Saturday, September 8, 2007
In its statement opposing the boycott campaign, the DGB said "Israel's right to exist is non-negotiable, " adding that "Anyone who challenges the foundations of the Jewish state can always reckon with our decisive resistance"
DGB President Michael Sommer recently told a German newspaper that calls for boycott measures are reminiscent of the Nazi slogan, "Don't Shop at Jewish Stores!"
(The sign says "German! Beware! Don't buy from Jews!")
The IDF may or may not have violated the Sabbath. The settlers are threatening the rule of law. Without the rule of law, we shall have what the Palestinians have.
IDF removes setters from Homesh, arrests 10
Efrat Weiss YNET Published: 09.08.07, 23:41 / Israel News
IDF soldiers removed settlers and right-wing activists who arrived at the evacuated West Bank settlement of Homesh Saturday night. Ten people were arrested and taken in for questioning, and a few others fled to nearby
This is the third evacuation of activists from Homesh in the past 24-hours. The Homesh First organization claimed that the IDF desecrated Shabbat by organizing to carry out the evacuation. The IDF reported that it did not desecrate Shabbat.
The Gaza story bears watching. The fighting between the "democratically elected" Hamas and the Fatah is gradually intensifying, or at least, Hamas repression is intensifying. according to the story below, Fatah Calls It Third Intifada. While the story says that at lease 35 Palestinians were wounded, other sources put the numbers at "at least 70."
The problem for Israel is that Israeli attacks on Gaza, to stop the accumulation of arms and to hinder Qassam rocket fire, would probably serve to unify the Palestinians and allow Hamas to consolidate their rule under the rubric of "uniting against the Zionist enemy."
Hisham Abu Taha, Arab News
GAZA CITY, 8 September 2007 At least 35 Palestinians were wounded yesterday when Hamas security forces clubbed Fatah supporters who tried to hold street prayers to protest Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip.
Some of the injured had gunshot wounds. "They were chasing and beating and arresting us as if they were occupation soldiers," said one young Fatah supporter in Gaza's Maghazi refugee camp, likening Hamas forces to Israelis.
Palestinian Information Minister Reyad Al-Maliki called it the beginning of a third intifada. He told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah: "What we saw in Gaza today was the beginning of a third Intifada, against the Hamas occupation. We bless this uprising." The earlier two were against Israel in 1987 and 2000.
The street showdowns, which erupted three months after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip violently, had been widely expected after Hamas said it would not allow Fatah to conduct "political prayers" outdoors on Fridays.
The Friday gatherings have become focal points for clashes between the Executive Force that polices the territory and members of Fatah.
The Executive Force briefly detained three Palestinian journalists and assaulted five other reporters.
President Mahmoud Abbas appealed for calm. "We ask our worshippers to avoid any friction or confrontation with the coup-makers and their armed militia," said a statement from Abbas.
This is how it ought to be done. By Israel, by the U.S. Every time.
I love it when a good plan comes together.
IDF commandos nab top Hamas member
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST Sep. 8, 2007
Special undercover IDF commandos have captured a senior commander in Hamas's military wing in the southern Gaza Strip, sources in group said on Saturday.
Mohawah al-Qadi, a senior member of the organization's armed wing and a commander in the Executive Force, was nabbed late Friday by undercover troops in the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
"A special Zionist force wearing Executive Force uniform entered George street in eastern Rafah in a civilian Subaru car and 0then headed towards the Sufa crossing" with Israel, Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said in a statement.
IDF officials had no immediate comment.
Al-Qadi, arrested together with his assistant Saqer Abd al-Al, was "responsible for the Executive Force public relations," the group said.
At first Hamas officials thought the man was taken by Fatah loyalists on the background of clashes taking place between loyalists of the two groups in Gaza since Friday morning. Only when the Subaru car carrying the detainee exited the Gaza Strip accompanied by helicopters they realized he was taken by IDF troops masquerading as Arabs.
According to another report quoted by Israel Radio, the car travelled to Dahaniyeh airport in Gaza and an IAF chopper took the man from there.
