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Saturday, June 9, 2007

Palestinians invade Israel?

This sort of organized attack inside Israel may be a dangerous new milestone.
Last update - 14:38 09/06/2007   
By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent and The Associated Press

Palestinian militants from Gaza infiltrated into southern Israel on Saturday during an attack on the Kissufim Crossing, the Israel Defense Forces said.
Palestinian sources said militants seized an IDF position in the area.
IDF tanks and troops arrived at the scene and fired at the militants, who attacked the crossing with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic gun fire, local residents said.
It was not immediately clear whether any one was injured in the attack, although the IDF said it believes at least one of the gunmen was hurt.
Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out along with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
Abu Ahmed, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad, told local radios that four militants broke through the Gaza border fence and were clashing with soldiers.
"It is difficult to storm [the area]. But when they entered in a surprise, they confused the enemy," he said.
Palestinian security officials confirmed that four militants were clashing with IDF soldiers. One official said the attackers apparently used an armored jeep.
Abu Ahmed said the jeep collided with an Israeli armored vehicle and the Palestinian gunmen used assault rifles and rocket propelled grenades in the ensuing fight. Three of the militants returned to Gaza unharmed, and the fourth, an Islamic Jihad militant, was still in the area, he said.
[Remainder of this report is unrelated and was transmitted previously]

Continued (Permanent Link)

Syria: Peace message, what message?

Syria denies it received invitation to start talks with Israel
A senior diplomat in Syria's London Embassy said Damascus had not received any invitation to start negotiations for peace with Israel, either from the United States or from any other party, Israel Radio on Friday quoted the Qatari newspaper Al Sharq as saying.
The message to Syria, what was in it, and was it sent?
In future years, this may be a bone of contention. The Israeli government says they sent a message. Shaul Mofaz refuses to say what was in the message. The Syrians say they never got it. Wouldn't it be better to use some open diplomatic channel, a third party such as a European country or perhaps Egypt or Jordan?
Ami Isseroff
update - 12:47 09/06/2007   
By Aluf Benn and Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and Agencies

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz confirmed Saturday that the government has sent messages to Syria, but did not reveal the content.
"In light of the tensions in the current period, and considering the fact that in the past ... the Syrians sent messages that they want peace, I thought and I still think today that a secret channel is one of the channels for checking intentions and expectations," Mofaz told Israel Radio.
"And such an approach, in a secret channel, was done," Mofaz said. "And this was said clearly by the Prime Minister's Office. At this stage, there is no Syrian response, or any comment on this issue."
"And such an approach, in a secret channel was made," Mofaz said. "This was said clearly by the Prime Minister's Office. At this stage, there is no response or comment on this issue."
Mofaz said he considered a back channel to be important, noting that peace agreements with other Arab countries started in such a way.
He said Syria seemed to be ambivalent about peace talks with Israel. "At the beginning, [the Syrians] spoke about their desire to renew talks and the process, and after messages were sent, there is no answer," he said. "At this stage Israel is not sure what Syria's intentions are."
The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth on Friday, whereby Israel has recently sent secret messages to Syria, signaling its willingness to give up the Golan Heights in return for a peace deal that would require Damascus to distance itself from Iran.
National Religious Party Chairman MK Zevulun Orlev said Friday that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is prepared to sell the Golan Heights to keep his job.
"Olmert's willingness to cede the Golan is a desparate survival bid," Orlev told Israel Radio.
Orlev concluded by saying: "The Golan will not be sold like Gush Katif," referring to the settlement bloc evacuated in Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
Meanwhile, Minister of Housing and Construction Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) said Friday a dynamic of dialogue has been created between Israel and Syria, and he hopes this will calm tensions in the North, and will constitute the beginning of a peace process.
Sheetrit told Israel Radio that he is prepared for Syrian sovereignty over the Golan Heights, but only in an arrangement whereby Syria leases the Golan to Israel for a period of 25 years. After this time if there is a real peace with Syria, he said, the Golan is less important to Israel - implying that the territory could then be fully transferred to the Syrians. If, however, it appears that there is no peace then the Golan is "very important," inferring it should not be handed over.
Quoting officials close to Olmert, Yedioth Aharonoth said that the prime minister had German and Turkish diplomats relay to Syrian President Bashar Assad that Israel is willing to hold direct peace negotiations and give up the strategic plateau, captured in the 1967 Six-day War.
Syria did not respond to Olmert's messages, the report said.
Israel officials confirm offer to engage in land-for-peace talks
Israeli officials confirmed Friday that Israel had sent messages to Syria signaling its willingness to engage in talks based on the principle of land for peace, but declined to comment on what if any territorial concessions were offered.
A senior Israeli official told Reuters that Syrian officials appeared open to discreet dialogue and Israel was now trying to determine what concessions Damascus might be willing to make, notably in severing alliances with Israel's enemies in Iran, Hezbollah and Palestinian militant movements like Hamas.
"Nobody knows the answer," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity and has been involved in the discussions.
"We don't know what is the Syrian definition of peace - if Syria will really position itself with the U.S. and its Western allies or stay with Iran and Hezbollah and Hamas?" he said.
"There are no preconditions for the beginning of the negotiations. But [Assad] will have to send an indication."
He and a second Israeli official confirmed that Turkey, which maintains good relations with both Syria and Israel, had helped promote dialogue, resuming a role that diplomatic sources have said it played in behind-the-scenes discussions in 2004.
Syria denies it received invitation to start talks with Israel
A senior diplomat in Syria's London Embassy said Damascus had not received any invitation to start negotiations for peace with Israel, either from the United States or from any other party, Israel Radio on Friday quoted the Qatari newspaper Al Sharq as saying.
The report comes a day after another Syrian official said Damascus is interested in renewing the peace process with Israel, following similar remarks by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Wednesday.
According to the reports, the Syrian diplomat said Friday that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government had suffered a route during the Second Lebanon War, and is thus incapable of serving as a real partner for peace with Syria.
Nevertheless, he stated that Damascus is always willing to renew the peace process.
A Syrian official said earlier Thursday that Damascus is interested in renewing the peace process with Israel.
"Our stance remains as it was. We are ready to renew negotiations for peace, and interested in working for peace," the Syrian official told the French news agency, Agence France-Presse.
With reference to Olmert's call Wednesday for a renewal of direct negotiations with Syria, the Syrian official said: "Syria is following the Israeli announcements very closely."
Nevertheless, he emphasized: "We don't have any high hopes that things will change."
Army Radio on Thursday evening quoted former foreign minister Silvan Shalom of the Likud as saying that Israel must be attentive to signals of peace coming from Syria, but simultaneously, be ready for any scenario.
"We must aspire to achieve peace, but at the same time not close our eyes," he said.
Shalom emphasized that any move involving Damascus must be coordinated with the United States and the moderate Arab states, the radio said.
Meanwhile, Israel Radio quoted Welfare Minister Yitzhak Herzog (Labor) as saying Thursday that, "Israel is ready for a diplomatic process with Syria and a real, honest dialogue."
Herzog, who is currently attending a conference on anti-Semitism in Romania, added "the problem with Syria is its proximity to and cooperation with Iran, and Syria's continuing aid to Hezbollah and Hamas."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Mofaz: All options, including military one, on the table regarding Iran

Last update - 12:57 09/06/2007   
By The Associated Press

All options, including the military one, are on the table when it comes to dealing with Iran's nuclear program, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said Saturday, after discussing the issue with senior U.S. officials.
"For now, sanctions are the best way to go," said Mofaz, a former defense minister and Israel Defense Forces chief of staff. He said Israel and the U.S. agreed to review the effectiveness of sanctions at the end of 2007.
"The strategy shared by the U.S. and Israel has three elements," Mofaz told Israel Radio. "One is a united international front against the Iranian nuclear program. Secondly, at this time, sanctions are the best way to act against the aspirations of Iran."
He said the third element is a very, very clear signal and a clear statement that all options are on the table.
Mofaz added: "I never said there is no military option, and the military option is included in all the options that are on the table, but at this time it's right to use the path of sanctions, and to intensify them."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Friday, June 8, 2007

Separating the Six Day War from the Occupation

This article brings out an important point that seems to be lost in all the absurd articles claiming that the Six Day War was a defeat. The war was a war, and Israel won a brilliant victory. The occupation that mushroomed forth over the years, and the change in the meaning of "Zionism" are a separate issue.
FEATURE-Israelis debate war's results 40 years on
07 Jun 2007 12:19:49 GMT
Source: Reuters

By Allyn Fisher-Ilan
JERUSALEM, June 7 (Reuters) - Though most Israelis feel they won a victory for survival in 1967, a national debate still rages 40 years on over its controversial Jewish settlement drive in war-won land that Palestinians seek for a state.
Israel's once famously noisy internal debates over the Palestinian issue have died down in the past six years, as violence raged and with the rise to power of the Islamist Hamas last year, a group that eschews Israel's right to exist.
But the old questions are surfacing again along with the vintage photographs of Israeli troops capturing Arab East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, which provide ready reminders of the fact that the Palestinian conflict is unresolved.
As the anniversary of the war was being marked this week, leftist Israelis have taken to the streets to protest Israel's continued occupation of the West Bank.
Jewish settlers are staging their own demonstrations as well to try to seize the moment and persuade Israel to continue to hold fast to West Bank land they see as a biblical birthright.
Opinion polls indicate Israel as a whole is torn about its perspective on the so-called Six Day War, between being proud of the victory while increasingly uneasy about growing world criticism of Israel's continued occupation of Palestinian land.
A survey published this week found that 63 percent of Israelis from across the political spectrum thought that war was a "huge achievement", pollster Avi Degani said.
Yet more than half -- 53 percent -- felt Israel had lost some moral stature, Degani said, alluding to public misgivings about the decades of ensuing Israeli military rule over more than three million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza two years ago, but continues to control its border crossings and to wage battle with Palestinian militants there who fire rockets at southern Israeli towns.
"Israel lost its youth at the age of 19," Ilan Gillon, an Israeli left-wing politician, said in a televised debate this week, criticising the years of Israeli military rule in the West Bank.
From a moral standpoint, Gillon said of Israel, the Jewish state founded as a democracy in 1948, "that same victory was also our swan song. Since then we have been sinking for 40 years".
Israeli leftists say the country's continued expansion of Jewish settlements in occupied territory poses an obstacle to efforts to revive long-stalled peace talks with Palestinians.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was elected a year ago on a pledge to remove isolated Jewish enclaves in the West Bank, but the plan has been on hold since a war against Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon last year.
Olmert has delayed plans to remove dozens of unauthorised settlement enclaves in the West Bank. He has also permitted the expansion of some settlements to accommodate what he calls "natural growth".
Ron Pundak, a negotiator of a 1993 interim peace deal with Palestinians, says the settlers "risk our (Israel's) very existence".
The lack of a peace settlement "will bring the destruction of Zionism", Pundak said, because the Palestinians would sooner or later become a majority in Israel.
Settlers, who number some 230,000 in the West Bank, accuse Israel of losing its resolve to maintain control over biblical land by slowing the growth of settlements in the past few years.
"Whoever doesn't understand that these aren't just territories but the heart of the homeland, something is wrong with his view of Judaism," said Benny Katsover, a founder of the settler movement.
The debate played out in all its passion this week in the West Bank town of Hebron where the anti-settler "Peace Now" movement held a protest near a tiny Jewish enclave that has been a source of tensions for decades in the mainly Palestinian area.
As demonstrators sang John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance" at the Hebron rally, settlers gathered to jeer at them.
An Israeli rightist in Hebron compared the peace protesters to the Nazis who killed six million Jews in World War II Europe.
"You have come to destroy our existence in Israel. You want this area Judenrein," Tsafrir Rinat said, using the German word used by the Nazis for "rid of Jews".

