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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Spice 'n everything nice: Israel's military gadgetry used in Syria raid

This article in Aviation Week gives an in-depth glance at the cutting edge of Israeli military technology.
New Satellite Surveillance System Was Key Israeli Tool In Syria Raid
Nov 2, 2007 David A. Fulghum, Robert Wall and Douglas Barrie/Aviation Week &
Space Technology

Israel pulled out all the stops technologically in its recent raid on Syria, employing several new intelligence-gathering and strike systems in a chain of events stretching from satellite observations to precision bombing of a target thought to be a nuclear facility.

Syria's internal politics might have contributed to the apparent success of the Sept. 6 mission. The target was so highly classified in Damascus that the military wasn't briefed and, therefore, air defenses were unprepared, says an Israeli official.

But the absence of a dense air defense around the facility didn't stop Israel from digging deep into its technology quiver, drawing on the newest technologies in its arsenal.

The first piece of the puzzle is linked to the launch of a new reconnaissance satellite this summer. It allowed the integration of several advanced technologies, including electro-optical imaging from space, image enhancing algorithms, scene-matching guidance for precision weapons, and the use of advanced targeting pods carried by the Israeli air force's two-man F-16Is, which are not yet available on its F-15Is.

Israeli and U.S. officials will not reveal operational details or even the actual target under threat of criminal prosecution. Political and military leaders in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem don't want to humiliate or anger Syria by providing details of the attack. The desire to avoid any discussion of the event extended to an apology for violating Turkish airspace. Turkey found unmarked drop tanks inside its border with Syria that officials believe came from Israeli warplanes conducting the raid.

"If Israeli planes indeed penetrated Turkish airspace, then there was no intention thereby, either in advance or in any case, to -- in any way --  violate or undermine Turkish sovereignty," said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

He apologized for "any violation that may have occurred." Egyptian and Syrian press reports had accused Turkey of either turning a blind eye to the operation or actively cooperating. In past years both the U.S. (warplanes) and Syria (an errant Scud missile) have made similar apologies to Turkey.

But in a series of interviews with Aviation Week & Space Technology, various specialists explained several of the technologies and how they were used. "Reality is more impressive than your imagination in some areas," says a senior military officer.

Space observations provided early planning details for the raid.

The key satellite for the Syrian raid was Ofeq-7 launched on June 11. It has multispectral and high-resolution electro-optical sensors and a resolution far better than a half-meter, although exact figures are classified. The spacecraft also provides a tactical downlink to transmit imagery directly to combat forces, industry officials note.

The orbiting of Ofeq-7 improved the Israeli Defense Force's operational capabilities by dozens of percent, said Brig. Gen. Haim Eshet, director of space programming at Israel's Defense Research and Development Directorate (AW&ST Sept. 17, p. 28). The space images were then improved by specialized imagery enhancement algorithms to sharpen pictures for planning precision bombing attacks.

Israel also is in the process of further upgrading its space intelligence operations. It plans to launch the nation's first Polaris/TecSat military imaging radar satellite from India as part of a cooperative effort between the two countries. The new satellite will have an electronically steered, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) with 1-meter resolution in high-resolution mode. In strip mode, the system could deliver a resolution of 3-8 meters. The spacecraft should be able to gather 40 images per pass of a target, with most of the processing done on the ground.

The primary aircraft for the Syrian raid were some of the new, two-man Lockheed Martin F-16Is (Sufa or Storm) that Lockheed Martin began delivering to the Israeli air force (IAF) in February 2004. The backseater is a weapon systems officer who can focus on targeting and electronic warfare while the
pilot focuses on flying and evading air defenses (AW&ST Oct. 8, p. 28). Conformal fuel tanks give the fighters an unrefueled combat radius of more than 500 mi., which almost matches the unrefueled range of F-15Is that would normally escort a flight of strike aircraft. However, the F-16I can carry both the Derby medium-range radar missile and the shorter-range Python 4 and 5 infrared air-to-air missiles.

Sensors on the $45-million F-16I includes an APG-68(V)9 radar with high-resolution synthetic aperture radar mapping capability and about 30% more range that other mechanically scanned radars. But more importantly for this raid, the fighter has the Litening targeting pod. Its EO imagery can be used for seeker cueing. Litening is so far deployed only on the IAF's F-16Is, not the F-15s. It was the sensor of choice partly because of its image-stabilization algorithms coupled with the 1,000 X 1,000-pixel charge-coupled device detector to provide high-resolution imagery.

That imagery can be used for scene-matching with the observations made by the satellite. The pod also can provide the scene matching for images sent by the precision weapons carried by the F-16Is -- in this case the Spice-2000 missile. However, in planned scenarios, the military would draw on enhanced satellite imagery for the weapon. The satellite pictures also can be provided in flight and, after a few minutes of manipulation, be uploaded into the weapon; but in the Syria scenario, that capability was apparently not required.

The Spice-2000 is part of a family of weapons being developed by Rafael, but it's the only one currently operational with the Israeli air force (the Spice-1000 is in final qualification trials). Owing to a wing kit, the 2,000-lb. version has a standoff range exceeding 60 km. (37 mi.), which is considerably longer than the standard U.S.-build Joint Direct Attack Munition.

The IAF considers standoff capability a must since "Syria has the biggest air defense capability in the Middle East," says a senior Israeli military official.

"They've been investing in it, they're investing today, and they'll invest in the future. They're trying to get the best. The Tor is a very good air defense system, and they chose it because they could get 29 systems for the same cost as one-and-a-half S-300 surface-to-air missile systems."

The Tor-M1 (SA-15 Gauntlet) is a mobile point defense system, while the S-300 (SA-10/SA-20) provides a medium- to long-range air defense capability. Israeli officials continue to monitor discussions between Damascus and Moscow about a potential S-300 sale, and are quietly working diplomatic channels to stop that from happening. One military planner notes that even though the S-300 is a formidable air defense system, after several months of watching it operate in Syria, solutions to defeat it would quickly emerge. It would not alter the strategic balance, he asserted.

Although Spice is preferred when there's time to plan the mission (as was the case in the recent attack), for fast response strikes, the IAF would rely on its lineup of laser-guided weapons. The service recently announced it had bought the Eblit Systems Lizard LGB. In general, the air force has decided to depend less on GPS-navigation weapons because of fears that the satellite signal could be jammed, altered or turned off. There's also concern that using GPS bombs leaves much room for error. Target location inaccuracies introduced during planning and by the GPS-kit itself (around 10 ft.) could lead to a miss.

By contrast, Spice-2000 has an EO guidance sensor for terminal-phase target updates. It matches a large scene with what the seeker sees, so even if the precise target is obscured by smoke or clouds, the weapon can determine its impact point. Only if the seeker cannot make a match does the weapon default to GPS navigation.

"We can work with or without GPS [because] there's a real-time scene-matching algorithm [and] midcourse navigation [adjustments via Link-16 data communications]," says a specialist. "It takes a few minutes to manipulate the data on the aircraft [and] make a mission planning file. We can use regular satellite data. An auto-reference to the bomb's [internal guidance system] creates a launch envelope. It goes to GPS if there's no match."

That doesn't mean Israel is backing away from GPS-guided weapons. "From the operational point of view, we want alternatives," the senior officer says. "I believe we must have GPS, but we have unique and good alternatives with platforms, weapons and systems that are better than GPS. We're developing new combinations all the time."

In addition to the military objective of destroying the target, the raid on Syria also had important international and domestic political overtones, notes one Israeli official. The goal was to send a strategic signal to the region about Israel's willingness to act. Moreover, for the IAF, the mission was an important step. The armed forces are grappling with lessons learned from last year's Lebanon war and a potential budget shift to the ground forces. As a result, the air arm wanted to signal its continued importance to national defense.

Copyright © 2007 Aviation Week, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies.All rights reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

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Bogus Palestinian 'Rights' Case

According to Associated Press,  a Palestinian included by a human rights group as one of hundreds of university students trapped in Gaza is apparently not a student and used what appeared to be a forged document to make his case to leave for Texas. 
It seems "Gisha," a human rights group advocating freedom of movement for Palestinians, is pressing the Israeli Supreme Court to allow university students to leave Gaza to continue their studies abroad. The group included Yaser Betar in its suit, presenting the court with a one-page document from the University of North Texas affirming that he is enrolled in a doctorate program.

But  AP sent the document to the university, and its spokeswoman replied that the document was not authentic, and Betar "is not currently enrolled at the university. He studied Engineering Technology as an undergraduate student from spring 1992 to fall 1998 and did not earn a degree."

University spokeswoman Kelley Reese wrote in an e-mail message, "The document The Associated Press shared with the University of North Texas is not a UNT document. The university repudiates the document."