Palestinian sources also said the man was somehow connected with the kidnapping of IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit in June 2006.
While the IDF regularly carries out ground and air raids across the Gaza Strip to curb incessant Kassam rocket fire, the operation Friday was especially daring, undertaken two kilometers inside the Gaza Strip in an area saturated with Hamas gunmen and watchmen.
MEMRI has translated former Senator James Abourezk "explaining" that the attacks of September 11 were a Zionist conspiracy. Usama Bin Laden as a Hadassah lady?
The following are excerpts from an interview with former U.S. senator James Abourezk (D-SD), which aired on Al-Manar TV on August 30, 2007.
To view this clip, click here.
"Yes, I Watch Al-Manar... in America"
Interviewer: "Mr. Abourezk, welcome to Al-Manar TV."
James Abourezk: "Thank you very much."
Interviewer: "It's good to have you."
James Abourezk: "Yes, I watch Al-Manar on one of the cable channels in America."
Interviewer: "Good, that's excellent. Especially [considering] the fact that Al-Manar TV was banned in the U.S. Does that really show something which is like shooting the freedom of expression?"
James Abourezk: "Well, freedom of expression is free for those whom the government likes. If they don't like them, freedom of expression goes out the window, apparently."
James Abourezk: "...You heard in the press."
Interviewer: "Now look what's happened in the case of Dr. Norman Finkelstein. It's something which is, you know..."
James Abourezk: "It's disastrous, disastrous. They've..."
Interviewer: "What happened to him?"
Alan Dershowitz "A Real Snake"
James Abourezk: "He lost his tenure bid. So he therefore is going to have to go somewhere else, and find a job teaching."
James Abourezk: "Well, because they shot down his tenure. Even though his department was all for it, and the department heads were all for it, the president of that university shot it down."
Interviewer: "It's just because he was not an advocate of Israel?"
James Abourezk: "No, because the lobby put pressure on him specifically, Alan Dershowitz. He's a real snake, I have to say that."
Interviewer: "You also called Hizbullah and Hamas 'resistance fighters.'"
James Abourezk: "They are."
Interviewer: "While the U.S. administration brands them as 'terrorist organizations'..."
James Abourezk: "That was done at the request of Israel. That name was done at the request of Israel that the United States calls them terrorist organizations."
"The Original Terrorists [in the Middle East] Were Headed by [Menahem] Begin"
Interviewer: "On the other hand, you also declared that the original terrorist groups in the Middle East were the Jewish terrorist groups. What is this based on?"
James Abourezk: "It's based on fact. In fact, the original terrorists were headed by Begin, who was the head of the Irgun, and by Shamir, another prime minister, who was the head of... one of the three members of the Stern gang's leadership. I used to know Natan Yellin-Mor, by the way, one of the three leaders of the Stern gang, and he became a peacenik. He wanted peace in the Middle East, and he would..."
Interviewer: "Stern being one of the gangs of... Israeli gangs..."
James Abourezk: "One of the terrorist groups, vicious terrorist groups. Natan Yellin-Mor became... He was one of the heads of the Stern gang. They had a three-part head, and he was one of them. But he became a peacenik. He wanted peace between the Arabs and the Israelis, and so they boycotted him, the Israelis. When he would come to Washington, nobody would talk to him. So he used to come to me, and I would make appointments for him."
Interviewer: "But what made him change his mind?"
James Abourezk: "I don't really know. I think he saw the folly in what was going on. But you know... I mean... Look, anybody who knows anything about the history of Israel knows that Israel, by force of arms, stole all the territory in Palestine. There's no question about it. There's a new historian, Ilan Papp?, an Israeli historian, who's written an excellent book called The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.
Yes, it's an excellent book, and it's history, and it's true history. But it tells how they had a plan to go in and kill and terrorize the Palestinians, to make them empty out Palestine, so they could take it over. That was a very vicious thing they did, and the more vicious thing is that now they call the Palestinians 'terrorists.'"
Interviewer: "Who are homeless in their own land..."
James Abourezk: "Absolutely, yes."
