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Saturday, August 18, 2007

For internal consumption: Iranian rulers don't like USA, Israel

Iran's government leverages on US and Israeli anti-Iran moves to gain support at home. We can learn this from an AP article in the Jerusalem Post:    
Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday that Israel was the standard bearer of Satan and the Jewish state would soon fall apart, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported Saturday.
...the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards said they would not bow to pressure and threatened to "punch" the US, in their first response to Washington's plan to list them as a terrorist organization, newspapers reported Saturday.

Local newspapers in the Iranian capital of Teheran quoted Revolutionary Guards leader Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi saying that he could understand Washington's ire towards the group because of their recent successes against the US.

"America will receive a heavier punch from the guards in the future," he was quoted as saying in the conservative daily Kayhan. "We will never remain silent in the face of US pressure and we will use our leverage against them."

The fact that the remarks, made on Thursday in the central Iranian city of Isfahan, appeared in local newspapers rather than the official state news outlets suggest the comments are for domestic consumption.

"For internal use only." The guards, and perhaps Ahmadinejad, are fighting an internal political fight for survival against more moderate forces.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Poles Protest EU-hosted UN anti-Israel conference

The UN anti-Israel mechanism is at work again, but at least some people are honest and brave enough to fight them. Like the infamous Durban conference, this conference will be a staging ground for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda. It is shameful that the EU parliament has agreed to host this conference.
For background on the UN anti-Israel mechanism - "The Question of Palestine" click the link.
Click here to sign a petition: Fair Play for Israel at the UN  to put an end the UN anti-Israel apparatus.
Please do forward and link to this article.
Ami Isseroff
Polish MEPs boycott UN conference

'We can call this conference anti-Israeli,' Polish MEP says
Yaakov Lappin

A conference of UN NGOs (non-governmental organizations) on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to be hosted at the European Parliament this month, will be boycotted by Polish Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from across the political spectrum, who say that the conference is biased against Israel.

The meeting, set to take place at the European Parliament on August 30 - 31, has been organized by the UN's Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People."

Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, has written to the President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering, asking him to cancel the European Parliament's decision to host the conference, while the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor organization said the upcoming conference as a rehash of the 2001 UN Durban conference on racism, which saw unprecedented levels of anti-Zionist rhetoric, and calls for Israel's destruction.

"I will not take part in this conference. I saw the materials prepared by the organizers," Bronis³aw Geremek, a Polish MEP, was quoted by Polish website, Europa21 as saying.

"Although there is no official statement that Israel must be pushed down to the sea there, the choice of subjects and the attitude towards the problems shows that it will be a biased, conflict generating conference. Actually we can call it anti-Israeli," he said.

'Israelis can count on Poles'

"There is not the first such initiative. (The) Pro-Palestinian lobby is very active here. If in fact, the conference will become propagandist, Israelis can count on Poles," Boguslaw Sonik, another Polish MEP, said.

Konrad Szymanski, a third MEP, said: "Israel's objections are fully justified. (The) UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People is a platform for activity of various extremists. According to the most of them Israel should disappear."

"I am astonished that European Parliament allowed such activity to be placed in its building. If there is any activity against the conference, i.e. a petition signed by MEPs, I will be very glad to support it," Szymanski added.


'Anti-Israel conference' slammed

NGO watchdog: UN summit, hosted by EU Parliament is 'propaganda conference'

Yaakov Lappin

A UN conference of non-government organizations (NGOs) called to discuss "civil society in support of Israeli-Palestinian peace" at the end of August has been described by an Israeli NGO watchdog as an "anti-Israel propaganda conference".

The meeting, set to take place at the European Parliament (EP) on August 30 - 31, has been organized by the UN's Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which describes itself as "the main UN forum where all NGOs interested in the Palestine issue can meet."

According to the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor organization, the conference and its organizers form "frameworks that promote the conflict," adding that the NGOs involved in the upcoming conference were also active in "implementing the Durban agenda of demonization," - a reference to the 2001 UN Durban conference on racism, which saw unprecedented levels of anti-Zionist rhetoric, and calls for Israel's destruction.

"This year, for the first time, the exercise is gaining the legitimacy of sponsorship by the European Parliament, further highlighting the role that the Europe Union plays in supporting the NGO campaign," NGO Monitor said in its report.

Noting that "the speakers list is (being kept) secret until the conference, highlighting the violation of transparency in the UN and EU," NGO Monitor said "past speakers have included radical figures such as... Jamal Juma' Ja'afreh, from the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. Topics include 'the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and civil society response,' and 'Strengthening campaigns to end occupation, including grassroots campaigns against the wall, rallying around Bil'in" (the site of violent attacks organized by NGOs in order to provoke Israeli responses).'"

Speaking to Ynetnews, Professor Gerald Steinberg, Executive Director of NGO Monitor, said: "What is surprising is not the UN involvement in the NGO's demonization of Israel, but that the EU Parliament is providing support and a platform for these fringe groups. This is yet another side of the absurdity of the EU's claim to support peace, whilst simultaneously promoting radical NGOs, like ICAHD, and giving them legitimacy at the EU Parliament."

A spokesperson for the European Parliament confirmed "that there will be a conference organized on the EP's premises by the UN," but added: "I am not sure in what capacity the EP itself is involved."

Wolfgang Grieger, Secretary of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, denied that the conference would be anti Israel.

'UN Committee not anti-Israeli'

"Unfortunately, the NGO Monitor misinterprets the event as an 'anti-Israel propaganda conference'. The UN Committee is not anti-Israeli, nor are its activities. The Committee welcomed the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference that launched the Middle East peace process based on Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and the principle of 'land for peace'," Grieger told Ynetnews.

Grieger added that the Committee "strongly supports the objective of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within secure and recognized borders, as endorsed by the Security Council in resolution 1515 (2003). The Committee welcomed the Quartet's Road Map and has called on the parties to implement it."

"Through its activities, the Committee continues to advocate the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, promote a just and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and mobilize assistance to the Palestinians," he said.

He added that NGO Monitor omitted topics of discussion in the conference from its report, such as "Initiatives by the European Parliament and civil society towards facilitating a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008."

"The Committee is looking forward to an interesting conference engaging all layers of civil society, parliamentarians and diplomats for the benefit of a peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Grieger said.

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True confessions: "I was a Palestinian Sex Slave"

Nothing much to add here. But wait - Suppose that Israelis were luring Palestinian girls into Israel to work as sex slaves. What would the CPT say? What would ISM say? What would HRW write?
Since it is Palestinians luring Israelis into prostitution, we can assume that no "human rights" organization will write about it or publicize it or publicize it.
Ami Isseroff
 Palestinian turns Israeli teen into sex slave
18-year-old girl moves in with man she meets on the internet, is later forced by him to grant sexual favors to Palestinian Authority officials in lavish Ramallah villa

Yael Branovsky
Published: 08.17.07, 08:50 / Israel News

A Palestinian from Ramallah turned an 18-year-old Israeli girl he met on the internet into his sex slave, Ynet reported on Friday.

A few months ago Tal (not her real name) met who she thought was her prince charming in an internet chat room. Following a brief period of online correspondence, the two met in person. The Palestinian took Tal out to restaurants and showered her with gifts, and the unsuspecting Israeli teen thought she had found the man of her dreams.

'Muslim girls are afraid to return to Israel'

Within a month of their first encounter she was already in love with him, and did not hesitate for a second when he asked her to move into his home in Ramallah. But shortly after the two began living together the man approached Tal and asked that she "comfort" a friend of his. She agreed to sleep with the friend as a one-time gesture for her beloved boyfriend, but was forced to have sex with others as time went by.
Tal was then brought to a lavish villa, where she and several Muslim women granted sexual services to senior Palestinian Authority officials on a regular basis. Eventually Tal managed to escape and return to Israel.
A volunteer in an organization that offers help to Israeli teenagers who have experienced similar traumas told Ynet that Arab girls from Jaffa have also been lured to the territories under false pretenses.
"The Muslim girls are afraid to return to Israel because they lose their virginity there. When they meet the person in a chat room they are certain that it will lead to marriage. Their families in Israel don't want them back because they have 'brought shame' upon them," she said.

