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Saturday, October 6, 2007

Palestinian refugees say no to peace

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/palestinian-refugees-say-no-to-peace.html

Headline: Don't accept two-state solution, refugees tell Abbas


As there is no other solution, that means, "don't accept peace."






Representatives of Palestinian refugees warned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over the weekend against surrendering their "right of return" by accepting a two-state solution during next month's planned US-sponsored peace conference in Maryland.

The warning came as former PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei, who is better known as Abu Ala, said the Palestinians would not accept a state that did not include Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

He said the Palestinians would boycott the conference unless an agreement was reached with Israel beforehand on all the "fundamental" issues: the status of Jerusalem, the borders of the future Palestinian state and the problem of the refugees.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, meanwhile, is likely to address the diplomatic process at Sunday's weekly cabinet session, where the ministers are expected to hear assessments on the recent talks between Olmert and Abbas.

Abbas said Saturday that Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams would hold their first meeting on Monday to draft a joint statement on principles for future peace talks ahead of the planned conference in Annapolis.

In a letter to Abbas, Salman Abu Sitta, a prominent spokesman for Palestinian refugees, wrote: "We are aware of the pressure you are facing to abandon the Palestinian position and endorse Israel's vision. But what has drawn our attention more than anything else is Israel's attempt to redefine the idea of the two-state solution. Israel now wants mutual recognition - Israel as the national homeland of the Jews and, on what's left of the land, Palestine as the national homeland of the Palestinians."

Abu Sitta described the Israeli formula as "extremely dangerous," saying it should be rejected by all Arabs. He said accepting this formula would be tantamount to abandoning the Arab right to Palestine and accepting the Jews' ostensible historical and biblical rights to the land.

In addition, Abu Sitta argued, the Israeli stance abolishes the right of return for Palestinians on two levels: recognition of this right and its fulfillment.

"This would constitute a historic burden; no Palestinian could bear its consequences in front of his people and history," he cautioned. He said it was inconceivable that the Palestinians would abandon the right of return after decades of fighting.

Representatives of Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon also appealed to Abbas not to relinquish the right of return. In letters to Abbas, they criticized Abbas's promise to hold a referendum on any deal he reaches with Israel. "Since when are our rights a disputed matter?" they asked. They said such a referendum would be meaningless because it would be held only in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Qurei was recently appointed head of the Palestinian team negotiating with Israel. In a series of interviews with Arab newspapers over the weekend, he said the Palestinians were hoping to strike a deal with Israel within five to six months.

"There must be a clear timetable outlining when the negotiations begin and when they are supposed to end," Qurei said. "Otherwise, the issue will remain open forever. We can reach an agreement quickly provided that there is a serious intention [on the part of Israel]."

Qurei added that the document he and his colleagues were hoping to draft with their Israeli counterparts before the conference would form the basis for future negotiations on a final settlement. "What's important is the content of the document," he said. "If it's going to be an unclear document, then we don't need it."

Qurei said the document must include an Israeli pledge to return to the pre-1967 borders. However, he did not rule out the possibility that the Palestinians would agree to "limited border amendments."

Asked how the Palestinians would react if an agreement on the core issues was not achieved in the coming weeks, he said: "Then this would not be a good situation. We will be forced to look into other options - including whether or not we would attend the conference."

The Prime Minister's Office declined to comment on Qurei's statements.

On the refugees, Rami Khouri, a prominent Palestinian-Jordanian editor, wrote in Lebanon's English-language Daily Star: "The hardest issue to resolve is the status and rights of Palestinian refugees, of whom there are now 4.5 million living outside Palestine (they were 750,000 when they first became refugees in 1948). All other contentious matters - land, sovereignty, recognition, settlements, water, security, Jerusalem - now appear resolvable, given the years of negotiations that have taken place by the concerned parties. The refugee issue, however, remains both intractable and existential for both sides."

Khouri said Abbas was dangerously close to being seen by many in the Arab world as a hapless American-Israeli puppet; his political party, Fatah, has been largely discredited as a corrupt, bloated and inefficient burden on society, and no longer represents majority Palestinian thinking; and the absence of Hamas from the Annapolis meeting would render the Palestinian delegation's credentials "rather thin."

"There is one way that Abbas can overcome these constraints, which recalls a major weakness that contributed to the collapse of the Camp David talks in 2000: He should consult widely, deeply and sincerely with ordinary and politically active Palestinians throughout the world, in order to be able to attend the Annapolis talks as a credible representative of the Palestinians," Khouri wrote.

Abbas said Friday that he expected at least 36 nations to attend the conference, including 12 Arab states, another three Muslim nations, the permanent members of the UN Security Council and the G-8.

"We hope that the number will increase to 40 states," Abbas was quoted as telling Palestinian dignitaries from Jerusalem, during a meal breaking the dawn-to-dusk Ramadan fast.

The remarks were quoted by the Palestinian news agency WAFA and confirmed by a participant.

Abbas did not provide a list of countries expected to attend. The US has not released such a list or set a date for the conference.

In Friday's meeting with Palestinian dignitaries, Abbas told his guests that a solution for Jerusalem would be a key to any peace deal.

"Jerusalem has always been in our hearts, and the hope that we have been looking at," Abbas said. "There is no independent Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital. It is a concern in the coming, difficult days."

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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Israel to replenish war stocks from US AID

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/israel-to-replenish-war-stocks-from-us.html

A report in defense news explains that Israel will replenish stocks of war materials depleted in the Lebanon war from U.S. aid, rather than relying on the local defense industry. U.S. aid must be used to purchase equipment in the United States.
 
This raises many questions. What happened in the last year that prevented replenishment of war stocks? What would have happened had there been a war with Syria? What will happen to Israeli defense if the US decides NOT to supply arms to Israel at some point?
 
According to the report:
 
While Congress and the administration support MoD's acquisition efforts, Israeli industry executives are concerned about the huge amounts of money to be spent on American, rather than locally made, weaponry.

Hardest hit are Israel's state-owned Rafael Armament Development Authority, Israel Aerospace Industries and Israel Military Industries, all of which produce alternative weapons that executives here insist are often more capable than U.S. systems.

Executives here took particular exception to MoD's plans to fill Air Force warehouses with U.S. Sidewinder air-to-air and AMRAAM missiles, when the Python-5, Derby and follow-on indigenous systems were specifically designed to Israeli requirements. Industry sources here note that locally built air-to-air missiles for decades have come to symbolize Israeli industrial acumen on the world market.

If future Air Force stocks are filled with U.S. missiles, firms here not only are denied billions of shekels in new orders, but risk significant erosion in international sales, sources here say.

 
 
A particular case for local weaponry was made dramatically by the use of U.S. manufactured cluster bombs, which are made to a low standard and leave a lot of unexploded material that is hazardous to civilians.
 
The amount of aid cited in the article is not materially higher than aid in previous years, despite the supposed compensation for military sales to Arab countries.
 
Why doesn't anyone think of releasing a larger share of this aid for use in purchasing Israeli made equipment?
 
Ami Isseroff

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Report: U.S. doubts stalled Israel strike on Syria

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/report-us-doubts-stalled-israel-strike.html

 
It should be borne in mind that certain sources claim that U.S. provided some active military backup and some equipment in this strike. It is hard to believe that this is so, if Israel carried out the strike without US approval.
 
Story follows below.
 
Ami Isseroff

U.S. Was Concerned Over Intelligence, Stability to Region, Officials Tell
ABC News
ABC News Oct. 5, 2007


The September Israeli airstrike on a suspected nuclear site in Syria had been in the works for months, ABC News has learned, and was delayed only at the strong urging of the United States.

In early July the Israelis presented the United States with satellite imagery that they said showed a nuclear facility in Syria. They had additional evidence that they said showed that some of the technology was supplied by North Korea.

One U.S. official told ABC's Martha Raddatz the material was "jaw dropping" because it raised questions as to why U.S. intelligence had not previously picked up on the acility.

Officials said that the facility had likely been there for months if not years.

"Israel tends to be very thorough about its intelligence coverage, particularly when it takes a major military step, so they would not have acted without data from several sources," said ABC military consultant Tony
Cordesman.

U.S. Cautious After Flawed Iraq Intelligence

A senior U.S. official said the Israelis planned to strike during the week of July 14 and in secret high-level meetings American officials argued over how to respond to the intelligence.

Some in the administration supported the Israeli action, but others, notably Sect. of State Condoleeza Rice did not. One senior official said the U.S. convinced the Israelis to "confront Syria before attacking."

Officials said they were concerned about the impact an attack on Syria would have on the region. And given the profound consequences of the flawed intelligence in Iraq, the U.S. wanted to be absolutely certain the intelligence was accurate.

Initially, administration officials convinced the Israelis to call off the July strike. But in September the Israelis feared that news of the site was about to leak and went ahead with the strike despite U.S. concerns.

The airstrike was so highly classified, President Bush refused to acknowledge it publicly even after the bombs fell.

ABC's Martha Raddatz filed this report for "World News With Charles Gibson."
 


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Syrians celebrate Yom Kippur war victory

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/syrians-celebrate-yom-kippur-war.html

According to Sana, the official Syrian News Agency, Syria celebrated its victory in the October War (Yom Kippur War):
 
From sana.org/eng/21/2007/10/06/142514.htm

DAMASCUS, (SANA - Syrian news agency)  Syrian Armed Forces celebrated on
Saturday the 34th anniversary of October Liberation War by festooning military sites with flags and banners.

Photos of President Bashar al-Assad also decorated the sites where military parades held to commemorate the anniversary while army leaders met fighters in festivals to talk about the October War importance.

Words said that October War constituted a "landmark in the modern Arab history while its results remained a source of aspiration for all meanings of heroism, salvation and determination to liberate land and restore the usurped rights."
Verily, it is a source of aspiration and inspiration. Having celebrated such a great victory, perhaps the glorious Syrian people can return the land they have taken from Israel in this war and make peace. Israel will be satisfied with the borders that obtained before the start of the October war.
 
Ami Isseroff


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Guess who is a Jew, or is he?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/guess-who-is-jew-or-is-he.html

Samuel Schidem is a guide in the Berlin Jewish Museum. He is engaged in Jewish studies and specializes in the Holocaust. He served in the IDF.
 
He says:
 
"I feel Jewish, but the question is, what is a Jew? To me, a Jew is a humanist...
 
But Samuel Schidem is a Druze.  Is this a new model for Judaism, dictated by the reality of Israel's existence?
 
A Druze Jew? If you will, it is no legend.
 
Ami Isseroff 
 

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Friday, October 5, 2007

Going for broke: The Palestinians want to dictate terms

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/going-for-broke-palestinians-want-to.html

Several stories this week carried the same messages:
 
1- The Palestinians insist on a sweeping deal for a Palestinian state to be announced at the international conference,  to be completely agreed upon in detail within six months.
 
2 - There is no flexibility whatever in the Palestinian positions, which are basically unacceptable to Israel.
 
We read in the Jerusalem Post, for example:
 

The Palestinians will only participate in the US-sponsored peace conference expected to be held next month if general agreement is first reached with Israel on all the fundamental issues, Palestinian Authority officials here said Monday.

They said that in addition to Jerusalem, the borders of the future Palestinian state and the problem of the refugees, the PA was also seeking agreement on water, security and settlements.

....