Interviewer: "Here I need to ask you something, which is growing and escalating in the Western world, and particularly in the U.S., which is this immense wave of anti-Arab, anti-Muslim sentiment, lumping all Arabs together as 'terrorists.' This was clearly manifested in movies and TV series, like 24. Why? Why now? Is it just after 9/11?"
"The Arabs Who Were Involved in 9/11 Cooperated With the Zionists"
James Abourezk: "No, it's after the Soviet Union collapsed. The Zionists were looking around for another enemy to have, because to them the Soviet Union was an enemy because they wouldn't allow Jewish emigration. So they used that as an organizing tool, basically, and when the Soviet Union collapsed, there was no more organizing about the Soviet Union. So they looked around, and they said: Well, the Muslims. Let's find the Arabs and the Muslims, and make them the boogeyman. And that's what they did."
Interviewer: "But why did this sentiment of hatred increase after 9/11?"
James Abourezk: "Well, because the Arabs who were involved in 9/11 cooperated with the Zionists, actually. It was a cooperation. They gave them the perfect excuse to denounce all Arabs. It's a racist sort of thing, really racist you know, picking out these 19 or 20 terrorists they were terrorists and saying all the Arabs are like them. So, you know, people in America don't really look at it that deeply, and they accept what the government and the press are saying."[...]
"Israel... Wanted Syria Weakened Somehow, and to be Made an Enemy of the United States So They Got Their People in Congress to Pass the [Syria Accountability] Act"
Interviewer: "Since we are here now in Damascus, the capital of Syria how did you face this Syria Accountability Act, which most think is unfair? But as a former senator where does the injustice here, particularly in this act, lie?"
James Abourezk: "Well, the injustice is that because Israel... I'm telling you, Israel is behind this move, because they wanted Syria weakened somehow, and to be made an enemy of the United States, so they got their people in Congress to pass the act. You see, the members of Congress are afraid to vote against anything the lobby wants. So, this is something the lobby wants..."
Interviewer: "So who is controlling who?"
James Abourezk: "The lobby is controlling the Congress."
Interviewer: "But you said that the U.S. is not in need of Israel, but rather, Israel needs the U.S."
James Abourezk: "Yes, that's right. But how they..."
Interviewer: "It's very paradoxical."
James Abourezk: "Well, how they fulfill that need is by pressuring Congress to support Israel. The chief objective of the Israeli lobby is to keep the American taxpayers' money flowing to Israel. That's the chief objective. They stop anybody who criticizes Israel, so that may stop the money from flowing. That's why they attack people who attack Israel."[...]
"I... Marveled at the Hizbullah Resistance to Israel... It Was a Marvel of Organization, of Courage and Bravery"
Interviewer: "Sir, in 2001, you came all the way from the U.S. to Lebanon to congratulate Lebanon, the Lebanese, and the resistance for the Israeli withdrawal from Southern Lebanon. Now what do you say during this time, which is in remembrance a year of the Israeli aggression against Lebanon and the earthshaking victory of the resistance, supported by the people of Lebanon. What do you say to them?"
James Abourezk: "That was quite an extraordinary thing, I thought. I actually marveled at the Hizbullah resistance to Israel, how they did it. It was a marvel of organization, of courage and bravery. I thought it was quite something."
Interviewer: "Do you think it's only the courage and organization that made them do this?"
James Abourezk: "Yes, absolutely. They were highly organized, the resistance, and they were very brave. They didn't turn and run, like some Arabs armies have done. They were defeated because of that. But this is something new for the Arab world. I said at the time: The Lebanese army should ask Hizbullah to come and organize it, to train them, you know. And all the Arab armies should have the Hizbullah come and do that."
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.
MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.
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Phone: (202) 955-9070
Fax: (202) 955-9077
Search previous MEMRI publications at www.memri.org
Thursday, September 6, 2007
According to Debkafile:
This flying duck ("canard" means duck) was shot down as soon as it took off. The cabinet decided against a raid on Gaza. What a bummer for Debkafile! If Israel does ever raid Gaza, let's hope they don't use Debkafile to warn the Hamas in advance.