The volunteer said the victims are usually lonely people from a low socio-economic background.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

A new form of Aliya Bet - illegal immigration to Israel

Aliya Bet was the illegal immigration of Jews escaping the Holocaust and entering Israel under the British Mandate. It is returning! Because of the interpretation of Israeli Law of Return, Jews from India cannot come to Israel under law of return, and therefore a "secret" aliyah is being organized.
What is wrong with this picture?
Ami Isseroff

260 Bnei Menashe to make secret aliyah

Four flights of northeast Indian Jews organized by Shavei Israel association without informing any government bodies to arrive in Israel by end of August
Itamar Eichner Published: 08.16.07, 13:38 / Israel Jewish Scene

Private bodies are planning on bringing 230 members of the Menashe Tribe to Israel, without the government's knowledge, Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported on Thursday.

The tribe members, who live in a remote area in northeast India, will be brought to Israel on four flights toward the end of August.

The arrangements for the move were made between Shavei Yisrael, an organization which locates and identifies long-lost Jewish communities, and former director general of the Interior Ministry Ram Belinkov.

For unknown reasons the arrangements were kept secret from the Prime Minister's Office, the Immigration and Absorption Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the Jewish Agency.

"I did hear that there was such an agreement with a private organization to bring them (Bnei Menashe) to Israel," Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit told Yedioth Ahronoth on Wednesday after hearing about it for the first time. "I do not agree with this. I don't care about prior agreements."
Other government offices also expressed uncertainty in the matter, and one government source said, "In a few days, dozens of Bnei Menashe will show up here and walk around with a backpack and a stick…No one knows what will be done with them."
Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund was not available to comment.

The tribe members arriving in Israel will not receive immigrant status since, according to the Law of Return, they must undergo a conversion process first.
In the meantime, the immigrants will be given temporary residency or tourist status, and in the future, their conversion will be settled in order to allow them to remain in Israel as olim.
The tribe claims to descend from one of the lost tribes of Israel, the Menashe Tribe, which originated in modern-day Iraq. Over the past 50 years the tribe members have been returning to their Jewish roots and in the past 15 years some 1,220 of them have immigrated to Israel.

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Wishful thinking about Syria and Iran?

This looks like wishful thinking to me. The interests of no two allies are never quite the same. That includes Italy and Germany in WW II and USA and USSR in WW II. For that matter, it includes USA and Israel today. But it is probably a fantasy to think that Syria would or could break with Iran, unless Russia puts pressure on them. Israel and the USA do not have anything attractive to offer Assad, as a peace deal would remove the excuse for his dictatorship, and make him vulnerable to fanatics. It is always better to have someone like Ahmadinejad on your side.
Ami Isseroff

Despite current alliance, national interests of Syria, Iran not quite the same
John Davis Published:  08.16.07, 07:21 / Israel Opinion
While Damascus and Tehran appear to be demonstrating a united front, seeking to strengthen Iran's expansionism in the Middle East and aggression towards Israel, Israeli government officials were recently reported as commenting that Syria is still not a satellite of Iran and can, in fact, be extricated from an Iranian "bear-hug."

Indeed, closer inspection of Syrian-Iranian relations reveals slight disparities between Iran's objectives of regional expansionism and the national interests of Syria. With creative leveraging, Israel just might be able to seize upon the opportunity that these rifts provide to dismantle a key link holding the Iranian expansionist project together.

Despite the feeling after the Second Lebanon War that a moderate anti-Iranian axis could be created, recent events seem to indicate that the stock of Iran and its rejectionist allies is rising: Hamas handily defeated Fatah in Gaza, the Saudi Peace Initiative lost momentum, Lebanon remained frozen in a face-off while France appealed to Iran for its resolution, the Bush Administration finally engaged Iran over the future of Iraq, all the while Iran steadily progressed in its nuclear program.

As in Lebanon and Iraq, Iran has an interest in showing that it is inextricably linked to the resolution of key regional conflicts,  including  those that involve Syria. (This explains the recent reports – true or untrue – of the Syria-Iran strategic military deal.) Since such disputes can apparently not be solved without Iranian cooperation, Iran creates leverage over the international actors involved, such as France or the US, hoping that this will inhibit further international sanctions or a potential military strike against its nuclear program.

Thus, one way to undermine the Iranian expansionist project – whose ultimate goal is a region dominated by fundamentalists and absent of a Jewish state – is to dismantle the links from which Iran derives its immunity.
Cracks in network of resistance?
While Iran has sought to present a united front that includes Syria, a number of potential gaps in each country's respective national interests tell a slightly different story.

Following the outbreak of the political crisis in Lebanon, Iran coordinated its position with Saudi Arabia and did not give its full backing to Syria over the issue of the international tribunal for the Hariri assassination – indicating a willingness to sideline Syrian interests when Iran needs to protect itself.
Regarding the future of Iraq, Syria has expressed interest in a strong central government in Baghdad with a secular Arab identity, while Iran prefers a weaker, more de-centralized Iraq in which religious Shiites dominate.

Furthermore, Syria's national interest to negotiate the return of the Golan Heights with Israel fundamentally contradicts Iran's priority of preventing any political process with Israel.

Removing Syria from Iran's orbit of influence would be a significant blow to Iran's aspirations for regional hegemony and immunity for its nuclear program. The key may be to place Syria's national interests in conflict with Iranian expansionism.

On one hand, as long as Syria continues to facilitate the rejectionist activities of Iran, Hamas and Hizbullah, it should remain isolated from the West, under international pressure concerning Lebanon and wary of the possibility of military action should it provoke Israel.

On the other hand, a tripartite US-Israel-Syria deal – something Assad has hinted at – may be emerging due to a convergence of interests among the three. While Syria wants carrots beyond resolution of its dispute with Israel, such as an end to pressure and isolation led by the US, Syria can actually help the US achieve its primary objective of stabilizing Iraq in addition to ending support for Hamas and Hizbullah and weakening Iran.

Israel may want to explore with the US the potential mutual benefits of containing the expanding Iranian threat by having the road from Damascus to Washington pass through Jerusalem.
The author, John Davis, is an analyst at the Reut Institute

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Read the fine print in campaign promises

This is the headline:
This is the text:
US Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani said he opposes creation of a Palestinian state at this time and would take a tough stand with Iran, including destroying its nuclear infrastructure "should all else fail."
Like all other candidates, Giuliani will promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem, recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, get tough with Iran etc. Always read the fine print though. If elected, Giuliani will face certain realities.
Ami Isseroff 

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Pipes on NYC 'Madrassa' - is it a Madrassa?