The officials also denied that the PA had agreed to discuss an exchange of land with Israel and limiting the number of refugees who would return to Israel proper. They said the PA's official position remained that Israel must withdraw from all the territories captured in 1967, including east Jerusalem, and that there would be no concessions on the "right of return."

PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said he was unaware of any land swap agreement. He called on the media to refrain from publishing any unofficial documents or unauthorized statements.

.....

According to another PA official, the Palestinians want the declaration of principles to include an Israeli commitment to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders. "As President Mahmoud Abbas stated last week, we have no intention to compromise on any of our rights," he said.

Asked why the PA, which in recent weeks had expressed reservations about the conference, was now sounding more positive, the official said: "When [US Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice was here lately, she told us that the US administration was determined to turn the conference into a successful event. She also promised to exert pressure on Israel to soften its position."

And in Haaretz:

The upcoming Middle East conference should set a six-month deadline for the completion of a final peace agreement, the Palestinian information [Riad Malki] minister said Thursday.

There are several amazing statements that seem to indicate on the surface that the Palestinians have no grip on reality whatever, or else, on second thought, that they have an excellent grip on reality. Their proposals cannot be implemented, and there cannot be an agreement in six months or six hundred years based on these proposals. Moreover, the Palestinian government in Ramallah does not control Gaza. It is a government that scarcely controls its own territory, and it cannot meet even minimal payrolls without international help. Nonetheless, they are making "peace" conditions worthy of the victor of the Six Day War. They know that Israel will never agree to Return, they know that Israel cannot move nearly half a million Israelis out of Jerusalem and the West Bank. They know that there is very broad consensus in Israel that Israel has annexed Jerusalem by right, as opposed to wide divisions of opinion about the West Bank. Therefore, we must conclude that they see the conference as an opportunity for a tremendous propaganda victory in the Arab world and a way to perhaps gain some support for their positions in the world at large. It is another sally in the Peace offensive , and it must be met by an equally clear Israeli final status declaration proposal. 

Ami Isseroff  

 

 

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IAF versus Russian Radar in Syria: Facts and Rumors

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/iaf-versus-russian-radar-in-syria-facts.html

A few recent reports have Iran, Russia and Syria worried over Israel's ability to penetrate Syrian (that is, Russian) air defenses, as shown in the recent raid on Syria, by jamming missile radar (see Aviation Week, Haaretz, and Times Online).  Supposedly, this raid was a "test" of "new" technology that would be used to jam Iranian air defenses in an Israeli raid.
 
There are some problems with this thesis. One is that Israel would hardly give away the secret of mission-critical technology essential for a raid on Iran, by announcing that it has it in a minor raid on Syria. If Israel is indeed planning a raid on Iran, it will not rely on that technology.
 
A second is that in principle, Israel has been developing electronic solutions for Russian radar-guided missiles at least since 1982, so this ability is not so new,  though the particular system used here may have used advanced technology.  Syrian radar operators are well aware of this fact.  At any given time, Israel either has the solution for the particular system that is deployed, or is working on one. The electronic solution apparently depends on having an aircraft, perhaps unmanned, that is either out of range of the radar or not easily detectable, and that can latch on to the missile-guiding radar and jam it. Another solution may be to know the precise location of the system and to fire a missile at it from a distance, out of range of the system.
 
The Aviation week article suggests that a particular technology was used:
 

U.S. aerospace industry and retired military officials indicated today that a technology like the U.S.-developed "Suter" airborne network attack system developed by BAE Systems and integrated into U.S. unmanned aircraft by L-3 Communications was used by the Israelis. The system has been used or at least tested operationally in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last year.

The technology allows users to invade communications networks, see what enemy sensors see and even take over as systems administrator so sensors can be manipulated into positions so that approaching aircraft can't be seen, they say. The process involves locating enemy emitters with great precision and then directing data streams into them that can include false targets and misleading messages algorithms that allow a number of activities including control.

The professed Iranian alarm that appears in some reports is apparently much less immediate and urgent than some reports claim:

 

A Kuwaiti newspaper wrote that "Russian experts are studying why the two state-of-the art Russian-built radar systems in Syria did not detect the Israeli jets entering Syrian territory. Iran reportedly has asked the same question, since it is buying the same systems and might have paid for the Syrian acquisitions."

 

Of course, if they bought the systems, the Iranians would be worried about why they didn't work, regardless of whether or not they are expecting anyone to attack them. Iran should however, take it for granted in its planning, that whatever system they have bought, if the US or Israel ever attack Iran, they will have found a solution for that system.

The biggest problem with the idea that the incursion into Syria was a rehearsal for an attack on Iran is that there is currently no credible Iran attack scenario. Aside from the general aversion to violent solutions and the political repercussions, there are specific problems that would have to be solved, and specific threats that would have to be neutralized before either US or Israel would be able to attack Iran. It is not clear that all of these have been solved or can be solved:

Threat of Iranian rocket retaliation on Iraqi and Israeli targets. This includes not only rockets launched by Iran, but Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon.

Chaos in Lebanon exacerbated by Hezbollah in retaliation for an attack.

Precise and verifiable intelligence about the location of nuclear facilities and other vital installations. An attack that hits decoys or misses the most important centers would be a disaster.

Getting there - As regards Israel, there is no real indication that it has aircraft or other systems that are capable of reaching Iran. Imaginative reports of F15i with 1700 km range without refueling should not be trusted, and still less credibility can be given to confabulaions about Israeli cruise missiles with tactical nuclear warheads.

Technical ability to destroy deep underground protected installations in reinforced concrete bunkers. The experience of the second Lebanon War proved that it is very difficult to locate and destroy even relatively "easy" targets like Hezbollah bunkers from the air. This is one of the lessons that Iran learned as well as Israel.

It is also clear that if they have not been solved, people are probably working on solutions. The media chatter about attacks on Iran is used as psychological warfare by both sides, and the release of various leaks is intended either as a deterrent or to demonize internal political opponents in the United States. While United States security is possibly very  lax, it is unlikely that the IAF would reveal operational plans for an attack to provide entertainment for the readers of the Sunday Times or the Sunday Telegraph. The only thing that we can learn from such leaks is probably how the attack will not be carried out.

Ami Isseroff


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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Your tax dollars at work: US Taxpayer-funded Madrassahs?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/your-tax-dollars-at-work-us-taxpayer.html

The questions are whether and when the schools in question violate the constitutional need for separation of church (or mosque) and state, and whether and when the students are actually learning "extremism." It is really difficult to argue that eating Halal (Muslim "Kosher") food will make little kiddies into suicide bombers, any more than one can argue that eating bagels and lox will turn Jewish kids into Baruch Goldstein or Yigal Amir. Likewise there is no constitutional law that mandates the serving of ham, seafood or alcohol in school cafeterias. Some of the other concerns may be legitimate, but it is easy to make the case that this article has more than a whiff of religious intolerance. Will all those who think that there is not enough religious intolerance in the world please raise their hands? Thank you.

However, it should be noted that in Florida, teaching of Hebrew at a charter school was suspended because of the mere suspicion that students were being taught religion. Teaching of Hebrew was reinstated after it was concluded that the classes were not teaching religion. In these cases, it is not suspicion. It is fact. It is sufficient to demand that all schools be judged by the same standards. It is not necessary to make claims about "terrorism."

Ami Isseroff 

 

Teach Arabic or Recruit Extremists?

by Daniel Pipes
New York Sun
September 5, 2007

[Title and text differ from the NY Sun version]

New York City's Arabic-language public school, the Khalil Gibran International Academy, opens its doors this week, with special security, for 11- and 12-year-old students. One hopes that the prolonged public debate over the school's Islamist proclivities will prompt it not to promote any political or religious agendas.

Count me as skeptical, however, and for two main reasons. First is the school's genesis and personnel, about which others and I have written extensively. Second, and my topic here, is the worrisome record of taxpayer-funded Arabic-language programs from sea to shining sea.

The trend is clear: pre-collegiate Arabic-language instruction, even when taxpayer funded, tends to bring along indoctrination in pan-Arab nationalism, radical Islam, or both. Note some examples:

  • Amana Academy, Alpharetta, Georgia, near Atlanta: A charter school that requires Arabic-language learning, Amana boasts of its "institutional partnership" with the Arabic Language Institute Foundation (ALIF). But ALIF forwards the learning of Arabic as a means "to convey the message of Qur'an in North America and Europe" and thus to "help the Western countries recover from the present moral decay."

  • Carver Elementary School, San Diego: A teacher, Mary-Frances Stephens, informed the school board that she taught a "segregated class" of Muslim girls and that each day she was required to release them from class for an hour of prayer, led by a Muslim teacher's aide. Ms. Stephens deemed this arrangement "clearly a violation of administrative, legislative and judicial guidelines." The school's principal, Kimberlee Kidd, replied that the teacher's aide merely prayed alongside the students and the session lasted only 15 minutes. The San Diego Unified School District investigated Ms. Stephens's allegations and rejected them, but it nonetheless changed practices at Carver, implicitly substantiating her critique. Superintendent Carl Cohn eliminated single-gender classes and reconfigured the schedule so that students can pray during lunch.

  • Charlestown High School, Massachusetts: The school's summer Arabic-language program took students on a trip to the Islamic Society of Boston, where, the Boston Globe reports, students "sat in a circle on the carpet and learned about Islam from two mosque members." One student, Peberlyn Moreta, 16, fearing that the gold cross around her neck would offend the hosts, tucked it under her T-shirt. Anti-Zionism also appeared, with the showing of the 2002 film Divine Intervention, which a critic, Jordan Hiller, has termed an "irresponsible film," "frighteningly dangerous," and containing "pure hatred" toward Israel.

  • Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, Inver Grove Heights, Minn.: Islamic Relief Worldwide, an organization that allegedly has links to jihadism and terrorism, sponsored this charter school, which requires Arabic as a second language. The academy's name openly celebrates Islamic imperialism, as Tarek ibn Ziyad led Muslim troops in their conquest of Spain in 711 A.D. Local journalists report that "a visitor might well mistake Tarek ibn Ziyad [Academy] for an Islamic school" because of the women wearing hijabs, the carpeted prayer area, the school closing down for Islamic holidays, everyone keeping the Ramadan fast, the cafeteria serving halal food, classes breaking for prayer, almost all the children praying, and the constant use of "Brother" and "Sister" when adults at the school address each other.

Only in the case of the Iris Becker Elementary School in Dearborn, Michigan, is the Arabic-language program not obviously pursuing a political and religious agenda. Its program may actually be clean; or perhaps the minimal information about it explains the lack of known problems.

The above examples (and see my Web log entry "Other Taxpayer-Funded American Madrassas" for yet more) are all American, but similar problems predictably exist in other Western countries.

This troubling pattern points to the need for special scrutiny of publicly funded Arabic-language programs. That scrutiny should take the form of robust supervisory boards whose members are immersed in the threat of radical Islam and who have the power to shut down anything they might find objectionable.

Arabic-language instruction at the pre-collegiate level is needed, and the U.S. government rightly promotes it (for example, via the "National Security Language Initiative" on the national level or the "Foreign Language in Elementary Schools" program on a local one). As it does so, getting the instruction right becomes ever more important. Citizens, parents, and taxpayers have the right to ensure that children attending these publicly funded institutions are taught a language skill—and are not being recruited to anti-Zionism or Islamism.

