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Saturday, June 30, 2007

They came by sword and will go by the sword

An article by Mohammad Khaled.

As Safir, 6/29/2007
Source (Arabic): As Safir
[Translation copyright MidEastWeb for Coexistence, 2007 ]
Plato said: "One of the penalties of not participating in politics is to
let the inferior others to control your fate."

Although the Palestinian people, men, women, and children practice politics they were doomed to be controlled by groups who are less competent. Fatah is a national liberation movement who is stuffed with monetary corruption. Hamas is a religious movement that is ideologicallycorrupted. In the last elections, the Palestinian people punished Fatah because of its corruption and its failure in managing the struggle against the Zionist enemy. Corruption of ideology and much  ignorance led Hamas to commit an unprecedented action in politics, which is a military coup against its own government. The flags of Palestine were removed from the authority buildings and the flags of Hamas were raised in the
skyline of Gaza (instead of raising them in Tel Aviv!). Did Hamas become a Palestinian Taliban?
In a victory that is much worse than a defeat, ignorant voices were raised to declare the establishment of an Islamic state in Palestine.

In Lebanon Fatah Islam is talking about an Islamic emirate in Tripoli. Two Islamic states are going to be started inside two secular states. Palestine and Lebanon.

What kind of destructive minds has Bin Laden  exported?
Islam against Christianity and Judaism. Al Absi and his master Al Zarkawi. Sunnis against Shiites. amas the Sunni against the other Sunnis. It is Islam against Islam.

The early Arabs presented a genius invention to the humanity that was the base for all sciences: the zero. The later Arabs removed the zero and sat on its place. The Islamists dug a well under it which was
bottomless. Their brains are in the middle ages and their bodies are in the 21st century. The ordinary citizen should send a message to the attorney general against those who sneaked in from the middle ages to the age of modernism , inventions, and scientific revolution and the equality of all people, men and women, without any reservation and without regard to color, sex, religion or beliefs.
It is the age of giving women full freedom without any discrimination or rotten masculine heresy about the biological differences between man and woman,  trying to establish the woman inferiority and establish the superiority of men from the moment of birth.

Last week there was a women parade in Gaza led by working women in the field of press and media. They were protesting against the threats who they received from radical Islamists. They declared they would cut off the head of any media lady who did not put a hijab on her head. The Moroccan writer Fatima Marnissi was right when she said that hijab is not an article of clothing, it is job division or classification.
In Gaza, as in Afghanistan the Muslim fundamentalists say that the normal placefor the woman is in the kitchen and her duty is to feed the male and stay in the bedroom to breed children. Their social leader said: if you are going to meet your woman don't forget your stick. Their preferable governor is the khalif and the executioner and let the election boxes be drowned at the bottom of the sea.

In Lebanon there was a crisis manufactured  by a gang that belongs to the Al-Qaida. Its name is Fatah of Islam and it is led by Shaker Al Absi. Who is he? He was condemned to death in Jordan. He ran to Syria and was caught and sentenced to ten years in prison. After spending four years he was released by a secret deal with the Syrian authorities. Jordan asked Syria to deliver him but Syria refused. He went to Iraq and was trained by his master Al Zarkawi. Later on he came back from Iraq and got into Lebanon with his gang through Damascus. He started a catastrophic crisis when he attacked the Lebanese army. His goal was to establish an Islamic emirate in the north of Lebanon. Sadly, none of the Islamic groups in the region (the Muslim brotherhood, Hamas, Islamic jihad, Hezbollah, Ahbash, Jundi Sham, swords of Islam, etc) condemned this gang in a loud and clear voice. A sharp decision was taken by the patriotic and the brave Lebanese army to destroy this gang without negotiation or delay.
The Lebanese army suffered from casualties and deaths of martyred soldiers. This gang and its supporters put the residents of the Albared river Palestinian refugee camp in a very difficult and embarrassing social and political situation. But all the Palestinians in Lebanon supported the Lebanese army and they loudly cursed this hired gang and its evil goals. When you make a mistake youapologize. When you make a compulsive action you blame yourself. When you commit a sin you repent. But those people would not apologize, blame themselves, or repent. Gravediggers do not do that.

Their moves are not fair. They have an unfair agenda. They fight unfair battles in the wrong place at the wrong time. History tells us that those who came by sword will go by the sword.

Mohammad Khaled,
Palestinian writer.
Resident in Abu Dhabi UAE.
Cross posted: Israel News and  Middle East Analysis


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Hamas whacks Mickey Martyr

Hamas killed off their Martyr Mouse ripoff. They should've thrown him off the top of a building after shooting him in his kneecaps.
Who's the little rodent, whose tryin to kill me?
M*I*C - See you in Hell
K*E*Y - Why? Because we HATE YOU.
M*a*r*t*y*r - Why are you still alive, anyhow?
Mickey Martyr, Mickey Martyr,
Forever may we hold your banner High High High High.
So long until next week kids.
Ami Isseroff

Hamas TV kills off Mickey Mouse double
Disney character lookalike who preached Islamic domination children's television program is victim of pretend beating death by actor posing as Israeli official in show's final episode. 'Farfur was martyred while defending his land,' says teen presenter

Associated Press Published: 06.30.07, 15:50 / Israel News
A Mickey Mouse lookalike who preached Islamic domination on a Hamas-affiliated children's television program was the victim of a pretend beating death in the show's final episode Friday.

In the final skit, the "Farfur" character was killed by an actor posing as an Israeli official trying to buy Farfur's land. At one point, the mouse called the Israeli a "terrorist."

"Farfur was martyred while defending his land," said Sara, the teen presenter. He was killed "by the killers of children," she added.

The weekly show, featuring a giant black-and-white rodent with a high-pitched voice, had attracted worldwide attention because the character urged Palestinian children to fight Israel. It was broadcast on Hamas-affiliated al-Aqsa TV.

Station officials said Friday that Farfour was taken off the air to make room for new programs. Station manager Mohammed Bilal said he did not know what would be shown instead.

Israeli officials have denounced the program, "Tomorrow's Pioneers," as incendiary and outrageous. The program was also opposed by the state-run Palestinian Broadcasting Corp., which is controlled by Fatah, Hamas' rival.


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ADL: Methodist committee report on Israel 'borders on anti-Semitism'

Invest in Caterpillar, General Electric, Blockbuster, General Dynamics - firms that do business with Israel and are targetted for it.


"I argue that those who single out Israel for unique criticism not directed against countries with far worse human rights records are themselves guilty of international bigotry. So long as criticism is comparative, contextual, and fair, it should be encouraged, not disparaged. But when the Jewish nation is the only one criticized for faults that are far worse among other nations, such criticism crosses the line from fair to foul, from acceptable to anti-Semitic."

 - Professor Alan Dershowitz

New York Sun -- June 29, 2007 

BY SETH GITELL - Special to the Sun
June 29, 2007

A leading Jewish group said the United Methodist Church's call to divest from 20 companies that do business with Israel "borders on anti-Semitism," upping the pressure on President Bush and Senator Clinton — both Methodists — to distance themselves from the church's statement.
The report, which drew criticism from the Anti-Defamation League yesterday, was written by the Divestment Task Force of the church's New England Conference and targeted such companies as Blockbuster, General Dynamics, and General Electric.
"The urgency of the humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian territories cannot be overstated," the report stated. "Palestinians face soaring unemployment, malnutrition, restrictions on movement, denial of medical care, denial of access to their agricultural lands, humiliation at checkpoints and extended lockdowns called curfews."
The national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, said in a statement that the report "borders on anti-Semitism."
He added: "The authors of the report must be living in a bubble to ignore ongoing attacks on Israel and Hamas's violent takeover of Gaza to issue such an outrageous, biased report that focuses only on Israel."
Representatives for President Bush and Senator Clinton did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment on the Methodist divestment action.
The deputy director of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Boston, Alan Ronkin, said his group would be meeting with local Methodists on the issue. "We are going to try to educate and let them know where we're coming from," Mr. Ronkin said. Efforts such as the divestment push, "delegitimize Israel, damage any chance to make progress in the Middle East, and are morally offensive," he added.
The report also drew criticism from within the United Methodist Church. A senior minister at First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto, the Reverend Archer Summers, said he would work to get the next General Conference to reject a divestment move and to push the body to pass a resolution similar to the United Church of Christ's recent measure calling for "a balanced study" of the Middle East conflict.
"They're flat-out wrong. They went off the deep end this time," Rev. Summers said of the New England Conference. "The powers that be in the New England Methodist Church are clueless about how to bring about a just peace. The report would make it appear that there's some sort of animus on the part of the United Methodist Church toward the state of Israel, which undermines our credibility as an institution which preaches the good news of peace."
The Methodists' action comes as the United Church of Christ, another Protestant denomination, moved forward a resolution moderating its stance toward Israel. The UCC's "balanced study " measure is now being seen as a counter to the 2005 passage of both a "divestment" motion and a "tear down the wall" resolution, which urged the dismantling of Israel's security barrier.
Senator Obama — who is a member of the UCC and who addressed the church's national gathering in Hartford last Saturday — issued a statement saying he "strongly disagrees with the portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict presented by individual members of the church."
The Methodist report cited the following companies as targets for divestment: Alliant Tech Systems, Blockbuster, Boeing, Caterpillar, Cement Roadstone Holdings, General Dynamics, General Electric, Globecomm Systems Inc, ITT Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Magal Security Systems, Motorola, Northrop Grumman, Oshkosh Truck Corporation, Raytheon, Silicon Graphics, Terex, United Technologies, Veolia Environnement, and Volvo.
The Methodists' New England Conference is seen as a precursor to the church's General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, in April.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Poll: Israelis support relations with diaspora Jews, but not criticism

According to a Bnai Brith poll, 55% of Israelis ranked relations with Diaspora Jewry as most important (10) and only about 4% ranked them unimportant (ranks 1-4). 78% claim they are interested in news about Diaspora Jews. 88% are willing to support programs that bring Jews on visits to Israel.  However, 54% believe that criticism of Israeli government policies by Diaspora Jews is improper.  46% believe all Jews should live in Israel.
Ami Isseroff
Israelis Attitudes Toward Diaspora Jewry
B'nai B'rith World Center
June 2007
[Converted from a power point presentation by IMRA]

The following are the results of a poll designed by Keevoon, Research,
Strategy & Communications of a representative sample of 500 adult Israeli
Jews carried out by Mutagim on 6, 7 and 10 June 2007.  The poll was
commissioned by B'nai B'rith World Center Jerusalem.  Statistical error/-
4.5 percentage points.

On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the least important and 10 being the most
important, how important is Israel's relationship with Diaspora Jewry?
1 - 1%
2 - 2%
3 - 1%
4 - 0%
5 - 7%
6 - 2%
7 - 7%
8 - 19%
9 - 8%
10-  55%
Average:  8.6

How interested are you in television, radio, newspapers and internet reports
concerning Diaspora Jewish communities or issues pertaining to
Israel-Diaspora relations?
Interested 78% Not Interested 22%

Over the past few years the Government of Israel has been providing financial support for programs like "Taglit" and "Masa" which bring thousands of Diaspora youth to Israel for educational purposes, most for the first time. Do you support or oppose your tax money being used to fund these programs?
 Oppose 11%  Support  88%

In the past there have been times when Jews in the Diaspora have publicly criticized the elected Government of Israel in their home countries. Which statement best represents your view?
54% Jews who live in the Diaspora have no right to publicly criticize the
Government of Israel because the don't live in Israel
40% Jews who live in the Diaspora can publicly criticize the Government of
Israel because every Jew is a partner in Israel no matter where they live
6% Don't know/Refuse

During last summer's War in Lebanon and throughout the recent rocket attacks on Sderot, various Diaspora Jewish communities have donated funds to help rebuild damage areas, fortify buildings, and lend economic support to those in need. Are you satisfied or unsatisfied with the level of support extended
by Diaspora Jews?
Total Satisfied 77% Total Not Satisfied 10% Don't Know 13%

 For many years Israel's leaders have called on all Jews to make Aliya. Which statement best represents your view?
46% All Jews should live in Israel because this is the only way Israel and the Jewish people will be strengthened.
41% Jews should live dispersed in various communities in the world as
diversity and global support is the only way Israel the Jewish people will
be strengthened
13% Don't know/ Refuse

Of the following, which will strengthen your personal connection most to Diaspora Jewry
36% Diaspora Jews visiting Israel
25% Increased media coverage of Diaspora communities in the Israeli media
16% Visiting Diaspora communities
14% Increased support from Diaspora communities for projects in Israel
9% Don't know/ Refuse

B'nai B'rith World Center Jerusalem
Keevoon, Research, Strategy & Communications

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis


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Miliband, Jewish Critic of Israel to be British Foreign Minister

Miliband, the son of a Polish Marxist Jew, is not sympathetic to Israel.

Newly instated British Prime Minister Gordon Brown appointed the Jewish son of Holocaust refugees and a critic of Israel to be foreign secretary.

Brown's decision to replace Margaret Beckett with David Miliband came just weeks after Beckett's first visit to Israel in the post, and occurred despite her repeated expressions of interest in continuing in the role.

Miliband previously served under Tony Blair as Britain's environment secretary. Last summer, he crossed Blair by criticizing Israel during the war against Hezbollah .

Miliband is the son of Polish Jews who immigrated to England to escape the Holocaust. His father, Ralph Miliband, arrived in England from Poland via Belgium on one of the last ships across the Channel in 1940, and became a leading Marxist writer.

At 41, David Miliband is the second youngest foreign secretary in British history.

Beckett made her first official visit to Israel earlier this month. After a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Beckett told reporters: "If we proceed carefully, there exists at the moment a possibility to push the peace process forward."

In 2006, during the Hezbollah war, Beckett made a formal complaint to the United States over its use of an airport in Scotland for transporting bombs to Israel.


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Terror in Sderot - First person accounts

The world ignores the plight of Sderot residents who are the victims of a fairly constant rocket barrage launched by Palestinian terrorists.  
Sderot residents come to D.C. to describe life under rocket fire 
Jennifer Weisbord
Aharon Polat, one of three Sderot residents on a U.S. tour, speaks at a news conference June 11 in Washington on how the Palestinian rocket barrage is affecting his city.

By Melissa Apter Published: 06/28/2007

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Stav Cohen, 21, has lived in the southern Israeli town of Sderot her whole life. Not long ago her house was struck by a Kassam rocket.

Cohen's family survived the attack, but living within range of the Palestinian rockets fired from the nearby Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip has taken its toll.

On a recent vacation in Switzerland her 3-year-old brother kept asking his parents, "Where is the safe room?" He couldn't believe it when he was informed that rockets would not be falling on his head.

"There is a whole generation growing up that does not know that rocket attacks are not normal," Cohen recently told JTA.

Cohen was one of three Sderot residents who toured the United States this month addressing Jewish groups and American political leaders about life in the face of Palestinian rocket fire.

Their tour was co-sponsored by Israel's Foreign Ministry and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Since May, Sderot has been bombarded daily by Kassam rockets painted yellow for the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, black for Islamic Jihad and green for Hamas.

Cohen was joined on the speaking tour by Aharon Polat, 43, a social worker who works with young trauma victims and lives in nearby Kibbutz Carmi with his wife and two sons, and Michal Kakoon, 35, a science teacher in Sderot, where she has lived for 15 years with her husband and two daughters.
They were among several groups of Sderot residents touring the United States. This week, a group of Russian children from the town will spend a month near Boston, at a Chabad-Lubavitch camp and a math camp, before touring the East Coast and staging performances for other children. The plays will be performed in Russian with simultaneous English translation.

Polat was relocated to the kibbutz with his family as part of the 2005 evacuation of Jewish settlers from Gaza.

"There are children who will not come out from under the table, who hide in the bathroom, refuse to come out of the bathroom" because they are so afraid of the rocket attacks, he said.

Other children see the attacks as simply part of their everyday lives.

"They play a Kassam game," Polat said, in which a child yells out red alert and all the other children scramble to hide from pretend rockets.

Kakoon deals daily with the constant fears of her children and her students.

"We feel abandoned," she said.

Polat agreed, saying, "The people are exhausted and abandoned. The government needs to find a solution. There must be at least 10 things the government could do."

Israel has resisted a major re-entry into Gaza, as the prospect of reoccupation would be profoundly unpopular among Israelis and could scuttle emerging peace prospects with moderate Palestinians.

"We elect these people to protect us, they should find a solution," Cohen said. "Every house from which a rocket is launched should be destroyed. Any house that aids the Hamas terrorists should be demolished completely."

Cohen cautioned that innocent Palestinians should not be punished.

"Collective punishment is wrong," she said. "We know how it feels to be innocent and be attacked; we should not do that to others."

With Hamas now in control of Gaza after routing moderate forces earlier this month, Kakoon sees no end to the violence.

"We have no partner in peace," she said.


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President Katsav cops a plea on rape charges

Ex-President Moshe Katsav pleaded guilty to sexual harassment to avoid more serious charges. He can't really step down as president, because everyone except Katsav now considers Shimon Peres to be president. Katsav was elected president on the votes of ultraorthodox party members who had promised to vote for Peres. They were not happy over Peres's dovish stance and opposition to religious coercion.
By Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times  |  June 29, 2007
JERUSALEM -- Moshe Katsav was expected to step down as Israel's president after agreeing yesterday to plead guilty to sexual harassment to avoid more serious charges that he raped female staffers.
Under the plea agreement announced by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, Katsav, 61, will avoid jail time, raising an outcry among women's rights activists who saw the case as an important test of Israel's commitment to stamp out sexual harassment in the workplace.
The presidency in Israel is largely a ceremonial position; political power rests with the prime minister.
The Katsav case was among a series of scandals that have eroded Israelis' confidence in their leaders. Justice Minister Haim Ramon quit after being accused of forcibly kissing a female soldier and later was convicted of an indecent act. Corruption allegations also have swirled around top officials, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
The president faced possible indictment on charges that he raped and sexually harassed female subordinates while serving as president and earlier as tourism minister. In January, Mazuz warned Katsav that authorities had enough evidence to indict on allegations involving four women, but the attorney general had yet to issue formal charges.
Katsav agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges, including sexual harassment, indecent acts, and harassment of a witness, Mazuz said yesterday. Katsav will pay damages, but prison time was suspended under the deal, which requires court approval. The court is expected to act next week


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Bush: Israel is a model for Iraq

Small comfort to be better than Iraq!
June 29, 2007
Bush touts Israel as yardstick for Iraq 

By Jennifer Loven
Associated Press
NEWPORT, R.I. -- President Bush held up Israel as a model for defining success in Iraq on Thursday, saying the U.S. goal there is not to eliminate attacks but to enable a democracy that can function despite violence.
With his Iraq policies under increasing fire from the American public and lawmakers from both parties, Bush went to the U.S. Naval War College here to declare progress. As the president pleaded for patience, his top national security aide went to Capitol Hill to meet with Republican critics.

