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Saturday, July 7, 2007

Palestinian cell phone hit mocks Hamas, Fatah

Palestinian youths listen to song mocking Fatah and Hamas on their mobile phones
Date: 07 / 07 / 2007  Time:  15:30


Gaza - Ma'an - Palestinians youths in the West Bank and Gaza Strip can listen to a one-and-a-half minute song on their mobile phones slamming both Fatah and Hamas. The producer of the song refused to reveal his identity for fear of both movements.

The new song uses rap music, it demands Palestinian leaders to either solve their problems or leave the Palestinian people alone.

"Either you solve it or leave us. Government and presidency have aroused the fire of dispute. Oh Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh, the Palestinian people are suffering from the civil war."

The song derides the Palestinian rival parties and says that their dispute revolved around power rather than Palestinian interests.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Arabs court Christians including Christian Zionists

The message of this "historic meeting" seems clear. The Arab states have understood that a major factor in the "Israel Lobby" is not the Jews, but Christians, and they are going to try to erode support for Israel by providing missionary opportunities.
Zionists may find out that there are much worse possibilities in Christianity than Christian Zionism.
Christians and Muslims in historic meeting
Jonathan Falwell - World Net Daily commentary
Posted: July 7, 2007

On Monday, July 2, I attended what I can only pray may become a historic meeting. Several weeks ago, I received a call about attending a meeting at the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, D.C. I was told this meeting would be hosted by the ambassador from Egypt and might be attended by representatives of other Arab nations, as well as by 10-15 pastors, evangelists and Christian media representatives.

My interest stirred, I agreed to attend the meeting even though I was not quite sure of its purpose. I asked Dr. Ron Godwin, Liberty University's executive vice president, to attend with me. When we arrived at the Embassy, we were greeted by Evangelist Benny Hinn and introduced to several other pastors, evangelists, Christian TV producers and representatives of Christian organizations. Among them were Gordon Robertson of the 700 Club, Paul Crouch Jr. of Trinity Broadcasting Network, Christian lobbyist Ralph Reed, Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals, Vernon Brewer of WorldHelp and several others.

Within a period of no more than 10 minutes, the ambassadors from Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Kuwait, Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain and the ambassador from the Arab League of Nations all arrived. I now realized that this meeting was far more than a social gathering. Soon thereafter, we sat down at a large table - evangelicals all on one side and Arab representatives on the other, about 24 of us - for lunch.

The Egyptian ambassador began by graciously saying that we should not worry about diplomacy at this meeting. He went on to emphasize that we should have an open, honest conversation about what is necessary for bridges to be built between Islam and American Christians. At that moment, I realized that the meeting might, indeed, offer far greater potential than I had imagined.

Over the course of several hours, a great deal of candid conversation took place - conversation on the Americans' part that just might begin to crack open the doors to religious freedom in nations where it is now practically forbidden.

One of the ambassadors mentioned that American Christians seemed always to favor Israel in all situations, even when Israel was wrong. He asked if it might be possible that Christians become more "balanced" in our support of Israel.

The answer to this question came from the former head of the Christian Coalition, Ralph Reed. Ralph said that we, as Christians, do take our support of Israel very seriously. Ralph went on to say that our support of Israel comes from our belief in the Scriptures and that this rendered our support for Israel largely nonnegotiable. However, with that understood, Ralph went on to say that we would also love to build far more positive relationships with Arab nations.

We told the ambassadors that we loved the Arab people no more, but certainly no less, than the Israelis. We shared the scriptural truth that God loves the entire world and sent His Son to die for all, regardless of their nationality. Thus, we stated that our love for Arabs was just as important a priority to us as is our love for Israel.

The conversation then turned to the perception among American Christians of the Arab world. I shared that as Christians, we are strongly pro-life, and, that while the vast majority of Christians in America speak out against the horrors of abortion, we never condone or tolerate violence against those who disagree with us on this issue. I went on to say that there is a very small minority in the pro-life community who do resort to violence, and that when they do, the rest of us strongly and publicly condemn their actions. We make it known that we do not support any such violence, and we do everything possible to stop it.

I then told the ambassadors that, likewise, they should strongly condemn the violent actions of their radicals as well. I shared that this would amount to a huge step toward changing perceptions of Muslims in our country. While I may never know if these words will be heeded, I do know they heard these words loud and clear.

We went on to discuss humanitarian and educational assistance. We told them that, as Christians, we welcome the opportunity to work with them to offer humanitarian aid in their countries. And, while we take the Great Commission very seriously, we understand that humanitarian aid only offered with proselytizing strings attached generates great distrust.

We also offered Liberty University to bring fully accredited, American education to their countries through our Distance Learning Program. We shared how any student in their countries could receive a fully accredited American university degree online. We also offered to allow students from their countries to attend LU in our resident program. Throughout this portion of the discussion, we made it clear that LU was a Christian institution and that the only kind of education the world's largest evangelical Christian university would ever offer would be Christ-centered, without apologies.

As the meeting neared its end, one of the ambassadors shared what may be one of the most promising statements made during the entire two hours. He said we must understand that Americans have always been accepting of other religions and faiths because that is how we were founded. He went on to say that their nations did not come from the same background. And, in what could be a glimmer of hope for the freedom to worship in the Arab world, he said we must understand that they are trying to head in that direction as well. He said he knows it has been a slow process, but they truly desire to make the acceptance of other religions a reality in their respective nations.

We all agreed this would not be the last meeting. We promised that this dialogue would continue, that we were willing to visit their countries, meet their people, and attempt to continue the conversation to build a more peaceful future for our children and theirs. And then, we closed the meeting in prayer, in Jesus' name!

This truly was a historic meeting.


Continued (Permanent Link)

The cloudy future of the Jewish people

From Shmuel Rosner we learn about this view of the future of the Jews:
A working paper prepared for next week's Conference on the Future of the Jewish People, sponsored by The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, contains the following assessment: "The future of the Jewish People is not assured, through there are great opportunities" for thriving.
Gee whizz. "On the one hand this, but on the other hand that." For that sort of analysis, we didn't need experts.  And there is also this insight:
Another paper, entitled "The Jewish People in 2030," suggests that the world is unlikely to see a significant increase in the number of Jews. Furthermore, it states, "the Jewish people is facing a serious problem of high quality leadership, spiritual, political and professional with no clear trend of improvement."
"You don't say," on both counts. Dennis Ross, for once, is not off the mark at all:
"One has to retain a sense of humility," says Dennis Ross, former peace envoy during the Clinton administration and now, among other things, chairman of the JPPPI.
Humility would appear to be wise, especially in this circumstance. There is so much to be humble about. And here is a bit of understatement.
"The whole profile of the Jewish people is changing," states another of the conference working papers. These are lengthy, detailed accounts of familiar problems. Groups whose children tend to marry non-Jews at a high rate, and which have low fertility rates, will be reduced in number and influence.
A more succinct way of saying it is that the Jewish people outside Israel at least, are facing extinction. The Jewish people have been poised on the brink of disaster for about 2,000 years. The emancipation and the enlighenmnet gave them a little shove forward inasmuch as they did not find, quickly enough, a cohesive national solution that would be a barrier to assimilation. That solution was Zionism, but it was not embraced by the vast majority of Jews. The Holocaust gave another shove toward the abyss. The question to be answered by history is whether or the Jewish people, despite itself, could be rescued from extinction at 1 second to zero hour by the Zionist movement,  or whether the fanatics and the schnorrers and the machers of Shalom Aleichem's shtetl will overcome the Zionist movement and remake Israel in their own image. Can Zionism provide Jews with a positive vision, inspiring enough to motivate a return to Judaism, without descending into fanaticism and barbarism? 
This note is not encouraging:
As for the Jewish people in 2030, the conference papers' prognosis covers all bases: either "thriving," "drifting" "defending" or "dismal." JPPPI Director-General Avinoam Bar-Yosef, who sounded ready for skeptical questions on the essence of planning a people's future, conceded in a telephone conversation from Jerusalem that the Jewish people had survived until now without any planning. On the other hand, he said, "maybe if they had planned things, the situation would be better."
It looks like they have all the bases covered. "Dismal" is probably the closest, but it is overly optimistic. Ben-Gurion said some thing like, "There are no experts on the future. We are the experts, because we are making the future." But Ben Gurion was of that generation of Jews who finally gave up on waiting for the Messiah and shrugging their shoulders when the pogromists and the representatives of the inquisition came instead of the Messiah. Now it turns out that this change in character may be temporary. Haven't Jews learned not to wait for what the future brings? Left to itself, the future will bring only more bad news. Yes of course, if Jews had planned things, perhaps they would have gotten out of Europe ahead of the Holocaust, and built a strong Zionist community in Palestine, instead of sending a trickle of immigrants in the 20s. Nobody planned for the Holocaust. But nobody is doing much about the dismal situation in the Diaspora, which requires a lot of imagination and innovation. As usual, the "powers" that be are opposed or apathetic, just as they were in the 20s of the last century.
Judaism will not survive in the modern world without reinventing itself, to provide an attractive and worthwhile vision and reference group to non-religious Jews, and an easy path of entry for those who want to join or re-join the Jewish nation.  
Zionism will not survive in the twenty first century either, unless it can provide a positive vision of Israel as a modern society, rather than a society of religious zealots bent on settlement projects and rebuilding the temple.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Peace Paradox or wishful thinking?

In Peace Paradox , Sarah Kass tells us:

Short of an immediate and coordinated war against Israel -- a war that would require Saudi Arabia to collaborate with Iran, and Fatah to collaborate with Hamas; a war between the Arabs and Israel that would complicate the other on-going war between the Arabs and America -- Mr. Abbas has little alternative but to call for a peace with Israel. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt have few plausible other means to put Iran in its proper place. And the Western Europeans could well exploit the moment to their advantage by cementing alliances with a more humble U.S. and a more energy-dependable and energy-rich Sunni Arab world, rather than banking their energy, and economic, future on a fickle Iran and a belligerent Russia, with China lurking in the wings.


An opportunity for peace? Might be, but so many others were lost just because everyone did the wrong things at the wrong time.  Abbas for his part, has been calling for negotiations with Israel (didn't anyone notice?) but the terms he is offering are not so good: he wants right of return for Palestinian refugees, so this "peace" looks like destruction of Israel, and on the other hand, he cannot really deliver more than the West Bank.

Kass is constructing an alternative Middle East for us:

Up to now, autocrats in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and much of the Arab world have demonized Israel in order to consolidate their own diplomatic and domestic power. Hamas's coup has changed the game. Suddenly, the autocrats realize that should Israel be defeated, the West Bank would fall to Hamas, helping revolutionary Iran secure its hold on the region while slicing in half the entire Sunni Middle East.

Kass has not been reading the Saudi and Egyptian statements, and those of others, calling on Abbas to negotiate with Hamas for a return of the "unity" government.

Here are a lot of supposes:

The clock is ticking. Hamas does not have much time, which means Fatah does not have much time either. Suppose, however, as all the polls have been saying for years, that ordinary West Bank Palestinians in fact favor peace with Israel so long as the Arab notables  --   in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and particularly Saudi Arabia — bless the terms of the peace. Suppose, too, that despite its congenital inability in past situations to sort out the "logic of hope," today's Palestinian leadership has the Sadat-like cunning to sort out the present situation's "logic of power." Finally, suppose the Europeans --  especially now under the leadership of Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and Gordon Brown  --   suspended their appeasement of their former colonies and attended to the Sino-Russian-Iranian oil cartel building up against them and their energy supplies. Then we could imagine the following scenario:

First, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pre-emptively denounces any Hezbollah or Syrian saber-rattling against Israel as a precursor to a Hamas-led Iranian assault on the Palestinian people. Second, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt reframe the casus belli from Israeli to Iranian occupation, changing the subject from a few dusty settlement trailers on hilltops near Hebron to the violent Iranian proxies in Lebanon and Palestine. Third, Tony Blair links future European financial support of Fatah to the West Bank's negotiating an immediate and enduring peace with Israel.

On the heels of this one-two-three punch, the regional and international alliances could rapidly be redrawn. Mr. Abbas ends the state of war with Israel and declares a Palestinian state in the West Bank. Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia bless the terms of the peace after some proper diplomatic back and forth, with Mr. Blair taking the lead while the American president declares vigorous support. Before the year is out, Egypt and Jordan (with Israel's acquiescence) back Mr. Abbas in a military campaign to liberate Gaza from its Iranian proxy, proclaiming for Gaza's Palestinians (as well as for the Palestinians in all the refugee camps) their rightful citizenship in the newly established state of Palestine.

By next year Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel could be rolling back Hezbollah from southern Lebanon, and, with France's help, rolling back Syria from the rest of Lebanon. A Palestinian peace and a Lebanese rollback would materially compromise Syria's geopolitical situation and likely move it away from its flirtations with Iran. In the meantime, under the bright light of Palestinian statehood and some anti-terror momentum in Israel's and Palestine's environs, American troops could pull out of Iraq under the auspices of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and a non-Iranian, Iraqi Shiite majority, with a weakened Syria no longer jamming the works on the border.

In the first place, Hamas has all the time in the world. The Caliphate was not built in a day after all. Secondly, it is Israel and Abbas who have no time, because in a year or two the USA may be out of Iraq in the worst way possible, and a new president will have a very different attitude to the whole Middle East question. If there is a real Iraq debacle, which is likely, nobody in the USA will want to hear about the Middle East. The wall isolation of around Hamas is crumbling, and everyone knows it. If and when the US pull out of Iraq, the US will be powerless to stop the EU, the Arab countries and Russia from breaking the isolation of Hamas. Abbas's clock is ticking. He is an old man, and he has no support among the Fateh radicals. He cannot propose reasonable peace terms and stay in office. Probably, he cannot propose reasonable peace terms and stay alive. Olmert's clock is ticking. His government rests on shaky foundations. One false move and he is out of office. And there is one other clock ticking. Syria is threatening war. If there are any peace moves such as Kass describes, Iran and Syria are sure to seize the moment. Syria will lose a war with Israel in objective military terms, as Syria lost every other war with Israel. But Syria and Iran will win a great diplomatic victory as defenders of the Arab and Islamic (read: Islamist) causes and will unite the Arabs behind them. Perhaps an oil embargo -- a real one -- will follow.

Perhaps the otherwise conservative editors of the Wall Street Journal were smoking something good when they decided to publish this article by Kass.

Hat tip: Israpundit

Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Dennis Ross: Current policies will bring war with Iran


We are headed on a pathway now that will lead to the use of force. We don't want it to be that way. It doesn't have to be that way. There are alternatives, but the clock is ticking.

It is probably an accurate assessment, except for the fact that short of invasion, nobody really has the military means to stop Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs. Invasion of Iran is out of the question entirely for Israel of course, and it would be a major and risky undertaking for the United States.

Ross tells us:

For Israel, the "redline" is not so much when Iran has enough enrichment capacity for weapons-grade material. Their deadline is 18 months from now when Iran's air defense system, which is being upgraded by the Russians, will be completed. That will make it much more difficult to successfully strike Iran's nuclear capacity from the air. The closer we get to that window without resolution of the Iranian nuclear problem, the more Israel will feel compelled to strike.

If indeed that is the redline posed by Israel, it is somewhat questionable. It is unlikely that Israel has the military means to wipe out all of the nuclear capacity by air attacks. Most of it is housed in bomb-proof underground bunkers, and some of which is probably carefully hidden from the outside world. If Iran is working on nuclear warheads, as would seem likely from captured plans, they aren't going to hang a sign outside the plant that says, "Secret nuclear warhead plant." The "Watch factory" at Natanz that makes centrifuges and the Arak reactor that can produce fissionable materials were both discovered through reports of opposition organizations, sources that are now likely "plugged."

Ross insists that Europeans and Russians must take a tougher stance and vote for meaningful sanctions:

Successful diplomacy is an alignment of objectives and means. So, three things need to happen on the diplomatic front, all geared to getting the Europeans to more seriously sanction Iran on the economic front. The Europeans are the key here, especially Germany and Italy with their credit guarantees, which are economic lifelines for the Iranians.

 While at the same time, he believes the US should join the talks with Iran:

Third, the United States must join with the Europeans in direct talks with Iran the way it did with others over North Korea. Europeans know they will only be able to reach a deal with Iran if the U.S. is at the table.

He also believes the Saudis and the Israelis have a role to play:

First, the Saudis must push Europe. An Iran with nuclear weapons is a profound threat to Saudi Arabia, which fears that Iran will be able to hide behind a nuclear shield behind which they can engage in coercion and subversion across the Middle East. The Saudis could use their economic clout in Europe to affect the choices of European banks, investment houses and governments which have links to Iran.

Second, the Israelis need to go the Europeans and say, "If you think you are on a path that will avoid war, you are mistaken. You are increasing the risk of war because we will not be able to live with an Iran with nuclear weapons."

Some of Ross's ideas are dubious to say the least. He seems not to have noticed that President Ahmadinejad visited Saudi Arabia and was afforded due honors, or that the Saudis are backing the Iranian backed Hamas government in Gaza. Evidently, the Saudis have either given up on the United States or were never really there for the US. They have already placed their bets on the Iranian horse apparently.

As for Israel, it has certainly made it clear to the Europeans that Israel cannot live with a nuclear Iran, but the Europeans do not believe them and are not interested in listening. In fact, the more Iran is made into an Israel issue, the less likely are the chances of success. Ahmadinejad, like Hitler, has understood that attacking the Jews affords protection. No politician or statesman will risk war for Jews. It was true in Europe of 1939. It is certainly true of the Arab states today. It is probably true of most EU countries, whose diplomats consider Israel to be "that sh*tty little country" even if most of them do not say so.  

