel is a pretty wonderful country too. But ad-agency hype is not going to get those messages across.
Ami Isseroff

By Yoav Stern

DEAD SEA, Jordan - Jordan is working on altering its image from a sleepy Arab country to one attractive to investors, a regional leader and a welcoming host.
This transformation is not yet complete - when cellphones are confiscated at the border and taxi drivers are fined for exceeding their predetermined zones of operation, it is hard to see progress. But compared to the rumbling volcanoes surrounding the country - Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Saudi Arabia - there is something to this change.
"Jordan is a country of law," the "Gate to the Middle East," huge billboards stated in English, aiming to reach people at conferences. In addition to the World Economic Forum this week, Jordan also hosted G-11 members. A few days earlier, Nobel Peace Prize laureates attended an annual gathering, and a group of Israeli and Palestinian public figures met to discuss ways of furthering regional peace.
King Abdullah II moved between events, a generous host. He arrived at the Israeli-Palestinian summit, heading an entourage of aides. The king received guests in one room, Vice Premier Shimon Peres awaited in another room, next door to a Saudi prince.
"Jordan has had many and varied diplomatic and economic achievements," the director of the king's press office said. But Jordan is also very interested in furthering peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The Arab League has assigned Jordan the task of leading this effort.
King Abdullah told the Palestinians he had no ambitions for the West Bank and wished to see an independent Palestinian state. He told Israel "2007 is a critical year" and the Arab peace initiative is the best framework for peace. Kuwaitis, Lebanese and Saudis participating in the forum said they shared the King's views.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sound policy: Lebanese Defense Minister to militants: Surrender or die

Can Israel hire this guy? No restraint?? Condoleeza, where are you?
Last update - 22:25 23/05/2007   
By News Agencies

Lebanon's defense minister issued an ultimatum Wednesday to Islamic militants barricaded in a Palestinian refugee camp to surrender or face death in a military onslaught, as the army reinforced its positions, raising fears of what could be a bloody showdown.
Since Sunday, heavy clashes between the al Qaida-inspired Fatah al-Islam militant group and the Lebanese army have left some 50 people dead and dozens wounded near the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon.
Fatah al-Islam fighters vowed not to give up and to resist any Lebanese assault.
Storming the Nahr el-Bared camp - a densely built-up town of narrow streets on the Mediterranean coast - could mean rough urban fighting for Lebanese troops and further death and destruction for the thousands of civilians who remain inside.

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Israel's daily dose of Qassam fire

Our daily dose of Qassam fire
Last update - 23:34 23/05/2007   
By Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff, and Mijal Grinberg, Haaretz Correspondents, and News Agencies

An Israel Defense Forces soldier was lightly hurt Wednesday evening as gunshots were fired in the northern Gaza Strip.
The gunfire erupted near the ruins of former Jewish settlement Dugit, where IDF troops have been operating for several days.
It is not yet clear whether the soldier was shot by Palestinians or accidentally by a different IDF force operating in the area. The soldier was taken to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon for medical assistance.
Meanwhile, four Qassam rockets slammed into the western Negev Wednesday evening, one hitting a stable in a kibbutz and killing a pregnant horse.
Another rocket landed in an open field in Sderot and two others in open areas near the city. No damage or casualties were reported.
One Qassam rocket landed in Sderot Wednesday morning. At least 13 rockets hit the western Negev on Tuesday.
Overnight Tuesday, Israel Defense Forces troops launched a rare raid into the southern Gaza Strip, briefly detaining seven Palestinians on the outskirts of the town of Khan Yunis.
The troops did not enter Khan Yunis itself, the army said, and the Palestinians were questioned and then released. Local residents said the troops entered several homes in the area.
The IDF routinely conducts arrest raids in the West Bank, but such operations in the Gaza Strip have been extremely rare since Israel withdrew from the territory in September 2005.
Israel launched more air strikes on suspected Gaza militants early Wednesday that wounded at least seven people, including a pregnant woman and a teenage boy, hospital officials and residents of the northern part of the coastal strip said.
The IDF confirmed an aircraft had fired missiles into a building used to store munitions and that secondary explosions were observed.
Shortly after the first strike, a missile was fired at a Gaza City target also believed to be used by Hamas militants to store weapons, witnesses said.
There were no casualties in the second airstrike, said the witnesses.
An Israel Air Force helicopter strafed a rocket launch site in Gaza with machine-gun fire earlier Tuesday evening, wounding three people, Palestinian security officials and hospital staff said. They could not say if they were firing rockets at the time.
The IDF confirmed it fired at areas known to be used for firing rockets, but could not say whether anyone was wounded.
Meanwhile, at least 13 Qassam rockets were fired at Israel the western Negev Tuesday evening.
One rocket hit open areas, causing no damage or injuries. Later Tuesday, two more rockets were fired at the area, one hitting a wheat field, causing a fire, and the second striking in the town of Sderot, causing damage. There were no injuries in any of the attacks.
Later on in the evening, three rockets were fired at Israel, two of which hit open areas in the western Negev, and one of which hit inside Palestinian territory. There were no injuries or damage.
Seven more rockets were fired Tuesday, lightly wounding two people, the IDF said.
Earlier Tuesday, the IAF attacked two Hamas camps in northern Gaza, Palestinian security officials said. Hamas said one of the airstrikes destroyed a building used by its Executive Force.
The Israel Defense Forces confirmed the airstrikes, but gave no details on the target. Israel has carried out extensive bombing raids in Gaza, the source of ongoing Qassam rocket fire, targeting Hamas and other militant groups responsible for the attacks.
Also Tuesday, the Israel Air Force hit two targets in central Gaza, an IDF spokesperson said. Palestinian officials said a total of seven people were wounded in the four attacks.
Defense Minster Amir Peretz said Tuesday that Israel is exerting self-restraint over the ongoing Qassam attacks, avoiding the use of ground troops.
Leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in Gaza already have taken a series of precautions to avoid Israeli attacks, turning off cellphones and staying indoors.
In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri threatened harsh retaliation if the group's leaders were attacked. "Harming ... any of Hamas' leadership will cost the occupation dearly," he said. "This will mean responses." He did not elaborate.
On Monday, a Hamas spokesman had said that if Israel agrees to a temporary cease-fire in the West Bank, the Palestinian unity government will be able to get all the Palestinian factions to heed a general cease-fire, including in the Gaza Strip.
Over the past week, more than 150 rockets have landed around Sderot, a town of 24,000 residents near the Gaza border.
The army said the Tuesday morning strikes targeted a building housing weapon depositories and another that served as a "command center" for the Popular Resistance Committees.
The IAF said the Tuesday morning strikes targeted a building housing weapon depositories and another that served as a "command center" for the Popular Resistance Committees.
Witnesses and a Hamas spokesman said that the strikes destroyed a metal foundry and a wood workshop that Hamas militants had gathered near.

Continued (Permanent Link)

We are all "settlers:" Abu Obayda: Areas beyond Asqlan must be prepared for new round of Qassam

This does not really need much comment... USA will say "exercise restraint"
We do not neet revenge or reprisals. We need to stop the Qassams now.
Abu Obayda: Areas beyond Asqlan must be prepared for new round of Qassam
Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas) Website 23 May 2007

Ezzedeen Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas Movement, has threatened that its rockets will reach the Zionist settlers in the 1948-occupied coastal city of Asqlan and areas beyond in retaliation to the intensive and relentless occupation forces troops bombarding of Palestinian homes in Gaza Strip.

The threats came apparently after the Brigades fired a salvo of its homemade Qassam rockets at the Zionist settlements around Gaza strip. According to the Zionist medical sources, the rockets killed a settler and seriously
injured another settler in addition to 20 others treated for shocks.

Tens of Palestinian citizens, including children and women, were martyred and dozens others were wounded, many in critical condition, due to the incessant occupation forces land and aerial shelling of populated Palestinian areas in the tiny Gaza Strip since Saturday.

Ezzedeen Al Qassam Brigades asserted that the shelling of Sderot was only an initial reprisal to the occupation forces war crimes in Gaza Strip, underling that Asqlan and areas beyond it must brace for new round of Palestinian missile attacks.

Over the past 11 months, Al Qassam Brigades along with other armed wings of the Palestinian resistance heeded a request from PA chief Mahmoud Abbas urging calm; yet, facts on the ground proved that the occupation forces troops hadn't reciprocated the truce even for a single day as they continued killing, wounding, and arresting Palestinian citizens in the West Bank.

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Oprah Winfrey to visit Israel - Palestinians trying to stop her

This is great news. Please thank Oprah Winfrey  at
because Palestinians are launching a letter writing campaign to protest her visit and discourage it.
Ami Isseroff

American talk show queen accepts Elie Wiesel proposal to come to Israel, says she sympathizes with Israelis' suffering
Itamar Eichner Published:  05.22.07, 12:03 / Israel Culture

Oprah Winfrey will be arriving in Israel for a solidarity visit in the near future, the queen of American talk shows announced Monday during an event at Manhattan's Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
In the event, Winfrey was honored by the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity for her contribution to promoting humanitarian issues.

Wiesel called on Winfrey to visit Israel, where "the major war against terror is currently taking place."
In her speech, Winfrey said she sympathized with the suffering of the people of Israel, and that she intended to accept Wiesel's invitation and come with him to Israel.

Israel's UN Ambassador Danny Gillerman, who attended the event, said that a visit of a figure with such influence on the international media could help bring an end to the indifference towards the terror threat faced by Israelis.

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Democracy in Israel

Tuesday, May 22, 2007



Democracy has to start at home!

In our home, we were and are very democratic.
When we were an extended family, we discussed everything and acted as the elders told us to.
When we were just 4, we discussed everything, but the kids did as they were told,- by the parents.
I.E. :
They were given freedoms on a long 'leash',- but that 'leash' was reined-in as soon as they took advantage of this freedom to their detriment!