Continued (Permanent Link)

The Empire Strikes Back: Boycott backlash

The boycotters may have bit off more than they could chew, to coin a cliche.
Boycott backlash begins
Nathan Jeffay and Melanie Newman
The Times Higher Education Supplement 08
June 2007

Overseas condemnation of Britain and spectre of sanctions looms. Nathan Jeffay and Melanie Newman report

UK academics faced an unprecedented backlash this week as a threatened boycott of Israeli universities raised the spectre of international sanctions against British goods and research.

The Israeli Government, an American research foundation and lawyers on both sides of the Atlantic are lined up to sink any boycott of Israeli academe stemming from a motion passed at the inaugural congress of the University and College Union.

But while the global backlash gained momentum, UCU officials were unable to clarify exactly what implications, if any, the 158 to 99 vote in favour of a boycott motion at last week's congress would have for UK universities and academics. It raises the possibility that, having sparked a major international outcry, a boycott may fail to materialise.

On Monday, the Knesset, Israel's parliament, began debating a draft law that could see British imports to Israel labelled, "This country is involved in an anti-Israeli boycott". This followed a letter to British academe from Elizabeth Goldhirsh of the US-based Goldhirsh Foundation, which funds research into brain cancer, saying it had been considering opening its grant applications to UK researchers but would now be no longer be able to do so.

In the UK, Anthony Julius, a lawyer at London-based Mishcon de Reya who acted for the late Diana, Princess of Wales in her divorce from Prince Charles, said he had teamed up with top American lawyer Alan Dershowitz to fight the proposed boycott.

Speaking exclusively to The Times Higher, Mr Julius, who is also a visiting professor at Birkbeck, University of London, said: "The vote has stimulated a great sense of solidarity among distinct constituencies. The overwhelming majority of Jews find the motion repellent, academics recoil from the double standards in the resolution and the threat to academic freedom, and people who are neither Jews nor academics see this activity for what it is: generated by malice and hatred for Israel."

Professor Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter professor of law at Harvard University, has promised to visit financial and legal ruin on any UK academic supporting a boycott.

Speaking in this week's Times Higher, Professor Dershowitz likened the boycott to the treatment of Jewish students and faculty in Nazi Germany. He promised "extraordinarily punitive" sanctions against those involved in boycotting.

Tom Hickey, chair of Brighton University's UCU branch and proposer of the boycott motion, said that the vote would enhance the international reputation of British academics.

"We have shown that we are not separating ourselves in an ivory tower but using our scholarly judgment to improve the world," he told The Times Higher.

Ian McDonald, a senior lecturer from Brighton University who supported the UCU motion, said: "We have to challenge the notion that to be anti-Zionist is to be anti-Semitic."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Torture of Palestinians - Why doesn't UN complain?

Look who is using torture - and not for any security reason.
Tortured by the Palestinian police
By Walid Batrawi
Life goes on for Wisam Hanna as the wounds on his body heal, but the painful memories remain.
Wisam and three of his relatives were interrogated by Palestinian police after a dispute with the mayor of their village. They were badly beaten.
"It was very violent in the prison in Ramallah, where there were five people. They held me down, they lay me on the table, took my trousers off and started hitting me on the back of my legs and the soles of my feet," Wisam said.
"Then they took my top off and made me stand in front of the window and started pulling my chest hairs out. Then they carried on slapping me and threw me onto the floor and started kicking me."

Lack of trust
Over the last few years, Palestinians have lost trust in their police force and the judiciary. Many of their complaints have never been answered.
Most violations of citizens' rights go unpunished, but Wisam and his relatives had the courage to file a complaint.

"[Wisam and his family] came to our offices in the late hours of that day. They exposed their bodies," Mamdouh Aker, civil rights commissioner-general, said.
"Immediately we contacted the person in charge of that security apparatus. He promptly came to the office and listened to them. His immediate reaction was to apologise to them.
"He suspended the officers who were involved and then they were totally dismissed from the [police] service."

Report findings
A recent report by the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens Rights shows that the number of violations against citizens has doubled in 2006.
The commission blames the rise in violations on the shortcomings of the different branches of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Torture in Palestinian police and security centres is an alarming phenomenon - the report documents 133 torture cases during 2006.
Sixty-eight incidents of torture have been reported during the first quarter of 2007 alone, suggesting an alarming rise on the previous year.
When Al Jazeera requested an interview with a police official over the torture allegations, we were told that the only person who can talk about the matter was out of the country.
Wisam's case may not change immediately change methods of interrogation in Palestinian police stations.

But human-rights organisations say the fact that action was taken in Wisam's case is a step in the right direction.

Source: Al Jazeera

Continued (Permanent Link)

Mangosuthu Buthelezi on South African Israel policy

From the Inkatha Freedom Party's websirte

Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Weekly Newsletter to the Nation

June 8, 2007

My dear friends and fellow South Africans,

I believe that the touchstone of South Africa's statecraft must be consistency and equity in determining our response to disputes everywhere, be it Darfur, Kashmir, Northern Ireland or the Middle East.

Yesterday's pro-Palestinian motion by the ANC calling for the "immediate, unconditional and permanent withdrawal of all Israeli forces to the 1967 borders (the 'Green Line' of 1949)" certainly failed this test. Nor will it, quite frankly, make an iota of difference to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which lies far outside the ambit of our diplomatic reach.

Moreover, the motion reeked of double standards and could weaken respect for South African diplomacy in the international community. In the case of neighbouring Zimbabwe, as six of the opposition parties pointed out, the government has not adopted a prescriptive approach. Yet the ruling party's resolution proposes to do so in the case of this conflict.

It was for this reason that our Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Mr Ben Skosana yesterday urged that the ruling party's motion be amended. Mr Skosana proposed that the Chief Whip of the majority party urgently met with the whips of the other political parties represented in Parliament to hammer out a fresh approach to South Africa's position before bringing it back to the National Assembly for ratification. Alas, it was rejected.

As I listened to the debate yesterday in Parliament on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, my mind went back to a 1985 meeting with the then Israeli Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mr Shimon Peres. He poignantly told me that we were "brothers in suffering", likening the travails of the Jewish people to those of the oppressed black majority in apartheid South Africa.

I am concerned that in, rightly, seeking to draw attention to the plight of ordinary Palestinians, we have not been sufficiently sensitive to the parallel suffering of the Israeli people in the past and in the present.

Today's conflict cannot be debated without reference to the events which led to the proclamation of the state of Israel in 1948. Nor can it be separated from the virulent rejection by the Arab League of the partitioning of Palestine and to the existence of the state of Israel.

Let us never forget that the state of Israel came into being after the annihilation of six million Jews by the Nazis in World War II. The Holocaust is seared into the Jewish national psyche in a way that is difficult for us, foreigners, to comprehend. Yet an attempt to try and understand this is vital though, if we are to be so bold as to believe that we have a contribution to make in the region. Israel has existed in a state of near siege from the Israeli War of Independence to the Six Day War of 1967 and right through the horrific Yom Kippur War of 1974 to the first Palestinian Intifada in the 1980s and beyond.

As this week's parliamentary motion coincided with the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War, it is relevant to recall that the war was precipitated by the provocative mobilisation of Egyptian, Syrian, Jordanian, Iraqi and Saudi troops on Israel's borders. President Nasser of Egypt said that "our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel" on the 27th of May 1967.

Her small size and proximity to Arab states, which have refused to make their peace with her, has also made Israel particularly vulnerable to air and missile attacks. During the Gulf War in 1991, Iraqi missiles thundered down on Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan and Haifa. The random acts of terror by suicide bombers strike fear into the hearts of ordinary Israelis.

I enumerate this to illustrate that neither the Israelis nor Palestinians have a monopoly on tragedy. Both have suffered terribly. It is difficult to imagine the daily indignities of living in the occupied Palestinian territories with its system of required passes and strict segregation, the loathed wall, or the, sometimes, "shock and awe" tactics of the Israeli army.

One could go on forever listing the litany of disaster and oppression that have befallen both peoples. Atrocities have been committed on both sides in the name of God. Lasting peace for the Israelis and Palestinians, we know from our own experience, will require far more than the absence of violence.

The late Yasser Arafat deftly put his people's case to me when we met twice in South Africa and once in Egypt whilst we were waiting to greet President Mubarak.

The Chairman, whose personification of the aspiration to statehood of his people deeply impressed me, recognised the existence of the state of Israel in 1988. This took courage. The peace initiatives and agreements which followed, including the Oslo Accords of 1993, led to the "Roadmap" in search of a lasting peace based upon a two-state solution with a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Is this still possible?

The Northern Ireland peace process, which in so many ways is modelled on the South African process, has demonstrated that prejudice and sectarian hate can be overcome if all parties reject violence and choose negotiation.

The central message of the Joint Declaration on 15 December 1993 which set out a charter for peace and reconciliation in Ireland was that the problems of Northern Ireland had to be resolved exclusively by political and democratic means. This must be the starting point in resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict, too. A party cannot enter into negotiations, with one tremulous hand holding the revolver, if talks do not proceed exactly how they want them to.

If the drafters of yesterday's motion were remotely even-handed, they would have also called for the Hamas government to drop its refusal to recognise Israel, cease violence and undertake to abide by previous agreements made with Israel.

The emphasis in the region has, naturally, been on top-down diplomacy driven by political leaders. I believe that a 'from the community upwards' approach of fostering peaceful relations between the two peoples will be as important as top level diplomacy.