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., the senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, delivered a lengthy floor speech earlier this week contending Bush's war strategy won't have time to work and that U.S. troops should start leaving now.
National security adviser Stephen Hadley met with Lugar and others, including Sen. John Warner, R-Va. Hadley wouldn't discuss the meetings, but Warner said a defense policy bill expected to attract several war-related amendments in July was a main topic.

The White House thought it had until an expected September assessment by military commanders to deal with political fallout on the unpopular war.

But criticism is mounting. A majority of senators now believe troops should start coming home within the next few months. And House Republicans want to revive the independent Iraq Study Group to give the nation new options.
In Israel, Bush said, "terrorists have taken innocent human life for years in suicide attacks. The difference is that Israel is a functioning democracy and it's not prevented from carrying out its responsibilities. And that's a good indicator of success that we're looking for in Iraq."
It was likely to be controversial for Bush to set out Israel as a model for a Muslim Middle Eastern nation. Israel has been locked for decades in a dispute with Palestinians in the neighboring occupied territories.


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Alan Dershowitz on the British boycott of Israel

It is quite true that the UK boycotts of Isarel are initiated by a small group. It is also true however, that they were successful in passing boycott motions both in UNISON and the UCU. The UCU motion also supports the Hamas.
Wall Street Journal -- June 28, 2007

An Academic Hijacking

When a relatively small number of British academics tried to hijack the traditional trade union agenda of the British University and College Union by calling for an academic boycott of Israel, they expected little opposition. The union, after all, is British, and the nation whose academics were to be boycotted is Israel.

Anti-Israel sentiment among left-wing academics, journalists, and politicians in Britain is politically correct and relatively uncontroversial (as is anti-American sentiment). Several years earlier, a petition to boycott several Israeli universities initially passed but was later rescinded, and the British National Union of Journalists has also voted to boycott Israeli products. At about the same time, a British academic journal fired two of its board members apparently because they were Israeli Jews. Some popular British political leaders, most notoriously, London's Mayor "Red Ken" Livingstone, have made anti-Israel statements that border on anti-Semitism, in one instance comparing a Jewish journalist to a Nazi "war criminal."Many of the academics who have been pushing the boycott most energetically are members of hard-left socialist-worker groups. These radicals devote more time and energy to international issues than to the domestic welfare of their own members, who have suffered a serious decline in salary and working conditions. Their pet peeve, sometimes it appears their only peeve, is the Israeli occupation -- not of the West Bank and, before its return, of Gaza but rather of all of Palestine, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. These are not advocates of the two-state solution, but of a one-state dissolution of Israel, with the resulting state being controlled by Hamas.

In a world in which dissident academics are murdered in Iran, tortured in Egypt, imprisoned in China and fired in many other parts of the world, the British Union decided to boycott only academics from a country with as much academic freedom as in Britain and far more academic freedom -- and more actual academic dissent -- than in any Arab or Muslim country. Indeed, Arabs have more academic (and journalistic) freedom in Israel, even in the West Bank, than in any Arab or Muslim nation.

But these union activists couldn't care less about academic freedom, or any other kind of freedom for that matter. Nor do they care much about the actual plight of the Palestinians. If they did, they would be supporting the Palestinian Authority in its efforts to make peace with Israel based on mutual compromise, rather than Hamas in its futile efforts to destroy Israel as well as the PA.

What they care about -- and all they seem to care about -- is Israel, which they despise, without regard to what the Jewish state actually does or fails to do. The fact that this boycott effort is being undertaken at precisely the time when Israel has ended the occupation of Gaza and is reaching out to the PA, and even to Syria, in an effort to make peace proves that the boycott is not intended to protest specific Israeli policies or actions, but rather to delegitimize and demonize Israel as a democratic Jewish nation. One union activist said on a BBC radio show that "Israel is worse than Stalinist Russia."

The boycotters know that Israel, without oil or other natural resources, lives by its universities, research centers and other academic institutions. After the U.S., Israeli scientists hold more patents than any nation in the world, have more start-up companies listed on Nasdaq, and export more life-saving medical technology.

Israelis have received more Nobel and other international science prizes than all the Arab and Muslim nations combined. Cutting Israel's academics off from collaboration with other academics would deal a death blow to the Israeli high-tech economy, but it would also set back research and academic collaboration throughout the world.

Moreover, many Israeli academics, precisely those who would be boycotted, are at the forefront in advocating peace efforts. They, perhaps more than others, understand the "peace dividend" the world would reap if Israeli military expenses could be cut and the money devoted to life-saving scientific research.

It is for these reasons that so many American academics, of all religious, ideological and political backgrounds, reacted so strongly to the threat of an academic boycott against Israel. As soon as it was reported, I helped to draft a simple petition in which signatories agreed to regard themselves as honorary Israeli academics for purposes of any boycott and "decline to participate in any activity from which Israeli academics are excluded."

Working with Prof. Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in physics, and Ed Beck, the president of Scholars For Peace in the Middle East, we circulated the petition. I expected to gather several hundred signatures.

To my surprise, we have secured nearly 6,000 signatures, including those of 20 Nobel Prize winners, 14 university presidents as well as several heads of academic and professional societies. Three university presidents -- Lee Bollinger of Columbia, Robert Birgeneau of Berkeley and John Sexton of New York University -- have issued public statements declaring that if Israeli universities are boycotted, their American universities should be boycotted as well. Every day, I receive emails from other academics asking to be included as honorary Israeli academics for purposes of any boycott. We expect to reach at least 10,000 names on our petition.

It is fair to say, therefore, that the British boycott appears to be backfiring. British academics are on notice that if they try to isolate Israeli academics, it is they -- the British academics -- who will end up being isolated from some of the world's most prominent academics and scientists.

No one wants that to happen. Academics and scientists should collaborate with each other in the interests of promoting knowledge. The hope is that this ill-conceived boycott will be voted down by general membership of the university and college union, and that those radicals who are pushing it will be delegitimized in the eyes of the vast majority of British academics who will not want to see their union hijacked by single-issue bigots.

Mr. Dershowitz is a professor at Harvard University school of law and the author of "Blasphemy -- How The Religious Right Is Hijacking Our Declaration of Independence" (Wiley, 2007).


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Thursday, June 28, 2007


"The battle in Gaza was something more than a local struggle for power between rival Palestinian factions. It was dictated by strategic imperative that could affect the broader region as the Islamic Republic and the United States intensify their rivalry over who sets the agenda for the future of the Middle East. "

A plausible scenario, at least.



 Amir Taheri
 June 20, 2007 -- WHO sets Hamas strategy? As the radical Palestinian movement braces itself for what could be a long struggle against its rival Fatah, if not a full-blown civil war, the question merits more than mere academic interest.

Just days after Hamas staged its coup to achieve exclusive control of Gaza, it's now clear that the military operation launched against the positions of the Palestinian security forces in the strip was never discussed in the Islamist organization's Consultative Assembly (shura).

Well-placed sources close to Hamas tell me that, had the issue been brought up, a majority of shura members most likely would have opposed the coup de force, which has divided the Palestinians as never before. Many believe that even ousted Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, the man who headed the first Hamas-led Cabinet, is "less than enthusiastic" about the operation.

"Only a few people knew about the scheme," says a member of the Palestinian National Assembly who, though close to Hamas, is an independent. "Many Hamas leaders knew that by seizing Gaza and expelling Fatah they would be burning all bridges."

Haniya appears to have placed his hopes on an impending mediation by Saudi Arabia to persuade Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah's leader, to put all security forces under a neutral command. The issue of Fatah's armed forces in Gaza did not come up in the secret talks that led to the Mecca accord a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, there was an implicit understanding that Fatah would transfer control of the bulk of its armed groups in Gaza to the so-called national-unity government formed under Saudi patronage.

Tehran, meanwhile, was concerned that a Hamas-Fatah deal would strengthen those in the Syrian leadership who dislike what they see as their country's increasing vassalization to Tehran. The same Syrian leadership elements recently opened an indirect dialogue with Israel and received some encouraging hints from Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert.

Syrian critics of the alliance with Tehran pointed to the Mecca deals as a model that might help repair ties with moderate Arab states, placate the United States and, eventually, even persuade Israel to give up the Golan Heights, which it won in the 1967 war. A Hamas defection followed by a Syrian change of policy would have left the Islamic Republic isolated and exposed.

Had the deals made in Mecca worked, Hamas would have geared its strategy to moderate Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan and, indirectly through them, to the Middle East policies of the U.S.-led Western powers.

Until earlier this month, when the first Hamas guns fired in Gaza, it seemed that hopes of Tehran and Damascus to organize a new "Rejection Front" to oppose Israel and the United States had hit a bump on the road.

What looked like a Hamas sell-out to the moderate Arab powers came as major disappointment to the Islamic republic in Iran and its Syrian allies and Lebanese Hezbollah clients.

Palestinian sources concur that the man who effectively vetoed the Mecca deals is Khalid Mishaal, Hamas' "Supreme Leader," who lives in exile in Damascus. Mishaal initially endorsed the Mecca deals but was persuaded to change his position under Iranian and Syrian pressure.

During a visit to Tehran, where he was supposed to brief Hamas' Iranian allies on the Mecca deals, Mishaal heard point-blank that the Islamic Republic favored "an intensification of the struggle against the Zionist enemy" rather than an easing of tension that a coalition with Abbas implied.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has structured his foreign policy on the assumption that a military showdown with America and Israel is inevitable. He also thinks that, when and if it comes, the radical forces led by Tehran would be able to resist long enough and to raise the cost of the conflict in human terms to break the adversaries' will to fight.

For Ahmadinejad's policy to succeed, it is imperative that Lebanon and the Palestinian territories become advanced posts for the Islamic Republic. Despite occasional threats to unleash a hailstorm of missiles against Iran's Gulf-Arab neighbors, it is unlikely that the Tehran leadership would take the risk of killing large numbers of the very people it hopes to win over to its cause. The only U.S. regional ally that the Islamic Republic might attack without concern for who gets killed there is Israel. Tehran and Damascus believe that they can win the tug of war with Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and his governing coalition in Lebanon. In November, the Lebanese parliament, in which Siniora has a majority of five seats, is scheduled to meet to elect a new president of the republic to succeed the pro-Syrian incumbent Emil Lahoud.

It's enough to murder four more anti-Syrian parliamentarians for Siniora to lose his majority. In the meantime, the series of assassinations may well frighten some members of Siniora's coalition to switch sides and support ex-Gen. Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian ally of Hezbollah and Syria's candidate for the Lebanese presidency.

In anticipation of winning control of Lebanon, the Islamic Republic has increased its shipments of money and arms to Hezbollah and its allies. Most analysts agree that the Lebanese branch of Hezbollah had replaced virtually all of its losses in last July's war against Israel. A Lebanese army bogged down in battles against Sunni radical groups controlled by Syria would lack the means to take on Hezbollah if the Shiite party decided to stage a coup in Beirut.

And with Lebanon in turmoil to its north, the last thing that Israel would want is to be forced to intervene militarily to its south in Gaza.

The battle in Gaza was something more than a local struggle for power between rival Palestinian factions. It was dictated by strategic imperative that could affect the broader region as the Islamic Republic and the United States intensify their rivalry over who sets the agenda for the future of the Middle East.

Iranian-born journalist Amir Taheri is based in Europe.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Honest Palestinian appraisal of the Gaza Coup

Leading Palestinian Poet Mahmoud Darwish is honest about the barbaric violence in Gaza (see below):
"Did we have to fall from towering heights and see our blood on our hands, in order to grasp that we are not angels, as we used to believe?
How could people who send suicide bombers to blow up in supermarkets and hotels believe that they are angels? And did Darwish forget that the Nazi  Grand Mufti Hajj Amin Al Husseini  and his gangs perpetrated a much bigger bloodbath of fellow Palestinians in the 1930s?
But already, a vast whitewashing operation of the Hamas slaughter is taking place. In every newspaper in the Arabic and Muslims world, you can read that the Gaza coup was the work of the "Zionists" and the Americans, who want to divide the Palestinians. In half a year, this will be the accepted myth.
Ami Isseroff

Special Dispatch-Palestinian Authority/Reform Project
June 29, 2007
No. 1639

Leading Palestinian Poet Mahmoud Darwish on the Events in Gaza
On June 17, 2007, renowned Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish published his reflections on the internecine fighting in Gaza in the London daily Al-Hayat. Darwish is known both for his literary output and for his political activism; he was a member of the PLO Central Committee from 1987 until 1993, when he resigned in protest of the Oslo Accords.
The following are excerpts:(1)
"Did we have to fall from towering heights and see our blood on our hands, in order to grasp that we are not angels, as we used to believe? Did we also have to expose all our faults before everybody, so that our true nature should not remain virginal? How much did we lie when we said: 'We are an exception.' That you believe yourself is worse than to lie to another. To be friendly with those who hate us and cruel to those who love us – that is the baseness of one who aggrandizes himself and the arrogance of the lowly.
"Oh Past: Do not change us as we get farther from you. Oh Future: Do not ask us: 'Who are you? And what do you expect from me?' Because we too do not know. Oh Present: We have borne little, for we are but insufferable passers-by.
"Identity is that which we bequeath, and not that which is bequeathed us. What we invent and not what we recollect. Identity is the false mirror, which we should break whenever the image pleases us.
"He wore a mask, took courage, and murdered his mother, because she was an easy prey for him, and because a woman soldier stopped him and exposed her breasts to him, saying: 'Does your mother have such as these?'
"Were it not for shame and darkness, I would visit Gaza, without knowing the way to the house of the new Abu Sufyan, nor the name of the new prophet. And had not Muhammad been the Seal of the Prophets, each tribe would have had a prophet, and each Companion would have had a militia.
"June has astounded us on its fortieth anniversary. If we do not find one to defeat us again, we defeat ourselves with our own hands, lest we forget.
"No matter how much you look into my eyes, you would not find my sight there. Disgrace has snatched it away. My heart does not belong to me, nor to another. It has come to do without me, [but] without becoming a stone.
"Does he who cries over the corpse of his brother 'Allahu Akbar' – does he know that he is an infidel, because he sees Allah in his own image, smaller than a normal human being? The prisoner who aspires to inherit the prison concealed a smile of victory from the camera, but he did not succeed in suppressing the joy which spilled out of his eyes. Perhaps because the hasty text was more powerful than the actor. What do we need Narcissus for, so long as we are Palestinians, and so long as we do not know the difference between a mosque (jami') and a university (jami'a), because they both come from the same root. What do we need a state for, as long as it and [the passing] days have the same destiny?
"A sign on the door of a nightclub: Welcome Palestinians returning from battle. Entrance is free, and our wine does not intoxicate...
"'Me and the stranger against my cousin; me and my cousin against my brother; and me and my sheikh against myself.'(2) This is lesson number one in the new national education under the vaults of obscurity.
"Who will enter Paradise first? He who died by the bullets of the enemy, or he who died by the bullets of a brother? Some sages say: Sometimes your enemy is one born of your own mother.
"The fundamentalists do not make me angry, for they are believers in their own way. But I am angered by their secular supporters and by their atheist supporters who believe but in one religion – their own pictures on television.
"Someone asked me: Will a hungry guard defend a house whose owner traveled to spend his summer vacation on the French or Italian Riveria – whichever one of them. I said: He will not guard. He asked me: Does me + me = two? I said: You and you is less than one.
"I am not ashamed of my identity, because it is still [a work] in progress. I am, however, ashamed of some of the things mentioned in Ibn Khaldun's Prolegomena.(3)
"You are, from now on, another."
(1)  Al-Hayat (London), June 17, 2007.
(2) This is an ironic inversion of a common Arab saying: "Me and my brother against my cousin; me and my cousin against a stranger."
(3) The Prolegomena (Al-Muqaddima) is a work by Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406) that analyzes Arab history and society.