Probably it is, all true, but there are other, "organic" reasons for the change. Each decade, we get one decade further from the Holocaust and its lessons, and one decade further away from both the old Jewish culture, and the Zionist culture that Jewish immigrants had brought to America.
"Historians and philosophers have tried to understand history. Our task is to change it."
If the Jewish state is an abstraction for younger Jews, how can we change that? Maybe we can't:
"Don't feel comfortable with the whole idea of a Jewish state." Why? Are they bothered by the idea of an Italian state or a French state or an Egyptian state?
In case you wondered why Israel has not opened a large scale military operation in Gaza to end the Qassam rocket fire, here is one excuse:
Sources: IDF objects to Gaza op. because of tensions with Syria
The problem is, that we heard that excuse before, and it was promptly followed by a denial, since different forces are involved. The truth is, perhaps, that nobody wants to go back into Gaza again, out of the conviction that it would not, in the long run, do any good. There is also captive soldier Gilad Shalit to consider.
Another sort of Zionist immigration: Israel to grant citizenship to hundreds of Darfur refugees
But Israel and other countries should be saving all the refugees, not just a few. In the best of all possible worlds, it should be possible for countries to grant a temporary haven for every refugee, until they can return home, or until another permanent home can be found for them, somewhere in the world. After the experience of the Holocaust, Israel should be leading the way.
Norman Finkelstein, who invented the "Holocaust Industry" jibe has resigned.
He said, ""I felt finally I had gotten what was my due."
Not quite, but we will have to be satisfied with his resignation, won't we?
U.S. prof. who said Jews abuse Holocaust to curb critics resigns
By The Associated Press
A Chicago university professor who has drawn criticism for accusing some Jews of abusing the legacy of the Holocaust agreed Wednesday to resign immediately "for everybody's sake."
DePaul University officials and political science professor Norman Finkelstein issued a joint statement announcing the resignation, which came as about a hundred protesters gathered outside the dean's office to support him.
Finkelstein, who is the son of Holocaust survivors, was denied tenure in June after spending six years on DePaul's faculty. His remaining class was cut by DePaul last month.
His most recent book, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, is largely an attack on Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz's The Case for Israel. In his book, Finkelstein argues that Israel uses perceived anti-Semitism as a weapon to stifle criticism.
Dershowitz, who threatened to sue Finkelstein's publisher for libel, urged DePaul officials to reject Finkelstein's tenure bid.
Finkelstein said in the statement that he believes the tenure decision was tainted by external pressures, but praised the university's "honorable role of providing a scholarly haven for me the past six years."
The school denied that outside parties influenced the decision to deny Finkelstein tenure. The school's portion of the statement called Finkelstein a prolific scholar and an outstanding teacher.
Finkelstein called that acknowledgment the most important part of the statement.
"I felt finally I had gotten what was my due and that maybe it was time, for everybody's sake, that I move on," he said at a news conference that followed a morning rally staged by students and faculty who carried signs and chanted "stop the witch hunt."
Finkelstein added: "DePaul students rose to dazzling spiritual heights in my defense that should be the envy of and an example for every university in the United States."
The professor would not discuss financial terms of the resignation agreement, which he said was confidential, but noted that it does not bar him from speaking out about issues that concern him, including the unfairness of the tenure process.
He also said he does not know what he will do next, but came to realize before Wednesday that "the atmosphere had become so poisoned that it was virtually impossible for me to carry on at DePaul. The least I could hope for is to leave DePaul with my head up high and my reputation intact."
Dershowitz was critical of the school. "DePaul looks like they caved into pressure," he said in a telephone interview. "The idea of describing him as a scholar trades truth for convenience. He's a man who is a propagandist and is not a scholar."
Still, Dershowitz said, "I'm happy he's out of academia. Let him do his ranting on street corners."