This is Pipes' opinion - is he right? Is it really a "Madrassa" in the scary sense of a place for breeding extremists? Why does Pipes think the odds were long on getting Almontaser to resign? They lobbied mayor Bloomberg. That is not an Arabic name and I don't think Bloomberg is necessarily sympathetic to the idea of having an Intifadeh in N.Y. People blowing up in the N.Y. public library would certainly spoil the image of the Big Apple that Bloomberg is trying to create.
Ami Isseroff
Daniel Pipes,

When Dhabah ("Debbie") Almontaser resigned on August 10 as principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, her action culminated a remarkable grass-roots campaign in which concerned citizens successfully criticized the New York City establishment. But the fight continues. The next step is to get the academy itself canceled.
The five-month effort to get Almontaser removed began in March with analyses (including one by this writer) pointing out the inherent political and religious problems in an Arabic-language school. By June, a concerned group of New York City residents coalesced with specialists (including my colleague, R. John Matthies) to create the "Stop the Madrassa Coalition" with the goal of preventing an avowed Islamist from heading a taxpayer-funded school.
The coalition, made up of some 150 people, energetically did research, attended events, peppered public officials (notably Mayor Michael Bloomberg and School Chancellor Joel Klein) with letters, collared journalists, and spoke on radio shows and national television. The odds seemed impossibly long, especially as the city government and most of the city's media clearly supported the KGIA's opening and Almontaser as principal, while denouncing their critics.
UNRELENTING efforts by the coalition eventually led to the development in early August that caused Almontaser to resign. Pamela Hall, one of its leaders, photographed T-shirts with "Intifada NYC" written on them that were sold by an organization, "Arab Women Active in Art and Media," that shares office space in Brooklyn with the "Saba Association of American Yemenis." Almontaser, it turns out, is both a board member and the spokeswoman for the Saba Association.
This call for a Palestinian-style uprising in the five boroughs, admittedly, had only the most tenuous connection to Almontaser. She could have maintained her months-old silence, which was serving her well. But the KGIA principal also has a long history of speaking out about politics and she seemingly could not resist the opportunity to defend the T-shirts, telling the New York Post that the word intifada basically means "shaking off. That is the root word if you look it up in Arabic. I understand it is developing a negative connotation due to the uprising in the Palestinian-Israeli areas. I don't believe the intention is to have any of that kind of [violence] in New York City. I think it's pretty much an opportunity for girls to express that they are part of New York City society . . . and shaking off oppression."
THIS GRATUITOUS little apology for suicide terrorism undid Almontaser's months of silence and years of work, prompting scathing editorials and denunciations by politicians. Perhaps most devastating was a harsh letter from Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers, who had previously supported Almontaser. Almontaser submitted an angry resignation letter just four days after the publication of her statement apologizing for intifada.
"I remain committed to the success of Khalil Gibran International Academy," Chancellor Klein insisted after Almontaser's resignation. Fine, but KGIA's prospects of opening on September 4, 2007, remain clouded. Count its problems: the school has only an interim, non-Arabic-speaking principal, it has only five teachers, and is 25 percent undersubscribed by students. Plus, it faces the outspoken opposition of politicians like Assemblyman Dov Hikind and is wildly unpopular; an unscientific America Online poll of 180,000 subscribers found over 4/5ths of the public unsympathetic to the school.
Almontaser's departure, however welcome, does not change the rest of the problematic school's personnel, much less address the more basic problems implicit in an Arabic-language school - the tendency to Islamist and Arabist content and proselytizing.
TO REITERATE my initial assessment in March, the KGIA is in principle a great idea, for the United States needs more Arabic-speakers. In practice, however, Arabic-language instruction needs special scrutiny.
The city, in other words, could take steps to make the KGIA acceptable by dispensing with the existing set of goals, fundamentally rethinking its mission, appointing a new advisory board, hiring new staff, and imposing the necessary educational and political controls.
Unfortunately, statements by the mayor and the school chancellor suggest that such steps are emphatically not underway. Until and unless the city leadership changes its approach to the KGIA, I shall continue to call for the school not to open until it is properly restructured and supervised.
Readers who agree should write Chancellor Joel Klein at and inform him of your views.
The writer is director of the Middle East Forum.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Fair Witness Condemns ELCA Churchwide Assembly Action

Another day, another boycott. How sad it is that there are still boycotters in the USA, and how great it is that there are fair-minded people to oppose them!
Ami Isseroff

August 15, 2007
Contact: Sr.Ruth Lautt, O.P., Esq.
(212) 870-2320
New York, New York

Fair Witness Condemns ELCA Churchwide Assembly Action

Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East condemns The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly for passing a resolution regarding its "Strategy for Engagement in Israel and Palestine" which includes consideration of purchasing products produced in the Palestinian territories while at the same time boycotting products produced in Israeli settlements.

"We are distressed that the ECLA chose to adopt such a shallow and unreflective stance on such a complex situation," said Fair Witness Executive Committee member Rev. Dr. Roy W. Howard.  "Any truly responsible 'engagement' in the Arab/Israeli conflict must take into account a more than sixty-year history of Arab aggression against the Jewish state, the refusal of the Arab nations to welcome Palestinian refugees, and the failures of the Palestinian leadership, including its failure to curb terrorism and the recent Hamas v. Fatah violence.  By focusing solely on the alleged misdeeds of Israel, the ECLA reveals a disturbing bias and lack of integrity, and does nothing to forward the cause of peacemaking in the Middle East."

"The fact that this resolution expressly excludes a call for selective divestment in no way redeems it," according to Sr. Ruth Lautt, Fair Witness National Director.  "The spate of recent statements regarding the Arab/Israel conflict coming from mainline Protestant denominations offends us not merely in the specific economic, or other, devices used to unfairly target the Jewish state.  Equally offensive is the one-sided, biased anti-Israel view that these resolutions betray."

"If the American churches wish to become effective peacemakers they must cease from issuing these simplistic proclamations which do nothing to bring peace to a troubled and violence-prone region, but rather bring about anti-Israeli sentiment," adds Fr. James Loughran, S.A., Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute and Fair Witness Executive Committee member.

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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Hamas tells it like it is, but lies

Hamas speaks. What part is a lie and what part is true? Consider this:
No, there were no Palestinian Jews. When the British Mandate began in 1917, there was only one settlement on Palestinian land, which included several dozen Jews, who were living there in violation of the law at the time. I would like to mention that under the Ottoman state – regardless of the many reservations we have about it – there was a law that prohibited the Jews from staying in Palestine for over a month. Their passports and personal documents were taken away from them, and they were given an Ottoman permit at the border, which allowed them to stay for a month on Palestinian land. The only group that can be called Jewish was the one in Nablus. They still live there to this day.
This guy has to be kidding. There are no Jews in Nablus, though there once were. But about four decades before the Balfour declaration, my grandmothers were born in Jerusalem. Five years before the Balfour declaration, my mother was born in Hebron. As for my aunt, her family had lived in Tiberias for over 300 years by the time of Lord Balfour and his declaration. One of my grandfathers was a soldier in the Ottoman army, not a transient with an Ottoman permit. The other grandfather was excused from service because he sold charcoal to the Ottoman army to run their trains.
The rest of what he has to say is equally fictitious. He has been smoking too much Lebanese blond, or too many Lebanese blondes.
There is one part I believe though:
...the final goal of the resistance is to wipe this entity off the face of the earth. This goal necessitates the development of the capabilities of the resistance, until this entity is wiped out.
So much for peace deals with the Hamas.
Ami Isseroff
Special Dispatch-Hamas/Jihad & Terrorism Studies Project
August 16, 2007
No. 1682
Hamas Representative in Lebanon Osama Hamdan Justifies Suicide Bombings in Buses: Israeli Soldiers Ride Those Buses
The following are excerpts from an interview with Hamas representative in Lebanon Osama Hamdan, which aired on Al-Kawthar TV on August 6, 2007.
August 06, 2007

Hamas representative in Lebanon Osama Hamdan Justifies Suicide Bombings in Buses: Israeli Soldiers Ride Those Buses

Following are excerpts from an interview with Hamas representative in Lebanon Osama Hamdan, which aired on Al-Kawthar TV on August 6, 2007:

Interviewer: Islamic law has forbidden aggression during Jihad – by forbidding the killing of women, children, the elderly, clerics who devote themselves to the worship of God, and other non-combatant civilians who do not serve in the enemy's army. Do you consider all the Jews in Palestine to be combatants who have plundered the land? We've witnessed martyrdom operations that targeted buses and restaurants.