The document letterhead is no longer used by the university, and the signature of the official, Rebecca Smith, whose name appears at the bottom is forged. The two-sentence letter, dated March 14, 2007, attesting to Betar's enrollment includes an error in syntax in the second sentence: "This information has been given based on his request to verify his continuous in Graduate studies."
Gisha better hope that the other students forged better documents. Here's a hint: If a document from a university in the USA has "Bismillah" written on top and misspells "university," it might not be authentic.

Sari Bashi, director of Gisha, said her group would attempt to withdraw the document from the court file.

In a statement, the group said, "Gisha is investigating reports concerning the nature of Mr. Betar's studies at the University of North Texas. Questions about those studies should not detract from the just cause of hundreds of students seeking to leave Gaza to study abroad - and the need to allow them to do so."
Ah, but how do we know all those other "students" are genuine???

Gisha spokeswoman Noga Eitan said Betar insists that the document is authentic and that he is enrolled in the university's doctorate program.

Israel has banned most Palestinians from leaving Gaza since the Islamic militant Hamas took over the territory in June, expelling forces loyal to moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Israel has explained its general ban on security grounds but has pledged to solve the students' exit problem.

A brief interview with Betar was included in an Associated Press report about the students issue on Wednesday but deleted after the university repudiated his document. Human rights groups say 670 students, including more than 30 enrolled in U.S. universities, are trapped in Gaza.

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Bahrain: Iran is building a bomb

Obviously, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa is a Zionist neocon agent of the Israeli Mossad, Agence France Presse is a mouthpiece of the Israel Lobby, and Gulf in the Media, where this article appeared, is run by the Jews, right?
Bahrain says Iran wants the bomb
Agence France-Presse - 03 November, 2007

Bahrain's crown prince has claimed that Iran is developing atomic weapons or the capability to do so, British press reports said on Friday, the first time an Arab state in the Gulf has openly accused Tehran of lying about its controversial nuclear drive.

In interviews with correspondents for British newspapers in the capital Manama, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa also urged a diplomatic solution to the standoff between the West and Bahrain's close neighbour.

"While they don't have the bomb yet, they are developing it, or the capability for it," the crown prince said, warning that "the whole region" would be drawn into any military conflict.

"There needs to be far more done on the diplomatic front," he added, according to The Times. "There's still time to talk."

"We need to be very well aware that this could escalate. And we think that is not advisable," The Daily Telegraph quoted him as saying.

Bahrain is a Sunni Muslim-ruled dynasty with a population that is 60 per cent Shiite, the same branch of Islam that dominates in Iran.

"I want to see the region being fully consulted," The Independent quoted the crown prince as saying. "We were not fully consulted when the Iraqi regime was removed.

"Iran is an even bigger issue... We want to be part of any arrangement that deals with Iran. We don't want to wake up one day and suddenly find our skies darken and sirens blaring on every street."

Bahrain hosts the US Fifth Fleet, the main American carrier battle group tasked with securing the Strait of Hormuz through which much of the world's oil supplies must pass.

Despite already being under UN sanctions, Tehran refuses to suspend its controversial programme of uranium enrichment, which the West fears to be a cover for atomic weapons development, a charge Iran denies.

On October 25, Iran's arch-foe the United States announced new sanctions aimed at punishing Tehran over its nuclear ambitions and alleged sponsorship of terrorism.

The sanctions targeted the Revolutionary Guard Corps, accused of spreading weapons of mass destruction, and its elite Quds Force, which was designated as a supporter of terrorism.

On October 29, a top Revolutionary Guards general warned that his forces were ready "if necessary" to carry out suicide operations in the Gulf.

Washington has never ruled out military action against Iran to end its defiance over uranim enrichment.

Tehran has vowed never to initiate an attack, but has also warned of a crushing response to any strike against its territory.

On Thursday influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani warned Iran to be alert in the face of "unprecedented" actions by the United States.

"The movements and the presence of US forces and their supporters in the region is unprecedented, as is the creation of a menacing climate of fear," he told army commanders.

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Attention Americans...

Gaza and Lebanon may be closer than you think! Or is this just a scam to get people to support anti-immigration legislation?
Former CIA official warns that terror groups, Iran may exploit permeable US border with Mexico to infiltrate terrorists into US
Roee Nahmias
The US is concerned that Hamas and Hizbullah agents may penetrate the porous US-Mexican border in order to carry out terrorist attacks, according to Robert Grenier, the former head of the US Central Intelligence Agency's counterterrorism center.
His comments were featured in a report published by the Mexican press on Thursday.
Speaking at an event in Mexico, Grenier -- who now runs his own international security firm called Krollâ--said that reports indicate the United States is fearful that Iran, Hamas, and/or Hizbullah may seek to set up operations in Mexico in order to carry out terrorist attacks in the US.
According to the US counterterrorism expert, American officials are concerned that terrorists will tap into illegal immigrant and/or drug trafficking networks in order to use them to bring people and equipment into the US.
The former CIA official added that the American government is also fearful that Hamas and Hizbullah sleeper cells are already operational in Mexico; and, that Hizbullah is funneling money from Mexico into to Lebanon to fund the organization's operations there.

Until now, the US has not given Hizbullah operations in Mexico much thought. However, in wake of the recent escalation of rhetoric between the US and Iran regarding the latter's nuclear program, American officials have become concerned that Iran will use Hizbullah to carry out terror attacks on US targets around the world, Grenier explained
According to this scenario, Iran could also use Hizbullah networks to hit the US on its own soil.
The terrorism expert noted that it was hard to say for certain that sleeper cells already exist in Mexico. However, according to Grenier, The Lebanese Shia community in Mexico supports Iran and Hizbullah and there is speculation that members of the community could be recruited to carry out acts of terrorism.

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May the Lord Bless and Keep Ann Coulter...

May the Lord Bless and Keep Ann Coulter, far way from us. Coulter earlier asserted that her ideal was to convert all Jews to Christianity, so they would be 'perfected.' Now she has taken on the entire "Israel Lobby" and Jewish establishment, making the amazing claim that they are soft on Iran and Muslim extremism. According to Coulter, groups like ADL should be engaged in Muslim bashing.

From the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
By Published: 11/02/2007

Ann Coulter escalated her war of words with Jewish groups.

In a column Thursday, the conservative pundit blasted the Anti-Defamation League for condemning her earlier remarks suggesting that Jews would be "perfected" by Christianity. Coulter suggested the ADL was soft on Iran and Islamist extremists. "The ADL is more concerned with what it calls the 'neo-Nazis' and 'anti-Semites' in the Minutemen organization," she wrote, referring to an anti-illegal immigrant group that has drawn support from right-wing extremists, "than with people who behead Jews whenever they get half a chance."

The ADL is at the forefront of lobbying for tougher anti-Iran sanctions and monitoring pro-terrorist activity.

She also blasted the ADL for defending Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim in Congress, for taking his oath on a Koran instead of a Muslim bible. "Do they have Ellison on the record acknowledging whether the Holocaust happened?" she wrote. Ellison joined resolutions in the Minnesota legislature condemning Holocaust denial and attended Holocaust commemorations.

Coulter accused the ADL, as well as the American Jewish Committee, of being part of the liberal establishment. She added: "Liberal Jews are on a collision course with themselves. They can't reconcile the survival of Israel with their conception of themselves as liberals. The liberal coalition has turned against them. Jews are out; Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is in. The new king knows not Joseph."

ADL dismissed the column as "little more than a desperate attempt to deflect attention from her own bigoted and hateful views, and her mistake in giving vent to anti-Semitism on a national cable broadcast."

The National Jewish Democratic Council renewed its call on broadcast networks to stop using Coulter, dismissing her claims that she is a true defender of Jewish interests. "Jews for Coulter?," Ira Forman, the NJDC's executive director said in a statement. "You could hold that convention in the backseat of a Volkswagen Bug."
Unfortunately, Forman's statement is not quite true. As I noted, quite a few self-hating Jews are defending Coulter,
Ami Isseroff

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Syrian Kurds killed protesting anti-Kurdish policy

According to Reform Party Syria, three persons were killed in Qamoshli, Syria,
during demonstrations against the anti-Kurdish and pro-Turkish policy of the
Syrian government. Syria has a large Turkish minority that does not enjoy
equal rights. In the past, there have been other demonstrations and violent
incidents in this area.

In addition to the three dead, twenty were injured and at least 120 arrested.
The demonstrations spread to adjacent towns and villages. Kurds were upset
that Syrian president Bashar Assad is encouraging violence rather than seeking
a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problm in Turkey.

