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Friday, August 24, 2007

Pakistani Minister: Jews behind 9/11;Muslims, Jews and Christians cannot be friends

Pakistan's Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Dr Sher Afgan Niazi, (no that's not a misprint, there is an "i" in the name) claims he knows who is at fault for the 9/11 attacks:

The minister said that events which followed the 9/11 incident proved that it was the brainchild of Jews. He said that according to holy Quran, Jews and Christians could never be friends of Muslims.

Them Jews will do it every time, right? Of course, if a Christian or a Jew had said they could never be friends of Muslims, there would be hell to pay, and churches and synagogues would be burnt to the ground.
Remember, after Musharraf, the Niazis will probably take over in Pakistan.
Ami Isseroff

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Say what?? : US Hebrew school ordered to halt Hebrew classes

A Hebrew school is free to teach anything it likes. Anything but Hebrew, that is. This is not happening in Nazi Germany, Tsarist Russia, the Middle Ages, or the USSR of the 1970s. It is Florida, right now. Why? Because it might be advocating the Jewish religion! If they study the  bible in English, aren't they also in danger of advocating religion?

I studied the bible in Hebrew. If that was supposed to be a way to make me religious, it didn't work, I confess. But of course, others might be affected. After all, I watch television all the time and don't go out and murder anyone, though "everyone knows" that TV violence causes real violence. I must be abnormal, I guess, right?

Wouldn't it be a terrible thing if they were advocating the Jewish faith in Hebrew, in secret, and all those state officials didn't know? People might go out and do unto others as they would have done unto themselves or something dangerous like that. You never know.

How and where does one draw the line?

If the kids are taught to say in Hebrew, "I am the Lord they God, thou shalt have none other before me" - is that advocating the Jewish faith? Study of the bible is a very important part of Hebrew language study. It is hard to see how one could study the bible in any language without being in danger of advocating a faith, and, perish the thought, Zionism.  

Read it and weep (or laugh):

US Hebrew school ordered to halt Hebrew classes

A charter school has been ordered to temporarily suspend Hebrew classes while officials try to determine whether teachers are advocating the Jewish faith.

Broward Schools Superintendent James Notter sent a letter to officials at the Ben Gamla Charter School in Hollywood on Wednesday advising them to halt Hebrew classes until the school board could further examine the curriculum....  

When I went to school in the United States, teachers were still making students make Christmas tree decorations and the like. That was clearly wrong. Nobody should be forced to do anything against their own conscience. But if parents and students want the students to learn about their own religion, what is the harm?

Ami Isseroff


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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Trampling on the rights of the Arabic Ouma - Zionism?

According to this article, 1.2 million arabs have been deported from a region of Iran, just like that, and replaced by ethnic Iranians ("Persians"). It is reminiscent of Stalin's nationalities policies.  There are no U.N. resolutions on the matter, no HRW condemnations. The Arab world doesn't protest this gross infraction of the legitimate rights of Arab citizens.
Ami Isseroff

Transfer and resettlement – Tehran Style

Iran finds original solution to 'demographic problems' as ayatollahs' regime oppresses Arab residents of Al-Ahawaz near Iraq. Some 1.2m Arabs have been deported, replaced by 1.5m Persians

Roee Nahmias 


Iranian-made settlements: There is a non-Arab country in the Middle East which, at least according to western and Arabic media, has been deporting tens of thousands of Arabs from their homes, building settlements and filling them with non-Arabs, in an attempt to change the demographic composition of their region.


That country has been oppressing Arabs, violating their basic human rights, detaining thousands, including women and children and expropriating their farmlands for the settlements it constructs.


All of that is done under the framework of an organized government plan. Guess which country that is? It is none other than the Islamic Republic of Iran. 


On the same week that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Damascus – where he issued belligerent statements against Israel and signed pacts with his Syrian counterpart – disconcerting reports were received in the West about developments inside Iran.

The reports particularly addressed the way the ayatollahs' regime treats the district of Al-Ahawaz in southeastern Iran, near the Iraqi border, which is mostly inhabited by Arabs (we should remember that the Iranians, i.e. the Persians, are Muslims, but not Arabs).

Recently, Karim Bani Sa'id Abadiyan, chairman of a human rights organization from Al-Ahawaz district, offered a rare view of this region, which the Iranian regime is making a huge effort to conceal from the media.

Relocation, courtesy of the regime

According to Abadiyan, over the past eight years, the Iranian government has deported some 1.2 million Arab residents, replacing them with 1.5 million non-Arabs.


The newcomers, mostly Persian Iranians, moved into new settlements that the Iranian government had built in the region. At the same time, the ayatollahs' regime governs the region with an iron fist, conducting mass arrests, executing dozens of local activists, seizing lands, and even banning the teaching of Arabic....

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The Truth about the Palestinian Refugee Problem

I once asked a senior refugee in Jenin, "Why don't you get out of this hole, improve your quality of life, and live just like any other person in the world?" He replied: "If you ask the residents, they would tell you that they're willing to be evacuated right now. Yet the PLO wishes to perpetuate this camp as a living monument…it forbids the removal of even one stone from here, as the moment there is no longer a camp, there would no longer
be a Palestinian problem…it cares less about the victims."
Why doesn't everyone know this?
Ami Isseroff

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Jewish Engineers: the heart of Zionism

Stef Wertheimer has a vitally important message for Israel, and for Zionism here. Israeli Engineers have become  the backbone of our economy, but Israel has always pursued educational and economic policies that favor "professionals" and entrepreneurs. The Zionist vision of Jews working at the heart of their own industries is the only way to guarantee Israel's success. We cannot allow ourselves to become a nation of outsourcers.
Israel is throttling the education of engineers and technicians, as well as creating unfavorable employment conditions that ensure a steady export of engineers to Boston and California.
Ami Isseroff
By Stef Wertheimer

I was saddened to read the article in Haaretz about the closing of the BASMAT technical high school in Haifa, which said the only part left of the school will be a commemoration room in a museum. I remember the glory days of BASMAT, and was chairman of the board from 1968 to 1975; unfortunately, I am also witnessing its decline. While it may seem that the school is closing because of general trends that could not be prevented, that is not the case. BASMAT was intentionally put to death -- just as trade education as a whole is being destroyed by the Education Ministry and the academic establishment.
For years, the Technion allowed top-tier BASMAT graduates into its engineering program automatically, but it has since stopped that practice. Like engineering departments in the universities, the Technion demanded excellence only in theoretical fields and did not consider those who underwent broad, in-depth professional training.
The education minister returned from Singapore with the revelation that trade schools are necessary, but is repeating the mistakes of her predecessors: designating work in the trades only for those who don't succeed elsewhere. I, however, say that despite the high value attributed to the study of law, communications and business administration, working creatively in a trade is the basis for a life of financial independence, dignity and personal development.