Ross also believes, somewhat naively that:

Ross: The Iranian ruling elite is split between those who are intransigent and think they can live with isolation, and those who don't. For me, the incident a few months back when the British sailors were taken hostage was instructive. The Revolutionary Guard, which seized the sailors, didn't want to release them unless they got something for it. They got nothing because the decision to release the British sailors was imposed on them from above.

In the end, the balance of power will shift toward those in the elite who want to avoid war, economic misery and social unrest. Look at the turmoil that has erupted already over the relatively modest rationing of gasoline! Sanctions would make the unsettled atmosphere in Iran much more acute.

Ross forgot that the regime has been skillful at using outside pressure to unify its people. That is the secret of such regimes. In history, no regime, however shaky, was toppled simply by outside pressure. Hitler lasted until Soviet artillery was bombarding Berlin, despite the enormous suffering of the German people. The Tsarist regime held out despite the well organized and motivated revolutionary underground and the enormous pressure created by battle losses and an almost total shipping blockade. Saddam Hussein, subjected to supposedly draconian sanctions, remained in power until American tanks appeared on the outskirts of Baghdad, and his political ghost may still be a force in Iraq. Gamal Abdul Nasser, who ruined the Egyptian economy, embarked on lunatic adventures in Yemen and was responsible for the disaster of the Six Day War, did not lose power because of that war or his other disastrous misadventures. What regime lost power because of outside pressure, short of outright military conquest? In Iran today, there is no organized opposition. If there is sufficient pressure, the Mullahs who control Ahmedinejad might clip his wings and put a prettier face on the same policy. Instead of a public nuclear enrichment program, there will be a clandestine one. They can tone down some of the anti-Israel rhetoric, but they aren't going to stop working for a world without America and Zionism. That is a goal of the Marj al Taqlid - the Ayatollah Khomeini, rather than being just a whim of Ahmadinejad. The nuclear program did not begin with Ahmadinejad. It got its greatest impetus in fact, under the "reformist" regime of Khatami that preceded him.

Ross's analysis of the Israeli political scene is about as accurate as it is possible for such an analysis to be. For Huffington post, the great fear is the return of Benjamin Netanyahu. Ross states:

Dennis Ross: If there were an election today, Netanyahu would win. Yet, his standing in the polls is also a reflection of the weakness of Ehud Olmert, the current prime minister -- who stands at 2 percent in a recent poll -- and the enduring weaknesses of the Labor Party.

Netanyahu's prospects when an election is actually called will depend largely on whether Ehud Barak, another former prime minister and war hero who is now defense minister, can restore credibility to this government and to himself as a leader.

For the moment, this government is more stable than generally believed because half of those in the Israeli Knesset would stand to lose their seats if an election were called now.

So, there is a predisposition against calling an election. I don't think we'll see an election until the fall of 2008.

The larger issue is how Netanyahu might act on Iran compared to others. My view is, Netanyahu or not, there is a very strong view in the Israeli security establishment that they cannot live with an Iran with nuclear weapons.

That is the conventional wisdom. However, Labor, Israel Beitenu and the Shas party would probably gain seats in a new election, and Labor on the one hand, and right wing coalition partners on the other, will be tearing the government in different directions. After the final Winograd report is published, this summer, it is likely, if they are honest, that Ehud Olmert's position as Prime Minister will become untenable. At that point, the "Kadima" party will probably fall apart, in the same way as every centrist party before it has disintegrated for one or another reason: Dash, The Centrist party and Shinui (Tommy Lapid) are all memories, and Kadima will vanish too. It was living on borrowed time ever since Ariel Sharon's stroke. As for who will win, it should be remembered that Barak is the mirror image of Shimon Peres. Barak always loses in every opinion survey, and always seems to win elections. But under the Israeli system, the government is formed by the party that has the best chance of forming a coalition. 

Labor is given 25 seats in recent surveys, a big improvement, but less than the 31 of the Likud. Even if Labor wins, it is not likely they could form a government without the Likud party, as they would not have a majority even with Meretz and Shas.

Gardel and Ross also do not understand that it is generally the Labor governments that speak softly and carry a big stick. Nethanyahu in particular has a reputation for making a lot of noise, annoying the Americans, and then caving in to foreign pressures.

Gardel's comment about Ahmedinejad is noteworthy:


Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is so radical he thinks Oliver Stone is a charter member of the Great Satan club...

It is noteworthy for displaying the ignorance of some of the "left" regarding the nature of Islamism and the Iranian regime. Stone, a movie maker who recently produced a sympathetic film about Fidel Castro, is indeed a member of the Great Satan club. Stone is not an Islamist. He accepts evolutionary theory, equality of women and all the other "evils" of Western society. The automatic association of "radical" with progressive makes no sense, and it inevitably produces absurdities like the above.

Hat tip Israpundit

Ami Isseroff




Continued (Permanent Link)

Magdi Allam - Muslim Zionist

There are many things to appreciate in this story, not the least of which is the understanding that not all Muslims are enemies of Israel, not all Muslims are anti-Zionist and not all Muslims are fanatics bent on murdering non-believers. And enthusiasts of the Hamas and related causes should carefully weigh these words:

In his new book he describes his long road from profound admiration for Arafat and "the prophet of pan-Arabism," Gamal Abdel Nasser, and strong support for the Palestinian cause, to his unreserved support for Israel. "I want to tell you about my slow and tortured path from the ideology of lies, tyranny, hatred, violence and death, to the culture of truth, freedom, love, peace and life, until it ripened into absolute certainly that defending the sanctity of life is more than ever in keeping with defending Israel's right to exist," he writes. At the end of this "slow and tortured path" he reached the conclusion that the Arab countries' refusal to recognize Israel during the 1950s and 1960s hurt the Palestinians, and that Arafat was a tyrant, a megalomaniac, corrupt and corrupting, and the worst disaster to befall them.

Regarding the present situation in Gaza, Allam says he never had any illusions about Hamas. "I thought it was a big mistake to allow a terror organization to participate in elections. Condoleezza Rice and Tony Blair deluded themselves in believing that Hamas' very participation in the government would turn the group into a pragmatic political power," he says. "Instead, it turned out that Hamas will never recognize Israel's right to exist, will not relinquish terror and will not honor international agreements signed by the Palestinian Authority. Hamas wants absolute rule in order to impose sharia and to revive the international Islamic caliphate. As it pushes for absolute rule, it does not hesitate to massacre its Palestinian brothers in Gaza. It will try to do the same thing in the West Bank."

Ami Isseroff

Muslim, Italian and Zionist

By Saviona Mane

It's not every day that a Muslim intellectual puts his own head on the line to defend Israel's right to exist. But that is exactly what Magdi Allam, an Egyptian-born Italian writer and journalist, has been doing for years. He recently published a book whose name alone is enough to endanger his life: "Long Live Israel - From the Ideology of Death to the Civilization of Life: My Story."

Allam defends Israel even though Hamas condemned him to death in 2003, after he denounced the group's terror attacks. Because of this threat, the Italian government has provided him with round-the-clock bodyguards. But Allam is not afraid. He finds it hard to "live an armored life," but he tells Haaretz in an interview, "I'm willing to pay the price in order to continue to be who I am, to write and speak freely." Those who cut out tongues and slit throats will not subdue him, he writes in the book.

Allam, 55, is the assistant editor of Corriere della Sera and the 2006 Dan David Prize laureate. His new book, which immediately became a best-seller in Italy, is part of his consistent and uncompromising fight against extremist Islam and for Israel's right to exist. In addition, he is trying to convince people that "the culture of hatred and death that the West now attributes to Muslims is not embedded in Islam's DNA."

In "Long Live Israel" ("Viva Israele" in Italian), Allam directly links the denial of Israel's right to exist to the death cult being nurtured in fundamentalist Islamic circles, and refers to "the ethical erosion that has led to even the denial of the supreme value of the sanctity of life." Allam sees Israel as "an ethical parameter that separates between lovers of civilization and those who preach the ideology of death." The sanctity of life, he writes, "applies to everyone, or to no one."

Sanctity of life

In recent days Allam's attention has been focused on another major event - the birth of his son, Davide, brother to Sofia, 27, and Alessandro, 23. Allam says he and his wife Valentina Colombo chose the name Davide "because in the battle for life during the pregnancy, Davide subdued his Goliath, and because it meshes with the name of my new book."

And speaking of names, weren't you afraid when choosing such a strong, even provocative name for the book?

"Those who like me and more or less agree with me see it as a provocation. 'What did you need this for, don't you have enough problems?' they asked. Those who don't like me and condemn me for my opinions see this as additional proof that I am a traitor to the Arab cause and an enemy of Islam, have sold myself to Israel and work for the Mossad. But for me, 'Viva Israele' is a song of praise to Israel's life and to everyone's life. My book opens with the words: 'What you are about to read is a declaration of faith in the sanctity of life, 'the sanctity of life of every human being.'"

Allam was not always a defender of the Jewish state. "'Zionism' was a dirty word for me," he admits in his book. For years he considered Israel an aggressive, racist, colonialist, immoral entity, and he accepted the methods of the Palestinian struggle and its leader Yasser Arafat, "without criticizing the fact that Fatah adopted the path of terror extensively inside and outside Israel." After emigrating from Egypt to Italy in 1972, he even enlisted actively for the Palestinian cause, writing, lecturing and participating in demonstrations by the Italian left: "I also shouted 'Long live Palestine! Long live the Palestinian resistance!'" he writes in the book. "My passion for the Palestinian cause was strong, as was my enthusiasm for Arafat's personality."

In his new book he describes his long road from profound admiration for Arafat and "the prophet of pan-Arabism," Gamal Abdel Nasser, and strong support for the Palestinian cause, to his unreserved support for Israel. "I want to tell you about my slow and tortured path from the ideology of lies, tyranny, hatred, violence and death, to the culture of truth, freedom, love, peace and life, until it ripened into absolute certainly that defending the sanctity of life is more than ever in keeping with defending Israel's right to exist," he writes. At the end of this "slow and tortured path" he reached the conclusion that the Arab countries' refusal to recognize Israel during the 1950s and 1960s hurt the Palestinians, and that Arafat was a tyrant, a megalomaniac, corrupt and corrupting, and the worst disaster to befall them.

Regarding the present situation in Gaza, Allam says he never had any illusions about Hamas. "I thought it was a big mistake to allow a terror organization to participate in elections. Condoleezza Rice and Tony Blair deluded themselves in believing that Hamas' very participation in the government would turn the group into a pragmatic political power," he says. "Instead, it turned out that Hamas will never recognize Israel's right to exist, will not relinquish terror and will not honor international agreements signed by the Palestinian Authority. Hamas wants absolute rule in order to impose sharia and to revive the international Islamic caliphate. As it pushes for absolute rule, it does not hesitate to massacre its Palestinian brothers in Gaza. It will try to do the same thing in the West Bank."

Do you believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be solved before the "ideology of death" is uprooted - that even if Israel returns all the territories it occupied in 1967, it will continue to live by the sword?

"The Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and Gaza demonstrates that the problem is not the need to withdraw from territories occupied in preemptive wars, but rather the Arabs' lack of desire to recognize Israel's right to exist. Israel erred in 1967 when it accepted the formula of territory for peace, and thus placed its very existence up for public auction. Experience teaches that the right to life cannot and should not be a subject for negotiation and bargaining. No negotiations should be held with extremists and terrorists who deny Israel's right to exist."

Interrogation trauma

Allam believes the defeat of the Arabs during the Six-Day War was the watershed between the waning of pan-Arabism and the rise of pan-Islamism. Allam, who was then 15, remembers the war, the brainwashing, the deceptive Egyptian propaganda machine, the blind admiration of Nasser and the masses he joined in the streets calling on Nasser not to resign. He devotes a substantial part of his book to the war: three autobiographical chapters seasoned with the fragrances, sounds, colors and flavors of his beloved Aunt Adreya's home and the streets of Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo - a colorful, pluralistic and tolerant city where girls wore miniskirts and boys sported Beatles haircuts.

This was the city where he was detained, interrogated and imprisoned at age 15 by the Muhabarat, the secret services, on suspicion of spying for Israel, because of his relationship with a Jewish girl, also 15 and "the first true love of his life." "The trauma of that interrogation at the Muhabarat barracks accompanied me until that day on Christmas Eve 1972, when I left Egypt to continue my studies in Italy."

In the book you lovingly describe your childhood. Do you miss Egypt? Do you visit often?

"I miss an Egypt that no longer exists and that continues to live inside me thanks to the memories, the songs of Umm Kulthum, the novels of Naguib Mahfouz and the films of Yusuf Shahin. I long for the social fabric that embodied a genuine love of others and a simple life where emotion was more important than money. Unfortunately, for reasons of personal security, I haven't been back to Egypt since 2002."

Regarding the question of the Islamization of Europe, Allam says, "Europe is already a bastion of Islamic extremism. Just look at attack on Mike's Place in Tel Aviv, which was carried out by British suicide bombers drafted by Hamas; the massacre by Islamists in Madrid and in London; the slitting of director Theo Van Gogh's throat in Amsterdam; and the dozens of Islamic terror attacks that were prevented in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Holland.

"This bastion exists thanks to a widespread network of mosques, Koran schools, financial bodies and charitable institutions linked to the Muslim Brotherhood; Moroccan, Tunisian and Algerian Salfists; Saudi Wahabis; Al-Qaida jihadis and Pakistani groups. This multicultural Europe, which has trampled its values and betrayed its identity, is satisfied with reacting to the obvious terror, which is only the tip of the iceberg, but is afraid to deal with terror's ideological and organizational roots."

Why don't we hear the voices of the moderate imams?

"Because they're afraid. They're a minority and they're afraid. Only a handful of Islamic intellectuals, journalists, women and clerics have shown courage and condemned terror and Islamic extremism, and as a result they were sentenced to death by the terrorists. But make no mistake, even those moderates who condemn Islamic terror often legitimize terrorists who massacre in Israel. They feel there is good terror, which massacres Israelis, and bad terror, which threatens their lives."

What do you believe is the best way to deal with the Iranian threat?

"Israel has to prevent the Nazi-Islamic government of [Ali] Khamenei and [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad from acquiring nuclear weapons. I don't place my faith in the United Nations and I have no illusions about the Bush administration, which now wants only to leave Iraq without losing face. And of course I don't count on a weak, cowardly and divided Europe. I believe Israel is the last bastion in Islamic terror's war against all of human civilization. Therefore I hope Israel will have a strong national unity government, determined to confront the most serious threat to world security since World War II."

Last year, when he came here for his fourth visit, in order to receive the Dan David Prize, he visited Yad Vashem. This was "an experience that left an indelible impression on me," he says. "I hope that some day Israel will capture Ahmadinejad and force him to live the rest of his life between the walls of Yad Vashem."

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Friday, July 6, 2007

Will Abbas beat Hamas?

Rayan al-Shawaf may be over-optimistic when he tells us that "Hamas' braggadocio, coupled with its ruthless willingness to eliminate Palestinian rivals, may finally have sealed the movement's fate." He believes that Hamas has turned Mahmoud Abbas into a warrior for Western Values, and created an anti-Islamist coalition in Palestinian society. The result, according to him, may ultimately vanquish the Hamas:
Abbas has long been uncomfortable with his country's main Islamist movement. In addition to its fervid attempts to alter the Palestinian cultural landscape, Hamas obstinately refuses to recognize Israel, even if the latter were to withdraw to the 1967 borders. While Abbas envisages full diplomatic relations between an independent Palestine and its neighbor, all Hamas is willing to offer Israel is a truce that can be renewed indefinitely. Yet Hamas' popularity has soared in recent years, with Fatah and other nationalist factions steadily losing ground. When Hamas swept legislative elections last year, a chastened Abbas duly allowed democracy to take its course and did not stand in the way of Hamas' ascension to power. The results - Islamization at home, isolation abroad, and the evaporation of prospects for renewed negotiations with Israel - only exacerbated Palestine's myriad social and political problems.
The collapse of the Hamas-Fatah unity government and the subsequent decision by Hamas to seize control of Gaza proved to be the last straw. Rather than merely trying to recover lost ground - only to return to the stalemate that has characterized the Hamas-Fatah balance of power - Abbas has made a strategic decision to reclaim Palestine for moderate Palestinians. Having tired of playing catch-up to the Islamists, traditional PLO factions, together with civil society groups, might now take the initiative and redirect nascent Palestine toward a more liberal future.
In his speech - remarkable for its comprehensiveness - Abbas spoke of Hamas' increasing control of schools and mosques. Significantly, he also addressed fears concerning the future of Palestinian Christians, accusing Hamas of being behind the ransacking of a Roman Catholic convent and school in Gaza. The latter charge remains unproven and was denied by Hamas officials, though Monsignor Manuel Musallam, the head of Gaza's Roman Catholic community, had initially speculated that the perpetrators were members of Hamas.
It is imperative that the ideological differences between Hamas and Abbas' Palestine Authority remain at the forefront of the debate. Abbas' societal vision includes a place for Islamists - so long as they do not resort to violence and coercion - while Hamas' conception of Palestinian society includes increased restrictions on women, Christians, secularists, advocates of normalization with Israel, and anyone with un-Islamic views.
It remains to be seen which vision will triumph, though all indications are that the West Bank is headed for reintegration into the international community while Gaza is poised to sink deeper into isolation. Abbas wants to alleviate the woes of poverty-stricken Gazans - who should not become pawns in this struggle - but opposes any dialogue with the "murderers" and "putschists" of Hamas, who seek to establish an "emirate of darkness and backwardness" in Gaza, as Abbas put it.
The Gaza strip, thanks to the efforts of various "liberals" and the U.N., will probably not sink into isolation, whilst the West Bank, thanks to the efforts of the Al-Aqsa brigades and others, will not be integrated into the international community too quickly. Too many voices are raised in support of the "legitimacy" of the Hamas on the one hand, and on the other, Fatah Al-Aqsa brigades announced that they will not give up their arms to the government. Fatah Al-Aqsa may play the role of "West Bank Hamas."
Al Shawaf's thesis rests on two shakey assumptions. The first is that Abbas really wants to trim the sails of Hamas, and the second is that he has the power to do it.
Ami Isseroff

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Thursday, July 5, 2007

America Magazine unfair to Israel, says church group

Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East has released the following statement regarding coverage of the Middle East in America Magazine:

Fair Witness Is Troubled By America Magazine's Coverage of The Middle East

Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East is troubled by America Magazine's continuing application of a double standard to the violence in the Middle East.  In its most recent issue, printed just three weeks after the outbreak of bloody Hamas/Fatah infighting in Gaza which left hundreds of Palestinians dead and injured, America's editors chose to run two full articles focused on Palestinian suffering supposedly caused by Israeli policies.  The Palestinian-on- Palestinian violence in Gaza, on the other hand, received only a passing mention in this same edition.