Osama Hamdan: First of all, let me clarify something very important. What is the ruling regarding those who live in Palestine, in the co-called Israel, and who are aggressors and plunderers of the land? The way we see it, they all came to Palestine from abroad, whether before the declaration of the Zionist entity or after it. If you were to conduct statistics within the Zionist entity, you would find that all these people have their origins in other countries – they came from Europe, Eastern Europe, from American, South America, or other places.

Interviewer: In other words, there were no Palestinian Jews?

Osama Hamdan: No, there were no Palestinian Jews. When the British Mandate began in 1917, there was only one settlement on Palestinian land, which included several dozen Jews, who were living there in violation of the law at the time. I would like to mention that under the Ottoman state – regardless of the many reservations we have about it – there was a law that prohibited the Jews from staying in Palestine for over a month. Their passports and personal documents were taken away from them, and they were given an Ottoman permit at the border, which allowed them to stay for a month on Palestinian land. The only group that can be called Jewish was the one in Nablus. They still live there to this day. The Palestinians regard them as part of the makeup of Palestinian society, and they number no more than several hundred. As for those who immigrated from various countries – they are not Jews. Anyone who comes to live in a war zone is a combatant, regardless of whether he wears a uniform. That's one thing. Secondly, neither Hamas nor the Palestinian resistance force intentionally killed civilians. You mentioned the buses. What's an easier target – a bus, which is protected by various security measures, or a school, a theater, or a stadium, for example? These civilian targets – in which the killing of women and children is intentional – were not targeted by the resistance. Why were buses targeted? Because they are the means of transport used by the soldiers as well. The Zionist soldiers, who go from their homes to their bases and back, use public transport, because it is free or almost free. In my opinion, the occupation soldiers also have a security motive in using public transport: They shield themselves behind the so-called "civilians" within the Zionist entity. Therefore, the way I see it, they need to stop using public transport, or else society should prevent them from using it, because it is the soldiers who are targeted. Just to prove it, in the dozens of operations that were carried out, the Zionists never announced, for example, that 20 children were killed, or that 50 women were killed. On the contrary, if you were to examine who was killed in martyrdom operations that targeted buses, you would find that 70% were occupation soldiers, and they may even have been in uniform at the time of the operation.


We are making the preparations for a confrontation. This is not because we need to be prepared for an Israeli act of aggression – after all, aggression is intrinsic to this entity – but because the final goal of the resistance is to wipe this entity off the face of the earth. This goal necessitates the development of the capabilities of the resistance, until this entity is wiped out.

Interviewer: Do you think that Mahmoud Abbas, who has found himself in the crisis of the confrontation with Hamas, plays the role of a policeman, who thwarts the Intifada, the resistance, and the Jihad against the Zionist occupation in the Palestinian lands?

Osama Hamdan: He plays a role that is even worse than that. Mahmoud Abbas is doing this out of ideological conviction. He has been calling for a settlement ever since 1973. It was Mahmoud Abbas who created the Oslo Accords, and who was brought in by the Americans to serve as prime minister in order to confront Arafat. In my opinion, he plays this role willingly and out of conviction, which is worse than if he were doing so due to commitments to the occupation.

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Hatikva in Bergen Belsen

This little item below, that appears on a few Web logs such as here, was apparently written in April of 2007. But it deserves a much wider audience. Please do listen to the recording of the BBC from the good old days of 1945, and the recording of Hatiqva ( ) made in the liberated Bergen - Belsen concentration camp.
It is a simple reply to Ahmmadinejad, to Norman Finkelstein and to their friends. It is a reply to anyone who denies the Holocaust, and to anyone who denies the meaning of the Holocaust for Zionism and the Jewish people. For those people, the Jewish state that did not yet exist, represented hope that the Jewish people would literally rise from the ashes.
For those who forgot what Zionism is really about, this is a reminder.  
Ami Isseroff
Scott Simon of NPR reports on a rare recording of "Hatikva " from almost 62 years ago. If this doesn't give you goosebumps I don't know what will.

It was recorded by a British reporter on April 20, 1945 in Bergen-Belsen when the British army liberated the few thousand survivors in the concentration camp, half of which were Jewish, most of them at the extremes of their strength. It was recently discovered and apparently was loaned to NPR by the Smithsonian Institute.

The British priest organized prayers for Kabbalat Shabbat for the Jews. It was the first time after six years of war and after more than 10 years of persecution. With a lot of effort the Jews organized themselves and, knowing they were recorded, sang " Hatikva".

As you can hear they sang the original version as it was written by Naftali Imber. Picturing them in the midst of the concentration camp singing after all they had been through renders this a very moving scenario.
Courtesy of Sandy Disler
Posted here as well. 


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Avram Burg: always interesting, not always right

A Chinese curse: "May you lead an interesting life." Avram Burg is always interesting, because he makes sure to be interesting. Let's face it, unless you make noisy and atrocious statements, you cannot attract much publicity for matters related to Judaism, Zionism, etc. B*O*R*I*N*G.
Therefore Burg tries not to bore us. Avram Burg is the P.T. Barnum of Jewish affairs, or he is trying to be. If he is not comparing Zionists to Nazis, he is comparing Ahmed Yassin to orthodox rabbis. In Time to attack he calls for war against fanatics essentially. "Death to all fanatics," quoth Burg, in particular orthodox fanatics of all different religions. He is willing to take a gratuitous swipe at evangelical Christians (or his idea of evangelical beliefs) as well as orthodox Jewish fanatics. The essence of his argument:
There is no theological difference between certain rabbis from Hebron, the former Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, and the evangelical preacher hoping for Armageddon at the site of our Megiddo. Those who say that "God's law is first" are no different from one another, whether they wear a rabbi's skullcap, Hezbollah's turban or the cloak of a North American spiritual leader. They are all engaged in a cruel battle against me. They are the enemies of freedom and democracy, and are hostile to liberty, equality and the status of women.
It is remarkably like what I wrote in Soldiers who refuse orders. But Burg is also wrong. There are two or three differences between Ahmed Yassin and the hypothetical evangelical preacher hoping for Armageddon:
1- Ahmed Yassin was willing to use, and did use, violent methods to secure his goals. Thus far, only one or two deranged people tried to use violent methods to bring about the Christian Armageddon.
2- Yassin wanted to kill me. People like John Hagee want to defend me. From my subjective point of view, that is a very different goal.
2- Like many orthodox Jews, Burg has a stereotyped view of Christian supporters of Israel. He thinks, apparently, that all evangelicals are supporters of Israel, and he thinks that all people who believe in Armageddon want to bring it on actively by committing violent acts. These are all misconceptions about Christian Zionism.
Burg starts out to answer the same question that I answered in Soldiers who refuse orders:
The latest equation bridges between draft-dodgers and the soldiers who refuse to evacuate homes in Hebron. On the face of it, we have draft-dodgers - the left-wing bleeding hearts from greater Tel Aviv - and evacuation refuseniks - nationalistic and idealistic, but "a little" too extreme, too patriotic and too religious. And we are in the middle: We live outside Tel Aviv, but not in Hebron; we want peace but are not prepared to pay the Arabs the price. Instead of being flooded with concern over the fanatics and rabbis who have penetrated the fabric of Israeli statehood like cancerous cells, we have created an equation. We were furious for two days, we condemned them - and we went on our merry way. Everything is balanced, thank God.
But Burg has a different answer. He gives a free, blanket pass to all draft evaders, it seems, but a blanket condemnation of all right wing protest:
After the waves of demagoguery, spin and media opportunism have passed, it will become clear that this equation is extremely dangerous, because it releases us from dealing with this country's unruly elements. The more we ignore the cancer of rabbinical nationalism, the closer and more concrete the mortal danger is. The real equation is between the refuseniks of Hebron and their foundation in Torah - and Hamas, Hezbollah, Christian fundamentalists and their fanatic brethren.
And after that, he never mentions the leftist refuseniks again. I agree that protest that is not anchored in democracy is dangerous. But  protest that aims to destroy the state is equally dangerous, even if it claims to be "democratic." The Bilin protestors and the refuseniks (those who refuse to be drafted) are not against this or that policy of the Israeli government. They are against Israel as a state of the Jewish people. They are against the Zionist idea. They don't get a free pass under the rubric of "democratic protest." They should not pass Go. They don't collect $200 either.
On the other hand, the equally dangerous rabbis and refuseniks of the right do not get a free pass either. And neither do the anti-Zionist Haredi draft evaders. They should not pass "Go." But somehow, they manage to collect a great deal more than $200 from our tax money to finance activities that are subversive to democracy and to Zionism, and undermine the state as surely as the anti-Zionists of the left. Nobody should get a free pass just because we like their stand on a particular issue. That includes Burg and his immoral use of pensions and drivers granted him as ex-head of the Jewish Agency.
Ami Isseroff