Now when we are jus 2 of us,- we discuss everything, but we do ,- what?
We have to give and take!
That is democracy! A democracy which can work for two very easily,- or you divorce!

Institutional, national or company, etc. democracies are just the same on a grander scale: some take advantage of the freedoms of the individual, to the detriment of everyone else. They have to be reined in, restricted, locked-up, locked-out, expelled, legislated against, or whatever.

There is no one rule that fits all. There is no law that says: we are all equal, -full stop.
We are all equal before the law,- fair enough!
But kids, adults, the able and disabled, the old and the young,- the crooks, the saintly, the clever and the idiots,- the poor and the rich, etc., etc.,- sorry, not one of us would claim equality on all fronts all our lives with everyone else!

One can repeat one's "democracy dogma" as much as one likes. The ideal may be in heaven, but on earth, my/our home is my/our castle and I/we set the rules.

If my home is on Crown (Government) land,- or if someone else has claims on my land,- we still have tenancy rights enshrined in laws. I don't expect to be shot at and murdered by the landlord,- but if I overstep my rights, the landlord will have a right to evict me via the correct enforcers of the law. I will have to accept it, like it or not,- if I am normal, of course!

If my neighbors overstep their rights to build a structure which adversely affects my property rights,- then there are also laws and avenues to appeal for both parties. Both will have to accept whatever the rulings,- if we are normal human beings!

On the other hand, if a potential mass-murderer were to live next door to any of us,- whose rights take precedence in a democracy? His or ours? He stays and we move?

I wouldn't!


Every nation has its problems and every nation deals with it as it sees fit, including our Oz (AUSTRALIA).

Dictatorships a-la-Zimbabwe or Iraq or past and present others,- need outside help to free their citizens.

But I don't think that democratic Israel needs anyone's lecturing on how to deal with its potential enemies within, as long as no one comes to help her deal with her actual enemies,- i.e. the former's brethren-, without!

Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Syrian Author: Hitler Falsely Accused of Genocide against the Jews

Syrian Author Muhammad Nimr Al-Madani: Hitler Was Falsely
Accused of Committing Genocide Against the Jews

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Syrian author Muhammad Nimr Al-Madani, which aired on the Iranian News Channel on May 13, 2007:

Muhammad Nimr Al-Madani: The secret about which few people talk today is that Europe wanted to get rid of the Jews. The Jews in Europe - and I emphasize Europe - were not very popular. Therefore, in order to get rid of the European Jews, the European countries had to accept the Zionist plan that was formulated, and to agree to the transfer of Jews to Palestine. Hitler agreed to this and agreed to the transfer of these Jews to Madagascar. This was Hitler's idea, in order to create a Jewish state on Syrian land.

When Hitler occupied territories in East Europe, the idea of establishing a homeland and a state for these Jews arose. But the Europeans did not agree to this, because both Germany and England were each searching for ways to get rid of their Jews. Therefore, Hitler was falsely accused of committing genocide against the Jews. This is a lie, and we know full well that Hitler never did such a thing. It was a premeditated lie by the Zionist regime.


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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.

MEMRI TV Project
P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC 20038-7837
Phone: (202) 955-9070
Fax: (202) 955-9077

Continued (Permanent Link)

DM Peretz: "Don't hold me back"

Ever watch a bar fight, where there is a guy standing in one corner, yelling "Don't hold me back!" "Don't hold me back" - but nobody in fact is holding him back, except himself?
Is Peretz like that, or is real pressure being applied on Israel?
Are the current operations accomplishing their purpose, and would a larger one do better?
Ami Isseroff
Peretz: We're holding back on Gaza ground operation
By Barak Ravid, Avi Issacharoff, and Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondents
Last update - 13:10 22/05/2007

Defense Minister Amir Peretz warned Tuesday that Israel is displaying self-restraint over the ongoing Qassam attacks from the Gaza Strip, in order to avoid the use of ground troops in efforts to halt the rockets.

Peretz said the remarks in a conversation to the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, in their meeting in Jerusalem. Shortly after his arrival in Israel on Monday, Solana accompanied Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on a visit to Sderot, which has bourne the brunt of Qassam attacks.
The defense minister also requested that the European Union renew its sanctions on the Palestinian Authority and Hamas and not release frozen funds.

"If the international community does not stop the terror organizations, we will find ourselves in a situation where the Palestinian Authority will completely disintegrate," Peretz warned.

Solana denounced the ongoing Qassam attacks and said that "we are living in a period of increasing violence, and we would very much like to calm the siutation and solve it in diplomatic methods."

Peretz maintained that "all the good will demonstrated when building the Palestinian unity governement must now be brought to an end. The unity government is not functioning in today's anarchic situation in the Gaza Strip, but instead is legitimizing murder in Gaza and the continuation of rocket firing at Israel. The positive atmoshpere that was once expressed by this government is now overshadowed by the wave of violence that they themselves began."

The defense minister said that Israel has done all it can to maintain the cease-fire. "We were blamed for showing too much restraint, but until Hamas was not involved - until it wasn't clear what part the unity government had [in the firing] - we did everything to show restraint. Today, Hamas is the one leading the violence, defending the firing, and we do not intend to stop, unless the firing ceases."

He issued a further warning to Hamas, saying that Israel will take any measures to protect itself.

"The firing won't stop? Then we will be obliged to defend our citizens and children," he said.

Sneh: Not even Haniyeh is immune from IDF strike

Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh hinted Tuesday morning that Israel could target Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas as part of steps to counter the Qassam rocket fire.

Israel has carried out extensive bombing raids in Gaza, the source of the rocket fire, targeting Hamas and other militant groups responsible for the attacks.

Early Tuesday, the Israel Air Force launched two air strikes against targets in central Gaza, an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson said.

Asked if Haniyeh was on Israel's hit-list, Sneh told Israel Radio: "I'll put it like this, there is no one who is in the circle of commanders and leaders in Hamas who is immune from a strike.

"For what does political Hamas do? It gives the operational approval, if not the actual ratification, to those who are doing the fighting," Sneh said.

"When someone preaches that the State of Israel should be destroyed, he is
not in the political echelon, he is a terrorist in a suit."

The London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabiya newspaper reported Tuesday that Hamas militants and former ministers have gone underground in fear of an Israeli airstrike.

A bodyguard of former Palestinian Interior Minister Sayid Siam told the paper that he does not know where Siam is, and cannot reach him. Sources close to former Palestinian foreign minister Mahmoud Zahar also said they have lost contact with him.

Hamas offered Monday to halt the rocket fire if Israel agreed to a temporary truce that extended to the West Bank.

The IAF said the Tuesday morning strikes targeted a building housing weapon depositories and another that served as a "command center" for the Popular Resistance Committees.

Witnesses and a Hamas spokesman said that the strikes destroyed a metal foundry and a wood workshop that Hamas militants had gathered near.

Palestinian security officials said there were no casualties in the air strikes, which came hours after a woman was killed in a Qassam attack on the Negev town of Sderot.

Haniyeh of Hamas vowed Monday that Hamas would fight until 'victory or martyrdom,' as Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip killed five Palestinians, including four members of an Islamic Jihad Qassam firing squad.

"We will keep to the same path until we win one of two goals: victory or martyrdom," said Haniyeh at a funeral service for a Hamas lawmaker's family members, who were killed Sunday in an IAF strike.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Israel's attacks would have "grave consequences for the entire region." he called on militants to end their rocket fire "so as not to give the Israelis the excuse they use to justify their attacks that have killed innocent victims," according to his spokesman, Nabil Amr.

In response to the air strikes, Islamic Jihad threatened to target Israeli leaders. "The Zionist attack will not stop rocket fire against Zionist towns," said Islamic Jihad spokesman Abu Ahmed. "Leaders of the Zionist enemy will pay a price."

Hamas also pledged to strike at "the enemy anywhere in Palestine, whether with suicide attacks or operations against soldiers," said Hamas military wing spokesman Abu Obeida.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel Gov't urged to aid Sderot residents who want to leave

Last update - 04:38 22/05/2007   
By Ruth Sinai, Haaretz Correspondent

Dozens of residents of Sderot would like to leave the town because of the Qassam rocket threat, but are unable to rent apartments elsewhere so long as they are burdened with mortgage payments.
The Yedid nonprofit organization therefore urged Housing Minister Meir Sheetrit, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Supervisor of Banks Rony Hizkiyahu Monday to take steps to help Sderot residents who wish to leave the town.
Sabina Michaelov sought Yedid's help on behalf of her parents, who have resided in Sderot for more than a decade. "They love the town and would like to stay there, but after seven years of Qassam attacks, they are fed up," she said.
The apartment building in which Michaelov's parents live has no reinforced rooms. Even though there is a bomb shelter on their street, the 20 seconds that elapse between the siren warning of a rocket launch and the time it strikes its target is insufficient for the elderly couple to reach cover.
Michaelov said that her parents pay more than NIS 1,000 per month for their mortgage and they are unable to pay rent elsewhere. She therefore asked Yedid to assist in convincing the bank to freeze the payments.
Michaelov says many new immigrants living in Sderot are interested in leaving.
Yedid Director Ran Melamed said he asked the ministers and the supervisor of banks to authorize rent subsidies for Sderot residents so they can live in another town as long as the "special situation on the home front" that Peretz declared last week continues.