The first article levels the by now familiar indictment of the Israeli "occupation" and the security barrier. "Any responsible coverage of the difficulties posed by the security barrier should include the fact that Palestinian leadership turned down their best chance of ending the Israeli presence in the West Bank entirely," comments Rev. Dr. Archer Summers, Senior Minister in the First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto, California, and Fair Witness Executive Committee member.  "In 2000 the Palestinians were offered Gaza, 97 percent of contiguous territory on the West Bank, East Jerusalem for a capital, three quarters of the Old City and a 30 billion dollar fund to compensate refugees in exchange for peace with Israel.  They turned it down and opted instead for the bloody reign of terror against Israelis called the Second Intifada.  There is no integrity in complaining about Israel's security barrier without even mentioning this shameful action on the part of the Palestinians."

"One has to admire Rabbi Ascherman, the subject of the second article, whose efforts on behalf of human rights for Palestinians underscores the self-critical and self-correcting nature of Israeli society," adds Sr. Ruth Lautt, Fair Witness National Director.  "However, we question America's failure to discuss the role that the Palestinians and their leadership have played in causing their own suffering."

"A fuller and more comprehensive understanding of the issues surrounding the sad need for a security barrier and the Arab/Israeli conflict in general is necessary for promoting a peaceful solution," adds Fr. James Loughran, S.A., Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute.  "America's publication of these articles, however, can only foment anti-Israeli sentiment among American Christians.  It is neither fair, just nor helpful."

Sr. Ruth Lautt, OP, Esq.
National Director
Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East
475 Riverside Drive, Ste 1960
New York, NY 10115
(212) 870-2320


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British politicians are helping Muslim terror explains former Jihadist Hassan Butt

It is long past time to stop ignoring people like Hassan Butt, who wrote I was a fanatic...I know their thinking

Butt is not an Islamophobic Zionist neocon warmonger. He is a Muslim, and a former Jihadist fanatic, who explains where Jihadism differs from Islam and why British attitudes are helping them:

Formal Islamic theology, unlike Christian theology, does not allow for the separation of state and religion: they are considered to be one and the same.

For centuries, the reasoning of Islamic jurists has set down rules of interaction between Dar ul-Islam (the Land of Islam) and Dar ul-Kufr (the Land of Unbelief) to cover almost every matter of trade, peace and war.

But what radicals and extremists do is to take this two steps further. Their first step has been to argue that, since there is no pure Islamic state, the whole world must be Dar ul-Kufr (The Land of Unbelief).

Step two: since Islam must declare war on unbelief, they have declared war upon the whole world.

Along with many of my former peers, I was taught by Pakistani and British radical preachers that this reclassification of the globe as a Land of War (Dar ul-Harb) allows any Muslim to destroy the sanctity of the five rights that every human is granted under Islam: life, wealth, land, mind and belief.

In Dar ul-Harb, anything goes, including the treachery and cowardice of attacking civilians.


Islam is not a terrorist religion, but the Jihadist interpretation of Islam is. British politicians are giving a big boost to the Jihadists according to Butt:

When I was still a member of what is probably best termed the British Jihadi Network - a series of British Muslim terrorist groups linked by a single ideology - I remember how we used to laugh in celebration whenever people on TV proclaimed that the sole cause for Islamic acts of terror like 9/11, the Madrid bombings and 7/7 was Western foreign policy.

By blaming the Government for our actions, those who pushed this "Blair's bombs" line did our propaganda work for us.

More important, they also helped to draw away any critical examination from the real engine of our violence: Islamic theology.

The attempts to cause mass destruction in London and Glasgow are so reminiscent of other recent British Islamic extremist plots that they are likely to have been carried out by my former peers.

And as with previous terror attacks, people are again saying that violence carried out by Muslims is all to do with foreign policy.

For example, on Saturday on Radio 4's Today programme, the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said: "What all our intelligence shows about the opinions of disaffected young Muslims is the main driving force is not Afghanistan, it is mainly Iraq."

I left the British Jihadi Network in February 2006 because I realised that its members had simply become mindless killers. But if I were still fighting for their cause, I'd be laughing once again.


And Butt shows just where the line between Islamic belief and Islamist terror has been crossed, and why: 

For decades, radicals have been exploiting the tensions between Islamic theology and the modern secular state - typically by starting debate with the question: "Are you British or Muslim?"

But the main reason why radicals have managed to increase their following is because most Muslim institutions in Britain just don't want to talk about theology.

They refuse to broach the difficult and often complex truth that Islam can be interpreted as condoning violence against the unbeliever - and instead repeat the mantra that Islam is peace and hope that all of this debate will go away.

This has left the territory open for radicals to claim as their own. I should know because, as a former extremist recruiter, I repeatedly came across those who had tried to raise these issues with mosque authorities only to be banned from their grounds.

Every time this happened it felt like a moral and religious victory for us because it served as a recruiting sergeant for extremism.

As Mellanie Phillips noted, Gordon Brown's attempt to deny that the bombings are related to religion is absurd. and Butt exposes the fallacies and dangers of this sort of reasoning. Butt notes that some scholars tried to "put terror back in the box."

Outside Britain, there are those who try to reverse this two-step revisionism.

A handful of scholars from the Middle East have tried to put radicalism back in the box by saying that the rules of war devised so long ago by Islamic jurists were always conceived with the existence of an Islamic state in mind, a state which would supposedly regulate jihad in a responsible Islamic fashion.

In other words, individual Muslims don't have the authority to go around declaring global war in the name of Islam.

What he doesn't say, is that the same scholars originally helped to take terror out of the box, by justifying terror against Israelis and others. It was only when tall buildings started exploding in Saudi Arabia that they tried to put terror back in the box, or more aptly, to put the jinn of terror back in the bottle.

And Butt has a local prescription for fixing it:

But there is a more fundamental reasoning that has struck me as a far more potent argument because it involves recognising the reality of the world: Muslims don't actually live in the bipolar world of the Middle Ages any more.

The fact is that Muslims in Britain are citizens of this country. We are no longer migrants in a Land of Unbelief.

For my generation, we were born here, raised here, schooled here, we work here and we'll stay here.

But more than that, on a historically unprecedented scale, Muslims in Britain have been allowed to assert their religious identity through clothing, the construction of mosques, the building of cemeteries and equal rights in law.

However, it isn't enough for responsible Muslims to say that, because they feel at home in Britain, they can simply ignore those passages of the Koran which instruct on killing unbelievers.

Because so many in the Muslim community refuse to challenge centuries-old theological arguments, the tensions between Islamic theology and the modern world grow larger every day.

I believe that the issue of terrorism can be easily demystified if Muslims and non-Muslims start openly to discuss the ideas that fuel terrorism.

Crucially, the Muslim community in Britain must slap itself awake from its state of denial and realise there is no shame in admitting the extremism within our families, communities and worldwide co-religionists.

If our country is going to take on radicals and violent extremists, Muslim scholars must go back to the books and come forward with a refashioned set of rules and a revised understanding of the rights and responsibilities of Muslims whose homes and souls are firmly planted in what I'd like to term the Land of Co-existence.

And when this new theological territory is opened up, Western Muslims will be able to liberate themselves from defunct models of the world, rewrite the rules of interaction and perhaps we will discover that the concept of killing in the name of Islam is no more than an anachronism.


And what about Middle Eastern Muslims? Are they to go on living in the Middle Ages?


Ami Isseroff


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American Immigrants to get better IDF jobs.

This will be good news to some, bad news for others. In the past, "Anglos" used to get less training, but they served in reserves and in the army and did "meaningful" service nonetheless, in artillery and tank units. As yet however, Israel is not exactly getting millions of immigrants from the US and Britain. We once calculated that each and every American who came and stayed in Israel cost the  Jewish agency and Jewish community about $100,000.
The former USSR has a much larger potential for Aliya, and a Jewish community that is in need of help.
Ami Isseroff
Anglos to get better jobs in the army
Haviv Rettig, THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 4, 2007

Men who immigrate to Israel between the ages of 24 and 29 are often drafted by the IDF for an abbreviated and - many complain - purposeless service as truck drivers or guards. Now, with the focus of aliya shifting to the affluent nations of the West, the government is launching a program to offer these young men, who often have valuable skills, a more meaningful military service.

The program, a joint effort of the Immigrant Absorption Ministry and the IDF, will take participants through two weeks of basic training and integrate them into the army's professional corps as officers.

"They'll be able to work as computer programmers, engineers, doctors, and those sorts of positions," said an Immigrant Absorption Ministry representative, who added that the list of eligible positions was still being finalized by the IDF's Human Resources Directorate.

The new program seeks not only to better utilize the knowledge of Western olim, but to encourage that aliya in the first place. To that end, the ministry plans to advertise its new partnership with the army on its Web site and in the target communities in the West.

Since the State of Israel, from the days of Ben-Gurion, refrains from soliciting other nations' citizens to become Israeli, there may be a problem if the ministry advertises aliya overseas. (Jewish Agency emissaries encourage aliya in Jewish communities around the world, not official Israeli representatives.) Currently, the ministry has yet to sort out an arrangement for this activity, but will do so in the near future, the spokesperson said.

The program is also seen as a way to better integrate new immigrants into society.

"The integration of olim in the IDF has a decisive influence on how they are absorbed in the country," outgoing Immigrant Absorption Minister Ze'ev Boim said of the program. "[Military] service is the express ticket into Israeli society."


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Hamas and the release of Alan Johnston

According to Avi Issacharoff of Haaretz, is it  lucky for Johnston, that Hamas kept its promise. Hamas had been in bed with the Doghmush clan (aka Jayish al Islam aka Army of Islam) that kidnapped Johnston, and that also did dirty work for Hamas such as launching Qassam rockets, and doing the contract hit on Moussa Arafat.  
Johnston doesn't intend to return to Gaza to sing the praises of the Palestinians. He has "had enough already."
Here's how it was done:  
Hamas managed to gain the release of the BBC reporter though negotiations Gaza-style. A correct combination of stick, carrot and ladder. The stick: the gunmen of the Executive Force, which Hamas deployed around the Doghmush clan's compound and used to threaten an assault.
The carrot: guarantees that the clan will not be harmed after Johnston's release, and that it will be allowed to keep some weapons. And the ladder that enabled Mumtaz Doghmush, a devout Muslim, to climb down from the tree on which he found himself: the religious figure who acted as the mediator between Hamas and the Army of Islam allegedly issued a fatwa (a religious decree) demanding that Doghmush release the foreign journalist.
Or else, as Fatah spokesman Yasser Abd Rabbo explained, it was all staged - more Pallywood. Media wise, Hamas once again scored a coup, since they upstaged the payment of salaries by the Fatah.
Ami Isseroff

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Solana: What happened in Gaza cannot be seen separately from what happened in Lebanon

In Some common sense from Javier Solana, Michael Young of the Daily Star (Beirut) points out that Javier Solana is saying what everyone else seems to be afraid to admit:
Solana's most revealing statement pointed a finger at Iran and Syria, when he unmistakably suggested that the "forces we don't know" could have been run out of Tehran and Damascus: "Somebody I know well - Ali Larijani - has said 'we are supporting Hamas'... All this is connected. It didn't happen by accident or miracle, it was probably planned ... It would be difficult to understand without seeing other important regional players behind it," he added, referring to "other forces" in Iran and Syria.
But the Spanish government is cooperating with Hezbollah in investigating the events in Lebanon. The UN, as well as the Spanish government, is living in a fantasy world where Syria are the good guys it seems:
In their discussion of Lebanon, Ban told Assad that Syria had "an important role" to play to end Lebanese divisions. The secretary general also called on Syria to support the Hariri tribunal, which had not yet been established under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Assad responded: "In Lebanon, divisions and confessionalism have been deeply anchored for more than 300 years. Lebanese society is very fragile. [The country's] most peaceful years were when Syrian forces were present. From 1976 to 2005 Lebanon was stable, whereas now there is great instability."
The Syrian president then issued what Ban could plainly see was a threat: "[This instability] will worsen if the special [Hariri] tribunal is established. Particularly if it is established under Chapter VII. This might easily cause a conflict that would degenerate into civil war, provoking divisions between Sunnis and Shiites from the Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea ... This would have serious consequences beyond Lebanon."
In classic Mafia style, Assad is saying "Accidents can happen, to you or your family. You need protection - from us." Young gives Ban too much credit. It seems he would not know a threat if he sees one. He does not want to know.
Ami Isseroff
Cross posted:

Cross posted: Israel News Middle East Analysis

Ami Isseroff

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Poll: Israelis are "liberal"

This poll confounded democratic values (the newer definition of liberalism) with 19th century free market economics liberalism. Surprisingly, Arab Israelis opted for minimal government intervention in the economy, though the economic status of the Arab community would benefit most from such intervention.
Poll Measuring Liberal Values and Attitudes of Israelis

Benchmark Survey commission by Friedrich Naumann Stiftung The Friedrich Naumann Foundation is an independent, nonprofit,  nongovernmental organisation that is committed to promoting liberal policy and politics.
May 2007

609 respondents: 437 Hebrew (72% ), 91 Russian (15% ), 81 Arabic (13% )
+/- 4.1% margin of error for total
Calls by Mutagim 28-30 May 2007 .Data processing by DataWise - Utah, US
Overall project: KEEVOON Research, Strategy & Communications

[Results converted by IMRA from power point presentation]

+ Which is of most concern to you and your family?
18% Economy/Jobs
25% Foreign Policy/Security
19% Healthcare
19% Education
4% Environment
5% Welfare
3% Culture
3% Municipal Issues
5% DK/Refuse

+ Personal Freedom vs. Responsibility to the Community

Community has to have a dominant role in society and the individual.
Total: 33% Hebrew: 31% Russian: 18% Arabic: 60%

Community should have a minimal role in society and the individual.
Total: 14% Hebrew: 15% Russian: 4% Arabic: 16%

Personal freedom and responsibility to the community do not contradict one
Total: 37% Hebrew: 37% Russian: 62% Arabic: 11%

This issue has no relevance to me.
Total: 12% Hebrew: 13% Russian: 8% Arabic: 12%

+ Israel as a "Jewish and Democratic State"

The Jewish character of Israel is most important and takes precedence over
Total: 24% Hebrew: 28% Russian: 9% Arabic: 22%

The Democratic character of Israel takes precedence over the Jewishness ofthe State.
Total: 26% Hebrew: 23% Russian: 25% Arabic: 47%

The Jewish and democratic character of Israel are equally important.
Total: 46% Hebrew: 47% Russian: 60% Arabic: 27%

+ Guarantee that ALL Citizens are Treated Equally Regardless of Religion or

Very Good
Total: 52% Hebrew: 51% Russian: 42% Arabic: 72%

Somewhat Good
Total: 25% Hebrew: 23% Russian: 43% Arabic: 15%

Total: 77% Hebrew: 74% Russian: 85% Arabic: 86%

Not Good But Necessary
Total: 12% Hebrew: 14% Russian: 4% Arab 6%

Total Good or Necessary
Total: 77% Hebrew: 74% Russian: 85% Arabic: 86%

Not Good
Total: 8% Hebrew: 9% Russian: 8% Arabic: 5%

DK / Refuse
Total: 3% Hebrew: 3% Russian: 3% Arabic: 2%

+ Initiate legislation that would guarantee that only a Jew could be elected PM of Israel

Not Good at All
Total: 22% Hebrew: 12% Russian: 37% Arabic: 57%

Not Good But Necesary
Total: 12% Hebrew: 14% Russian: 5% Arabic: 6%

Somewhat Good
Total: 13% Hebrew: 12% Russian: 20% Arabic: 11%

Very Good
Total: 51% Hebrew: 60% Russian: 32% Arabic: 20%

Good or necessary
Total: 76% Hebrew: 86% Russian: 57% Arabic: 37%

+ Constitution for Israel
TOTAL Good: 75% Not Good: 16%
Hebrew Good: 71% Not Good: 19%
Russian Good: 88% Not Good: 3%
Arabic Good: 84% Not Good: 14%

+ Separate Religion and State - Selected Tabs
TOTAL: Good: 59% Not Good: 36%
Russian: Good: 71% Not Good: 20%
Arabic: Good: 63% Not Good: 34%
Ashknz: Good: 69% Not Good: 25%
Sephrd: Good: 47% Not Good: 48%

+ Protect the Civil Rights of Arab Israelis
Total: Good: 55% Not Good: 39%
Hebrew: Good: 56% Not Good: 39%
Russian: Good: 21% Not Good: 63%
Arabic: Good: 84% Not Good: 14%

+Require Israeli Arabs to perform 2 years of National Community Service
Very Good
Total: 26% Hebrew: 27% Russian: 26% Arabic: 16%

Somewhat Good
Total: 25% Hebrew: 23% Russian: 26% Arabic: 32%

Not Good But Necessary
Total: 12% Hebrew: 13% Russian: 9% Arabic: 14%

Good or Necessary
Total: 51% Hebrew: 50% Russian: 52% Arabic: 48%

Not Good
Total: 33% Hebrew: 33% Russian: 29% Arabic: 36%

DK / Refuse
Total: 5% Hebrew: 4% Russian: 10% Arabic: 2%

+ Regardless of what you think regarding the refugee issue or the "right ofreturn". Do you think Israel is obligated to compensate Arab refugees who left in 1948?
TOTAL: Yes: 24% No: 68% DK: 8%
Hebrew: Yes: 16% No: 77% DK: 7%
Russian: Yes: 8% No: 80% DK: 12%
Arabic: Yes: 90% No: 4% DK: 6%

+ Violate Civil Rights of Terror Suspect
TOTAL: Violate: 75% Not violate: 20%

+ Do you think that Jews and Arabs should be treated equally with regard to
budget allocation?
Total: Yes: 61% No: 33%

+ Grant equal rights to gay and lesbians regarding same-sex unions, pension
and survivorship rights

Very Good
Total: 23% Hebrew: 29% Russian: 9% Arabic: 10%

Somewhat Good
Total: 22% Hebrew: 22% Russian: 21% Arabic: 21%

Not Good But Necessary
Total: 11% Hebrew: 11% Russian: 16% Arabic: 4%

Total Good or Necessary
Total: 56% Hebrew: 62% Russian: 46% Arabic: 35%

Not Good
Total: 36% Hebrew: 31% Russian: 36% Arabic: 58%

DK / Refuse
Total: 9% Hebrew: 7% Russian: 18% Arabic: 7%

+ Reduce the State's involvement in citizen's affairs
Total Good or Necessary: 65%

+ Government corruption is a danger to democracy and the rule of law,and that "political corruption is like a cancer very deep in the body of theState."
Strongly Agree 60% Agree 29% Disagree 7% Strongly Disagree 2%

+ Which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel's existence?