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

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

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Egyptian double agent in Yom Kippur war found dead in London

Spying for Israel can be bad for your health. At least, it clears up one mystery: the man was an honest double agent it seems, and he was passing on the disinformation that he got from his superiors. The Egyptian double agent insisted that Egypt was not ready for war and would not go to war, until, at the last moment, he said the war would start at 6:00 PM. He was 4 hours too late. It was a deliberate deception, but was it his deception?
The article states:
A high-level Mossad operative who acted as a double agent in Egypt before the Yom Kippur War was found dead yesterday near his London home. The Al Arabiya news channel reported yesterday that, according to one report, Dr. Ashraf Marwan fell from his balcony. Another possibility is that he collapsed and died in the street due to a medical condition that had recently worsened.
What medical condition could cause all those broken bones?
Ami Isseroff
By Yoav Stern and Yossi Melman

A high-level Mossad operative who acted as a double agent in Egypt before the Yom Kippur War was found dead yesterday near his London home. The Al Arabiya news channel reported yesterday that, according to one report, Dr. Ashraf Marwan fell from his balcony. Another possibility is that he collapsed and died in the street due to a medical condition that had recently worsened.
The official version presented by the Egyptian media is that Marwan was a private businessman. In Egypt, Marwan was not seen as an Israeli agent, because he apparently worked as a double agent who misled Israel by not transmitting information about Egypt's intention to wage war against Israel in 1973. Marwan is Gamal Abdel Nasser's son-in-law.
"I didn't sense any distress in his voice, but he spoke about 'that headache,'" said Dr. Aharon Bergman, an Israeli historian who had published Marwan's name in the past and who was supposed to have met him yesterday afternoon. "That headache," was the information published about Marwan in Israel, especially the arbitration decision announced two weeks ago by Justice Theodore Or, confirming that Major General (Res.) Eli Zeira had leaked Marwan's identity.
The ruling ended a legal dispute between Zeira and Zvi Zamir, who served as head of the Mossad during the war. Bergman told Haaretz that about a week ago he had sent two articles published in Haaretz to Marwan following the arbitration decision.
On Tuesday, Marwan called Bergman three times and finally they spoke and Marwan said he had received the articles and mentioned "the headache."
Bergman said that his relationship with Marwan developed after he wrote a book noting that Marwan was a double agent and gave interviews to that effect. Eventually the two met. "I didn't ask him if he was a spy or a double agent, but I did ask him why the information he gave about the start of the war was four hours late. He answered "what difference does a few hours make?"
Bergman said Marwan began writing his memoirs in 1971, two years after he started working for the Mossad. "On one occasion, when I asked him what kind of book it would be, he said that everyone in Egypt, the whole system, worked to embarrass Israel. I concluded from this that he really was a double agent."
However Bergman found about Marwan's status as a double agent for the first time from Zeira, which he also noted in testimony he gave Or.
In 2004, Zeira filed a libel suit against Zamir, after Zamir had publicly accused him of betraying Marwan's identity and published the information in a book published 14 years ago to absolve himself of the responsibility he was said to have born for the Military Intelligence's failure to give an advance warning of the war.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Hamas Boycott: Patience pays

Perhaps Ben-Meir's optimism that the Hamas boycott has paid off is premature. Aren't we all supporting the Fateh government? Nobody will boycott them, of course. And isn't that government being urged to enter into unity talks with Hamas?
By Yehuda Ben-Meir

The Hamas government was set up about a year and a quarter ago. Israel announced it would boycott the government, since it considers Hamas a terrorist organization. To the surprise of many, the United States, Europe and the international Quartet (which also includes a representative from the United Nations and from Russia) joined the boycott.
These parties all made it clear that despite Hamas' victory in the Palestinian elections, so long as the government did not recognize Israel, renounce terrorism and take upon itself a commitment to all the agreements signed between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, they would not recognize it, would not hold contacts with it, and would not transfer money to it.
The analysts and the journalists were quick to inform the people of Israel that the international boycott would not last long.
They even showed contempt for the naivete of the Israeli government, that was deluding itself thinking that the boycott would continue for a long time.
I recall the response of a TV anchor on one of the commercial stations who, with a wink of her eye and a look of disdain, remarked to the reporter who spoke about the Quartet's position: "Let's see how many days it will last."
There were quite a few experts and politicians who urged the government to talk with Hamas, or else Israel would find itself isolated - after all, it was clear that the collapse of the international boycott against the Hamas government was merely a matter of time.
Lo and behold, what an amazing thing has happened! Despite all the forecasts and the predictions of those "in the know," the opposite has happened: The boycott has remained in force.
With the establishment of the Palestinian unity government, these analysts and journalists had another chance. Israel will remain alone, they warned, perhaps only with the United States, but the rest of the world will rush to recognize the unity government.
One evening newspaper even announced in its headline across the entire front page, that "the international boycott has collapsed."
True, Norway and South Africa recognized the unity government, but the European Union and the UN secretary general did not follow in their footsteps.
Despite all the dire warnings, and despite all the skepticism and the cynicism, the international boycott has remained in force, and is continuing to this very day.
Today, after the conquest of the Gaza Strip, the international boycott of the Hamas (Haniyeh) government is almost total since both Egypt and Jordan have joined it.
The moral of the story is that sometimes patience and determination pay off.
Now it is up to Israel to continue with this boycott and isolation of the Gaza Strip with even greater effort. It must not heed the extreme right that knows only how to propose war after war, occupation after occupation. And it must likewise not heed the extreme left that knows only how to propose one concession after another.
True, peace is made with enemies, but with enemies one sometimes also needs to go to war. The wise thing is to know how to distinguish between one enemy and another.
There are those among the Palestinians who wish to arrive at a peaceful settlement with us. I know many such people. Abu Mazen represents them.
These are the people with whom we must speak. The gaps between us are huge, but it is our duty to make every effort to bridge them.
Hamas, on the other hand, is an extreme ideological adversary, a bitter, cruel, murderous and bloodthirsty enemy. Hamas will not give up its extremist Islamic ideology of which virulent anti-Semitism is a central component.
With Hamas we do not have anything to talk about. Hamas and its government in Gaza must be boycotted, isolated, and cut off from the world. They must be fought with determination and perseverance.
The writer is a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies.

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Tzipi Livni: Peace process is not a zero-sum game

The message:


...Beyond these is the third circle - and I shall be brief here: the Western world, the international community. The international community can, of course, choose the right side, maintain the illegitimacy of Hamas, promote relations with the new government and bolster it, and also give the Palestinians an economic horizon, in addition to the political horizon that Israel can give it. It can prepare a "package", and I don't mean one for immediate consumption. Various gestures, assistance, humanitarian aid - all that is already taking place, should take place and will take place regardless. But I am talking about a different type of package, the type that says: it is ready and waiting, it can happen, all you have to do is make progress with the process with Israel. The compromise that you may make on some of your principles, a compromise you will have to reach with Israel, will pay off many times over. Through the international community, new economic options, infrastructures - a whole series of things can be accomplished with the help of the international community.


Therefore, within the new situation, I think that we must adhere to those principles we spoke of. And I think we must act, using language from the world of sports, hard and fast. Hard and fast, for and against. Hard and fast against the Hamas, its takeover of Gaza, against terror. And also hard and fast to give the new Palestinian government a politically bolstering shot-in-the-arm.


I wholeheartedly believe that this is not a zero-sum game. It is high time that the international community and the Arab community understand that this is not a case where supporting the Israeli stance means being against the Palestinians or the Arabs. It means that you are supporting a process shared by a large group. The sooner everyone realizes this, the sooner we will live to see the process which, I hope, will determine the meta-purpose of the State of Israel.


Address by Vice Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni to the Israel Council on Foreign Relations


Jerusalem, 24 June 2007 [Translated from Hebrew by the Ministry if Foreign Affairs]


I'll begin with a few basic observations about the situation in the region, and mainly about the complex relations between Israel and the Palestinians which have obviously changed in recent days. These basic observations are necessary, among other things, for us to understand where we're heading in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


We also must look at processes taking place. Whereas in the past we saw that conflicts tended to be national ones, nowadays we see a process whereby increasingly more conflicts are becoming religious conflicts. And we must keep in mind that national conflicts can usually be resolved, whereas religious conflicts cannot be resolved in a way that is acceptable to both parties.


Another process we can see is one in which, in the struggle between fanaticism based on religious ideology and the moderates or more pragmatic parties, we see expressions of fanaticism that come less from countries and more from various organizations. This makes it all the more difficult for us to deal with such extremism.


It is far easier for a country, and definitely for Israel, to cope with a situation in which extremism, the threat, comes from a country. It is more difficult to deal with situations in which a country, say Iran, sends its tentacles to a different country, such as in case of Hizbullah in Lebanon; or when such a country strengthens terror organizations in a different region, like the Hamas in the Palestinian Authority. In these cases we must contend with terror organizations, some of which are well placed in certain countries, some are located worldwide. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the international conflict in which Israel finds itself, smack in the middle.


If we wish to discuss extremism that is reflected in a country, the best example, the one that threatens world peace, is Iran. In the case of Iran, we must realize that when there is a common understanding of the threat - and today there is a common understanding of the threat posed by Iran - it can lead to two completely different processes. The first is a type of understanding that the more moderate countries, the pragmatic countries, are the weak countries. The extremists are stronger. Time works against the moderates.


Therefore those countries that understand that Iran poses a threat to them (and I don't mean Israel, because Israel won't choose between moderates and extremists, it is by definition on the side of the moderates) - such as the Gulf states, Muslim countries, Arab counties, who see how Iran is trying to undermine the stability of their regimes by working with fanatic elements in their own back yards - must make a choice: to remain on the side of those who are trying to avert the threat, or to join it. Because, unfortunately, we are living in the same neighborhood as the neighborhood bully. You either manage to avoid him, you beat him up; or you join him - it all depends on the decisiveness of the international community.


The more decisive the international community is in the face of this threat, the easier it will be for the new partners joining this party. Those who understand that Iran is the threat must stick together and adhere to their mission. Should Iran see hesitation on the part of the international community, should each member make its own choice, we might then see the domino effect in action, whereby the new party will gradually dissolve, with powers that are today working together, drifting apart.


We can see some of this process in the context of the Mecca agreement, which is also relevant for understanding the current situation. Iran is embracing Hamas, and some of these countries, out of fear that they are about to lose some elements of the Palestinian Authority to Iran, rather than confront the problem head-on, tried to embrace them. This resulted in the Mecca agreement, which created the Palestinian Unity Government.


This is the problematic side that may surface as a result of understanding the common danger. The positive side of understanding this danger is the creation of partnerships that sometimes seem like strange bedfellows. Only a few years ago some of these partnerships would seem inconceivable, totally illogical. Nonetheless I think it is possible, and indeed necessary, to try and translate the understanding of the common threat into a joint objective. This objective should be undertaken by all those who understand that the problems in this region are not of Israel's making; that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict obviously requires a solution, but its solution will not free the region, nor the world, from the fanatic religious ideology as it is reflected, for example, in the Shiites of Iran, the Sunnis of the Hamas, and other organizations.


Therefore we now have to examine whether this new partnership is only for the sake of the common threat, or whether we can make the most of it and create a common goal for Israel, the pragmatic elements of the Palestinian Authority, some of the Gulf states, Jordan, Egypt, and any other state or body that realizes the nature of the threat and the need for a realistic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


I would like to apply this regional observation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the current situation. What I am about to say stems from seeing reality for what it is. It is not just an attempt to create some Israeli dream of peace, but stems from true awareness of the issues, which I will analyze one by one.


First of all, as Israelis, we must set our number one, top-level objective. Any process which we want to promote must be derived from Israel's meta-objective as a state, as an Israeli society. As such, our top objective is simply Israel's existence as a state that is a national home for the Jewish people, and a democratic state, with these values intertwined. A secure country that lives to the extent possible in peace with its neighbors, and exists on the land of Israel. This is the meta-objective of the State of Israel, which we tend to avoid writing on the wall, but it is nonetheless written there, all we have to do is reiterate and emphasize it. Because whatever steps we take, whatever process we embark on, we must analyze and determine whether it promotes that objective or not.


In order to promote Israel's values as a Jewish and democratic state, and so that these two aspects do no conflict, Israel as a whole (and I think there is a social and political consensus on this) has concluded that Israel's existence, as a democratic nation-state, compels it to promote a process which boils down to two separate nation-states. This includes giving up on part of something that to my mind also includes the right of the Jewish people to certain parts of the Land of Israel.


From this, we derive the plan of Israel's principles for peace. These principles stipulate that in order to fix and promote this meta-objective, we must promote a process culminating in two nation-states, each providing a national solution to its people in a different place. One is the State of Israel, which provides a full and comprehensive solution to the Jewish people; a state that, upon its establishment, gave a home to refugees that were forced to leave Arab countries and came here, and to those who were forced to leave Europe and came here. A state which, by its very definition, sees itself as a national home both to Israeli citizens who live here and to Jews living elsewhere.


Similarly, the second part of the solution must be a future Palestinian state that will provide a full and comprehensive solution to the Palestinians, wherever they may be. Those who currently live in Gaza, in Judea and Samaria, in the territories, and those who left and are kept as refugees, maintained as bargaining chips for some future negotiations, usually under very difficult conditions. They are kept in such conditions purposefully, out of some thought or demand which is in contradiction of the principle of two nation-states; a concept which is called by some of the Palestinians, or by part of the Arab world, "the right of return". It follows therefore, that a basic building block on which the process stands is the idea that establishing a Palestinian state is the full and comprehensive solution also to the refugee problems, in terms of concept.


This, then, is the first principle in Israel's basic principles. And by the way, this should not be an Israeli basic principle, but rather a basic principle of anyone supporting two nation-states living in peace side by side. I repeat: living in peace. This means that the road to the establishment of a Palestinian state must pass through declaring war on terror.


Absolutely the last thing that Israel can afford, and the last thing the world needs, is the establishment of another terror state in the Middle East. Therefore, these are the two building blocks which anyone in the international community who espouses the principle of two states living in peace, must support. Not as a purely Israeli interest, but as something that can advance a just process between Israel and the Palestinians.


Naturally, the borders are a topic open to negotiations between the two sides. Israel will bring along its principles and, as is only natural, the Palestinians will bring theirs. Before I go any further, one comment: There is often a tendency, even among some of my friends and some in the international community, to think that if only we could turn back the clock to 1967 and have those borders back, everything would be solved and hardly any discussion of borders would be required. I wish to remind you that in 1967 there was no such entity as a Palestinian state; there was no link between Gaza and the West Bank; the former was part of Egypt, the latter part of Jordan. Ergo, we are now being asked to create a totally new creation, whose product must be the result of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians - direct negotiations.


Regarding the process itself, I would like to address three circles, each of which is supposed to support the other. The first circle, the innermost one, between Israel and the Palestinians, is the direct negotiations I just mentioned. The first supporting circle should be the Arab world. And the second supporting circle, the external one, ought to be the international community.


When discussing the process between Israel and the Palestinians, if we have both feet firmly on the ground, we must ask ourselves, considering the problems we are up against, how do we deal with them, and is it at all possible to deal with them - considering the present state of affairs of pragmatists versus fanatics. On the one hand, there are terror elements - as I understand their ideology, and in light of the peace principles I just outlined - with whom it is impossible to reach a settlement. And on the other hand, there are the moderate elements, which generally speaking may be easier to reach a settlement with, but their executive powers are lower.


We must ask ourselves, when it comes to those pragmatic elements: can we really bridge the gap when it comes to negotiations. And assuming we do succeed, will the pragmatic elements be able to implement whatever was agreed upon, considering the fact that those pragmatic elements are usually the weaker elements, all the more so today, after recent events in Gaza and the takeover of Gaza by the Hamas.


The strategy adopted by Israel since the elections in the Palestinian Authority concerning this unnatural phenomenon of a terror organization winning the elections and overthrowing the Palestinian Authority, is differentiation. Namely, distinguishing between the moderate and the extremist elements, so as not to slam the door shut, out of an understanding that time works against anyone espousing the two-state solution which I mentioned earlier. All the more so in a place where, as time goes by, those pragmatic elements grow increasingly weaker and are almost disappearing in some places.


So, we adopted the strategy (by saying "we" I mean the entire international community, including Israel) of trying to act against terror, against Hamas, to isolate them, not to give them any legitimacy, not to give them a chance at economic prosperity, not to create a situation wherein they can supply the Palestinians with the goods for which they were chosen. At the same time, to try and create some sort of alternative rule via the pragmatic elements.


This distinction worked for a while, until - after several events in Gaza - all parties involved were called to Mecca and were asked to bring about a Palestinian unity. From that moment on, any distinction we could have made earlier - between the good guys and the bad guys, the Hamas and Fatah, Haniya and Abu Mazen, the terrorists and advocates of the two-state solution - went down the drain. Some kind of government was created which made the earlier distinction or differentiation well-nigh impossible.


What we see today is a renewal of that distinction, as a result of recent events in Gaza, as a result of the fact that a Hamas decision that brought about the disintegration of the "unity government". The idea of unity just didn't work. The existing distinction, the one by which we want to continue to act, the distinction between moderates and extremists, now has also a territorial manifestation. And not only because the territorial distinction is a representation of Israeli policy. It actually happened. As we progress with the process, it will become easier for us to make this distinction on the ground, because of that distinction which is also a territorial distinction, not just a theoretical distinction between people, bodies or parties.


In effect, a new government has been formed, which seemingly accepts the very principles that the international community demanded that the unity government and the Hamas government accept - and didn't accept. Thus, this distinction has now become very clear. This enables us deal with the security challenge poses by Gaza. Gaza presents us with a security challenge, but enables us to deal with it by military means, just as it is forcing us to deal with the new government that's been created. Or else it presents us with political challenges, on which we must act to strengthen this new government.


The only chance we have today is to maintain this clear distinction. Once again, when I say "we", I mean Israel, the moderate elements, the international community, and that part of the Arab world which would like to advance this process. Each one must now choose sides. Of course, a Palestinian has a hard time choosing sides. There's an entire public out there, who are sometimes subjected even to physical threats. But I've also seen people who were ministers in the unity government and made their decision. Salam Fayad, who was the Minister of Finance in the unity government, chose a side, and he is now the head of the new government. Some have decided not to choose, and that also happens in the Arab world. The Arab world, too, will have to take sides.


The Arab world does not want to see the Hamas succeed. The Arab world understands that the Hamas is a phenomenon of the type that might emerge in anyone's back yard. These things may be said out loud or they may be said behind closed doors, but it is nonetheless clear and well-known. But only if the Arab world, too, and each and every one of the countries, make this crystal clear, only then is there a chance that we can continue working with this distinction for any length of time.


Calls for unity sound very tempting, they sound very morally right, they sounds like the right thing to do. But in this case, unity is a problem, because it does not reflect the true state of affairs and does not contribute to the process. It reflects the lowest common denominator when it comes to any future process between the Palestinians and Israel. Any such process requires compromise. Of course it requires compromises on Israel's part, too. But certainly when it comes to making serious decisions and making concessions to Israel, the temptation to revert to the warm embrace of the unity government, or the bear-hug of the Hamas, will certainly lead to the failure of the process, even if it might imply some type of increased stability in some places.


Just as there are some Arab countries who have stated this and declared it loud and clear, so is there an expectation, that each side will stick to his own guns, and the sides, in this context, are very clear.


The correct order of going about things in this context is to decide now, to embark on a process, to reach a settlement, and then to produce the required internal conclusions within the Palestinian public and Palestinian society. This should be the way to go about things, rather than going back and trying to create some sort of process that may be perceived as more stable, but in fact closes down the options in negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel.


Obviously, once we've analyzed the strategy and want to act on it, we still need to ask ourselves, we owe it to ourselves to find out: Will it work? With the help of this integrated strategy, can we really create some sort of agreement between us and the moderate elements? This integrated strategy always works in parallel: you have to act against the extremists while working with the moderates; you can't have only half of the equation working. We must ask ourselves that question because history shows that where we didn't ask such questions but entered a closed room with a high level of expectations, it brought about a process of deterioration, violence, intifada - as we saw after Camp David 2000. Therefore we must ask ourselves whether, in such a dialogue, a permanent settlement is now realistic. It would seem it isn't, yet I do think that there are some points on which agreement can be reached with the right parties.