To create lasting peace, I suspect, the most important step will be to convince ordinary Israelis and Palestinians that they share common interests. This is far more difficult. Mr Peres understands the importance of this. The Peres centre for Peace was established in 1996 upon the premise that "meaningful peace is only possible between peoples with direct and personal knowledge of each other. One of the greatest barriers to peace in today's environment is the negative images and stereotypes that abound in the region". How true.

Interestingly, talking about South Africa, President Mbeki echoed these sentiments in February when he expressed his astonishment of how we South Africans of different hues, cultures and languages, who are neighbours and work colleagues, know so little about each other. I am sure this equally true of the peoples of the Middle East.

An alternative or parallel strategy, as mooted by Peres and others, could take the form of a partnership involving Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians following an economic route rather than a political one.  Arguably, many of the important changes that have occurred around the globe since Israel's independence have been the outcome not of military interventions but of economic advances.

Extreme poverty and the breakdown of the rule of law provide the oxygen of extremism. I am sure if the whole border region between the Red Sea and the Jordan River was turned into a joint economic peace corridor, along which industrial plants, tourism, agriculture and even joint education and medical facilities will be developed. Would it not be marvellous if Nablus and Jericho became, once again, part of the tourist trail that leads to the Holy City and beyond to the rose city of Petra?

When people see changes, even modest ones, in their living standards, like the people of Northern Ireland have, the momentum towards peace gathers pace. My simple premise is that there is no reason why the peoples of the Middle East cannot achieve what the people of South Africa and Northern Ireland have done. When people assume economic rights, it is near impossible to deny them political ones.

Yours sincerely,

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP 

Continued (Permanent Link)

Update: Syria loses lawsuit for imprisonment of Baumel by default

Update: Syria loses lawsuit for imprisonment of Baumel by default

Dr. Aaron Lerner   8 June 2007

Dr. Stuart Ditchek reports that the lawsuit he filed against Syria for the
unlawful imprisonment of Zachary Baumel (see below) was decided against
Syria by default as Syria offered no defense.

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Case No. 1:06 -CV-00682-RMC
Title of Legal Proceedings: ZACHARY BAUMEL., by his next friend Stuart
Ditchek etc, vs. Syrian Arab Republic, Bashar al Assad etc.
Judge  Rosemary M. Collyer
Deck Type: General civil


Family of Captive American Citizen To File Suit Against Syrian Government
for Illegal Imprisonment


NEW YORK, N.Y., December 16, 2005 - Stuart H. Ditchek, MD has announced that a lawsuit on behalf of Zachary Baumel will be filed in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia against the government of  Syria and its agents. The suit is being brought under the Foreign  Sovereign Immunities Act that provides for an exception to the immunity  from lawsuits that most foreign governments enjoy. The Act allows United  States citizens to sue certain foreign governments that support and aid  terrorist activities and hold them civilly liable for certain criminal  acts. It will allege that the government of Syria is responsible for the  illegal imprisonment of Zachary Baumel since his capture during a battle  along the Lebanese-Syrian-Israeli border on June 11, 1982. Zachary  Baumel is a dual American-Israeli citizen who was serving in the Israeli  army at the time of his capture.

The suit will be filed by Dr. Ditchek on Baumel's behalf with the cooperation of Zachary's aging parents, Yona and Miriam, who are also United States citizens. The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act has been  used in past years to successfully obtain judgments against countries that  support terrorist activities and recover damages from the government of  Iran for acts resulting in injury, death, kidnapping and illegal  imprisonment. The attorney for Zachary Baumel who is responsible for the legal action is Daniel J. Scher of the law firm Scher & Scher, P.C. in New York who will be working with District of Columbia counsel.

The Syrian ambassador to the United States, Imad Mustapha has been notified via his ommunications officer at the Syrian Embassy in Washington of the impending lawsuit.

Dr. Stuart H. Ditchek is the founder of The Committee for the Release of Zachary Baumel, as well as a lifelong friend of Zack's.

# # #

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Continued (Permanent Link)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Boycott Quixotism

The British boycott of Israel has inspired some quixotic ideas:
There is the oft-cited hope that cooler heads will prevail in the face of an initiative most Jews consider flagrantly discriminatory, if not abjectly anti-Semitic.

In Israel, the UCU decision was greeted harshly. Knesset member Otniel Schneller introduced a bill Monday that would slap British imports with a label reading, "This country is involved in an anti-Israel boycott."

Israel's airport union reportedly was considering refusing to unload British exports. And there were reports of canceling the Tel Aviv premiere of the British musical "Mamma Mia!"
Unfortunately, there are not enough Jews around to play the boycott game on a level field. Likewise, consider this:
On the more combative side are figures like Harvard University Professor Alan Dershowitz, who reportedly is advocating for legislation that would "devastate and bankrupt" British universities that refuse to do business with their Israeli counterparts.
Somehow, I can't see Alan Dershowitz getting the U.S. congress to pass a law that would bankrupt Oxford and Cambridge. It doesn't seem likely, does it?
Ami Isseroff 

A sampling of ADL ads responding to a British academic boycott move.

By Ben Harris

Published: 06/06/2007

NEW YORK (JTA) -- Jews around the world were united this week in denouncing a major British trade union's decision to consider a boycott of Israeli universities, but they differed over how to respond to such threats.

Some want to fight fire with fire, while others were opting for an appeal to the conscience.

On the more combative side are figures like Harvard University Professor Alan Dershowitz, who reportedly is advocating for legislation that would "devastate and bankrupt" British universities that refuse to do business with their Israeli counterparts.

On the other side are groups such as the Anti-Defamation League, which for now prefers to keep the controversy in the rhetorical realm by publishing a number of ads in major international newspapers branding the proposed boycott an act of anti-Semitism.

The differences emerged after the University and College Union, Britain's largest teachers union, ignored the warnings of its secretary-general and voted May 30 to consider an academic boycott of Israeli universities.

Though most observers say the effort is likely to fail when put before the union's full membership -- four previous British attempts at an academic boycott of Israel have faltered -- it nevertheless appears to have inspired other British bodies to consider similar measures.

Almost immediately after the UCU move, the country's largest trade union decided to consider a boycott motion at its upcoming conference. While UCU represents 120,000 members, UNISON has more than a million.

"The UCU is just one link in the chain," Ronnie Fraser, director of Academic Friends of Israel, told JTA. "The trade union movement is now the battleground."

Both decisions follow a resolution in April by Britain's National Union of Journalists condemning Israel's "savage" attack last summer on Lebanon and calling for sanctions against the Jewish state.

With the boycott movement appearing to gain momentum, Jewish organizational officials are at odds over how to react.

Boycotts themselves have a disturbing pedigree in Jewish memory for their devastating effect on Jewish communities, perhaps most famously in Germany in 1933. The Arab boycott of Israel, too, had a severe effect on the Jewish psyche and an economic cost.

There is the oft-cited hope that cooler heads will prevail in the face of an initiative most Jews consider flagrantly discriminatory, if not abjectly anti-Semitic.

In Israel, the UCU decision was greeted harshly. Knesset member Otniel Schneller introduced a bill Monday that would slap British imports with a label reading, "This country is involved in an anti-Israel boycott."

Israel's airport union reportedly was considering refusing to unload British exports. And there were reports of canceling the Tel Aviv premiere of the British musical "Mamma Mia!"

Elizabeth Goldhirsh, a director of her family's foundation supporting cancer research, said the board of directors of the Connecticut-based Goldhirsh Foundation decided not to open its grant process to British researchers, a move that had been under consideration. Instead, Goldhirsh said they would open their grants to Israeli researchers.

"I think there needs to be a message sent that there are consequences to singling out and demonizing Israel, and doing so above all other countries in the world," Goldhirsh told JTA.

Others contemplated softer responses. The Jewish Funders Network, of which the Goldhirsh Foundation is a member, already has collected $200,000 to support exchanges with Israeli academics in the United States and Canada.

Peter Willner, executive vice president of the American Friends of Hebrew University, the American fund-raising arm of the Jerusalem institution, told JTA his organization opposes boycotts in principle and would confine its response to issuing a news release and raising awareness in the academic community.

"The only way to stop all of this is to have the right people stand up and say we're not going to stand for this," Willner said. "I think boycotts are an illegitimate tool, and especially when used against the State of Israel."

Similar efforts to isolate Israel have taken root among trade unions in Canada, South Africa and Ireland. In the United States, sporadic efforts to have universities divest from Israel have been unsuccessful.

Only in Britain has the boycott effort been endorsed by unions of university teachers and journalists -- both groups, critics are quick to point out, that profess fidelity to ideals of impartiality and dispassion.

"It really does puzzle me," said Professor Malcolm Grant, president of University College London and head of the Russell Group, a coalition of Britain's 20 largest research universities.

The coalition issued a statement calling the UCU vote "a contradiction in terms and in direct conflict with the mission of a university." It echoed remarks by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who told Parliament on Wednesday that a boycott is "misguided" and a threat to academic freedom.

"I don't detect that it evidences any widespread sentiment in British society," Grant told JTA. "These are curious eruptions for which I can offer no rational explanation."

Others, however, are offering theories as to why Britain has become a hotbed of agitation by boycott supporters. Fraser attributes it to a perception of the Palestinians as Third World revolutionaries and to a historic tendency among British unions to fight for the underdog.

"Anti-Zionism appears to have taken on a sharper edge in Britain because of a historic and persistent hard-left movement, said Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Many of the rank-and-file members of the UCU routinely take their cue from them, he said.

The hard left, however, is active well beyond Britain, including on university campuses in the United States. For some, the difference lies in the response of the public as much as with the efforts of boycott supporters.

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said that unlike in France, which has commanded much attention for its reported rise in anti-Semitism, British leaders have failed to respond firmly to anti-Jewish sentiment.

As a result, Foxman said, British media and universities are far more hostile to Jews and Israel than in France.

"There's been a lot more leadership in France against anti-Semitism in the last five years than there has been in Britain," Foxman said. "France has begun to realize the problem. Great Britain has not."

(JTA correspondent Vanessa Bulkacz in London contributed to this report.)