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U.S. Ambassador Jones Apologizes for Pollard remarks


Press Release

Embassy of the United States of America
Migdalor Building, One Ben Yehuda Street, P.O. Box 26180, Tel Aviv 61261,

U.S. Ambassador Richard H. Jones Apologizes
for Remarks regarding Jonathan Pollard

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Richard H. Jones has issued the following
statement to the press:

"I apologize for the remarks I made this morning regarding the case of Mr.
Jonathan Pollard, which were misinformed and misleading. They did not
reflect my personal views nor those of the Bush Administration. I certainly
do not personally believe that Mr. Pollard should have received capital
punishment and I was appalled to learn that I had given that impression. I
regret any distress that I may have caused Mr. Pollard's family and loved

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

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Continued (Permanent Link)

How the Hezbollah really started

This is the real story of the Hezbollah. It started in 1982 and not in 1984. It was not resistance to Israeli occupation, but the beginnings of an Islamist Republic in Lebanon, kindled from Iran.
Baltimore Sun
What I saw at the Islamic revolution
By Hussain Abdul-Hussain

May 20, 2007

"Enough soccer; we should go occupy the army barracks," said Ali, whose dad, a religious scholar, had sent him to get us. I was 8 and didn't want to stop playing, but we reluctantly followed Ali to the top of the Sheik Abdullah hill, the site of the biggest Lebanese army barracks in the country. There we saw hundreds of women, all in black cloaks, shouting, "Death to Amin Gemayel" - the former Lebanese president - "Death to America," and "Death to Israel."
It was the summer of 1982, and I had no idea that I was about to take part in the birth of a movement that would shake the Middle East and the world

For a young boy spending the summer at his mother's village in Baalbek, in eastern Lebanon, the scene was disorienting. I had no clue who Amin Gemayel was, or the point of the protest. Coming from Baghdad, I was used to schoolteachers taking us to the streets to shout slogans praising Saddam Hussein. But Lebanon was different.
Ali's dad told us to go stand behind "the sisters" and shout "Death to America," which we did. After some time, the barracks' guards gave up and opened the gates. As soldiers left, bearded men with khaki outfits in Toyota Jeeps and on motorcycles sped into the compound and occupied the emptied barracks.
This was the first takeover of a state building by a new group I had just heard of: Hezbollah. The non-Arab-speaking, bearded men in khaki uniforms were their trainers and mentors, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
This story of how Hezbollah came to be is quite different from the account given by most scholars and observers.
It was the end of the summer, and we were due to fly back home. But my dad was required to join the Iraqi army, and in order to avoid conscription my family decided to stay in Baalbek, where we lived for the next five years.
In 1982, seven years after the start of the civil war, the Lebanese government was too weak and fragmented to stand in Hezbollah's way. After taking over the barracks, Hezbollah occupied the House of Public Teachers, another state-owned building, and turned it into the Imam Khomeini Hospital. Around that time, Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guards had occupied a 19th-century building, the Khawwam Hotel, and turned it into their headquarters. Most walls around the city were painted with murals of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini along with quotes from him promising the destruction of Israel and the end of America, or urging martyrdom.
The owner of the only liquor store in town was shot dead and his business closed. Women wearing outfits deemed un-Islamic risked young militants throwing acidic material on the uncovered parts of their bodies . Celebrations with loud music were usually greeted with the explosion of a frightening "sonic bomb."
Meanwhile, loyalists were rewarded. Word had it that women wearing black chadors and men growing their beards received $300 and $100 a month respectively. The unemployed were given jobs at the newly founded hospitals, schools, militia and radio station.
This was an Islamic republic in formation. Hezbollah's slogan at the time was "the Islamic Revolution in Lebanon." But the Syrian regime was in control of most of Lebanon, including Baalbek, and was unwilling to see an Iranian seed sprout in its backyard. Syria therefore inspired its loyalist Shiite group, Amal, to wage battles against Hezbollah, and these continued until the conclusion of the Lebanese civil war in 1990, when Iran and Syria reached a deal over the role of the party. According to the deal, Hezbollah would be allowed to maintain its arms, but its role would be limited to "resistance."
Hezbollah became a joint Iranian-Syrian venture and turned its slogan into "the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon." Hezbollah was also integrated into the Lebanese political fabric. Later, it would win a parliamentary bloc and gain a say in all of the nation's affairs.
Its history was rewritten. Today, most academics have it that Hezbollah was founded in Beirut in 1985 as a resistance movement against Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. The truth is that Hezbollah was founded in Baalbek in 1982 as the nucleus of a hoped-for Islamic republic in Lebanon.
Hezbollah is often depicted as having stayed away from the Lebanese civil war, which is also a fallacy. The truth is that Hezbollah clashed with Amal, the Lebanese Communist Party and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party during the war.
The history of Hezbollah and its intentions for Lebanon should be reexamined. The Lebanese media reported that Hezbollah had taken all compensation money that the government had paid to the people whose houses were destroyed during last summer's war with Israel. The party plans collective reconstruction for the southern suburb that has become its territory since the mid-1980s and will be replacing the destroyed units with new ones - a role that should be reserved for the Lebanese state.
With its own militia, foreign alliances and reconstruction plans, Hezbollah today maintains its own state at the expense of the Lebanese state and its elected government.
When I last visited Baalbek, this winter, I saw Ali. He had broken with the party long ago. He complained that Hezbollah now has banks, schools, hospitals, radio, TV, grocery stores and housing plans. Ali, who owns a grocery, told me that if you were not with them, they would keep you out of their network, and you could barely make enough to survive. I asked him whether he would join a Hezbollah protest today like we did 25 years ago.
"I will join a protest to make them leave us alone," he replied. "We have been pious Shiites since the days of our ancestors, and we do not need the Persians or their money to teach us how to keep our faith."

Hussain Abdul-Hussain, a media analyst, is a former reporter for The Daily Star of Lebanon. His e-mail is

Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Palestinians kill Israeli woman in Sderot

Qassam rockets kill - Remember that. At about the time this woman was getting killed by a Palestinian Qassam rocket, Nasser Youssef, the peaceful and moderate Hamas fellow who wrote about the Hudna in the New York Times, was explaining that he would not halt rocket fire on Sderot. Yousef said the rockets were ""fireworks which alert the world that there can be no solution except forcing Israel to halt its hostilities."
But remember that that a different Hamas spokesperson, explained that Hamas have a definite decision: "Israel will be removed from the map" .
Livni: Israel must fight Hamas, cease-fire would be a deception
By Mijal Grinberg and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and News Agencies

A 35-year-old woman was killed and two others wounded Monday evening when a Qassam rocket struck a car in the western Negev town of Sderot.
The woman, Shir-El Friedman, was standing next to the car at the time of the strike and was taken to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. Hospital spokeswoman Lea Malul said she died on the way to the hospital.
The two wounded individuals, one of whom was moderately hurt and the other lightly injured, were also evacuated to Barzilai Hospital, along with twelve others who suffered from shock.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Resistance Committees all claimed responsibility for the attack.
This is the first fatality in an unrelenting barrage of rockets fired at Sderot and the western Negev in recent days, which has caused widespread damage and left several other people wounded.
The last Israeli fatality in a Qassam rocket attack, 43-year-old Yaakov Yaakobov, was killed in the town in late November.
The attack came during a meeting in Sderot between Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief. They were not harmed. (For more on Solana's visit, click here)
In a joint press conference with Solana, Livni rejected any possibility of a cease-fire with Hamas. "A cease-fire is a kind of deception," she said. "Even during periods of so-called quiet, Hamas takes advantage of the situation to smuggle arms."
During the press conference, Livni received a note from Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal, informing her of the woman's death.
"Qassams are the result of Hamas' strengthening, and this is a strategic problem that must be dealt with and we will keep fighting Hamas," she continued. "Fighting terror does not mean making deals with terrorist organizations, we must demonstrate a fundamental change in the field."
"No nation would tolerate the consistent rocketing of its citizens, and neither will Israel," David Baker, an official in the Prime Minister's Office, told Haaretz following the attack. "We will continue to take whatever steps are necessary to bring these attacks to an end and to prevent terror from being inflicted upon the residents of Sderot and the western Negev."
Saeb Erekat, an aide to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said Abbas is making efforts to restore the cease-fire that greatly reduced Israel-Palestinian violence in Gaza from November until last week.
Erekat told The Associated Press that Abbas is calling on international mediators to press Israel to halt its strikes and on Hamas to stop the rocket salvos.
Following the attack, hundreds of Sderot residents gathered around the town hall, throwing stones and breaking its doors. The protesters chanted "Arcadi for prime minister," in reference to billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak, who on several occasions has provided hundreds of Sderot residents with hotel stays in Israeli cities in order to give them a break from the rocket fire.
Earlier, the protestors also tried to block Livni from leaving the town.
According to the IDF, a total of 15 rockets were fired at the area on Monday. Two struck early in the day, one of which slammed into and damaged a road. No injuries were reported. Another rocket hit the area Monday evening, causing no injuries, and a rocket hit a field near Sderot later in the day, causing a fire but no injuries.
Some 15 rockets hit the Sderot area on Sunday.
Meanwhile Monday, the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command distributed instructions on what to do in the case of a rocket attack to the residents of Netivot, which is located roughly 15 kilometers from the Gaza Strip and is in range of improved Qassams as well as Katyusha rockets.
Roughly one year ago rockets hit slightly to the west of the town, and the IDF is preparing for the possibility that further escalation in the Gaza Strip will bring rocket fire on Netivot and Ashkelon as well.

The IDF on Monday also called up 35 reserve medics on emergency orders to serve in Sderot, Ashkelon, and other parts of the western Negev, Army Radio reported.
The escalation in the Gaza Strip has spurred concern in the IDF that Hamas will again attempt to kidnap Israeli troops, Army Radio reported Monday.
Last June, Hamas and other armed groups attacked an IDF post on Israeli soil bordering Gaza, killing two soldiers and wounding four, one of whom, Corporal Gilad Shalit, was taken captive.
"Israeli forces in the area of the Gaza Strip have been instructed to raise their alertness level for fear that terror organizations may attempt to carry out kidnappings," the radio reported.
It said the concerns were increased after overnight Israeli air strikes, one of which hit the house of Hamas parliamentarian Khalil al-Haya in Gaza. The lawmaker was slightly injured in the attack, but eight others including seven members of his family were killed, and 13 people were wounded.