 

 

 


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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Al Dura case is far from proven

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/al-dura-case-is-far-from-proven.html

Those who rejoiced to hear that Israel has now "officially" denied that little Muhammad Al-Dura was a victim of Israeli fire may be disappointed. Though news stories said the denial was "official," it seems, as a sharp analyst has pointed out, that only Daniel Seaman, the official in charge of antagonizing the foreign press composed this denial and knew that it existed.  The Prime Minister's Office did not know. It is not clear what evidence, if any, led Seaman to this conclusion, The timing of Seaman's denial is also odd, since the raw footage of the France-2 film that was allegedly fabricated to show the Al-Dura murder has not been aired in court yet, and Seaman himself doesn't seem to have any independent evidence that he could not have had seven years ago.
 
The best outcome one could have wished for is that this little boy had never died. The worst outcome, worse even than finding out that Israeli soldiers killed him for whatever reason, would be if, in addition, it would now be proven that the film appears to be authentic, and that there is a great chance that al-Dura was killed by Israeli fire. That would make not only Seaman, but the Israeli government, look really silly. 
 
Ami Isseroff

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France urges EU to widen Iran sanctions

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/france-urges-eu-to-widen-iran-sanctions.html

France is beginning to get serious about Iran...
France urges EU to widen Iran sanctions
(Reuters)

3 October 2007

BRUSSELS - French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has urged European Union counterparts to study widening existing sanctions on Iran's banking sector over its nuclear programme before any new UN resolution against Teheran.

'These new measures, coming from its most important commercial partner, should have the aim of increasing the pressure on Iran, in particular in the financial and economic area,' Kouchner wrote in a letter to fellow EU ministers, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.
'Initially, we could add new entities, in particular in the banking sector, and new individuals to the existing European lists of asset freezes and visa bans,' he added, urging a debate on such measures at an Oct. 15 meeting of EU foreign ministers. 
 

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New poll shows growing discontent with Hamas rule in Gaza

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/new-poll-shows-growing-discontent-with.html

A large majority of Palestinians oppose rocket attacks on Israel, but they continue anyhow. This is a reminder that democracy is more than elections. Likewise a majority would vote for Abbas and his government. So, why not hold elections?
 
New poll shows growing discontent with Hamas rule in Gaza

Terror organization to lose elections if new vote were held today in Palestinian Authority, survey conducted by Near East Consulting concludes. Poll also finds that majority of Gazans oppose rocket attacks on Israel, favor a peace agreement with the Jewish state, and do not consider Hamas authority in Gaza to be the legitimate Palestinian government
Associated Press Published: 10.03.07, 15:11 / Israel News

Most residents of the Gaza Strip are afraid to openly express their political views following Hamas' takeover of the area in June, according to a poll released Wednesday, the latest sign of public discontent with Gaza's Islamic militant rulers.

The poll found that a majority of Gazans oppose rocket attacks on Israel, favor a peace agreement with the Jewish state, and do not consider the Hamas authority in Gaza to be the legitimate Palestinian government. It also concluded that Hamas would lose elections if a new vote were held today.

The poll was conducted by Near East Consulting, a research firm based in the West Bank. The firm said it surveyed 470 Palestinians in Gaza by telephone on September 25-27. It did not give a margin of error.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in mid-June after routing forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement. Abbas responded by forming a pro-Western government in the West Bank.

According to the survey, 58 percent of respondents said they are now afraid to express their political views following the Hamas takeover, and 60 percent say Hamas' paramilitary police, known as the Executive Force, has done a poor job respecting individual rights.

It also found 52 percent of respondents consider Abbas' government to be the legitimate Palestinian ruling authority, while only 26 percent favor the Hamas government led by Ismail Haniyeh. Sixty-four percent said they trust Abbas, compared with 36 percent who trust Fatah.

In another blow to Hamas, 72 percent said they support a final peace agreement with Israel, and 55 percent called on Hamas to change its position toward the Jewish state. Hamas opposes peace talks and is committed to Israel's destruction.

Nearly three-quarters said they support Abbas' call for new elections - a position opposed by Hamas. It said 42 percent would vote for Fatah, with just 15 percent support for Hamas.

Since the Hamas takeover, the international community has welcomed Abbas' government, while pushing Hamas into deep isolation.

In the poll, 86 percent said they are worried about the state of affairs in Gaza, and 47 percent said they are thinking of emigrating. In comparison, 33 percent said they were considering emigration a month earlier.

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Olmert - Abbas meet under shadow of Hamas/Abbas talk rumors

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/olmert-abbas-meet-under-shadow-of.html

The original Jerusalem post headline for this one seemed to be "Abbas understands time is not ripe for final status agreement." That got changed somewhere along the line, and the issue is not even discussed below. Instead, there is discussion of a possible Hamas/Fatah rapprochement.
 
What indeed, should Israel and the United States do if there is such a rapprochement?
 
Ami Isseroff
 

PM, Abbas meet despite report of possible Abbas-Hamas talks


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Monday, October 1, 2007

Israel (1 official) 'officially' denies responsibility for death of Intifadah "martyr" Muhammad al-Dura in 2000

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/israel-officially-denies-responsibility.html

Headline: Israel officially denies responsibility for death of al-Dura in 2000

Twelve year old Muhammad al-Dura was killed by someone in Gaza in 2000. Using film shot by France 2, Palestinians dramatized his case, and made it an excuse for dozens of terror attacks in the violence that followed.

What was really odd about the case, was that there was no possible operational necessity for firing in the direction of the unarmed boy or his father, yet the film clearly showed or seemed to show that someone was firing on them repeatedly over a long period.

At the time, the IDF neither confirmed nor denied the report, nor, strangely enough, did the IDF conduct an in depth investigation.

Efforts of independent volunteers have forced France 2 to air the films in court. Seven years after the event, the government has now realized that it ought to have denied the killing.

It did not wait until the films had been aired in public -- a matter of a few days, to announce its conclusions.

Also - it appears that this "official" denial was just a letter by the head of the GPO, and that the Israeli government doesn't know anything about it.

Ami Isseroff


Seven years after death of Gaza boy captured by France 2 cameraman was blamed on Israel, Prime Minister's Office issues first official document stating incident was staged. French reporter defends video, calling it 'authentic'

Ronny Sofer Published:

10.01.07, 22:16 / Israel News

Seven years after the death of the Palestinian boy Muhammad al-Dura in Gaza, the Prime Minister's Office speaks out against the "myth of the murder".

An official document from Jerusalem denied - for the first time - that Israel was responsible for the death of al-Dura at the start of the second intifada.

The document argued that the images, which showed al-Dura being shot beside his father and have become a symbol of the second intifada, were staged.

"The creation of the myth of Muhammad al-Dura has caused great damage to the state of Israel. This is an explicit blood libel against the state. And just as blood libels in the old days have led to pogroms, this one has also caused damage and dozens of dead," said Government Press Office director Daniel Seaman.

The arguments were based on investigations that showed that the angles of the IDF troops' fire could not have hit the child or his father, that part of the filmed material, mainly the moment of the boy's alleged death, is missing, and the fact that the cameraman can be heard saying the boy is dead while the boy is still seen moving.

On September 30, 2000, on the second day of the intifada, then 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura was going with his father to buy a car. The two got caught between heavy fire clashes between Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian gunmen.

The incident lasted some 45 minutes, 27 of which were filmed by Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu Rahma, who was working for the France 2 television network.

Charles Enderlin, Jerusalem bureau chief of France 2, who was not present at the incident, broadcasted the report. The report accused the IDF soldiers who were involved in the incident of causing the child's death and the father's injury.

The report has been investigated by various bodies over the years, and four intensive journalistic inquiries examining the incident said there was no evidence that the boy was shot by the soldiers. Some of the inquiries stated that according to calculations of the angle in which the boy and his father were hit, they were most likely shot by the Palestinians.

During the past seven years, Israel has preferred not to confront the most popular television station in France, but following repeated requests by Shurat HaDin, Israel Law Center, the first official document from the Prime Minister's Office, signed by the GPO director, was issued last week.

The document argued that based on investigations that were carried out, the boy's death was staged by the French network's cameraman, Talal Abu Rahma.

France 2 reporter calls allegations 'nonesense'

In a letter to Shurat HaDin, Seaman wrote, "It turns out that the events could not have occurred as they were described by the network's reporter Charles Enderlin, since they contradict the laws of physics… Furthermore, it was not even possible to hit them (the boy and his father) in the place they were hiding according to the report."

Nonetheless, following consultation with Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, the GPO director decided that Israel should not take criminal steps against France 2's reporters or revoke the government journalist certificates that were given to them in Jerusalem.

In his letter to Shurat HaDin, Seaman said he was instructed by the attorney general the treat the matter "on the public-media plane and not on the criminal plane".

Shurat HaDin Chairwoman Nitzana Darshan-Leitner said she did not accept the GPO's position. "Shurat HaDin plans to continue to act in order to bring the truth to light," the chairwoman said.

"Among other things, we plan to petition the High Court of Justice and demand the journalist certificates and other GPO certificates are revoked from all France 2 crew members in Israel – reporters, cameramen, produces, etc – as long as the network does not publicly announce that the al-Dura report was staged and was biased.

"In addition, Shurat HaDin is considering filing a damages claim for the accumulated damage the report has caused, and specifically for the line of attacks and riots it has led to. This modern-day blood libel has led to the death of hundreds of Arabs and Jews and has ignited hatred solely for the purpose of ratings and poor journalism. We will demand that those responsible for this crime pay for their deeds."

Charles Enderlin, the France 2 reporter who is still working in Israel, said in response to this report, "This is not the first time that Seaman makes such allegations against me – it is nonsense. It is pure slander. The video that we filmed is authentic and I stand behind it.

"We plan to show the film in court in France, and I am certain it will end the repeated mudslinging," the French reporter said.

Labels: ,


Continued (Permanent Link)

Civilian deaths in Lebanon - Double Standard

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/civilian-deaths-in-lebanon-double.html

During the recent Lebanon war, Israel was roundly condemned by the United Nations, by Amnesty International and by Human Rights Watch, for killing civilians in Lebanon. Of the approximately 1200 civilians killed, nearly 700 were almost certainly members of the Hezbollah. It is impossible to know how many others were collaborators and helpers, like the men who operated rockets based on orders received by cellphone. Israel protested in vain that it took every precaution to avoid civilian casualties, risking the lives of its own soldiers and conceding strategic advantages by leafleting areas and announcing bombings in advance. The condemnations kept pouring in, regardless of the facts.
From Al-Jazeera, we learn the following, regarding the recent fighting between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam, in the Nahr-el-Bared refugee camp:
More than 400 people have died in the fighting between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam, including at least 222 fighters.
In other words, according to Al-Jazeera, the proportion of civilians killed in the fighting was about the same as, or higher than, the proportion of civilians killed by Israel in the 2006 Lebanon war. Quite strangely, no human rights groups condemned the Lebanese army, and the UN HRC and Security Council are silent as well.
Ami Isseroff

Labels: , ,


Continued (Permanent Link)

TRANSCRIPT: Israeli FM Tzippi Livni Addresses the UN General Assembly

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/transcript-israeli-fm-tzippi-livni.html

This is a worthy  speech that makes me proud to be an Israeli. Unfortunately, Mr Ahmadinejad's speech will get far more publicity

FM LIVNI ADDRESSES UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Israel Government Press Office Monday, 01 October, 2007

United Nations 62nd Session of the General Assembly

ADDRESS

H.E. Tzipi Livni

Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs State of Israel

1 October 2007 New York

Mr. President, Families of the Israeli hostages, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Three thousand years ago, the people of Israel journeyed from slavery in Egypt to independence in the land of Israel.