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Arafat's Wife expelled from Tunisia

Great Character...
Jerusalem Post Aug. 14, 2007
Suha Arafat kicked out of Tunisia

Suha Arafat, the widow of former Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat, has been stripped of her Tunisian citizenship and was asked to leave Tunisia together with her 12-year-old daughter, Zahwa, Palestinian sources in Ramallah said on Monday.
The sources told The Jerusalem Post that Suha was now staying in Malta with her brother, Jubran Tawil, who serves as Palestinian Authority ambassador there.
"The Tunisians have kicked her out," the sources said. "Apparently they were unhappy with her conduct."

Other sources claimed that Suha, who is said to have inherited hundreds of millions of dollars from her husband, was expelled following a business dispute with some of her Tunisian partners.
The London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi said Tunisian President Zine El-Abidin Ben-Ali issued a presidential decree last week revoking Suha's citizenship. The paper did not mention the reason why her citizenship was revoked.
A Tunisian newspaper, Al-Raed, said the decree, which carried the number 1976, stated: "The Tunisian citizenship granted to Suha Daoud Tawil, who was born in Jerusalem on July 17, 1963, is to be revoked."
The newspaper said the decision meant that Suha would also be deprived of her "moral and material rights" in the country. It's not clear at this stage if Suha's bank accounts had also been frozen.
Suha moved to Tunis shortly after her husband's death in November 2004. Before that, she and her daughter had been living in Paris for nearly a decade.
Suha is believed to have struck a deal with Arafat's successors according to which she will receive about $22 million a year.
In 2006 she was granted Tunisian citizenship and a villa.
Unconfirmed reports said she recently married businessman Bilhassan Tarabulsi, the brother of the Tunisian president's wife. Suha, however, denied the reports.
Tunisian journalist Tawfik al-Ayyashi revealed that Suha had been involved in a number of economic projects in the country.
Suha and her daughter are now living in an undisclosed location in the northern part of the island.
Other family members may have joined Suha and Zahwa in Malta, immigration sources told the Web site
According to some reports, Suha's mother, Raymonda, a prominent journalist and writer, has also arrived in Malta.
Suha was raised as a Catholic in Ramallah and Nablus and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris.
Suha met Yasser Arafat when she was on assignment in Jordan for a French newspaper. She was immediately appointed as a public relations adviser to the PLO and later as an economic consultant to her husband.
The two married secretly in 1990 at Arafat's house in Tunisia and kept the wedding secret for 15 months.
Suha drew sharp criticism from many Palestinians when she tried to prevent senior PA officials, including PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, from visiting her husband while he was being treated in a military hospital in Paris.
In a screaming telephone interview with the pan-Arabic satellite television channel Al-Jazeera, Suha accused Abbas and then-PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei of conspiring to take her husband's place.
"Let it be known to the honest Palestinian people that a bunch of those who want to inherit are coming to Paris," she said in her appeal in Arabic.
"You have to realize the size of the conspiracy. I tell you they are trying to bury Abu Ammar alive," she said, using Arafat's nom de guerre. "He is all right and he is going home."

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First group of Rwandan children reach Israel for treatment by Save A Child's Heart

August  14th - 6:00 AM - Israeli based, humanitarian organization, Save A Child's Heart, welcomes its first group of children from Rwanda to be operated on in Israel at Wolfson Medical Center.

Save A Child's Heart (SACH) welcomes the arrival of its first group of Rwandan children suffering from heart disease to be operated on in Israel at the Wolfson Medical Center.  The five children, who range from just a few months old to 15 years of age, will land in Israel on Tuesday, August 14th, 2007, accompanied by a Rwandan Nurse as well as by two mothers.

The arrival of the children to Israel marks a new phase in the partnership between SACH and the people of Rwanda which began in mid-March 2007, during an inaugural visit to Rwanda, following the organization's annual medical mission to Ethiopia. The 48 hour introduction visit to Rwanda included meetings with various officials and medical personnel who strive for the development of an improved healthcare system.

The SACH medical team visited the King Faisel Hospital in Kigali and met with Dr. Joseph Mucumbitsi, the Head of Pediatric Cardiology unit.  Dr. Mucumbitsi had previously contacted Save A Child's Heart to request assistance from the organization in order to help rehabilitate and develop the Rwandan medical infrastructure as well as help to treat complex pediatric cardiac cases among the nation's children.

During the visit to Rwanda, Dr. Tamir, Head of the Pediatric Cardiology Department at Wolfson Medical Center together with Dr. Mucumbitsi, conducted a screening clinic for over a dozen children who suffer from heart disease requiring treatment.  The operations for the Rwandan children will be carried out by SACH as part of its longstanding humanitarian activities that has brought over 1700 children from 27 countries around the world to Israel over the last 12 years for heart surgery.

Save A Child's Heart provides life-saving heart surgeries for children from developing countries in Israel.  Since 1996 children have come to SACH from countries such as Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zanzibar, Moldova, Vietnam and China while close to half of the total number of children treated at SACH are Palestinian or from Arab countries including Jordan and Iraq.  Follow up care and capacity building are also an integral part of SACH's core mission
and activities.

SACH has broadcasting quality footage of the visit to Kigali.

For more information, please contact Save A Child's Heart:

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Joint Israeli, US and Turkish military exercise - "Reliant Mermaid VIII"

August 13th, 2007

Joint Israeli, US and Turkish military exercise - "Reliant Mermaid VIII"

Reliant Mermaid VIII, which is a live, joint Search and Rescue exercise, will be conducted by the participant elements of Israeli, Turkish and United States Naval and Air Forces between August 20th and August 24th 2007. Turkey is the host country of the event and the exercise will take place in the international waters of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea south of the Turkish coast.

The objective of this exercise is to practice coordinated emergency search and rescue procedures and measures for safety of life at sea. By enhancing their interoperability, cooperation, and coordination level during the exercise, elements of the three naval and air forces will be able to respond more efficiently and rapidly to the potential maritime emergencies as well as to the humanitarian assistances in the future.

The exercise will be conducted by 10 ships, 4 helicopters and 4 search and rescue aircraft of all three countries.

A Press Conference will be held on August 21st 2007 at Aksaz/Marmaris Naval Base. The live phase of the exercise will take place on August 22nd 2007 and media presence will be made available.

Media representatives wishing to observe the exercise are required to be present at the main entrance of Aksaz /Marmaris Naval Base by 12:00, August
21st 2007.

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Nukes in New York? Debka duck lays an egg

The story:
New York police stepped up security throughout Manhattan and at bridges and tunnels on Friday in response to an internet report - which authorities said they could not verify - that al-Qaeda might be plotting to detonate a dirty bomb in the city.