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"No" to Bashar = "Yes" to Syria

 "No" to Bashar = "Yes" to Syria

Indeed, but the best way to say "No" to Bashar is when we choose to boycott the entire system that was set u to allow someone like him to lord over us, to reject the whole Baath-imposed referendum system that deprives us of a real choice, to refuse to take part in the farce that is played on our expense.

May 27th should be the National Flu Day, or whatever you want to call it. And despite the fact that we, of the opposition, seem to be issuing the call for boycott, in truth, it is the Syrian people who are taking the lead here. Reports from various parts of Syria are showing that, despite attempts at intimidation and mobilization, people are not showing up in massive numbers to take part in the "popular" demonstration of support for the President. In the city of Suwaida, the whole event was a failure from start to finish, even the security people petered out of the event at a steady pace, and the streets became empty within a few short hours.

Let there be no doubt about it, though, our National Clown will claim victory at the end of the day, and will claim his usual 99% of the votes and officials will report massive turnouts at the polling stations, and they might eventually succeed in arranging for a few mass demonstrations, by mobilizing army recruits, security personnel as well as Iraqi and Palestinian refugees, still, by day-end, the Syrian people will also be victorious, and they will emerge more empowered than ever, because by day end, many will have broken the barrier of fear, and we will have established networks on the ground that we can use to make life increasingly difficult for Bashar & Company.

Life may not have been smooth sailing for Bashar over the last few years, but from now, he is going to have to fight for his survival every day, and the challenge will come from the inside.

Regarding our Rally in DC, preparations are proceeding at they should, we are leaning towards holding the event between 9 and 11 am, to give people enough time to go on their long weekend. I should also point out that some people will be coming from as far away as Seattle to take part in the event and will leave on the same day. I am glad to see that there are those who seem to understand the importance of this event and are willing to go to some trouble in order to take part in it. It is really that important.

For Arabic speakers, here is a link to my recent interview on al-Hurra. I shall be more vociferous from now on.

Ammar Abdulhammid

Continued (Permanent Link)

The Syrian Legislative Elections 2007- Final Report: Mr. Assad addresses the parliament

Syrian commentary on the Syrian elections...

May 17, 2007

The Syrian Legislative Elections 2007- Final Report: Mr. Assad addresses the parliament


Syrian Elector, Damascus  (May 17, 2007)

  •      The staged nature of the legislative elections in Syria was clearly established in our previous two reports on the matter. But, if anyone needed a further clarification as to why the regime felt the need to go to the trouble of staging elections that it could easily bypass, the unanimous approval by the parliament of the nomination of Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, for a second 7-year term in office, tells all. For a semblance of legitimacy is always required even in the most authoritarian of states.
  •       The whole nomination process took less than five minute, even less that the amount of time that had been required for amending the Constitution back in 2000, a development that allowed Bashar to be nominated for the first term. The "historic" moment was then crowned by a 45 minute speech by Bashar that neglected to make any mention of the popular boycott of the elections, failed to include any promises with regard to internal reforms, boasted of unspecified and quite phantom achievements in the economic sector, defied the international community on issues relating the international tribunal, the peace process and Iraq, and ended up by promising more of the same over the next few years. If the attempts at engaging Bashar that had preceded the elections seem to have had any influence on him, their net effect, it seems, was to further radicalize his stands rather moderate them.
  •       To make things even worse, the speech coincided with the pronouncement of the harshest sentence to date under Bashar's rule by Syria's security tribunals against a well-know dissident, the very one indeed whose case was brought up by Senator Nancy Pelosi.
  •       Meanwhile, a close examination of the "new" members of parliament reveals absolutely no new faces. Even the "new" figures, are only new in the sense if being (s)elected for the first time to the parliament, but they are not new to the political scene. Most are former mid- to high-level state employees, in a civic, military or security capacity. Examples: Ammar Sa'ati, former MP and current head of the Student Union, Muhammad Farouq Abou al-Shamat, former MP and current head of the Damascus Branch of the Baath Party, and Muhammad Nabeel al-Khateeb, former head of the Economic Security Court and current Minister of Justice, etc.
  •       The "independent" candidates are mostly businessmen who are now serving in their second or third term, and all are affiliated, one way or another, in business arrangements with members of the inner circle of the regime, including Bashar and Maher al-Assad.
  •       Some of the independent candidates are clergymen with known ties to the security apparatuses, including Muhammad Habash and Abdussalam Rajih.
  •       The head of the Actor's Guild, Mr. Saba Obeid, also won a seat, at the expense of so many covetous businessmen who spent much money in the elector campaign, the rumored caps on electoral spending notwithstanding. But then, Mr. Obeid, is hardly an independent voice. For it is well-established in Syria that all guilds and unions are heavily infiltrated by the Baath, and that their internal elections are even more staged than the parliamentary ones, and are often, supervised directly from the "Palace." Mr. Obeid's anti-opposition views are also well-documented.
  •       So, with people like these, Mr. Assad got the unanimous approval of his nomination, and the Syrian people got the shaft, again. But they might their say in the referendum, where a popular boycott could do far more damage than it did with the legislative ones. The boycott momentum might carry on. A slap in the face will not wake up the lion, but it will energize the Syrian people. Mr. Assad's real crisis of legitimacy will begin in the days following the referendum, and not end there or lie dormant again as he expects them too.

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Hamas: Definite decision - "Israel will be removed from the map"

The article says:
In an interview with Hamas Television quoted on Israel Radio, Nizar Riyan, a leading member of the Islamic group's political wing, said:
"It is a definite decision within the organization that Israel will be removed from the map, to be replaced by a Palestinian state."
I love decisive leadership, don't you?
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 11:58 21/05/2007   
By Haaretz Service

A senior Hamas figure in Gaza was quoted Monday as urging Palestinian factions to "continue to fight the Jews until the last of them is gone from Palestine."
In an interview with Hamas Television quoted on Israel Radio, Nizar Riyan, a leading member of the Islamic group's political wing, said:
"It is a definite decision within the organization that Israel will be removed from the map, to be replaced by a Palestinian state."
Riyan was also quoted as urging armed Palestinian factions to "Shell Ashkelon until its residents clear out, as did the residents of Sderot."

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Haaretz: U.S. policy shift may enable Israel to enter talks with Syria

The headline says "may enable."
The text says: "Washington has given Israel the green light to accept Syrian President Bashar Assad's call for peace talks, in a change of position accompanied by several preconditions."
It is interesting to note that previously Washington denied categorically that it barred Syria-Israel negotiations. The article states:
During a recent visit to Israel, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice responded forcefully when the issue of Assad's call for a resumption of negotiations with Israel was raised.
"It is best that you avoid even exploring this possibility," she said.
The whole logic presented is peculiar:
However, Washington has stipulated that Israel must not agree to any negotiations, even indirectly, on the United States' position, or on the future of Lebanon.
Furthermore, Israel must not make promises to Syria regarding U.S. policy. According to the new position, Washington will deal directly with Syria on these matters.
Syria's role in terrorism, the presence of terrorist organizations in Damascus and its involvement in smuggling weapons to Hezbollah and the Palestinian territories are currently issues which the U.S. is not discussing with Damascus.
Iran and its military connection with Syria is also not a topic that is open to discussion at present.
 On the one hand, it is absurd to assume that Israel would undertake to negotiate about US policy, or that Syria would believe any promises Israel might make. It is equally absurd however, to think that Israel would give up the Golan and still allow Syria to supply weapons to Hezbollah or house Khaled Meshal. U.S. position on these issues is not relevant. What were they thinking? All we can learn from this is that it illustrates the arcane complexity that results from Israel's total dependence on the US, which can be problematic when Israeli policy has to conform to imaginative and imaginary State Department notions about the Middle East.
Ami Isseroff

Last update - 12:29 21/05/2007   
By Ze'ev Schiff, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service

Washington has given Israel the green light to accept Syrian President Bashar Assad's call for peace talks, in a change of position accompanied by several preconditions.
The Bush administration has given Israel permission to discuss the future of the Golan Heights, security arrangements and Israeli-Syrian peace accords if it agrees to talks with Syria.
However, Washington has stipulated that Israel must not agree to any negotiations, even indirectly, on the United States' position, or on the future of Lebanon.
Furthermore, Israel must not make promises to Syria regarding U.S. policy. According to the new position, Washington will deal directly with Syria on these matters.
Syria's role in terrorism, the presence of terrorist organizations in Damascus and its involvement in smuggling weapons to Hezbollah and the Palestinian territories are currently issues which the U.S. is not discussing with Damascus.
Iran and its military connection with Syria is also not a topic that is open to discussion at present.
During a recent visit to Israel, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice responded forcefully when the issue of Assad's call for a resumption of negotiations with Israel was raised.
"It is best that you avoid even exploring this possibility," she said.
Israel's government interpreted this as a firm American stance preventing Syria from taking advantage of talks with Israel to extricate itself from diplomatic isolation before fulfilling its obligation to control insurgents from crossing into Iraq, and before meeting the demands of the international investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.
In past closed meetings, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has argued that U.S. President George Bush opposes talks between Israel and Damascus.
Mossad chief Meir Dagan also opposed talks with Syria. However military intelligence leaders including former Military Intelligence chief, Major General (res.) Aharon Ze'evi-Farkash, and his successor, Major General Amos Yadlin, were in favor.
Former chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon raised the issue of talks with Syria in meetings with former prime minister Ariel Sharon, who rejected the proposal.
The American position changed due Syria's participation in the Arab League summit in Riyadh.
During the meeting of Iraq's neighbors, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mualem adopted a moderate position. Rice then held a private meeting with Mualem.
Rice intends to invite Syria as well as Palestinian representatives and Israel to an international summit on the Arab-Israeli conflict, according to a plan being drafted by the U.S. State Department.
If this occurs, the American position regarding possible talks between Israel and Syria will no longer be relevant.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Hamas war crimes continue while the world is silent.