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Report: Green light for Israel invasion of Gaza

This report comes from a Lebanese newspaper, which proports to know the details of Israeli-American defense discussions. That in itself is fairly scary. Note that the report takes it for granted that every single move that Israel makes must be coordinated with the United States.
jpost staff and Yaakov Katz , THE JERUSALEM POST  Nov. 3, 2007
The United States has given a "green light" to an IDF operation in the Gaza Strip, the Lebanese newspaper, Al-Akhbar reported Saturday morning.
The report cites "credible diplomatic sources" as saying that American approval came after Israeli intelligence impressed on US officials the importance of a wide-scale operation as an answer to the unprecedented arms smuggling within Gaza.
According to the newspaper report, the intelligence was shared during Defense Minister Ehud Barak's last visit to Washington. Sources told Al-Akhbar that the intelligence depicted a worrying picture of an "arms race" between Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. In addition, Israel presented details of money transfers between the Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aksa's Martyrs Brigades.
In the past few days, Barak met a number of times with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to decide definitively on the timing of a wide-scale operation, Al-Akhbar cited the sources as saying. Further, the sources stated that despite the "green light," Israel was hesitating to launch an operation out of concerns that it would complicate preparations for the upcoming US-sponsored Mideast peace summit in Annapolis.
Until the timing of the operation is decided, IDF forces stationed on the Gaza border will continue training for a massive military operation in the Strip, the report said.
Meanwhile, IDF forces discovered seven weapons-smuggling tunnels in the southern Strip along the Egyptian border on Thursday.
The kilometer-long tunnels were discovered near Dahiniye by an elite Engineering Corps unit and troops from the Golani infantry's Battalion 51. The tunnels were found within two kilometers of the border with Israel and, according to the IDF, had been used intensively in recent months to smuggle weapons and explosives from Egypt into Gaza.
The troops destroyed the tunnels in controlled explosions. IDF sources said they had been large enough for people to pass through and were most probably used by terrorists to leave Gaza on their way to Iran or Syria for training.
This article can also be read at

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IAF kills Hamas man in Gaza

The brush war goes on: Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST  Nov. 3, 2007
A Hamas operative was killed and two others wounded when an IAF helicopter attacked a Hamas outpost in the southern Gaza Strip overnight Friday.
In an official statement, Hamas reported that the IAF strike had targeted a car outside the outpost near Khan Yunis in which the three were riding.
The IDF said that the attack was a response to the continued mortar attacks launched at southern Israel by cells operating from the Gaza Strip. Earlier Friday evening, four mortar shells were fired at an Israeli community north of Gaza. All landed in open territory, and no wounded or damage were reported.
The IDF also carried out an attack against a mortar launching cell in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday evening, wounding one of the cell members. The attack came after eight mortar rounds had been fired at southern Israel.
Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.
This article can also be read at

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Israel - The eternal outposts

How long, how long O Israel? Well, it goes along with the American President's procrastination of the Jerusalem: Foreign Relations Authorization Act , the law to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Apparently, some things are not meant to happen, are they?
Story is below.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 20:40 01/11/2007    
By Yuval Yoaz, Haaretz Correspondent
Defense Minister Ehud Barak asked the High Court of Justice on Thursday to grant him a two-month extension to formulate a final plan for the removal of illegal West Bank settlement outposts.
The request was submitted by the state prosecution on the defense minister's behalf, during a hearing on a Peace Now petition for the removal of the Migron outpost.
In December 2006, the state prosecution asked for a four to five-month extension, to allow it to present the High Court with an update on the issue.

At the time, the prosecution said that then defense minister Amir Peretz had instructed the Israel Defense Forces to negotiate with settler leaders, in order to reach an agreement for settlers to evacuate the outposts voluntarily "at a near date." The prosecution said that, should the negotiations fail to achieve results, Peretz would order the removal of Migron within six months - by June of this year.
In May, the prosecution told the High Court that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had asked Peretz to present him by the end of the month with a plan to remove the outposts.

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A specter is haunting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations

A specter is haunting the Annapolis peace talks. It is the specter of reunification of Hamas and Fatah. It seems that the road to reunification is not closed - based on several reports:

Bethlehem - Ma'an - A number of Hamas leaders met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday in his headquarters in Ramallah in the first meeting between Fatah and Hamas officials since the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June.

They also met Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Al Shaer and a number of ministers.

Al Shaer said the leaders attended Friday prayers together before holding discussions, particularly concerning security issues.

He added that the meeting was a good indicator for further dialogue. He said there was definitely going to be future communications between some Palestinian leaders, but he declined to give any more details.
And from Ha'aretz we learn:
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas met Hamas officials in the West Bank on Friday but reiterated he would not hold formal reconciliation talks with the Islamist group unless it gives up control of Gaza.
Hamas forces routed Abbas's secular Fatah faction in violent clashes in Gaza in June. Abbas then sacked a Hamas-led government and appointed a Fatah-backed administration in the West Bank.
"I met with Hamas officials and told them there would be no dialogue with Hamas until they reverse their coup first," Abbas told Reuters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.  
Abbas said he met Hamas lawmaker Hussein Abu Kwaik and a Hamas-backed former government minister, Naser el-Deen al-Shaer
So Abbas will not unite with Hamas until they give up Gaza and go back to the situation that was in effect before last June. At that time, Hamas controlled the entire Palestinian authority, with Mahmoud Abbas acting as figurehead. So the stage is set for Hamas to relinquish its control of Gaza in order to regain control over the Palestinian Authority. Perhaps that is the first stage of the Palestinian "roadmap." The danger is clear. All concessions that Israel will have made, will have been made in essence to the Hamas. All weapons that the US supplied to Fatah, will be controlled by the Hamas.
Ami Isseroff

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Asharq Al-Awsat : Lebanese army fired on IAF fighters

This is the second such report in a few days. Of course, the IAF is doing the work that the Lebanese army and UNIFIL should be doing, searching for Hezbollah rockets. The U.S.-supported Lebanese government however, declines to implement the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which call for disarming the Hezbollah.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 13:33 02/11/2007    
By Jack Khoury and Yuval Azoulay, Haaretz Correspondents, and The Associated Press
tags: IAF, Lebanon, Hezbollah 
Lebanese army units fired in the direction of Israel Air Force planes who entered the country's airspace on Thursday, the London-based Arab language daily newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat is reporting in Friday editions.
The IAF sorties prompted the Lebanese military to raise its alert level. The army also conducted ground patrols along the Lebanese border with Israel and appealed to UNIFIL to demand a cessation to the flights.
The Lebanese army alleges that six Israeli combat jets were seen in the skies above southern Lebanon on Thursday between the 9:30 and 11:00 in the morning.  

The Israel Defense Forces declined to respond to the charges, saying it does not provide details of IAF operations.
The leader of the militant Hezbollah group said Thursday that his organization has grown stronger as Israel has weakened.
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's comments came a day after U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a new report that said Israel claims that Hezbollah has rearmed with new long-range rockets capable of hitting Tel Aviv.
"The resistance today is stronger than before and Israel is weaker," Nasrallah said during the opening of an agricultural fair in Beirut's southern suburb of Rweis organized by Hezbollah's construction arm, Jihad al-Bina. Nasrallah was not present but spoke to hundreds of supporters using a giant screen.
"We don't want war with anyone, but at the same time, we will not allow anyone to attack our villages, people and country," Nasrallah said. Hezbollah's Al-Manar television aired excerpts of his speech during the station's evening broadcast.
His comments came ahead of a military exercise Israel has scheduled this week in the north near the Lebanese border. The exercise is slated to be the largest Israeli military maneuver since the monthlong war between Israel and Hezbollah last year.
On Wednesday, the U.N. secretary-general's report said Israel claims Hezbollah has tripled its shore-to-sea C-802 missiles and has established an air defense unit armed with ground-to-air missiles.
"Israel has stated that the nature and number of weapons in Hezbollah's control constitutes a strategic threat to its security and the safety of its citizens," Ban said.
Ban said he believed the reports of Hezbollah's rearming are a cause of great concern for the stability of Lebanon.
Nasrallah did not comment on Ban's report or provide details on how Hezbollah has strengthened. Last year after the war ended, he said his group had been rearming since Israel withdrew from south Lebanon in 2000 and possessed more than 33,000 rockets.
Nasrallah warned that no one will be allowed "to stain Lebanon's lands, which will not be a land for Israeli occupation or American military bases." He was referring to a report by Lebanon's daily As-Safir newspaper last month that said Washington was proposing a treaty with Lebanon that would make it a strategic partner and lead to the creation of American bases in the country.
The Western-backed Lebanese government and the U.S. embassy denied the report

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Catholics: Spanish Inquisition was a myth

I suspect that many Catholics will be put off by what I am about to write. I assure you that I mean no disrespect to your religious beliefs. But those beliefs should not require falsification of history. Imagine your own consternation, if the British government were to decree that Henry VIII did not persecute Catholics?

Accordingly, you can imagine my dismay and amazement when I found that, according to a Catholic Web site, the Spanish Inquisition never took place. It was a myth. We are led to believe that Baruch de Espinoza and his friends were never forced to either convert to Catholicism or flee first Spain and then Portugal. The entire civilization of Iberian Jews, as well as that of Iberian Muslims was not destroyed. The Inquisition is a myth.