When speaking of bolstering the moderate elements, working in tandem with the pragmatists, what tools do we have at our disposal? Yes, at the disposal of the international community too, but mostly at Israel's disposal. It can be money, arms, easing conditions, opening border crossings, and so on, and what we call a political horizon. That is, making it possible for the moderate elements to come to the Palestinian people and say, "We are the only ones who can, in addition to immediate relief, also give you a future, a future of peace, with a state of our own, a future in which we can make progress with Israel."


Usually, when we reach the point of making gestures, Israel's gestures do not go beyond its security. Because what is at stake is always "can we take this one more step, or is any further step detrimental to our security." This is the question we are compelled to ask ourselves over and over again, before every gesture.


First of all, some gestures are by their very nature a once-off affair, such as money. This type of gesture by its very nature has a limited effect, its impression dissipates pretty fast. It has to be done, but we must be aware that it is good only for a particular phase; it cannot support a process in the long term.


Perhaps contrary to appearances, among all the list of "gestures" or the tools we have at our disposal, the so-called "political horizon" is the tool which can best be used without harm to Israel's security - so long as there is a clear distinction between the dialogue, the agreements, what can be reached on paper, and what can actually be carried out.


Therefore, in the current situation, within the framework of the current relations between us and the Palestinians, after all the dramas and events in Gaza, after the new government in the Palestinian Authority, what we need to do is of course take the necessary action in Gaza, but at the same time work with the new government in two separate ways. Let's call one the "short-term package" and the other the "forward-looking package". The first, the short-term package, comprises the type of gestures that are currently being discussed and that translate into economic and other gestures. The second, forward-looking package, is the type of dialogue that we should conduct with the new Palestinian government. In this "package", we have to place on the table things that not only give the Palestinian public hope, but also serve and represent the Israeli interests in the process.


For many years now we have been repeating phrases, let's not call them slogans, such as "two states, living in peace". Fine. But what would be the meaning of such a Palestinian state, if we truly don't want it to present a threat to Israel? There must be some basic Israeli interests which we have to lay on the table now. So, what will that state be like? Will it be demilitarized? That must be an Israeli interest, and a legitimate one. After having seen events in Gaza, how do we ensure that such events aren't repeated in the future in Judea and Samaria? The Palestinians, on their part, will probably present us with principles that are relevant and important to them, which is fine. But this would be part of a discussion aimed at ensuring Israeli security.


This a debate that has not been held for many years. It has been seven years since the last debate, and even then we were unable to reach any agreement. It represents the interests of both sides, because it can provide a political horizon, to turn the word "state" into something more concrete, and provide Israel with its needs, in order to achieve progress in the peace process and provide the understanding that making progress in this process does not endanger safety, but rather serves it. Aren't there any other things on which we can reach an agreement in principle with the moderate group in the Palestinian Authority? We must find out, and the sooner the better, because as time goes by, the ability to achieve such understandings is dwindling.


All the above is on condition that applying these understandings would be subject to the terms, some of which appear in the Roadmap; some can be pre-agreed, before arriving at the agreements in principle. But in any case they can be achieved only where there is a new Palestinian government, one that recognizes Israel, one that wishes to promote the idea of two states wherever it has control or influence. This is what I say to colleagues who say to me, "Be serious, is this the time to talk to the moderate elements? Can't you see they can't deliver? So what is there to talk about?" And I reply that talking is always an option; ultimately the acting on it is up to them. But by giving them tools to strengthen themselves, I am also strengthening my own interest of promoting the process of two states, by subordinating the application of principles to their actual implementation.


As I said earlier, gaps have been created between places where the new government can act and places that are under Hamas control. And I can make the Palestinians see that distinction, make them aware of what a government means - the difference between having a government that can promote a dialogue versus a government that attempts to achieve certain objectives by way of terror, and it will not be able to achieve them via terror. However, it is not enough to say that terror will not achieve its objective if, at the same time, we do not provide an alternative to terror.


I am not in the least naive, I have both feet firmly on the ground, and if we work in the right way all this can be translated into action. Moreover, if we don't do it, we may lose our last chance. There may be other processes, other solutions, other ways, within a different reality that may come about in the future. But in the present window of opportunity there is a serious military challenge in Gaza, but also a political challenge that must be answered.


The second circle is the circle of the Arab world, and I hear a lot of debates, initiatives, the Arab League, yes, no, how should we respond, and so on. First of all, as a rule, I prefer conducting discussions with the relevant party, and the relevant party is the Palestinians. Secondly, I prefer conducting discussions when I have my own plans to place on the table, not just the other side's plans. Perhaps I can't free myself from old habits, but in the days when I was still a regular citizen and practicing a regular profession and gave legal counsel, I usually preferred being the side handing in my own drafts which would serve as a basis for the work, rather than accepting a ready-made draft from opposing counsel. And, last but not least, to create a situation in which the parties interested in contributing to the process, can do so in a positive way.


Let's consider the matter of the Arab League. The Arab League's initiative started with an article by Tom Friedman in the New York Times, which spoke of willingness on the part of the Arab world to normalize its relations with Israel after peace is achieved between Israel and the Palestinians, with the terms of the settlement already decided upon. I don't know whether to call them terms, criteria, parameters- whatever, but these are: a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and the 1967 borders. This was the starting point. Later, the Arab League convened in Beirut and two more items were added, which, from our point of view are contrary to the concept.


As you may recall, earlier on this evening I said, when speaking of the concept, that in addition to the principles of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and 1967 borders, a solution must be provided to the refugee issue. Therefore I say, this is not "in addition to", it is part of the basic solution of establishing a Palestinian state. In light of the new understanding that has dawned on the Arab world that the danger is in fact coming from a different source, and perhaps there is a chance here to positively promote the process between Israel and the Palestinians - this initiative was once again tabled.


I met with two representatives of the Arab League who were appointed for this purpose: the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs. I started with the first question. I asked them, "Just to make things clear, do you now wish to negotiate on a permanent settlement between Israel and the Palestinians? Do you wish to represent the Palestinians in the negotiations?" They said, "No." I said, "Okay, so the first thing we can note that we agree on is that the negotiations - and here I go back to the first circle - must be bilateral, between Israel and the Palestinians." And they said, "Exactly so."


The second thing I said to them was: Listen, any peace process requires compromise, both on Israel's side and on the Palestinians'. They realize that. That is, the moderate elements, though weak, will have to deal with Hamas, with extremist elements, and every concession will be difficult to agree upon, difficult to get the Palestinian public to accept. Your job is to give them the strength to contend with this challenge. And instead, what do you do? You make up parameters, run around marketing them to the world with all sorts of emissaries who travel the world saying go ahead and adopt the terms of the Arab League as a settlement. But this "settlement" you're pushing represents the Arab narrative; the Palestinian narrative. That's all well and good, but it is obviously not the result of a joint settlement. This is merely your position. And the more you enlist other countries to support it, the more you make a true settlement impossible. And if you present these as parameters, (or terms, depending on whom you ask, Amr Mussa or someone else) then you are restricting the ability of any Palestinian, even one who really wants the two-state option, even if he wants peace with all his might, if he has to make even the slightest concession, how can he?


If that is the case, I said to them, lay aside all parameters. Just as we, Israel, have our own principles, which I presented to you, so in any process, in any dialogue between us and the Palestinians, each side will come and present its own ideas. But your job is to say that you will support any compromise, whatever it may be, which the Palestinians will reach with Israel. This idea was finally accepted. It took some time, but they realized that the mere presentation of the parameters as terms obstructs the process rather than promotes it.


And lastly, I said to them: Look, it's a very positive thing, from Israel's point of view, that you are talking about normalization with Israel at the end of the Israeli-Palestinian process. I suppose this was meant as an incentive to Israel to advance the peace process with the Palestinians. But I said to them, Israel has its own reasons for advancing the peace process between itself and the Palestinians, it doesn't really need that end-of-process incentive. I wish that we were already at that point. However, I said to them, we are in a situation where every process is one that advances by fits and starts, and the Palestinians usually have difficulties in giving something in return when Israel makes them a gesture. So instead of waiting with the normalization you speak of for the end of the process, why don't you use it now. Just as Israel gives the Palestinians a political horizon, why don't you give Israel a political horizon. Just as we are willing to do this in stages, why don't you do so with us.


I won't be the one to tell you when to strengthen Israel in this context. You will be the ones to examine and decide, according to your own criteria - when Israel makes a move which you too consider to be in the right direction, in this process with the Palestinians; when the Palestinians, in their weak state, cannot create a situation in which the Israeli public, which also deserves some political horizon, also needs to understand that all these discussions of a settlement are not merely castles in the air - that's when you should embark on some steps. It doesn't have to be all of you at once. But meetings of the type you currently hold with me only in closed chambers, why not start having them in the open. Instead of the only representatives of the Arab League in such a meeting being those of Jordan and Egypt - countries with whom we have relations anyway - why don't you add countries with which we don't currently have relations. When Israel makes another positive move, open an office in Tel Aviv. Not all of you at once, but some. But create dynamics that support the process, not merely wait for its conclusion. Show us that the League supports the process.


And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the second circle. The Arab world must understand, first of all, that it must take sides - and the sides are within the Palestinian Authority, and they are very clear. It is not a matter of choosing between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. That is not what they are up against. They must choose between the two sides within the Palestinian Authority - the pragmatists of the new government versus Hamas. If they make the most of the idea of supporting the pragmatist elements in the Palestinian Authority, strengthening them and strengthening Israel in its efforts, then the Arab world can play a dramatic role. They may have not done so in the past, and perhaps that made it difficult for Palestinian elements to reach an arrangement.


Beyond these is the third circle - and I shall be brief here: the Western world, the international community. The international community can, of course, choose the right side, maintain the illegitimacy of Hamas, promote relations with the new government and bolster it, and also give the Palestinians an economic horizon, in addition to the political horizon that Israel can give it. It can prepare a "package", and I don't mean one for immediate consumption. Various gestures, assistance, humanitarian aid - all that is already taking place, should take place and will take place regardless. But I am talking about a different type of package, the type that says: it is ready and waiting, it can happen, all you have to do is make progress with the process with Israel. The compromise that you may make on some of your principles, a compromise you will have to reach with Israel, will pay off many times over. Through the international community, new economic options, infrastructures - a whole series of things can be accomplished with the help of the international community.


Therefore, within the new situation, I think that we must adhere to those principles we spoke of. And I think we must act, using language from the world of sports, hard and fast. Hard and fast, for and against. Hard and fast against the Hamas, its takeover of Gaza, against terror. And also hard and fast to give the new Palestinian government a politically bolstering shot-in-the-arm.


I wholeheartedly believe that this is not a zero-sum game. It is high time that the international community and the Arab community understand that this is not a case where supporting the Israeli stance means being against the Palestinians or the Arabs. It means that you are supporting a process shared by a large group. The sooner everyone realizes this, the sooner we will live to see the process which, I hope, will determine the meta-purpose of the State of Israel.


Thank you.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Israeli officials not too worried about Iranian nuclear development

John Bolton is worried about Iranian nuclear weapons development, but apparently Israeli officials are less worried. Israeli officials are less worried. After all, Ahmadinejad has proven to be a reasonable fellow in the past. And if their wrong, so what? Nobody will be around to criticize anyhow.
J'lem: Bolton is too pessimistic on Iran
Herb Keinon, THE JERUSALEM POST Jun. 27, 2007
Israeli officials took issue on Wednesday with the doomsday outlook on Iran that former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton articulated to The Jerusalem Post a day earlier, saying Jerusalem believes a combination of diplomatic pressure and stepped-up sanctions may get Teheran to rethink its nuclear program.

"We believe that the integration of concrete financial measures and UN sanctions can bring the Iranians to a tactical decision not to move forward with their nuclear program," one government official involved in the issue said.

"This, of course, will require continued determination and an uncompromising approach on part of the international community," he said. "Bolton'scomments reflect his belief that the international community is incapable of this. We are cautiously optimistic."

Bolton, in his interview with the Post, said that "diplomacy and sanctions have failed."

He said two options remained for stopping Iran: overthrowing the regime from within - he said it might be too late for this - or "a last-resort use of force."

"We have fiddled away four years, in which Europe tried to persuade Iran to give up voluntarily," he said. "Iran in those four years mastered uranium conversion from solid to gas, and now enrichment to weapons grade... We lost four years to feckless European diplomacy and our options are very limited."

While expressing a great deal of esteem for Bolton's "proactive" view of how nuclear proliferation issues should be handled, and saying that he agreed with the gist of Bolton's argument that a lot of time has been wasted, the Israeli official said, "We part ways on his view of the effectiveness of political, diplomatic and financial steps."

The official said Bolton was "too categorical."

"It is possible that his comments were meant to expedite the process," the official said. "We would all like to see more aggressive diplomacy."

But, the official said, there was no doubt that Iranian financial institutions, and now people on the street, were feeling the "heat" from the various sanctions and financial steps that have been taken.

Another government official dismissed Bolton's remarks by saying he was the US's "Avigdor Lieberman," referring to the strategic affairs minister from Israel Beiteinu.

"I don't think he is more concerned than we are," the official said. "We just don't believe we are on the verge of Gog and Magog. We do not believe we have reached the point where you can say that the sanctions are not effective."

Bolton also harshly criticized the Bush administration, saying it did not recognize the urgency of the situation and still held the misguided notion that sanctions could work.

At the end of the day, the government official said, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was satisfied with the way US President George W. Bush was dealing with the problem. "Bolton said that he doesn't think sanctions are effective. Okay, that's his opinion," the official said. "We disagree."


Continued (Permanent Link)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tony Blair to the rescue - Gets lifetime employment

Fresh from rescuing the situation in Iraq, Tony Blair will now devote his talents to squaring the circle of Middle East peace. His appointment is for the duration of the conflict presumably, which assures him lifetime employment.
Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 27, 2007

Quartet Representative - Quartet Statement

Quartet Principals noted that recent events in Gaza and the West Bank make it more urgent than ever that we advance the search for peace in the Middle East. The Quartet reaffirms its objective to promote an end to the conflict in conformity with the Roadmap and expresses its intention to redouble its efforts in that regard. The urgency of recent events has reinforced the need for the international community, bearing in mind the obligations of the parties, to help Palestinians as they build the institutions and economy of a viable state in Gaza and the West Bank, able to take its place as a peaceful and prosperous partner to Israel and its other neighbors.

To facilitate efforts to these ends, following discussions among the Principals, today the Quartet announced the appointment of Tony Blair as the Quartet Representative. Mr. Blair, who is stepping down from office this week, has long demonstrated his commitment on these issues.

As Quartet Representative, he will:

- Mobilize international assistance to the Palestinians, working closely with donors and existing coordination bodies;

- Help to identify, and secure appropriate international support in addressing, the institutional governance needs of the Palestinian state, focusing as a matter of urgency on the rule of law;

- Develop plans to promote Palestinian economic development, including private sector partnerships, building on previously agreed frameworks, especially concerning access and movement; and

- Liaise with other countries as appropriate in support of the agreed Quartet objectives.

As Representative, Tony Blair will bring continuity and intensity of focus to the work of the Quartet in support of the Palestinians, within the broader framework of the Quartet's efforts to promote an end to the conflict in conformity with the Roadmap. He will spend significant time in the region working with the parties and others to help create viable and lasting government institutions representing all Palestinians, a robust economy, and a climate of law and order for the Palestinian people.

Tony Blair will be supported in this work by a small team of experts, based in Jerusalem, to be seconded by partner countries and institutions.

The Quartet Representative will report to and consult regularly with the Quartet and be guided by it as necessary.

The Quartet looks forward to welcoming Mr. Blair at its next meeting.


Released on June 27, 2007

Israel Welcomes the Appointment of Tony Blair to Advance the Building of Institutions in the Palestinian Authority
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Wednesday, 27 June, 2007

Israel welcomes the appointment of Tony Blair to advance the building of institutions in the Palestinian Authority and to assist the Palestinians in laying the foundation upon which a Palestinian state will be built, and wishes him success.

Israel will provide Mr. Blair with all necessary assistance in order for him to carry out his duties and to aid the Palestinians.

In Israel's view, the creation of stable and transparent institutions in the Palestinian Authority is an important component in advancing the diplomatic process.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Former UN Ambassador Bolton very worried over Iran nuclear program

Bolton is right to be worried, but nobody has practical solutions given European indifference and Russian obstructionism.
Bolton: I'm 'very worried' for Israel
David Horovitz, THE JERUSALEM POST Jun. 27, 2007
Sanctions and diplomacy have failed and it may be too late for internal opposition to oust the Islamist regime, leaving only military intervention to stop Iran's drive to nuclear weapons, the US's former ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

Worse still, according to Ambassador Bolton, the Bush administration does not recognize the urgency of the hour and that the options are now limited to only the possibility of regime change from within or a last-resort military intervention, and it is still clinging to the dangerous and misguided belief that sanctions can be effective.

As a consequence, Bolton said he was "very worried" about the well-being of Israel. If he were in Israel's predicament, he said, "I'd be pushing the US very hard. I am pushing the US [administration] very hard, from the outside, in Washington."

Bolton, interviewed by telephone from Washington, was speaking a day after the International Atomic Energy Agency announced it would send a team to Teheran, at Iran's request, to work jointly on a plan ostensibly meant to clear up suspicions about the nuclear program. Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani had met on Sunday with IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei, and a day earlier with top EU foreign policy envoy Javier Solana.

Bolton, however, was witheringly critical of the ongoing diplomatic contacts with Teheran, which he said were merely playing into the hands of the regime.

"The current approach of the Europeans and the Americans is not just doomed to failure, but dangerous," he said. "Dealing with [the Iranians] just gives them what they want, which is more time...

"We have fiddled away four years, in which Europe tried to persuade Iran to give up voluntarily," he complained. "Iran in those four years mastered uranium conversion from solid to gas and now enrichment to weapons grade... We lost four years to feckless European diplomacy and our options are very limited."