Hebrew: 19% Russian: 12% Arabic: 40%

Arab Countries
Hebrew: 22% Russian: 34% Arabic: 10%

Hebrew: 16% Russian: 20% Arabic: 21%

Soc Gap/Pov
Hebrew: 15% Russian: 11% Arabic: 6%

Hebrew: 12% Russian: 8% Arabic: 0%

Jew/Israeli Arab relations
Hebrew: 5% Russian: 5% Arabic: 11%

Religious/Secular relations
Hebrew: 5% Russian: 2% Arabic: 6%

+ Deregulate all industries and allow for a free market economy
Good 61% Not Good 25% DK/Refuse 14%

+ Minimum Wage - Selected tabs
TOTAL: Gov't set: 61% Market forces: 33%
Arabic: Gov't set: 47% Market forces: 52%
Orthodox: Gov't set: 78% Market forces: 18%
Soldier: Gov't set: 80% Market forces: 20%
Student: Gov't set: 51% Market forces: 46%

+ Israel and Globalization
59% Great opportunity for Israel to advance economically, socially and culturally
21% Will have negative impact on Israel economically, socially and culturally
7% It makes no difference
13% DK/Refuse

+ Free Competition vs. Social Welfare
35% More competition
50% More social welfare.
10% Same
4% DK

+ Liberal political principles stand for civil rights, equal opportunities, free market competition, pluralism, openness and the limited role of Government, who today in Israel best represents that ideology?
Netanyahu 7% Peres 5%  Liberman 4% Gedaymak 2%
No One: 43% Don't Know: 27%

+ Based on that same definition of liberal political principles, which political party best represents that ideology?
Likud 9% Labour 8% Meretz 6% Kadima 4% Yisrael Beiteinu 3%
Balad 2%  None 42% DK/Refuse 22%

+ Do you think there is a need for a new political party based on liberal political principles of civil rights, equal opportunities, free market competition, pluralism, openness and the limited role of Government?
Hebrew Yes 43% No 50% DK 6%
Russian Yes 36% No 42% DK 22%
Arabic Yes 73% No 23% DK 4%

+ How likely would you vote for a new political party based on those ideals?
Hebrew Likely: 22% Somewhat: 10% Very Likely: 20%
Russian Likely: 24% Somewhat: 15% Very Likely: 7%
Arabic Likely: 27% Somewhat: 10% Very Likely: 47%

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis


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Zionist Propaganda? Arabs will not progress before they face the truth about their own history

Is this Zionist Propaganda??
"Arabs will not progress before they face the truth about their own history.|
"No one in the Arab world today would accept that Hamas' actions were a large part responsible for the Israeli barrier. "
"Where is the independent commission that studied Hizbullah's actions?"
Read on:
Events that are portrayed as victories by Arab politicians are not always victories for the Arab people. Last month, the Arab world remembered one of its greatest defeats of the 20th century: the June 1967 war, which marked the end of the hope to wipe out Israel and the loss of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai, and the Golan Heights.
Despite the memory of those losses, Arab media, from Al-Jazeera to Dubai TV, still tried to find an honorable excuse for the Egyptian president in 1967, Gamal Abdel-Nasser. This same distorted logic has been applied to movements such as Hizbullah and Hamas, whose defeats are often transformed into victories. No independent commission has ever assessed any of Abdel-Nasser's, Hamas', or Hizbullah's declarations of victory. The Arab people must dig for the truth in the statements and behavior of these leaders or groups. ....
Arabs will not progress before they face the truth about their own history. In memorializing the 1967 defeat, Arab media organized numerous talk shows, documentaries, and interviews. But none clearly defined who was responsible for the Arab loss.
Instead, the media tried to remind us how Abdel-Nasser gave Arabs a voice and pride. They failed to remind us that because of his bluff and provocation, in June 1967 Israel was able to win a devastating war. They failed to remind us how Abdel-Nasser encouraged King Hussein of Jordan to take part in the war only hours after he knew that Egypt had been defeated - providing Israel with a reason to occupy East Jerusalem and the West Bank. And they never mentioned that in 1970 Abdel-Nasser was considering accepting the Rogers Plan for a peace settlement with Israel, with terms less favorable than the Camp David agreement later signed by his successor, Anwar Sadat. Instead, Arab media tended to stress that it was Abdel-Nasser who had planned the October 1973 war, which took place three years after his death, removing all credit from Sadat, who had truly led the battle.
Some claim that while the June 1967 war was a military loss, the spirit of armed resistance endured. They believe that resistance is still the strategic choice of Arabs. We have seen the results of the strategic choice of violent resistance by Hamas: an ugly Israeli barrier depriving Palestinians of ever more land that has made their lives even grimmer. The slogans of resistance may incite support, but the consequences of these very slogans cannot be accepted by the Arab public. No one in the Arab world today would accept that Hamas' actions were a large part responsible for the Israeli barrier. There has not been and nor will there be independent assessment of Hamas' strategy. Slogans continue to trump the actual results of actions.

The same strategic manipulation of public opinion can be seen in Hizbullah's "victory" against Israel in summer 2006. But what was this victory? A victory that left around 1,200 Lebanese dead, led to billions of dollars in damages and losses in tourism income, and the entry of United Nations troops in Southern Lebanon? With such a balance sheet, how could Hizbullah and its Arab supporters mislead the Arab public and claim victory? Was any inquiry made? Where is the independent commission that studied Hizbullah's actions? Yes, the party's secretary general, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, was left standing, just as Abdel-Nasser was. But is that enough when their nations and people were left battered?
How can Arabs improve their lot if they do not face up to their truths? Why is it that Arabs have such a propensity to live amid lies? Why is it that so-called "free" or "independent" Arab media are apologists for those who mislead the Arab public? When will Arabs have independent commissions to look into their mistakes and evaluate them transparently?
No, it is not written by an evil Likud neocon. It is written by Khairi Abaza in the Daily Star:
Ami Isseroff


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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Kidnapped Gilad Shalit is in Hamas Custody

Schalit's kidnappers: We handed him over to Hamas Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 4, 2007

The kidnappers of Cpl. Gilad Schalit have transferred him to the custody of Hamas, Abu Mutfana - a leader in the Army of Islam - said Wednesday in an interview broadcast on Channel 10.

Abu Mutfana, who spoke on television with his face obscured by a kaffiyeh, called on Schalit's family to "pressure your government to release the Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim prisoners held in Israeli prisons."

Otherwise, Abu Mutfana warned, the Army of Islam "would take action."

Abu Mutfana stressed that the cross-border raid near Kerem Shalom in which Schalit was abducted over a year ago had been carefully planned by his group in cooperation with the Aksa Martyrs Brigades and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The Army of Islam, Abu Mutfana said, had been holding Schalit but had handed him over to Hamas because they had been "busy with other things." However, a Channel 10 commentator said that Hamas had offered Abu Mutfana's group money and weapons in exchange for Schalit.

Overnight Tuesday, the Army of Islam released BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped in Gaza nearly four months ago.In response to Johnston's release, Abu Mutfada told Hamas that their victory
celebrations wouldn't last long.

"You're banging your drums as if Alan Johnston were a soldier in the Army of Islam that you freed from the American tyrants' jails," he said.

Abu Mutfada said that the Army of Islam had freed Johnston of its own free will, and not because of pressure to do so by Hamas.


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"The Saudi Plan Is Dead":

Wonder what happened to the Saudi Plan? It is dead (or sleeping).
"The Saudi Plan Is Dead": Senior Saudi Officials Admit to Israel that the Initiative Is No Longer Relevant
Uri Yablonka Ma'ariv-Hebrew 4 July 2007
(Summary by Daily Alert - July 4, 2007
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Israel's hope to reach an understanding on a political settlement together with the countries of the Arab League has run aground. Senior political officials in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan announced in closed meetings with senior Israelis that the "Saudi Initiative," which Prime Minister Olmert sees as a basis for an agreement, is presently dead, and that as long as the chaos continues within the Palestinian Authority, there is no point in pursuing this avenue. These clarifications were received by senior Israeli political and defense officials.

An internal document from the Foreign Ministry of July 2 says that Saudi Arabia has significantly changed its policy toward Israel and the PA. "Saudi reluctance to express clear support for Abbas and his new government reflects Saudi opposition to Abbas' policy to isolate Hamas," the document says. It further notes that the Saudis are very disappointed by the rapid failure of the Mecca Agreement brokered between Hamas and Fatah earlier this year. The document states that Israel should stop using the term "the Saudi Initiative."
Hat tip - IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

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Yasser Abd Rabbo: Hamas release of BBC reporter was staged.

According to Ha'aretz, Yasser abd Rabbo has claimed that the rescue of Alan Johnston was staged:

A senior aide to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas dismissed Wednesday the release of BBC reporter Alan Johnston, calling it "a movie" staged by Hamas, who took credit for securing the release.
Yasser Abd Rabbo said Wednesday that Hamas' release of the Briton, held in Gaza for nearly four months, from the custody of militant group Army of Islam, had been staged, as the two groups were in league with each other. He said Hamas staged the rescue in order to "appear as if [Hamas] respects international law."
"We're watching a movie, where the thieves in Gaza fall out and one of them claims to be honest and brave, and the other is the bad guy. This Hamas game fools no one," Rabbo said.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas hailed Johnston's release, calling him the Palestinian people's friend. Abbas said militias like the Army of Islam destroy the authority of law and create a chaotic situation and must be dismantled.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert congratulated Johnston on his release, saying in a statement that Israel joins in the happiness of his family and all of Britain.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in a statement Wednesday that Johnston's release will come as a great relief to his family and friends and all those who have worked to see him freed.
Ahmed Yousef, an aide to Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh, told Sky News that Johnston's release proved Hamas can establish law and order. "Gaza is safe, Gaza is clean, Gaza is green," Yousef said, referring to the color of the Hamas flag.
Following Johnston's release, Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad called for renewed dialogue with Abbas so that "we can return to a normal situation."
Earlier Wednesday, Haniyeh said that he hoped that Johnston's release would set a precedent for a deal with Israel to free Israel Defense Forces Gilad Shalit, held in captivity in Gaza since last June.
"As the case of Alan Johnston has ended, we hope that the case of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit may end too in an honorable deal that would secure the release of our hero prisoners from Israeli jails," Haniyeh told a news conference in Gaza City.
Shalit was seized from an Israeli border post by militants belonging to Hamas as well as other groups, who are demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel in exchange for the soldier's freedom.
Haniyeh said there was a possibility to for a deal if Israel used "logic and reason" to end the suffering of the Palestinian prisoners.
In a statement released by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser on Wednesday, Israel praised Johnston's release saying, "the State of Israel congratulates BBC journalist Alan Johnston on his release by his kidnappers and shares in the joy of his family and that of the entire British people.
Israel demands that soldier Gilad Shalit, who was abducted to the Gaza Strip over one year ago, also be released by his kidnappers, who belong to Hamas. As is known, the Hamas members holding him are ? in effect ? preventing the release of Palestinian prisoners as has been agreed upon."
Johnston was handed over by his captors to Hamas predawn Wednesday. The 45-year-old Briton was taken into the care of officials from the Hamas movement, which seized full control of Gaza three weeks ago.
"I was released a couple of hours ago as you can imagine. Occasionally quite terrifying... Now it really is over," Johnston told BBC World from the home of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City.
At a joint press conference with Haniyeh in Gaza City, Johnston said that his kidnappers "did threaten my life a number of times in various ways."

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Hamas release kidnapped reporter Alan Johnston

The Hamas operation to free Alan Johnson demonstrates that when they really want to "control terror" they can do so.
update - 09:48 04/07/2007   
By News Agencies

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Wednesday that he hoped the release of BBC journalist Alan Johnston would set a precedent for a deal withIsrael to free Israel Defense Forces Gilad Shalit, held in captivity in Gaza since last June.
"As the case of Alan Johnston has ended, we hope that the case of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit may end too in an honorable deal that would secure the release of our hero prisoners from Israeli jails," Haniyeh told a news conference in Gaza City.
Shalit was seized from an Israeli border post by militants belonging to Hamas as well as other groups, who are demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel in exchange for the soldier's freedom.
Haniyeh said there was a possibility to for a deal if Israel used "logic and reason" to end the suffering of the Palestinian prisoners.
Earlier Wednesday morning, Alan Johnston, the BBC journalist held hostage in the Gaza Strip since March, was handed over by his captors to Hamas officials.
The 45-year-old Briton was taken into the care of officials from the Hamas movement, which seized full control of Gaza three weeks ago.
"I was released a couple of hours ago as you can imagine. Occasionally quite terrifying... Now it really is over," Johnston told BBC World from the home of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City.
At a joint press conference with Haniyeh in Gaza City, Johnston said that his kidnappers "did threaten my life a number of times in various ways."
Johnston recounted how he was chained up for 24 hours at one point, moved twice during his captivity and hit a bit in the last half hour before he was released.
The journalist told BBC World earlier "I am hugely grateful to the people who worked [for the release]. I think I am OK. Keeping my mind in the right place was a constant battle."
Johnston, the only Western correspondent working full-time in the Strip, went missing on March 12.
"I dreamt many times of being free and always woke up back in that room ... It's an amazing thing to be free," he said, sounding composed though somewhat tired.
Johnston said he had followed events on a radio during most of his time as a hostage and thanked people around the world, as well as his colleagues at the British public broadcaster, for their support and efforts to help secure his release.
He said he had spoken briefly to his family in Scotland.
Alan's parents, Graham and Margaret Johnston and sister Catriona, said they were overjoyed by the news that he was free.
The last 114 days have been a dreadful time for us but particularly for Alan.
"Through it all, we never lost hope," the family said in a statement issued by the BBC.
Damascus-based Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal said Wednesday the freeing of the BBC journalist showed his movement had brought order to the Gaza Strip by seizing power in the territory last month.
"We have been able to close this chapter which has harmed the image of our people greatly. The efforts by Hamas have produced the freedom of Alan Johnston," Meshal told Reuters by telephone from Syria.
Referring to his secular Palestinian rivals Fatah, he said: "It showed the difference between the era in which a group used to encourage and commit security anarchy and chaos and the current situation in which Hamas is seeking to stabilize security."
Hamas forces routed those of Fatah, led by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, to take full control of Gaza last month.
Once they had kidnappedJohnston, the captors declared themselves to be the Army of Islam, an al Qaida-inspired group with links to one of Gaza's powerful clans.
They issued Web videos showing Johnston and seeking the release of Islamists held prisoner by Britain and other states.
Most recently, after Hamas officials threatened to free him by force from the clan's stronghold, Johnston was shown wearing an explosives belt with the warning he would die if attempts were made to free him by force.
In London, no immediate comment was available from the BBC or the British Foreign Office.
Hamas, Army of Islam swap hostages in Alan Johnston deal
Hamas said Monday that its forces had launched an operation aimed at freeing the abducted reporter.
"The clocks have begun ticking toward the release of Alan Johnston," said Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad. "The operation of the Interior Ministry Executive Forces has started, and they are tightening the siege on the people involved in his kidnap."
Hamas sources said earlier a Palestinian civilian was killed in an exchange of fire with the group holding Johnston in the Gaza Strip.
No other casualties were reported in the fighting, which came after Hamas gunmen took up positions around the Army of Islam's stronghold, stepping up the pressure on the group to release the correspondent. Hamas blamed Army of Islam for the civilian's death.
Members of Hamas' 6,000-strong militia moved onto rooftops of high-rise buildings and deployed gunmen in streets in the Gaza City neighborhood inhabited by the Doghmush clan. The large, heavily armed family leads the Army of Islam, a little known group that had been holding Johnston for nearly four months.
Late Tuesday, the Doghmush clan released nine students loyal to Hamas that they kidnapped earlier in the week. Hamas officials and mediators said the release was meant to pave the way for Johnston's release. However, they did not know if or when Johnston would be released.
Then four Army of Islam members were freed by Hamas, said Abu Mujahid from the Popular Resistance Committees, the militant group handling the negotiations.
Hamas spokesman Khaled Abu Hilal said Tuesday that the group would not spare any efforts to free the captive BBC reporter.
Hamas radio also broadcast a toll-free phone number, urging people to call in any information about the case. Witnesses said at least four members of the Doghmush clan were detained by Hamas.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum accused Johnston's captors of smearing the Palestinian people's reputation and of seeking to prove to the world that "we are a group of militias that fight each other to gain personal ends."
Since seizing control of Gaza last month, Hamas has demanded Johnston's release in an apparent bid to gain favor with the West.
On Monday, Hamas arrested the spokesman of the Army of Islam, giving it a potentially valuable bargaining chip in its efforts to release Johnston.
Johnston has been held far longer than any Western journalist abducted in Gaza. Hamas has said it knows where to find him, but has not raided the hideout for fear he will come to harm.
Last week, the Army of Islam posted a video message from Johnston on a militant Web site in which he appeared to be wearing an explosives belt that he said his captors would detonate if there was an attempt to free him.
The same group was involved in the capture of Israel Defense Forces Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who was seized more than a year ago in a raid on an Israeli army post near Gaza.