Denial of genocide and similar misdeeds is all the vogue. By rewriting history, various institutions and governments can clear their names. After all, what is important in history is what people believe happened, right? Nazi supporters and the Iranian government deny the Holocaust, the Turks are trying to wipe out the Armenian genocide. Each inconvenient or unpleasant episode in its turn is due to be effaced.

Along with the Holocaust Myth, we now have the Myth of the Spanish Inquisition. In an article that hypes the upcoming rerun of a BBC/A&E documentary about the Inquisition, Catholic Net Web site announces:

The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition

by Ellen Rice

The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition," a 1994 BBC/A&E production, will re-air on the History Channel this December 3 at 10 p.m. It is a definite must-see for anyone who wishes to know how historians now evaluate the Spanish Inquisition since the opening of an investigation into the Inquisition's
archives. The special includes commentary from historians whose studies verify that the tale of the darkest hour of the Church was greatly fabricated.

In its brief sixty-minute presentation, "The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition" provides only an overview of the origins and debunking of the myths of torture and genocide. The documentary definitely succeeds in leaving the viewer hungry to know more. The long-held beliefs of the audience are sufficiently weakened by the testimony of experts and the expose of the making of the myth.

The Inquisition had a secular character, although the crime was heresy. Inquisitors did not have to be clerics, but they did have to be lawyers. The investigation was rule-based and carefully kept in check. And most significantly, historians have declared fraudulent a supposed Inquisition document claiming the genocide of millions of heretics.

What is documented is that 3000 to 5000 people died during the Inquisition's 350 year history.

*** END QUOTE ***

Who might these experts be, who give "testimony" (as if they were eye-witnesses) that erases the history of Spanish Jewry in 60 minutes? There was no genocide! The tortures of the inquisition were a myth!

The words "Jew" or "Muslim" are hardly mentioned anywhere in the entire article. Marranos are a myth invented by wicked Jews. In the article, there is a brief allusion to the "problem" that sparked the Inquisition, in the Catholic version of history:

Afraid that laws commanding the exile or conversion of Jews were
thwarted by conversos, i.e. synagogue-going "Catholics," Ferdinand and Isabella commissioned an investigation or Inquisition.

Ostensibly because of this fear of "synagogue-going Catholics," we are told that they killed 5,000 people. What hurts perhaps more than anything else is that we are informed that: "The investigation was rule-based and carefully kept in check."

This is how the rules were applied: "We caught you eating Matzot and not eating pork, Don Diego, so we have to burn you at the stake unless you promise not to do so again." Unfortunately, it is not a joke by any means. People were murdered for those reasons. It was not synagogue - going Catholics whom the Church executed, so much as Jews who refrained from eating pork or from eating leavened bread on Passover.

The Church also punished other "infringements." The rule-based justice of the church was not so infallible, for the Holy Inquisitors and their informants invented many "facts," and the mythical tortures of the inquisition extracted all-too-real confessions from the victims, as they were literally torn to pieces alive by the ingenious inventions of medieval mechanics.

For example, in the year 1491, the Inquisition prosecuted a number of Jews for the supposed murder of one Christopher of Toledo, a Christian child whose blood was supposedly used to bake Matzoth. Jews "confessed" to this non-existent crime. We can imagine what turtures were used to extract these confessions. Nobody could ever find this Christopher of Toledo, because of course, he never existed. Nonetheless, he became a Saint of the Catholic Church. Along with Christopher, a number of inquisitors, who did exist, were also awarded sainthood for their role in the "mythical" inquisition.

Nor can it truthfully be claimed that the Spanish Inquisition acted independently of the Catholic Church. Ferdinand and Isabella commissioned the Inquisition, but they had the blessing of the Pope. For on November 1, 1478, Pope Sixtus IV issued the Bull Exigit sincere devotionis. This authorized the Catholic kings to appoint inquisitors in Castile in order to expunge heresy. Specifically, it pointed out that Jews who had been baptized had secretly reverted to the Jewish "superstition." For mere trifles like murdering people, Catholics could confess and be absolved, no matter how many times they "reverted." Eating Matzot on Passover or keeping the Sabbath was a different matter. It could not be tolerated. A second offence and a third offence would would the perpetrator in the gravest peril.

As for how "historians" evaluate the Inquisition, that must depend on which historians are doing the evaluation. There are certainly fashions in historical interpretation, but they must not obscure the truth. A popular history of the Inquisition was written after the documentary in question was produced. It is "Dogs of God," by James Reston Jr. It takes a much less sympathetic view of the Spanish Inquisition than does Ms. Rice or the documentary in question and its supposedly expert historians, as reported by Ms. Rice.

But regardless of fashions in historical interpretation, the horrors of the Inquisition were not a "myth," but a fact.

If there is a heaven and a hell and a last judgement, what will the Catholic Church say for itself on that day?

"We only killed 5,000 people."

"We killed them in justice, based on rule-based judgement. They had reverted to the superstition of Judaism."

Surely, if there is a last judgement, this argument will go over well in that court, which would also have rule - based judgement. Remember, Ellen Rice, that Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew. He kept the Passover. He said,

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law.

He also said,

If Jesus Christ had been in Spain, would he not have been burnt at the stake by the "mythical" Inquisition?

Ami Isseroff

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Remember the Middle East Roadmap? It may not be dead after all

Does this Palestinian government mean what it says about peace? This report from Haaretz suggests that it is so, but words are cheap. Incitement continues and IDF still catches would-be suicide bombers on a regular basis.
Israeli officials deny tripartite team to begin work on roadmap
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad says a Palestinian-American-Israeli commission on implementing the first stage of the road map peace plan will soon begin work, but Israeli officials deny the report.
According to Fayad Thursday, the commission will consist of himself, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and U.S. security coordinator Keith Dayton. 
Israeli officials, however, said that while the creation of such a commission was discussed during last week's visit by U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, neither its composition nor its powers have been finalized.
Israel would apparently prefer the commission not to have the power to make binding decisions on who should do what first.
The Palestinian Authority claims that it has already fulfilled all its first-stage responsibilities, whereas Israel has not fulfilled its obligation to freeze settlement construction and dismantle illegal outposts. Israel, however, says that the PA is far from fulfilling its first-stage counterterrorism responsibilities.
Fayad also said that his government is willing to operate the Gaza Strip border crossings if Israel reopens them.
The crossings have been closed since Hamas seized control of the strip because Israel does not trust Hamas to run them.
Fayad confirmed Thursday that he will be working with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and United States Mideast security coordinator Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton to carry out the first phase of the dormant road map plan for peace.
The U.S.-backed road map plan was launched in 2003 and envisioned the establishment of a Palestinian state by 2005. It consists of three phases, which entail obligations that each side must meet.
In the first phase, Palestinians were to declare an end to all violence and take action against militants, in return for which Israel would freeze settlement expansion, dismantle dozens of illegal settlement outposts and lift roadblocks to facilitate Palestinians' travel to administrative centers.
The Palestinians have argued that they have made significant progress in recent weeks by disarming dozens of militants, either voluntarily or by force, but say Israel has done little so far.
Fayad said Thursday that the three have not started working yet, but said implementing the first phase of the road map will be key to the success of the U.S.-hosted Mideast conference in Annapolis, Maryland, in November or December.
"If we want the Annapolis conference to be a successful one, and if we want the peace process to get back on track, we have to implement the first phase of the road map, and it is possible to implement it," he said.
The IDF has been preparing a list of Israel's essential security needs in advance of the conference as it did last time significant talks were held on the final status agreement. However, ahead of Annapolis the IDF will only list Israel's concerns, without dealing with the specific details of borders and territories, as was done in the past.

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Hundreds of PA police to deploy in Nablus on Friday

An interesting experiment...
Last update - 03:37 02/11/2007    
By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondents
Hundreds of Palestinian police officers are expected to deploy Friday in the West Bank city of Nablus, following Thursday evening talks on the issue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The talks were held after Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad reached an agreement in principle on the deployment roughly one and a half months ago.
The deployment was not carried out earlier, due to difficulties on the Palestinian side in organizing their forces. Israel has agreed to allow 500 police officers deploy, although only 300 are actually expected to do so.  

Nonetheless, Israel has made it clear that the Israel Defense Forces will continue to operate in the West Bank city when needed and will retain overall security responsibility in the Nablus area, while the police officers will focus on imposing law and order.
According to recent reports, United States Mideast security coordinator Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton has said behind closed doors that the Palestinian security forces operating in the West Bank are not adequately prepared to accept security responsibility over Palestinian cities.
Barak told officials during his recent visit to the U.S. that Israel is interested in further easing restrictions on Palestinians, and to allow their security forces to operate in the West Bank.
In meetings with Israeli officials, Dayton praised Fayad for his efforts to rehabilitate the Palestinian security services. However Dayton, who prior to Hamas' rout of Fatah in the Gaza Strip expressed faith in the ability of the PA security forces, now has a much more pessimistic assessment of their capabilities.
Nonetheless, he believes the forces will be ready to assume security control following additional training in the next six months.
Israeli intelligence officials share Dayton's pessimistic assessment, telling the political leadership that the PA would be unable to exercise security control over West Bank cities in the near future.
Fayad himself said during the summer that his forces are not yet ready for the mission. Israel, however, is continuing to allow the PA to deploy police officers in West Bank cities in order to preserve public order, but not take responsibility for security matters.
The PA established a select force during the summer, which is currently awaiting deployment in Nablus. Once deployed, the force will immediately begin a sweeping operation to counter criminal activity in the city.
Israeli security sources say they believe the PA is concerned it will be unable to impose order in Nablus, due to expected clashes with armed gangs in the city. PA officials are also worried that IDF soldiers, who will continue counterterrorism operations, will also engage armed police officers.