Bolton said flatly that "diplomacy and sanctions have failed... [So] we have to look at: 1, overthrowing the regime and getting in a new one that won't pursue nuclear weapons; 2, a last-resort use of force."

However, he added a caution as to the viability of the first of those remaining options: While "the regime is more susceptible to overthrow from within than people think," he said, such a process "may take more time than we have."

Overall, said Bolton, it was clear that Iran had surmounted "all the technical problems of uranium enrichment," and it "may well be that we have passed the point of Iran mastering the nuclear fuel cycle." If so, it was now merely a matter of time before Iran reached a bomb-making capability - "a matter of resources and available equipment," he said - and it was solely up to Iran to set the pace.

To his dismay, however, the Bush administration was still clinging to the empty notion that the sanctions route could work, "even though [the UN's sanction] Resolutions 1737 and 1747 were full of loopholes. The US is still seeking another sanctions resolution and Solana is still pursuing diplomacy," he said bitterly.

Bolton lamented that the Bush administration today was "not the same" as a presumably more robust incarnation three years ago, because of what he said was now the State Department's overwhelming dominance of foreign policy.

"The State Department has adopted the European view [on how to deal with Iran] and other voices have been sidelined," he said. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "is overwhelmingly predominant on foreign policy."

Asked where this left Israel, Bolton said simply: "Israel's options are as limited as those of the US, except that you are in more danger in that you are closer. I hate to say that."

Bolton, who served as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security from 2001 to 2005, before taking the ambassadorial posting to the UN from August 2005 to December 2006, said the failed handling of the Iran nuclear crisis was one of the reasons he had left the Bush administration. "I felt we were watching Europe fiddling while Rome burned," he said. "It's still fiddling."
(The full interview will appear in Friday's Post.)

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Hezbollah rearming; former UNIFIL SPOX spreading false rumors about Israel

This analysis has many interesting aspects. One of them is that a supposedly neutral former UNIFIL official is going around creating the false impression that Israel is aching for a war with Hezbollah. Tt tells us what we know: Hezbollah is rearming. It also tells us that Hezbollah's northern defenses are supposedly more formdidable than the ones in South Lebanon.
Hezbollah preparing for the next war: analysts
by Michel Moutot
BEIRUT, June 27, 2007 (AFP) - Hezbollah is busy preparing for its next
war with Israel in the knowledge that the Jewish state will not rest easy with the results of last summer's 34-day conflict, military analysts in Beirut believe.

Since the UN-brokered ceasefire came into force last August 14, the pro-Iran Shiite militia has been steadily gearing itself up for the next round with the same determination and secrecy that have made its reputation, the experts say.

"Immediately after last summer's war Hezbollah began refortifying its positions and working on new ones," said Judith Palmer Harik, author of the book "Hezbollah: The Changing Face of Terrorism."

"They are rearming... In fact, there has been no interruption in their receiving of more arms," she told AFP.

The only Lebanese militia allowed its own arsenal by the government, Hezbollah has moved most of its weapons out of the border area with Israel to conform with UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which ended the conflict.

A Western military observer in the Lebanese capital, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Hezbollah was now redeploying its arms farther north.

"They left the (border) zone at once," he said. "Last summer, much to their surprise, they found themselves fighting well in front of their strongest lines because the Israeli army halted near the frontier.

"Hezbollah has far stronger positions in the rear, north of the Litani river, that no one knows about and that they are fortifying all the time."

For 24 years Timur Goksel was the public face of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, and the former UNIFIL spokesman says it is only a matter of time before war between Israel and Hezbollah breaks out again.

"Israel can't live in the Middle East with the impression that they lost to Hezbollah, a militia," said Goksel, now lecturing at the American University of Beirut.

"Since 1949 they lived on their reputation of the unbeatable Israeli soldier, the invincible Jewish army, the legend. And here comes the Hezbollah who says 'We beat you.' They have to set that correct. They have no other option -- they have to restore their credibility."

He says further conflict is inevitable but not imminent.

"Not now, it will take Israel time to be ready. I'd say two years. Hezbollah knows that very well and they are working on it full-time."

Even in the border zone, patrolled by blue-helmeted international peacekeepers and the Lebanese army, Hezbollah is busy preparing for the next round of hostilities.

The militants are so accepted by villagers in the area that no outsider gets to know what is really going on there.

"Iron discipline reigns within the Hezbollah ranks," the Western military observer told AFP. "Promotion is only on merit and security vetting draconian. They're almost impossible to infiltrate and extraordinarily professional."

Retired Lebanese general Whebe Katisha has no doubt that Hezbollah "has retained its military potential and is preparing for the next assault.

"UNIFIL knows nothing about what's going on in the Shiite zone. It's not an easy situation for the Lebanese army -- we don't have enough numbers, equipment or vehicles."

He said that last month a container full of shells and missiles, sent by Iran via Turkey and Syria, was intercepted.

"Hezbollah is Iran's vanguard against Israel," Katisha said. "If Iran is attacked, everyone knows that the response will begin with Hezbollah."

Shortly after last summer's devastating conflict ended, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that the militant group's arsenal had been replenished, and that it now included new weaponry.

"Knowing their organisation, their planning, I think they are going to go more on sophisticated air defence," Palmer Harik said. "Hezbollah is a great mixture of traditional guerrilla warfare and very advanced and efficient weapons."

According to Goksel, "Hezbollah knows very well that next time it's going to be different. What did we do wrong last time, what will happen next time? They know the other side is studying too. If it happens tomorrow, they're ready."


Continued (Permanent Link)

Israeli FM discusses release of Fateh prisoners

At a press conference with Australian FM Downer, Israeli Foreign minister Tzippi Livni was asked about prisoner release issues and the return of Gilad Shalit.

Q (translated from Hebrew): Madam Foreign Minister, do you support in principle the Prime Minister's declared intention to release 250 Palestinian prisoners? And, in a related issue, the PM is under enormous pressure, from the abductors, from the public, from the media, etc., to make progress in the case of Shalit. Are you in favor of relinquishing some of Israel's
preconditions in order to make this deal happen?

FM Livni: Regarding your first question, the release of Palestinian prisoners from the Fatah who "have no blood on their hands", the answer is yes. The Prime Minister consulted with me before he went to Sharm a-Sheikh, and this distinction - only Fatah detainees, only those who "have no blood on their hands" - also conveys a message to the Palestinians. The clear distinction between moderates and extremists, between Hamas and Fatah, has practical implications for the way the Israeli government relates to Abu Mazen as president as well as our working relations with the new Palestinian government, including what we are willing to do to strengthen the moderates who wish to live in peace, who want to advance the two-state process and who are prepared to reject terrorism. Fatah is the group that currently represents these principles and, therefore, the answer to your question is yes.

Obviously, we are not going to conduct the negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit in the media. Gilad's voice is still echoing in our ears. I don't think there is a person in Israel, certainly not a minister, who isn't walking around today with Gilad's voice settled in his heart. But, there is no doubt that the Hamas is, in the cruelest way possible, exploiting the pain of the Shalit family and of the Israeli people in an attempt to impose its agenda and to try to torpedo the meeting in Sharm. They believe that their strategy is beginning to weaken him and it is important, after hearing Gilad, that the responsibility for his health and welfare is placed squarely on the Hamas. The government of Israel will continue to act to bring him home. As for the conditions, that is, of course, not a subject for public discourse.

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Belaboring the obvious: UN discovers Lebanese border is 'porous'

One reason for the porosity, is that the UN persuaded Israel to stop overflights of Lebanon, while at the same time UNIFIL did not institute any of its own.

Last update - 22:13 26/06/2007  

UN report: Lebanon-Syria border completely porous

By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent

Lebanon's border with Syria is open to smuggling of weapons and other goods, according to a special report submitted to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday.

Border controls are insufficient even at official crossings, claimed the report that probed Lebanese entry points but did not inspect those on Syria's side of the border.

"As a result [of the lack of inspection] vehicles, including passengers and their cargo, pass freely," the report said.

The probe recommended improving cooperation between the two countries in order to curb smuggling of arms and other goods.

UN Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larson recently warned the Security Council of similar allegations.

The inquiry was carried out between May 27 and June 15 at four border crossings currently in operation, a point of entry set to open in the future, seaports and Beirut's airport.

Areas along the border where smuggling activity is suspected were also inspected.

During their investigation, UN inspectors met with four Lebanese security forces representatives.

Lebanese Army patrols along the border are ineffective, the probe concluded.

The investigation revealed that Lebanon's security forces lack training for carrying out anti-smuggling missions and its deployment is not aimed at stemming such activity.

"The lookout points and checkpoints are spread out according to traditional military doctrine and their aim is to provide territorial defense, not check smuggling," the report read.

Continued (Permanent Link)

B'Tselem: Holding Gilad Shalit as a hostage is a war crime

B'Tselem: Holding Gilad Shalit as a hostage is a war crime
25 June 2007

On the one-year anniversary of the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, states that he must be released immediately. The organization says that the circumstances of his capture and the behavior of his captors clearly indicate that he is a hostage.

International humanitarian law absolutely prohibits taking and holding a person by force in order to compel the enemy to meet certain demands, while threatening to harm or kill the person if the demands are not met. Furthermore, hostage-taking is considered a war crime and all those involved bear individual criminal liability.

Hamas, which de-facto controls the security apparatus in the Gaza Strip, bears the responsibility to act to release Shalit immediately and unconditionally. Until he is released, those holding him must grant him humane treatment and allow representatives of the ICRC to visit him. The fact that Shalit's right to these visits has been denied constitutes a blatant violation of international law, says B'Tselem.

For additional information: B'Tselem Communications Director, Sarit

Continued (Permanent Link)

Kibbutz - the future of Zionism?

At one time, Kibbutzim were the backbone of Zionism. At the time of the Six Day War, a quarter of the IDF officers were kibbutzniks. Kibbutzim faded into the background, as right wing ideology gradually swept Israeli society. But  young Israelis seeking to save Zionism are starting A New Kibbutz Movement, as we learn from the Wall Street Journal.
Yuval Katzir, 26 years old, a guide at the Ayalon Institute Bullet Factory in Rehovot, Israel, is one of 23 members of the new kibbutz located at the site and also a reserve paratrooper in the Israeli army. He spoke with Wall Street Journal reporter Peter Waldman about the kibbutz movement.

WSJ: Why are you trying to create a new kibbutz movement, after so many kibbutzim have failed in recent years?

Mr. Katzir: A kibbutz is not a place; it's an idea. We're not focusing on agriculture but education. We're trying to start a movement that gets into youth groups and schools and educates young people about the basics of the Zionist ethic: taking responsibility for the Jewish nation. The whole Zionist movement has collapsed. A lot of my young friends, talented people, are emigrating because they don't care any more. This is a crucial time. But we still have a chance to create a better society.

WSJ: How?
Mr. Katzir: The basics are still the same: We need to build a welfare society with good schools, quality health care and help for the poor. A lot of Israelis aren't aware of what's going on this country. Historically, the labor movement, the moshavim, the kibbutzim -- they were the heart of everything. Now we have only the leftovers. What happened in the past 30 years that took one of the most equal societies in the world and made it one of the least equal, less equal than even the U.S.? You need to ask yourself: Who is benefiting from privatization and the dismantling of the welfare society?
WSJ: Religious Zionism is flourishing.
Mr. Katzir: They're also facing problems, because it's unclear who their partners are now. Are they the [ultra-orthodox] Haredi? Am I, as a secular Zionist? Is redeeming the land the only goal for the religious, or is it the revival of the Jewish people? Either it's national -- it's all of us -- or they have to say the game is over, abandon Zionism and go back to waiting for the Messiah. Until Zionism, until the Enlightenment, Judaism got stuck in a very dark corner of history. If the religious kill other Jews to hold on to the (occupied Palestinian) land, that's not Zionism, because Zionism is for all Jews.
WSJ: Can Zionism and consumer capitalism coexist?
Mr. Katzir: We're living in a time when we don't know where we're headed. Iran wants a nuclear bomb. The rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. If we can't succeed in creating a new type of society, then we'll lose the essence of Judaism. I work with a Zionist youth group in England. They ask me: Why bother to come to Israel if the economy is so unequal? Why come? People are starting to question whether they feel part of this country. Israel isn't France. If it's not just and good, it won't last.

Continued (Permanent Link)

As Israel Prospers, Some Fear Its Defenses May Grow Soft


As Israel Prospers, Some Fear Its Defenses May Grow Soft

 Blaming Materialism For Lebanon Stalemate;
Zionism Meets Feng Shui
June 26, 2007; Page A1

MOSHAV BNEI ZION, Israel -- For 60 years, this farming cooperative near Tel Aviv has been a bulwark of Zionism. Its original 97 families cultivated grapefruit and oranges for export, and molded their teenagers for elite combat jobs in the Israel Defense Forces.

Today, the moshav's old chicken coop houses an industrial-design firm and a company that makes steering-wheel sensors to alert dozing drivers. In a corner office, a real-estate broker moonlights as a feng shui consultant. Several farm lots have been sold off for multimillion-dollar homes, inhabited by suburban families whose kids have only tenuous links to the youth groups that kindled Zionist spirit here for decades.

" A kibbutz is not a place; it's an idea. We're not focusing on agriculture but education."
-- Yuval Katzir, 26 years old, one of 23 members of a new kibbutz in Rehovot, Israel, talks with The Wall Street Journal. See full transcript.
* * *
"Materialism has spread. You can't feel Shabbat in Tel Aviv. Women walk almost bare in the streets."
-- Eitan Mor-Yosef, secretary-general of the Jerusalem-based Bnei-Akiva, Israel's largest religious Zionist youth movement, speaks with The Wall Street Journal about changing attitudes toward religion. See full transcript.

The makeover shows how Israel has flourished beyond the wildest dreams of the ardent socialists who founded the Jewish state. Powered by high-tech exports, the Israeli economy grew 6.3% in the first quarter this year, with a 28% jump in personal consumption of durable goods, such as cars and refrigerators. Sales of Porsches doubled in 2006 from 2004, and last year Lexus opened shop in the Jewish state.

Yet prosperity has not brought security. As Israelis begin another summer fraught with regional instability, some are pondering a troubling question: Is the idea of an advanced consumer society, with its attendant individualism, compatible with the solidarity and focus required to defend a small state bordered by hostile neighbors? And could the growing gap between poor and wealthy Israelis undermine its national drive to protect itself?

Such concerns have grown particularly stark in recent months, as Israel has grappled with a crisis of confidence. Last summer's military stalemate with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas's recent conquest of the Gaza Strip over rival Palestinians have reinforced Israeli worries that it takes more than a high-tech army to address the terror and missile threats it faces from enemies on its borders. Later this summer, the independent Winograd Commission, appointed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, will release its review of last summer's war. The commission's harsh preliminary report suggests it will recommend an overhaul of Israel's national-security system, and possibly the resignation of Mr. Olmert himself.

One lesson from last summer's war: Even the world's best precision-guided weapons, fired from the most advanced military aircraft, can't quell a committed guerrilla force on the ground without support from trained and tested combat troops. Now the question is whether Israelis, like citizens in many developed countries, are losing the stomach for that sort of slog.

"If Israel is a shopping mall in a jungle of extremism," says columnist Ari Shavit of the Ha'aretz newspaper, "the challenge is keeping the mall going from within, while protecting it from without."

At the center of the commitment quandary is Tel Aviv, Israel's go-go commercial hub and its most westernized city. After last summer's war, the Israeli army's chief of human resources, Maj. Gen. Elazar Stern, sparked a public furor when he decried that just three out of Israel's 119 war dead came from Tel Aviv, a city of 380,000 inhabitants and Israel's second-largest after Jerusalem. By contrast, the West Bank settlement of Eli -- population 2,500 -- lost three soldiers as well.

Evading Service

Tel Aviv's count would be expected to be higher, because military service is obligatory for men and women in Israel. Gen. Stern attributed the disparity to Tel Aviv teenagers' high rate of evading service and low enlistment rate, compared with the national average, in combat units. He also castigated Israeli society at large for going soft. "In this war, I had a feeling that the value of human life was above sticking to the mission," Gen. Stern told the paper Yediot Ahronot.

[Service Gap]

Moshav Bnei Zion, just 16 miles north of Tel Aviv, is a showcase for the changes roiling Israeli society. In the past decade, several of Israel's richest tycoons have bought large farm lots here from the original moshavniks and built Beverly Hills-style mansions. Their arrival has pushed the "Tel Aviv bubble," as Israelis call the Western aura that envelops the financial capital, into the nation's heartland, spreading the tension in Israeli society between sacrifice and self-aggrandizement.

Founded in 1947, Moshav Bnei Zion was structured on the semicollective model forged by the first moshavim in the 1920s. In a moshav, residents farm their own plots as well as community land, and share the profits. They own their homes and manage their own financial and family affairs. This contrasts with the better-known kibbutzim, where members have traditionally resided in community-owned housing and drawn on communal resources for everything from meals to vacations to child rearing.

Moshavim and kibbutzim were both instrumental in fulfilling the early Zionists' goal of transforming waves of Jewish refugees into farmers, factory workers and soldiers. Largely secular, the founding Zionists envisioned a place where Jews, through strength and self-reliance, could make a break from centuries of anti-Semitism in Europe. Such a Jewish state, the thinking went, would serve as an egalitarian model for the rest of the world.

Steeped in Zionist ideology, Israel's farming collectives produced many of the country's statesmen and military leaders, from the first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, to Six-Day War hero Moshe Dayan and the highly decorated Ehud Barak, Israel's current defense minister. While kibbutzim have never accounted for more than 7% of Israel's population, as many as half the pilots in the Israeli air force have hailed from the communal farms.

In recent years, the socialist ideals of the founding Zionists have given way to one of the most successful entrepreneurial economies on earth. In place of solidarity, some Israelis argue, there is a growing gap between haves and have-nots. Rates of poverty are high among the country's 20% Arab population, but are also growing among Israeli Jews. Though the average Israeli salary has risen steadily, to more than $22,000 a year currently, one in four families live below the official poverty line. The poverty rate among children is 35%.