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Sabeel is an organization that has made a career out of advocating the destruction of Israel while dressing in sheep's clothing. As it is also a Christian group, it not surprisingly is a favorite of anti-Israel Church groups. It is about time someone spoke out about this group. For those who don't know, supersessionism is replacement theology: the anti-Semitic doctrine that the church as replaced the Jews as "God's Choen." In itself that is not anti-Semitic, but it is used to imply that Jews therefore have no right to self determination, since God is "punishing" the Jews for killing Jesus. That is anti-Semitic. (For a discussion of replacement theology see http://www.zionism-israel.com/dic/christian_zionism.htm
Professor Ruether, whose statement appeared on the Sabeel Web site, has adopted an old standby of Arab propaganda: Zionism arose because of the Holocaust, Israel claims it has a right to exist only because of the Holocaust. This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Balfour declaration, which was issued in 1917. A generation before the Holocaust, the world, including Prince Feisal, recognized the right of self-determination of the Jewish people.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 4, 2007
Contact: Sr. Ruth Lautt, O.P., Esq.
New York, New York
Fair Witness Deplores Statement By Rosemary Radford RuetherChristians for Fair Witness on the Middle East deplores a statement entitled "Beyond Holocaust and Nakba Denial: Toward Compassionate Co-humanity" by Professor Rosemary Radford Ruether which recently appeared on the Friends of Sabeel, North America website.
"Sabeel has a long history of denying the legitimacy of the Jewish state and employing supersessionist themes, classic anti-Semitic themes and the use of deicide language in its characterizations of Israel," according to Fr. James Loughran, S.A., Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute. "We therefore find any claim on the part of this organization to be seeking 'compassionate co-humanity' somewhat disingenuous from the outset."
The lack of a genuine search for "compassionate co-humanity" is evidenced at the beginning of Prof. Ruether's article where she attempts to explain Holocaust denial by alleging that the Jewish history with Nazi Germany has somehow been transformed into an Israeli sense of entitlement to a "state built on Arab land." "Prof. Ruether is a scholar. She should acknowledge that the modern state of Israel was not 'built on Arab land,'" says Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton, the Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College. "After World War I what had previously been territory of the Ottoman Empire was divided into what are now 21 independent Arab countries and one Jewish state based upon both peoples' centuries' old ties to this land. The boundaries drawn have sometimes proven problematic, but it does not help to distort history further."
Curiously, Prof. Ruether uses a purported anecdote about some anonymous settlers in Gaza ten years ago to add credence to her premise that a Holocaust driven mentality shapes Israeli policy. This anecdote strikes Fair Witness as too conveniently supportive of Ruether's point to be credible, especially where she puts quotes around statements then attributed to "the settlers." Did they all cry out these alleged statements in unison? The statements, even if actually made by some Israelis, are irrelevant. Comments by random Israeli settlers express neither Israeli policy nor national perspective. Fair Witness is dismayed by Prof. Ruether's disingenuous attempt to suggest they do.
While Fair Witness disapproves of a tendency on the part of some to overuse the Holocaust as a rhetorical and political tool, this in no way renders Ruether's insidious use of this historical tragedy to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Jewish state permissible. "The world did not need the Holocaust to justify the creation of a Jewish state. Jews, just like the Palestinians and all other peoples, have the right to constitute an autonomous and sovereign political community," says Sr. Ruth Lautt, Fair Witness National Director.
Ms. Ruether's article includes the sensationalist and baseless claim that Israeli leaders such as David Ben-Gurion planned the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948. While she provides no citation for this invidious accusation, it appears to be based upon a letter written by the former Prime Minister to his son. "Ben-Gurion's letter has recently been widely misquoted," says Dexter Van Zile, who has carefully researched the matter. "The actual Hebrew text (as reported by Efraim Karsh, Professor of Mediterranean Studies at the University of London, on pages 50-51 of Fabricating Israeli History) reads 'We do not wish, we do not need to expel Arabs and take their place … All our aspiration is built on the assumption that there is enough room in the country for ourselves and the Arabs.'"
"How carefully did Prof. Ruether research her sources?" questions Van Zile. "You can't level an accusation as heinous as intentional ethnic cleansing based upon what appears to be nothing but shoddy scholarship."