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Vacation in Dubai, experience homosexual rape.

Vacation in Dubai, experience homosexual rape. That's what happened to 15 year old Alexandre Robert, whose case was hushed up by Dubai authorities, according to the New York Times:
The New York Times
In Rape Case, a French Youth Takes On Dubai
Published: November 1, 2007

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Oct. 31 — Alexandre Robert, a French 15-year-old, was having a fine summer in this tourist paradise on the Persian Gulf. It was Bastille Day and he and a classmate had escaped the July heat at the beach for an air-conditioned arcade.

Just after sunset, Alex says he was rushing to meet his father for dinner when he bumped into an acquaintance, a 17-year-old native-born student at the American school, who said he and his cousin could drop Alex off at home.

There were, in fact, three Emirati men in the car, including a pair of former convicts ages 35 and 18, according to Alex. He says they drove him past his house and into a dark patch of desert, between a row of new villas and a power plant, took away his cellphone, threatened him with a knife and a club, and told him they would kill his family if he ever reported them.

Then they stripped off his pants and one by one sodomized him in the back seat of the car. They dumped Alex across from one of Dubai's luxury hotel towers.

Alex and his family were about to learn that despite Dubai's status as the Arab world's paragon of modernity and wealth, and its well-earned reputation for protecting foreign investors, its criminal legal system remains a perilous gantlet when it comes to homosexuality and protection of foreigners.

The authorities not only discouraged Alex from pressing charges, he, his family and French diplomats say; they raised the possibility of charging him with criminal homosexual activity, and neglected for weeks to inform him or his parents that one of his attackers had tested H.I.V. positive while in prison four years earlier.

"They tried to smother this story," Alex said by phone from Switzerland, where he fled a month into his 10th-grade school year, fearing a jail term in Dubai if charged with homosexual activity. "Dubai, they say we build the highest towers, they have the best hotels. But all the news, they hide it. They don't want the world to know that Dubai still lives in the Middle Ages."

Alex and his parents say they chose to go public with his case in the hope that it would press the authorities to prosecute the men.

United Arab Emirates law does not recognize rape of males, only a crime called "forced homosexuality." The two adult men charged with sexually assaulting Alex have pleaded not guilty, although sperm from all three were found in Alex. The two adults appeared in court on Wednesday and were appointed a lawyer. They face trial before a three-judge panel on Nov. 7. The third, a minor, will be tried in juvenile court. Legal experts here say that men convicted of sexually assaulting other men usually serve sentences ranging from a few months to two years.

Dubai is a bustling financial and tourist center, one of seven states that form the United Arab Emirates. At least 90 percent of the residents of Dubai are not Emirati citizens and many say that Alex's Kafkaesque legal journey brings into sharp relief questions about unequal treatment of foreigners here that have long been quietly raised among the expatriate majority. The case is getting coverage in the local press.

It also highlights the taboos surrounding H.I.V. and homosexuality that Dubai residents say have allowed rampant harassment of gays and have encouraged the health system to treat H.I.V. virtually in secret. (Under Emirates law, foreigners with H.I.V., or those convicted of homosexual activity, are deported.)

Prosecutors here reject such accusations. "The legal and judicial system in the United Arab Emirates makes no distinction between nationals and non-nationals," said Khalifa Rashid Bin Demas, head of the Dubai attorney general's technical office, in an interview. "All residents are treated equally."

Dubai's economic miracle — decades of double-digit growth spurred by investors, foreign companies, and workers drawn to the tax-free Emirates — depends on millions of foreigners, working jobs from construction to senior positions in finance. Even many of the criminal court lawyers are foreigners.

Alex's case has raised diplomatic tensions between the Emirates and France, which has lodged official complaints about the apparent cover-up of one assailant's H.I.V. status and other irregularities. The tension and growing publicity over the case seem to have prompted the authorities to take action.

Mr. Demas, from the Dubai attorney general's office, said he had no intention of prosecuting Alex and was seeking the death penalty for the two adult attackers. "This crime is an outrage against society," he said.

However, the investigation file in Alex's case and a pair of confidential French diplomatic cables obtained by The New York Times confirm the accounts of inexplicable and at times hostile official behavior described by Alex and his parents.

"The grave deficiencies or incoherence of the investigation appear to result, in part, from gross incompetence of the services involved in the United Arab Emirates, but also from the moral, pseudoscientific and political prejudices which undoubtedly influenced the inquiry," the French ambassador to the United Arab Emirates wrote in a confidential cable dated Sept. 6.

Most infuriating to Alex and his mother, Véronique Robert, is that police inaccurately informed French diplomats on Aug. 15, a month after the assault, that the three attackers were disease-free, the diplomats say. Only at the end of August did the family learn that that the 36-year-old assailant was H.I.V. positive. The case file contains a positive H.I.V. test for the convict dated March 26, 2003.

"They lied to us," Ms. Robert said. "Now the Damocles sword of AIDS hangs over Alex."

So far the teenager has not tested positive for H.I.V., but he will not know for sure until January, when he gets another blood test six months after the exposure.

A doctor examined Alex the night of the rape, taking swabs of DNA for traces of the rapists' sperm. He did not take blood tests or examine Alex with a speculum. Then he cleared the room and told Alex: "I know you're a homosexual. You can admit it to me. I can tell."

Alex told his father in tears: "I've just been raped by three men, and he's saying I'm a homosexual," according to interviews with both of them.

The doctor, an Egyptian, wrote in his legal report that he had found no evidence of forced penetration, which Alex's family says is a false assessment that could hurt the case against the assailants.

In early September, after the family learned about the older attacker's H.I.V. status and the French government lodged complaints with the United Arab Emirates authorities, the Dubai attorney general's office assigned a new prosecutor to the case. Only then were forensic tests performed to confirm that sperm from all three attackers had been found in Alex.

Alex stayed in Dubai in order to testify against his attackers, and went back to school in September, despite suffering unsettling flashbacks.

In early October, however, the family said, their lawyer warned Alex that he was in danger of facing charges of homosexuality and a prison term of one year.

Veteran lawyers here say the justice system is evolving, like the country's entire system of governance that has blossomed as the economy and population have exploded in just a few decades. Despite its shortfalls, the United Arab Emirates have combined Islamic values with the best practices from the West to create "the most modern legal system among the Arab countries," said Salim Al Shaali, a former police officer and prosecutor who now practices criminal law.

In business and finance, the nation has worked hard to earn a reputation for impartial and speedy justice. But the criminal justice system has struggled, balancing a penal code rooted in conservative Arab and Islamic local culture, applied to an overwhelming non-Arab population of foreign residents.

A 42-year-old gay businessman who would speak only if identified by his nickname, Ko, described routine sexual harassment by officials during his 13 years living in Dubai. He cut his shoulder-length hair to avoid attention, he said, but after years of living in fear of jail or deportation, he is leaving the country.

Although rape victims here generally keep quiet, some who have been raped in Dubai have shared testimonials in recent days on, a Web site started by Alex's mother.

Prosecutors moved forward with the case against her son's attackers only as a result of public pressure and diplomatic complaints, Ms. Robert believes. Now, she hopes, the attention could prompt more humane and even-handed justice for future rape victims here.

On advice of his lawyer and French diplomats, Alex says he will not return to Dubai but wants very much for the men to be convicted.

"Sometimes you feel crazy, you know?" he said. "It's hard, but we have to be strong. I'm doing this for all the other poor kids who got raped and couldn't do anything about it."