Today's education establishment is built only for children who want to "know about." But what about those who want to do, who want to be involved in making and producing? Why is this not allowed? The national and personal interest is being neglected in favor of matriculation certificates, so that all Israeli children will pass through the gates of the university. But this approach has failed. The education gaps are just getting wider.
The state must produce and sell in order to allow its citizens a life of dignity and wellbeing. Regardless of matriculation certificates, the educational establishment today is not creating conditions for its graduates to work and produce in order to advance themselves and the state. Trade education is meant for everyone; that's also a matter of principle. Zionism attempted to bring the Jews back to a life of creative health, but today's educational establishment is returning us to the Diaspora experience of luftgeschaft, the Yiddish term for non-productive work.
The schools I founded taught children who had been expelled from the educational system. They studied and worked at Iscar and joined the factory upon graduation. A significant proportion of the students who had previously been considered failures rose to managerial positions, including senior ones, at Iscar. Some of the schools should be in industrial zones. Managers and factory workers should be present in the educational system and have positions of responsibility in it. They would be happy to do this because they desperately need professional and skilled workers, which no educational institution is providing today. The students would also gain a broad general education, as a creative and cultured person should have. That has no connection to a matriculation certificate.
There is also a problem with higher education for the trades. The universities provide theoretical engineers, who have a wide knowledge base but not enough skills to work in the field. In the 1990s, I established a college that trained engineers for industry. In addition to theoretical knowledge, the school also taught management and business entrepreneurship, combined with practical physical work in factories. We met the requisite academic criteria and our graduates got tempting job offers, but we had to shut down the college because the Council for Higher Education did not allow us to grant degrees.
The system must stop envisioning the suitable graduate as a lawyer or a professor. A national priority list must be developed that will put trade education ahead of all other forms of education. As BASMAT -- the diamond in the crown of trade education -- shuts down, we must think about the future. The Technion should give preference to those with practical experience, and the academic establishment and Education Ministry should build a high-quality trade education system, to provide dignity to those who want to work. A state committee should be appointed to examine whether the education system meets today's needs and determine the right priorities for the state and all its citizens.
The author is an Israel Prize-winning entrepreneur who founded the Iscar metalworking company.

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The US - Israel relation versus Mearsheimer and Walt

In Understanding the U.S.-Israel Alliance, former diplomat Dore Gold provides one response to the Mearsheimer and Walt "Israel Lobby" thesis. What Gold writes is certainly true from the Israeli perspective. The "Israel Lobby" is not an analysis, but a polemical smear campaign. The US - Israel relation is not built on the power of the non-existent nefarious International Jewish conspiracy.
Gold summarizes:
  • Contrary to the assertions of Professors Stephen Walt of Harvard University and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, who claim that no compelling strategic argument can explain American support for Israel, which they argue has been promoted by "the unmatched power of the Israel lobby," the two countries have, in fact, developed strong strategic ties over the years that have evolved into a unique alliance.
  • As early as December 27, 1962, President John F. Kennedy told Israeli Foreign Minister Golda Meir: "The United States has a special relationship with Israel in the Middle East really comparable only to what it has with Britain over a wide range of world affairs." During the Cold War, the U.S. and Israel had a joint strategic interest in defeating the aggression of Soviet-backed rogue states in the Middle East. This began when Nasser's Egypt intervened in the Arabian Peninsula in 1962, through Yemen, and in 1970 when Syria invaded Jordan.
  • In 1981, Israel destroyed the nuclear reactor of Iraq's Saddam Hussein, severely reducing Iraqi military strength. Ten years later, after a U.S.-led coalition had to liberate Kuwait following Iraq's occupation of that oil-producing mini-state, Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney in October 1991 thanked Israel for its "bold and dramatic action" a decade earlier.
  • Presently, U.S.-Israeli defense ties have grown even tighter. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee on March 15, 2007, USEUCOM commander General Bantz J. Craddock stated that Israel was America's "closest ally" in the Middle East and that it "consistently and directly" supported U.S. interests. This professional evaluation of the U.S.-Israel relationship flies in the face of Walt and Mearsheimer's assertion that Israel is a "strategic burden" that does not serve the American national interest.
  • Because many elements of this strategic relationship are kept secret - particularly in the intelligence field - it is difficult for academics and pundits to assess the true value of U.S.-Israel ties. Nonetheless, General George F. Keegan, a retired U.S. Air Force intelligence chief, disclosed in 1986 that he could not have obtained the same intelligence that he received from Israel if he had "five CIAs." During his interview, at which time the Cold War was still raging, he added: "The ability of the U.S. Air Force in particular, and the Army in general, to defend whatever position it has in NATO owes more to the Israeli intelligence input than it does to any single source of intelligence."
    It is all true as far as it goes, from the Israeli point of view. Gold presents what Israeli diplomats, or at least some of them, believe: that Israel is a valuable "ally." Surely, the fly that befriends the lion and warns of impending danger is convinced that it is giving a valuable service. But after all, it is still only  a fly.
    We need to be a bit more cautious in assessing our own worth and a bit more perspicacious in assessing the reasons for US involvement in Israel. It is true that Israel has provided valuable information and cooperation to the USA, but that is not the reason for US support of Israel.
    Firstly, there is no Israel-US alliance. No treaty of alliance was ever signed, because Israel would not undertake never to go to war or initiate military activity without US approval, and because the US could not realistically provide a commitment to send US troops to defend Israel. No matter what was written on paper, it is not going to happen. Gold and others should be clear to themselves and to everyone else about the actual state of affairs. The United States supports Israel, and has a close relationship with Israel. There is no alliance however, and it is not likely that there every will be one.
    Active US interest in Israel began in 1967, following the Six Day War. US officials were horrified to find that Israel had won the war without US help or weapons, and was now in a position to pursue an independent foreign policy. The goal of US policy, first fully understood and shaped by Henry Kissinger perhaps, was to ensure that Israel would be dependent on the United States at all times. That would allow the United States to use Israeli territorial concessions as a lever to obtain influence in the Middle East. The first fruit of this policy was the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, which was more the result of Kissinger's shuttle diplomacy than Jimmy Carter's mediation. From the US point of view, the treaty was ideal, because it would tie Israel to US arms supplies. At the same time, the US would supply Egypt with weapons, to ensure that Israel had to have parity. A similar deal is currently under way with respect to US arms to be supplied to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, and a "balancing" package to be supplied to Israel.
    I have explored the ramifications of this relationship at length elswhere:

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    Indian Muslim Leaders Praise Israel During Official Visit

    Here is a creative intiative that opens new possibilities. There is every reason why Israel should cultivate the friendship of the largest democracy in the world, which one day could could also be the richest and most powerful democracy. And here as well, there is a way into the hearts and minds of the Muslim world.
    Ami Isseroff

    In a first-of-its-kind visit, a delegation of Indian Muslim leaders is currently on an extensive tour of Israel. The group's leader repeatedly expressed his pleasure at having his preconceptions about Israel overturned. The Muslim leaders' visit to Sderot on Monday included a first-hand lesson on Palestinian Authority rocket attacks.