The report triggering the security hike came from Israeli website, which reported that there has been a rush of electronic chatter on al-Qaeda sites, one saying there would be an attack "by means of trucks loaded with radio-active material against America's biggest city and financial nerve center."
Well yes, Al-Qaeda could be doing that at any time, but there doesn't seem to have been a reason to predict August 11 as the date. September 11 is a more logical date. It is anniversay of the abolition of the Khalifa (Caliphate to you). But don't get the idea that I wrote that there might be an attack on September 11. There might be an attack any day, or a war in the Middle East any day. Or not.
Debkafiles is trying to make a name with predictions. Anyone can make predictions. They are only interesting if the predictions are correct however.
On the other hand, a good canard like that can bring a lot of readers to your Web site.
Did I mention that the Martians are invading next week?
Ami Isseroff

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Your tax dollars at work: PNA pays Palestinian prisoners

Ajramis is Palestinian Minister of prisoner affairs.
The article states:
The Palestinian Authority pays a stipend to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails to cover the costs of food and basic necessities
Just the "bear necessities" of life. I rather suspect that Israeli authorities pay for food and "basic necessities." The Palestinian Authority gets this money from where? From United States and EU.
So let me see if I understand correctly. Let's say X was caught with a suicide belt, about to blow up in a hospital in Beersheba, discotheque in Tel Aviv, supermarket in Jerusalem or other dangerous oppressive Zionist locale, in order to kill 20 or 30 Israeli civilians, and exercise the "legitimate right of resistance."  Since he did not blow up, he cannot get 72 virgins, and gets sent to jail instead. There he gets a subsidy for his services in the cause of Jihad, that is paid for by... you, dear readers!
Ami Isseroff

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Springtime for Osama and Nasrallah: the banality of evil and ordinary people

In Daily Star, Rami Khouri writes about The epic story of Arab ordinariness. His complaint is that the Arabs are really very ordinary and nice people, and it is only Western journalists who manage to seek out and find every little fault:
...I was able to contrast this Western news-anchored view of a troubled Middle East with the personal experiences of two graduate student friends of our sons who came to the Middle East for a two-week vacation this month.
They visited four different corners of the Arab world - Dubai, Beirut, South Lebanon and Damascus...
The experiences of our American friends and the coverage of these regions in the mainstream American and Western press are as different as night and day. On the ground in the region, the visitor sees and experiences the full range of issues that define contemporary Arab society, the good and the bad together: extremism and compassion, suspicion and hospitality, destruction and construction, tension and relaxation, political concerns and the assertion of a powerful humanism, anger at American policy but also a warm embrace of individual Americans.

Especially in places like Damascus, Beirut and South Lebanon, visitors from abroad experience the nuances and subtleties of daily life, political sentiments and social-cultural dynamics that unfortunately are largely missing from the global media's reporting on our region.
Global reporting about the Middle East has presented it almost exclusively as an arena of aberration and violence, seen primarily through the lens of conflict and extremism, emotionalism, exaggerated religiosity, and deep ethnic or religious prejudice. The underlying human rhythms, prevailing moral norms, and routine cultural and political values of the 500 million or so Arabs, Iranians, Kurds and Turks are not presented accurately or fully.
Rami, people can get used to anything, and when they do, they consider it, and themselves to be "ordinary." I wonder if you are acquainted with the story, "The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson. It is about a town that holds a lottery each year. A very ordinary town with ordinary people. They have always held this lottery. It is a custom. Each year they choose one person to be stoned to death. For them, it is "ordinary." For you, dictatorships, terrorism, gangsterism, assassination, religious fanaticism and racism are just part of the scenery.
After all, what could be wrong in a place like Damascus, which hatches plots to murder foreign polticians? Beirut and South Lebanon are so ordinary. Isn't it the case that opposition politicians are murdered on a fairly regular basis in every country? Doesn't every country have a region of dug-in military fortifications manned by gangster religious fanatics who participate in the government? Doesn't every ethnic group in the world take it into their heads, once in a while, to lob suicide bombing kidnapped airplanes at skyscrapers? And of course, in Paris and New York and even in Tel Aviv and Moscow, it is clear that once in a while the powers that be decide to wipe out the opposition, cut them up into steaks and send them to their families. Aren't most leaders elected in one-candidate elections? Doesn't everyone in the world have a copy of Protocols of the elders of Zion?
And let us not neglect this too:
... prevailing moral norms, and routine cultural and political values of the 500 million or so Arabs, Iranians, Kurds and Turks are not presented accurately or fully
Consider the prevailing moral norms in Iran, where homosexuals are hanged, as an example. It is an ordinary sort of thing entirely. I don't know why you dragged the Turks and  Kurds into this, as they do seem to be ordinary and decent people by most standards, and the Iranians, while not too ordinary, are not Arabs either. Unfortunately there are extremists in Turkey and problems between Turkey and Kurds, and these must be reported as news. "Ahmed and his friends had breakfast today and discussed the football results" is not news, so it doesn't get reported. "Ahmed and his friends got blown to kingdom come while discussing the football scores" is more likely to be reported.
If you live in stench for a long time, you get used to the smell. Tom Friedman recounted the tale of the Beirut housewife, who, during the civil war, asked her guests whether they preferred to have dinner now, or wait until after the evening gunfire. You get used to everything. For you Rami, this sort of thing is normal apparently.
There is a Hebrew joke, perhaps originally Arabic or Russian, who knows? - with a universal message: 
"Baby snake asks mamma snake, 'Am I venomous too'?" Everyone thinks they are ordinary and every society thinks that what they do is ordinary. After all, they eat, they work, they sleep, they raise children. The wife of the Reichsfuhrer SS who knitted socks for the Winter Hilfe to help the boys on the front considered herself an ordinary person, and the mother of the suicide bomber is an ordinary person, and the mothers of Baruch Goldstein and Yigal Amir as well. And all these ordinary people admire the "ordinary" deeds of their monstrous sons. Stalin was a regular sort of fellow too. The ante-bellum USA southland was really an ordinary place, with high moral values, except for the detail that they had African slaves.  
Why indeed are Western journalists persecuting the poor Arabs for no reason? Perhaps you should write a musical, "Springtime for Bin-Laden, a romp with Osama and the gang in Bora-Bora."
Ami Isseroff

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Israeli Arab group claims it was behind Jerusalem shooting

A frightening reality: Israeli Arabs are more active in terror attacks.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 11:26 13/08/2007    
By Yoav Stern and Jonathan Lis, Haaretz Correspondent

An unknown Israeli Arab organization "Galilee freedom brigades" claimed responsibility on Sunday for the shooting that took place in the Old City of Jerusalem Friday in which Ahmed Khatib, an Israeli Arab from Kfar Manda in the Galilee, grabbed a security guard's weapon, shot him, and was later killed in the ensuing shoot-out which left ten people wounded.
The Palestinian news agency Ma'an published a message received from Israeli Arab which said that the shooting was planned to avenge "the assassination of Shahid Mohammad Khatib from Kfar Manda on April 18th, 2004."
On that date, Border Police shot and killed Khatib in a shoot-out at Beit Rimon Junction in the Galilee after Khatib and a second Israeli Arab had opened fire at them.
In the message claiming responsibility a mistake was made. Mohammad Khatib was not from Kfar Manda but rather Kfar Kana. His partner in the shoot-out, however, was a resident of Kfar Manda.
Nasser al-Laham, editor in chief of the Ma'an news agency, told Haaretz on Sunday that this is the third time that he has received a message from the organization from inside Israel.
In the message, the organization said that this was not their first action. They also denied any ties to Palestinian organizations such as the People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Islamic Jihad or Fatah. They did not deny any ties to Hamas.
On Sunday, a film of the shoot-out, which took place in the Old City's crowded pedestrian walkway, was released. In the film, Khatib can be clearly seen following the security guards through the Old City's narrow streets. Close to a grocery store, he reached one of the guards, pulled the guard's pistol out of its holster and ran. The guards chased him, and at some point one of them grabbed him and was shot. Khatib continued to run away, and a gun battle ensued between him and the other guard, who in the end mortally wounded him. Khatib is then seen on the ground, as the final scenes of the shooting were not shown in the released film.
Arab MK and Deputy Knesset Speaker Ahmed Tibi criticized the fact that the ending, in which Khatib is killed, was taken out. "In light of the accounts made that the guards 'confirmed the kill', the end of the film must be shown. The fact that it was not shown raises questions."