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Bad news from everywhere

The public image of Israel has been dragged in the mud by systematically biased media reporting. Every Israeli fault has been reported and magnified. If there are prostitutes or pollution in Israel you hear about it in California and Melbourne. This reporting obscures the fact that Israel and Turkey are the only countries in the Middle East that are anything like working democracies, that Israel provides the best education and social benefits for all of its citizens among all the non-petroleum states of the Middle East and that it leads the Middle East and a good part of the world in technical  To demonstrate the effect of media demonization on the image of different countries, bloggers have created several offerings that target different countries. The original one was Bad News From the Netherlands. It has now been joined by Bad News From Finland, Bad News From Britain and  Bad News From Mexico.
Some choice headlines:

Amsterdam Mayor Authorizes Demonstration of Extreme Rightists


Five men are publicly beheaded in Saudi Arabia... as Gordon Brown hosts their King at No.10


Finnish Figures for Losses Caused by Shoplifting Among Highest in Europe


Governor Threatens Force Against Flood Victims

US Plan To Give Corrupt Police Better Equipment

However, it is not the same thing of course if people know that you are delivering bad news. It would be better to call these web logs by more neutral sounding names like "BBC"  "The Guardian," "The Independent...." That would be more equivalent to the situation with bash-Israel media.
Ami Isseroff

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Israel joins EU's Enterprise and Industry program

Israel joins EU's Enterprise and Industry program
A Memorandum of Understanding about Israel joining the EU's Enterprise and Industry program, one of the components of the European Union's Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme.
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
On Thursday, 1 November 2007, a Memorandum of Understanding about Israel joining the EU's Enterprise and Industry program was signed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Eli Yishai, and his counterpart, the Vice President of the European Commission and the Commissioner for Industry, Gunter Verhuegan.
This program is one of three components comprising the European Union's Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP). The signing of the MOU is the result of successful negotiations conducted between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Industry and Justice, and the Directorate General for Industry of the EU Commission.
Negotiations for Israel to join two additional components of CIP will begin soon with the Directorate General for Information Society in the field of Information Technologies (ICT) and with the Directorate General for Energy and Transport in the field of smart energy. The CIP will be managed in Israel by the head scientist at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, Dr. Eli Ofer, whose ministry will be funding Israel's participation in the program.
The CIP is an inter-European program which aims to promote the competitiveness of small and medium European companies. The signing of the MOU about Israel's joining the Enterprise and Industry program will enable Israel to be a full participant in inter-European activities related to the business sector. Israel's participation in this program signals a breakthrough for its participation in other EU programs that have recently been opened to the participation of non-member states. This is in addition to Israel's participation in the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, as well as its predecessors, and indicates a further strengthening of Israel's economic-technological relations with Europe. 
1 November 2007

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Yes, we have no Israelis!

It will be interesting to see if the government defends, and the court upholds, a totally absurd policy.
No 'Israelis' in Israel?

Court to debate State's refusal to acknowledge Israeli nationality

by Aviram Zino
Published: 10.31.07, 20:45 / Israel News

The Jerusalem Administrative Court on Wednesday ordered the State to justify its refusal to include the term 'Israeli' on the list of possible nationalities inscribed in Israeli identification cards.

"In its response, we as of the State to address, among other things, the manner in which the list of nationalities is set and through which legal means a nationality can be added or removed from that list," wrote Judge Noam Solberg.

The court's decision follows a petition filed by 38 Israeli intellectuals and artists, including former minister Shulamit Aloni, former MK Uri Avnery, Professors Yehoshua Porat, Yosef Agassi and Uzzi Ornan and singer Alon Olearchick.

In their petition the plaintiffs note that there are currently over 132 different nationalities recognized by the State of Israel for use in registering for an ID card but 'Israeli' is not one of them.

The plaintiffs state in their petition that since the days when the list of nationalities was agreed upon, an 'Israeli' identity has been formulated and it must be recognized.

The petition further states that since 1992 Israeli passports declare their holder to be of 'Israeli Nationality,' therefore the State does acknowledge such an identity.

The judge also questioned the Interior Ministry's claim that the list of nationalities is highly confidential and therefore was only handed to the plaintiffs after the court demanded it based on the freedom of information act.

The court also questioned how it could rule on a social matter that has little legal merit. The plaintiff's attorney presented the court in response with a series of previous cases wherein courts took a legal stance on complex public issues such as religious conversion, the security fence, the disengagement and questions pertaining to the status of common law spouses.

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Bahrain to step up Anti-Zionist drive

In case you thought they were slacking off in Bahrain:

Anti-Zionist drive to be stepped up

ANTI-ISRAEL activists are calling for a wider public involvement in their campaign against normalisation with the "Zionists".

A meeting is being held today by the Bahrain Society Against Normalisation with the Zionist Enemy, Adliya, at 8pm, where a host of non-governmental organisations and MPs have been invited.

They will discuss steps to be taken following the Foreign Minister's unofficial meeting with his Israeli counterpart in New York earlier this month.

The society maintains that Bahrain should not have any interaction with anyone in Israel at any level.

"We are expecting a large number of people to attend this meeting where we will suggest presenting a number of letters to the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Arab League to denounce the move," said society
secretary Abdulla Abdulmalik.

"The meeting will also discuss an incident that took place in a private school where students were asked to colour the Zionist regime's flag."
Coloring the flag of the Zionist regime! Allah forfend! What will come next? Now that is truly shocking! What would Ms. Rice say if she knew about that?
Ami Isseroff

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WAQF Officials to Trial; If Convicted Facing Years in Prison

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                   November 1, 2007

WAQF Officials to Trial; If Convicted Facing Years in Prison


A group of 150 Israeli citizens, which represent a broad cross section of the Israeli public, have initiated an unprecedented criminal prosecution of WAQF (Islamic trust) leaders in Jerusalem - alleging that they have engaged in the deliberate destruction of ancient Jewish relics on the Temple Mount.

The indictment was filed in the Jerusalem District Court today by means of a private law suit - which is first of its kind in Israeli legal history and  utilizes a seldom applied section of the criminal code. If convicted, the WAQF officials may face years in prison.

The legal action, which is led by Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center, accuses members of the Islamic Trust ("the WAQF") of the intentional demolishing of priceless Jewish artifacts, including the remains of the Second Temple.

In recent months the WAQF has brought in bulldozers and heavy digging equipment to carry out "renovations".  Israeli archaeologists who have sifted through the discarded earth were shocked to have discovered a great number of Jewish artifacts brutally trashed by the bulldozers. A wall from the outer courtyard of the Second Temple is believed to have been completely pulverized.

The court papers contend that the recent accelerated destruction is part of a four decade long campaign by the WAQF to eradicate all evidence of the historical Jewish connection and claim to the Temple Mount.

After liberating the Old City in 1967, Israel permitted the WAQF to remain as "custodians" of the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site.

Shurat HaDin alleges that the Israeli government, in its political cowardice, has consistently refused to undertake any concrete actions to stop the criminal activities of the WAQF - thus abandoning the millenniums long Jewish claim over the Temple Mount and allowing Islamic extremists to re-write history in Jerusalem.

Shurat HaDin Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner: "This private prosecution in an unprecedented response to the brutal attempt by the extreme WAQF to eradicate any Jewish claim over the Temple Mount. The WAQF leaders belong in prison and since Israel's government is refusing to protect Jewish heritage and property, we will prosecute the WAQF ourselves. Such action is a moral
obligation, not only for the Jewish people, but also for the Christian community, which has significant interests in safeguarding the Temple Mount as well".



(Israel)  Tel.:  03-751-4175
(US) Tel.:  212-591-0073

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An interview with Nablus "resistance" fighters