    The Indian Muslim visit to Israel was arranged at the invitation of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Australian Israel Jewish Affairs Council. Earlier this year, a delegation of rabbis, including Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger, made a similar trip to India.

    Maulana Jamil Ilyasi, president of the All India Organisation of Imams and Mosques, is heading the Indian delegation. His group represents about 500,000 imams and 200 million Indian Muslims, 40% of the global Muslim population. Among the other members of the delegation are Akhtarul Wasey, the head of the department of Islamic Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia, Mahmoodur Rahman, former vice chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), and Sahara Samay editor Aziz Burney.

    According to the Indo-Asian News Service (IANS), when the Hindustan Express carried a front-page story about the visit of prominent Muslims to Israel, at least one member of the group, Sirajuddin Qureshi, dropped out. As a major meat exporter, Qureshi " feared the news of his journey to Israel could adversely affect his business prospects," according to IANS. The news agency noted that the visit has caused controversy among Indian Muslims.

    'Muslims in India Should Come See for Themselves'

    "The Jews I have met here say that we are all children of Abraham, part of the same family," Imam Ilyasi said with a measure of surprise. "This is something I didn't hear in India. The Muslims in India should come and see things for themselves."

    Ilyasi said his visit had reversed many of his own prejudices: "My initial impression was that the Israelis are certainly dominating Muslims out here. Once I came here, that impression completely changed. I saw the reality on the ground, the mutual respect Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews have for each other. Constant conflict is not the reality here." In Jerusalem, he said, "I saw that Muslims, Christians and Jews lived side by side happily, not at each other's throats."

    In fact, Ilyasi claimed, in some ways, Israel treats Muslims better than India does: "I was pleasantly surprised to know that the Sharia (Islamic law) is being supported by the Israeli government; whereas, in India, only local Muslims implement it. That is unique." Ilyasi was apparently referring to the existence of government-sanctioned Islamic courts in the Israeli justice system, which handle marriage, divorce and conversion issues for Muslim Israelis. Similar religious courts exist for Jews and Christians.

    Rabbi David Rosen, AJC's international director of inter-religious affairs in New York, said, "This visit is of great strategic importance and hopefully will impact on the wider Muslim world as well."

    Unfortunately, the Muslim delegation also learned a different lesson on Monday, while visiting the Negev city of Sderot, a frequent target of Palestinian Authority rocket attacks.

    "We heard a warning shot which was followed by a siren. We were immediately rushed to a shelter house where we heard the sound of a rocket attack," a member of the delegation told the Times of India.

    Joint Declaration With the Chief Rabbis

    The delegation of Muslim Indian leaders took part in an inter-religious dialogue on Sunday with representatives of the Chief Rabbinate, which concluded with the signing of a joint declaration with the two Chief Rabbis, Rabbi Yonah Metzger and Rabbi Shlomo Amar.

    "It is high time for the religious leaders of both sides to engage in dialogue and use their collective influence to stop the bloodshed of innocent civilians," the declaration said. "Rather, we need to condemn killings, reject extremism, and the misuse of religion for acts of violence. Suicide is a forbidden act in Islam and therefore suicidal attacks can not find sanction."

    Even before his visit to Israel, Ilyasi said that Indian Muslims "believe in the Indian tradition of resolving issues through dialogue and peaceful means."

    "The time for violence has come to an end, and the era of peace and dialogue between Muslims and Jews has begun," said Ilyasi. He also called on Pakistan to establish official relations with the Jewish State.

    The Indian delegation was also received by President Shimon Peres, who said that whereas past international efforts focused on separating religion from the state, the current struggle is to separate all religions from all types of terrorism. Peres went on to say that the One God respects human life without distinction and hate. "We are all children of Abraham," the President said, adding, "Jerusalem is a living example of co-existence among all the religions. The voice of the Muslim muezzin, the bells of the Christian church and the song of the Jewish cantor - all rise together to Heaven, unhindered, without borders, and with no need for visas."

    President Peres also noted the Indian struggle against terrorism and factionalism, praising the country for maintaining its democratic character throughout.

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    Wednesday, August 22, 2007

    Your tax dollars at work: Terrorists thank USA for training

    You've got to love this.
    "I do not think that the operations of the Palestinian resistance would have been so successful and would have killed more than one thousand Israelis since 2000 and defeated the Israelis in Gaza without these [American] trainings," a senior officer of President Abbas's Force 17 Presidential Guard unit, Abu Yousuf, said.

    America has longstanding training programs at a base in the West Bank city of Jericho for members of Force 17, which serves as de facto police units in the West Bank, and for another major Fatah security force, the Preventative Security Services.

    This weekend diplomatic security officials announced that the State Department will begin training Force 17 again this year in an effort to bolster Mr. Abbas against Hamas, which took over the Gaza Strip in June when the terror group easily defeated American-backed Fatah forces in the territory.
    Prime Minister Olmert last month granted Mr. Yousuf amnesty along with 178 other Brigades leaders reportedly in a gesture to Mr. Abbas.

    Speaking during an interview for the upcoming book "Schmoozing with Terrorists," Mr. Yousuf said his American trainings were instrumental in attacks on Israelis. "All the methods and techniques that we studied in these trainings, we applied them against the Israelis," he said.

    "We sniped at Israeli settlers and soldiers. We broke into settlements and Israeli army bases and posts. We collected information on the movements of soldiers and settlers. We collected information about the best timing to infiltrate our bombers inside Israel. We used weapons and we produced explosives, and of course the trainings we received from the Americans and the Europeans were a great help to the resistance."

    Mr. Yousuf said the training included both intelligence and military tactics.

    "In the intelligence part, we learned collection of information regarding suspected persons, how to follow suspected guys, how to infiltrate organizations and penetrate cells of groups that we were working on and how to prevent attacks and to steal in places," he said.