Prof. Ruether also resorts to drawing the contrived parallel between the Palestinian "Nakba" and the Holocaust. "There would have been no Palestinian or Jewish refugees had the Arab nations accepted the U.N. partition (under resolution 181) of the British mandate," points out Rev. Dr. Roy W. Howard, pastor of Saint Mark Presbyterian Church (USA) in Rockville, Maryland. "Prof. Ruether leaves that piece of history out of her narrative. She also neglects to point out that the 'expanded state of Israel' resulted not from some (implied) Israeli landgrab -- but from a war that followed the combined Arab armies' attempt to destroy Israel.
Prof. Ruether's final point is that the respective suffering of the Jewish and Palestinian people holds the potential for building a mutual respect on which a peaceful solution could be constructed. "It is a shame that this hopeful aspiration, with which we concur, is merely tacked onto the flurry of distorted historical narrative by which Ruether delegitimizes Israel's standing and thereby undermines the very outcome she claims to seek," laments Rev. Dr. Peter Pettit, Director of the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding at Muhlenberg College.
Sr. Ruth Lautt, OP, Esq.
Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East
475 Riverside Drive, Ste 1960
New York, NY 10115
Monday, September 3, 2007
Rami Khouri, who usually never has a good word for the US and Israel, is for a change willing to recognize that Al-Qaeda terrorists just might be a problem:
What Rami doesn't want to understand, is that there is basically (I wanted to write "fundamentally") no difference between Al-Qaeda and groups like Hezbollah, which Khouri justifies, legitimizes and excuses, or Hamas or Islamic Jihad. The nuances of Shi'a bombs versus Sunni bombs and theories of Islamic governance really don't concern the rest of us. All these groups blow poeple up, and they all do it because, according to them, it is "God's will." The real difference between Hamas and Al-Qaeda, is that Al-Qaeda is killing Lebanese, whereas Hamas are still working on Israelis. Hezbollah are working on both Lebanese and Israelis.
Yet Rami's newspaper and Rami try to view Hezbollah as working partners in the Lebanese government, and praise them for "liberating" Lebanon from the Israeli occupation and for their "resistance." Al Qaeda just want to "liberate" Lebanon from Khouri, and the Hamas, when they are done with Israel, will presumably move on to "liberating" other countries.
While Israel talks peace with the Palestinians, rockets continue to rain down on Sderot. Below there is a picture of one of those diabolical racist Zionists, helping a person who is obviously a racist settler religious fanatic from Brooklyn.
Last update - 13:27 03/09/2007
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent, and The Associated Press
Israel Defense Forces soldiers scrambled to evacuate babies from a day care center in rocket-scarred Sderot on Monday after a Qassam rocket fired by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip thudded into its courtyard.
Photo - Evil racist Zionist warmonger monstrous soldier helping evil racist diabolical Zionist settlers, under attack by humanitarian heros of the oppressed Palestinian people.
The rocket was one of seven to be fired from the Gaza Strip into the western Negev on Monday. The Islamic Jihad militant group claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks, calling them "a gift for the opening of the school year."
Twelve children suffered from shock after the strike on the southern town, and were evacuated to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon for treatment.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
This report may not be quite as good as it seems, since, as noted a good deal of the open spaces are military areas in the Negev. Still, it is strange if North African countries do not have a larger proportion of open spaces, and Israel's achievement is all the more remarkable because we have one of the highest population densities in the world. It remains to be seen if this large proportion of preserved natural habitats can be maintained as population grows.
Last update - 12:06 02/09/2007
By Zafrir Rinat, Haaretz Correspondent
Israel leads Mediterranean countries in terms of the proportion of its territory that is protected, according to a report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
According to IUCN figures, the protected area in Israel constitutes 16 percent of the country's total area, as opposed to 11.7 percent in France, 7.7 percent in Spain, and 0.5 percent in Lebanon.
A protected open space consists of nature reserves, national parks, farmlands and forested areas. The numbers confirm that Israel has successfully allocated extensive areas to nature conservation.
However, the report overlooks the fact that a large amount of the open space in Israel is in military use, mostly in the Negev. While the IDF activities are environmentally unsustainable, a special agreement between the IDF and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority limits the damage they inflict.