The Bible tells us that on their voyage to liberty they made a crucial stop: the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai.

As the General Assembly gathers this year, the Jewish people recall that historic journey by marking the festival of Sukkot.

And every year, at this time, our people remember that the long march to freedom requires the acceptance of humanity's basic values.

For sixty years, since the rebirth of our State in our ancient homeland, with Jerusalem at its heart, we have not lost sight of this principle.

The core values of tolerance, co-existence and peace that lie at the heart of every democracy must be protected within societies and promoted between them. This is the calling of our generation.

Mr. President,

The conflict in our region is driven by those who reject these core values - those who seek power without responsibility; those whose aim is not to realize their own rights, but to deny those rights for others.

At its heart, this is a conflict not about territory, but about values.

There is, of course, a territorial dimension to our dispute.

We know this and, as we have proven in the past, we are prepared for the territorial compromise that lasting peace entails.

But we also know- especially after withdrawing from Lebanon and Gaza - that territorial withdrawal by itself will not bring peace unless we address the core clash of values that lies beneath the conflict.

Israel may be on the front lines of this battle, but it is not our fight alone. This is a global battle.

The notion that this battle was a local one - limited to isolated regions - collapsed in this city with the twin towers on a September morning six years ago.

Today it is clear that the extremists are engaged in a bloody war against civilians and communities, against hearts and minds, in every corner of the world.

And it is clear too, that the Middle East conflict is not a cause of this global extremist agenda, but a consequence of it.

Yes, it is up to the parties in the Middle East to settle their political conflict - and Israel, for its part, desires to do so.

But for success to be genuine and lasting, you - the nations of the world - need to be partners in a shared global struggle against the extremism and terror that feed conflict, for your sake not just for ours.

It is in this spirit, that I would like to speak today about resolving our particular conflict, but also about the wider battle being waged today - the battle that affect us all.

This battle is global not just because it targets civilians everywhere, but also because the extremists have taken aim at the fundamental pillars of every modern society: democracy, tolerance and education.

These are the new battlefields of the 21st century, and it is in these arenas, more than any other, that the future of our world will be decided.

Mr. President,

I believe in democracy. I believe in its extraordinary power to produce free and peaceful societies founded on the respect for human rights.

Democracy is a profound ideal, but it is also a vulnerable one.

Today, in different parts of the world, extremists - opposed to the very ideals of democracy - are entering the democratic process not to abandon their violent agenda but to advance it.

As a spokesman for Al Qaeda recently declared "We will use your democracy to destroy your democracy".

This should be a wake up-call for us all.

It is time to reclaim democracy, and this begins by rejecting those who abuse it.

Genuine democracy is about values before it is about voting.

No true democracy on earth allows armed militia, or groups with racist or violent agendas, to participate in elections.

But some demonstrate a troubling double standard.

There are some who insist on high standards in their own country, but forget them when they look abroad. Violent extremists who could never run for office at home, are treated as legitimate politicians when elected elsewhere.

As a result, we empower those who use democratic means to advance anti-democratic ends. And we strengthen the forces of those who not only undermine their societies but threaten our own.

Today, from this podium, I call on the international community to adopt at the global level what democracies apply at the national one - a universal set of standards for participation in genuine democratic elections.

We need a universal democratic code that requires that all those seeking the legitimacy of the democratic process, earn it, by respecting such principles as State monopoly over the lawful use of force, the rejection of racism and violence, and the protection of the rights of others.

The goal of such a universal code is not to dictate our values or to stifle legitimate voices with which we may disagree Its goal is to protect core democratic values from those determined to use the democratic system against itself; and to make clear that participation in the democratic process is not just a right - it is also a responsibility. Mr. President,

I know that the temptation to engage with extremists can be strong. It may seem to promise stability and quiet. We may hope that by feeding the beast we can gradually tame it.

As free societies, we pride ourselves - rightly - on our respect for difference and diversity.

But we do a disservice to diversity when, in its name, we tolerate the intolerant.

Bitter experience has shown that buying off extremists is a short-term fix - for which we will pay dearly in the long run.

Instead, groups such as Hamas and Hizbollah must be presented with a clear choice - between the path of violence and the path of legitimacy. They cannot have both.

And it is this same stark choice that must be presented to the radical regime in Iran.

No responsible state disagrees that Iran is the most prominent sponsor of terrorism. It is a major source of instability and conflict in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and across the entire Middle East and it is the enemy of Arab-Israeli co-existence.

None disagrees that Iran denies the Holocaust and speaks openly of its desire to wipe a member state - mine - off the map.

And none disagrees that, in violation of Security Council resolutions, it is actively pursuing the means to achieve this end.

But there are still those who, in the name of consensus and engagement, continue to obstruct the urgent steps which are needed to bring Iran's sinister ambitions to a halt.

Too many see the danger but walk idly by - hoping that someone else will take care of it.

What is the value, we have to ask, of an organization which is unable to take effective action in the face of a direct assault on the very principles it was founded to protect?

It is time for the United Nations, and the States of the world, to live up to their promise of never again.

To say enough is enough, to act now and to defend their basic values.

It is also time, Mr. President, to see this same kind of moral conviction in the Human Rights Council - so that it can become a shield for the victims of human rights, not a weapon for its abusers.

Israel has never tried to avoid genuine discussion of its human rights record. But so long as the Council maintains its wildly disproportionate focus on Israel, it weakens the UN's moral voice, and the price of this blindness is paid by the victims of human rights atrocities in Darfur and Myanmar and throughout the world.

Mr. President,

There is no more accurate forecast for the future of a society than the lessons it teaches its children.

Unfortunately, in our region, we see children's television programs in which a Mickey Mouse puppet teaches the glory of being a suicide bomber and a seven year old girl sings of her dreams of blood and battle.

Religion, rather than being a source of hope and spiritual healing is abused as a call to arms, as God is dragged once again onto the field of battle.

It is time to reclaim religion from those who have made it a weapon rather than a shelter. It is time to reclaim education from those who use it as a tool of hate, rather than of opportunity.

As always, the most powerful form of education - and the hardest - is to teach by example.

We cannot expect our younger generation to value what we are not prepared ourselves to protect and pay a price for. And there is a price to pay.

From the leader who has to withstand public pressures. From the businessman who has to forgo economic opportunity. From the teacher and spiritual guide who must find the inner strength to teach truth and tolerance in a climate of extremism and hostility.

At all levels of society, there is a price to be paid. But if we do not pay it today, we, and those who follow us, will face a far greater bill tomorrow.

Mr. President,

These thoughts are in my mind as we seek today to advance the cause of Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation.

Reconciliation is not about deciding who was right or wrong in the past - it is about sharing a common vision and a common responsibility for the future.

In the last months, Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas have been engaged in a sincere and genuine effort to reach the widest possible common ground on political understandings.

There is no substitute for the bilateral process. Failure is not an option - but it is for the parties themselves to define success.

The foundation for true peace lies in the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The world shares this vision, but it is also important that it clearly embraces the two core principles that emerge from it.

The first - two States, two homelands - just as Israel is homeland to the Jewish people, so Palestine will be established as the homeland and the national answer for the Palestinian people, including the refugees.

The second - living side by side in peace and security - just as a viable and prosperous Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza is an Israeli interest, so a secure Israel must be a Palestinian interest. The world cannot afford another terror State.

Guided by these principles, the parties can define a common border and turn the two State vision from a dream into a reality.

To succeed, we must set our sights on a brighter future, while responding to the challenges of the present and learning the lessons of the past.

As we make progress on concrete political understandings, it is just as important to change reality on the ground - to show Palestinians and Israelis that the promise of peace exists in practice, not just on paper.

In recent months, Israel has taken tangible measures to create a better environment, and we are ready to do more.

We know that Palestinian life is full of day to day hardship. We know also - only too well - of the burden of terror Israelis bear, and of our primary obligation to their security. Together, we can change this reality - we do not need to submit to it.

We are not naive. We can see the difficulties ahead and the enemies of peace that stand in our way. But practical progress is possible in those areas where there is an effective Palestinian government that accepts the Quartet principles and implements, alongside Israel, existing Road Map obligations.

As the parties take the risks for peace, we look to the international community and the Arab and Muslim world, to offer support, not to stipulate conditions.

This support comes in many forms.

It comes through economic and political assistance to the new Palestinian government, committed to co-existence and seeking to build the foundations of a peaceful and prosperous State.

It comes through clear endorsement of any political understandings reached between the parties.

It comes through enhancing and deepening regional ties and cooperation between the Arab world and Israel, while in parallel we make advancement towards Israeli-Palestinian peace.

And, finally, it comes by confronting those determined to prevent us from succeeding.

We must stand up to those who have no respect for human life or human liberty - those who hold the captive soldiers Gilad Schalit, Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev - whose families are with us here today, and whose pain remains always in our hearts.

We must stand up to those who, after we withdrew from Gaza to give a chance for peace, chose not to build but to destroy, and choose - on a daily basis - to target Israeli homes and kindergartens with their missiles.

And we must stand up to those who see democracy as a tool to advance hate, who see tolerance as a one-way street, and who see education as a means to poison the minds of the next generation.

Ladies and Gentleman, I believe that, despite all the obstacles, there is a new moment of opportunity, and an alliance of interest that favors peace.

Time is of the essence. We owe it to ourselves and to our children to find both the courage and the wisdom to make the right choices in the right way.

Mr. President,

On this festival of Sukkot, Jews commemorate the journey from slavery to freedom by leaving their homes to live in fragile huts, like the shelters our ancestors lived in on their way to the Promised Land.

For three thousand years these temporary huts - open to the elements - have been a reminder that stability and security are ensured not only by the structures that we build but also by the values that we share.

Perhaps it is for this reason that the Sukkah, this fragile shelter, has become the Jewish symbol of peace.

As we turn to Jerusalem and say in our prayers every day:

Spread over us the tabernacle of your peace.

May it be in our days, and for all nations. Amen.

FM LIVNI ADDRESSES UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY Israel Government Press Office Monday, 01 October, 2007 http://israel-un.mfa.gov.il/mfm/Data/123377.doc

_____________________

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ____________________

United Nations 62nd Session of the General Assembly

ADDRESS

H.E. Tzipi Livni

Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs State of Israel

1 October 2007 New York

Mr. President, Families of the Israeli hostages, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Three thousand years ago, the people of Israel journeyed from slavery in Egypt to independence in the land of Israel.

The Bible tells us that on their voyage to liberty they made a crucial stop: the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai.

As the General Assembly gathers this year, the Jewish people recall that historic journey by marking the festival of Sukkot.

And every year, at this time, our people remember that the long march to freedom requires the acceptance of humanity's basic values.

For sixty years, since the rebirth of our State in our ancient homeland, with Jerusalem at its heart, we have not lost sight of this principle.

The core values of tolerance, co-existence and peace that lie at the heart of every democracy must be protected within societies and promoted between them. This is the calling of our generation.

Mr. President,

The conflict in our region is driven by those who reject these core values - those who seek power without responsibility; those whose aim is not to realize their own rights, but to deny those rights for others.