    "On the military level, we received trainings on the use of weapons, all kind of weapons and explosives. We received sniping trainings, work of special units especially as part as what they call the fight against terror. We learned how to put siege, how to break into places where our enemies closed themselves in, how to oppress protest movements, demonstrations, and other activities of opposition."

    Mr. Yousuf seemed to anticipate criticism for speaking publicly about the training. He's not "talking about U.S. training in order to irritate the Americans or the Israelis and not in order to create provocations," he said. "I'm just telling you the truth."
    So remember, dear Americans, next time 30 people are blown to bits in a supermarket. Those are your tax dollars at work.
    Ami Isseroff

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    The peace of Hudaibiyeh: Aqsa Martyrs Brigades: Truce over

    Headline: Aksa Martyrs Brigades: Truce over. Did anyone notice a truce? Did the rockets and mortars from Gaza stop falling in Sderot for even a few days? But aside from that, there is a very discouraging lesson to be learned here, for those who want their history to be edifying.

    What it is all about:


    The group said the decision was made after the IDF arrested two Fatah gunmen who had been given amnesty by Israel in line with understandings reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

    Israel agreed last month to stop pursuing some 270 Fatah fugitives on condition that they surrender their weapons and sign a pledge to refrain from terrorist activities.

    Earlier this week, the PA said Israel had "pardoned" another 110 Fatah fugitives in the West Bank - a claim that Israel denied.

    The latest leaflet is seen as a challenge to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's efforts to dismantle the Aksa Martyrs Brigades and other Fatah-linked armed groups in the West Bank.

    According to the group, Israel on Monday night arrested Iyad Bisharat and Ahmed Abu Jalboush, two Fatah gunmen whose names had appeared on the first list of pardoned fugitives.


    The basic idea is that there is no rule of law. Groups like Al-Aqsa brigades make their own laws, interpret agreements as they wish and try to become, in effect, the government. A peace agreement signed with the Palestinian authority, will always be at the mercy of these groups, as long as they exist.  

    All agreements will always be torn up, as soon as the slightest excuse can be found. Since only they interpret the agreements and the evidence, they can always find an excuse. This is a very old technique, which Muhamad used to break the Hudna (truce) of Hudaibiyeh. It is a very bad omen for the future, and a very poor model for building trust.

    Ami Isseroff

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    Haifa 5th, 6th graders to be taught Arabic language, culture

    This was a long time in coming - it is too little, and it just might be too late, but it is an example to be adopted everywhere in Israel.
    By Fadi Eyadat, Haaretz Correspondent

    Fifth and sixth graders in all 52 Haifa elementary schools will take Arabic-language classes as well as study Arab and Islamic history, as part of their regular curriculum. The project will be funded by the Ministry of Education and the Haifa Municipality.
    Two years ago, Haifa municipality and the Abraham Fund Initiatives began a pilot project in 12 elementary schools called "Language as a Cultural Bridge." A year later the number of participating institutions doubled.
    The aim of the project, beyond teaching spoken and literary Arabic, is to "link Jewish pupils to the Arab population which is the second-largest [community] in the country," said Rachel Metuki, educational director at the municipality.

    "The program is experiential, and in addition to the language lessons, there will be story tellers in Arabic, audio tapes and plays in Arabic," she explained. "The pupils will learn about Arab family and community life, cultural codes, and all aspects of customs."
    Contrary to the Junior High School pupils throughout the country who study literary Arabic only, the Haifa pupils will learn spoken Arabic and will make daily use of it.
    "Whoever goes to the market in Wadi Nisnas [an Arab neighborhood in Haifa] will speak Arabic with the people there," she said.

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    Surfing for peace and Zionism!?

    Can this be an idea that catches on? What I am hoping is that Israeli Zionist racist warmongers will surf with Arabs from Gaza, and that the event will be interesting enough to get even the Guardian, the Independent, the BBC and other such publications to take pictures. Here is the thing: Surfers don't wear a lot of clothes, so the readers and viewers of these media will at last find out the truth, along with millions of Arab sports fans: Zionists and Jews do not have horns or tails. There is no way to hide that tail under a bathing suit.
    What would be even better, would be if a Saudi or Bahraini millionaire donated a half hours' worth of oil production so that poor Arab and Jewish kids in Israel could learn to surf. That isn't going to happen, is it?
    Ami Isseroff
    Last update - 17:05 21/08/2007    
    By The Associated Press

    An 86-year-old Jewish surfing guru from Hawaii donated on Tuesday 12 surfboards to Gaza's small surfing community, in a gesture he hoped would get Israelis and Palestinians catching the same peace wave.
    "God will surf with the devil, if the waves are good," retired doctor Dorian Paskowitz said Tuesday. "When a surfer sees another surfer with a board, he can't help but say something that brings them together."
    Paskowitz emerged shirtless at the Israel-Gaza crossing after handing over the dozen boards to Gazan surfers waiting on the other side. He said he was spurred into action after reading a story about two Gaza surfers who couldn't enjoy the wild waves off the coast because they had only one board to share between them.

    Arthur Rashkovan, a 28-year-old surfer from Tel Aviv, said Paskowitz's project was part of a larger effort called Surfing for Peace, aimed at bringing Middle East surfers closer together. He said eight-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater, who is of Syrian descent, is expected to arrive in Israel in October to take part in the drive.
    Paskowitz, whom Rashkovan called a 'guru' to Israeli surfers, has surfed in Israel several times over the past five decades.
    Paskowitz, a father of nine, served in the Navy during World War II, practiced family medicine for more than half a century and has published books on surfing and health. He said he's surfed for 75 years, in locations all over the world, and ranks the waves off the coasts of Israel and Gaza as among the world's best.
    "It's really quite remarkable how good they are for modern surfing," he said.

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    Tuesday, August 21, 2007

    Controlling the Syrian Lebanese borders is a MUST for peace in the Middle East

    This would appear to be obvious. The fact that it is ignored by the UN should cause a lot of questioning, but it does not.

    August 21/07

    The UN Security Council is scheduled to convene before the end of this month to debate the renewal of the UNIFIL forces mandate in South Lebanon. This European-led mission that comprises 13,600 troops was deployed in southern Lebanon in the aftermath of last year's war between Hezbollah and Israel in a bid to assist the Lebanese authorities in the implementing of UN resolution 1701. The Council is expected to renew the force's mandate unanimously for an additional year as of  September 01/ 07.