Fatah and Hamas are achieving "unity" at the expense of Israel. The war crimes of the Islamist reactionary genocidal Hamas go on. The declared intention is to ethnically cleanse the southern part of Israel - force evacuation of all the Jewish population. But the UN is silent, Amnesty is silent, HRW is silent.
The civilian population - women, old men, little babies -- of the Western Negev is undergoing a terror blitz. Where is the compassion, where is the empathy, that is so forthcoming for Arab Palestinians ??
Rocket destroys restaurant in western Negev kibbutz
Rebecca Anna Stoil, yaakov katz, and jpost staff,
May 20, 2007
An Indian restaurant in Kibbutz Nir-Am was destroyed Sunday evening when it was hit by a Kassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip.

Firefighters battled frantically to extinguish the massive blaze that broke out in the western Negev restaurant but couldn't prevent the it from burning to the ground.

Southern District Commander Cmdr. Ori Bar-Lev was on the scene directing security arrangements.

In total, three rockets hit the western Negev on Sunday evening, including one in Sderot, which caused a woman to suffer shock.

Earlier Sunday, Sderot residents said that Defense Minister Amir Peretz's declaration of a state of emergency in the city was too little, too late.

"Unfortunately, only after dozens of Kassam rockets and thousands of residents have left Sderot, the government only now understands that there is a state of emergency in Sderot," said Alon Davidi, a Sderot activist.

At around 1:30 p.m. a convoy of local businessmen, accompanied by police forces, began making their way from Sderot to Ashkelon Junction to protest the economic situation in the western Negev town. By 3:30 p.m. the convoy reached Ashkelon Junction.

The approximately 50 protestors were causing a minor disturbance to traffic patterns but police said that traffic was still flowing at the busy intersection.

Practically, Peretz's declaration means that he has transferred civilian authority power to the IDF's Home Front Command, which can shut down factories and workplaces, and order medical clinics as well as other facilities to remain open.

Last summer, during the Second Lebanon War, Peretz declared a similar state of emergency in northern Israel following the Hizbullah Katyusha rocket attacks.

Following disturbing scenes televised last week in which panicked Sderot residents pushed, hit and cursed one another in order to board busses taking locals away from the city under fire, the municipality announced Sunday morning that they had opened a hotline that would be responsible for recording the details concerning Sderot residents who had received subsidized relief programs, both private and government-sponsored.

"This is for the purpose of oversight and to prevent ugly actions," said Sderot spokesman Yossi Cohen Sunday.

Cohen said that following a Saturday night situation assessment, city leaders realized that 4,000 of the city's residents had already been evacuated to temporary "relief" programs throughout the country. Previously, he said, city leaders had believed that only half that number had already been relieved. That number, he emphasized, does not take into consideration the dozens of citizens who have already received or are currently receiving hospitality from private families.

Early Sunday morning, a barrage of five Kassam rockets struck Sderot and the surrounding areas in the course of two minutes. One landed in the yard of a Sderot house, which was fortunately empty at the time. A second landed in a busy intersection, knocking down traffic lights.

A few hours later, four more Kassam rockets struck Sderot, with one landing in the city center without exploding. Sappers were called in to difuse the dud rocket.

Following the early morning barrage, four people were evacuated to Ashkelon's Barzilai Hospital to receive treatment for shock. An hour later, an additional four were also taken to Barzilai and also treated for shock due to the barrage.

Since the current assault on Sderot and the western Negev began on Tuesday, police say that 125 rockets have landed in the area - an average of over 20 a day. In recent days, the police's Southern District command have set up shop in Sderot, in order to establish control more quickly in the event of

Shimon Romah, the head of Israel's fire and rescue services, announced Sunday morning that given the continued situation in Sderot, reinforcements would be deployed to the western Negev town. Firefighters from across the
country were scheduled to arrive in Sderot and work in 24-hour rotating shifts in order to relieve the town's exhausted rescue services.

In the midst of Kassam fire Saturday night, the Sderot municipality held a situation assessment during which they decided that local schools would be closed on Sunday morning. Officials said that school would be out until the security risks to students were addressed. Last week, a Kassam landed in a local classroom, causing extensive damage and injuring two teachers.

On Monday, Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal is expected to hold a conference call with heads of American Jewish organizations, coordinated by the Israeli Consulate in New York City. Sderot officials said Sunday that they had a long and fruitful working relationship with the New York Consulate, under the direction of Consul-General Ariyeh Makel.

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Iran making good progress toward A-bomb, wants to operate 50,000 centrifuges

Great news from Iran - Nuclear program is on schedule, targeting operation of 50,000 centrifuges. Israelis who have to pay off mortgages can stop worrying about it very soon.
Last update - 15:03 20/05/2007   
By The Associated Press

TEHRAN - The head of Iran's nuclear effort said Sunday that the Islamic republic's atomic program was moving ahead as scheduled and reiterated that Tehran would not suspend uranium enrichment, the country's official news agency IRNA reported.
The comments by Reza Aqazadeh, vice president and head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, came just days before the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to submit its latest report on Iran's nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council early this week.
"I confirm that our technical efforts are going ahead appropriately," IRNA quoted Aqazadeh as saying. "Improving nuclear technology and the installation and operation of 50,000 centrifuges are our aim."
Iran announced in April that it had begun to operate 3,000 centrifuges - 10 times the previously announced number - but the international community responded to the claim with skepticism. Tehran has said its ultimate goal is to have 50,000 centrifuges running at its underground facility in Natanz.
Later in April, The Associated Press obtained a confidential IAEA document saying that Iran was using 1,300 centrifuges at Natanz to enrich uranium, less than Tehran's official claim, but still significant progress. Aqazadeh did not mention a specific number of centrifuges Sunday.
In the enrichment process, uranium gas is injected into cascades of thousands of centrifuges, which spin and purify it. If enriched to a low level, the result is fuel for a nuclear reactor. To a much higher level it can build the material for a nuclear warhead.
The U.S. and some of its allies have accused Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons and have demanded the country suspend its enrichment activities prior to any negotiations.
Iran has maintained that its program is peaceful and has said it will not stop enrichment despite two sets of UN sanctions and the threat of more. The UN Security Council has set deadline of late May for Iran to suspend enrichment or face additional sanctions.
Both Aqazadeh and Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini reiterated on Sunday that Iran would not halt enrichment as a precondition to negotiations.
"We do continue this trend [enrichment] and we will not stop it," said Hosseini at his weekly press briefing.
Hosseini also confirmed Sunday that Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, had agreed to meet European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana on May 31 to discuss the deadlock over Tehran's nuclear program.
Solana last held talks in April with Larijani, who said at the time they had come closer to a united view on how to break the stalemate.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Lebanon Must Decisively and Permanently Deal with Nahr El-Bared Camp, Once and for All

Must Decisively and Permanently Deal with Nahr El-Bared Camp, Once and for All.
By: Elias Bejjani
LCCC Chairman

In my capacity as the Lebanese Canadian Coordinating Council (LCCC) chairman, I strongly denounces the criminal attack against the Lebanese Army and Security Forces in North Lebanon yesterday and today by gunmen of the "Fatah  al-Islam" group which is affiliated – in decision-making and in weapons – with the Syrian Intelligence Services.

The rulers in Damascus had brought in its mercenary fighters several months ago to the Palestinian Camps in Lebanon with the objective of stirring strife, creating an anarchy situation, obstructing the creation of the International Tribunal and, most importantly, prevent the rise of a strong self-reliant Lebanese State and institutions that would spread its control over every inch of Lebanese soil and disarm the militias and impose the rule of law.

It is worth mentioning in this context that the Syrian intelligence militia camouflaged under the name of  "Fatah  al-Islam" was behind the bus bombing crime in the town of Ain Alaq in the North Meten Lebanese region that killed innocent Lebanese civilians this past February.

The LCCC holds the Syrian regime and the Lebanese opposition in all its factions fully responsible for the bloody clashes and demands the Lebanese and
international judiciary prosecute its leadership for the attacks it has committed on the legitimacy of the Lebanese State, obstructing the operation of its constitutional institutions, creating a state of security anarchy, undermining the Lebanese economy and impoverishing the Lebanese people and pushing them to emigrate.

We urge the Army Command and the Lebanese government to deal decisively and with military means with the situation in the Nahr El-Bared Camp once and for all
because not doing so will weaken the army and give the Lebanese opposition and those behind them in the Syrian regime a new impetus to repeat what happened
several times in the past.

We commend the Lebanese army's rank and file and reiterate our full confidence in them. We unreservedly support their patriotic mission of the nation's salvation, and we demand the Lebanese government to take a decisive and immediate resolution to control the Lebanese-Syrian borders and seek the assistance of the international forces to carry out this mission.

 We also demand the Lebanese Sate and its legitimate security forces to put a complete end to all illegal illegitimate militia weapons both inside and outside the Palestinian camps, and in all the self-styled security zones in which Hezbollah has erected its mini-State.

We offer our sincere condolences to the members of the Lebanese Armed Forces and Security Forces who gave their lives yesterday and today defending the nation and protecting its people, their freedom and their identity. We ask God to grant their families the grace of patience and reliance on the Almighty, and to the
martyrs eternal life in God's heavenly paradise.