At its heart, this is a conflict not about territory, but about values.

There is, of course, a territorial dimension to our dispute.

We know this and, as we have proven in the past, we are prepared for the territorial compromise that lasting peace entails.

But we also know- especially after withdrawing from Lebanon and Gaza - that territorial withdrawal by itself will not bring peace unless we address the core clash of values that lies beneath the conflict.

Israel may be on the front lines of this battle, but it is not our fight alone. This is a global battle.

The notion that this battle was a local one - limited to isolated regions - collapsed in this city with the twin towers on a September morning six years ago.

Today it is clear that the extremists are engaged in a bloody war against civilians and communities, against hearts and minds, in every corner of the world.

And it is clear too, that the Middle East conflict is not a cause of this global extremist agenda, but a consequence of it.

Yes, it is up to the parties in the Middle East to settle their political conflict - and Israel, for its part, desires to do so.

But for success to be genuine and lasting, you - the nations of the world - need to be partners in a shared global struggle against the extremism and terror that feed conflict, for your sake not just for ours.

It is in this spirit, that I would like to speak today about resolving our particular conflict, but also about the wider battle being waged today - the battle that affect us all.

This battle is global not just because it targets civilians everywhere, but also because the extremists have taken aim at the fundamental pillars of every modern society: democracy, tolerance and education.

These are the new battlefields of the 21st century, and it is in these arenas, more than any other, that the future of our world will be decided.

Mr. President,

I believe in democracy. I believe in its extraordinary power to produce free and peaceful societies founded on the respect for human rights.

Democracy is a profound ideal, but it is also a vulnerable one.

Today, in different parts of the world, extremists - opposed to the very ideals of democracy - are entering the democratic process not to abandon their violent agenda but to advance it.

As a spokesman for Al Qaeda recently declared "We will use your democracy to destroy your democracy".

This should be a wake up-call for us all.

It is time to reclaim democracy, and this begins by rejecting those who abuse it.

Genuine democracy is about values before it is about voting.

No true democracy on earth allows armed militia, or groups with racist or violent agendas, to participate in elections.

But some demonstrate a troubling double standard.

There are some who insist on high standards in their own country, but forget them when they look abroad. Violent extremists who could never run for office at home, are treated as legitimate politicians when elected elsewhere.

As a result, we empower those who use democratic means to advance anti-democratic ends. And we strengthen the forces of those who not only undermine their societies but threaten our own.

Today, from this podium, I call on the international community to adopt at the global level what democracies apply at the national one - a universal set of standards for participation in genuine democratic elections.

We need a universal democratic code that requires that all those seeking the legitimacy of the democratic process, earn it, by respecting such principles as State monopoly over the lawful use of force, the rejection of racism and violence, and the protection of the rights of others.

The goal of such a universal code is not to dictate our values or to stifle legitimate voices with which we may disagree Its goal is to protect core democratic values from those determined to use the democratic system against itself; and to make clear that participation in the democratic process is not just a right - it is also a responsibility. Mr. President,

I know that the temptation to engage with extremists can be strong. It may seem to promise stability and quiet. We may hope that by feeding the beast we can gradually tame it.

As free societies, we pride ourselves - rightly - on our respect for difference and diversity.

But we do a disservice to diversity when, in its name, we tolerate the intolerant.

Bitter experience has shown that buying off extremists is a short-term fix - for which we will pay dearly in the long run.

Instead, groups such as Hamas and Hizbollah must be presented with a clear choice - between the path of violence and the path of legitimacy. They cannot have both.

And it is this same stark choice that must be presented to the radical regime in Iran.

No responsible state disagrees that Iran is the most prominent sponsor of terrorism. It is a major source of instability and conflict in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and across the entire Middle East and it is the enemy of Arab-Israeli co-existence.

None disagrees that Iran denies the Holocaust and speaks openly of its desire to wipe a member state - mine - off the map.

And none disagrees that, in violation of Security Council resolutions, it is actively pursuing the means to achieve this end.

But there are still those who, in the name of consensus and engagement, continue to obstruct the urgent steps which are needed to bring Iran's sinister ambitions to a halt.

Too many see the danger but walk idly by - hoping that someone else will take care of it.

What is the value, we have to ask, of an organization which is unable to take effective action in the face of a direct assault on the very principles it was founded to protect?

It is time for the United Nations, and the States of the world, to live up to their promise of never again.

To say enough is enough, to act now and to defend their basic values.

It is also time, Mr. President, to see this same kind of moral conviction in the Human Rights Council - so that it can become a shield for the victims of human rights, not a weapon for its abusers.

Israel has never tried to avoid genuine discussion of its human rights record. But so long as the Council maintains its wildly disproportionate focus on Israel, it weakens the UN's moral voice, and the price of this blindness is paid by the victims of human rights atrocities in Darfur and Myanmar and throughout the world.

Mr. President,

There is no more accurate forecast for the future of a society than the lessons it teaches its children.

Unfortunately, in our region, we see children's television programs in which a Mickey Mouse puppet teaches the glory of being a suicide bomber and a seven year old girl sings of her dreams of blood and battle.

Religion, rather than being a source of hope and spiritual healing is abused as a call to arms, as God is dragged once again onto the field of battle.

It is time to reclaim religion from those who have made it a weapon rather than a shelter. It is time to reclaim education from those who use it as a tool of hate, rather than of opportunity.

As always, the most powerful form of education - and the hardest - is to teach by example.

We cannot expect our younger generation to value what we are not prepared ourselves to protect and pay a price for. And there is a price to pay.

From the leader who has to withstand public pressures. From the businessman who has to forgo economic opportunity. From the teacher and spiritual guide who must find the inner strength to teach truth and tolerance in a climate of extremism and hostility.

At all levels of society, there is a price to be paid. But if we do not pay it today, we, and those who follow us, will face a far greater bill tomorrow.

Mr. President,

These thoughts are in my mind as we seek today to advance the cause of Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation.

Reconciliation is not about deciding who was right or wrong in the past - it is about sharing a common vision and a common responsibility for the future.

In the last months, Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas have been engaged in a sincere and genuine effort to reach the widest possible common ground on political understandings.

There is no substitute for the bilateral process. Failure is not an option - but it is for the parties themselves to define success.

The foundation for true peace lies in the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The world shares this vision, but it is also important that it clearly embraces the two core principles that emerge from it.

The first - two States, two homelands - just as Israel is homeland to the Jewish people, so Palestine will be established as the homeland and the national answer for the Palestinian people, including the refugees.

The second - living side by side in peace and security - just as a viable and prosperous Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza is an Israeli interest, so a secure Israel must be a Palestinian interest. The world cannot afford another terror State.

Guided by these principles, the parties can define a common border and turn the two State vision from a dream into a reality.

To succeed, we must set our sights on a brighter future, while responding to the challenges of the present and learning the lessons of the past.

As we make progress on concrete political understandings, it is just as important to change reality on the ground - to show Palestinians and Israelis that the promise of peace exists in practice, not just on paper.

In recent months, Israel has taken tangible measures to create a better environment, and we are ready to do more.

We know that Palestinian life is full of day to day hardship. We know also - only too well - of the burden of terror Israelis bear, and of our primary obligation to their security. Together, we can change this reality - we do not need to submit to it.

We are not naive. We can see the difficulties ahead and the enemies of peace that stand in our way. But practical progress is possible in those areas where there is an effective Palestinian government that accepts the Quartet principles and implements, alongside Israel, existing Road Map obligations.

As the parties take the risks for peace, we look to the international community and the Arab and Muslim world, to offer support, not to stipulate conditions.

This support comes in many forms.

It comes through economic and political assistance to the new Palestinian government, committed to co-existence and seeking to build the foundations of a peaceful and prosperous State.

It comes through clear endorsement of any political understandings reached between the parties.

It comes through enhancing and deepening regional ties and cooperation between the Arab world and Israel, while in parallel we make advancement towards Israeli-Palestinian peace.

And, finally, it comes by confronting those determined to prevent us from succeeding.

We must stand up to those who have no respect for human life or human liberty - those who hold the captive soldiers Gilad Schalit, Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev - whose families are with us here today, and whose pain remains always in our hearts.

We must stand up to those who, after we withdrew from Gaza to give a chance for peace, chose not to build but to destroy, and choose - on a daily basis - to target Israeli homes and kindergartens with their missiles.

And we must stand up to those who see democracy as a tool to advance hate, who see tolerance as a one-way street, and who see education as a means to poison the minds of the next generation.

Ladies and Gentleman, I believe that, despite all the obstacles, there is a new moment of opportunity, and an alliance of interest that favors peace.

Time is of the essence. We owe it to ourselves and to our children to find both the courage and the wisdom to make the right choices in the right way.

Mr. President,

On this festival of Sukkot, Jews commemorate the journey from slavery to freedom by leaving their homes to live in fragile huts, like the shelters our ancestors lived in on their way to the Promised Land.

For three thousand years these temporary huts - open to the elements - have been a reminder that stability and security are ensured not only by the structures that we build but also by the values that we share.

Perhaps it is for this reason that the Sukkah, this fragile shelter, has become the Jewish symbol of peace.

As we turn to Jerusalem and say in our prayers every day:

Spread over us the tabernacle of your peace.

May it be in our days, and for all nations. Amen.

 

 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Life in Gaza - a paradise for liberals and women

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/life-in-gaza-paradise-for-liberals-and.html

Those who support the Hamas as the "democratically elected" government of the Palestinians, will surely be glad to read how life is improving there, especially in the direction of discipline and modesty for women.


Marie Colvin (The Times [UK])

A radical Islamist state has emerged from the smoking ruins of Gaza, threatening a new war with nearby Israel. Marie Colvin ventures into the lair of the Hamas extremists imposing their hardline doctrine on Palestinians trapped there.

Hamas wants you to believe it has created a benevolent sanctuary where once chaos reigned. At the beginning of the journey into Gaza it's easy to believe that things are better.
There is no longer a Palestinian immigration desk after the long walk from the air-conditioned Erez terminal on the Israeli side, past concrete blast walls, and down a dusty track in the furnace heat.
But further down the road, Hamas gunmen have taken over the checkpoints. They are polite and well turned out in blue camouflage trousers, clean black T-shirts, shiny black boots.

Once hostile, they now smile at returning foreigners who fled after the kidnapping of Alan Johnston, the BBC reporter, and the savage bloodletting between the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) forces and Hamas in June that left the fundamentalist party in absolute power.
So does everyone else in Gaza. It's like hearing the first songbird of spring. The welcome starts in the taxi. "Gaza is safe now. We have security, praise be to God," says Munir, my driver for years, who always in the past shook his head and
moaned about how terrible everything was.

It's the same at the Al Deira hotel, mostly empty, where once aid workers, diplomats, journalists and sophisticated Gazans mixed on the terrace overlooking the Mediterranean. "Everything is safe now. You are welcome," says Amir at the front desk.
For the first time on a trip to Gaza, I was stopped going the wrong way down a one-way street, by one of the young Hamas volunteers in yellow vests now standing up to drivers in a culture that considers a red light to be a mere suggestion to slow down.

The rubbish still smells, but now it is piled neatly in the streets. Families stroll late at night. Gone is the gunfire that used to punctuate days and nights and often escalated into street battles that left innocents dead on the pavements.
Then you start talking to people - in private.