    The UN General Secretary in his report to the Council recommended the renewal of the UNIFIL'S mission for an additional year without any changes in its numbers, assignments or jurisdiction. He called on the 22 countries participating in this force to attend a closed session designated to discuss its role and means needed to strengthen its effectiveness and capabilities in order help in implementing the UN resolution 1701, function better, preserves its integrity, and ensure the safety of its members.

    France, in coordination with Britain and the United States, has submitted to the UN Security Council a draft resolution demanding complete implementation of all the UN resolution 1701 clauses, notably the control and ban of weapons and men smuggling from Syria into Lebanon, the demarcation of the border with Syria, including the Shebaa Farms area, the continuing efforts to restore Lebanon's legitimate authorities over all the Lebanese soil, and to put an end to all violations of the Line Blue between Lebanon and Israel, etc.

    The Lebanese government sent a letter to the UN Security Council calling for renewal of the UNIFIL'S mission, but did not address the urgency of controlling the Syrian-Lebanese border, nor did it suggest expanding the jurisdiction of the international forces to cover the entire Syrian-Lebanese border. Lebanon's PM, Mr. Saniora, justified his questionable stance by a wish not to agitate Syria or shake Hezbollah's feathers.

    Strange, unacceptable and appeasing are the least descriptions that could be said of Mr. Saniora's stance in not calling on the UN Council to modify the UNIFI'L'S mandate so as to cover the entire Syrian-Lebanese border. One wonders why Mr. Saniora had to appease Syria, Iran and their military proxy in Lebanon Hezbollah, despite all the atrocities they are purposefully and viciously committing against Lebanon and its people.

    It is worth reminding the Lebanese government of Prime Minister Saniora that it is fully and exclusively responsible for the safety and security of all the Lebanese citizens and for enforcing Lebanese laws and all international resolutions pertaining to Lebanon over all Lebanese territory. As such, the government is obligated, domestically and internationally, to prevent the spread of weapons belonging to Hezbollah or any other parties or individuals. This national obligation requires immediate and complete military control for the Syrian-Lebanese borders. Meanwhile the Security Council will not make any amendments to the task of  the UNIFIL unless the Lebanese government asks officially for such amendments.

    The Lebanese people both in Lebanon and Diaspora expect Mr. Saniora's government to be capable of facing its governing patriotic and national responsibilities with courage, commitment, and devotion without any kind of fear, hesitation, appeasement or compromises in the defense of the country's sovereignty, freedoms and independence. Mr. Saniora is urged to call on the UN Council before it convenes and request officially all the necessary amendments needed to deploy the UNIFIL troops on the Syrian-Lebanese borders under UN Chapter seven.

    Meanwhile, France has submitted to the UN Council a draft resolution calling for the renewal of the UNIFIL mission in helping the Lebanese authorities in implementing the UN Resolution 1701 and has mentioned the importance of controlling the Lebanese-Syrian border to ensure an end for smuggling terrorists and weapons from Syria to Lebanon.

    It is worth mentioning that Mr. Saniora did not agree with the UN Council in issuing the resolution 1701 under UN Chapter seven. This resolution was issued by the UN Council in the aftermath of the Israeli-Hezbollah devastating 33 day conflict. Mr. Saniora justified his stance by the need to maintain a good relationship with Hezbollah and its two sponsors, Syria and Iran. What happened is that after few month Hezbollah withdrew its support to the resolution and declared that it did not agree on its seven clauses from day one, and even  tagged Saniora and his government as traitors and collaborators

    We believe strongly that Mr. Saniora is required to send the needed request immediately to the UN Council.

    We would remind Mr. Saniora and his government that unless the Lebanese-Syrian borders are fully secured and controlled by international forces under Chapter VII, the Syrian army and its intelligence network, as well as its Lebanese and Palestinian armed agents in all of Lebanon will continue to brutally assassinate and intimidate Lebanon's leaders, politicians and intellectuals, while at the same time hindering by force all efforts aiming to rebuild the country and strengthen its legitimate armed forces and institutional establishments.

    Lebanon needs at this time a brave PM and government that will stand for truth and act without fear no matter what are the challenge or consequences. The question is, can Mr. Saniora and his government members fulfill this role...hopefully they will.

    Logic and past experience show, without any shred of doubt, that dealing with terrorist groups like Hezbollah, and rogue regimes like the Syrian and Iranian ones with anything but forceful means, is simply a waste of time and lives. It would provide them as far as Lebanon is concerned with further opportunities to kill and terrorize the Lebanese, attack the international community, and spread terrorism and anarchy, in ideology and practice, to all nations of the world, especially the Free World.

    It remains that the free world will not help those who do not help themselves, and shoulder bravely their own responsibility.

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

    LCCC Web Site
    CLHRF Website


    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Monday, August 20, 2007

    Ethnic cleansing of Jews in pre-state Israel

    Seth Frantzman, a doctoral student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has compiled a survey showing that Arabs killed 1,256 Palestinian Jews between the United Nations Palestine partition vote Nov. 29, 1947, and the outbreak of war May 15, 1948.

    Frantzman presents the data, drawn from newspaper archives, in an article disputing anti-Zionist historian Ilan Pappe's contention that Jews committed ethnic cleansing against Arabs during the birth of Israel.

    Frantzman writes: "Sixty-two Jews were murdered by Arabs in the first week after the UN partition plan was passed, and by May 15, 1948, a total of 1,256 Jews had been killed, most of them civilians. These deaths were caused by Arab militias, gangs, terrorists and army units which attacked every place of Jewish inhabitation in Palestine."

    "Even before the first Arab villages were captured in April, 924 Jews had already been killed," he adds.

    Franzman suggests that the eventual Jewish victory might have been less sweeping if the Arabs had not carried out across-the-board attacks throughout the Yishuv in 1947-48.

    "As it was," he writes, "the ceaseless attacks against all isolated Jewish settlements only gave Zionist commanders every reason to see neighboring Arab villages as threatening and to act accordingly."

    He concludes: "Scholarship - including that of the 'new historians' - on the 1948 war will remain incomplete until methodical studies are carried out about widespread and often well-planned Arab assaults on the Yishuv."

    Frantzman's article is titled "Ethnic cleansing in Palestine?" It appeared in The Jerusalem Post on Aug. 17. The text follows.


    The Jerusalem Post, Aug. 17, 2007
    Guest Columnist: Ethnic cleansing in Palestine?
    by Seth Frantzman

    As negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority aimed at creating a Palestinian state willing to live side-by-side with Israel in peace resume, one of the major sticking points continues to be the Arab refugee issue. Bitter arguments among politicians and scholars continue to surround the creation of the refugee problem during Israel's War of Independence in 1948.