May 20/07

*Elias Bejjani
Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)
Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)

LCCC Web Site
CLHRF Website

Lebanon army battles militants in north, 11 killed

May 20, 2007

(Reuters) - Lebanese troops battled al Qaeda-linked militants in northern Lebanon on Sunday and at least 11 people were killed, seven of them soldiers, security sources said. They said the fighting broke out between the Lebanese army and members of the Fatah al-Islam militant group after security forces raided homes in Tripoli to arrest suspects accused of robbing a bank in the city a day earlier. Smoke rises from the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon.

Three soldiers were killed in the clashes at the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp. The militants also attacked an army patrol in the Koura region of northern Lebanon, killing four soldiers, a senior security official said. Four Fatah al-Islam fighters had been killed in the camp, which is home to 40,000 Palestinian refugees and near Tripoli. The army had tightened its grip around Nahr al-Bared camp since authorities charged Fatah al-Islam members with twin bus bombings in a Christian area near Beirut in February. Three civilians were killed by the bombs. The Lebanese government has accused Fatah al-Islam, a Palestinian-led group that broke away from the Syrian-backed Fatah al-Intifada last year of being linked to the Syrian government. Syria denied the charge. Cabinet minister Ahmad Fatfat, speaking in Tripoli, linked the violence to what he said were efforts to derail U.N. moves to set up an international tribunal for suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. A U.N. probe has implicated Syria and Lebanese officials in the Hariri killing. Damascus denies any involvement.

"There is someone trying to create security chaos to say to world public opinion: 'Look, if the tribunal is established, there will be security trouble in Lebanon,'" Fatfat told Lebanon's pro-government Future TV. The United States, France and Britain last week circulated a draft U.N. resolution that would unilaterally set up the court.

Cross posted:Israel News Middle East Analysis


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Iranian FM: Not true I said Israel cannot be wiped off the map

This speaks for itself.
Mottaki denies western news agencies claims on his speech
Amman, May 20, IRNA - Iranian news agency

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki denied some western news agencies claims on his speech in the World Economic Forum about the Zionist regime.

He told IRNA, "I said to the meeting every pupil knows that a nation like Palestinians cannot be eliminated from the map." Some western news agencies quoted Mottaki on Saturday saying that every pupil knows it is impossible to eliminate any country from the map.

He added, "Although Shah had good relations with South African apartheid regime and the Zionist regime, after the Islamic revolution victory, the ties were severed."

"After the collapse of the apartheid regime in South Africa, now we have very good ties with that country," Mottaki said.

He stressed, "We cast a negative vote on the Zionist regime credential in the UN, which means we do not recognize the regime." The 3-day forum started on Friday afternoon in the resort city of Bahr ul Meyet in Jordan and Iran's delegation headed by foreign minister Mottaki attended the meeting.

Iranian delegation departed Amman for Tehran on Saturday evening.

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Thank you Irfan Husain for telling the truth about radical Islam

It is high time to understand the truth about what is going on in Britain. This article by Irfan Hussain backs up what an increasing number of Muslims are saying, including ex-terrorists:

More and more, London is being viewed as a magnet for jihadis who are attracted by the hitherto relaxed asylum laws, and the large Muslim community. In fact, a few years ago, a French secret service officer sarcastically dubbed the British capital 'Londonistan', and the name has stuck. Christopher Hitchens, a well-known British journalist, cites a Channel 4 documentary called Undercover Mosque in his article 'Londonistan Calling' that appears in the current issue of Vanity Fair: "And there it all is: foaming, bearded preachers calling for crucifixion of unbelievers, for homosexuals to be thrown off mountain-tops, for disobedient and 'deficient' women to be beaten into submission, and for Indian and Jewish property and life to be destroyed... This stuff is being inculcated in small children ... Again, these were not tin-roof storefront mosques but well-appointed, well-attended places of worship, often the beneficiaries of Saudi Arabian largesse..."

Irfan Husain cannot be accused of Islamophobia, and neither can the Khaleej Times, which published his article, be accused of Islamophobia or racism against Muslims. Please write to Irfan Husain  and thank him for speaking out for decency.

Ami Isseroff

Londonistan calling
17 May 2007 
WHAT do the scores of young men (and a handful of women) who have been arrested, or tried, or convicted of attempted acts of terrorism in the West over the last couple of years have in common? They are all Muslims, for one. A few of them are recent converts to Islam, but most of them were born and raised in the faith.
Secondly, a significant majority have a Pakistani connection. Investigations have revealed that apart from being second or third generation immigrants, many have travelled back to Pakistan many times and were indoctrinated (the word used in the Western media is 'brainwashed') in madrassahs before going on to training camps. Here they learned how to make bombs using easily available ingredients. Those convicted recently had stockpiled over half a ton of a chemical fertiliser that was intended to make a powerful explosive device.

While reading the proceedings of their trial, one can see a third common element: their amateur approach that verges on sheer incompetence. In fact, this ineptitude has probably prevented many attacks from succeeding, saving hundreds of innocent lives. A special report in the Economist quotes one plotter asking Omar Khayyam:
"Bruv, you don't think this place is bugged, do you?" No, replied Khayyam: "Do you know, I think we give them too much credit, bruv."

But in fact the gang, together with scores of other suspects, were under 24-hour surveillance, their emails read, and their phone calls tapped. And time and again, this operation revealed a sinister Pakistan connection. Less than a year ago, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, the outgoing head of MI5, the domestic intelligence service, reported that her agents were tracking 1,600 known active suspects. How many are operating beyond the knowledge of the secret service is anybody's guess.

Whatever the numbers, it is clear that the presence of thousands of potential terrorists, most of them home-grown, poses an enormous threat to ordinary Britons, including hundreds of thousands of Muslims who want nothing more than to be allowed to live their lives in peace. Unfortunately, the blood-lust of a handful of terrorists in their midst makes the entire community a fifth column in the eyes of their hosts.

A result of this strong Pakistani element in the terrorist threat has prompted voices in the United States to question the policy of permitting British citizens to enter their country without visas. There is a growing demand to make those with a Pakistani background go through the long, convoluted process of applying for a US visa. And frankly, who can blame them? The reality is that there are a growing number of young fanatics who want nothing better than to blow up as many innocent people as they can.

And if Britain faces a threat from its Pakistani citizens, France sees a growing number of disaffected Algerians, while Spain has been attacked in the past by Moroccan immigrants. Much of the West perceives a growing menace from its large Muslim minority, and this does not necessarily reflect paranoia: a number of attacks and suicide bombings have proved how dangerous these callous killers are.

Over the last couple of years, I must have received hundreds of emails justifying the actions of these murderers. In their defence, writers have sent me a whole litany of acts the West is supposed to have carried out against Muslims now, and in the past. Apart from their anti-Muslim policies, Europeans and Americans are supposed to have 'loose morals', as if this somehow justifies the taking of innocent lives. One of those convicted for the 'fertiliser bomb plot' was quoted as advocating the bombing of The Ministry of Sound, a popular London nightclub, because it would kill many 'slags', or 'immoral women'.

More and more, London is being viewed as a magnet for jihadis who are attracted by the hitherto relaxed asylum laws, and the large Muslim community. In fact, a few years ago, a French secret service officer sarcastically dubbed the British capital 'Londonistan', and the name has stuck. Christopher Hitchens, a well-known British journalist, cites a Channel 4 documentary called Undercover Mosque in his article 'Londonistan Calling' that appears in the current issue of Vanity Fair: "And there it all is: foaming, bearded preachers calling for crucifixion of unbelievers, for homosexuals to be thrown off mountain-tops, for disobedient and 'deficient' women to be beaten into submission, and for Indian and Jewish property and life to be destroyed... This stuff is being inculcated in small children ... Again, these were not tin-roof storefront mosques but well-appointed, well-attended places of worship, often the beneficiaries of Saudi Arabian largesse..."

Hitchens goes on to say: "The roots of violence… are in the preaching of it, and the sanctification of it." He concludes his article by recalling an Islamic activist called Anjem Chaudhry who appeared in a BBC programme where he was asked that given his extreme views, would he not prefer to move to a country governed under Sharia law? The Muslim guest shot back: "Who says you own Britain anyway?"

I have no doubt many Muslims would applaud this attitude. But more and more, the world is running out of patience with extremism. The common platitude we hear ad nauseum is that Islam is a religion of peace, but it is being defamed by a small minority of extremists. The problem is that even a 'small minority' of well over a billion Muslims makes for an awful lot of terrorists.

To get an idea of what is happening, we only have to look towards Islamabad where for over three months, a few hundred seminary students and their mentoring mullahs have defied the state with impunity. General Musharraf, for all his might, finds himself helpless before this open rebellion. Further north, music shops are being forcibly shut down as local Taleban impose their benighted worldview on one corner of Pakistan. I have little doubt that this lawlessness will expand, and a supine state will roll over.

But it is unlikely that other countries will allow their Muslim minorities to dictate terms to the majority. Western liberal values of democracy and gender equality have been won after a long struggle, and people will fight to preserve them.

Irfan Husain is an eminent Pakistani writer based in London. He can be reached at

Continued (Permanent Link)

Christians persecuted in Iraqi Secular democratic state

This is a reminder, of what it is like to live in a Middle Eastern secular democratic state.
Baghdad (AINA) -- The crisis for the Assyrian community in Baghdad's Dora neighborhood is deepening. Islamists are systematically targeting the Christian Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs), forcing them to pay the jizya (AINA 4-17-2007, 3-18-2007), a "protection" tax demanded by the Koran, or convert within 24 hours or be killed. Dora is located 10 kilometers southwest of Baghdad.

Families are abandoning their homes and seeking refuge in Churches:

  • 14 families have fled to the Al-So'ud Chaldean Church.
  • 7 families have fled to Saint Odisho Assyrian Church. 3 families are in the church and 4 in the Saint Adai Patriarchate, the old church building.
  • An unknown number of families have fled to Saint George Chaldean Church.