Rich and poor live side by side at Moshav Bnei Zion. One of the first tycoons to move here was Shari Arison, who controls Israel's largest bank and is the daughter of the late Ted Arison, founder of Carnival Corp. cruise lines. She paid $1.3 million for her 2.5-acre lot in 1997. In 2005, Noam Lanir, an online-gambling impresario, bought the same-size lot next door for $3.5 million.

Prices for modest homes in the moshav are also soaring. Several 3,000-square-foot houses built a decade ago for children of the founding families have recently sold for more than $1 million each. In the adjoining community of Harutzim, built in the 1950s to house North African immigrants, stucco "Sachnut specials" -- tiny bungalows named for the Jewish Agency that threw them up -- look like servants' quarters next to the new, bougainvillea-draped villas on the same quiet lanes.

The moshav's 300-student school, Hovev, serves the children of the North Africans, farming families and wealthy newcomers. Talia Naim, a 22-year-old kindergarten teacher who grew up here, has noticed a dramatic change in just the past five years. She and her friends came of age in the cocoon of their Zionist youth movement, Farmers' Unity. They spent their teen years on hikes, at campfires and songfests, and doing community projects.

Today, the teacher says, the suburbanites who have moved into the area stick more to their private worlds. Many of her 17-year-old sister's peers come and go as they please, with their own cars and motorcycles. Instead of attending Farmers' Unity summer camp, the affluent kids travel abroad. "They're spoiled," Ms. Naim says.

Real-estate agent Yoav Hadari is torn by the transformation he has helped propel. He and his family pulled up stakes in Tel Aviv seven years ago for a home with a garden on the moshav. As the first-generation immigrants have died off in neighboring Harutzim, Mr. Hadari has done a brisk business selling their bungalows to commuters who've ripped down the old structures and built large houses on the lots. He fields frequent inquiries from real-estate speculators in the U.S. and Europe. He also gets calls from ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel and abroad, whose black-clad sects are considering nearby farmland for new communities, he says.

Despite his success, the 41-year-old broker, who has a side business advising clients in the Chinese design principles of feng shui, says he's fed up with what he calls Israel's "post-Zionist culture." A land and people that once stood for something have become nearly indistinguishable from other Western consumer societies, he argues. His 11-year-old daughter belongs to the Farmers' Unity movement on the moshav, "but it's all about exploring nature. It has nothing to do with Zionism any more," he says.

Avid Surfer

He's thinking about pulling up stakes again for a new suburb in a more tranquil place. An avid surfer, Mr. Hadari wants to move to Australia, where his sister-in-law's family fled a few years ago from a rash of Palestinian terror attacks. "It's not worth the struggle," he says.

Many Israelis have also grown weary from decades of unremitting conflict. Ron Gazit, whose family owns a caf? next to the moshav, grew up attending a Zionist youth movement and served in Lebanon a decade ago as an elite paratrooper. He loves life in Israel, he says, but he recently secured European passports for his family, a hot trend among Israelis of European origin. He is considering emigrating with his wife and baby girl.

[All Consuming]

"When my father and grandfather fought in wars, they each believed their children would one day live in peace. But now I have more experience," says Mr. Gazit, 33. "Every 10 years there's a clash, and every 10 years it's more extreme."

Col. Tziki Sela, the Israel Defense Forces' head of manpower, says the country's young remain firmly committed to fulfilling their conscription obligations. More reservists than needed volunteered to serve in last summer's war, including many Israelis who flew back from homes overseas, he says. And despite the conflict's mixed results, the number of applicants for combat units from this year's enlistment class jumped 4% over last year, defying the army's expectation of a drop, says Col. Sela.

It's the longer-term trends that worry many Israelis. The number of draftees requesting psychological discharge is also on the rise -- up 7% from a decade ago, Col. Sela says. Most of these people are perfectly healthy shirkers, the colonel believes, who are exploiting a lax evaluation process for personal gain. "There's a lot of pressure on youngsters to get out and earn money," Col. Sela says.

To crack down, the military is developing tighter psychological screening procedures and a new category of dishonorable discharge to stigmatize fakers, the colonel says. Also under development is a plan that would, for the first time, create incentives for Israelis to prolong service in the more-dangerous army units. Code-named "star certificate," the award would entitle selected veterans to discounts on consumer goods, vacations and other services, Col. Sela says.

The heart of the Tel Aviv bubble is Allenby Street, where the dance clubs don't rev up until after 2 a.m. In the predawn heat on a recent morning, music and young bodies rippled onto the sidewalks, as a clutch of half-a-dozen revelers wandered between bars.

They resent Tel Aviv's image as mammon, the youngsters say. "What's wrong with wanting a normal life?" asks Rotem Levy, 23. "It's global. People everywhere think more about themselves nowadays."

Though members of this group say they served in the army, they all have friends who received psychological deferments for dubious reasons. One of their buddies, they say, told the army he hears ghosts; another said he's a bed-wetter. A third described an inch-tall companion who converses with him from a perch on his shoulder.

"People don't want to waste three years in the army when they could be starting their careers," says Adi Cohen, 23.

Religious Israelis, whose commitment to the land is rooted in scripture, are filling the gap. "We teach kids it is beautiful to serve your country and care for your neighbor," says Eitan Mor-Yosef, head of Bnei-Akiva, a national youth movement that pairs Zionism with orthodox religious training. "If people move away from traditional Judaism and the Torah, they lose their idealism."

With government funds, Bnei-Akiva has opened more than 80 religious high schools in the past 15 years, Mr. Mor-Yosef says, and tripled its youth-group membership, to 75,000 children. It also operates religious schools for soldiers. The group is strongest in nonaffluent areas: The group's membership has soared in Jerusalem and in poorer areas of central and southern Israel, he says, while chapters have dwindled in Tel Aviv and in some wealthy suburbs nearby.

Observant Jews now account for a growing proportion of military personnel, Mr. Mor-Yosef says. Though about 20% of Israeli Jews are observant, the religious make up roughly 40% of the army, he says, up from less than 15% two decades ago. The army says it doesn't track such figures, and a spokesman says he believes Mr. Mor-Yosef's percentage is high.

Traditional left-wing Zionist groups believe the solution lies not in religious training, but in wiping out the wealth gap -- by restoring the welfare state. Over the past decade, economic changes have eroded the socialist infrastructure of the founding Zionists, from numerous moshavim and kibbutzim to national labor and health-care systems. State subsidies for families, based on size, have also been slashed.

Bomb Shelters

As a result, Israel has broken its compact with the people, says Chagit Shvarzman, 25, an organizer with the General Federation of Students and Young Workers, one of the oldest and largest Zionist youth groups. During last summer's war, she says, thousands of Israelis in the north went hungry in bomb shelters. No one came to help, she says, because the government had privatized relief duties to companies that fled when the missiles fell. The Israeli government is reviewing procedures so that never happens again.

"A lot of reservists saw how the state treated those people," Ms. Shvarzman says. "The next war, they won't understand why they should go."

Her youth group is attempting to revive the spirit of Zionism through new kibbutzim organized not as farms but as educational collectives. At one experiment, at the Ayalon Institute in the central city of Rehovot, 23 young people live communally and many work as tour guides at an old bullet factory located 25 feet beneath the kibbutz bakery. At its peak in the 1940s, the clandestine plant produced 40,000 bullets a day for Jewish fighters battling for independence.

One of the guides, Yuval Katzir, says Israelis are reaching a "crucial time." They must restore Zionism's quest to build a moral society, or face worsening internal alienation, he says. Israel can't be just another high-tech suburb along the global consumer highway, he argues.

"Israel isn't France," says Mr. Katzir, 26. "If it's not just and good, it won't last."

--Nancy Shekter-Porat in Tel Aviv contributed to this article.

Write to Peter Waldman at


Continued (Permanent Link)

Mubarak: Summit did not discuss Hamas takeover

[Israel News, June 26] Israeli TV Channel 1 interviewed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak regarding the Sharm summit. The main points:
-- The Hamas takeover was not discussed at all at the summit, according to him.
-- The meeting dealt only with the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
-- Israel must help the Palestinian people with food, water, electricity, freedom of movement.
-- Israel must negotiate peace with the Palestinians.
-- The Gaza/West Bank  split is an internal Palestinian affair. They will come to their senses after a while and reunite, according to him. In other words, the continued participation of Hamas in the government and its acceptability is not challenged, and they risked nothing by the coup.
-- Israel need not negotiate with Hamas, but only with the PLO/PNA which recognizes Israel.
-- He was asked about chances of Olmert meeting the King of Saudia. He said "forget about it." "No chance."
-- He was asked about a confederation with Jordan. He said that there is no point in discussing it as long as the land is occupied.
- He characterized the Gaza/WB split as a threat to security not only for Egypt, but for Israel and the Palestinians. Therefore it is a regional security threat and requires regional cooperation. Israel's part is being pictured as participating in regional cooperation.


Continued (Permanent Link)

IRD Commends UCC's New found Middle East Balance


The Institute on Religion and Democracy

June 25, 2007 Contact: Loralei Coyle 202-682-4131

United Church of Christ Chooses Fairness

Toward Israelis and Palestinians

"The United Church of Christ is willing to admit that the situation in the Middle East is not readily reducible to good-guy Palestinians versus bad-guy Israelis--or vice versa."

-- James D. Berkley , IRD Director of Presbyterian Action

Washington, DC - The United Church of Christ (UCC) took a major step toward evenhanded treatment of Palestinian and Israeli interests at its General Synod meeting in Hartford, CT, on June 22. A General Synod resolution acknowledged that two previous resolutions from 2005 focused entirely on Israel, and that the General Synod "has yet to fully address other forces contributing to the ongoing violence, oppression and suffering in the region."

The statement indicated significant reconsideration of the 2005 resolutions: "The escalating violence between Fatah and Hamas now calls us to consider whether we may have overlooked many aspects of an extraordinarily complicated situation."

The rationale of this latest UCC resolution explained, "As a peacemaker, the Church in all of its settings must continue to speak out whenever violence, hatred, and oppression occur, standing in support of all who are oppressed and subjected to injustice." Therefore, the General Synod established "a Task Force to engage in ongoing and balanced study of the causes, history and context of the conflict."

James D. Berkley, IRD Director of Presbyterian Action, commented:

"I am impressed by the magnanimity of the United Church of Christ in this action. It has recognized the narrow partiality of its previous resolutions and is willing to admit that the situation in the Middle East is not readily reducible to good-guy Palestinians versus bad-guy Israelis--or vice versa.

"It is difficult to admit error and pursue a fairer and more faithful course of action, and yet the UCC General Synod rose to the occasion. The IRD commends the UCC for its action. Now this church body is no longer placed in the untenable role of strident champion of the unsupportable.

"In June 2006, the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly set an example by replacing a 2004 resolution that threatened anti-Israel divestment with a balanced resolution that seeks the welfare of both Palestinians and Israelis. Now such evenhandedness appears to be providentially contagious. First the United Church of Canada (later in 2006) and now the United Church of Christ have made similar turns toward fairness in their approach to the Middle East."


John Lomperis
Research Associate
The Institute on Religion and Democracy
1023 15th Street NW, Suite 601
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 682-4131
(202) 682-4136 (Fax)

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Hamas media hi-jinx succeed because of our human frailty

Yesterday, the Hamas released a tape of Gilad Shalit, the captive Israeli soldier. Israeli newspapers and television stations reacted as if a hundred people had been killed in a  terror attack. The entire front page of Yediot Ahronot and Maariv were taken up with this nonsensical PR gesture of a terrorist group regarding a single soldier. A commentator on Israel TV Channel 1 explained in all sincerity that yesterday they had no time to evaluate the Sharm summit, because their time was taken up with the Gilad Shalit tape. The Hamas obviously manipulated the media, and the Israeli media obliged.
To attempt to fight this phenomenon, Liebes suggested wider cooperation between the TV channels, newspapers, and the radio stations, as well as their electronic counterparts. "If editors join forces in the coverage of events, such as rocket attacks or terrorist bombings, and stop being overly competitive, coverage may be less hysterical," she said
This view is offered by no less than Prof. Tamar Liebes, head of the Communications faculty at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Indeed, if there were no greedy people, confidence games would not succeed. If men stopped being so interested in sex, naughty women would not have a chance, but journalists will be journalists and boys will be boys. The whole point of the terrorists' success, is that every channel feels the urge to broadcast news of a suicide bombing and give it priority over, say, a dialogue meeting, or even an automobile accident that might have more fatalities.
In a democracy, people get the media they are willing to pay for, unless the government intervenes. The Hezbollah rockets of last summer would not have been half as effective, if media had not broadcast, over and over, the same footage of the hysterical woman with the baby leaving the north of Israel in a taxi.
Of course, if the issue is sufficiently important, the government could censor the news. Of course, people might notice if the World Trade Center or the Azrieli building disappears and nobody writes about it. We are not suggesting that. But surely it is not necessary to dwell on every single incident in every detail,  to magnify every terror death well beyond the coverage given to other sorts of murders, and to publicize every terrorist video as though it were a second version of  Gone With the Wind. Or is it? Let's face it, if this blog was all about smelling the flowers in spring and our cat, would you you read it?
So Hamas, after all, is working the system, and it is time that our side learned to do the same thing, instead of simply watching Hamas and Hezbollah do it and then crying "foul."
Ami Isseroff


Continued (Permanent Link)

Another hoax? : Slightly fake Mathias Dopfner article about Europe and Islam

Another partial hoax has apparently been circulating the Internet. It joins the the following:
This apparent hoax concerns an article written by Mathias Dopfner (or Dapfner), CEO of Spinger Verlag concerning Europan attitude to Islam. He really did write such an article in 2004. About 2005 apparently an English "translation" appeared. There is no link to the original article, and the supposed "translation" differs from the actual article as it appeared in various places, beginning, it seems, with the fairly presitigious Project Syndiate, which has what is apparently the source of the bogus translation posted here: It seems to have been done in 2005.
Other republications of this false translation are here: things_beautiful/2005/12/europe_thy_name.html, posted on July 18, 2005, 2005/02/europe-thy-name-is-cowardice.html
and - where it is falsely given a date of 25.04.2007, to keep it current.
Snopes, the anti-Hoax Web site, has a good translation of the original article,Europe Thy Name is Cowardice   which appeared in 2004, and which I give below.
The original appeared in Die Welt - Europa - dein Name ist Feigheit 
Another good translation is here. It appeared in November 2004, close to the original publication of the article.
The original version can be distinguished from the hoax in several ways. Dopfner wrote of 300,000 killed by Saddam Hussein, whereas the fabrication indicates 500,000. The fabrication also refers to Neville Chamberlain, a reference that is not in the original.  
Perhaps Dopfner did write such an article somewhere, but it does not appear to be the case. Search out all the blogs that disseminated this material, without bothering to check the original or refer to it, and think about what this means for their credibility if it is not the original.
Never circulate or quote materials that are without a verifiable source.
Ami Isseroff
Commentary by Mathias Döpfner
A few days ago, Henryk M. Broder wrote in the Welt am Sonntag, "Europe — thy name is appeasement." It's a phrase you can't get out of your head because it's so painfully true.

Appeasement cost millions of Jews and Gentiles their lives as England and France, allies at the time, negotiated and hesitated far too long before realizing that Hitler had to be fought, not bound to agreements. Appeasement stabilized the Communist Soviet Union and the former East Germany, those parts of Eastern Europe where inhuman, suppressive governments were glorified as the ideological alternative. Appeasement crippled Europe when genocide ran rampant in Kosovo, and we debated and debated and were still debating when the Americans finally came in and did our work for us. Rather than protecting the only democracy in the Middle East, European appeasement, camouflaged behind the fuzzy word "equidistance," relativizes the fundamentalist Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel. Appeasement generates a mentality that allows Europe to condone the 300,000 victims of Saddam's torture and murder machinery in Iraq and condemn the actions of George Bush in the self-righteousness of the peace movement. And in the end it is also appeasement at its most grotesque when Germany reacts to the escalating violence of Islamic fundamentalists in Holland and elsewhere by proposing a national Muslim holiday.

What else has to happen before the European public and its political leadership realize that there is a form of crusade underway, an especially perfidious one of systematic attacks by fanatic Muslims targeting civilians, directed against our free, open Western societies. This is a conflict that will likely last longer than any of the great military conflicts of the last century, waged by an adversary who cannot be tamed by tolerance and accommodation but is instead spurred on by such gestures, mistaking them as signs of weakness.

Two recent American presidents had the courage needed for staunch anti-appeasement: Reagan and Bush. Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War, and Bush — supported only by the persuasive Social Democrat politician Tony Blair — recognized the danger in the Islamic war against democracy. His place in history will need to be evaluated a number of years down the road.

In the meantime, Europe snuggles into its multicultural niche instead of defending the values of a liberal society with charismatic certitude and acting as a positive center of power in a delicate balance between the true global powers, America and China. We instead present ourselves as the world champions of tolerance against the intolerants, which even Otto Schily [Germany's former Federal Minister of the Interior] justifiably criticizes. And why, actually? Because we're so moral? I fear it's more because we're so materialistic.

For his policies, Bush risks the devaluation of the dollar, huge amounts of added national debt, and a massive and lasting strain on the American economy — because everything is at stake.