    It has become fashionable in recent decades to frame the 1948 war as one in which the Arabs were victims of Zionist aggression. Anti-Zionist scholars such as Noam Chomsky, Rashid Khalidi and Ilan Pappe have presented the war as if the only important events were Deir Yassin and the flight or expulsion of Arabs from Haifa, Acre, Tiberias, west Jerusalem, Jaffa and numerous villages.

    IN THIS context, Ilan Pappe's work deserves special attention. He was born to a German Jewish family in Haifa in 1954. The former senior lecturer in the University of Haifa's Department of Political Science recently announced he was moving to the UK because it had become "increasingly difficult to live in Israel" with his "unwelcome views and convictions."

    These views are those of the "new historians" - leftist scholars who in the 1980s began to reinterpret Israeli and Palestinian history. He is the author of six works on the history of the Israeli-Arab conflict and the Middle East. In his recently released book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Pappe claims that Israel prepared a special plan for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine's Arab population known as Plan D for dalet. Pappe's "evidence" is derived from his interpretations of files found in the Hagana and Israel state archives.

    One of his most damning pieces of evidence is the village surveys carried out by the Hagana's intelligence units. These surveys go into minute detail about many Arab villages, including the number of armed men, the mukhtar and any anti-Jewish activity in the village. Pappe lends further evidence to his thesis by showing that Jewish forces, whether Hagana, Irgun or Lehi, attacked Arab villages even before the declaration of the state on May 15, 1948.

    But Pappe makes one egregious mistake. He never bothers to ask the same question of the Arabs he does of the Jews: What about their lists, their intelligence reports and their ethnic-cleansing plans? What were Arab intentions in the five months between the passage of the UN partition plan on November 29, 1947, and the birth of Israel?

    THE ARCHIVES of The Palestine Post, now The Jerusalem Post and then the newspaper of record of Mandatory Palestine, provide some of the answers and tell a very different story from the one presented by Pappe.

    Sixty-two Jews were murdered by Arabs in the first week after the UN partition plan was passed, and by May 15, 1948, a total of 1,256 Jews had been killed, most of them civilians. These deaths were caused by Arab militias, gangs, terrorists and army units which attacked every place of Jewish inhabitation in Palestine.

    The attacks succeeded in placing Jerusalem under siege and eventually cutting off its water supply. All Jewish villages in the Negev were attacked, and Jews had to go about the country in convoys. In every major city where Jews and Arabs lived in mixed neighborhoods the Jewish areas came under attack. This was true in Haifa's Hadar Hacarmel as well as Jerusalem's Old City.

    Massacres were not uncommon.

    THIRTY-NINE Jews were killed by Arab rioters at Haifa's oil refinery on December 30, 1947. On January 16, 1948, 35 Jews were killed trying to reach Gush Etzion. On February 22, 44 Jews were murdered in a bombing on Jerusalem's Rehov Ben-Yehuda. And on February 29, 23 Jews were killed all across Palestine, eight of them at the Hayotzek iron foundry.

    Thirty-five Jews were murdered during the Mount Scopus convoy massacre on April 13. And 127 Jews were massacred at Kfar Etzion on May 15, 1948, after 30 others had died defending the Etzion Bloc.

    IN ARAB countries more than 100 Jews were also massacred and synagogues were burned in Aleppo and Aden, driving thousands of Jews from their homes.

    Back in Palestine many small kibbutzim were subjected to attacks, including Gvulot, Ben-Shemen, Holon, Safed, Bat Yam and Kfar Yavetz - all in December. In January and February, it was the turn of Rishon Lezion, Yehiam, Mishmar Hayarden, Tirat Zvi, Sde Eliahu, Ein Hanatziv, Magdiel, Mitzpe Hagalil and Ma'anit.

    In March and April these attacks culminated with an assault on Hartuv by 400 Arabs based in the village of Ishwa and an attack on Kfar Darom by members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Arab attackers also bombed The Palestine Post in February. In March, the Jewish Agency, the Solel Boneh building in Haifa and an Egged bus were also bombed.

    SOME OF today's scholars prefer to present every massacre of Jews as a "response" to some Jewish deed, and to portray as a "myth" the very idea that Israel struggled desperately for existence in 1948.

    But it was no myth.

    The fact is 1,256 Jews were killed in five months. Even before the first Arab villages were captured in April, 924 Jews had already been killed. Ilan Pappe should have pondered what might have been if those Jews had not been slaughtered.

    What if attacks and riots had not been the first Arab reaction to the partition plan?

    Plan Dalet was a plan, it was one of many plans. The lists compiled by the Hagana had been cobbled together for a decade before 1948, but they were not blueprints - merely intelligence assessments. The British also kept lists of everything; they knew about weapons in various kibbutzim, about the Hagana and illegal Jewish immigration to Palestine. Those lists weren't blueprints for ethnic cleansing anymore than were the Hagana files on Arab villages.

    When a Jewish area was overrun - and some were - the homes were looted or destroyed and any survivors were killed, as at Kfar Etzion (only three of the defenders survived the massacre).

    The potential for the ethnic cleansing of Jewish Palestine was never realized because of the discipline, determination and sheer luck of the Yishuv.

    If the Arabs had not carried out across the board attacks throughout the Yishuv between 1947 and 1948, perhaps the nature of the subsequent Jewish victory would have been different. As it was, the ceaseless attacks against all isolated Jewish settlements only gave Zionist commanders every reason to see neighboring Arab villages as threatening and to act accordingly.

    Scholarship - including that of the "new historians" - on the 1948 war will remain incomplete until methodical studies are carried out about widespread and often well-planned Arab assaults on the Yishuv.
    The writer is in the doctoral program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His master's thesis was on the 1948 war.

    Labels: , , ,

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Web poll: Europeans consider US, not Israel to be #1 threat to "global stability"

    Remember when Israel was thought to be the number 1 threat to world peace? Not any more. Now a new threat has been found. It is not North Korea, it is not Mr Ahmadinejad in Iran or Mr. Assad in Syria. It is the USA. In every country in which the Financial Times/Harris Poll  was taken (supposedly), US was ranked #1 as a threat to global stability, except in the US. Of course, the pollsters had no real way of knowing the nationality of the respondents - just their current Internet address.
    Ami Isseroff

    Monthly Opinions of Adults from Five European Countries and the United States

    August 2007 - Below are the most recent data from the Financial Times/Harris Poll, a monthly poll of adults from six countries in Europe and the United States. The countries include France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Spain and the U.S.