Islamic groups are preventing families from bringing any belongings as they flee their homes.

Hatem Al-Razaq, the sheik of the Al-Noor mosque in Dora, has toured Dora, visiting each Assyrian family and instructing them to pay 250,000 Iraqi dinars ($190), saying this sum is the jizya because "you are not Muslims." Families that cannot pay this sum are told to send one family member to the mosque on Friday to announce their conversion to Islam. Families who refuse to do this must leave their homes immediately and not take any of their belongings with them because "your properties belong to the mosque."

Families that do not leave and do not convert are threatened with death.

In a report by the Catholic News Agency (AINA 5-18-2007), Mar Addai II, the Patriarch of the Ancient Assyrian Church of the East, says "Only the families that agree to give a daughter or sister in marriage to a Muslim can remain, which means that the entire nuclear family will progressively become Muslim." Also, Assyrian families are forced to turn over their homes as ransom for their kidnapped relatives.

Ami Isseroff

Cross posted: Israel News Middle East Analysis

Continued (Permanent Link)

Thank you Pope Benedict for noticing our suffering!

If only Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN had the common decency of the Pope, who is upholding the honor of the Catholic Church (and no, I am not being facetious).
Pope denounces attacks on Israeli border towns
Published: 05.20.07, 13:36 / Israel News

Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday denounced Palestinian factional fighting and rocket attacks on Israeli border towns, which provoked Israel's armed retaliation, and appealed in God's name for an end to the violence.

"The clashes among Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip and the rocket attacks against inhabitants of the nearby Israeli cities, which prompted armed intervention, are provoking a bloody deterioration of the situation," Benedict told pilgrims in St. Peter's Square. (AP)
This simple announcement is the minimum that could be expected from any decent organization.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Gimme that old time religion: Mullahs of the Gerrer Ultraorthodox Hassidim outlaw computers

"All I know is what I read in the newspapers." Will Rogers.
And in the newspaper it says:
Every Gerrer Hasid with a computer can expect a house call in the near future, meant to persuade him to get rid of the treyf device. Those with an Internet connection - the height of spiritual contamination, which only a few members of the community have rabbinical permission to use, and that for work purposes only - will receive special attention.
Even in Iran, the Mullahs have not banned computers or Internet. But they didn't have them in 17th century Eastern Europe, so they are certainly the works of the devil. These fellows make the Ayatollah Khomeini look like a communist.
A question arises: did Moses wear a shtraymel ??
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Censorship: Medical Center X-rates article about Nazi archive

The censors are watching us and will delete all "profanity." Doctors especially, must have "clean mouths."
Here is an error message received from the ever vigilant Detroit Medical Center:
"Your mail message was deleted because it contains words that are considered as profanity by the Detroit Medical Center."
Below is the X-rated message. I kid you not!
Ami Isseroff

By The Associated Press

AMSTERDAM - Copies of an invaluable Nazi archive, locked away in a quiet German town for more than 50 years, will be released to Holocaust institutions within a few months, under an agreement reached yesterday.
The documents will give historians an intimate inside view of the Nazi machinery of oppression and death, and will let survivors and victims' families search for their own histories, as recorded by their tormentors.
The 11-nation governing body of the International Tracing Service, which runs the archive in Bad Arolsen, Germany, voted to sidestep legalities and begin distributing electronic copies to the member states as soon as they are ready.
The decision circumvents the requirement to withhold the documents until all 11 countries ratify the 2006 treaty amendments that enabled the unsealing of the archive, and was likely to shave several months from the distribution timetable.
Institutions that receive the copies can use the time to organize the electronic files and integrate them into their own archival systems, but they are prohibited from allowing access to researchers until the ratification process is complete, archive director Reto Meister said.
Italy, Greece, Luxembourg and France have all pledged to endorse the agreement by the autumn, Meister said. The United States, Israel, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and Greece have finished the legal process.
Meister said the first 10 million pages - about one-fifth of the documents - will be ready for transfer by early September, and another huge batch in November.
The archive contains Nazi records on the arrest, transportation, incarceration, forced labor and deaths of millions of people from the year the Nazis built their first concentration camp in 1933 to the end of the war in May 1945. It also has a vast collection of postwar records from displaced persons camps.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Iran: What is a good reason for a MESA Academic boycott?

Iran is a wonderful and progressive country. Pretty women are routinely arrested, raped and killed for the crime of being pretty. Homosexuals are hanged. Iran's president declared his intention of creating a "world without America and Zionism." He and others also claimed that the Holocaust never occurred, and held a conference to discuss this issue, featuring David Duke and other intellectual luminaries. Iran is also building a nice A-bomb. None of these actions were cause for alarm or criticism among members of the Middle East Studies Association. However, now the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) may boycott Iran . The reason is that the Iranian government dared to arrest one of their own:

The Middle East Studies Association of North America, which has 2,700 members worldwide, has written to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warning that the detention of scholars has triggered "grave concern" and that Esfandiari's imprisonment has sent a "chilling message to scholars throughout the world." Esfandiari is director of Middle East programs at the Smithsonian's Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

The siege of the US embassy in 1979 was OK for MESA. Hanging homosexuals, raping women, Holocaust denial conferences, all of these are unimportant and no cause for concern, and neither are threats to destroy America. But the jailing of a MESA member triggers "grave concern." If the homosexuals who were hanged, and those who are "detained" now had been members of MESA, or if the women who were raped and killed had been MESA members, it would no doubt have been a different matter. Of course, no MESA members died in the Holocaust, so they are not worried about that either.

Ami Isseroff

Cross posted: Israel News Middle East Analysis

Labels: ,

Continued (Permanent Link)

Arabs. Zogby blame victims in Darfur

In Darfur, there is a cycle of violence. The government supported Janjaweed terrorists rape and murder, and the rape victims fight back. That is the Arab narrative it seems. James Zogby reports that Arabs feel that media are not reporting the conflict fairly, and that Arab media are not getting out their side of the story:
What the poll revealed was that strong majorities in the four Arab countries found fault with the Arab media's coverage of Darfur.  Additionally, more than 80 percent of the respondents in the four Arab countries surveyed expressed the view that the Arab media should devote more time to the issue.
When asked about who was responsible for the current crisis, Arab and Muslim respondents acknowledged the complexity of the conflict, with majorities in four of the six nations (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco and Turkey) holding both the government of Sudan and Sudanese rebel groups equally responsible.
Can't blame the Janjaweed, right? Those Darfur women must be "asking for it."
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Brave Zionism: Man who lost family volunteers in Sderot

Boaz Shabo lost half his family in a terrorist attack. Now he volunteers to help others in Sderot:
Five years after his wife and three small children were murdered by a terrorist who broke into their house in the settlement of Itamar 45-year-old Boaz Shabo decided to leave his remaining two children at home in Kdumim and head south to Sderot.

Shabo, a truck driver by trade, has been a volunteer with MDA (Red Star of David – Israel's emergency medical organization) for over 20 years. When the rocket attacks on Sderot intensified last week, he decided to transfer from his usual post in central Israel to reinforce MDA teams in the battered south.

But his friends and family could not say they were surprised, during the Second Lebanon War Shabo volunteered to help exhausted MDA teams in northern Israel as Hizbullah rockets rained down.

Despite attempts by MDA officials convince Shabo to limit himself to the city of Ashkelon due to his status as a single father, Shabo was adamant, saying that Sderot was were he was needed the most.

"If I can give something from myself, then I want to give. That's how I felt in the Second Lebanon War," said Shabo on Saturday a short while before he and his team were called to the scene of a rocket crash site in Sderot.

Shabo said it's important to him that paramedics and EMTs keep in mind that there may be people suffering from light injuries or shock who don't come forward for help and that it is imperative to seek them out and offer them help. He remembers the suicide bombing on a bus in Tel Aviv back in September 2002 when he found almost a dozen wounded people who had taken refuge in nearby shops and had not sought medical attention.
"I tell my children that dad goes where people need him, and they're happy for me that I'm here," said Shabo. "I know that sometimes it's hard for them, but they say they're used to it and they understand that
it's important. I draw strength from helping others," he said, adding that much strength is needed to cope with his grief and the difficulties of raising his children alone.

But because of his personal tragedy, said Shabo, he knows how to relate to relatives of people who are wounded. "I know what they're going through," he said. 
With six million Boaz Shabos, Israel could stand against any enemy.  

Continued (Permanent Link)

Hamas: We will make Israel evacuate Ashqelon

Hamas announced that they intend to make Israel evacuate Ashqelon just as Sderot is being evacuated:

Dr. Aaron Lerner                   Date: 20 May, 2007

Former COS Amnon Lipkin-Shahak suggested in a live interview broadcast on Israel Radio this morning that right now the situation is not serious enough to justify occupying Gaza but that if rocket attacks extend to include Ashkelon then there might be no choice but to occupy Gaza.

Israel Radio broadcast a report within a few minutes of the interview that Hamas has announced that they intend to cause Israel to evacuate Ashkelon just as Sderot is now being evacuated in the wake of the rocket attacks
against it.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
What would you do if it was happening in your country?
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Patrick Seale protests arbitrary arrest and torture in a Middle Eastern country

Here is yet another report about torture in a Middle Eastern country, but it will not make news headlines, unlike the reports about "Zionist" torture.

This letter is exceptional because Patrick Seale is known as an unalloyed sycophant, spinmeister and apologist for the Asad family. Please note:

When Haysa's body was returned to his family, it was said to have shown signs of torture. Amnesty says that torture and ill treatment are still widespread in Syrian prisons and that there has been no independent investigation into any of the cases of torture and suspicious deaths reported over the years.

Why are there no headlines about torture in Syria?