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Ehud Olmert: 1967: Israel cannot make peace alone

We must pursue a comprehensive solution with energy and vision, writes Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert
Wednesday June 6, 2007
The Guardian

Six days, 40 years ago. Looking back to the weeks preceding the war, it may be difficult for you to imagine just how desperate life seemed for Israelis, ringed by peoples whose armies pointed their weapons towards us, whose leaders daily promised the imminent destruction of our state and whose newspapers carried crude cartoons of Jews being kicked off the face of the earth. As we consecrated mass graves in expectation of the worst, we were once again people facing annihilation. We had no alternative but to defend ourselves, no strategic allies to ensure our survival. We stood alone.
Our victory in those six days in June 1967 - swift, complete and totally unexpected - showed us and the world we were not going to be wiped off the map that easily. Israel fought an unwanted war to defend her very existence, and today there are still leaders who call for Israel to be wiped off the map. But there is a danger that that will be forgotten, overtaken by a re-reading of history. Our survival in 1967 is now, in the eyes of the world and, with worrying consequences in the UK, the original sin of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Our opponents argue against the ongoing "occupation" as if it were the Gordian knot of the conflict. If only we were to leave the territories the conflict would end. And they threaten international isolation if we do not.
If only the conflict were so simple; if only the answer were so simple. Over the last 15 years, successive Israeli governments have initiated talks with the Palestinians in every conceivable permutation in an attempt to reach a settlement. In the 1990s, Israel withdrew from all the Palestinian cities in the West Bank, handing its affairs over to a Palestinian Authority. Nearly two years ago, Israel withdrew its troops and civilians from Gaza, with no preconditions. Last year my Kadima party came to power on an agenda promising further withdrawals. In the face of concessions that have threatened our own domestic consensus, the constant refrain has been the Palestinian refusal to end its violent attacks on our citizens.
Palestinian violence is not a response to the capture of the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian nationalism's roots are not so shallow. From the emergence of the Zionist movement over 100 years ago, Arabs have opposed our claim to independence on our historic homeland, often violently. Our conflict is not territorial, it is national.
The only way we can resolve the conflict is by establishing secure and recognised boundaries for the peoples of the region. It was on that basis we were able to conclude a peace treaty with Egypt, exchanging land for a peace that has endured for nearly 30 years. We did the same with Jordan. It is on the same basis that we will, I hope, be able to resolve our conflict with the Palestinians, with two peoples living in two states. Jerusalem, our eternal capital, can then be a city that represents peace rather than discord, a city for all its residents that does not distinguish between race, religion or class. Those are the principles that I myself implemented as mayor of the city for 10 years.
As a young politician I voted against the return of Sinai and peace with Egypt. I was mistaken. We will not hesitate to take bold initiatives to advance peace, even if they require heavy concessions. The legacies of Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, of Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein, stand as an inspiration for all who work for peace.
We need such political maturity from our Palestinian partners now if they are to stop the internecine fighting that is tearing apart their society, exposing our citizens to a daily barrage of deadly rocketfire and preventing any progress on peace talks. Israel will not tolerate violence against its citizens, and my government will act decisively to protect them. But I also know that we will not resolve the crisis through military means alone. I will continue to meet Mahmoud Abbas, and discuss ways in which the Palestinian Authority can fight against lawlessness and extremism, and urge him to control the violence emanating from Gaza.
In the wider Arab world, there is ever greater recognition that Israel will not disappear from the map. I take the offer of full normalisation of relations between Israel and the Arab world seriously; and I am ready to discuss the Arab peace initiative in an open and sincere manner. Working with our Jordanian and Egyptian partners, and hopefully other Arab states, we must pursue a comprehensive peace with energy and vision. I look forward to being able to discuss this with our other neighbours. But the talks must be a discussion, not an ultimatum.
Israel is prepared to make painful concessions to pay the price for a lasting and just peace that will allow the people of the Middle East to live in dignity and security. But as strong and resourceful as Israelis are, we cannot make peace alone.
· Ehud Olmert is prime minister of Israel

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Guess what? Bush is not moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

As might be predicted, President Bush has extended the "waiver" that allows him to violate the congressional act mandating transfer of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. He did it on Friday night, so the Jews would not notice. You thought Jews are sneaky, right? Some people might think this is a cowardly act. If you do, don't forget to write to President G.W.Bush
Ami Isseroff

By  Published: 06/03/2007
President Bush extended a waiver on moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem just days before a Congressional vote on whether to urge him to move the embassy.
The White House released the text of the waiver of the 1995 law on Friday night, a "dead" time for news organizations and after the Jewish Sabbath had begun.
Waiving the law, the statement said, "is necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States." It adds: "My Administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our Embassy to Jerusalem."
The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote Tuesday on a non-binding resolution congratulating Israel on 40 years of reunifying the city and urging the president to make good on the 1995 law. The Senate is considering a similar resolution. Bush has consistently waived the law, as did his predecessor, Bill Clinton.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Arabs and the Six Day War: Cart before the horse.

The article states that Arabs blame problems on 1967 war defeat.  Actually, they blame all the problems on Israel in general. They put the cart before the horse. Had Arab politics been orderly and reasonable, there would have been no war in 1948, and no war in 1967. Reasonable societies do not generally embark on wars of extermination, and do not commit acts of war for no reason, when they have no way really to ensure victory. Had Arab society and administration been orderly, there might've been wars, but they would would have won them. They didn't become backward, autocratic, corrupt and disorganized because they lost the war. They undertook to destroy Israel and they lost because they were backward autocratic, corrupt and disorganized. A largely illiterate army cannot win a modern war. A democratic society with a literate polity would not have decided on such wars.
Ami Isseroff
Arabs blame problems on 1967 war defeat
By NADIA ABOU EL-MAGD Associated Press Writer
Article Last Updated: 06/05/2007 11:01:58 AM MDT
Arab league's representatives pay a minute of silence Tuesday, June 5, 2007,... (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
CAIRO, Egypt—Forty years after Israel's stunning victory over three Arab armies, the defeat still lingers in the Arab world—so much so, some blame it for everything from a lack of democracy in the region to the rise of religious extremism.
On June 5, 1967, Israeli warplanes destroyed 400 aircraft belonging to Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq—most of them sitting on airport tarmacs. Egypt lost the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip, Syria gave up the Golan Heights, and Jordan relinquished the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Trying to minimize the defeat, Arabs have long called the Six Day War the "naksa," or "setback," but its impact remains a deep wound.
Egyptian columnist Wael Abdel Fattah wrote in the independent weekly Al-Fagr newspaper that Arabs blame the defeat for "everything"—from "price hikes, dictatorship, religious extremism, sectarian strife, even sexual impotence."
"A military defeat, that could have been limited, has been transformed to an overall defeat, represented by regimes ... and societies that fear change," Syrian writer Bakr Sedqi said in the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat.
Jordanian columnist Faisal al Ref'ou said the defeat has fueled a cycle of violence all over the region.
"Our Arab nation didn't learn from the history lesson," he wrote in Al Rai, Jordan's largest newspaper. "We're still at square one. We still have the spear in our abdomen in Gaza, Baghdad, Darfur, and Mogadishu. And our executioners are the same—they hand us the knives and we stab ourselves."
Many stress that nothing has been resolved for the Palestinians.
"The Palestinian circumstances ... are the worst since the Israeli planes attacked Arab airports," Palestinian columnist Rasem al-Madhoun wrote recently in Al-Hayat.
There have been small steps between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace deal with Israel in 1979. Jordan signed a treaty in 1994.
More recently, Saudi Arabia has reintroduced a land-for-peace plan. While Israel has welcomed the plan as a good starting point, it objects to key provisions such as pulling back to the pre-1967 borders and taking in millions of Palestinian refugees.
Yet, with or without peace treaties, the majority of Arabs still consider Israel as the arch enemy, and protests against Israel regularly draw huge crowds in Arab and Muslim nations.
"The 1967 war didn't bring just occupation and misery to the Palestinians, but it also brought insecurity to Israelis," wrote Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi. "Israel will never be secure or comfortable because it is an occupation state."

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Brett Stepehens on the SIx Day War - No Pyrrhic Victory

Wall Street Journal


No Pyrrhic Victory
Most of the conventional wisdom about the Six Day War is wrong.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 12:01 a.m.

On the morning of June 5, 1967, a fleet of low-flying Israeli jets surprised the Egyptian air force on the ground and destroyed it. This act of military pre-emption helped save Israel from what Iraq's then-President Abdul Rahman Aref had called, only several days earlier, "our opportunity . . . to wipe Israel off the map." Yet 40 years later Israel's victory is widely seen as a Pyrrhic one--"a calamity for the Jewish state no less than for its neighbors," according to a recent editorial in The Economist.

And the alternative was?

The Six Day War is supposed to be the great pivot on which the modern history of the Middle East hinges, the moment the Palestinian question came into focus and Israel went from being the David to the Goliath of the conflict. It's a reading of history that has the convenience of offering a political prescription: Rewind to the status quo ante June 5, arrange a peace deal, and the problems that have arisen since more or less go away. Or so the thinking goes.

Yet the striking fact is that all of Israel's peace agreements--with Egypt in 1979, with the Palestinians in 1993, with Jordan and Morocco in 1994--were achieved in the wake of the war. The Jewish state had gained territory; the Arab states wanted it back. Whatever else might be said for the land-for-peace formula, it's odd that the people who are its strongest advocates are usually the same ones who bemoan the apparent completeness of Israel's victory in 1967.

Great events have a way not only of reshaping the outlook for the future but also our understanding of the past, usually in the service of clarity. "Why England Slept" was an apt question to ask of Britain in the mid-1930s, but it made sense only after Sept. 1, 1939. By contrast, the Six Day War laid a thick fog over what came before. Today, the pre-1967 period is remembered (not least by many Israelis) as a time when the country's conscience was clear and respectable world opinion admired "plucky little Israel." Yet these were the same years when Israel lived within what Abba Eban, its dovish foreign minister, called "Auschwitz borders," with only nine miles separating the westernmost part of the West Bank from the Mediterranean Sea.

It is also often said today that the Six Day War humiliated the Arabs and propelled the region into future rounds of fighting. Yet President Aref of Iraq had prefaced his call to destroy Israel by describing the war as the Arabs' chance "to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948." It is said that the war inaugurated the era of modern terrorism, as the Arab world switched from a strategy of conventional confrontation with Israel to one of "unconventional" attacks. Yet hundreds of Israelis had already been killed in fedayeen raids in Israel's first 19 years of existence.

It is said that the Palestinian movement was born from Israel's occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. Yet the Palestine Liberation Organization was already in its third year of operations when the war began. It is said that Israel enjoyed international legitimacy so long as it lived behind recognized frontiers. Yet those frontiers were no less provisional before 1967 than they were after. Only after the Six Day War did the Green Line come to be seen as the "real" border.

Fog also surrounds memories of the immediate aftermath of the war. To read some recent accounts, a more sagacious Israel could have followed up its historic victory with peace overtures that would have spared everyone the bloody entanglements of its occupation of the Sinai, Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Or, failing that, it could have resisted the lure of building settlements in the territories in order not to complicate a land-for-peace transaction.

In fact, the Israeli cabinet agreed on June 19 to offer the Sinai to Egypt and the Golan to Syria in exchange for peace deals. In Khartoum that September, the Arab League declared "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it." As for Jewish settlements, hardly any were built for years after the war: In 1972, for instance, only about 800 settlers had moved to the West Bank.