Yet while America's so allegedly materialistic robber baron capitalists know their priorities, we timidly defend the benefice of our social affluence. Just stay out of it; it could get expensive. We'd rather discuss our 35-hour workweek or our dental coverage or listen to televangelists preach about the need to "Reach out to murderers." These days, it sometimes seems that Europe is like a little old lady who cups her shaking hands around her last pieces of jewelry as a thief breaks in right next door. Europe, thy name is Cowardice.
German original

20. November 2004, 00:00 Uhr
Von Mathias Döpfner
Europa - dein Name ist Feigheit
Der Kommentar
dein Familienname ist Appeasement!", schrieb vor einigen Tagen Henryk M. Broder in der "Welt am Sonntag". Ein Satz, der einem nicht mehr aus dem Kopf geht, weil er so schrecklich richtig ist.
Appeasement kostete Millionen Juden und Nichtjuden das Leben, weil die Alliierten in England und Frankreich zu lange verhandelten und zögerten, bis sie merkten, daß man Hitler nicht einbinden, sondern nur bekämpfen kann. Appeasement stabilisierte den Sowjetkommunismus und die DDR, indem Teile Europas den inhumanen Unterdrückungsstaat zur ideologischen Alternative verklärten. Appeasement lähmte Europa, als im Kosovo der Völkermord wütete und man so lange debattierte, bis die Amerikaner dort unsere Aufgaben erledigten. Europäisches Appeasement, getarnt in dem Nebelwort "Äquidistanz", relativiert in Israel die Selbstmordattentate fundamentalistischer Palästinenser, anstatt die einzige Demokratie im mittleren Osten zu schützen. Appeasement prägt die Mentalität, wenn Europa im Irak über die 300 000 von Saddam ermordeten und gefolterten Opfer hinwegsieht und in friedensbewegter Selbstgerechtigkeit George Bush schlechte Noten erteilt. Und Appeasement in seiner groteskesten Form ist es schließlich auch, wenn man auf die eskalierende Gewalt islamistischer Fundamentalisten in Holland und anderswo mit dem Vorschlag reagiert, in Deutschland doch einen muslimischen Feiertag einzuführen.
Was muß noch passieren, bis die europäische Öffentlichkeit und das politische Führungspersonal realisieren: Es herrscht eine Art Kreuzzug, eine besonders perfide, auf Zivilisten konzentrierte, gegen unsere freien, offenen, westlichen Gesellschaften gerichtete System-Attacke fanatisierter Muslime. Ein Konflikt, der voraussichtlich länger dauern wird als die großen militärischen Auseinandersetzungen der letzten hundert Jahre. Geführt von einem Gegner, der sich nicht durch Toleranz und Entgegenkommen bezähmen läßt, sondern den solche Gesten, mißverstanden als Zeichen der Schwäche, nur anspornen.
Zwei amerikanische Präsidenten der jüngeren Vergangenheit hatten den Mut zu dezidiertem Anti-Appeasement: Reagan und Bush. Reagan beendete den Kalten Krieg, Bush erkannte - unterstützt nur von dem sozialdemokratischen Überzeugungspolitiker Tony Blair - die Gefahr des islamistischen Kampfes gegen die Demokratie. Seine historische Rolle wird in einigen Jahren zu bewerten sein.
Europa macht es sich einstweilen gemütlich in der multikulturellen Ecke, anstatt mit charismatischem Selbstbewußtsein die Werte der liberalen Gesellschaft zu verteidigen und im Spannungsfeld der wirklichen Weltmächte - Amerika und China - als attraktives Kraftzentrum zu agieren. Wir dagegen profilieren uns als Weltmeister der Toleranz gegenüber den Intoleranten, wie auch Otto Schily zu Recht kritisiert. Warum eigentlich? Weil wir so moralisch sind? Zu befürchten ist eher: weil wir so materialistisch sind.
Bush riskiert für seine Politik eine Abwertung des Dollar, eine zu hohe Verschuldung des Staates, eine massive und nachhaltige Belastung der amerikanischen Volkswirtschaft - weil es ums Ganze geht.
Doch während die angeblich so materialistischen Raubtierkapitalisten in Amerika ihre Prioritäten kennen, schützen wir die Pfründe unseres ängstlich verteidigten sozialen Wohlstandes. Bloß nicht einmischen, das könnte teuer werden. Da diskutieren wir lieber über die 35-Stunden-Woche, Zahnpflegeversorgungsansprüche und hören Fernsehpastoren zu, die den "Mördern die Hand reichen" wollen. In diesen Tagen erinnert Europa manchmal an eine alternde Tante, die ihre zittrigen Hände um ihre letzten Juwelen legt, während ein Räuber gerade bei den Nachbarn einbricht. Europa - dein Familienname ist Feigheit.

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Is Palestine Really Dead?

Bret Stephens asks Who Killed Palestine?, but the real question is whether or not Palestine is really dead, and if so, for how long. Resurrection is a common occurrence in the Middle East. Most of the current nation states of the Middle East were dead for varying amounts of time, ranging up to 2,000 years. Palestine may be no exception.
The PLO has also been dead several times - in 1970, and again in 1982, and has risen, if not on the third day, then soon after, stronger than before each time.
The apparent acquiescence of Arab countries, Israel and the Europeans in the existence of what is for all intents and purposes a Hamas state in Gaza, does not bode well for the future. On the other hand, the proposed cure of granting a state to the PLO controlled portion of the Palestinians is fraught with danger, as that too may be taken over by extremists.
Ami Isseroff
 Who Killed Palestine?
A failure with a thousand fathers.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 12:01 a.m.

Bill Clinton did it. Yasser Arafat did it. So did George W. Bush, Yitzhak
Rabin, Hosni Mubarak, Ariel Sharon, Al-Jazeera and the BBC. The list of
culprits in the whodunit called "Who Killed Palestine?" is neither short nor
mutually exclusive. But since future historians are bound to ask the question,
let's get a head start by suggesting some answers.

And make no mistake: No matter how much diplomatic, military and financial
oxygen is pumped into Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority, it's oxygen
flowing to a corpse. Palestine has always been a notional place, a field of
dreams belonging only to those who know how to keep it. Israelis have held on
to their state because they were able to develop the political, military and
economic institutions that a state requires to survive, beginning with its
monopoly on the use of legitimate force. In its nearly 14 years as an
autonomous entity, the PA has succeeded in none of that, despite being on the
receiving end of unprecedented international goodwill and largesse.

Hamas's seizure of the Gaza Strip this month--and the consequent division of
the PA into two hostile, geographically distinct camps--is only the latest in
a chain of events set in motion when Israel agreed, in September 1993, to
accept Arafat and the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the
Palestinian people. An early indicator of what lay ahead took place on July 1,
1994, when Arafat made his triumphal entry into Gaza while carrying, in the
trunk of his Mercedes, four of the Palestinian cause's most violent partisans.
Among them were the organizers of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre and the
1974 Ma'alot school massacre. If ever there was an apt metaphor for what
Arafat's rule would bring, this was it.

Arafat was determined to use Gaza and the West Bank as a staging ground for
attacks against Israel, and he said so publicly and repeatedly: "O Haifa, O
Jerusalem, you are returning, you are returning" (1995); "We will make life
unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion" (1996);
"With blood and spirit we will redeem you, Palestine" (1997). With equal
determination, the Clinton administration and the Israeli governments of
Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak treated Arafat's remarks as only so much
rhetorical bluster. Mr. Clinton desperately wanted a Nobel Peace Prize;
Israelis wanted out of the occupation business at almost any cost. These were
respectable goals, but neither had as its primary aim the creation of a
respectable Palestinian state.

Later, after the second intifada had erupted in all its suicidal frenzy,
former U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross would admit the Clinton administration
became too obsessed with process at the expense of substance. He should give
himself more credit. The decision to legitimize Arafat was Israel's, not
America's; once he was brought inside the proverbial tent he was bound to put
a match to it. Still, the Clinton administration elevated Arafat like no other
leader of the 1990s. If the rais came to flatter himself as a second Saladin,
the flattery of White House banquets surely played a role.

The global media also did their bit in Arafat's elevation. Successive
generations of Jerusalem bureau chiefs developed a conveniently even-handed
narrative pitting moderates on both sides against extremists on both sides--a
narrative in which Arafat was a "moderate" and Ariel Sharon was an
"extremist." When Mr. Sharon took his famous walk on the Temple Mount in
September 2000, it was easy to cast him as the villain and Palestinian
rioters--and, later, suicide bombers--as the justifiably aggrieved. Cheering
Palestinians on from the sidelines were the Arab media and the governments
that own them, happy to channel domestic discontent toward a foreign drama.

As with individuals, nations generally benefit from self-criticism, and
sometimes from the criticism of others. No people in modern history have been
so immune from both as the Palestinians. In 1999, Abdel Sattar Kassem, a
professor of political science in the Palestinian city of Nablus, put his name
to the "petition of the 20," written to "stand against [Arafat's] tyranny and
corruption." Arafat imprisoned him; the rest of the world barely took notice.
Arafat's global popularity reached its apogee in the spring of 2002, exactly
at the same time the civilian Israeli death toll from terrorism reached its

Yet what served Arafat's interests well served Palestinian interests poorly.
Arafat learned from his experience with Mr. Clinton that one could bamboozle
an American president and not pay a price. George W. Bush took a different
view and effectively shut the Palestinians out of his agenda. Arafat learned
from the "international community" that no one would look too closely at where
its foreign aid was spent. But a reputation for theft has been the undoing of
Fatah. Arafat thought he could harness the religious power of "martyrdom" to
his political ends. But at the core of every suicide bombing is an act of
self-destruction, and a nation that celebrates the former inevitably courts
the latter.

Above all, Arafat equated territory with power. But what the experience of an
unoccupied Gaza Strip has shown is the Palestinians' unfitness for political
sovereignty. There are no Jewish settlers to blame for Gaza's plight anymore,
no Israeli soldiers to be filmed demolishing Palestinian homes. The Israeli
right, which came to detest Mr. Sharon for pulling out of the Strip, might
reconsider its view of the man and the deed. Nothing has so completely soured
the world on the idea of a Palestinian state as the experience of it.

What does this mean for the future? At yesterday's summit in Egypt, Israeli
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian
King Abdullah threw rose petals at Mr. Abbas's feet. But the potentates of the
Middle East will not midwife into existence a state the chief political
movement of which has claims to both democratic and Islamist legitimacy. The
U.S. and Israel will never bless Hamastan (even if the EU and the U.N. come
around to it) and they can only do so much for the feckless Mr. Abbas.
"Palestine," as we know it today, will revert to what it was--shadowland
between Israel and its neighbors--and Palestinians, as we know them today,
will revert to who they were: Arabs.

Whether there might have been a better outcome is anyone's guess. But the
dream that was Palestine is finally dead.
Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His
column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.



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Israeli robots in your bloodstream - Zionists are taking over everything, right?

Hey guys - boycott this!
Last update - 12:51 26/06/2007   
By Guy Griml

Scientists at the Technion University, teamed with a researcher from the College of Judea and Samaria, have developed a miniature robot that can move within the bloodstream.
Researchers around the world have been trying to develop miniature, remote-controlled robots for minimally invasive medical treatments within the body.
"For the first time a miniature robot has been planned and constructed, that has the unique ability to crawl within the human body's veins and arteries," said Dr. Nir Shvalb of the College of Judea and Samaria on Monday.
"The robot will be able to crawl against the bloodstream with a force typical of blood vessels within the body without any problem, which has not been possible before."
Oded Salomon, researcher at the medical robotics lab in the Technion's engineering faculty, added that the miniaturization achievement is unprecedented, as is the ability to control the robot's activity for unlimited periods of time, for any medical procedure.
For comparison, the diameter of a similar robot which researchers at Kyoto University developed is one centimeter. The Israeli robot's diameter is one millimeter.
The new robot consists of a hub from which tiny arms stretch out, allowing the robot to strongly grip the vessel walls. The operators can manipulate the robot to move in increments, and its special structure allows it to crawl within a variety of vessels with differing diameters.
Blood vessels differ from each other in diameter, making it extremely important for the robot to possess the ability to be able to adjust accordingly.

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Al Qaeda changes its tune regarding Hamas

Nothing succeeds like success. Hamas toppled Fatah in Gaza and appears to have gotten away with it. Al Qaeda has moved from opposition to support, and it is likely that the support will be reciprocated. Those who thought Egypt would or should favor Hamas in order to fight Al-Qaeda appear to have been mistaken.
Ami Isseroff
Al-Qaeda's Zawahiri voices support for Hamas

by Taieb Mahjoub Mon Jun 25, 1:35 PM ET

DUBAI (AFP) - Osama bin Laden's right-hand man Ayman al-Zawahiri voiced backing for Hamas in an Internet tape on Monday and warned against any offensive to wrest control of Gaza from the Islamist movement.
In the audio message, Al-Qaeda's number two charged that Egypt and Saudi Arabia were planning to join an "offensive" against Hamas, which seized Gaza 10 days ago from the secular Fatah party of president Mahmud Abbas.
And in a dramatic change of tone, Zawahiri urged Muslim fighters to back Hamas with funds and weapons, saying it was a "religious duty."
"Today we must support the mujahedeen (holy warriors) in Palestine, including the Hamas mujahedeen, despite all the mistakes made by their leadership," Zawahiri said on the Al-Hasbah site often used by Al-Qaeda.
"Unite with all the mujahedeen of the world against an offensive being prepared... which the Egyptians and Saudis will join in," he said.
Zawahiri, who in the past spoke out vehemently against the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) for joining the political process in the Palestinian territories, urged the group to amend its policies.
"We tell our brothers, the Hamas mujahedeen, that we and the entire Muslim nation stands alongside you but you must redress your (political) path," said the man regarded as the brains of the Al-Qaeda network.
But the United States said it hoped Hamas would not offer Al-Qaeda refuge.
"We certainly hope that Hamas does not encourage nor allow Al-Qaeda operatives to use the Gaza Strip as a safe haven. That would do nothing for the Palestinian people," National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in Washington.
Zawahiri also warned, however, of pending instability "because the ground is being paved for an invasion of Gaza."
Quoting a British newspaper report, he claimed that Israel's new Defence Minister Ehud Barak was mobilising 20,000 men and warplanes to attack and destroy Gaza infrastructure.
"Muslims must join Hamas ranks... and we will back them by facilitating the passage of weapons and supplies from neighbouring countries," he said.
The recording was posted as Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah II were set to meet for a summit in Egypt seeking to bolster the Palestinian leader.
Hamas took power in March 2006 after a shock election victory over the long-dominant Fatah and then headed a unity government in a fractious power-sharing deal with Abbas's party.
But Abbas dismissed the unity cabinet headed by Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya after what he branded a military coup by the Islamist fighters and set up an emergency government that enjoys the support of the West.
A picture of Zawahiri was posted on the site along with the recording entitled "Forty Years Since the Fall of Al-Quds (Jerusalem)", a reference to Israel's occupation of the eastern sector of the holy city which it seized from Jordan in the 1967 Arab-Israel war.
The Egyptian-born Zawahiri frequently emerges in video or audio tapes to speak for the Al-Qaeda network. With the Al-Qaeda chief now staying out of the public eye, he has become its most senior spokesman as well.
The bearded, bespectacled Zawahiri has a 25-million-dollar US bounty on his head and officials say he is the Al-Qaeda network's main strategist and ideologist as well as its second-in-command.
In March, Zawahiri took aim at Hamas, accusing it of surrendering to Israel by agreeing to form a unity government created after a powersharing deal with Fatah brokered by Saudi Arabia in the holy city of Mecca.
"Today... the direction taken by Hamas has handed over to the Jews the greater part of Palestine," Zawahiri said then.

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Zionism is not racism speech included with the world's greatest

In his speech in reaction to the infamous "Zionism is racism" resolution of the UN General Assembly, Chaim Herzog defined Zionism as the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. The speech fell on deaf ears. The UN was intent on legalism terrorism as "legitimate resistance" and legislating racism as "human rights." But the speech will now be remembered as one of the world's greatest orations.

(VIDEO) Former president's UN speech against decision to define Zionism as racism, chosen by team of British historians to be included in book on speeches that changed the world
Ynet Published:  06.26.07, 08:31 / Israel News,7340,L-3417539,00.html
VIDEO - Thirty-two years after it was delivered before the UN Security Council, former president Chaim Herzog's speech on Zionism was chosen as one of the most important speeches in history by a team of British historians.
The speech will be included in the new edition of the book Speeches that Changed the World, set to be published in August.

On November 10, 1975, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 3379, which determined that "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination." Following the resolution's adoption, Herzog, then Israel's ambassador to the UN, took the podium and delivered an address that is considered to this day one of the most important speeches in the history of Israeli diplomacy.

Herzog said that the resolution was, "another manifestation of the bitter anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish hatred which animates Arab society." He ended his statement, while holding a copy of the resolution in his hand, with the words: "For us, the Jewish people, this resolution based on hatred, falsehood and arrogance, is devoid of any moral or legal value. For us, the Jewish people, this is no more than a piece of paper and we shall treat it as such."
As he concluded his speech, he tore the document in half.

The speech was chosen for the book by a group pf historians and researchers headed by Simon Sebag-Montefiore. "This is one pf the most important speeches in history in terms of the struggle against anti-Semitism," he explained.

The book will also include the speeches of Martin Luther King ("I Have a Dream"), Winston Churchill ("Blood, Sweat and Tears"), Nelson Mandela ("Free at Last") and John F. Kennedy ("Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You, Ask What You Can Do for Your Country").

Minister Isaac Herzog, the former president's son, said that the family was moved by the decision to include the speech in the book, a decision that conveys respect to Israel "and true appreciation to one of its greatest spokespeople."

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Sharm conference versus Gaza reality

The Sharm Summit was a big photo op. It was supposed to be a great support for Abbas, but Ehud Olmert stole the show by promising to release 250 Fatah prisoners. As explained by Aluf Benn:
Releasing the prisoners would be the most significant gesture that Olmert has made toward the Palestinians since entering office. Most of his other promises, mainly opening border passes and removing roadblocks, faded away due to the escalation in the security situation.
However, the number of released prisoners is small compared to previous Israeli gestures to Abbas in the days of Ariel Sharon. The criteria set by Sharon's government excluded Fatah veterans who have been jailed since before the Oslo agreements, or Marwan Barghouti. Therefore it is unlikely that the release would bolster Abbas' status in the West Bank and turn him into a powerful leader.
But Olmert scored at least one achievement with his surprising announcement of the release. He managed to even the score with Hamas, to a certain extent, for stealing the show from the Sharm summit by releasing the Shalit cassette a few hours earlier.
But after the summit, someone else stole the show from both Olmert and Abbas. A Fateh Al-Aqsa spokesperson announced that Palestinians need to "adhere to resistance." Abu Fuad said:
"the Israeli policies will be frustrated on the rock of the steadfastness of the people, as before. We confirmed that we are putting the issue of the prisoners at the top of our priorities".

....[leaders must] "expose the Israeli position and the barbaric way they are treating the Palestinian people." [He urged the] "the Arab League and the Islamic organizations to take a step forward, act in more responsible way and support the Palestinian people."
Isn't that strange? It helps to explain that Abu Fuad is in Gaza. Hamas is taking over the Fateh organization there, it seems.
Ami Isseroff

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Half-naked soldiers: Israel's latest propaganda campaign

The parts I liked best:
" One of the models who took part in the photo shoot said that "this particular bit of bikini modelling draws from the same spirit as the original Israeli settlers." She even said that it is "an act of Zionism."
Nothing like doing it for old glory.