Young men show you bruised limbs and welts on their feet; every girl wears a hijab head covering and, for the first time, women wear niqab - Saudi-style face coverings that reveal only the eyes. And people whisper.
Welcome to Hamastan.

Ahmed Al-Naba'at, 24, sits in his courtyard in an oversized Barcelona shirt. He looks too young to be the father of the three young children who toddle barefoot round the tiny dirt courtyard.
His feet still hurt. Hamas came for him at 2am.

About 30 armed men, their faces masked but wearing the black uniforms and badges of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigade, the military wing of Hamas, had surrounded the house. They covered his eyes and took him away in a car.
"They took me somewhere, I don't know, a room," Naba'at says. He has high cheekbones and the near-black skin of his Sudanese ancestry. "They were screaming and beating me, punching me, slapping me on the face," he says. "Then they tied my legs together and started falaka" - a traditional Arabic torture where the soles of the feet are beaten with sticks. "I relaxed."

He sees the surprise in my face. "I thought they were going to kill me," he explains.
"When I realised it's just falaka, I thought, okay, it's just torture."
Qassam dumped him near his home, hours later. It took him half an hour to walk what usually takes two minutes. "You were lucky," interjects his unsympathetic father, who is sitting against a courtyard wall. "Most of the people they beat, they throw them unconscious in the street and they are not found until the morning."

His crime? Earlier that night at a party for a friend's wedding, Naba'at had danced and played a song popular in Gaza - an over-romanticised ballad to Samih al-Madhoun, a Fatah commander executed by Hamas during the fighting. Hamas cameramen had filmed as Madhoun was dragged down the street amid spitting crowds, shot in the stomach, beaten and shot some more. It was shown on Hamas television that night.

The overblown ballad of his death - "Your blood is not for free Samih/You left behind an earthquake/We will not forget you Samih" - is such a Gazan hit that many young people have it on their mobile phones. Hamas, predictably, is furious. Three of Al-Naba'at's friends who had danced at the wedding were also beaten.

Al-Naba'at, who left school at 14 and worked as a farm labourer and painter, has little recourse. He is too afraid to sleep at home any more. His father is clearly exasperated - like many of the older generation, he thinks his sons should shut up. He points to another son, 17-year-old Mustafa. Hamas came after him when he burnt a Hamas flag: they arrested his father and twin brother until he gave himself up.

Hamas is not just going after the poor. Azil Akhras is a sophisticated 24-year-old woman with heavily kohled eyes, thick, flowing black hair and rouged lips, comfortable in her jeans and tight red shirt. Life used to be shopping, going out - maybe to Roots, a popular Gaza nightclub even though it now serves only soft drinks - and going to the beach. Her life changed dramatically three months ago when Hamas took over Gaza.

"Now, I cover my head when I go in a car. Hamas is at the checkpoints. Last week, they stopped a girl who was not covered and they beat her brother when he tried to protect her."

She and her sister must be careful; they are alone. Their father, a former government health minister, has fled Gaza to escape Hamas. He has holed up in Ramallah, the West Bank capital, and is unable to return.
It's not just shopping trips she misses. A university graduate, Akhras had wanted to sit her master's degree; she wanted to travel. "I had an idea, I wanted to be famous in history. Maybe a journalist," she says. "Now, there's no chance, I can't even go outside." She resents Hamas's repression. "If I decide to cover [my head], it will be for my God, not some Qassam soldier."

Gazans are living in a climate of fear. The place is eerily serene, not only because of the presence of disciplined Hamas security forces on the streets but, as in all successful police states, because everyone has started policing themselves, afraid of the consequences of stepping over a line not defined in formal law.
Hamas took power after five days of vicious, internecine fighting with the security forces of the PNA, who mostly belong to the rival Fatah organisation co-founded by Yasser Arafat, the late president.

Tension had escalated into clashes between the secular Fatah, who governed for a decade and whose members stack the civil service and security forces, and Hamas, after the religious party won national elections in March 2006.
The differences were exacerbated by Gaza's isolation. The international community cut funds to the Palestinian government after the Hamas election victory. Israel blocked the millions in tax revenue it was supposed to pass on for imports, and closed the borders intermittently. The economy went into freefall.

A national unity government formed in February failed to end the confrontation. But the speed of the coup in Gaza was shocking.

Hamas fielded only about 7,000 members of the Executive Force, its police force, which was backed by the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigade, the military wing of the party, against the 70,000-strong government forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

There are many reasons for the swift collapse: the government security forces hadn't been paid for 18 months and were demoralised by the corruption of their own leaders. Their commanders fled, and many foot soldiers found that their guns were locked in storage. Hamas was better armed, better trained, and fought with the single-mindedness of those with a cause.

It was the worst ever clash among Palestinians: 110 died, and the population is still shocked by the brother-on-brother nature of the battle. Today there is a deadlock, and essentially two Palestinian governments. Abbas fired the Hamas-led coalition government and named a new emergency cabinet, but its powers run only in the West Bank. Hamas ministers refused to step down.

By Palestinian law, the government must be renewed by the parliament, but Hamas dominates the legislature and, anyway, it lacks a quorum: about one-third of its members are in Israeli jails for belonging to Hamas.
The evidence of the ferocity of the fighting can be seen across Gaza City. The headquarters of the Preventive Security Service, the PNA's main security force, was the last stronghold. Now occupied by the Executive Force, there are gaping holes in the walls from bullets and rockets.

Abbas's presidential house is guarded by Hamas police who brew tea under new posters of Hamas members killed in the fighting. They shake their heads at the marble floors and luxurious furnishings, contrasting it with the home of Ismail Haniya, the Hamas prime minister, who lives in the al-Shati refugee camp.

At the Muntada, the Palestinian version of the White House, Hamas fighters stroll the corridors, and dust gathers on Abbas's rosewood desk, where Arafat once sat.

Hamas is extending its control. Nobody is safe if the example of Ashraf Juma, one of their more articulate opponents, is anything to go by. Juma is a senior member of Fatah, who refused to leave his home or office in Rafah, Gaza's southernmost city on Egypt's border. He is one of the most popular politicians in Gaza: when Hamas won the election, sweeping Gaza, he was one of the few elected from the Fatah list.

He was leader of the al-Aqsa hawks during the first intifada (uprising), and hands out money from his own pocket to the needy of both Fatah and Hamas (these days it's from his brother's, a wealthy businessman). His latest project is to find £5,000 for school uniforms for poor children.

None of it was any protection from Hamas. It began on the internet. Juma was criticised on the official Hamas website for supposedly sending Abbas the names of people whose salaries should be cut because they were Hamas members.

Then critical leaflets were distributed in the local mosque. "Someone called from Hamas and said, 'Leave your office. This is a preparation for an attack on you,' " he says, sitting at home in a white short-sleeved shirt, dark trousers and sandals.

The next day, as he and his office staff finished evening prayers, blue police cars pulled up, disgorging men in the uniform of the Executive Force. They also wore black masks.

As he opened the door, he saw his secretary, Osama, trying to fend them off with a table. The gunmen began screaming and shot Osama in the thigh. They started beating him in the hallway before running off . "You were my sons. I served you," he shouted after them.

Juma shakes his balding head, and describes how the situation turned almost farcical. As word spread that he had been attacked, hundreds of people poured into Shifa hospital and packed the emergency room and courtyard.

"There were so many people, the doctors couldn't work properly. Look, they put stitches in wrong," he says, ducking his head to show newly healed scars. The crowds carried him out of the hospital before the doctors had finished, afraid that Hamas would return, and grabbed Osama from the operating room before his broken hand and gunshot wound were treated.

They almost killed their hero. Juma fell unconscious, Osama writhed in pain. Hundreds poured into the streets, denouncing the Executive Force. A doctor finally came and treated both of them at home.

It was a night of terror for many. Ismael, 29, an English teacher for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, sits in the front room of the house he had just painted for a marriage that now will never happen.

"My last hours before they came were happy," recalls Ismael, who doesn't want his last name used because Hamas threatened to kill him if he told the story.

"I had just gotten engaged and I spent from 7.30pm to 11pm talking with my friends about what we would do for the celebrations," he says.

Suddenly, his house was surrounded by armed men in black with Qassam Brigade emblems. "One tried to hit me with a stick, and I said, 'What are you doing? I have done nothing.' "

They took him first to the Sayed Sayel Executive Force post. "They put me against a wall and started shouting, 'Have you been to a demonstration?' he says. "They became hysterical, shouting, 'You have been making riots here,' beating me with sticks, metal bars, stones."

His ordeal had just begun. "They said, 'What about the orphans?' " Ismael supports two orphans, Allah, who is nine and needs an eye operation, and Dina, who is 11, while trying to get them medical help through an American charity. Hamas said he should have no contact with foreigners.

They beat Ismael for an hour and a half, moving him at one point during the night to Idara Madaneh, the civil administration building in Jabaliya camp. He was blindfolded, but two young teenagers who had been taken in ran to him, screaming "Teacher! Teacher!", probably recognising him from school.

"Then Hamas started beating me on the arm I was using to try to protect the children," he says.
He was finally released at 4am with a warning not to talk, and not to go to a hospital. A doctor friend came round and treated him secretly.

Photographs from the June beating show welts on his back, ferocious bruises on his left arm, and a swollen right arm and elbow. He won't show me his legs out of modesty, but says they were black, and his knees are still not right.

But that was not the worst. His fiancée's family heard of the incident and believed he was a political activist against Hamas, which would endanger her future. Her father revoked his permission to marry and he has not spoken to his fiancée, a fellow teacher, since then. "My sister tells me she is crying and crying," Ismael says. Can't they marry when things calm down? "No chance. This is our tradition." For the first time in a long story, he brushes away a tear.

"Most of the educated people here feel they are living in a country that doesn't belong to them," he says when he recovers.

Hamas is not triumphalist in its takeover, as was the first prophet of militant Islam, Ayatollah Khomeini, who immediately set himself up against the West and all who didn't want to follow his unforgiving brand of Islam.

But then he had oil, 50m people, an army, air force and navy, and control of his own borders. Hamas is isolated and depends on international aid, with little but farming, fishing and a hostile neighbour that controls its borders, sea and skies.

This heavily armed statelet is squeezed between Israel's southern border and Egypt's northern border, separated by a chunk of Israel from the West Bank, the bigger, richer other half of the Palestinian "state".

The West Bank is still occupied by Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers: they withdrew from Gaza two years ago, but still control the borders and ban all air and sea traffic, except for tiny wooden fishing boats allowed to go out six miles.

Since the Hamas takeover in June, Israel has not opened the main crossing points for even a day, and the economy has collapsed. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) estimates unemployment at 80% among the 1.4m inhabitants. There are no exports; a trickle of food bought by private Palestinian merchants from their Israeli counterparts is allowed across at the tiny Sufa crossing. It must be one of the strangest commercial dealings in the world. The Israeli army moves in pallets from about 100 trucks a day, shooting at anyone who approaches before they withdraw behind the fence; then there is a bizarre Mad Max-style race by forklifts to get the merchandise left in the no-man's-land.

In three months, an estimated 70,000 jobs have been lost in the construction industry alone. UNRWA has had to stop £47m in projects funded by donors - apartments for those whose homes were destroyed by Israeli fire, oxidation projects for Gaza's overflowing sewage-treatment plants. Everyone is desperate. "This place is a powder keg waiting to explode," said John Ging, UNRWA's Gaza director.