Last update - 10:35 01/11/2007    
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent
After spending two hours with Mahdi Abu Ghazale, it is hard not to get the impression that he is a dead man walking. At 34 - relatively old for a wanted man - he is considered the commander of the "Night Horsemen." These armed men, from Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, operate in the Nablus casbah and have refused to give up their weapons to the Palestinian Authority.
Abu Ghazale did not seem outwardly nervous, but his short-barreled M-16 with its telescopic sight and two magazines were close by at all times, and his MIRS transmitted reports incessantly, along with a cell phone that did not stop ringing. A lookout stood at the window, and a Palestinian guard was at the door. Two armed men guarded both entrances to the street below. Their job was to warn of approaching Israeli troops. 
Abu Ghazale earned the title of commander just recently. He received it two weeks ago after his predecessor, Bassam Abu Saraya, was killed, and one of his friends, Abd al-Rahman Shinawi, was seriously wounded in a clash with the Israel Defense Forces in the casbah. Since then, eight Night Horsemen have been killed by the IDF and the Shin Bet, which come in pursuit nearly every night.
Abu Ghazale knows very well he might be next. "When evening comes, I don't know if I'll see the next morning. But when one of our people is killed, it's an honor for us," he says.
Forget about slogans. Aren't you afraid?
"No one does not fear death. But understand, we see death every night. As a believing Muslim, I feel: We live, we live; we die, so we die. My story might end tonight, we'll see."
Next week, the PA is to deploy some 500 policemen throughout Nablus. On Tuesday, Palestinian Interior Minister Abed al-Razek al-Yihya came to the city with 23 foreign consuls to view preparations for the city's transfer to PA authority.
The city that was once synonymous with chaos and crime has become a model for other West Bank cities. The stolen cars have all but disappeared from the streets; PA policemen set up surprise road blocks to find suspected criminals; and the town center, Clock Square, looks entirely different: The dozens of stalls that used to clog traffic there have been removed by order of the PA, and things flow smoothly.
Most of the wanted men in Nablus have been pardoned by Israel, in agreement with the PA. But the Night Horsemen were not on the list.
"They told us that Israel wants us to be detained at PA headquarters and to give up our weapons," Abu Ghazale says. "But no one has promised that Israel won't try to hurt us while we are there."
Why weren't your people on the pardon list?
"The person in charge of wanted men in the PA [the interior minister - A.I.] didn't negotiate properly, and therefore the PA is responsible for our future. We don't attack civilian targets, we aren't dispatching suicide bombers. The army wants to get us mainly because of our actions against forces that enter the city. But it is our obligation and our right to hit soldiers who come to Nablus, and we will continue doing so."
More armed men enter the room. Ala Hamuda, 22, has been wanted for the past five years; Omar Aqub, for four. "Abu Wadia" is the nom de guerre of another wanted man from the Al-Ein refugee camp in Nablus, considered the commander of the Popular Front. Israel has accused him, along with Hamas, of trying to send a suicide bomber to Tel Aviv about a month ago. Down in the street, Mahdi Aqub waits his turn for guard duty. None are masked.
"There was a time when the Israeli army almost never operated in the city; we'd move around masked for fear they'd recognize us," Abu Ghazale explains. "Now it doesn't matter. Everybody knows what we look like, including the Shin Bet," he says.
In the afternoon, they start getting ready for night, when things get dangerous for them. "We get a report on any suspicious car that crosses one of the checkpoints into the city. We are very careful of the special [undercover] forces. If an unidentified car gets closer, we'll shoot anyone who gets out."
Abu Ghazale says that in one recent operation, the IDF played a tape on the local radio station calling on civilians to give up the Night Horsemen. He presses a button on his cell phone to play the recording: "Don't cooperate with them," the Arabic-speaking message says. "Save your city. If you have information about these people who are harming your security, call 052-327-1190: Amin Lubadi [who was killed - A.I.] Mahdi Abu Ghazale, Abd al-Rahman Shinawi [who was severely wounded] ... anonymity assured."
Omar Aqub says that for them, the hardest thing is being away from their families. They all live in the casbah, but do not go home because the IDF might be waiting for them. He has not seen his mother in four months.
Before night falls, they leave the meeting and stand under the poster of their dead former commander. Shortly after the meeting with Haaretz ended, they had to make another poster: The city's hospital reported that Shinawi had died. His photograph will join many others on Nablus' walls.

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Remembering the ethnic cleansing of Egyptian Jews

This article is a reminder of the ethnic cleansing or "Nakba" (disaster) of Egyptian Jews that took place in the 50s and 60s. Most were expelled or forced to flee by rising anti-Semitism, and lost all their property. They became refugees for whom no agency was created and no help was offered by international bodies.
Last update - 12:20 01/11/2007    
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent
Two historical moments were recorded Tuesday at the Sha'ar Hashamayim synagogue in Cairo. The first was when Dr. Gaber Baltagi, an academic who writes poetry as a hobby, recited one of his works in Arabic and Hebrew, calling for peace among the nations. The second was when a loud shofar (ram's horn) blast, usually sounded at the closing of the Ne'ila service on Yom Kippur, echoed in the cavernous space of Cairo's great synagogue, bringing tears to the eyes of many of those present.
Members of Cairo's Jewish community - those who have remained here, as well as others who have moved away - plus many guests from Egypt and around the world, were there for a ceremony marking 100 years since the founding of the synagogue.
In attendance were the American ambassador to Cairo, the British ambassador, Israeli envoy Shalom Cohen as well as former Israeli ambassadors.  Advertisement

During the ceremony, the Choir of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki sang songs in Hebrew and Ladino.
The building was recently renovated, with the approval and assistance of the Egyptian authorities. It was rededicated Tuesday.
"Jews lived here throughout the ages," said community president Carmen Weinstein. "I see no reason for Jews not to continue living here."
Weinstein is the second woman president in the history of this Jewish community. The first was her mother, Esther, who served in that capacity for many years.
"When my mother was president, she ran things and I did the dirty work. Nowadays I have to do both," she said with a smile, speaking from the synagogue's pulpit. The ceremony she directed Tuesday was a historic event for the community, whose future is still in question. Weinstein declared that she is proud to be Egyptian. As befits her position as head of the community, she thanked Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak several times.
The Egyptian Jewish community is one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world. Rabbi Moses Maimonides (the Rambam) lived and taught here in the 13th century. For generations, hundreds of documents were collected in what became known as the Cairo Geniza, whose discovery in 1896 contributed much to Jewish historical research.
One hundred years ago, when the Sha'ar Hashamayim was founded on Adly Street, it was a hub of activity. The community absorbed many waves of immigration from both Europe and the Middle East. The name plates still affixed to some of the seat backs tell the immigration story. Philippe Bach, Yosef Salameh, Felix Schwartz and Herman Horenstein are just a few of the names that can be found there.
Today the Cairo Jewish community has 30-40 members, most of them older women. One of them, Magda Haron (nee Shahatah), stepped up to the pulpit Tuesday to share her feelings. She said that the last time she remembers the synagogue being full was in the in the 1960s.
"We may be only 40 members now," she added, "but we have a glorious history behind us. Please don't let that die."
Haron has never visited Israel, for ideological reasons. Her parents were Communists, and she hopes to come only when a Palestinian state is established. Her father did not attend synagogue services, but Haron came with her grandfather.
"The future is frightening," she said, in an interview with Haaretz, "and I do not know if anyone can replace Carmen. I think that the Egyptian government should help preserve the Jewish heritage. Jews have been here since the time of the Pharaohs."
Among the participants at the event was Meir Cohen, a native of Cairo. He brought with him photographs from his father's wedding at the synagogue in 1947, and from his bar mitzvah in 1963. Like many Israelis born in Egypt, Cohen left along with his family after the deterioration of the Jewish community's situation in the late 1960s. He worked for Israel Television's Arabic department and was the spokesman at the Israeli embassy in Cairo in the late 1980s.
"With this event," said Cohen, "Carmen has resuscitated hundreds of years of Jewish life. Every detail here brings back memories of my father, members of my family and the prayer services here. This is the closing of a circle for me/

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UN explains where Shebaa farms are (is?)

Notably, the UN has not made a recommendation regarding who the Sheba farms area belongs to, though previously it had ruled conclusively that it belonged to Syria and not Lebanon. Also interesting that the UN calls for implementing resolution 1701 (disarmament of Hezbollah).
Last update - 10:55 01/11/2007    
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent
A periodic report issued by the United Nations has, for the first time, defined the area covered by the Shaba Farms on the basis of expert cartographic work.
The report, the fifth to the Security Council on the implementation of Resolution 1701 which brought an end to the Second Lebanon War, also criticizes the continued rearmament of paramilitary groups in Lebanon, particularly Hezbollah.
Although the report issued Wednesday criticizes Israel for continued violations of Lebanon's airspace, and failure to provide all the data on the locations of cluster bomb attacks, it does not require Israel to enter separate negotiations on the fate of the Shaba Farms, or to surrender the area to the UN.
In his report to the Security Council, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released the findings of cartographer Miklos Pinter, whose assignment had been to determine the borders of the disputed area.
"I am pleased to report that, based on the best available information, the senior cartographer has arrived at a provisional definition of the Shaba Farms area," writes the Secretary General. He also points out that "this exercise has not been aimed to delineate international boundaries as regards to the Shaba Farms, but should assist Lebanon and Syria in their efforts to agree upon their common border."
According to Pinter's findings, the territory in question includes many IDF military positions, and serves as a strategic crossroads between the borders of Lebanon, Syria and Israel.
The area forms a trapezoid beginning on the international border, close to the village of Majidiye in southern Lebanon, and moving southeast toward an area known as Ma'ar Shaba. It then runs along the Siyon stream toward the northeast, until it meets the international border again, just north of the Barhata Farms.
Pinter's findings are based on evidence he received from the government of Lebanon and on visits to the area on both sides of the border, the latest being on September 5, from the Israeli side of the border.
According to the calculations of Dr. Yigal Kipnis from Haifa University, the territory described in Pinter's findings includes large portions of Mount Dov, and covers an area of approximately 25 square kilometers.
Israel is particularly pleased that the secretary general included in the report that the issue of the Shaba Farms "cannot be separated from the principles and elements required for the permanent cease-fire and long-term solution identified in resolution 1701 (2006)."
The Shaba Farms are in an area that was part of the French Mandate over Syria and Lebanon and which is now controlled by Israel, which annexed it as part of the Golan Heights. The area was never clearly marked since the British and French Mandates in the area.
Following the IDF withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Lebanon has insisted that Shaba Farms constitute part of its sovereign territory. However, at the time the United Nations determined that the area was part of the Golan Heights, and that the matter would be decided in a future agreement between Israel and Syria.
Following the Second Lebanon War, the UN began marking the border area between Lebanon and Syria, and Israel has insisted that the sovereignty issue over the Shaba Farms cannot be decided conclusively until the border between its two neighbors is fixed.
Both Lebanon and Syria have asked in recent months that the Shaba Farms be transferred to UN custody, but Israel is opposed to the idea.
In his report, the secretary general was critical of Syria's failure to provide the UN with specific details pertaining to the Shaba Farms.
In addition to the Shaba Farms, which was only a portion of the report, the secretary general focused on the rearming of paramilitary groups in Lebanon, especially Hezbollah.
Ban Ki-moon quotes Israeli sources as claiming that Hezbollah tripled its arsenal of C-802 anti-ship missiles, which struck an Israeli destroyer during last year's war, killing four.
Ban writes that Israel alleges that Hezbollah has rearmed itself "at a level higher than prior to last year's conflict... that Hizbullah's long-range rocket force is stationed in areas north of the Litani River, and that most of the new rockets supplies - including hundreds of Zilzal and Fajr generation rockets - have a range of 250 Km, enabling them to reach Tel Aviv and points further south."
The UN chief wrote that "addressing [Hezbollah's] disarmament remains critical to the extension of the authority of the government of Lebanon over all its territory," and that Israel considers "the nature and number of weapons in Hizbullah's control... a strategic threat to its security and the safety of its citizens."