The IUCN report paints a bleak picture of nature conservation in the Mediterranean area. It points to a sharp decline of animal species, which are distinctive to this part of the world.
Despite the increase of protected areas in the Mediterranean in recent years, the dwindling of flora and fauna has not subsided. Two thirds of marine mammals, a quarter of amphibian species, nearly half of shark species, more than half of freshwater fish species, and more than 10 percent of reptiles are in danger of extinction.
According to the IUCN, the Mediterranean basin is one of the most distinctive ecological habitats in the world, containing more than 25,000 flora species, roughly half of which are unique. Most of these species are exploited in the production of food, medications, spices and other products. Also, about half of the reptiles and two thirds of the amphibians are unique.
Two factors shadow Israel's environmental achievements: it is one of the seven countries that suffer from an acute water shortage, and has a high level of greenhouse gas emission per capita.
According to the IUCN, the inaccurate estimation of local ecological systems' profitability as well as the unregulated exploitation of natural resources are among the primary reasons behind the poor nature conservation in the area
An interesting factoid that should not be surprising, but is:
By Zohar Blumenkrantz , Haaretz Correspondent
About 250 Israelis have been traveling to Iraq every year, most of them businesspeople, who include a number of defense industry representatives.
Most of the Iraq-bound travellers fly through Amman on Royal Jordanian Airlines, according to confidential figures from the airline that TheMarker has obtained.
Some of the Israelis hold dual citizenship and enter Iraq on non-Israeli passports.
None of the travelers, though, are tourists. There are also no groups of Israelis born in Iraq returning to visit their birthplace.
Others traveling from Israel include journalists, and employees of the UN and other international organizations.
Many Israelis fly Royal Jordanian through Amman on their way to the Far East, and now also to Europe.
It is a terrible tragedy to lose a son or a loved one. In any decent society, those whose dear ones fell in the defense of their country can be comforted by the respect that is due to national heros. It is scant comfort. The war or the incident, is soon forgotten by everyone. The husband, lover, son or daughter will never come home again. In Israel, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has robbed them of even that solace.
From time to time, the venerable Rabbi Ovadia Yosef delivers himself of sentiments that are unworthy of any decent human being, let alone a spiritual leader. Time and again, he has embarrassed Israel and hurt her citizens. Nobody is spared by the nonsensical bile of this old man, According to him, leftists should be hanged, Arabs are animals, and now he claims that our soldiers were killed because they are sinners:
No group and no person is spared by the drivel that comes from his mouth. God have mercy on Ovadia Yosef, and God have mercy on us. May the Lord bless and keep Ovadia Yosef, far away from us.
Ovadia Yosef and his followers are not Zionist, but his racist remarks are exhibited by the enemies of Israel to prove that "Zionism is Racism." Now he has turned on our own people, on us, and on our own sons and daughters. Ovadia Yosef's immediate followers will never be killed in battle, as they are safe in their Yeshivot, letting others do the fighting for them. Ovadia Yosef expressed his "gratitude" to those who died to keep him safe, by insisted that they died because they are sinners. Only Ovadia Yosef and his followers are pure.
The Passover Hagada tells us how the wicked son behaves. He looks upon all the work of Passover and says "What is all this work to you?" Ovadia Yosef looks on all the work of Zionism, on all of the state of Israel in fact, and says, "What is all this work to you?"
Ovadia Yosef's venomous statements are not just political stands. They are malicious barbs that personally wound each member of each of the groups that he maligns. Nobody is safe from Ovadia Yosef - neither the quick nor the dead. It is unimaginable and insufferable that a "spiritual leader" should be allowed to malign even dead heros.
Below is the lament of a father whose son was one of those "sinners" who died in the service of his country, defending Ovadia Yosef and the "army" of draft dodgers he has organized.
Rav Ovadia: Get to know our army
STEWART WEISS , THE JERUSALEM POST Sep. 1, 2007
'Scholars, be cautious with your words!" warn the sages in Ethics of the Fathers. The tongue is likened to a serpent, and so, say the Rabbis, God created two gates - the teeth and the lips - through which the tongue must pass before it can unleash its poisonous venom upon its victims.