Instead of the open defiance of Khomeini's Iran, Hamas has developed a parallel system: show a reasonable face to the world in the hope of ending Gaza's isolation, while enforcing the unforgiving law of the state of Hamastan at home.

Ismail Haniya, the silver-haired Hamas prime minister, could be a poster boy for moderate Islam. When I see him, he is sitting with Arab journalists, and gently lecturing them like the professor he once was. Aware he stands little chance with the West, he is seeking Arab support.

He tells them that negotiations are possible under certain conditions with Mahmoud Abbas, who is welcome to come back to Gaza. No women will be forced to wear the hijab - that is a personal choice. Well, of course there can be no negotiations with Israel, although that could happen if they recognise Palestinian rights.

There is duplicity even in the detail, however: Haniya may say that women are free not to cover their heads, but before I go to his office an aide calls to tell me to be sure to wear a headscarf.

And recognising Palestinian rights is Hamas-speak for "We want all of the land of mandate Palestine, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River," a maximalist position that ignores the fact that most Palestinians have moved on from 1948 to accept the existence of Israel, and would settle for a two-state solution. Negotiations are moribund, but Fatah-led governments have signed agreements with Israel recognising the reality that two states is the only solution.

Haniya may be the smooth-talking Hamas frontman but he lacks real power. A former professor of religion, he was a compromise choice fielded by Khaled Mesha'al, the exiled Hamas leader based in Damascus. "When we were negotiating, whenever a difficult point came up, Haniya had to leave the room to call Mesha'al," one of Abbas's top lieutenants said.

The real power lies with Mahmoud Zahar, who is in the strange position of being a foreign minister who can't travel from Gaza (Israel has closed the borders even to government officials).

A militant once expelled by Israel, he was expected to be prime minister after the Hamas victory, but Mesha'al apparently considered him too radical, and more of a threat than Haniya.

Sitting on a couch in the foreign ministry damaged in an Israeli bombing, he is scathing about Abbas. "[He] committed big crimes against the law, against human interest." Zahar is dressed in a light-grey safari suit, his beard neatly trimmed, his shoes polished. He exudes confidence and scorns any need for Hamas to reach out for a compromise. "Abbas is acting as an agent of America and Israel."

The power that stretches beyond his title peeps out. "We have information that Fatah are organising themselves into cells," he says. "We will find them and we will crush them."

There is no sense of urgency in finding a solution to the desperate need of the average Gazan with a large family and no work.

"We are not in a hurry. Palestinians are used to being under siege. I believe sooner or later the West will change its mind," he says calmly.

Again, during the interview, his power beyond that of the average diplomat is revealed when he takes a phone call about the siege of the powerful Dagmoush clan, the kidnappers of Alan Johnston, the BBC journalist. Earlier in the week the clan killed two Hamas policemen.

"Tell them that by 10pm we will go in if they have not agreed. We will enter their houses one by one."

Across town that very siege is under way. Hamas has again surrounded the Dagmoush neighbourhood as they did to get Johnston back. They have cut off the water and electricity.

Few in Gaza have any sympathy for the Dagmoushes. One of the leaders of the clan and Johnston's main kidnapper, Mumtaz Dagmoush spouts extremist Al-Qaeda rhetoric, but his so-called Army of Islam has about 20 members and is better known for theft, gun smuggling and kidnapping. Fatah let Gaza's powerful families run wild, sometimes using them against Hamas.

Hamas has taken them on. Breaking the Dagmoushes is crucial to consolidating power.
The discipline of Hamas on the front line of the siege of the concrete-block houses in the neighbourhood is in contrast to Fatah's members who won't talk until they get word from a commander over the walkie-talkie. Once allowed to talk, Abu Yehia, the local commander, doesn't have much to say. "We are imposing law and order. This is our duty. Islam tells us that."

Hamas is demanding that the Dagmoushes surrender the guilty members of the family, and give back stolen weapons.

That night, the family does surrender, led by Mumtaz Dagmoush. He is double the size of the average Gazan, tall, broad-shouldered, with a shaggy dark beard and wild hair. He and his entourage screech their pick-up trucks into the Preventive Security compound, jump out waving guns and, seeing me, starts waving his M16, shouting: "Get this journalist out of here!" With both sides jostling and shoving, for moments it seems there will be a shoot-out.

Dagmoush finally hands over bags of guns, then marches with his bodyguard into the darkened police headquarters and starts pounding on the commander's door, shouting: "I gave you my weapons, let me in there."

The M16 is in the air again, 50 men all shoving with guns and elbows, and shouting.
Eventually, he calms down and half an hour later is talking to Abu Dahab, the Hamas commander.
Dagmoush tells me, "We've just had an English guest staying with us for a while," referring to Alan Johnston, the kidnapped journalist. I asked him why he kidnaps, and if his activities other than kidnapping will be affected under Hamas. He shrugs: "Business is business," he says.

Now that Hamas has solidified power, they are putting in place their system of keeping it. One part of this is a new "ladies unit", reminiscent of the one in Iran where fierce, make-up-free women drag other women out of cars and away for re-education. Ominously, Hamas have failed so far to set up a court system, so cases are being heard by an Islamic judge.

The one thriving industry is the arms industry. I visit a Qassam area leader in Yibne camp in southern Gaza who has been "cooking" for three days - making the explosive mixture that goes in the rockets they fire into Israel.

He takes me to one of the many armouries they have and shows me the extraordinary range of weapons they manufacture locally, mostly in underground factories. What they can't make, they smuggle through tunnels from Egypt.

The armoury is in a small, concrete block house, indistinguishable from its neighbours in the squalid maze of the camp. The home-made weapons I see include foot-wide land mines, tank-busting missiles, guns, rocket-propelled grenades, all stored amid the clutter of a bedroom with flowers on the shelf above the bed and a teddy bear lying belly-up on the floor.

He is nervous while we are there - the Israelis target such places if they get information from collaborators, but he opens up when we go to another house for tea, although he won't give his name. He is unconcerned about his outside image, and this is the true voice of Hamas.

"Of course we will create an Islamic state. This is called for in the Holy Koran," he says. What would that mean, I ask him.

Well, for one, sharia law. "For a murder, death, not this life sentence there is now. A thief should have his hand cut off. An adulteress must be stoned," he says, in a chillingly nonchalant voice.
"There is no possibility of recognising Israel," he says. "All the land is ours. We are taught this by our leaders and they will never compromise."

His certitude comes from how Hamas recruits. It gets them young; my informant started at 14. Only when he proved himself "mentally and spiritually" was he allowed to join Qassam and receive military training.

And not all girls are like Azil Akhras. Gehad Nehan, 19, is studying law at the Hamas-dominated Islamic University in Gaza. She wears glasses, a hijab, and is covered in a navy-blue robe down to her thick black shoes. "Hamas has taken over the police stations and now the life is good."

She insists women are equal, but as she talks, a different reality is revealed. At the university, she says, "the boys say woman is weak, her work must be in the home. I say this is wrong".

Even getting to study was a struggle. "My father hits me and he punishes me and says I should not go to the university. It's difficult."

But despite having described Hamastan as virtually a perfect state, she has the yearning of all here to leave. "I want to travel all over the world and see people and how they live."

Those who have already travelled are the most angry at Hamas.

One restaurant owner begins by extolling Hamas for improving security. He sits at a banquette in his eatery in a yellow polo shirt. Christmas streamers still hang from the ceiling, and Whitney Houston is on the soundtrack.

"And they cancelled all family connections," he adds. "Before, if someone was connected to the government, they could eat and just not pay.

"But they are not the future for the Palestinian people," he insists. "We need a government that can deal with the international community." Despite growing dissatisfaction such as his, there is little sign that the green flags of Hamastan will be coming down any time soon.

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A new approach for Zionism?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/new-approachl-for-zionism.html

Headline:
Firing Up The Unaffiliated

Can this be the way to get young Jewish people interested in Israel and Judaism?


What it is about...

How a small Israel advocacy group is having a big impact on secular Jewish twenty-somethings.
Jewish Week

Gary Rosenblatt - Editor And Publisher


Alexa Silverman, a 20-year-old student at Hofstra University, describes herself as a secular Jew who "had a problem with the way Judaism was taught" when she was young.

Benjamin Turk, 27 and working in sales, was raised Reform and was a counselor at a Zionist summer camp, but says that even then he was "skeptical" about Israel and its actions.

Katherina (Katt) Guttman, 28, with a career in fitness management, grew up in Staten Island, where she was "always proud to be Jewish but didn't know why."

For the American Jewish community, the quest to reach people like Silverman, Turk and Guttman — young adults who are unaffiliated or on the margins when it comes to identifying with Israel, Judaism and communal activities — has become the modern-day Impossible Dream. Every synagogue, federation and Jewish organization wants them. But most young people just aren't interested — or worse.

"In sharp contrast to their parents and grandparents, non-Orthodox younger Jews, on the whole, feel much less attached to Israel than their elders," noted sociologists Steven M. Cohen and Ari Y. Kelman in a new study called "Beyond Distancing: Young Adult American Jews and Their Alienation From Israel." What's more, the authors conclude that "mounting indifference to Israel" has grown into "genuine alienation" for many young Jews who "profess a near-total absence of any positive feelings about Israel."

More than half of those under 35 surveyed did not agree with the statement that "Israel's destruction would be a personal tragedy."

All the more reason why our community should be paying more attention to a little-known success story, a low-budget, nonprofit group based in New York called Fuel For Truth (www.fuelfortruth.org), which has made impressive strides in making pro-Israel advocates and activists out of primarily secular, disaffected Jews between the ages of 18 and 34.

Among its most fervent volunteers are Silverman and Turk, who spend hours each week recruiting new members or planning events. And Guttman left her job last year to work full time as Fuel For Truth's director of operations.

What's the secret formula? No magic, say the group's leaders, but rather an emphasis on creating a strong social network built on volunteerism, seeking leadership types with good communication and organizational skills, and instilling in them a passion for the Zionist cause.

9/11 Impetus

Fuel For Truth was founded six years ago by Jonathan Loew, now 36, and about a dozen friends, all secular, who were upset at the negative media portrayal of Israel during the second intifada. They had been talking about starting a group to educate their peers about Israel, but the 9/11 attack gave them the sense of urgency to move forward.

"We realized the clear connection between the enemies of the U.S. and of Israel," said Loew, an investment banker with a background in media, "and we accelerated our planning."

Group members started visiting college campuses in the Northeast, looking for students who were popular socially, and asked them to help plan a social event on campus that mixed music and alcohol with small doses of "basic information" about the Mideast conflict, beginning with the notion that Israel is a democracy that has been rebuffed repeatedly in its efforts to make peace with its Arab neighbors.

The organizers were amazed at how little the Jewish students knew about Israel or Judaism.

"We asked them how many Jews there were in the world, where the word Jew comes from, where Israel is on the map," recalled Loew, "and they just didn't know. It was really sad when they would tell us, `I just learned more in 15 minutes about Israel and Judaism than what I've learned in my whole life.'"

Based on the campus response, Fuel For Truth expanded and started holding social events with 500 to 1,000 young people or more in popular Manhattan clubs once or twice a year, in addition to holding events at seven colleges in the Northeast.