Ami Isseroff

First Published 2007-05-18, Last Updated 2007-05-18 09:11:51


An Open Letter to President Bashar al-Asad

Is this not the moment, Mr. President, to show the world a humane and generous face, and win international support, by turning your attention to the plight of prisoners of conscience, unfairly and cruelly punished by your courts? Asks Patrick Seale.

Dear Mr. President,

Friends of Syria -- and I count myself among them -- have been puzzled and saddened by the lengthy jail sentences passed on Syrian political prisoners, human rights activists, and prisoners of conscience. These harsh punishments have attracted worldwide attention and done your country's reputation great harm.

With the greatest respect, I urge you to review these cases and to grant an early amnesty to the prisoners.

Anwar al-Bunni is Syria's leading defender of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. In March 2006, with funding and encouragement from the European Union, he created a Syrian human rights centre. Your security services closed it down almost immediately.

On 17 May 2006, Bunni was arrested and detained with common criminals at 'Adra prison near Damascus where, according to Amnesty International, he suffered beatings and degrading treatment. He was not allowed to meet privately with his lawyers. I understand that he has written to you drawing your attention to the fact that some six thousand prisoners in 'Adra are routinely subjected to beatings, insults and terror, and prevented from leaving their cells, watching TV, or listening to the radio. He has asked you to investigate prison conditions. I very much hope you will respond positively to this request. On 31 December, Bunni was assaulted by a criminal detainee who pushed him down some stairs and then beat him on the head in the presence of prison guards, who failed to intervene. On 25 January 2007, he was severely beaten by prison guards who made him crawl on all fours and forcibly shaved his head. I feel sure that you are aware that he is a prisoner of conscience detained solely for the expression of non-violent ideas.

On 24 April, he was sentenced by the Damascus Criminal Court to five years' imprisonment on the charge of "spreading false information harmful to the state" (Article 286 of the Penal Code). Foreign diplomats present in court were disturbed by this harsh sentence and considered the trial unfair. Such political trials before Syria's Criminal, Military and State Security Courts have come under severe international criticism for the blatant influence of the security services on the proceedings.

I would suggest that prisoners like Anwar al-Bunni, a respected lawyer, are more damaging to you inside prison than at liberty.

According to Amnesty International, his 'crime' was to have raised the case of the death in custody of 26-year-old Muhammad Shaher Haysa, as a result of inhumane treatment, possibly amounting to torture. When Haysa's body was returned to his family, it was said to have shown signs of torture. Amnesty says that torture and ill treatment are still widespread in Syrian prisons and that there has been no independent investigation into any of the cases of torture and suspicious deaths reported over the years.

I feel sure you will agree that it is of the utmost importance that Syrian prison guards comply strictly with the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment -- to which Syria is a party.

Other recent cases are those of the prominent writer and journalist Michel Kilo and the English language teacher Mahmoud 'Issa who, after long months of detention at 'Adra, were each given three-year prison sentences on 4 May by the Damascus Criminal Court.

They were charged with "weakening nationalist sentiments" (Article 285 of the Penal Code), with "inciting sectarian strife" (Article 307), and with "publishing a political article or giving a political speech with the aim of making propaganda for a political party, society or a banned political association" (Article 150 of the Code of Military Procedures.). 'Issa was also charged with "exposing Syria to hostile acts" (Article 278 of the Penal Code). Their 'crime' was involvement in the so-called Beirut-Damascus Declaration, a petition, signed by some 300 Syrians and Lebanese and released on 12 May 2006, which called for the normalization of relations between Syria and Lebanon by exchanging ambassadors and defining their common border. Another opposition figure, Kamal Labwani, founder of the Democratic Liberal Gathering, has suffered an even worse fate. He was arrested at Damascus airport in 2005 on his return from the United States, where he had attended a conference and met White House officials. This month he was given a shocking sentence of 12 years in jail on a charge of contacting a foreign country and "encouraging attack against Syria."

Syria is, of course, not the only, or even the worst, abuser of human rights in the Middle East. Prison conditions in Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries are also said to be appalling. The United States set a terrible example by its torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and by its policy of extraordinary rendition -- that is to say sending prisoners for interrogation to countries notorious for torture.

Israel, in turn, has regularly been accused of torturing some of the 10,000 Palestinian prisoners it is holding. One notorious Israeli method is to shake the prisoner, sometimes to death. A report by two Israeli human rights organizations published on 6 May revealed that many Palestinians were deprived of sleep, beaten severely, handcuffed until their wrists bled and bound in painful positions in order to break their spirit before interrogation.

Most experts agree that torture is almost always counter-productive. Information extracted under torture is seldom reliable. It creates hate and an unquenchable thirst for revenge.

In Syria, far from contributing to social peace, the ill-treatment of prisoners tends to sharpen hostility between communities and sects. Far from protecting Syria against foreign enemies, it provides them with a pretext for hostile propaganda and attack.

The punitive sentences of prisoners of conscience and other abuses of human rights are damaging to Syria's foreign policy goals. I believe one of your primary goals is to win the recognition and respect of the international community, so as to strengthen Syria's hand in negotiations, to attract foreign direct investment, to welcome tourists in ever greater numbers to Syria's unique sites and to promote economic and social development in general.

Another important goal is to recover the Golan Heights by means of a comprehensive Arab peace settlement with Israel. A third goal is to secure ratification by all 27 EU members of the association agreement with the European Union, which has still not been put into effect.

A fourth crucial goal must surely be to put Syria's relations with Lebanon on a healthy basis after the strains and quarrels of recent years. The two countries are cut from the same flesh. They are essential to each other. There can be no question of a permanent divorce.

Syria has certain vital interests in Lebanon: It cannot tolerate a hostile government in Beirut or the dominant influence there of a hostile foreign power, as this would be a threat to its national security. Lebanon, in turn, wants Syrian recognition of its independence and sovereignty. Surely a deal can be struck on this basis that would satisfy both parties.

Syria has come under great pressure from the United States ever since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. There was also a dangerous moment last summer when Israel seemed about to extend to Syria its aggression against Lebanon. The hostility of France was a further worrying factor.

These pressures now seem to be easing. The world is beginning to recognize the crucial role Syria could play in resolving some of the region's conflicts, once its own interests are addressed.

Is this not the moment, Mr. President, to show the world a humane and generous face, and win international support, by turning your attention to the plight of prisoners of conscience, unfairly and cruelly punished by your courts?


Patrick Seale is a leading British writer on the Middle East, and the author of The Struggle for Syria; also, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East; and Abu Nidal: A Gun for Hire.

Continued (Permanent Link)

The RIght of Return to Al Andalus

The truth is that the rulers of Spain treacherously and without reason forcibly converted or expelled the Muslims from that country. The Spanish people who are so concerned for the return of Muslims to Filastin, should be aware of who must be next.
It is not only Al Qaeda that calls for return of Al Andalus to its rightful owner, but also the Hamas.
While it is true that many Islamic preachers regularly refer to Spain as occupied territory in their sermons and on their Websites, Hamas has also requested Spain surrender their country to them. Hamas itself has demanded the return of the city of Seville to Islam. On the Website 'Al Fateh,' Hamas demanded the return of Seville to the "lost paradise" of Al Andalus. "Dress me, for I am the bride of the land of Al Andalus" the online Children's magazine said, as it cheerfully detailed the lives and deaths of the Arab suicide bombers they like to refer to as "martyrs."
The sentiment is growing...
Ami Isseroff

By Sinikka Tarvainen, dpa
Madrid (dpa) - The emergence of a new al-Qaeda-linked organization in Northern Africa is alarming Spain, which is concerned about Islamists' calls for the reconquest of the country they regard as a lost part of the Muslim world.
"We will not be in peace until we set our foot again in our beloved al-Andalus," al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said on claiming responsibility for an attack which killed at least 24 people in Algiers on Wednesday.

Al-Andalus is the Moorish name for Spain, parts of which were ruled by Muslims for about eight centuries until the last Moorish bastion, Granada, succumbed to the Christian Reconquest in 1492.

The terrorists will undoubtedly attempt to extend their offensive from Northern Africa to European soil, anti-terrorism judge Baltasar Garzon warned, cautioning that Spain was at a "very high risk" of suffering an Islamist attack.

The reference to al-Andalus was not the first by al-Qaeda, which has also vowed to put an end to the Spanish "occupation" of the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the Moroccan coast.

Such announcements worry the security services in Spain, where 29 mainly Moroccan suspects are on trial for the 2004 Madrid train bombings that killed 191 and injured about 1,800 people.

The bombings were mainly a reaction to the war alliance of Spain's former conservative government with the United States in Iraq, but some of the terrorists are also known to have dreamed of reconquering al-Andalus.

The bloodbath in Algiers could launch a new string of attacks in Northern Africa and Europe, including Spain, terrorism expert Fernando Reinares warned.

Al-Qaeda is extending its activities in Northern Africa, where the Algiers bombings were preceded by the suicides of three Moroccan Islamists who blew themselves up to avoid being captured by police on Tuesday.

The Algerian-based al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), intends to federate North African Islamist cells under a common umbrella.

Some of the people who could attack Spain may already be in the country, where nearly 80 per cent of prison inmates jailed on charges related to international terrorism have come from Northern Africa over the past five years.

Islamist radicals proselytize at an estimated 10 per cent of Spain's hundreds of unofficial mosques, which operate in garages, basements and the like.

Spain has become an important base for the recruitment of suicide bombers who are sent to Iraq, according to press reports. Some of the fighters are believed to be trained in new al-Qaeda camps in Sahel countries such as Mali, Niger or Mauritania.

The Madrid train bombings appear to have been organized by a home- grown Islamist cell with the backing of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM).

Ceuta and Melilla, which have sizeable Muslim populations, could well be the next targets, judge Garzon warned.

Continued (Permanent Link)

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