It's true that the war caused Israel to lose friends abroad. "Le peuple juif, sûr de lui meme et dominateur" ("the Jewish people, sure of themselves and domineering") was Charles de Gaulle's memorable line in announcing, in November 1967, that France would no longer supply Israel militarily. Such were the Jewish state's former friends.

On the other hand, Israel gained new friends. The U.S., whose declared policy during the war was to be "neutral in thought, word and deed," would never again pretend such indifference, something that made all the difference to Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Tens of thousands of American and European Jews immigrated to Israel after 1967, sensing it was a country not on the brink of extinction. Christian evangelicals also became Israel's firm friends, expanding the political base of American support beyond its traditionally narrow, Jewish-Democratic core.

None of this is to say that the Six Day War was an unalloyed (or unironic) blessing for Israel. By gaining control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Israel swapped its old territorial insecurities for new demographic ones. As Palestinian numbers grew, Israel's efforts to find a new strategic equilibrium--first through negotiations with the PLO, later through unilateral withdrawals--became increasingly frenetic. Who knows whether they will succeed.

Then again, when the sun rose on June 5, 1967, Israel was a poor, desperately vulnerable country, which threw the dice on its own survival in the most audacious military strike of the 20th century. It is infinitely richer and more powerful today, sure in its alliance with the U.S. and capable of making concessions inconceivable 40 years ago. If these are the fruits of Israel's "Pyrrhic victory," it needs more such of them.

Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.

Copyright © 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Losing the Legacy of 1967?

We have to consider the source of the article below, but we cannot ignore some of the facts it presents. It is important to keep in mind, however, that nothing succeeds like success, and nothing fails like failure. In the Six Day War too, many errors were made, but they didn't add up to failure.
Ami Isseroff

Israel's army forgets 1967 lessons
By Christopher True

In 1967, a combination of military intelligence, strong leadership and an unwavering belief in its cause led Israel to one of the most spectacularly successful operations in military history.

In less than a week it routed its Arab neighbours, taking over East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

Nearly 40 years on, as it fought Hezbollah in Lebanon, the same army was to ultimately fall short in the very areas that had previously brought it victory.

Instead, it was Hezbollah which used the same combination to humble what had been seen as one of the world's most formidable modern armies.

Intelligent thinking
Chita Cohen was the commander of a helicopter squadron when Israel launched its aerial attack, Moked (Operation Focus) on Arab forces at 7.45am on June 5, 1967.
Cohen attributes the success of Moked to three factors - the element of surprise, the targeting of weak points and the efficiency of the Israeli air force.
Israeli pilots came in below radar cover and attacked airfields that had been pinpointed in advance.

The bases were attacked in the morning, when Arab pilots were still breakfasting, and to keep up the momentum Israeli pilots often flew four or five sorties a day.
The first two of these factors were underpinned by the strength of Israel's military intelligence whose careful research paved the way for Israel's success.
'Terrorist prism'
Mouin Rabbani, a Middle East expert at the International Crisis Group, says: "In 1967 the Arabs were unprepared for war, in 2006 Hezbollah were.
"Hezbollah had excellent intelligence about Israel while Israel had poor intelligence against Hezbollah."

A dedicated Hezbollah unit recruited agents who were able to gather information about Israel's military bases and other high-level targets that were to prove vital in 2006.
In contrast, Israeli intelligence made a tactical mistake in believing that if operations were pursued against Hezbollah, support for the movement would be minimal.  
Helped by funding from Iran, Hezbollah had widespread support among Lebanon's towns and villages, paying for school fees and medical expenses, providing health insurance and offering money for people to start up small businesses.
Jamil Mroue, publisher of Beirut's The Daily Star newspaper, said: "Israel viewed Hezbollah from a terrorist prism, it treated them as if they were not part of society itself.
"It attacked Hezbollah on the presumption that the local population would not help the movement, as it had failed to help the Palestinians in 1982."
Instead, much of the Lebanese population, even those who were not Shia, were to stand by Hezbollah during the conflict.
Lacking leadership
Mroue said: "The men who fought in 1967 went on to produce a long line of leaders, prime ministers, generals. They had a kind of quality.
"The men who lead the army now are no longer so focused, so intense, no longer burnt by the holocaust, which the leaders of 1967 were still close to."
Rabbani is more blunt, he said: "Israeli society has changed vastly over the last 40 years. In many ways it has become lazy and corpulent.

"This is reflected in the state of the army, which has become a pig trough, a professional army in the worst sense of the word.
"It has become institutionalised and unable to learn from its mistakes. In terms of its leadership, it is the worst possible people that have risen to the top."
In 2006, this lack of leadership was reflected on the ground, with problems equipping reservists and misguided strategies on the ground.
In contrast Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, was moved to describe Hezbollah as a trained, skilled, well-organised, and highly motivated infantry.
Collective inexperience
In 2006, the lack of leadership in the army was matched by the poor leadership of the Israeli government.
Ze'ev Schiff, Haaretz's defence correspondent and an expert on the Israeli army, said: "This was the first time in Israel's history that neither the prime minister, defence minister or foreign minister had any military experience."
Schiff feels that Israel's military operation was hindered by Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, whose handling of the war he describes as "a problem".
He believes that Israel should have struck with overwhelming force early on in order to prevent a prolonged campaign.
Schiff is critical of Olmert's cabinet which debated this strategy, but then opted for a lesser use of air and artillery firepower and a limited movement of troops on the ground.

General Shlomo Gazit was head of research for Aman (Israeli army intelligence) in the run up to the 1967 war and director of Aman from 1974 to 1978.
He believes if the war in 2006 had been handled differently Israel "could have occupied Lebanon in 48 hours".
Gazit also criticises Olmert: "He didn't have any military experience. He didn't know the right questions to ask the military. He is totally blank when it comes to understanding the military, the Middle East and the Arab mentality."
The chronic lack of leadership within Israel's army and government was a marked contrast to the direction given by Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's secretary general.
Nasrallah became a powerful symbol for Hezbollah's resistance to Israel and it was clear that the movement's fighters had a strong belief in him as their leader.
Just cause
The question of belief is the final contrast between 1967 and 2006.
In 1967 the Israeli nation was less than 20-years old and there was still a high degree of idealism among its population.
Israel argued that it had to make a pre-emptive attack on its Arab neighbours in order to defend itself and its actions were overwhelmingly supported by its citizens.
The takeover of areas such as East Jerusalem gave tremendous zeal to the army in its operations.
In 2006, as the conflict in Lebanon dragged on, Israel seemed unsure both of its tactics and the legitimacy of its actions.
This time it was Hezbollah that felt it was fighting a just cause, defending the population from an invader which was to eventually kill more than 1,000 civilians.
As recriminations over Lebanon continue in Israel, the country's military, and indeed its government, have a number of difficult questions to face.
The victory of 1967 was, for the Israelis, a spectacular achievement, but 40 years later, the army appears to have squandered its legacy.

ource: Al Jazeera

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Jews: Germany is our Fatherland - US and German Jews say 'No' to Aliya

The leaders of Germany's Jewish community have warned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert they would request the German government's help in preventing Israel from encouraging Jews settled in Germany to immigrate to Israel.
For those who may not know, the overwhelming majoirty of German Jews prior to the rise of Hitler rejected Zionism because they insisted that Germany is their Fatherland. Emigration to Palestine was considered a fatuous idea. The case of Fritz Haber, who argued so vehemently with Weizmann, is famous. Eventually, the renowned scientist and German patriot made his way out of Germany and admitted his mistake. Others were not so fortunate.
Whoever believes that history does not repeat itself, should contemplate this story. "Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it." It is incredible that the Jews of Germany still resist Zionism, but it is true.  
Those who whine about the lack of Hebrew and Jewish education in the United States should also take note of the following:
Nativ also sought to extend its field of operations to North America, but the Foreign Ministry foiled this option, arguing it would jeopardize Israel's relations with Washington and with the U.S. Jewish community
Is there something particularly obnoxious about Nativ? Do they use the wrong kind of deodorant or what?
At one time, every Israeli was greeted constantly by giant advertisements for USA Green Cards. In his second year of university, my son got an invitation to come to the United States and work for an engineering firm when he graduates. They snatch our engineers before they are even hatched!  It did not appear to me that anyone in Israel raised objections to American recruiting of Israelis. But Israeli recruitment of Jews for emigration from Germany or the United States draws the most obnoxious, outspoken and unashamed resistance. Sometimes the people doing the resisting have the effrontery to represent themselves as "Zionists." It is emotional, and not logical resistance. Nobody will force any Jews to come to Israel, or to attend any Nativ program, and frankly, it seems unlikely that Nativ will ever organize mass Aliya . They will however, help to ensure a revival of Hebrew and Jewish culture, and form a nucleus of Jews who are interested in their culture and their people. Rather than emptying the Diaspora of Jewry, activity on behalf of Aliya in communities where Jews prosper would enrich those communities.
I am sure that these views will stir angry protests, but this is how I feel, and this is how this story hits me.
Ami Isseroff
By Amiram Barkat, Haaretz Correspondent
The leaders of Germany's Jewish community have warned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert they would request the German government's help in preventing Israel from encouraging Jews settled in Germany to immigrate to Israel.
Stephan J. Kramer, who heads the Central Council of Jews in Germany, sent the warning following Israel's decision last week to extend the jurisdiction of Nativ , the government body in charge of promoting immigration from the Former Soviet Union to Israel. Nativ and the Jewish Agency will cooperate in running ulpans (Hebrew courses) and other educational programs in Germany, which is home to some 200,000 Russian-speaking Jews who moved there from the Former Soviet Union in recent years.
Two Nativ operatives are supposed to begin operating in Germany this September. Absorption Minister Ze'ev Boim, who opposed the Nativ decision, charged that such action would be wasteful, as such activities are currently performed by the Jewish Agency.
Nativ has long sought permission to operate in Germany, but was blocked by Jewish Agency opposition. Recently, however, Nativ was transferred from the Prime Minister's Office to the new Strategic Affairs Ministry, headed by Avigdor Lieberman, who has said in the past that he favors replacing the American-dominated Jewish Agency with Nativ entirely.
Nativ also sought to extend its field of operations to North America, but the Foreign Ministry foiled this option, arguing it would jeopardize Israel's relations with Washington and with the U.S. Jewish community

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Monday, June 4, 2007

Who and what are really behind the boycott Israel resolutions?