    This FT/Harris Poll was conducted online by Harris Interactive among a total of 6,398 adults (aged 16-64) within France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, and the United States and adults (aged 18-64) in Italy between 1 and 13 August 2007. Figures for age, sex, education, region and Internet usage were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

    TABLE 1
    Q1660_1 "Which one, if any, of the following countries do you think is the greatest threat to global stability?"
    Base: All EU adults in five countries and in the U.S.

    Great Britain
    28% US
    13% China
    12% Iran
    11% Iraq
    12% N Korea
    11% Russia
    * SaudiArabia
    * Israel

    28% US
    17% China
    20% Iran
    16% Iraq
    7% N Korea
    4% Russia
    - SaudiArabia
    * Israel

    23% US
    23% China
    22% Iran
    17% Iraq
    3% N Korea
    2% Russia
    * SaudiArabia
    * Israel

    29% US
    16% China
    14% Iran
    17% Iraq
    8% N Korea
    6% Russia
    * Israel

    14% US
    16% China
    22% Iran
    14% Iraq
    22% N Korea
    2% Russia
    1% SaudiArabia
    * Israel

    *Less Than 0.5%
    "-" Not Applicable

    IMRA -
    Independent Media Review and Analysis

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    The monkey on Israel's back: Shaking the America habit

    In  Uncle Sam forever?, Gidi Grinstein notes that the US-Israel alliance may not last forever. The defense agreement signed this week may represent the zenith of that alliance, which is being battered by claims that commitments to Israel should not take precedence over US self-interest. Therefore, Israel must forge alliances with emerging states.
    Grinstein is right. Multiplying your allies is always a good idea, and gives a state more leverage and more freedom to act.
    The engine of change is America's floundering in Iraq and the waning hopes for victory there or a quick and elegant exit. In addition, at this time it is hard to see the US acting decisively in order to curb the nuclear project advanced by Iran, which is increasingly reinforcing its status as a regional power with a blatant anti-American agenda.
    Moreover, the US is entangled in a series of wars and political struggles involving Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Russia, and the Palestinian Authority. It is hard to see America gaining the upper hand in any of these arenas.

    Meanwhile, new forces headed by Russia, China and India are taking front stage in the global theater. These countries are looking to undermine America's status and threaten its interests worldwide.

    This reality will lead to a reassessment of America's interests and priorities in the region, to be undertaken at the beginning of 2009 at the latest, as a new administration takes office. It is unclear what new global perception will guide American policy in the post-Bush era and to what extent will Israel maintain its special status.
    Another aspect of this process sees the pro-Israel lobby and US Jewish community under attack. They are being accused of preferring Israeli interests over American ones and of pressuring US decision-makers accordingly. There are voices charging that the pro-Israel lobby is responsible for the Iraqi failure, and a military move in Iran is presented as an Israeli interest more than it is an American interest.

    As a result, we cannot reject the possibility that George W Bush's presidency will turn out to be the zenith of the relationship with the US, and we should prepare accordingly.
    The core of the Israeli preparation must be premised on reorganization of the foreign policy component in Israel's national security. We must manage this area as we do the defense establishment. That is, the prime minister must make sure that authority and powers are clearly designated for each major issue.
    In addition, we must upgrade the manner in which we nurture relationships with emerging powers in the international system....
    I have discussed Israel's over-dependence on the United States more than once, and could not agree more with Grinstein's thesis.
    The question that Grinstein leaves unanswered, is what are the conditions of these other prospective allies for cooperation with Israel. Is our dependence on the United States the price we pay for holding on to the "territories?"
    Ami Isseroff

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    A venerable accusation

    This article would not be needed were it not for anti-Semitism. It is not necessary for other peoples to explain at length that they do not have horns or tails or eat people, that there is no international conspiracy of their nation or religion and so on. The French for example, take it for granted that they are better than everyone else, yet this does not arouse  intense anti-gallicism usually. 
    The question examined below, is whether Jews treat gentiles as equals. The debate is necessitated by a venerable accusation: That Jews consider gentiles to be sub-human.  Considering that most of the world did nothing to save Jews in the Holocaust, whereas they would have tried to save people of their own kind.
    Anti-Semites are generally humorless people. They miss the subtle irony in their protestations that "You filthy no-good Jews do not treat us superior people as equals."
    Ami Isseroff
    Can a Jew rescue a non-Jew on Shabbat?
    Shmuley Boteach,
    THE JERUSALEM POST  Aug. 19, 2007
    My friend Noah Feldman, in his much-discussed article in The New York Times, quoted the talmudic debate on whether a Jew is allowed to desecrate Shabbat to save a non-Jewish life, with the Talmud concluding that yes, one is allowed to do so for the sake of peaceful relations with non-Jewish neighbors. This, of course, gave the impression that Judaism does not value non-Jewish life for its own sake.

    In his response to Prof. Feldman, Yeshiva University chancellor Norman Lamm wrote, "Surely you, as a distinguished academic lawyer, must have come across instances in which a precedent that was once valid has, in the course of time, proved morally objectionable, as a result of which it was amended, so that the law remains on the books as a juridical foundation, while it becomes effectively inoperative through legal analysis and moral argument."

    This highly learned response is characteristic of Rabbi Lamm, whose brilliant writings I have enjoyed since my youth. But its obtuseness escapes simple laymen like me.

    A proper understanding of this famous talmudic pronouncement is essential, especially to those of us who believe in the universality of Judaism and the moral excellence of its teachings. The light of Judaism is meant to illuminate the earth and it cannot do so if it teaches reprehensible racism, something which is and should forever be an abomination to our faith.

    IS THE JEWISH religion really so heartless as to give a Jew pause before rescuing a non-Jewish life on the Sabbath? Could it be possible that a religion that so courageously declares, at the very beginning of its Bible, that all humans are equally created in the image of God suddenly reverses itself and declares a non-Jewish life to be not only inferior to that of a Jew, but scarcely worth saving? Of course not.

    The Talmud was written at the time of the vicious Roman occupation of the Holy Land. The unbearable cruelty of the Romans led to two Jewish rebellions that were quashed so mercilessly by Rome's mighty legions that millions of Jews were slaughtered in cold blood. Indeed, the utter ruthlessness of the Romans is something clearly evident to any non-Jew through the horrible and gruesome death by crucifixion they inflicted upon an innocent Jesus and approximately 250,000 other Jews.