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Soldiers who refuse orders - who is right?

The refusal of some IDF soldiers to evacuate two families of Hebron settlers who took over Arab houses without permission or legal sanction, has caused a controversy. That was exactly the intent - to draw attention, and publicity and get recruits. The ideological rationale behind their behavior is that GOD told them what is right and wrong. Those who are opposed to the occupation insist that this phenomenon is "different" from those who refuse to serve in the IDF because they are opposed to the occupation, and Haredim (ultra-Orthodox) would of course argue that their failure to serve in the IDF is also "different" - because GOD told them what is right and wrong.
There are many issues to be sorted out here.
1. The Tal law, which in practice exempts most Haredim from IDF service, is an immoral solution that must be actively combatted if we are to save Israel and Israeli democracy. There is no issue there. In that respect, Haredi draft evasion (and work evasion) is not comparable to the protest of the settler supporters.
2. Since the settler supporters, like the Haredi draft evaders, claim that GOD told them what they ought to be doing, it seems that GOD is sending out different messages to different people, and should probably not be invoked as an authority. HE is not very consistent.
3. Civil disobedience is a necessary concomitant of any democracy, whether it is done by the right or the left, for or against the occupation. Civil disobedience against an unjust or harmful law is a civic duty, provided it is not based on an ideology alien to democracy.
It would be a patriotic act, in my view, if an entire annual cadre of IDF recruits were to refuse service until the Tal law was changed. There is no reason why my sons and daugher should give several years of their lives (at least that) to the IDF, and why the sons and daughters of all of us should risk their lives, while Haredim are exempt.
4. Cursing the IDF is a free speech right, but allusions to death threats are dangerous incitement.
5. In a perpetual emergency such as the one Israel is facing, it is sometimes necessary to curb liberties. On the other hand, it is never possible to know where to draw the line. An order to kill innocent civilians is clearly against international law and IDF regulations, and nobody should carry out that type of order. But in the case of the leftist and rightist refusers of orders that is not an issue.
6. Democracy ceases to function when the orders of a democratically elected government are superseded in principle by the idea that GOD or a group of rabbis are higher authorities than the government in matters related to state administration. This turns the state into a theocracy. That is the really important difference between refusal to serve in the territories because of opposition to the occupation, and refusal to evict Hebron settlers. On the other hand, total refusal to serve in the IDF based on anti-Zionist ideology is no longer civil disobedience. It is insurrection, and the people who preach it or practice it should be dealt with in the manner that befits insurrection. Unfortunately, while the Tal law exists, there is no moral justification for allowing one group of anti-Zionists to get away scot-free with insurrection, while prosecuting a different group of anti-Zionists. In a democracy, the anti-Zionist Jehovah is no more of an authority than the communist one.
Yehuda Ben Meir gives his views on one aspect of the settler "refusenik" problem here: Sedition, not insubordination:
Most serious of all, however, is the intentional, organized harassment of IDF commanders and officers - using curses, ostracism and extreme incitement - sometimes extending to members of their families. The extremists involved in this are willing to sacrifice the State of Israel on the altar of the Land of Israel. If, God forbid, they succeed, we will be left without either one, as we were after the destruction of the Second Temple. The State of Israel has the power to stop them, and should do so sooner rather than later.
Ami Isseroff

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Israeli secular army prep schools in funding crisis

This news is in line with the inroads made by ultra-orthodox education...
Head of Secular Pre-Army Institution: Min. of Ed. Tamir not protecting us in budget - Livnat did
Dr. Aaron Lerner Date: 13 August 2007

Haaretz correspondent Or Kashti reports in today's Hebrew edition:

The heads of the pre-army institutions (mechinot) attacked Minister of Education Yuli Tamir (Labor) for failing to protect them from budget cuts that could force them not to open this September .  The budget gap is some 10  million shekels.

"We have no explanation for Yuli Tamir's behavior.  She embraces us but in the end the budget is small.  In all the budget cuts during Limor Livnat's (Likud) period, the budget of the pre-army mechinot was not hurt.
Apparently Tamir is not determined enough to defend this project," said Danny Zamir, coordinator of the "Forum of Mechina Heads" and head of the secular
Yitzchak Rabin Mechina

According  to data from the Ministry of Education, last school year some 1,800 students attended some 30 institutions as compared to some 1,000 in 2001.  40% of the students attend secular mechinot, a rate that increases with each year.  Some 70% of graduates serve in combat units and 30% become officers.

According to Zamir, the budget of 20 million shekels has not been adjusted since 1999 and this despite decisions to increase it.  "In the last seven years every Government and minister of education took care not to cut the budget of the mechinot - even when there was an across the board cut. Livnat would call us and tell us that we could rest easy. During the period of Yuli Tamir, the policy has changed," explained Zamir.

A senior source in the Ministry of Education added: "Livnat adopted the principle that the budget of the mechinot would not be touched, despite all the pressure.  Tamir isn't one to put up a fight."

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations: Wheel is turning, Hamster may be dead

The text says:
Israel and the Palestinians have been trying to work out differences blocking the resumption of peace talks ever since moderate Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas expelled the militant Hamas from government in June, in the wake of the Islamic group's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip.

The United States is prodding the sides to renew negotiations and has set a meeting of regional leaders for the fall. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met Abbas in Jericho last week.
Indeed. There are only a few minor problems to be worked out, like how Abbas will control violence, and how Olmert will get his government to evict settlers from even one illegal outpost, let alone the entire West Bank or large parts of it. Also, there is the matter of Abbas's plan to flood Israel with three million Palestinian refugees or so. That shouldn't be a problem, right? I mean everyone would want to have Al-Qaeda members from Lebanon as their neighbors, wouldn't you? And anyone would jump at the deal to get a country so small it makes tiny Israel look big. Wouldn't you like to live there?  And anyone would love to have as their neighbors the nice Hamas movement, which is in the habit of lobbing rockets at towns across the border, and occasionally cuts people up into steaks and sends the steaks to their families. Bon appetit
I guess nobody will be running out to take any of those deals after all, so it is not surprising that the peace non-process is all talk.
Doron Rosenblum comments: Even the spin has become tired. Nobody here believes any of it. Neither Palestinians nor Israelis. Apathy reigns in the summer heat. The implication however, cannot be ignored. The US needs a peace deal, or some progress to present at the upcoming peace conference. A peace conference without a peace deal will be a catastrophe for all forces of reason in the Middle East, and a victory for Syria, Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. Springtime for Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad.
Ami Isseroff

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Arafat died of HIV (AIDS) or something

Consider the headline below, "Arafat's doctor: There was HIV in his blood, but poison killed him." As his doctor, al-Kurdi could know this, as it was a long term condition.
But al Kurdi makes this claim as well:
Jordanian news site Amman quoted al-Kurdi - a former Jordanian health ministry official - as saying that the virus had been injected into Arafat's bloodstream close to his death, and that the real cause of the chairman's death was poison
We could lend some credence to this idea, except that al-Kurdi also tells us:
"I would usually be summoned to attend to Arafat immediately, even when all he had was a simple cold," said al-Kurdi, who served as Arafat's personal physician for 18 years. "But when his medical situation was really deteriorating, they chose not to call me at all."
If that is the case, then how could he possibly know that Arafat was injected with a virus? What virus might it be?
Ami Isseroff
By Danny Rubinstein , Haaretz Correspondent

Late Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat's blood contained the deadly HIV virus, Arafat's personal physician told Jordanian media over the weekend. Dr. Ashraf al-Kurdi stressed, however, that Arafat did not die of AIDS - which is caused by the virus.
Jordanian news site Amman quoted al-Kurdi - a former Jordanian health ministry official - as saying that the virus had been injected into Arafat's bloodstream close to his death, and that the real cause of the chairman's death was poison.
Hours earlier, al-Kurdi was interviewed on television news station Al-Jazeera. However, the network cut short the live interview with al-Kurdi as soon as he mentioned that the former chairman had contracted HIV.