Make no mistake. The  Israel boycott resolutions springing up all over the US and the UK are not accidental, and they are not spontaneous outbursts of concern over the Israeli occupation. They are part of a concerted and longstanding anti-normalization effort, orchestrated by those who oppose a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They are spearheaded by a bogus Palestinian trade union federation created solely for the purpose of political action against Israel,  an equally bogus anti-boycott campaign "coalition" that does not reveal what organizations belong to their "coalition" and a variety of Israeli, U.K. and U.S. anti-Zionist activists. The initiators of the boycotts masquerade as human rights advocates, but in other contexts, often in Arabic, they make it clear that their agenda is annihilation of Israel. According to them, Palestinians who engage in dialogue are traitors who take crumbs from the Americans and Europeans.
Some background on the boycott initiators, and on how to counter them with a strategy that is pro-active for peace, is given here & here and at A program for wrecking Israeli-Palestinian Dialog.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

A good question: What if Israelis have abducted Alan Johnston of the BBC?

What if Israelis had abducted BBC man?

By Charles Moore
The (UK) Telegraph
03 June 2007

Watching the horrible video of Alan Johnston of the BBC broadcasting Palestinian propaganda under orders from his kidnappers, I found myself asking what it would have been like had he been kidnapped by Israelis, and made to do the same thing the other way round.

The first point is that it would never happen. There are no Israeli organisations - governmental or freelance - that would contemplate such a thing. That fact is itself

But just suppose that some fanatical Jews had grabbed Mr Johnston and forced him to spout their message, abusing his own country as he did so. What would the world have said?

There would have been none of the caution which has characterised the response of the BBC and of the Government since Mr Johnston was abducted on March 12. The Israeli government would immediately have been condemned for its readiness to harbour terrorists or its failure to track them down.

Loud would have been the denunciations of the extremist doctrines of Zionism which had given rise to this vile act. The world isolation of Israel, if it failed to get Mr Johnston freed, would have been complete.

If Mr Johnston had been forced to broadcast saying, for example, that Israel was entitled to all the territories held since the Six-Day War, and calling on the release of all Israeli soldiers held by Arab powers in return for his own release, his words would have been scorned. The cause of Israel in the world would have been irreparably damaged by thus torturing him on television. No one would have been shy of saying so.

But of course in real life it is Arabs holding Mr Johnston,and so everyone treads on tip-toe. Bridget Kendall of the BBC opined that Mr Johnston had been "asked" to say what he said in his video. Asked! If it were merely an "ask", why did he not say no?

Throughout Mr Johnston's captivity, the BBC has continually emphasised that he gave "a voice" to the Palestinian people, the implication being that he supported their cause, and should therefore be let out. One cannot imagine the equivalent being said if he had been held by Israelis.

Well, he is certainly giving a voice to the Palestinian people now. And the truth is that, although it is under horrible duress, what he says is not all that different from what the BBC says every day through the mouths of reporters who are not kidnapped and threatened, but are merely collecting their wages.

The language is more lurid in the Johnston video, but the narrative is essentially the same as we have heard over the years from Orla Guerin and Jeremy Bowen and virtually the whole pack of them.

It is that everything that is wrong in the Middle East and the wider Muslim world is the result of aggression or "heavy-handedness" (have you noticed how all actions by American or Israeli troops are "heavy-handed", just as surely as all racism is "unacceptable"?) by America or Israel or Britain.

Alan Johnston, under terrorist orders, spoke of the "absolute despair" of the Palestinians and attributed it to 40 years of Israeli occupation, "supported by the West". That is how it is presented, night after night, by the BBC.

The other side is almost unexamined. There is little to explain the internecine strife in the Arab world, particularly in Gaza, or the cynical motivations of Arab leaders for whom Palestinian miseries are politically convenient.

You get precious little investigation of the networks and mentalities of Islamist extremism - the methods and money of Hamas or Hizbollah and comparable groups - which produce acts of pure evil like that in which Mr Johnston is involuntarily complicit.

The spotlight is not shone on how the "militants" (the BBC does not even permit the word "terrorist" in the Middle East context) and the warlords maintain their corruption and ruleof fear, persecuting, among others, the Palestinians.

Instead it shines pitilessly on Blair and Bush and on Israel.

From the hellish to the ridiculous, the pattern is the same. Back at home, the Universities and Colleges Union has just voted for its members to "consider the moral implications of existing and proposed links with Israeli academic institutions".

Well, they could consider how work by scientists at the Technion in Haifa has led to the production of the drug Velcade, which treats multiple myeloma. Or they could look at the professor at Ben-Gurion University who discovered a bacteria that fights malaria and river blindness by killing mosquitoes and black fly.

Or they could study the co-operation between researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who have isolated the protein that triggers stress in order to try to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, and their equivalents at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge.

The main universities of Israel are, in fact, everything that we in the West would recognise as proper universities. They have intellectual freedom. They do not require an ethnic or religious qualification for entry. They are not controlled by the government. They have world-class standards of research, often producing discoveries which benefit all humanity. In all this, they are virtually unique in the Middle East.

The silly dons are not alone. The National Union of Journalists, of which I am proud never to have been a member, has recently passed a comparable motion, brilliantly singling out the only country in the region with a free press for pariah treatment. Unison, which is a big, serious union, is being pressed to support a boycott of Israeli goods, products of the only country in the region with a free trade union movement.

The doctrine is that Israel practises "apartheid" and that it must therefore be boycotted.

All this is moral madness. It is not mad, of course, to criticise Israeli policy. In some respects, indeed, it would be mad not to. It is not mad - though I think it is mistaken - to see the presence of Israel as the main reason for the lack of peace in the region.

But it is mad or, perhaps one should rather say, bad to try to raid Western culture's reserves of moral indignation and expend them on a country that is part of that culture in favour of surrounding countries that aren't. How can we have got ourselves into a situation in which we half-excuse turbaned torturers for kidnapping our fellow-citizens while trying to exclude Jewish biochemists from lecturing to our students?

Nobody yet knows the precise motivations of Mr Johnston's captors, but it is surely not a coincidence that they held him in silence until the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War approached, and only then made him speak. They wanted him to give the world their historical explanation - Israeli oppression - for their cause.

Yet that war took place because President Nasser of Egypt led his country and his allies declaring "our basic aim will be to destroy Israel".

He failed, abjectly, and Egypt and Jordan later gave up theaspiration. But many others maintain it to this day, now with a pseudo-religious gloss added.

We keep giving sympathetic air-time to their death cult. In a way, Mr Johnston is paying the price: his captors are high on the oxygen of his corporation's publicity.

As for Israel, many sins can be laid to its charge. But it is morally serious in a way that we are not, because it has to be. Forty years after its greatest victory, it has to work out each morning how it can survive.

Labels: , , ,

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Surprise - New York Times against the UCU Israel boycott

The New York Times took the UK UCU academic union to task for calling for a boycott of Israeli universities. This is surprising, because the people who seem to be leading and defending the boycott calls are the same "liberal" Jews that the Times defended elsewhere against charges that they are exacerbating anti-Semitism.
Malicious Boycotts

Published: June 3, 2007
The University and College Union, a newly formed British union of college teachers, shamefully called last week for a boycott on contacts and exchanges with Israeli academic institutions. That follows on the shameful call in April by the National Union of Journalists in Britain to boycott Israeli goods.

It is hard to imagine two organizations that should be less given to such nonsense. Who would respect the judgment of a scholar who selects or rejects colleagues on political grounds? Who would trust the dispatches of a reporter who has been openly engaged against one side of a conflict? The unions argue that they have an obligation to demonstrate labor-union solidarity with the oppressed, as they did in opposing apartheid.
That is absurd.

First, Israeli journalists and academics are among the most dedicated critics of their own society. Second, the lack of similar "solidarity" by these unions with any other oppressed or suffering people in the world, and there are plenty, reduces these gestures to an exercise in hypocrisy, or worse.

It is good to see that most respected British journalists, scholars and students — including the preponderance of British editorial writers and the heads of Oxford, Cambridge and 20 other top universities — as well as representatives of all major political parties condemned these malicious gestures.

Critical thinking and well-thought-out criticism are intrinsic to good scholarship and good journalism. These boycotts represent neither. Posturing like this only alienates the very forces in Israeli society that should be encouraged and offends the calling and honor of journalism and academia.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Another Hamas cease fire rumor bites the dust

Kindly note:
The Hamas movement on Sunday adamantly denied reports that they had proposed a ceasefire with the Israelis in exchange for an Israeli commitment to halting the targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders.
Does it sound familiar?
Hamas does not want peace. They do not want a cease fire on any reasonable terms. Yet rumors to the contrary surface every week, and are predictably shot down by the Hamas after a few days. The will to believe is very strong among journalists, or perhaps it is a a plot of evil Zionists and decadent Westerners to discredit the Hamas. The Hamas is a righteous and upstanding violent and genocidal organization who espouse the Jihad. They are fighting for the right to kill the Jews, which is necessary to bring about judgement day. They won't stop until every Jew in Palestine is gone, one way or the other. Journalists should stop slandering them by suggesting that they want peace or a cease fire.
Ami Isseroff
Hamas denies proposing a ceasefire agreement with Israel
Date: 03 / 06 / 2007  Time:  09:47

Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Hamas movement on Sunday adamantly denied reports that they had proposed a ceasefire with the Israelis in exchange for an Israeli commitment to halting the targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders.

A spokesperson of Hamas, Sami Abu Zuhri, told Ash Sharq Al Awsat (Middle East) news agency that the news reports were completely false. He affirmed that Hamas calls for the protection of all Palestinian people, not just the movement's leaders.

Israeli media reported that the Prime Minister of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad ibn Jassim Bin Jabor Al Thani, had delivered a message from the head of the Hamas politburo, Khaled Mash'al, to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, offering a ceasefire agreement. Israeli news reports claimed that Mash'al offered to cease projectile launching from Gaza at Israeli towns, in exchange for an end to the targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders.

"Israel must end hostilities towards the Palestinian people before we can talk about a ceasefire," said Abu Zuhri. He added that Hamas would never agree to a unilateral ceasefire, as the only beneficiary from such a deal in the past has been Israel.


The spokesperson refused to comment on the Israeli reports that the Olmert government is awaiting a list of prisoners that Hamas wants released in exchange for captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was taken by three Palestinian factions a year ago.

"All I can say is that the occupation government bears sole responsibility for not achieving the deal so far," Abu Zuhri said.


Continued (Permanent Link)

The Syrian-Jihadi "highway" in Lebanon

The Syrian-Jihadi "highway" in Lebanon
By Walid Phares, Ph.D.
World Defense Review columnist
June 2/07

A curious "debate" is growing rapidly among a number of Western-based analysts about the "impossibility" of the existence of Syrian Jihadi-Salafist links. More particularly, some analysts went to the extent of describing the existence of links between the Syrian Mukhabarat and the group Fatah al Islam operating in North Lebanon as "hazy."