In one ill-conceived outburst, Shas Party mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has created yet another firestorm, and taken a bite out of the hearts of Israel's bereaved families.
"Should it come as a surprise that soldiers are killed in war," asked the rabbi, "when they do not observe Shabbat or the Torah, when they do not pray each day, or put on tefillin? God have mercy on them and cause them to repent, so they will lead a good life in peace."
I have agonized over Rav Ovadia's statement, and tried to make theological sense of it.
First, does he presume to be a prophet and know God's mind, "who shall live and who shall die?" Second, does he propose that non-observant soldiers are more prone to casualty than observant ones? Is this borne out by the facts?
And does he not understand that the moment a young man dons the uniform of the IDF and places his life on the line in the defense of Israel, he automatically rises to the level of a tzaddik - of righteousness - in the eyes of God?
FURTHERMORE, what shall we make of the converse of the rabbi's remarks? Is he suggesting that those mitzva-observing soldiers who fell in battle were somehow lacking in their level of observance and, by definition, were sinners because they died? Does he have any conception of how pure and
righteous those holy warriors were, how they epitomized the highest level of Godly behavior that a mortal man can attain?
Does he know about Roi Klein, who threw himself on a grenade in the Second Lebanon War, blowing himself up to save his comrades, all the while reciting Shema Yisrael, a la Rabbi Akiva? Or about Shmuel Akiva Weiss, who pushed alongside a fellow medic in Jenin in order to try to save the life of a fallen comrade, only to die on top of him in a hail of bullets?
Or about our own son, Ari, who spent the last Rosh Hashana of his life on stakeout in the ditches of Nablus, a machzor in one pocket of his uniform, and his mother's Yom Tov halla in the other?
IS THERE a single student among all of Rav Ovadia's disciples who could hope to ever attain the religious merit of these heroes of the Jewish people? As Ra'anana Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz - ironically, one of Shas' founders - told me during our Shiva: "The Talmud teaches us, in the story of the martyrs of Lod, who saved that city from destruction, that these soldiers who protect our nation have a higher place in Heaven than any other human being can ever achieve."
I fear that Rav Ovadia makes these statements because he is cut off from the institution of the IDF; he is too far removed from what is actually occurring on the battlefield. Unlike King David or King Saul - Torah scholars who fought in battle and sent their sons to war - he does not have first-hand knowledge of the courage, character and caliber of our young people in uniform. And unlike the scholars of biblical days, who prayed for the soldiers and studied Torah alongside them as they went into battle, the rabbis and students of many of today's study halls have distanced themselves from the boys in green, and have no personal attachment to our military.
And in that unfortunate vacuum, biting words can emerge from their mouths.
I BELIEVE that Rav Ovadia does care about the soldiers. But caring is not enough. He must show it in practice. He can start by ordering all Shas institutions to recite the prayer for the welfare of the IDF on a daily basis. He can urge his students to administer the synagogues at army bases, and to supervise the kashrut there. He can ask every boy with a Talmud in front of him to study on behalf of a specific soldier, invoking God's blessing upon him. He himself canmake it a point to visit each and every base in order to encourage and commend the soldiers in person.
And he can show respect and awe for our fighters. When the late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein - no less a talmudic master than Rav Ovadia - was visited by former refusenik Yosef Mendelevich, the rabbi deferentially rose from his seat. Rabbi Feinstein's students were puzzled, for it was others who usually stood for the sage, not vice-versa.
Rav Moshe explained: "There is greatness in scholarship, and there is greatness in courage. For one who excels in heroism, even the premier sage of the generation must rise in respect before him."
It would not be presumptuous to suggest that Rav Ovadia ask forgiveness from every bereaved mother and father for even hinting that their soldier-child was less than righteous. Repentance, after all, is incumbent upon even the greatest of men, and this seems like a good season to put it into practice.
The writer's son, Sgt. Ari Weiss, fell in battle in Nablus in September 2002.
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