To Amman, al-Kurdi said that Arafat's death was suspicious in several other respects. "I would usually be summoned to attend to Arafat immediately, even when all he had was a simple cold," said al-Kurdi, who served as Arafat's personal physician for 18 years. "But when his medical situation was really deteriorating, they chose not to call me at all."
According to al-Kurdi, Arafat's wife, Suha, refused to allow the doctor to visit Arafat in the private Paris hospital where he was being treated. Al-Kurdi added that he was denied access to Arafat's body after his death. In the Amman interview, he demanded the French government set up a commission of inquiry.
However, al-Kurdi did not explain why he did not come forth sooner and reveal the information. On September 9, 2005, al-Kurdi told Haaretz that "any doctor would tell you that [Arafat's symptoms] are the symptoms of a poisoning."
Arafat was pronounced dead on November 11 at the age of 75. The exact cause of his illness is unknown. Arab journalists and opinion-shapers have repeatedly accused Israel under former prime minister Ariel Sharon of poisoning Arafat.

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Hezbollah getting ready for the next round

For many months, we have been hearing and reading about the preparations of Hezbollah for its next round with Israel. This doesn't come as a surprise. The big question nobody is asking, is why nobody at all, including Israel, is trying to do something about it. The encroachments of the Hezbollah are accepted as though they are a fact of nature, like aging or the weather.
Hizbollah buys frontier land to attack Israel
By Charles Levinson in Chbail, Lebanon, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:35am BST 12/08/2007

Hizbollah is buying up large tracts of land owned by Christians and other non-Shias in southern Lebanon as the militant group rebuilds its defences in preparation for a new war with Israel, The Sunday Telegraph has been told.

Hizbollah is buying land beyond the reach of the UN

The land grab is thought to be driven by the Iranian-backed guerrillas' efforts to rearm themselves and fortify the strategically important ravines north of the Litani River, just north of the front line in last year's 34-day conflict with its Jewish neighbour.

Here, Hizbollah has been free to press forward without harassment from the 13,000 United Nations peacekeepers and 20,000 Lebanese army troops who were deployed south of the Litani as part of the ceasefire agreement that ended the conflict.

Just south of the Litani, the UN is conducting hundreds of patrols each day in a bid to keep Hizbollah weapons out of the area, but the peacekeepers' mandate ends at the river.

The Lebanese army, meanwhile, is about 50 per cent Shia and seems to be turning a blind eye to Hizbollah activities north of the river.

In these rugged gorges, the group appears to be readying for round two with Israel, and many fear it is not far off after the inconclusive end to last year's war and reports of -Hizbollah rearming.

The area's forested wadis, or valleys, make ideal terrain for Hizbollah's brand of guerrilla warfare and, just 10 miles from the border, are within rocket range of Israeli cities.

The Shia encroachment into a mixed area of Christians, Shias and Druze Muslims threatens to disrupt Lebanon's delicate sectarian balance, which is already teetering after three years of political tumult.

"Christians and Druze are selling land and moving out, while the Shia are moving in. There is an extraordinary demo-graphic shift taking place," said Edmund Rizk, a Christian MP for the area until 1992.

On a scenic, sparsely populated ridge, the farming village of Chbail was once Christian. Today, the land belongs to a wealthy Shia businessman with alleged ties to Hizbollah. Its new residents are recent Shia transplants from the Hizbollah-controlled south.

Entry to the village is forbidden to outsiders - not by the Lebanese army that technically holds sway here, but by the chabab, the plain-clothed, bearded youths who act as look-outs in Hizbollah territory.

"The village is closed for security reasons," said a youth who had recently moved from a Hizbollah-controlled area near the regional capital, Tyre.

Like many neighbouring hamlets, Chbail has steadily decayed ever since civil war broke out in 1975. Fleeing first Palestinian guerrillas, then invading Israeli soldiers, and finally Hizbollah, villagers steadily migrated to seek better lives in Beirut or overseas.

While The Sunday Telegraph was at Chbail's outskirts, a rust-coloured Volvo station wagon rolled in, piled high with wooden building beams. A dozen or so other young men with dirt-caked fingernails came and went freely. On the wadis' western edge, a metal sign strung across an unmarked dirt track erased any doubt about what, or rather who, now lies beyond.

"Entry forbidden. Hizbollah area," the sign read in Arabic. The closure was manned by a pair of teenage gunmen in olive green fatigues, armed with walkie-talkies and AK47s.

The buy-up of land in Chbail and half a dozen Druze and Christian villages is said to be the work of a wealthy Shia businessman, Ali Tajeddine, who made his fortune trading diamonds in Sierra Leone before returning to Lebanon and starting a successful construction company.

Squat and bearded, Mr Tajeddine keeps a Hizbollah charity box in the waiting room of his Tyre office. He is believed to be a major player in Hizbollah's massive reconstruction programme called Jihad al Bina, or the Building Jihad.

During an interview, Mr Tajeddine fidgeted nervously as he denied any connection with Hizbollah. He said his projects at Chbail represent just a fraction of the dozens of developments he is building throughout Lebanon.

But his distinctive arc of land-buys around Hizbollah's new stronghold has triggered alarm among the district's Christian and Druze leaders, who say he is using Iranian funds to buy land from destitute villagers at up to four times the going rate. Druze sheikhs have responded by forbidding the sale of land to Shias and wealthy Christians have been asked to buy property in the area to stem the Shia tide.

In Chbail and two neighbouring Christian villages, Mr Tajeddine has already bought 200-300 acres of land, according to the mayor, Kamil Fares. "There are new people coming," he said. "Shias have moved into apartments belonging to Ali Tajeddine. But we're poor. What can we do?"

In the Druze village of Al Sreiri, the mayor, Hafed Kiwane, told a similar story. "We have nothing here, so it was good to see money coming into the area, but now we fear there are suspicious motives," he said.

Among the Hizbollah settlements is the fledgling village of Ahmediyya, where a billboard in Hebrew warns Israeli invaders: "Do not enter!"

Dozens of housing units have been built here in the past year. A supermarket is open for business, and 10 Shia families have moved in so far. Among them is project foreman Mohammad Atwa, 51. As two men photographed The Sunday Telegraph's car, he said: "The rockets of the resistance showed us there was someone to defend us."

Critics fear that Ahmediyya will further stretch the Shia reach to the north-east, as part of a grand scheme to create a strip of Shia-controlled land connecting the south to Hizbollah's other power centre in Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley.

"It is part of Hizbollah's plan to create a state within a state," said Walid Jumblatt, a Druze leader. He also pointed to the four-lane road being built to connect the Hizbollah stronghold of Nabatieh in the south to the western Bekaa.

Banners openly proclaim the source of the road's funding: "510km of new roads paid for by the Iranian Organization for Sharing in the Building of Lebanon".

Continued (Permanent Link)

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