Ironically this mounting trend meets the current Syrian diplomatic and media campaign halfway, as Damascus is deploying extensive efforts to deny "any link whatsoever" with Fatah al Islam. In fact, Assad shut down the passage points in northern Lebanon just a few hours after the Jihadists began slaughtering the Lebanese soldiers. Interestingly enough Syria has not closed entry checkpoints to Lebanon since 1976, even though Tripoli's skies were burning during many battles between militias and factions.

Was Assad too fast in denying his backing of Fatah al Islam, as with his instant denial of his regime's role in the Hariri assassination?

We'll come back to this matter later. But first let me examine the arguments in the claim stating that Fatah al Islam is al Qaeda, and therefore it cannot be backed by the Syrian regime.


Intelligence and Counterterrorism experts are familiar with the weapon known as "intox" from the root word intoxication. It is a form of deception used by powers throughout history and developed as a special skill by the Soviet KGB during the Cold war. Later on various Jihadi networks, both Iranian and Salafist, have improved this method via the use of Khid'a (deception) and the historically rooted concept of Taqiya (dissimulation tactic).

The bottom line is that regimes and organizations, Islamist and ultra-nationalists (i.e. not sanctioned by domestic checks and balances) can use all deceptions possible and don't have to be transparent. In the War on Terror or the Terror War against Democracies, do not expect -- naively -- these radicals to tell you the real story. Hence do not expect either the Syrian regime to declare that it is supporting Fatah al Islam at this point, or expect the latter to declare that they are coordinating with Damascus as they are announcing they have pledged to al Qaeda. Reading short of this complex reality would only mean that you have been the victim of "intox," the enemy's Khid'a at its best.

Assad regime's History

To those who cannot fathom how a Baathist secular -- and socialist -- regime engags in alliances with Islamist forces, fights them, befriend one and represses another, just review the very dense history of Hafez Assad between 1970 and 2000, and the short but bloody history of his son Bashar from 2000 until 2007.

For 37 years the Assad dynasty practiced Taqiya and Khid'a as well as cross-ideological alliances. The regime supported the PLO between 1970 and 1976, before Assad ordered the bloody conflict with Arafat in 1976. Briefly claiming coordination with Right wing Christian parties in 1976-1977, Assad bombed the PLO in 1978. Then using Amal against the Palestinians, the regime supported its own "Palestinian" factions.

Allying himself with Iran and Hizbollah in 1982, the regime wanted to contain Hizbollah in Beirut in 1986. Fighting against the Lebanese (Christian) Forces since the 1970s, the Syrians backed a faction among them (Elie Hobeika) in 1986, fought another (Samir Geagea) until 1989, claimed to befriend the latter for a short time before ordering oppression of their partisans as of 1993.

Assad fought the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, but funded the Islamists in Lebanon and Palestine. His regime claimed it was secular while becoming the single strategic ally of Iran's Islamist elite. In Lebanon and after the withdrawal of the bulk of his army, Bashar kept his entire apparatus: from Shia Hizbollah and Amal, some Druse factions, and a few Christian warlords, to a large range of pro-Sunni politicians and groupings. How can the Assad intelligence net achieve this?

That is another story about the Baathist sophistication. And as of spring 2005, a main former anti-Syrian politician was added to the panoply of Syrian (and Iranian) political assets in the country: General Michel Aoun. However, perhaps the most advantageous "grabs" by the Baathist Mukhabarat were Sunni Islamists, who should have been ideologically on the other side of Assad, but who, with the attraction of a "deity" -- dollars and power -- have agreed to line up with a Taghut (unjust ruler in Jihadi literature).

Indeed, as of the early 1990s, Assad, the father, succeeded in recruiting Islamic (Sunni) Fundamentalists. Obviously the prime against-nature alliance was with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both Sunni Islamists. Once that was "accomplished," other models were possible. Hence, the next wave of Sunni Islamists to be "recruited" by the Syrian intelligence were precisely those based in Tripoli and Sidon in Lebanon, for example Harakat al Tawheed of Shaaban and the Gama'a al Islamiya. And once Syrian intelligence can penetrate that far in Sunni radical land, it can naturally fund those who will at some point "join" al Qaeda.

Years later, the Assad junta's efforts paid off. While many in the realm of Western logic cannot absorb it, the fact is that Syrian intelligence not only has a strategic relationship with Islamic Fundamentalists who are fighting a same enemy, but also has a control process over some groups who, while being attracted ideologically to al Qaeda, are enjoying the checks of the Assad regime. Hence, the odd situation of Fatah al Islam in their affiliation with the ideology of al Qaeda (contradictive with the Baath) and their acceptance of Syrian logistical (and binding) aid.

Jihadi tactical history

One has also to have a solid understanding of Jihadi-Salafi tactical history. This type of movement is indeed very rigid on ideology. Its attitude towards the so-called Kuffar (infidels) is unshakeable: Jews, Christians, Hindus, Muslim Shiites and even Sunni "apostates" are ranked as enemy.

But the Salafi Jihadists have often used their enemies, accepted their donations and produced all the reasons for this behavior. If Wahabi Islamists have welcomed strategic assistance from American infidels in Afghanistan in the 1980s they surely would accept weapons and money from the region's Baathists. Western "experts" shouldn't have an existential crisis if the Jihadists divert a little from the books they print. Yes, even the Salafi Jihadists can be "tactical." In Tripoli's case, not only Fatah al Islam was encouraged by the Syrian intelligence, but a number of its leadership were jailed then freed by Damascus .

Stakes for Bashar's regime

Another component of the "unnatural" cooperation between the Syrian regime and a more than one Jihadi group in Lebanon is the urgency for Bashar. Hafez Assad used Islamist groups in Lebanon and in Palestine during the 1980s and the 1990s for very specific reasons: control of the game with Israel and with the opponents of the Baath in Lebanon.

Bashar's intelligence is using them for a higher stake: to protect the Syrian regime from collapse by ordering the crumbling of the Lebanese Government before. It centers on the Hariri UN Court and on the implementation of UNSCR 1559. Only seasoned readers of Assad politics can see it as clearly as a grand plan.

The Syrian game plan

It is always beneficial for commentators and analysts to look at developments involving terrorism, from historical and geopolitical angles. When Fatah al Islam began the attacks against the Lebanese soldiers it wasn't because of a bank robbery. The group declared last November the purpose of enflaming Tripoli, and with it a "northern front" against the Seniora Government. Reading it otherwise is a short sight watching of unfolding events.

The road to the battle of Tripoli began in April of 2005, when Bashar Assad delivered a speech in Damascus in which he declared his intention to withdraw his army from Lebanon under American, French and international pressures. A thorough reading at the time told all those connoisseurs of the Baathist regime that he was planning on pulling out the "first army" (the regular troops and tanks), but he had instructed the "second army, " (Hezbollah, the pro-Syrian militias, and the Terrorists implanted within Palestinian camps) to take the offensive.

From July to December 2005, a number of Cedars Revolution leaders were savagely assassinated and bombs targeted several areas. From January to June 2006, while the March 14 (anti-Syrian) politicians were lured into discussions with Hezbollah, the Syro-Iranians introduced weapons and terrorists through the Bekaa borders with Syria . By July, Hezbollah waged a war against Israel. As of October 2006, Nasrallah waged an urban war against the Seniora Government: A Minister was assassinated and downtown Beirut was occupied.

From January 2007 until now the Jihadi card has been used. This is the strategic context in which Fatah al Islam operates today: engaging the Lebanese Army in several spots, starting with Tripoli. In short, the Assad regime has no doctrinal ethics as many fooled experts believe in the West. The Syrian regime would sleep with any enemy and use all assets to reach its goal.

Bashar's war room can assassinate Lebanese politicians with the agents of the neo-Nazi SSNP, set off bombs and suppress Shiites intellectuals with Hezbollah expertise, besiege the Lebanese Church with the help of Christian feudals such as Soleiman Frangieh, disorient the Maronite masses with turncoat Michel Aoun, penetrate the Sunni community with "funded" Salafi Jihadists and thrust into the Druze clan with "paid" operatives.: And as this Terrorist architecture is set up in Lebanon, another span of "Assad Labyrinths" lures outside powers into the game.

The Syrian regime, while ally with the Mullahcracy in Tehran, tells the Americans it could do business with them; and, as Bashar instructs his operatives overseas to blast the Saudi regime, he flies over to Riyadh to assure them of his friendship. Hence, a regime that can master such a diabolical engineering can easily recruit and have remote control over the little Fatah al Islam and place it in Assad's vast tool-set in Lebanon and the region.

Fatah al Islam: Opportunistic Jihadi Hybrid

To understand the nature of Fatah al Islam, one has to cross several layers of distinctions -- first between an "official chapter" of the Bin Laden organization and the other types. Shaker al Absi's group is not a chapter, yet. Then one must distinguish between those Jihadist entities fully independent from regimes and intelligence services and those "implicated" in some ways.

Fatah al Islam is Salafi Jihadist, regards Bin Laden as an ideological leader, but also happens to be on the receiving end of Assad's payroll. In short, not all Jihadi groups are perfect. So, at the end of the day, the Nahr al Bared based Salafi Terrorists are Jihadi in nature and tied to Syrian intelligence per needs. They could be seen as "Opportunistic Hybrid Jihadis." They can adapt to future situation in the future, if they survive as an organized networks.

Some Terrorism commentators in the West and in the US spoke of an "elusive Fatah al Islam." Unfamiliar with the Levantine nature of the phenomenon, those commentators still struggle with what they describe as "speculation" over the group's "real motives," as if they haven't captured the equation behind Fatah al Islam. These commentators base their inability to define the group on classical ethnocentric errors in analysis. First, they conclude that this group can't have ties to Damascus because the Syrian regime executed four members of the group. Ironically, the news came from the Syrian intelligence itself, which means that the Assad regime can go as far as killing operatives to intimidate the rest of the group, and on top of it, "sell" the news to the world as an "an anti al Qaeda" activity, which by the way would be bought by US officials.

It would take a world, and many books to explain the twisted -- but successful -- mind of the regime in Damascus. "Killing" Islamists at the hand of the Syrian soldiers is another form of taming wild activities and raining in. And for those who can't fathom this behavior, just remember how in 1987, Syrian special forces slaughtered a number of Hezbollah fighters in Beirut even when Syrian intelligence was coordinating with Iran. Each blood shed, has a specific reason in this business.