"I wonder if the best way to encourage tourism is by advertising sex," said Labour party MP Colette Avital."

It is probably better than advertising war. On the other hand, encouraging tourism is not necessarily the major goal and rationale for existence of the Israeli government.

Al Jazeera is just jealous, but don't worry, the Saudi government is promising a Burqa fashion show. The Hamas will demonstrate the sexiness of female suicide bombers as well. That ought to draw big crowds.

Half-naked soldiers: Israel's latest propaganda campaign
23/06/2007 09:22:00 AM GMT Comments (27) Add a comment
All the models are said to have served in the Israeli Defence Force
"I wonder if the best way to encourage tourism is by advertising sex," said Labour party MP Colette Avital.
By Karima Saifullah
The Israeli government is desperate to improve its image and manipulate people who only link the Jewish state with wars, occupation and brutal aggression against the Palestinians. Recent polls show that Israel isn't well-regarded in the country's closest ally, the United States, where the majority of young men believe that the Jewish state is "too religious and too militaristic."
In an attempt to improve its tainted image, the Israeli consulate in New York came up with what could be described as a cheap idea: resorting to pornography by publishing images of half-naked female soldiers in the U.S. men's magazine Maxim; a move that was strongly condemned by Israel's religious right, who said that the government was degrading the Jewish state and promoting sex tourism.
"We found that Israel's image among men aged 18-38 is lacking, so we thought we'd approach them with an image they'd find appealing," said David Saranga, consul for media and public affairs at the Israeli consulate.
Maxim magazine, which promises its readers "girls, sex, sports" and usually avoids politics, initially refused the Israeli consulate's request to publish the photographs, but it changed its mind after it saw the pictures of 12 of Israel's top models.
"The Israeli models", Saranga said, were a "Trojan horse" to present Israel as a modern country with pretty women.
The photo feature, entitled "Women of the Israeli Defense Forces", will be published in Maxim's July issue. One of four former female soldiers photographed in their underwear in the magazine, Yarden, describes how she enjoyed firing her M16 rifle before she entered the military intelligence corp. Israeli model Nivit Bash - who served in Israeli military intelligence – also says sthat her job in intelligence was so secret that she cannot talk about it.
According to The Guardian, most Israeli women do compulsory military service for two years from the age of 18. While they do not fight in combat units, they undergo basic training and can be seen at checkpoints in the occupied West Bank. However, there is nothing military about the indecent photographs, which were taken in different locations in Tel Aviv.
Not everyone in Israel is excited about this cheap tourism campaign. Zahava Gal On, the leader of the Meretz party, said it's inappropriate for Israel to market itself using half-naked women. "It is unfortunate that the New York Consulate thinks that Israel's relevance will be expressed by the use of naked women who are treated as an object, and not as women of substance who exude achievement and success," she said.
Colette Avital, a member of the Labour party and the first woman to seek Israel's presidency, described the move as a "pornographic campaign sponsored by the Foreign and Tourism Ministries to encourage tourism".
"Israel's image has been tainted by sex-scandals involving high-ranking officials as it is. I wonder if the best way to encourage tourism is by advertising sex," she said.
Avital has already approached Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik and demanded an urgent meeting be called to discuss the campaign which Israel's Tourism Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich said the ministry has nothing to do with.
It's not the first time that Israel has used sex to advertise itself. The Israeli Ministry of Tourism has an advertising contract with Arsenal FC to promote Israel which features women in swimsuits. Israel wants to sell itself as a western country with beaches and nightclubs rather than a country full of religious sites which has been in a permanent state of emergency since its creation.
Despite the criticism over the naked photo shoot, Ambassador Arye Mekel, consul-general of Israel in New York, defended the consulate's decision and said: "Israel is always mentioned in the context of wars and violence. We want to show there is a normal life. Among the beautiful things we have are our women."
"This is the first time we used the word 'shoot' in connection to Israel and we're not talking about killing people," he added.
Former Miss Israel Gal Gadot also defended the campaign, arguing that she just used her "assets" to improve Israel's war-torn image.
One interesting fact is that all the outrage in Israel is focused on the idea of using women as sex objects to promote tourism. But what's more shocking is that sex here is not just being used to "improve" Israel's image, but also to promote Zionism and gloss over the bitter realities of Israel's occupation and apartheid.
One of the models who took part in the photo shoot said that "this particular bit of bikini modelling draws from the same spirit as the original Israeli settlers." She even said that it is "an act of Zionism."
"The fact that I can represent this country makes me proud," said Tali Handel, a 25-year-old former air force sergeant.
Although she said she'd never heard of Maxim before, Handel expected the article would be "serious" and encourage young Jewish males living in the United States to consider moving to Israel. "I don't see anything negative about it. Nothing else brings [people] here, not Jerusalem, not the beautiful nature. People are not interested. So, I think it's okay to use something else to bring them."

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Mossad spat and how security leaks happen

In the article Mossad deputy chief N. quits after spat with boss Dagan Haaretz tells us all about N., T., and H., but lets this slip:
Dagan had planned for T. and another senior officer, H., to undergo a period of evaluation as possible candidates to head the Mossad. Hadas was a candidate for the top job at the agency, along with Dagan, Mizrahi and Major General Shlomo Yanai. H. stepped down from his position as department head at the Mossad following Dagan's selection, and returned after a personal request from Sharon.
What the H.?
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 06:29 25/06/2007   

By Amir Oren, Haaretz Correspondent

The deputy head of the Mossad, N., a likely candidate to replace the chief of Israel's external intelligence organization, Meir Dagan, in the fall of 2008, has stepped down after a falling-out with his boss.
To fill the unexpected vacancy, Dagan restored his former deputy, T., to the post. T. had been "on loan" to the Israel Defense Forces.
This development nearly guarantees that Dagan will recommend him as his replacement, although there is no certainty that the prime minister will carry through with the appointment.
Former prime minister Ariel Sharon appointed Dagan in October 2002 to replace Ephraim Halevy, ignoring Halevy's recommendation that his deputy, Ilan Mizrahi, succeed him.
T.'s identity has been made public in the past, but his return to his former position in the Mossad has led the censorship authorities to reimpose restrictions on revealing his name. This contradicts the precedent set by Benjamin Netanyahu's government, which in 1998 announced the appointment of Major General Amiram Levine as the (first) deputy to Halevy.
Originally, Dagan's tenure was set at five years and was extended a year by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Upon his appointment, Dagan promised Sharon to qualify two internal candidates as possible replacements at the head of the organization.
Personal request from Sharon
Dagan had planned for T. and another senior officer, H., to undergo a period of evaluation as possible candidates to head the Mossad. Hadas was a candidate for the top job at the agency, along with Dagan, Mizrahi and Major General Shlomo Yanai. H. stepped down from his position as department head at the Mossad following Dagan's selection, and returned after a personal request from Sharon.
T. and H. were appointed to positions between department heads and the head of the Mossad, and they had been expected to switch roles halfway through their tenure.
H. had a falling-out with Dagan, and he retired from the organization once more. T. was then sent as an instructor at the National Security College and served as an adviser in the operations branch at the General Staff. He was replaced by the former head of Tzomet, the branch that runs agents.
In recent years N. excelled in two particular tasks he was assigned - the diplomatic efforts against Iran's nuclear ambitions, and intelligence on Hezbollah. Under N. the relations between Mossad and the IDF also improved. Traditionally, the relationship between the Mossad and Military Intelligence has been tense.
The working relations between Dagan and N. had been considered to be good, but they hit a wall of late. Last week the Mossad head and his deputy concluded that they can no longer continue performing as a team.
Version vs. version
According to one version of events, N. was tired of the atmosphere that had developed and resigned.
Another version claims that Dagan decided to cancel N.'s appointment.
With the departure of N., T. was recalled immediately from the IDF to fill the void, and he has effectively become the sole internal candidate to replace Dagan in 18 months.
T. is considered to be affiliated with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. During the raid on Entebbe in 1976, he was part of the forward command group of Yonatan Netanyahu.
The head of the Mossad is appointed by the government following a recommendation by the prime minister, who is his immediate boss. The appointment requires the approval of the Senior Appointments Advisory Committee, headed by retired judge Yaakov Terkel.
Traditionally, IDF generals have an advantage in the appointments, and an internal appointment to head the organization is made only if there is some difficulty bringing in someone from the General Staff.
Shavit was appointed head of the Mossad from inside the organization's ranks only after prime minister Yitzhak Shamir decided to keep his first choice, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, in the IDF as a candidate to become the chief of staff.
The appointment of the new Mossad chief depends mostly on who will be prime minister in the summer of 2008.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Qassams keep falling - despite Hamas promises

Hezbollah boasted that they would stop the rain of Qassam rockets on Sderot. But they can't deliver it seems, or they do not want to.
Two rockets launched towards southern Israel, three people injured after second rocket lands in backyard of Sderot home
Shmulik Hadad Published:  06.24.07, 11:05 / Israel News

Three people were lightly injured when a Qassam rocket launched from the northern Gaza Strip landed in the backyard of a Sderot home Sunday morning.

The "Color Red" alert system was activated in the southern town, and several residents suffered from shock.

The al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad's military wing, claimed responsibility.
The rocket caused damage to the home, which was also hit by a Qassam in May. The three residents who were injured in Sunday morning's attack were taken to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.
 Another rocket landed just outside the town earlier in the day. No injuries or damages were reported.

The rockets were the first to be launched towards the town since Wednesday, when five Qassam landed in Sdeort, injuring three of the town's residents.
Sources in the Southern Command said that defensive operations at the security fence and in the vicinity would continue regardless of the situation in the Gaza Strip.

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Fatah claim: 'Iran behind Hamas coup in Gaza'

Fatah is claiming Iranian involvement in the Hamas coup. It may be direct and it may also be indirect, since Iranian ally Syria controls Khaled Meshal. It cannot be imagined that this move would not have been coordinated with Syria. Actually, in a Der Spiegel interview with Zahar discussed below, he did say that Hamas had gotten $42 million from Iran, but he also mentioned even larger sums from Libya and Kuwait. Several months ago, Fateh claimed to have caught Iranian personnel in Gaza, but it is not clear they produced any evidence to support the claim.
Ami Isseroff

Palestinian intelligence chief accuses Iran of training, funding Hamas militants. Notes Syrian-based Hamas leaders met Gazan Hamas leader a month prior to PA coup
Associated Press Published:  06.24.07, 14:13 / Israel News

The Palestinian intelligence chief accused Iran of close involvement in Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza Sunday, saying Tehran funded the Islamic militants and trained hundreds of them.
The intelligence chief, Tawfiq Tirawi, said the battle for Gaza earlier this month was carefully orchestrated.

"It was a joint program with Iran," he said. In implied criticism of Syria, he noted that Hamas' leadership is based there, stating that a month before the battle for Gaza began, the Syrian-based leaders of Hamas met with the heads of the Hamas military wing in an undisclosed Arab capital.

"In this meeting, they discussed all the details of the operation," said Tirawi in a news conference.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri dismissed the allegations of Hamas-Iran cooperation as "baseless fabrication" and denied Hamas fighters had been trained in Iran.

On Saturday, Hamas hardliner Mahmoud Zahar was quoted as telling a German news magazine Der-Spiegel that he had personally carried $42 million in cash from Iran across the Gaza-Egypt border.
Tirawi warned that Hamas militants are hoarding weapons in the West Bank and might try to target Palestinian government installations there.

The West Bank is a stronghold of the rival Fatah movement of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

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Syria: The carousel of dialogue

A Syrian reformist explains what is wrong with US policy, and how the Assad regime uses US democracy for its own ends.

The Carousel of Dialogue

Washington DC, June 24, 2007/RPS Opinion - Farid Ghadry/ -- There is something quite unique about western democracies and Middle Eastern autocracies. One rotates its leaders every few years to energize and advance the cause of change and the other continues its tradition of sustaining aging fixtures beholden to ideologies and eras long deemed unfit. In the case of Syria, the whole country is held hostage to the whim of a violent and unwise man scurrying to imitate a father whose own past has condemned Syria to a meaningless history.

Although democracies in the western world are a source of glory to its people, in certain instances, it has been a source of misery to ours. As new western leaders are elected to lead their nations, invariably they all start with a clean slate including the one that opens new channels with dictatorships in the hope of making a difference. Every western leader believes he or she can do better with the likes of Assad and Ahmadinajead and attempts to bolster their image of statesmanship by making the pilgrimage to Damascus or Tehran in the hope of striking a peaceful deal that would immortalize him/her forever.

In Damascus, this carousel of dialogue serves the system well because it can bolster its own image all the while making a mockery of the good intended western leaders. It takes few years before these leaders realize that Assad and Ahmadinajead are not people who eye diplomacy as a solution but rather as a trap to buy more time or to delay for just another western leader to take over and to repeat the same mistakes. The unfortunate truth about this reality is that while leaders of the world are doing what is in the best interests of their nations, the Syrian and the Iranian peoples simply continue suffering at the expense of their learning curve.

Then we have leaders who know that it is impossible to open a meaningful dialogue with Syria and Iran but continue calling for such dialogue while standing on the sidelines. Failures of such talks will not be debited from their own political credit as they are not at risk of causing these failures themselves. Characteristically of those "sideline leaders" is the notion of vision they embark on adopting while leaving someone else's to pick the political losses of another spin of the carousel of dialogue.

Violent dictators will always be violent no matter how well intentioned western leaders are. Assuming that a meaningful exchange can take place between two statesmen under which a framework of a real diplomatic mission can produce real results is a faulty assumption. People like Assad and Ahmadinajead are real thugs in the real sense of the word and for anyone to assume that these two violent leaders can be either peeled from each other or can be trusted to act with civility are doing so at their own peril and that of their people.

When Abe Suleiman, Assad's backchannels envoy, traveled to Israel in April of 2007, he visited with the families of the Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah. Think about this. Assad instigates Hezbollah to attack Israel in the summer of 2006 that netted 8 Israeli soldiers killed and the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers then he sends an envoy to pay respect to the families of the kidnapped soldiers. This is the sick mind you are dealing with and the Syrian people have been suffering from over the last seven years and counting.

The biggest blunder of US diplomacy vis-à-vis Syria took place when someone at the US State Department decided, and publicly supported, the claim that "regime change" in Syria is not the objective but rather "behavior change" is. If someone wanted to send a message of more violence to Assad, they could not have done a better job. Removing "regime change" off the table produced a more intransigent Assad and helped to create a bigger monster. Use of force should never, ever be off the table against rogue and violent regimes. It is the only matter that scares them and against which they will assess and measure their own violent streak. It behooves the US State Department, if it really wants behavioral change, to reassess its policy about Syria in light of the failure of what the goodwill signal called "behavior change" did to change Assad.

Unless a policy change about Syria is seriously considered and adopted by this administration, Lebanon will be lost to the forces of evil, Israel will suffer slowly as it fights Hamas and defends itself against more rockets emanating from Lebanon and Gaza by Syrian-induced instigations, and Iraq will continue on its path of vacillating and on the brink of a total civil collapse. If the Bush administration ever has any chance of saving the vision of freedom and human rights so eloquently laid down by President Bush in the Prague Conference of June 2007, it must not shy away from the toughest decisions during the toughest of times.  

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

Continued (Permanent Link)

Hamas: Thank you America - We will establish an Islamic state in Gaza; American aid has been used for weapons

- American aid has reduced the price of bullets to 35 cents apiece in Gaza.
- Hamas intends to form an Islamic state.
- in his opinion, if there were free elections, all Middle East states would be Islamic.
- Hamas got over $70 million from Iran since the Hamas government was formed.

Ulrike Putz SPIEGEL ONLINE - June 22, 2007, 03:59 PM

'We Will Try to Form an Islamic Society'

Mahmoud Zahar -- a founder of Hamas, and one of its most militant hardliners -- has called for an Islamic state in the Gaza Strip. After the Hamas takeover of the territory last week, he's also threatened Fatah with more violence in the West Bank.

 SPIEGEL ONLINE: After heavy fighting, Hamas won control over the Gaza Strip last Saturday. But it's not clear what your party now intends to do. The assumption in the Western world is that Hamas wants to establish an Islamic state in Gaza. Is this true?

Zahar: Of course. We want to do that, but with full support of the people. At the moment we can't establish an Islamic state because we Palestinians have no state. As long as we don't have a state, we will try to form an Islamic society.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How would a Hamas-led Islamic state look?

Zahar: There would be no difference from how it looks today, because our customs and traditions in Gaza are already Islamic. Marriage, divorce, daily business -- everything is Islamic. As soon as we have a state, then everyone will have their freedom. Christians will remain Christians, parties could be secular or even Communist.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: If an Islamic state is the ideal, why are there not more of

Zahar: If there were free and fair elections throughout the Arab world, Islamic forms of government would win everywhere. Islam is against the corruption, weakening, and materialism which have destroyed societies in Europe and America. Families are broken (in the West); there are AIDS and drugs. We don't have such things here.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The international community plans to release all the aid money it has withheld from Palestinians for over a year to the Fatah government in the West Bank. Will the West Bank become a kind of luxury-Palestine, while the Gaza Strip starves?

Zahar: Fatah in the West Bank will receive money, and they will have to pass it on to Gaza. If it doesn't, it will lose Gaza forever. We would also have to search for alternatives. We have a very good image among people throughout the Arab world. If we want, we can get $5 million per month in donations from Egypt. We have also received money from foreign countries in the past -- $82 million from Kuwait, $50 million from Libya. I personally once brought $20 million from Iran to the Gaza Strip in a suitcase. No, actually twice -- the second time it was $22 million.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What will improve for people in Gaza now that Hamas is in control?

Zahar: The good thing is that we can now collect information about our enemies and informants from foreign powers. We will look for Israel's spies.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The militant wings of Fatah and Hamas have been fully armed over the last few months. Are these weapons still in circulation?

Zahar: There are naturally very many weapons around now. Two years ago, one bullet in Gaza cost around EURO 3.50 -- now it would cost 35 cents. The American aid money has been translated into weapons. Thank you, America!

Continued (Permanent Link)

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