Operating with a modest budget ($250,000, mostly from individual donors), the group now has two full-time employees, and its eight volunteer committees handle fundraising, recruitment and information for its 200 active members.

Several years ago Fuel For Truth added a "Boot Camp" program for 20 select volunteers — 10 consecutive Tuesday nights of three-hour educational sessions to train future leaders of the group, many of whose recruits have gone on birthright israel trips.

At a recent Boot Camp session, held on the second floor of a hip East Side restaurant, the participants heard from a young Mideast scholar at Harvard, who offered a 20-minute "crash course" on Israel's wars since 1948. Then a non-Jewish Green Beret veteran of recent combat in Iraq spoke passionately about the need for Israel and the U.S. to respond to their militant Islamic enemies pre-emptively.

"Stop sleeping," he warned. "The war is on, and they're out to get us."

The mood of the evening was a curious mix of relaxed informality, a macho emphasis on Jewish strength and Zionist indoctrination, with tips given by group leaders on how to organize fundraising events to support Fuel For Truth (a requirement) and how to make Israel advocacy points in conversations with peers while avoiding unpleasant confrontations or arguments. After the sessions, many of the participants go out for a beer together.

Zionism Lite?

"We teach them social advocacy first," says Joe Richards, 34, a former actor and friend of Loew's who is now the full-time executive director of Fuel For Truth. "You need to establish social relations with people before you can introduce political advocacy." His advice is part communications skills, part educational techniques — like smiling, making eye contact, being a good listener and avoiding confrontations.

"Always have a message triangle of three solid facts you want to get across," he told the Boot Campers. For example, Israel is a democracy, Arabs living in Israel have more rights than those living in Arab countries and the PLO was founded to "liberate Palestine" three years before Israel captured any Arab land in the 1967 war.

Richards also advised the group to spend five minutes in social settings presenting five facts about Israel to five people, and then change the subject. "Don't overdo it," he said.

Some critics point to the social aspects of Fuel For Truth and its bite-sized educational approach and dismiss it as Zionism Lite. But research analyst Frank Luntz, in a report for the group on its impact, found that "you are filling a void that no other Jewish organization has filled," most notably in attracting young people with little previous knowledge of or interest in Israel.

"You have engaged new people in new ways," he wrote, noting that most members don't attend synagogue. "You are clearly reconnecting disconnected Jews with Israel, and that may well be the first step to reconnecting them on other levels as well."

Such praise makes founder Loew all the more frustrated with the relative lack of financial support his group has received from major foundations. He wonders why those who are spending millions of dollars to verify that young Jews are feeling alienated toward Israel aren't recognizing Fuel For Truth's unique approach to dealing with the problem.

"We make them [young Jews] confront their own ignorance and their own self-doubts. We lead them in a direction, but they choose their own paths," he said, adding that unlike most Jewish groups, Fuel For Truth plays hard to get.

"When young people are begged to join a group, they won't do it. But if it's exclusive, they want to be in. We turn it around and say, `We have a great organization and we'd like to know what you'll bring to it.'"

Volunteers must work their way up the ranks through attending Boot Camp or showing other leadership skills. Loew is critical of organizations that "tell inexperienced 22-year-olds to join as Young Leaders."

"The volunteer aspect is key for us," said Guttman, who said she came to work for Fuel For Truth because she felt she could have a significant impact on people. "If we don't reach our members, then we're nothing."

While there is no one silver bullet for inspiring uninvolved Jewish young people, it's clear that Fuel For Truth is onto something. American Jewish organizations and foundations would do well to sit up and take notice.

© 2000 - 2002 The Jewish Week, Inc.

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Your tax dollars at work: Egypt strikes a deal with Hamas

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/your-tax-dollars-at-work-egypt-strikes.html

Egypt has apparently given in to Hamas demands to allow entry of their "personnel" into Gaza. This is a good deal Americans - you support Egypt, they support Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Your tax dollars are at work.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
Report: Hamas turned Al-Qaida man over to Egypt as part of border deal
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent and News Agencies Last update -
08:52 01/10/2007
www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/908689.html

Hamas has extradited a wanted Al-Qaida militant to Egypt in exchange for Cairo's agreement to allow dozens of stranded Hamas and Islamic Jihad members to return to the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian news agency Maan reported on Monday.

Scores of Palestinian militants who had been stranded in Egypt since Hamas took over Gaza were allowed back into the territory on Sunday, witnesses said, signaling possible new accommodation between Cairo and the Islamist group.

Egypt, the architect of Arab rapprochement with Israel, has straddled a diplomatic fence with Hamas, neither shunning it nor accepting its violent removal of Western-backed Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction from the Gaza Strip.

But in what Hamas sources described as a deal between Hamas and Egypt, around 85 militants crossed into Gaza overnight through Rafah, a terminal on the Egyptian border which had been closed for three months after Abbas' monitors were chased out.

Egypt's Interior Ministry confirmed that they had agreed with Hamas to transport the people across the border. It gave no explanation.

Israel, which opposed the return of some of the Palestinians, said it was unaware of an Egypt-Hamas agreement. Egypt told Israel that about 28 Palestinians, including senior Hamas figures, broke through the Egypt-Gaza fence, an Israel Defense Forces spokesman said.

But the crossing appeared to be organized with Egyptian cooperation, witnesses said.

The Palestinians were transported to the Egyptian side of the border in Egyptian buses, allowed across by Hamas security and then met at a Hamas security in included a prominent Hamas lawmaker, Mushir al-Masri, and Hamas loyalists sent for training in Muslim countries before the militant Islamic group's Gaza takeover, witnesses said. They did not speak to journalists at the scene.

During the crossing, Hamas security officials tried to keep the operation a
secret, confiscating film from photographers and cameramen alerted to the
scene.

The militants, whom witnesses and Hamas sources said included senior Hamas figures, had refused to avail themselves of an alternative return route to Gaza that runs through neighboring Israel for fear of being arrested by the
Israelis.

Hamas sources said that the Popular Resistance Committees, a Gaza-based militant group, took part in talks with Egypt on temporarily reopening Rafah.

Palestinian diplomats in Cairo estimate that 2,000 Palestinians remain stranded in Egypt, including university students, people who had sought medical care abroad, and people who had been visiting relatives at the time of the Gaza takeover.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Good for the Jews?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/good-for-jews.html

Is this activity good for the Jews or bad for the Jews?

Which part of the activity is good? In the Palestinian authority, every group makes their own law. Is that a good model for Israel?

Ami Isseroff

IDF, police evacuate new outposts

yaakov katz and jpost.com staff , THE JERUSALEM POST Oct. 1, 2007

IDF troops began evacuating the newly-erected outposts near the West Bank towns of Kedumim and Elon Moreh on Monday morning, shortly after clearing out others near Hashmonaim and Halhoul.

Activists set up five new outposts on Sunday, with the fifth just inside the Efrat city limits.

There were only a few dozen activists at the Halhoul and Hashmonaim sites. No clashes were reported during the evacuations.

Activists were pleasantly surprised on Sunday when the IDF was too busy with counterterror operations in the area to dismantle the new outposts immediately, and they were able to spend the night in makeshift structures.

On Sunday afternoon, clashes broke out at the Hashmonaim-area outpost, lightly wounding one policeman and resulting in the arrest of four protesters.


Continued (Permanent Link)

UN Human Rights Council is too anti-Israel and unfiar for Amnesty Internation and HRW

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/un-human-rights-council-is-too-anti.html

From NGO Monitor:

 

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch criticize UN Human Rights Council - Are They Finally Getting the Message?

In a July 2007 statement The Human Rights Council: A New Era in UN Human Rights Work?, Yvonne Terlingen, director of Amnesty International's offices at the UN, criticized the activity of the supposedly 'reformed' UN Human Rights Council. Discussing the Council's actions during three special sessions in 2006 covering the "Occupied Palestinian Territories," Terlingen offered the following observations concerning the failings of the Council to uphold its mandate:

"Particularly regrettable was the one-sided resolution that the council adopted…The highly politicized resolution strongly condemned "grave Israeli violations of Human Rights and breaches of International Humanitarian Law in Lebanon," but entirely ignored the massive human rights abuses committed by Hezbollah in using indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. This was a clear example of the "selectivity" and "double standards and politicization" that Resolution 60/251 seeks to eliminate. Moreover, the nearly exclusive focus of these special sessions on Israel, at the cost of disregarding equally if not more egregious human rights situations elsewhere in the world, started to raise serious questions regarding the council's credibility."

This criticism may represent recognition by Amnesty of the need for greater universality. However, much more fundamental change is required, to counteract Amnesty's highly disproportionate focus on Israel in its own reporting -- a significant failing which NGO Monitor has documented in detail.

Human Rights Watch also criticized the UN Human Rights Council in a September 10 statement. Unlike Amnesty, it failed to censure the council for its anti-Israel bias and activities; it did, however, call on the council "expand its agenda," to address neglected human rights and "tackle crises Worldwide." (In 2006, HJRW attacked the Israeli and US governments for warning that the new Council would repeat the biases and double-standards of the old Commission.)

 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Helping Druze Zionists and other Loyal Minorities in Israel

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/helping-druze-zionists-and-other-loyal.html

What it's about:
 
Druse leaders blasted on Sunday the "peripheral minority of the [Druse] community" who have recently visited Syria and who warned of an upcoming "Druse intifada."

"These statements come to turn back the clock on the tremendous advances made in the integration of the Druse into public service, and to harm the Jewish-Druse covenant of life that we have been building for many years," wrote Nabia Nasser Adin,head of the Forum of Druse and Circassian Mayors, Yusef Nasser Adin, the chairman of the Druse Zionist Movement in Israel and Moshe Ben-Atar, the director of the Israel Zionist Council, which works with Israel's Druse communities on issues of Zionist identity and integration.
 
This same loyal majority also opposed the "vision" statements of the Arab leaders, which essentially called for abolishing the Jewish state.This trip to Syria was a trip to visit Druze holy places there. In early September, 330 Druse religious leaders led by Druse MK Sa'id Nafa (Balad) went on a tour of Druse religious sites in Syria. Of course, one could understand that the real purpose of any trip organized by the Balad party wasn't  related to religion, but it is really difficult to oppose such requests. Perhaps Israel should be encouraging visits by Syrian Druze to Israel. Loyal Druze are complaining about the attitude of the Israeli government:
 
In the immediate aftermath of the visit, Deputy Knesset Chairman Majalie Whbee of Kadima called it a "trip of flattery to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, initiated by members of the school of [former MK] Azmi Bishara," and said it "represents only the extremist margin groups and not the mainstream Druse population of Israel."

According to Whbee, the trip was "another sign" that the state of Israel "sticks its head in the sand and is not doing enough to halt subversive actions perpetrated under the auspices of [extreme left-wing Arab party] Balad and its leaders."
 
Israel indeed should be rewarding its loyal minority citizens and giving them a place of honor in Israeli society. Minority members such as  Ismail Khaldi, and Azzam Azzam are excellent spokespersons for Israel. Druze and Bedouin soldiers have given their lives to defend their country. It is unfortunate that the antics of people like Azmi Bishara and Sa'id Nafa get much more publicity, and doubly unfortunate that too many non-government organizations are willing to give credence and support to these people, rather than working with those who support Israel. The result is that de-facto, Israel is rewarding its enemies and punishing its friends.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
 


Continued (Permanent Link)


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