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Israeli Sandy Koufax pitches no-hitter in new Israeli baseball league

Israel's first baseball season is in full swing.
Last update - 06:21 04/07/2007   
By Haaretz Sports Staff

Australian lefty Matt Bennett pitched the Israel Baseball League's second no-hitter of the 10-day-old season to out-duel Brooklyn native Alper Ulatas Tuesday night, as the Modi'in Miracle beat the Petah Tikva Pioneers 2-0 in a game that lasted just one hour and 36 minutes.
Bennett dominated his seven innings of work, striking out 10 and giving up only one walk. Modi'in's scoring came off the bat of Californian Aaron Levin, who hit a solo home run in the fourth inning to put the Miracle up 1-0. Dominican centerfielder Adalberto Paulino added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI double. Modi'in improved to 3-2 on the season.
Ulatas gave up two runs and four hits in five-and-two-thirds innings for Petah Tikva, which dropped to 1-6.
At Yarkon Field at the Baptist Village in Petach Tikva, the Beit Shemesh Blue Sox stayed undefeated, beating the Ra'anana Express 5-0 to improve to 7-0 on the season.
Dominican right-hander Juan Feliciano pitched a complete game two-hit shutout, striking out nine and walking just two batters to improve his record to 2-0. The Blue Sox were aided by a shaky Ra'anana defense as well as the bats of star hitters Jason Rees and Johnny Lopez. Rees went 2-3 on the night with an RBI, raising his batting average to .579, and Lopez went 3-4 with a run scored putting him at .440.
Manager Ron Blomberg's club is now 2.5 games ahead of the second-place Tel Aviv Lightning.
Wednesday's games will be played at noon due to the Fourth of July celebration. It will be the Netanya Tigers vs. the Modi'in Miracle at Gezer Field, and the Beit Shemesh Blue Sox vs. the Petah Tikva Pioneers at Yarkon Sports Complex.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Islamism: Sherlock Holmes and the strange case of the exploding airports

The strange behavior of the British government regarding the current attacks in Briatin is documented in this article:

Quote Of The Day: Islamophobia Edition

"Prime Minister Gordon Brown keeps repeating that the attacks have nothing to do with Islam - but, at the same time, keeps inviting "Muslim community leaders" to Downing Street to discuss how to prevent attacks. If the attacks have nothing to do with Islam, why invite Muslim 'leaders' rather than Buddhist monks?"
-- Amir Taheri, NY Post

Among the reasons why Islamists might want to self- and other-destruct in London and Glasgow, why they designed bombs of gasoline and nails and propane that would have killed hundreds if not thousands are these: Salman Rushdie was knighted, civilians have been killed in Afghanistan during fighting against the Taliban, and of course, Britain helped remove a despicable despot in Iraq and is now trying to reestablish order.


All of the suspects in the militant (we won't use the "T" word here) bombings in the UK seem to  be adherents of a certain religion: Dr. Mohamad Asha, Marwa Asha, Bilal Abdullah, Saudi junior doctor, 25, Saudi Junior doctor, 28, Mohammed Hanneef. A remarkable coincidence. What might one conclude from that? However, the attacks have nothing to do with Islam according to the British government. 

Suppose that the list had read, "Dr Amiram Goldowitz, Rotem Goldowitz, Ephraim ben Paz, Israeli Junior doctor, 25, Israeli Junior docter 28, Shlomo ben-Horin." Would the British government insist that the attacks have nothing to do with Israel or with Jews?

"I have reached an indisputable conlusion: All of the perpetrators of these crimes are of the Mohammedan persuasion. I would suggest, inspector LeStrade, that you enquire further into this most remarkable coincidence."

"By gum, Holmes, I think you are on to something there. I shall get my men on it at once. My top operatives shall be on the first packet steamers to Cairo and Kabul."

"My dear LeStrade, I have every confidence in the ability of your excellent men. I am sure they will get to the bottom of the plot soon. However, I would suggest widening the search to Damascus as well.

(After LeStrade has left, Holmes and Watson relax.)

"I say Holmes, astonishing reasoning."

"Elementary, my dear Watson. I perceived that all the gentlemen in question were wearing a peculiar Middle Eastern headress at the time of their apprehension, and screamed, "Allahu Akhbar." 


"My dear Holmes, I am pleased to inform you that the malefactors behind the plot were quickly apprehended in Tehran and Kabul.

"My dear Holmes, the entire British nation owes you a deep debt of gratitude. Her Majest herself has suggested the award of an OBE."

"All in a day's work, my dear LeStrade."

(Music: Rule Britannia)

Ah, those were the good old days, when at least some Englishmen had sense.

Ami Isseroff

Cross posted: Israel News Middle East Analysis


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Hamas Gaza Coup blamed on Israel, US

According to a MEMRI Special Dispatch The Gaza Coup Is the Result of an American-Israeli Plot.
That figures. In the Middle East, everything is blamed on the Jews, Israel or George Bush. That includes the 9-11 attacks, the London subway attacks, the corruption of the Fateh, the rise of the Hamas, AIDS, aging, malaria and the Hamsin winds.
For example:
Ali Akbar Velayati, a member of Iran's Foreign Relations Steering Council and international affairs advisor to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said in an interview with the conservative Iranian daily Jomhouri-ye Eslami: "Israel and America are behind the conflicts [in Gaza]. They wanted the Palestinians to be preoccupied with their own [problems], instead of with the struggle against Israel.
And here's another sample:
Syrian columnist Muhammad Khayr Al-Jamali wrote in the Syrian government daily
Al-Thawra that the civil war in Palestine is part of a Zionist-American plot
aimed at generating "creative chaos" and preparing the region for the
implementation of the New Middle East plan:

"The political disputes in Palestine and Iraq, which have almost become civil
wars, and the [political tensions] in Lebanon which are likewise exploited in
order to push it into the same situation, should not be regarded as separate
and unrelated developments. All these events result from a plot against the
Arab region, aimed at destabilizing it and igniting civil wars [motivated by]
political, sectarian and national [conflicts].
By the beard of the Prophet, these men must speak the truth, for are not the Jews at fault for everything in the world?
It is even stranger however, that the same or similar views are advanced by supposedly sane Americans, and even by some Israeli Jews.
Can't people give credit where it is due? The Hamas worked hard for this democratic win. They threw people off the roofs of buildings after shooting them in the kneecaps, they diced up people into steaks and shipped them to their families, they shot people in front of their families. They planned it for a long time and smuggled in arms through those tunnels, despite the fact that everyone insists that Israel is "choking" Gaza.
If Israel had not choked Gaza, what would Hamas have done then?
Ami Isseroff

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Liberals for Islamism?

In  The Islamist's War Against Liberalism, Lee Smith takes up the cudgels of liberalism against Ian Buruma, and defends Paul Berman, who argued, against Buruma and others that:
When journalists and intellectuals glide over the illiberal ideas of illiberal ideologues like Ramadan and attack liberal activists like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, then something has changed.

Buruma attacked Bernard Kouchner, France's new foreign minister. The attack is based on Kouchner's Iraq war stance, and predictably, Buruma managed to connect it to the fact that Kouchner had Jewish ancestors. Of course, that explains everything.  Smith observes:

Kouchner, whose late father was Jewish, has consistently polled as the most popular political figure in France because his countrymen believe that he represents something important about the nation to the rest of the world, not because he is a Jewish intellectual. With the significant exception of Tariq Ramadan and his followers, Europe thinks of Kouchner not as a Jewish intellectual, but rather as a figure driven by humanitarian principles and universal values.

Buruma does not understand why some people might be concerned about European appeasement:

So why the high alarm about European appeasement, especially among the neoconservatives? Why the easy equation of Islamism with Nazism?

Well, one reason might be tied to the explosions taking place in Great Britain, and the fresh bomb plots that are being uncovered daily on the one hand, and on the other hand, the total unwillingness of most governments to move decisively against Islamist incitement, beyond jailing the actual perpetrators if they are caught. Another reason might be the acquiescence of too many in the genocidal program of the Hamas, and their support for "engagement" with Iran and the Hamas.

But Smith asks a different, perfectly logical question:


What does this have to do with Bernard Kouchner? Is Buruma trying to make an easy equation between a French socialist famous for his humanitarian work and American policymakers, military strategists and journalists affiliated with the Republican party? Kouchner has offered to mediate a dialogue between all parties in Lebanon, including Hezbollah, hardly a gesture that would bring him within the embrace of the neoconservatives, who understand the Party of God as part of a dangerous Iranian axis. So what is the connection between Kouchner and the neocons?


Buruma states, in answer to his own question:

Israel is often mentioned as a reason. But Israel can mean different things to different people. To certain Evangelical Christians, it is the holy site of the Second Coming of the Messiah. To many Jews, it is the one state that will always offer refuge. To neoconservative ideologues, it is the democratic oasis in a desert of tyrannies.


This is very strange. Things are exploding in British airports, tall buildings are crumpled up by suicide bombing airliners in New York, the British underground explodes, Iraq insurgents blow up US troops and worshippers in mosques, yet the only reason that Buruma can find for alarm might have to do with Israel! As Smith points out:


It seems that in Buruma's worldview even Christians are motivated primarily by self-interest. To most Christians, whether they have apocalypse on their mind or not, Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, as described in both testaments of the Christian Bible, and attested to in historical documents and the archeological record. To many Jews it is not a "refuge," but a Jewish state where Jewish people have the right to determine their own fate, as a nation and as individuals. And while we are listing what Israel means to different people, it is worth noting that to some Muslims, including the president of Iran, the General Secretary of Hezbollah, and the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, it is a curse that must be wiped off the face of the earth.

Defending Israel against its Islamic enemies may indeed be a factor in the existential alarmism that underlies the present "war on terror." A nuclear-armed Iran would certainly make Israel feel more vulnerable. But it is probably overstated as an explanation. Kouchner did not advocate Western intervention in Bosnia or Kosovo because of Israel. If concern for Israel played a part in Paul Wolfowitz's advocacy of war in Iraq, it was probably a minor one. Both men were motivated by common concerns for human rights and democracy, as well as perhaps by geopolitical considerations.

If defending Israel was a factor, there is nothing odd about upholding the right of a UN member state to exist when its many enemies have threatened it with extinction. On a similar principle, Great Britain entered WW2. But if concern for Israel was a "minor one," if it was indeed a factor at all, why does Buruma raise the issue to begin with? And how did Paul Wolfowitz get dragged into this? What is the connection between him and Kouchner?

Read the rest of it at The Islamist's War Against Liberalism

And perhaps after all, when we eliminate the Jews and Israel and the Kouchners and the Wolfowitzes as the cause of dissatisfaction with Islamism, we must also remember that liberalism itself is threatened, and liberal values are threatened by Islamism. The offer of Knighthood for Salman Rushdie has been roundly condemned by Muslims, and might, presumably result in the same kind of rioting that followed the publication of cartoons showing Muhamad, because we are told, Rushdie, like the cartoons, "insulted the Prophet (PBUH)."  The end result of such agitation is that de facto, Islamist tyranny is being gradually exported to Europe, and European media, academics and governments will find their freedom of thought and action as severely curtailed as if the Hamas had taken over Britain, and not just Gaza, and the Mullahs of Iran and their agents had taken over Europe, and not just Iran and South Lebanon. This prospect doesn't seem to worry Buruma.

Ami Isseroff

Cross posted: Israel News Middle East Analysis


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UCC insists it still supports terror and will continue to be unfair to Israel

It seems that elements in the United Church of Christ (perhaps it is not so united) are trying to disown their own resolution. Earlier, we reported that United Church of Christ (UCC) Reverses anti-Israel resolution. But now, a spokesman for the UCC is trying to have us believe that a part of the resolution is not part of the resolution, and that in fact, it is perfectly satisfied with Palestinian internecine violence, incitement and terrorism, and insists on maintianing its former policy of unfair, uninformed one-sided condemnation of Israel:
This is part of what they are trying to disown:
WHEREAS, many children and young people are not being educated for peace but are being exposed to hatred and intolerance in textbooks and the media; and
WHEREAS, the 26th General Synod of the United Church of Christ continues to affirm the right of the peoples of both Israel and Palestine to live in peace, side by side in two secure and economically viable states; and

WHEREAS, the 25th General Synod of the United Church of Christ passed two resolutions focusing on the actions of Israel, entitled "Tear Down the Wall" and "Concerning the Use of Economic Leverage in Promoting Peace in the Middle East," and has yet to fully address other forces contributing to the ongoing violence, oppression and suffering in the region; and

WHEREAS, many children and young people are not being educated for peace but are being exposed to hatred and intolerance in textbooks and the media; and

WHEREAS, in recent months violence has dramatically escalated between the Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, especially in the Gaza Strip, in spite of the fact that Israel disengaged from Gaza in September 2005; and

WHEREAS the potential for Palestinian civil war has never before been so real, and if it comes to pass would be disastrous for everyone in the region; and

WHEREAS, the escalating violence between Fatah and Hamas now calls us to consider whether we may have overlooked many aspects of an extraordinarily complicated situation and extraordinarily complicated relationships in the region; and

WHEREAS, we reaffirm our call to act as peacemakers in this war-torn yet holy land;

Gee whizz! Support for peace and condemnation of terrorism and  hate. Making informed judgements rather than basing them on race hatred and political expediency! Horror of horrors! What would Jesus say about that? Real heresy no doubt. No wonder the UCC is anxious to disown it. Wouldn't anyone be ashamed of a statement like that? According to the  press release of Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East.
"In his statement, which appears on the UCC website, Rev. Thomas asserts that the 'be it resolved' clauses are the only binding parts of the resolution and thus suggests that by invoking the 'whereas' section, Fair Witness is somehow misleading the public," says Dexter Van Zile, UCC layperson and member of Fair Witness's Executive Committee.
On the other hand, it would appear that UCC's resolutions themselves are entirely in keeping with the "be it resolved" clauses, which are quoted hereunder:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the 26th General Synod of the United Church of Christ recognizes the need for ongoing balanced study, commentary and critique related to the conflict in the region;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the 26th General Synod condemns all media programs, publications, advertising campaigns, textbooks and groups that perpetuate violence instead of promoting peace; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the 26th General Synod directs the Executive Council to establish a Task Force to engage in ongoing and balanced study of the causes, history and context of the conflict, including appropriate responses to the situation that may or may not lead to further support of economic leverage and removal of the security barrier. The Task Force is to report to the 27th General Synod in 2009 for any necessary further action, and also to report to all settings of the Church so that they, too, may have a deeper understanding of the situation.
The background part of the resolution states:
The 25th General Synod of the United Church of Christ passed two resolutions in 2005 concerning the ongoing violence in the Middle East ("Tear Down the Wall" and "Concerning the Use of Economic Leverage in Promoting Peace in the Middle East"). We continue to be committed to assisting the Palestinian and Israeli people in finding a just two-state solution that will ensure a secure, peaceful and productive future. Because the "Tear Down the Wall" resolution focused solely on the actions of Israel, we also have a responsibility to more fully understand and name the ways other nations and forces have contributed to the situation...
Clearly someone at UCC thought the earlier resolutions were unjust. Thomas for his part, is firm in his belief that the resolutions do not in any way alter the unfair anti-Israel resoutions of the 2005 UCC Synod, as explained in this article: Thomas: Synod policy on Israel-Palestine 'remains today what it was before. Thomas protests that the UCC is firm in its support of terrorism, has no interest in understanding the conflict in a balanced way, and will continue to overlook incitement and terror and promulgate anti-Israel policies. It would seem that he claims that the UCC does not "also have a responsibility to more fully understand and name the ways other nations and forces have contributed to the situation."
After the Presbyterian Church USA reversed its anti-Israel policies, an attempt was made, with unclear success, to nullify the earlier resolutions and some elements in PC-USA continued to encourage and support friends of the Hezbollah (see Presbyterian Church USA Doesn't Recognize Israel ). The same process is taking place in UCC it seems.
But the promoters of fairness and fighters against terror and promoters of other heresies are sticking by their guns. See: Fair Witness Reaffirms Its Statement Regarding UCC General Synod's Resolution
from Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East. This sort of heresy is dangerous. It could lead to subversive ideas such as "love they neighbor as thyself" and talk of motes and beams and other such. In the good old days, they knew what to do with heretics.
Undoubtedly, Thomas is one of those people who protests so loudly against "Christian Zionism" as a dangerous movement. Some tenets of Christian Zionism may indeed be dangerous, but aren't racism, prejudice and one sidedness and tacit support for terror equally dangerous? Who was the fellow who said, "Judge not, lest ye be judged?" The Rev. Thomas probably  never heard of him.
Ami Isseroff