The analysts who can't absorb the Syrian-Fatah al Islam form of cooperation often cite statements made by al Qaeda in Iraq's past commander attacking the Shiites, and hence the Alawite regime. But what escapes commentators is that theological and ideological principles can be selectively applied, so that strategic goals can be reached. The "principles" are never forgotten but the roads to attain them can be full of blind spots. And just as a reminder, it was Ayman Zawahiri, al Qaeda's number two, who asked Zarqawi to forget about the Shiia apostates in Iraq until time opportune comes. So, statements made by a few hot-headed Jihadi commanders in Iraq won't stop pragmatic Jihadists in Lebanon from receiving aid from Alawi apostates.

There is something called al Darura that escapes many on-the-spot analysts as they navigate in the highly intricate world of the Jihadists: it translates into "necessity." If it is deemed necessary by the Emir of a group to use the goodies of an infidel party to fight the other infidel party, it will be selected comfortably. Remember how the Wahabis of the 1980s used all resources from a far-Infidel power, the United States, to fight a close infidel enemy, the Soviet Union , and learn from that example.

Seeing beyond "Intox"

Once more, the unseen tie between the Assad regime and the Terrorist Jihadi groups is in the center of international and US scrutiny. The Iraq debate in 2002-2003 fell short of reading the type of "links" that existed between the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Most observers missed the actual state of those relationships that existed. From my reading of 42 pages of Iraqi intelligence (in Arabic) from the 1992-1994 years, I saw clearly how both sides were exploring the potentials. From my previous observation of Saddam's symbolic metamorphosis in the 1990s towards a higher use of Islamist symbols I understood that he wanted to have this dimension at his disposal, without changing his regime's doctrine deeply.

It was the level of darura again. But in Assad's case, the darura is high: The regime depends on arming Jihadists (even if they could sting you later) and sending them off to Iraq , and now to Lebanon.

The Salafi Jihadists are like a dangerous chemical weapon that you'd want to throw on your foe while knowing it can come back at you. But guess what? It is more important for the Assad regime to crumble the Seniora Government now and crush future Salafi backfiring later. The Syrian intelligence is expert at eliminating their past tools, even if they were Syrians as well.

What the expert community in the West and in the US must do is to see beyond the analytical "intoxication" unleashed by the regimes and organizations in the region, and expanded by their advocates in the West. Just keep in mind that the Iranian-Syrian axis is spending millions of dollars on one of the most sophisticated PR campaigns aiming at blurring the vision of their foes.

If you investigate thoroughly the grapevines, you'd be able to find out that most of the "arguments" made in our public space about the types of relationships that "can" exist, and those that "shouldn't," are manufactured in Tehran and Damascus. Subconsciously or not, many in the West parrot the claims made by Middle East dictatorships, Jihadi strategists and al Jazeera commentators, unfortunately weakening democracies' stand in the War of Ideas.

At the end of the day, as I try to argue in my latest book, the ultimate strategic goal of the enemies is to force the West to see wrongly and act accordingly. In the case of Fatah al Islam's battling in Tripoli, the aim of the Syro-Iranian propagandists is to camouflage what is obvious for as long and thick as they can: That the Syrian regime not only has established ties to some Jihadist groups, but has in fact paved a "highway" in their direction, with the goal of using them as one of the defense lines for the regime. Hence, it is up to the public and the policy makers in the West to thrust through the deceptive "intoxication" tactic by Damascus and Tehran, to see clearer, and only then, to act accordingly.

— Dr Walid Phares is a senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) in Washington, D.C., and director of the Future Terrorism Project of the FDD. He is a visiting fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels. His most recent book is Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against the West.
Dr Phares holds degrees in law and political science from Saint Joseph University and the Lebanese University in Beirut, a Masters in international law from the Universite de Lyons in France and a Ph.D. in international relations and strategic studies from the University of Miami.
He has taught and lectured at numerous universities worldwide, practiced law in Beirut , and served as publisher of Sawt el-Mashreq and Mashrek International. He has taught Middle East political issues, ethnic and religious conflict, and comparative politics at Florida Atlantic University until 2006.
Dr. Phares has written seven books on the Middle East and published hundreds of articles in newspapers and scholarly publications such as Global Affairs, Middle East Quarterly, the Journal of South Asian and Middle East Studies and the Journal of International Security. He has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, BBC, al Jazeera, al Hurra, as well as on radio broadcasts.
Aside from serving on the boards of several national and international think tanks and human rights associations, Dr. Phares has testified before the US Senate Subcommittees on the Middle East and South East Asia, the House Committees on International Relations and Homeland Security and regularly conducts congressional and State Department briefings, and he was the author of the memo that introduced UNSCR 1559 in 2004.

Visit Dr. Phares on the web at and
© 2007 Walid Phares


Continued (Permanent Link)

What causes Palestinian terror?

Comment: The campaign to delegitimize Israel
David Horovitz, THE JERUSALEM POST Jun. 3, 2007

A two-hour drive, at most, from here, in a lawless land, extortionists are holding a British journalist captive to try and delegitimize my country.
The kidnapping of the BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza, and now the broadcast of his taped denunciation of the fact of Israel's existence, are only one small part of a wider campaign. And it is working.
The international community is being drip-fed the toxic assertion that, were it not for Israel, ours would be a peaceful world, a harmonious community of nations, living in tranquility alongside each other, respecting differences and working out disagreements in a spirit of compromise. If it were not for Israel, the Original Sin, the bone in the Islamic throat.
In Alan Johnston's Britain, the campaign is proving particularly effective. So much so that the union that represents his own profession, the National Union of Journalists, along with many academics, members of the clergy and numerous other opinion-shapers, now subscribe to this notion of Israel as prime irritant, prompter of terrorism.
Willfully overlooked by those who seek to delegitimize Israel and, appallingly by those who fall prey to the campaign, are the basic truths at the root of our Middle East reality, at the root of the Islamist terror campaign.
Willfully overlooked is the fact that modern Israel is not some upstart Western invention, supplanting the state of Palestine, but the ancestral homeland of the Jewish nation, the land where our nation long lived and has always sought to live. The world is filled with Muslim nation-states and Christian nation-states. Ours is the only Jewish nation-state. It is the only nation-state that the Jewish nation has ever sought.
It was revived by the international community too late to save the stateless Jews from the Holocaust. But when belatedly relegitimized, after millions had died because of the international community's failure to protect the stateless Jews of Europe, its reconstitution was predicated on the establishment of a nation-state, too, for the Arab inhabitants of mandatory Palestine.
The revived State of Israel, and a first-ever Palestinian state, could and would have coexisted here since 1948 were it not for the fact that those who spoke for the Arab inhabitants eschewed the partition and sought instead to overrun Israel altogether.
Israel stated its desire for peaceful relations with its neighbors in its 1948 declaration of independence and has restated it, and acted upon it, ever since. When Arab nations sought peace with us, we rushed to embrace them, even at the price of relinquishing territory from which we had been attacked and that we had captured in wars designed to eliminate us.
Even today, we grapple with the dilemma of what to make of Syria's peace overtures. Peace with Damascus means relinquishing the Golan Heights to a regime that may not be stable, a regime that used those same Golan Heights to seek our destruction a generation ago, a regime that even now is rearming on its side of that border. And yet if Bashar Assad were to travel to Jerusalem and offer peace in return for the Golan, the Israeli public would throw out any government that did not immediately embrace him.
Continued Palestinian suffering is not, in the malevolent text scripted for Johnston, a consequence of unacceptable and inexplicable Israeli occupation. Why are Palestinians still living in refugee camps in Gaza when there is no Israeli presence there? Why are Kassam squads firing into sovereign Israel from Jew-free Gaza, and bringing more suffering on their fellow Palestinians as Israel tries to stem the fire?
Israel's only real reservation about Palestinian independence is that the state of Palestine not be established at the expense of the State of Israel. But that, to date, is the price that the Palestinian leadership has set.
Yasser Arafat rejected a two-state solution at Camp David seven years ago, instead seeking a mass Palestinian population influx into Israel that would have destroyed Israel as a Jewish state. The Hamas government that succeeded him subscribes to an extremist Islamic ideology that regards Jewish sovereignty as an intolerable blasphemy.
Peace with Egypt in the late 1970s, and with Jordan in the mid-1990s, and the illusion of looming peace with the Palestinians, had led Israelis to believe that the nations of the Middle East had given up hope of overrunning the Jewish state and were reluctantly coming to terms with it.
In hindsight, however, that momentum shifted with the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, and a counter-movement has been accelerating ever since. The Islamic Republic of Iran, a rapacious regime bent on exporting its fundamentalist thinking throughout this region and beyond, has made Israel's elimination a prime goal, though by no means its sole aim.
It has waged war against Israel by proxy - via Hizbullah in south Lebanon and by the terror groups it helps arms and train and fund in Gaza and the West Bank. And now it seeks the nuclear capability to destroy Israel directly.
The international community's failure to distinguish victims from aggressors in our conflicts is fuelling the campaign to delegitimize Israel. In failing to recognize Islamist aggression, to strive concertedly against it, and to encourage the marginalized voices of moderation, it is exacerbating the suffering of ordinary people on both sides of the conflict - failing Israel, failing the Palestinians, failing the region, failing its own long-term interests.
Israel faces Iranian-inspired enemies fighting asymmetrical wars - building bombs for suicide attackers in factories in the heart of civilian neighborhoods, firing rockets at Israeli towns and cities from crowded residential areas, crowing at Israeli fatalities, and crying foul to the international community when Israel tries to defend itself with physical barriers, ground forces and air attacks.
And much of the international community is buying the deception.
The world's media fails to convey that Israel, with its open society, allows access to the camera crews and reporters not only when it is hit, but also when it fires back - whereas the closed societies around us never countenance the documentation of their aggression, only their victimhood. A strategic misrepresentation of our reality is being inexorably created, fostering the false portrayal of Israel as aggressor when the demonstrable fact is that Israel has no territorial claims in southern Lebanon, from where it withdrew unilaterally even though it knew it would be left vulnerable, or in Gaza, from where it uprooted its own civilians, and that it seeks nothing more fervently than a viable accommodation with its neighbors.
Israel's war against Islamic extremism is the world's war. It is a battle between those who value life and those who, in the words of the Madrid train bombers, love death. It is a war between those who cherish freedoms and those who have become prey to an apocalyptic, death-cult interpretation of Islam.
If the extremists prevail, the consequences will be cataclysmic for Israel. But they will be cataclysmic, too, far beyond Israel, far beyond this region.
Terrorism is not a consequence of an Israeli failure to make peace with the Palestinians. It is a tool of the intolerant ideology that has consistently thwarted all efforts at such peace, an ideology that seeks to replace Israel and to impose itself far beyond Israel.
The captured Alan Johnston is just one small victim of that extremist intolerance, forced to declare its sentiments. Woe betide those who would believe the words put into his mouth.

Continued (Permanent Link)

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