    The Talmud's discussion, therefore, centered on whether brutal, gentile oppressors like Roman centurions, who were the principal non-Jews with whom the Jews had contact at the time, ought to be saved on the Sabbath. It is in the context of the fate of deadly, sworn enemies of the Jewish people that the Talmud's debate must be considered.

    If the rabbis alive at the time of the Holocaust had debated whether Germans - who democratically elected Hitler into power and then remained silent while he exterminated millions of innocent people - ought to have the Sabbath violated for their physical salvation, we would perhaps be forgiving of their slight feelings of contempt for their German neighbors.

    While this has always been my understanding of this talmudic pronouncement, it was Rabbi Menahem Genack, one of American Orthodoxy's leading lights, who recently shared with me something very similar said by the great talmudic exegete Rabbi Menahem Meiri (1249-1310): that the Talmud's reference is to a pagan defiler of the faith.

    DURING WORLD War II, great and moral men like Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, who saved the world from Nazi tyranny, decided that it was moral to bomb German cities, especially Berlin, Hamburg and Dresden, in raids that killed hundreds of thousands of civilian non-combatants. Harry Truman then authorized the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thereby killing hundreds of thousands more.

    Now, few would construe these actions as proof that these great Western leaders believed that a German or a Japanese life was inferior to an American or British life. Rather, these decisions were made in the context of Germany and Japan being the sworn enemies of the West, who were dedicated to democracy's destruction. The same is true of why the Talmud questioned whether the Romans, who were similarly committed to the enslavement of the earth, were worth saving.

    But when it came to everyday non-Jews, the Talmud was emphatic about their equal place before God and the equality and sanctity of every human life. Indeed, talmudic pronouncements on non-Jewish life are a model of universalism and egalitarian thinking that preceded Western ideas of equality of all races by nearly two millennia.

    The sages of the Talmud declared in their most important ethical tract, Ethics of the Fathers, "Do not despise any man" (4:3). They went further. In a pronouncement that is as astonishing as it is inspiring, they declared, "Even a gentile who studies God's law is equal to a high priest." Incredible.

    At a time when ecumenical thinking was absolutely unheard of and nearly every religion declared that only members of its own faith would go to heaven, the greatest rabbis were declaring that a righteous non-Jew is as holy as the Jewish high priest. The rabbis of the Talmud further declared that any righteous individual - Jew or gentile - is guaranteed a place in eternity just so long as he has led an ethical life: "The righteous of all nations have a share in the world to come" (Tosefta Sanhedrin 13).

    THE SAME thing applied to the question of proximity with God. It was righteousness, rather than Jewishness, that granted us a relationship with the creator: "I call heaven and earth as witnesses: Any individual, whether gentile of Jew, man or woman, servant or maid, can bring the Divine Presence upon himself in accordance with his deeds" (Tanna Devei Eliahu Rabba 9).

    Witness the fact that Judaism is the only religion that does not actively proselytize people outside the faith, because we do not believe that a non-Jew upgrades his existence by becoming a Jew.

    That this attitude is true not only in a legal sense but a practical one is demonstrated in how the tiny State of Israel, with its extremely limited resources, is always at the forefront of sending doctors and medical personnel to regions hit by natural disasters, most notably the December 2004 tsunami. This commitment to the welfare of non-Jews is the direct result of Judaism's advocacy of the equal sanctity of every human life, notwithstanding race, color or creed.

    The writer's upcoming book is The Broken American Male, to be published shortly by St. Martin's Press.

    This article can also be read at

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Sunday, August 19, 2007

    Israel to shelter Darfur refugees

    Let's hope this is true. It is certainly right for Israel to do its part for Darfur refugees, but other countries should be taking a proportionate share.
    What the article doesn't make clear is that many of the infiltrators are not refugees at all, and that apparently, many are not caught. Please count how many refugees were taken in by countries that insist "Zionism is Racism."
    Ami Isseroff
    Aug. 19, 2007 9:59 | Updated Aug. 19, 2007 16:38
    PM: Israel to take 500 Darfur refugees

    Despite expelling nearly 50 Sudanese refugees in an overnight operation on Saturday, Israel has agreed to absorb 500 asylum-seekers from Darfur, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced on Sunday.
    Nevertheless, he said Israel would begin turning away refugees from the war torn region of Sudan in an effort to stop the flow of Africans across Israel's southern border with Egypt.
    Egyptian security said late Saturday that Israel sent back 48 Africans, most of them Sudanese, across the border with Egypt.
    Nachman Shai: The Darfur refugees as an allegory
    Government spokesman David Baker said he didn't know if any were from Darfur, but that Darfurians wouldn't be immune from Israel's ban on unauthorized migrants.

    "The policy of returning back anyone who enters Israel illegally will pertain to everyone, including those from Darfur," he said.
    Egyptian police said Darfurians were among the 48 - and would be expelled from Egypt to Sudan.
    Fighting between pro-government militias and rebels in the Western Sudanese region of Darfur has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced 2.5 million since February 2003.
    Eytan Schwartz, an advocate for Darfur refugees in Israel, said about 400 have entered Israel in recent years. Baker said they would be allowed to live in Israel, and that the ban applied to new arrivals.

    Schwartz objected to any such ban. "The state of Israel has to show compassion for refugees after the Jewish people was subject to persecution throughout its history," he said.
    But Ephraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said the Jewish people could not be expected to right every wrong just because of its past.

    "Israel can't throw open the gates and allow unlimited access for people who are basically economic refugees," Zuroff said.

    An Israeli government official said Egypt has agreed to treat the Darfur refugees well, but acknowledged it might send them back to Sudan.

    Israel estimates that 2,800 people have entered the country illegally through Sinai in recent years. Nearly all are from Africa, including 1,160 from Sudan, and many spent months or years in Egypt before entering Israel.

    The number of infilrators shot up in the past two months, apparently as word spread of job opportunities in Israel. As many as 50 people arrived each day in June, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

    Israel recently announced it had reached an understanding with Egypt to take back many of the refugees and that they would be treated well. But Egypt has denied any obligation to take them back, and it was unclear what fate expelled Africans would face once returned to Egypt.

    Many Sudanese find life difficult in Egypt, a country that struggles to provide jobs and social services for a growing refugee population. Egyptian riot police violently cleared a refugee encampment in central Cairo in 2005, killing nearly 30 people.

    In July, Egyptian police shot and killed a Sudanese woman who was trying to cross into Israel, the first confirmed death of its kind.

    And earlier this month, Channel 10 reported that Egyptian border guards beat to death two Sudanese men in front of IDF soldiers.

    Egypt neither confirmed nor denied the incident.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

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