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New road to Jerusalem City of David opened

The headline reads "New road to the Western Wall opened" but the road only gets as far as the City of David.
The article states:
A new road leading to the Western Wall aimed at easing traffic congestion in Jerusalem's Old City was inaugurated on Monday...
The last stretch of the new road, leading from the Arab village of Silwan up to the Dung Gate, is expected to be completed in a couple of years, with today's new road connecting to the old existing road alongside the City of David across from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
It is a bit of exaggeration, to cover up the fact that the Jerusalem temple mount bridge plan was cancelled owing to religious hysteria.
The Jerusalem post article cited above reminds us of the popularity of the Western Wall as a tourist attraction and indirectly, tells us about the significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people. The Western Wall was once though to be a remnant of the temple. In actuality, it is probably a retaining wall built by Herod to shore up the landfill he used to enlarge the mountain when he renovated the second temple.
This article about Hezekiah's tunnel tells a bit about the geography of the Gihon and Silwan area and their real significance in Jewish history. , and also
Ami Isseroff  


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Jerusalem temple mount bridge plan cancelled owing to religious hysteria

In case you were wondering what happened to the Israeli plans to build a "Mughrabi gate" bridge: they were scrapped. Read about it here: Israel scraps Mughrabi Gate bridge planThe original plan did not take into account the flurry of religious hysteria that would inevitably accompany any move by any Jew regarding the temple mount, including sneezing near it, and would lead to a Jihad. The protests of benighted and hate mongering fanatics were backed by the UN:
A UNESCO report on the dig concluded that the excavation is not damaging the holy site but called on Israel to stop the dig nonetheless to allow for international observation of the work.
Even though an investigation commission found that Israel had not disturbed the mosques in any way or committed any damage, Israel was nonetheless forced to cease and desist. In contrast, the Muslim Waqf has been busy bulldozing priceless artifacts of the first temple period beneath the Al-Aqsa mosque, and weakening the foundations of the mosque for about ten years. Alarming cracks have developed in the Temple Mount thanks to these actitivites. The mount is apparently really an artificial mound, that was raised by Herod in order to enlarge the original "mount" which was too small to accommodate his ambitious building plans. The ancient land fill project is now being undermined, quite literally. When the whole structure collapses, bringing down the Al-Aqsa mosque, the event will undoubtedly be blamed on "the Jews."
The religious hysteria stirred up against the construction was primarily the work of Sheikh Raedh Salah, head of the northern branch of the Israel Islamic Association, whose speeches filled with anti-Semitic invective and false charges were aimed at inciting violent insurrection.
By the way, nobody knows if the first temple is really underneath the mosques, or if, as some suggest, the original site was on a different mountain.
Ami Isseroff


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Monday, July 2, 2007

Iran's Message: Brighter than a thousand suns

TEHRAN I found the general at the end of a winding road in the Alborz Mountains 150 miles north of Tehran. He was sitting placidly at a table laden with cherries, nectarines and other fruits. A stream flowed nearby. It was a pleasant and pastoral place to discuss an uncomfortable matter: the tension between Iran and the United States, and the looming possibility of war.
The general, Mohsen Rezai, is secretary of Iran's powerful Expediency Council...
Given Iran's complex, nearly impenetrable politics, it is difficult to say whether Rezai wanted to deliver a semi-official message, or was freelancing. But it seemed like the former, especially because the government also arranged rare interviews with other senior officials...
Rezai's intention was clear: No matter what question I asked, he somehow managed to bring the discussion back to Tehran's need to find its way out of its dangerous stalemate with Washington. President Bush "has started a cold war with Iran, and if it's not controlled, it could turn into a warm war," he said.
Rezai's intention was clear, but not to Michael Hirsh. Iran held Americans hostage in their embassy. Iran sent Hezbollah to murder US marines in Lebanon. Iranian leaders declare over and over, "Death to America." Iran is funding and aiding terror in Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza. Iran is apparently building nuclear weapons. Then Rezai, with ironical macabre humor characteristic of Nazi and Soviet propaganda, declares that President Bush started a cold war with Iran. Of course the government arranged meetings for Mr. Hirsh. He was to be a "useful idiot" - a courier for a "Friedensrede" - a "Peace Talk" - a successful propaganda device invented by Herr Hitler.
The real message should be crystal clear to everyone by now, but Hirsh doesn't get it. Before long, it may be "brighter then a thousand suns." Then Hirsh might understand the message, but it will be too late.
Ami Isseroff


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Guardian uses "T" word for Terror

T is for terror and H is for hypocrisy. The Guardian has committed the unforgivable sin of referring to nice Al-Qaeda freedom fighters as a "terror cell." Shame on them. In their article  Race to break terror cell the Guardian fails to appreciate the struggle of the Islamic Umma against oppressive Western Zionist devices such as airplanes, which corrupt the souls of good Muslim youth.
But if the same attacks had occurred in Israel, the Guardian would write that the Israeli army is persecuting "militants."
Two men arrested after the Glasgow attack remained in custody yesterday. One of them, believed to be the driver, was critically ill in hospital with severe burns. He was under armed guard. Another man, 27, who had been in the vehicle, was in police custody.
Yesterday a car in the grounds of the hospital in which he was being treated was destroyed in a controlled explosion. Police said it was linked to the investigation.

Police declined to give details about those arrested, but Strathclyde's Assistant Chief Constable John Neilson revealed that those held in Glasgow were not Scottish. He told a public meeting at a city mosque: "The people we have in custody came to Scotland a short while ago to seek work. Other than that, I can't tell you - but I'm sure the community in Glasgow in particular will be reassured. These are not your young people." Security sources said later none of the five arrested was born in Britain.
These guys were just exercising the legitimate right of "resistance," weren't they? Obviously, Britain has the world's worst human rights record, and we should BOYCOTT BRITAIN.
Ami Isseroff 


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Sex and the Palestinians - Porno extortion tapes

Ma'ariv 27 June, 2007 (Hebrew)

 "Sex and the PNA"
Amit Kohen
According to Fatah security apparatus orders, it was important to duly destroy any sensitive document or material before it fell into the hands of the Hamas. Now, however, it appears that not only intelligence material was stored at command headquarters and that not just weapons and documents have fallen into Hamas men's hands, but also a real treasure of a different kind: tens of sex tapes documenting the deeds of much of the senior Palestinian leadership.

Most of the tapes show Palestinian seniors cheating on their wives. Of course, these materials were regarded as explosive stuff in the Palestinian arena, which is particularly sensitive to moral violations. The embarrassing tapes shot secretly were used as a means to extort and pressure various different targets, who necessarily feared any repercussions from both a personal and public angle. It appears that security officials also used the photos to procure benefits and recruit agents from among political rivals both in Fatah and Hamas.

Internal disputes within Fatah led to a situation whereby every senior would try to collect damaging material on his opponent within the organization. This, for example, is the reason why a senior
minister in one of the Fatah governments was among those taped. Another victim is a very senior officer from the Palestinian security mechanism, who was apparently taped by someone from a rival

Targets within Hamas were also marked; for example, security officials taped a well known Hamas member in Gaza engaged in sexual intercourse with a young woman. Afterwards, he was presented with the tape and given two choices: cooperate with us, or we reveal the pictures. Having no choice, the Hamas man agreed to become an agent for the security mechanisms and to transfer them information on his organization.

An official of the Hamas military arm confirmed the existence of the tapes, and even admitted to watching a few of them. "Whatever is happening there doesn't make sense," he said, adding: "These are respected individuals, including even former ministers. We saw on tape people whom we never imagined would be duped this way." The victims were documented in various different places -in their homes, in hotels, and even in offices.
"I saw footage of a doctor taped in action in his office at the hospital," said the Hamas man. The fact that even doctors are documented attests to the scope of the extortion industry. "It was a real business," he said, adding that "very beautiful girls were involved; naturally, if one of them is brought to a senior, she will be of superior quality." He says that some of the girls are from Gaza or Palestinians who returned to the territories from abroad and "in some cases, professional girls were brought in from abroad especially."

Ironically, the means of extortion are now in Hamas's hands. Although the organization's members won't openly admit it, they benefit from the use of dubious means of pressure. "Many Fatah men who fled the Gaza Strip now have their lips sealed," said the Hamas man with satisfaction. "They don't dare attack us in the media, because they know what we've got. They are afraid that if they talk, we will reveal the materials in our possession."

All of the embarrassing tapes are now in the hands of the Izz-adeen al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military arm, which values them hightly. "Who knows? Maybe one day we will make use of them," says the Hamas man smugly.

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Iran and Venezuela Tighten alliance

According to the report, "Latin American countries should use Iran's valuable experiences in different fields for the progress of their nations." Does this mean Chavez is about to start torturing and hanging homosexuals and building atom bombs?
The pillars of imperialism are shaking and victory will materialize through resistance-Ahmadinejad

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday the pillars of imperialism are shaking and victory will materialize through resistance.

In a meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez, Ahmadinejad said Venezuela can pave the way for expansion of relations between Iran and Latin America's independent countries by enhancing relations, IRNA reported.

Emphasizing the necessity of expanding ties with independent countries, Ahmadinejad opined that independent countries can pave the way for development and welfare of their nations by increasing the level of collaboration among themselves.

Noting that the Latin America has huge potentials, the president said establishing a joint trade company, holding exhibition of products and strengthening the joint investment fund can boost the ties of Latin America with other countries.

Chavez, for his part, said cooperation among independent countries, particularly Iran and Venezuela, plays a crucial role in defeating the imperialist policies and saving nations.

"Latin American countries should use Iran's valuable experiences in different fields for the progress of their nations," he said.

Also on Sunday, the Venezuelan president met with the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, the details of which were not available at the time of going to print.

The Venezuelan president's three-day trip to Iran comes after stops in Russia and Belarus where he discussed military and energy deals with his counterparts.
The delegation accompanying Chavez comprises Venezuelan ministers of oil, foreign affairs and industries as well as head of the presidential office.
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Vatican: Mass not so anti-Semitic

The report states, "Vatican officials stressed that the current text, which formerly called Jews "perfidious," contains no derogatory reference to Jews. "
But it goes on to say,"Let us pray for the Jews, that the face of the Lord our God may shine on them so that they too recognize the redeemer of all, Jesus Christ, our Lord."
Let us pray for the Catholics, that they may repent the error of their ways.
Ami Isseroff
Jul. 1, 2007 22:16 | Updated Jul. 1, 2007 22:39
Vatican explains Tridentine Mass revival
The text of a "Motu Proprio" (papal decision) regarding the revival of a controversial Latin mass will be made public this week, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Vatican officials stressed that the current text, which formerly called Jews "perfidious," contains no derogatory reference to Jews.
The text is based on the Tridentine Mass promulgated by the Council of Trent in the 16th century. Originally this mass contained a Good Friday prayer for the conversion of "the perfidious Jews."
But in the 1960s, after his historic meeting with the historian and Holocaust survivor Jules Isaac, Pope John XXIII ordered this terminology removed, and the version that will be used dates back to 1962, when this phrase had already been eliminated.
Yet controversy continues over Benedict XVIth's decision to "facilitate and clarify" the possibility of performing mass in this Latin version. After the Second Vatican Council, the Latin mass was abolished in favor of using local languages, for the sake of improved communication. Only 2,000 to 3,000 people, following Cardinal Lefebvre in France and in Italy's Piedmont region continued using the Latin version. They ordained their own bishops, who were subsequently excommunicated by John Paul II. Benedict is apparently attempting to reintegrate this group into the church.
Now, any parish with at least 30 members will be able to request permission from their bishop to perform the Latin mass.
Some Catholic circles, particularly those most open to interfaith dialogue, are concerned this change will divide Catholics and undo some of the good work of the Second Vatican Council.
Jewish groups are upset that the mass contain a prayer for the conversion of the Jews.
While the Tridentine Mass contained a Good Friday prayer asking that God "lift the veil covering the hearts of Jews so that they may recognize Jesus Christ our Lord," the 1965 version states: "Let us pray for the Jews, that the face of the Lord our God may shine on them so that they too recognize the redeemer of all, Jesus Christ, our Lord."
The prayer continues: "Listen to your church so that those who were once your chosen people may reach the fulfillment of redemption."
Contemporary Good Friday prayers no longer ask for the conversion of Jews, and in contrast to the old version, the Jewish covenant with God is presented as eternally valid.
During Easter celebrations one can hear these words in the modern version: "Lord our God, who chose the Jews before all other men, to receive his word, help them to continue progressing in the love of your name and faithfulness to your covenant." The prayer continues with wishes that Jews may reach "the fulfillment of redemption."


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Sunday, July 1, 2007

Australian FM Downer on why he supports Israel


The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
Alexander Downer Speech
26 June 2007, King David Hotel, Jerusalem
Speech to the Israel Australia Chamber of Commerce Gala Dinner

Minister Ezra, Professor Stanley Fischer, Gurion Meltzer, Moshe Kaveh, the President of Bar Ilan University and other distinguished guests here tonight.

I can only say that tonight is a very important evening for me and I feel very touched by the great honour that's been bestowed on me by Bar Ilan University. I feel that it's exciting on the one hand but I feel very humbled by it as well - perhaps a little undeserving. I did get an honours degree at university but my wife says to me that "Darling, you're now a doctor but you've not done a stroke of work towards a thesis". When I graduated as an undergraduate I thought that was enough university and it was time to go out and make money and I failed at that and went into politics [laughter]. Anyway, I've come full circle and now I'm a doctor and so I appreciate the great honour.

A lot of people ask me why I seem to be so committed to Israel - I mean, I'm a Christian, not Jewish and although I remember staying here in this hotel about three years ago ... and I think I could almost be described as an honorary Jew with a lot of the views that I hold about the issues that Jewish people confront. But a lot of people do ask me why I am so committed to Israel. And I think there are a variety of explanations for that. One of them is a bit historic and I think some of you have heard me say this before. When I was a child at school and subsequently when I went to university in England, for no particular reason, Jewish people seemed to befriend me as some other people did as well [laughter], but I seemed to have quite a lot of Jewish friends.

When I was at university I shared a house with four people. One of them was a New Zealander, one of them was Jewish - her name is Judy - and a Scotsman. This was in 1972-73, that sort of time, the significance being 1973. And Judy had a cousin come and stay with her from Israel. And it was at the time, just as the cousin came, the Yom Kippur War broke out. And I remember this just as though it were yesterday, going down into our little kitchenette - imagine a student's kitchen how completely disgusting it was, with washing up not done for about four days, just a complete mess really, and we ate such disgusting food as well. Judy's sitting there in her dressing gown with her cousin from Israel and the cousin from Israel had tears in her eyes. They were both listening to BBC radio, to the details of the Yom Kippur War and you'll remember better than I do how in the early days it wasn't going so well. This cousin of Judy's brother was in the Israeli army and - you know all of this so much better than I do.

But I was tremendously struck by the power of the moment. I was tremendously struck by the Jewish people, as in the Israelis in this case, under siege and so unreasonably in my view - now some people will criticise me for that - but I think completely unreasonably under siege in the way that they were and suffering so much yet again after all the wars that they'd been through. And, I don't know, it seemed to me that somebody had sometimes to stick up for the Israeli people and as the years have gone by the cause of Israel has, in many countries around the world, become decreasingly fashionable. I don't think there's any doubt about that. It hasn't changed my mind that it's become decreasingly fashionable, in fact I've never claimed to be fashionable, I've just tried to do what I thought was the right thing.

So for those sort of historic reasons, I've had a strong feeling for Israel. One of the other reasons I have a strong feeling for Israel - when I come here and it's forty degrees it reminds me of Adelaide, it's like going home. When I come here and look at Israeli politics it also reminds me of home. The interesting way that Israelis conduct their politcs, the same robust - dare I say it - slightly rude way in which your politicians deal with each other, the volatility of your politics - a bit more volatile than ours. Yes, you've had more Foreign Ministers, as Stanley was pointing out, than we have over the last eleven years, but nevertheless the volatility, the confrontation, the partisanship of your politics is very familiar to us.

Of course in a broader sense Israel shares so many of the core values that Australia has as well. Australia is the world's sixth oldest continuingly operating democracy; its democratic roots are very deep. Israel is such a vibrant democracy as well, it's one of the great heartlands of modern democracy as well - the passionate belief in the freedom of the individual that we have in our own society. There's something else about Israel that Australia shares as well and that is that your country seems to me to be a kind of brutally egalitarian society and we kind of like that in Australia. Airs and graces don't go down very well in our country - that's why Europeans think that we're very noisy and perhaps a touch common [laughter]. But it's just that we're very egalitarian. And I think that Israelis suffer from - if you could call it that - the same thing. So there are those great sort of bonds of kinship, I guess, that we have.

We have in Australia a wonderful Jewish community about 100,000 strong. They are just enormous contributors to our country. Our country would not be the great country it is if not for our small but incredibly successful Jewish community in the professions, in business, not so much in politics in our country but there have been from time to time in politics - the first Australian-born Governor General of Australia was Jewish and we've had two Governors General - I think, two - who have been Jewish. Jewish people have been an enormously important part of our society - continue to be - and we're very proud of that as well.

But I suppose on top of all of those things, in very recent years we have kind of been bound together yet again because of the way the world has evolved. I suppose for Jewish people one of the most defining experiences is what happened to them in the 1930s and 1940s. So for Jewish people they understand more than anyone else on earth the pain of the confrontation between liberal democrats, social democrats on the one side and fascism and Nazism on the other side and totalitarianism. After that we had the confrontation between liberal and social democrats and Communism. And I think when we got to 1990-91, the Berlin wall was torn down, Communism collapsed, it became a barren and bankrupt ideology. The Soviet Union itself broke up, we thought it was, to use Francis Fukuyama's phrase, the end of world history, meaning that the great ideological confrontations had finished. We thought that we could pocket a 'peace dividend' as they used to say in the early 1990s, we could put away our arms and spend that money on the things we'd truly love to spend it on - health and education, services and so on.

But then we were very brutally reminded, as time went on, that in fact the great conflicts were not over. That the world still faces a great conflict, which I often define as a conflict between moderate people, between tolerant people, between caring people on the one hand and between extremists, and the intolerant and the uncaring on the other hand. And the intolerance of a minority is an intolerance that causes great death and great suffering.

Now I ask myself what should we do about those who are intolerant, those who have ideologies which they wish to impose on others, and those who are prepared to cause suffering to others for the cause of an ideology because the ideology is more important than human life or it's more important than any individual, that in fact individuals don't count, the corporate ideology is what counts? And this is what we see from the Islamic extremists from, in our part of the world, in south east Asia, from Jemaah Islamiyah, the Abu Sayyaf group, you see from Al Qaeda, and you see to some extent from both Hamas and Hizbollah right around you here in Israel.

Some people said that the best way to deal with Nazism was through a policy that was very fashionable and very popular in the 1940s called appeasement. And we all know in this room that that policy was the wrong policy. And yet it's so often repeated, despite the fact that we know it's the wrong way to deal with extremists we're still inclined to want to repeat it. So when it came to the Soviet Union and the spread of Communism and the challenges that laid down some people thought, "Well that's the way the world is, we just have to find ways of accommodating it".

A lot of you won't agree with me here, because you can see I don't mind always whether people agree or not, but I reckon one of the great speeches of the 20th century, or at least the second half of the 20th century, was Ronald Reagan's speech in 1987 in Berlin where he said, "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall". The importance of that speech was that it was a speech where Reagan was saying, "I want to confront this type of regime, I want to confront this totalitarianism, and I want to defeat it". And he and his successors and a number of other people - there were a lot of people involved in that victory, but they did.

When it's come to Islamic extremism and terrorism, there are still people who think we shouldn't confront it, and we shouldn't try to defeat it, and we should try to negotiate our way out of it. I'm often reminded of the phrase that Osama bin Laden uses - you want to watch these people's videos - just as it was important to read Mein Kampf, so it is important to look at and take seriously what people like Osama bin Laden say. And he says the West is a weak horse. That if you keep confronting the weak horse for long enough eventually it will walk away, that it won't be able to sustain for a long time a campaign against extremism and terrorism. And when I think about the debates that there are - the debates there are about what to do with Hamas or with Hizbollah and Al Qaeda - what should we be doing in Iraq and Afghanistan - should we let the Taliban take over and just go back home, go back to bed and have a cry at night.

Or, in our case, should we and the Americans and the British and others just walk out of Iraq and leave people like Al Qaeda and other extremists to play merry havoc in that country. Imagine what that would mean for you nearby, here in Israel. And people say that's the easy way, that's the way we should do it. I keep thinking to myself, "It would be quite easy", and sometimes I think it might give us a bit of a boost in the polls if we were to do that sort of thing at home. And then I think, "What will it mean for my children? What will it mean for future generations? What will it mean for you here in this country?" if in the end we show weakness, if we are weak horses, if we run away. Will that mean these people themselves will disappear, will their ideology vanish? Will they become our friends as a result of us being weak horses? I think the answer to that is perfectly obvious. And therefore when we think about confronting this great challenge that we have today, that you have of course right here in the forefront of it, and that we have to some lesser extent in south east Asia.

When we think about it we need to work with people who are like-minded, and we need to show a sturdy courage in continuing to confront it. And I don't just mean a physical courage, and it certainly requires on the part of many people that above all and, I'm sorry to say, very often very sad sacrifice. But also for politicians, a lot of political courage as well to continue to make their arguments in their own countries. And some have done that and you know I've admired those people who have been prepared to do that in their countries, sometimes in the teeth of public opposition.

So I say all those things here in Israel on this wonderful evening here tonight, I think our countries have joined together in that great struggle that we have. And what I want to see is an Israel that can live in peace, of course, in peace with its neighbours with two states there, with the State of Israel entirely secure. You don't want to have to spend ten per cent of your GDP, as we were discussing, on defence, but much less, and with a Palestinian state too which is a secure and a prosperous place and a prosperous neighbour and a good neighbour for Israel. And we want to see a world where people are able to live in freedom and democracy and I think Australia and Israel and a number of other countries know that can't be achieved for free - we do have to show strength if we are going to achieve those things. And you know those of us who believe in those things - let's try to stick together, let's not argue too much and fall out with each other.

So, it's always an enormous pleasure for me for all of those reasons and I've talked about them at great length to be in Israel and to be here in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a spectacular city. I always say to people there are about 10 cities you have to see before you die and one of those cities is Jerusalem.  It's a wonderful city, a controversial city, a very divided city, but a magnificent city. I think Sydney actually - although a lot of people here come from Melbourne - [laughter] don't worry, I'm from Adelaide, the city with the greatest football team [laughter] - but I think, just to look at, Sydney is one of the 10 cities you have to see. So those of you who are Israelis who have never been to Sydney you must make sure you at least go there and perhaps go to Adelaide as well [laughter]. It has quite a small Jewish community, Adelaide, but a very good one.

So I'd like to, if you'll just let me, say once more what an enormous honour it is to be here this evening. It's a wonderful feeling to receive from Bar Ilan University the honorary doctorate, I appreciate that enormously, and I look forward to coming back before too long, after our election - confidently, in the same position I've got here today [applause]. The one thing that I definitely want on the record, Professor Kaveh, is that I would like to make a commitment to going to Bar Ilan University and giving a lecture there about some of the things that I believe in. So, thank you very much.


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Israeli policy options: Where is the carrot and the stick?

Among the options that Brom doesn't seem to include in this INSS briefing are an active program of carrot and stick that will make peace and the Fateh a bit more popular, and thereby bolster Israeli image with EU and the US, giving us a freer hand to deal with Hamas and other extremists - including Fateh extremists - if needed. This program could include evacuation of illegal outposts and a settlement freeze, contingent upon disarmament of all the armed factions in the West Bank. Mahmoud Abbas adopted the policy of disarming factions, but the Al-Aqsa brigades refuse to comply.
Ami Isseroff 

No. 7 July 1, 2007

Israel's Policy Options after the Hamas Takeover in Gaza

Shlomo Brom

The Hamas takeover in Gaza is a dramatic event that has ramifications for Israeli-Palestinian relations, as well as regional significance. The forceful takeover by an Islamic movement of an Arab political entity generates repercussions and shockwaves in the Arab world. The question that now confronts various players – Israel, the Arab world and the international community – is how to deal with this new situation. Does the situation contain only risks, or are there also opportunities?

Among the characteristics of the new situation:

  • The separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank has deepened, and each has become a different political entity. Israel can clearly differentiate between actions against the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank that is ruled by Fatah and actions against Gaza.

  • For the first time the Hamas government is in a situation where it has full control over a geographic area and full responsibility for what transpires there. This situation seems stable and irreversible, at least in the near future.

  • The establishment of a separate Fatah government in the West Bank has already prompted the rescinding of international sanctions in this area.

  • The Hamas takeover of Gaza aroused great concern in Egypt and increased its motivation to take more effective control over the border with the Strip, although doubts remain regarding Egypt's actual ability to prevent smuggling along this border.

  • On the other hand, Hamas's control of the Gaza-Egypt border makes weapons smuggling easier on the Palestinian side.

  • To a certain extent, Hamas has trapped itself by creating a situation in which it bears responsibility for what happens in the Gaza Strip, and it faces a Palestinian public that automatically compares it with the Fatah administration in the West Bank. Hamas cannot succeed without quiet and stability in Gaza, and it is in need of Israel in order to manage daily affairs properly.

  • On the other hand, if as a result of this situation the pressure on Hamas intensifies and it is pushed to the wall, it could resort to the easy option of renewing the confrontation with Israel and diverting the attention of the Palestinian public to this confrontation.

  • The newly-created situation is to a certain extent also easier for Israel, because for the first time there is one effective address in Gaza vis-א-vis which Israel can operate militarily or in the civil/diplomatic realm.

  • The takeover of Gaza was apparently not a result of a decision by the political leadership, and it reflects dissent within Hamas.

Principal Challenges

The central questions facing Israel are:

  • How should Israel relate to the two new political entities, the one in the Gaza Strip and the other in the West Bank? Should the separation between them be encouraged? Should they be considered equally or differentially?

  • On the likely assumption that the Hamas government in Gaza will have an interest in maintaining quiet vis-א-vis Israel in order to stabilize its government and illustrate to the Palestinian people that it can provide the population with a better reality than what existed under the Fatah administration, does Israel need to cooperate with this trend, attain a ceasefire in the Strip, and create a more or less normal reality on the border with the Strip (commercial traffic, etc.), or should it oppose this, since it could damage Israel's more long term interests?

  • Is this the opportunity to create a Palestinian partner for dialogue, since the common interests between the Fatah Palestinian administration in the West Bank and Israel have strengthened? Or, in circumstances where there is no single entity that can purport to represent the Palestinian people, is effective dialogue impossible?

An answer to any of these questions must be examined as to its contribution to achieving Israel's goals vis-א-vis the Palestinians and as to its feasibility. At the same time, the limitations of Israel's ability to influence developments on the Palestinian side must also be taken into account.

Israel's long term goal is to reach an agreement with a reliable Palestinian partner that is willing and able to implement a two-states-for-two-nations solution. In the shorter term, the goal is to prevent security threats to Israel that originate from the Palestinian territories. There are five possible courses of action open to Israel that address the questions listed above. They are not all mutually exclusive, and various combinations could be considered. It is also possible to move from one course of action to another over time.

Possible Courses of Action

The first course of action is to encourage the separation between the two areas, to strengthen the Fatah government in the West Bank and at the same time, to punish the Hamas government in Gaza and weaken it. This is the course of action that may seem inevitable since Hamas, the ruling power in Gaza, is a movement that is Islamist, armed, militant, does not recognize Israel, and aims for Israel's destruction. In the West Bank, the ruling movement has recognized Israel and wants an agreement with it. In that case, what might be warranted is to harm the former organization and support the latter. There are those who claim that in this way, it will be possible to turn the West Bank into a success story, encourage the expansion of economic activity, and raise the standard of living since the sanctions have been removed, and international aid money and tax money that Israel has been holding will be released. Israel will also contribute to this improvement by removing roadblocks and easing the movement of goods and persons, as well as taking other actions that will strengthen the standing of Fatah, such as the release of prisoners. On the other hand, the Gaza Strip, which will continue to be under Israeli and international sanctions with the pressure on it only increasing, will turn into a story of failure. The Palestinian public will see the respective performances of the two governments, and will abandon Hamas and return to Fatah.

There are a number of reasons to doubt the success of this course of action. First, the Fatah government in the West Bank is not a result of popular support but the presence of Israeli bayonets. Fatah is ruling because Israel is consistently damaging the Hamas infrastructure. In the final analysis, Israel cannot help Fatah as long as it doesn't help itself. In the meantime, Fatah does not show any sign of true reform that will enable it to rehabilitate its standing in the eyes of the Palestinian population and once again become an effective political movement. Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) is not an effective leader. Israel can certainly help to some extent by releasing Marwan Barghouti and encouraging the replacement of the current generation of Fatah leadership, but its ability to influence is very limited and its involvement frequently backfires. To the same extent, an enthusiastic hug of Abu Mazen by Israel can harm his standing. Hamas is already describing him as a traitor who collaborates with Israel. There is also a good chance that the Palestinian public will not interpret the crisis in Gaza as a Hamas failure, but will place the blame on Israel, the US, and their Arab allies, chief among them, Fatah.

Another essential problem with this course of action is the expected reaction of Hamas. If it is pushed against the wall, it will resort to the only recourse available to it, which is the use of violence. If it acts wisely, it will concentrate its terrorist efforts in the West Bank and will try to launch suicide attacks from there. The dramatic reduction in the scope of suicide attacks derives to a large extent from the effective actions of the Israeli security forces in the West Bank, but it is also due in part to the decision by Hamas not to launch suicide attacks from there. Notwithstanding the major successes of the Israeli security forces, there is still a Hamas terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank, and it should be assumed that the movement will succeed in realizing some attacks. In this case, Israel will be forced, despite all good intentions, to renew its network of roadblocks and even to reinforce them. The limitations on travel will become harsher, and economic activity will collapse.

The question also arises as to what extent a renewal of the diplomatic process with Abu Mazen and his government in the West Bank will serve the purposes of this course of action. On the one hand, it is questionable whether in Abu Mazen's weak condition and in light of his competition with Hamas he can reach an agreement with Israel on essential issues such as the refugee problem, and even if he can reach an agreement, he will not be able to implement it while he represents only a part of the Palestinian public and there is dissent as to his legitimacy. On the other hand, one can claim that the very dialogue with Abu Mazen and the ability to reach agreements with Israel will strengthen his position among the Palestinian public. The conclusion could be that renewing the diplomatic dialogue might be productive, but excessive hope should not be attached to it.

The second course of action is to try to create positive competition between the two governments via preparedness to work with both of them. In this case also there would be preference given to the Fatah government in the West Bank since the governments would be judged by their performance, and it is clear that the government in the West Bank would meet Israeli and international community expectations more readily than its Gazan rival. At the same time, there would be a readiness to work with the Hamas government and allow it to function. It would be judged by its actions on the ground. If it maintains quiet and stability along the border with Israel, it would be rewarded accordingly, and normal economic activity with Israel as well as certain international assistance would be enabled. It can be assumed that in these circumstances, competition will be created between the two governments as to which of them would provide more effective governance and a better life for the population under its control. In this course of action, Israel would cooperate with Hamas in stabilizing and broadening the ceasefire. Those who support this course of action also generally estimate that it will be possible to encourage a process of pragmatization with Hamas that could help it become a Palestinian partner in the more distant future. Intra-Palestinian attempts to once again reach an understanding between Fatah and Hamas do not oppose this course of action.

There are a number of problems that challenge the possible success of this course of action. First it can harm the Fatah government and weaken it further. Second, it can be interpreted as awarding a prize to the Islamic movement that seized power by force. Third, choosing this course of action will enable members of the international community to change their approach to Hamas, and could bring about the erosion of sanctions that will prevent the application of real pressure on Hamas to change its positions, or that will make it impossible to harm Hamas if it doesn't change its positions. In addition, anyone who thinks that an Islamic movement such as Hamas cannot undergo a true pragmatization process will claim that while this course of action ensures quiet for the short term, it enables Hamas to solidify its control, strengthen its military force, and prepare itself to initiate combat with Israel when it feels it is ready. In light of the dissent within Hamas, the question also arises as to whether the takeover of Gaza does not reflect a takeover of the entire movement by the military arm of Hamas. The priorities of the military arm might differ from those of the political leadership and promote renewing the military confrontation with Israel rather than stabilizing the situation in Gaza and improving the lives of the population.

The third course of action is to take advantage of the new situation to strengthen the disengagement from Gaza. The intention is to aim for a situation in which there would be no contact between Israel and the Gaza Strip, and Gaza would receive all that it needs from Egypt. The assumption is that via this course of action, Israel would sever its responsibility for what happens in Gaza.

The problem is that this course of action provides no answer to the real problems of the security situation vis-א-vis Gaza and the need to promote a resolution of the conflict, or at least reasonably manage the conflict with the Palestinians. The assumption that Israel would absolve itself of all responsibility for Gaza is also apparently unrealistic, since as long as Israel maintains a blockade on the Gaza Strip and controls the air and sea space, the international community will not absolve Israel of responsibility. In addition, complete disengagement from the Gaza Strip means forfeiting the leverage and influence that Israel has vis-א-vis Gaza.

The fourth course of action is to take advantage of the new situation to conduct a persistent military offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, aiming at harming it and weakening its power. The assumption is that after Hamas took over Gaza by force, there is an international atmosphere more conducive to military action against Hamas. Arab countries and the Fatah government in the West Bank would also likely view this favorably, even if they don't say so out loud. This course of action is based on the viewpoint that it has fallen to Israel to fight until it destroys Hamas, since this is an extremist Islamic movement that aspires to Israel's destruction and will never change its approach. Any ceasefire will work to Hamas's benefit since it will enable the movement to replenish its strength and return to combat more empowered.

The problems with this course of action are the direct price of such military actions, the possibility that Israel would be dragged into a renewed conquest of the Gaza Strip, with all that entails regarding the ability to separate from the Palestinians, and the renewal of the constant friction with the Palestinians. It is also doubtful whether there would be international legitimacy for Israel's military actions in a situation where Hamas is prepared to maintain quiet and even shows that it is doing so.

The fifth course of action is to do nothing. The assumption is that any Israeli involvement would be more harmful than beneficial. The question is whether there is such an option. The dependency of the Palestinian territories on Israel is so deep that any action or non-action by Israel would affect them. For instance, it is impossible to escape the question of whether or not to enable the import and export of commercial goods to and from or through Gaza to Israel, and any answer will impact on the Palestinians.

Ideas have also been raised as to positioning an international force in Gaza that will "establish order." The emphasis is mainly on deploying an international force along the Gaza Strip-Egypt border that would prevent weapons smuggling. It seems that there is no real substance to these ideas. The international community can decide to send peacekeeping forces where there is a civil war and the aim is to prevent a humanitarian crisis. But there is no civil war in Gaza. Hamas won, and the situation in Gaza is stable. Another option is to position such forces as a wedge between combating armies, but this would depend on the agreement of the warring forces, Israel and Hamas. Hamas will definitely not agree to the positioning of an international force whose purpose is to obstruct the weapons smuggling pipeline. There is also no chance that there would be countries who would agree to send their forces when Hamas is opposed.

In conclusion, it is possible that in the immediate future the easiest policy is not to make decisions beyond what is necessary, and to monitor developments on the Palestinian side. It is clear that Israel cannot lend its hand to the creation of a humanitarian crisis, and it will be necessary to allow the transfer of humanitarian assistance and essential items to Gaza. However, sooner or later, the government of Israel will have to decide upon a strategy – or a combination of strategies – that will better serve its interests. Here, too, the strategies can be staggered over time. For instance, It may be possible to attempt to create a situation of calm and stability across the Gaza border and then move to another course of action if it becomes clear that this is not possible or that the price is too high.


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Report: Pope introducing anti-Semitic Mass - Undoing Vatican II?

This is very disturbing if true. See also  Pope to Relax Policy on Old Liturgy which does not discuss anti-Semitic aspects of this mass.
A plan by the Pope to authorise the widespread return of the controversial Latin Mass, despite concerns that parts of it are anti-Semitic, has provoked a backlash among senior clergy in Britain and threatens to divide the Catholic Church worldwide. The 16th-century Tridentine Mass - which includes references to "perfidious" Jews - was abandoned in 1969 and replaced with liturgy in local languages, to make worship more accessible to the bulk of churchgoers. But the Pope announced on Thursday that a long-awaited document liberalising the use of the Mass, which some clergy fear will also limit the Church's dialogue with Jews and Muslims, will be released next week.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, has written to the Pope to say that no changes are needed. Concerns about the prospect of the introduction of the Mass were also underlined on Thursday at an unusual meeting to underline resistance to it. But the Pope subsequently issued a statement revealing that he had illustrated "the content and the spirit" of next week's document, which will be sent to all bishops, accompanied by a personal letter from him.
There have been months of debate about the impending statement within the higher echelons of the Church. Cardinals, bishops and Jewish leaders are concerned by the text of the "old" Mass, which has passages, recited every Good Friday, which say Jews live in "blindness" and "darkness", and pray "the Lord our God may take the veil from their hearts and that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ".
There are also fears that a reintroduction may be the precursor of further changes to the reforms approved by the Second Vatican Council, which sat between 1962 and 1965 and which called for the Mass to be said in local languages, for the priest to face the congregation, and for the use of lay readers. Latin could still be used to recite the Mass, but the "new" Mass will be used, not the "old" Mass.
To celebrate the old Latin Mass now, a priest must obtain permission from the local bishop and the Roman Catholic Church in Britain. "It is standard practice to follow Rome, but we don't know yet what the [statement] will say," a spokesman for the Church in Britain said yesterday. "When we have the document, bishops and cardinals will consider it."
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, said bishops would still have a "central role" - but hinted at the Vatican's new enthusiasm for the old Mass by calling it a "great treasure" of the Church.
Pope Benedict's move is widely seen as an attempt to reach out to an ultra- traditionalist and schismatic group, the Society of St Pius X, and bring it back into the Vatican fold. The late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre founded the society in 1969 in Switzerland, in opposition to the Second Vatican Council's reforms.
The Rev Keith Pecklers, a Jesuit liturgical expert, said: "The real issue here is not limited to liturgy but has wider implications for church life." He added that proponents of the old Mass "tend to oppose the laity's increased role in parish life... collaboration with other Christians and its dialogue with Jews and Muslims".


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Christian Zionism

What is Christian Zionism ?
"Christian Zionism" has been the subject of much controversy. Opponents of  Christian support for Israel apparently invented this name. They claim that all Christian Zionists are dispensationalists and that the movement was originated by J.N. Darby. At the same time, they mayclaim, paradoxically, that any Christian who supports Israel is a Christian Zionist. Supposedly, all such people are extremist fanatics who believe in imminent rapture, and try to hasten the apocalyptic battle of Armageddon. Supposedly, they are also all seeking to convert the Jews, and they all oppose territorial concessions by Israel on theological grounds. The Reverend Stephen Sizer in particular, has been active in propagating these views. His motives are transparently political beneath a theological veneer, as are the motives of most such critics.
Though some Christian Zionists do hold the above views in various forms, that is far from a veridical picture of Christian Zionism and Christian support for Israel. Among the most active and visible Christian Zionists, many are not dispensationalists and do not believe in rapture or hastening the battle of Armageddon, nor do they seek to convert Jews.  Christian supporters of Israel include Christians of many Protestant denominations and beliefs, as well as some Catholics.
Historically, Christian support for restoration of Israel preceded J.N. Darby by over two hundred years. It originated in the doctrines of the Puritans, which were transmitted from England to the United States. Support for restoration of Israel became much more than an article of faith. Just as previously anti-Semitism had taken hold and become an integral part of European culture, so in the United States, support for restoration of Israel became embedded in American culture. Christian support for restoration of Israel has a long and impressive history in practical as well as political Zionism and theology, that began long before the arrival of dispensationalism in the United States. We have prepared an extensive resource that discusses the theological issues, the critiques and the history of Christian support for Israel at Christian Zionism .
We hope you will find this resource of use in understanding the nature of Christian Zionism, and we will appreciate constructive comments, links and support. The work, large as it is, is a work in progress.
Cross posted: Israel News  Midde East Analysis  

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Palestinian Critique: Prostitution and corruption in the Palestinian authority

A Palestinian writer tells us of life in the PA ( source: PA goombas prostitute their wives, control journalists.... Following are excerpts from the account of Kawther Salam:
...Some readers may have asked themselves why I waited so long before deciding to write anything about these crimes. Simply said, I had working engagements with Palestinian newspapers I was instructed to never write or say anything critical about the PA, never to criticize the Palestinian patriarchal system and the discrimination of women in my writings. At the same time, I experienced many troubles due my journalistic work because I am a woman. I have put my life and my family in big danger many times due to this work. For example, my mother, aged over 80, received a "friendly visit" due to this article....

Under the PA, social progress in Palestine has been turned back over 50 years. There is no real difference between the PA and Mafia gangs. The uncounted military systems established under the corrupt PA and financed by funds from the EU and other international agencies are in reality criminals, thieves (among other things of Israeli cars, with full connivance of officials on both sides), murderers, sexual perverts and gangsters. The proliferation of "military" systems established under the PA, which cannot be considered as a State, does not exist in the biggest countries in the world. All this and more contributed to last years election, in which the PA was voted out of power. While the Hamas are troubling in their own way, they are widely seen as less corrupt and much less likely to sell us out to the occupation. This was enough for assorted imbeciles in western state chanceries to declare them "terrorists" and subject all Palestinians to a genocidal embargo and continued incursions against civilians by the Israeli army.

Today I spoke with somebody from my homeland. As always, I asked about the situation. This call brought me some horrible news about another crime perpetrated by people from the military organizations of the PA. I am sure that the Palestinian newspapers and the Arab Media will not dare to publish such a story. The story, which was related to me, is just one example of the horrible things, which these people are doing.

Mr. Audeh (first name withheld for fear of retribution) is an officer with the National Security Forces of the PA in Bethlehem. He was a well-known criminal before the PA employed him as an officer. This criminal married three times. He divorced the first wife, she was his cousin. The second wife has a child; he stole the gold from her dowry on the first day of their marriage, during even the marriage festivities. The third marriage was without the knowledge of his second wife, a simple woman from a village near Hebron.

This criminal "National Security" officer proceeded to force his third wife to engage in prostitution, to render sexual favors to his "friends". He would film her during these encounters and spread the film to the public, taking money for copies. The family of this third wife, the victim of his criminal activities, received a copy of one of these films showing this shameless behavior. Consequently, they slaughtered the daughter, cut her head, and portrayed themselves as heroes. They were very proud of what they did. There is no law that protects the victims in such a case. Such crimes are always "justified". They call it "honor killing".

There were hundreds of Palestinian women killed by their families during the Al-Aqsa Intifada and since the time PA had the power to establish the military system. The PA employees are directly responsible for causing the honor killings of women in Palestine. The PA employees customarily abuse women sexually, especially women who work in the same offices, or women who come to ask for public services at the PA offices.

The PA always protects their criminals. Persons belonging to the military should be sentenced if they violate the military and civilian laws, but this never happens. In cases when Palestinian woman are abused sexually, the headquarters of the Palestinian military does nothing. The National Security officer from Bethlehem who forced his wife into prostitution and was thus the direct causant for her family killing her in order to clean the family honor, was not sentenced. He is currently in jail, but he still receives his full salary, which is financed by European countries. The PA will leave him free of any charges, as he has other relatives working with the PA, and these relative protect him from the consequences of his crime. The slaughtered wife who he forced to sell sexual favors to others should not be held responsible for what happened to her.

The second wife, who was left with a child and was betrayed by her husband, asked an Islamic Judge for a divorce on grounds that her husband had stolen her gold on the first day of her marriage, and also on grounds of his criminal behavior which caused the death for his third wife. However, she will not be free. While the Islamic law gives the husband the power of the divorce, there is no justice at the Islamic courts. The justice of Islam is just a rule written in the books, to which women seldom have access.

Under the PA, many military systems have been established; thousands of employees receive a salary at the end of the month, while in reality they do nothing more than posing the affluent class of Palestinian civil society. Here are the names of some of the military systems that were established under the PA:

The Presidential Forces Unit; The Presidential Security; The "Nobility Security"; The Intelligence Forces of the President; Military Intelligence; Military Police Unit; 17 Forces Unit; Marine Forces; The Special Forces; The National Security forces; The Alternative Security System; The Emergency Forces; The Military Tax Unit; The Disturbance Forces; The Quick Reaction Forces; The Border Police; The Public Security Forces; The Palestinian-Israeli Military Coordinating Unit which is a spy unit working in DCO building together with Israeli army. The Israelis use these officers as spies, and when the oppose, they are dismissed. It is important to keep in mind that this proliferation of "military" and "security" units goes on while there is no real, sovereign government, or President, in Palestine. All functionaries from all branches of the "government", from the President down, must get permission from Israel for every move they make, if they want to move between different Palestinian cities, if they want to travel, if they want to say anything in public.

No to the US Presence in Palestine !

In addition, the US, Israel and the PA are coordinating with the Jordanian military to get the "Bader" Brigades into Palestine. Before that, the U.S sent us a military coordinator and representative, the corrupt war criminal General Keith Dayton. Before that, they sent us an "economic coordinator", Mr. James Wolfensohn. Most Palestinians do not welcome these American criminals coordinating the destruction of their homeland. They strongly condemn the acceptance the PA has given these "coordinators".

General Keith Dayton was involved in crimes against humanity in Iraq, where is responsible for the widespread use of torture against civilians in Abu Ghraib and other places, for jumpstarting the activities of an array of death squads, and for the constant flow of giant car bombs which are detonated among civilians and are invariably labeled as attentates from either the Shia or Sunni groups against each other. He is now training the PA military units how to fight against Hamas and the Palestinian civil society. He has gained experience in organizing death squads and genocide in Iraq. Because of these criminal skills he was sent to "coordinate activities" in Palestine. He represents American tax dollars at work, paying for murder and crimes on a vast scale.

Since the establishment of the PA they have neglected building and organizing the civil society in Palestine. The PA neglects the creation of a functioning of justice system; they neglect the protection of human rights and the reconstruction of a system of civil laws. The Palestinian military systems are completely paralyzed and corrupt. Their main occupations (and duties) are to steal from and to make life impossible for Palestinian civilians. The work of the police officers is seen as a clear problem in the middle of the Palestinian cities. At the end of the month, they have to get their salary before the employees from the civilian organizations get their salaries. Worse of all, Palestinian security units, military and police alike, are never present to protect anybody from the incursions of the Israeli army and the crimes of the illegal jewish colonists. I remember not one instance when one of these jewish terrorists have been even warned for an acto of terrorism, for theft, for murder. The situation with the corruption of the "government" was the real reason behind the break-out of the second Intifada.
The Palestinian Police system is corrupt. Briberies have replaced the law. If someone wants to visit their relatives in jail, the wife of a prisoner is obliged to give sexual favors to police officers. Police officers lead gangs of drug pushers and thieves who steal cars from Israel. The former Police officer Gazi Al-Jabali was a very big corruptionist person. The Israeli military confiscated millions of his wealth, which they found in his house during a search by the military. These millions had been looted from poor Palestinians in Gaza. I wonder why we need these military systems...

The Composition of the PA military organizations

The Palestinian military organizations, paid by the European countries and other International funds, can be classified in these groups: The military groups that came ("returned") with Arafat, were brought from other Arab countries. These people are rabble recruited in other Arab countries and given some military training. They are lacking in intelligence, education or culture, and they integrate poorly into Palestinian society. They speak a different dialect of Arabic; some of them have other nationalities. These military groups often trained and served with the armies of other corrupt Arab dictatorships. They come to Palestine without their own families and they suffer of psychological problems because of that. These people often marry with Palestinian women in a second marriage, but most of these marriages end in divorce because of cultural differences or because of the psychological problems, which these men have to start with.

The career military officers who are from Palestine and loyal to Palestinians, who often have better education, are separated from there work or frozen in lower echelons as they considered a threat to the PA and the corrupt officers brought from outside. The same is valid for the civilian posts: the corrupt people, spies and criminals are given high positions, the honest people are left in low positions or pushed out by use of whatever pretexts.

The Palestinians who were jailed during the first Intifada or killed Israelis, were automatically engaged by the PA military and given officers rank. The Israelis had tortured most of these people during their stay in Israeli jails, they suffered different mental diseases as a consequence. Apart from that, the Israelis only released the people who agreed to spy for them.

All the criminals, the cars thieves, the unemployed, the illiterates were automatically engaged in the PA military and police. Mohammad Dahlan, who had been a small-time gangster in Gaza before the Israelis, Americans and Europeans discovered him as "somebody they could do business with", brought in many criminals to work under his command. He established death squads which have been involved in kidnappings and killings of civilians in Gaza. One recent murder attributed to Dahlan's death squads has been reported here and attributed to "unidentified gunmen".

Some of the PA officers were sent for training, but I know of no Palestinian officer who has attended a college military school. Some of them get some training by the USA, Britain, or in other Arab countries. Most of these officers do not speak a second language and have not finish school. To be an officer in the PA means to be a murderer, a criminal, or a relative of somebody who works in the PA.
Hamas is not a real alternative to the PA, but less corrupt.

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Hamas is corrupt too, not just Fatah

The source might be a bit biased, but it is probably true: Hamas is just as corrupt as Fatah. The image of Islamist rectitude has turned out to be a facade in Iran. There is no reason to assume it is otherwise in the Hamas.
Ashraf Al-Ajrami: "Hamas members committing embezzlement within ministries of Sports and Youth, and Prisoner's Affairs"
Date: 30 / 06 / 2007  Time:  17:15  

Ramallah – Ma'an – The Palestinian minister of sports and youth in the new emergency government, Ashraf Al-Ajrami, who also holds the portfolio of prisoners affairs revealed on Saturday that "Hamas militias" are still committing atrocities and embezzlement within both these ministries.

Al-Ajrami was speaking in a press conference in the Ramatan news agency in central West Bank city of Ramallah, where he stated that "there is proof that the former Hamas-affiliated minister Wasfi Qabaha had embezzled hundreds of thousands of Israeli shekels". He declared that the documents will be submitted to the Attorney General.

Al-Ajrami also claimed that the current emergency government has "reliable information" that the tenth Palestinian government, which was led by Hamas, had received greater monies than Ahmad Qurei's Fatah government. "Despite that, they did not stick to their commitments towards the public sector employees." He said that some $700 million of potential fraud is being investigated.

Al-Ajrami added, "The Hamas militias are still committing atrocities against Palestinian citizens and institutions, even after the military coup in the Gaza Strip."

Cross posted: Israel News  Midde East Analysis


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Oman (Oman), June 17, 2007. The TV announcer says: "the bulletin that reached us states that the Palestinians will attempt to liberate Palestine from the Palestinian occupation!" (source: MEMRI)

Al-Quds (PA), June 25, 2007. "The Enrichment of Gaza." The sign over the doorpost: "Iranian nuclear reactor."

Cross posted: Israel News  Midde East Analysis


Continued (Permanent Link)

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