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Cat and mouse games continue in Gaza, Negev

Last update - 12:40 01/11/2007    
By Mijal Grinberg, Haaretz Correspondent
The Israel Air Force on Thursday attacked two Qassam rocket launchers in the northern Gaza Strip from which Palestinian militants had unleashed a barrage of nine rockets toward the western Negev, Army Radio reported.
One of the rockets struck front yard of a home in the western Negev town and did not explode. Two other rockets landed in open fields - one outside Sderot and another near Kibbutz Nir Am. There were no injuries or damage reported.
Rockets have landed in the region on a daily basis, yet Sderot's chief security officer, Yehuda Ben Mamen, said the latest barrage prompted school principals to call and inquire as to whether classes would be in session. Ben Mamen replied that schools would be opened as per usual.  

The town unveiled on Wednesday its first armor-protected student bus station. Prior to the start of the school year, parents demanded that bus stations across the city be reinforced for protection against Qassam rocket fire.
Report: IDF troops killed armed militant in south Gaza

Israel Defense Forces troops operating in southern Gaza on Thursday opened fire on an armed militant laying near the soldiers' position. Israel Radio reported that the militant was killed by the troops' fire.
Troops also killed four armed Palestinians overnight on Thursday in northern Gaza, during clashes near the border fence.
IDF troops regularly stage raids into Gaza to try to prevent Islamic Jihad and other factions from firing rockets or mortars across the border into Israel or at border crossings.

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Palestinian push on Jerusalem

Ahead of the Annapolis conference, the Palestinians have begun pushing their claims on Jerusalem again:
The Palestinian Authority has demanded that Israel formally sanction a document in which it promises to permit Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem to continue to operate, the Shin Bet security service has told the government in recent days.
The document, known as the "Peres letter," was appended to the Oslo II agreements of 1993.
The Shin Bet - which is presenting its analysis of the negotiating stance the Palestinians are expected to put forward at next month's Annapolis peace conference - has also warned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert against falling into the trap of declaring Israeli recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The warning points especially to the fact that "East Jerusalem" is understood to encompass the Old City and the Western Wall, both.
Shin Bet analysts are weary of a Palestinian negotiating ploy in which Israel would be lured to agree in principle to recognize East Jerusalem as the future capital of a Palestinian state, while delaying debate on the particular details of which side would maintain authority over religious sites.
President Shimon Peres, who served as foreign minister at the time of the signing of the Oslo Accords, had dispatched a letter to his Norwegian counterpart, Johan Jorgen Holst, stating Israel's recognition of the importance of Palestinian institutions in the city and its commitment to protect them.
Initially, Peres denied the existence of the letter after former PA Chairman Yasser Arafat revealed its contents. The intense public pressure which ensued from within the media and the political community eventually forced Peres to acknowledge the letter as fact.
The Palestinians are demanding that Israel allow the renewed activity of Palestinian institutions in east Jerusalem, chief among them Orient House, which was shut down in August 2001 in response to the Palestinian suicide bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria in the city.
The Palestinian demand is one of a series of measures in which Israel is expected to adopt so as to ease tensions on the ground, as is prescribed in the road map.
Nobody seems to be demanding that Palestinians recognize any Israeli rights in Jerusalem.

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Nostalgia for Farouk?

An Egyptian television series about King Farouk has provoked a great deal of comment in Egypt, as Hala Sakr notes in al Ahram. The series attempted to rehabilitate Farouk. The reason can be explained by these comments:
"The monarchy has long been dead, but when we had a monarchy it was a constitutional one, and the 1923 constitution is there for everybody to read and marvel at... I do not call for a restoration of the monarchy, but the serial reflects my own understanding of the period." Abu-Gahzai agrees that restoring the monarchy would go against the movement of history. "But," he says, "the serial has succeeded in raising the question of true democracy. It asserts that Egypt once had a significant democratic experience which has been intentionally tarnished since July 1952. Despite its shortcomings, the pre-1952 liberal experience will continue to be of great importance to our history -- a source of inspiration to all Egyptians."

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Why so many Palestinian kids get killed

What will it take for people to understand how Palestinian Arab kids get killed??
Video: Terrorists firing mortars from schoolyard

[includes video]

Footage shows terror cell preparing to launch mortar shells near elementary school in Gaza, fleeing site after launches. IDF says terror organizations 'aware of our sensitivity to these areas and they take advantage of that, this is as cynical as their use of the civilian population gets'
Hanan Greenberg Published: 10.31.07, 21:05 / Israel News

A cell of three terrorists launching mortar shells towards Israel from a Gaza schoolyard was captured carrying out the attack by Israeli intelligence on Monday.

After the attacks are carried out the cell quickly flees the launch site, a courtyard outside an elementary school in the town of Beit Hanun in northern Gaza. IDF forces, who identified the cell as it was carrying out the attacks, struck the terrorists after they had cleared the public buildings.

The tall structure in the video is the school and the red circle tracks the terrorists as they prepare to fire the mortars. Military officials said Israeli forces withheld fire, fearing civilians would be harmed.

A senior IDF officer told Ynet on Wednesday that Palestinian terror organizations continue to abuse the civilian population in Gaza by launching attacks against Israel from their midst.

"They don't think twice about firing Qassam rockets near crowded public areas, even though they're fully aware that they're endangering innocent civilians," said the officer.

"We're constantly faced with very difficult and complex dilemmas, how best to defend Israel's citizens and strike at these terror cells while at the same time avoid civilian casualties on the Palestinian side. The terror
organizations are well aware of our sensitivity to these issues and they take full advantage of the situation, this is as cynical as their use of the civilian population gets," he said.

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Robert Fisk on Saudi Arabia and Terrorism - Off with their heads

Don't miss this one...
`I see!' said the Queen, who had meanwhile been examining the roses. `Off with their heads!' and the procession moved on, three of the soldiers remaining behind to execute the unfortunate gardeners, who ran to Alice for protection...(Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter VIII).
"Off with their heads," and the procession moves on. Poetry becomes reality.
Ami Isseroff
Robert Fisk: King Abdullah flies in to lecture us on terrorism
By Robert Fisk
Published: 30 October 2007
In what world do these people live? True, there'll be no public executions outside Buckingham Palace when His Royal Highness rides in stately formation down The Mall. We gave up capital punishment about half a century ago. There won't even be a backhander – or will there? – which is the Saudi way of doing business. But for King Abdullah to tell the world, as he did in a BBC interview yesterday, that Britain is not doing enough to counter "terrorism", and that most countries are not taking it as seriously as his country is, is really pushing it. Weren't most of the 11 September 2001 hijackers from – er – Saudi Arabia? Is this the land that is really going to teach us lessons?
The sheer implausibility of the claim that Saudi intelligence could have prevented the ondon bombings if only the British Government had taken it seriously, seems to have passed the Saudi monarch by. "We have sent information to Great Britain before the terrorist attacks in Britain but unfortunately no action was taken. And it may have been able to maybe avert the tragedy," he told the BBC. This claim is frankly incredible.
The sad, awful truth is that we fete these people, we fawn on them, we supply them with fighter jets, whisky and whores. No, of course, there will be no visas for this reporter because Saudi Arabia is no democracy. Yet how many times have we been encouraged to think otherwise about a state that will not even allow its women to drive? Kim Howells, the Foreign Office minister, was telling us again yesterday that we should work more closely with the Saudis, because we "share values" with them. And what values precisely would they be, I might ask?
Saudi Arabia is a state which bankrolled – a definite no-no this for discussion today – Saddam's legions as they invaded Iran in 1980 (with our Western encouragement, let it be added). And which said nothing – a total and natural silence – when Saddam swamped the Iranians with gas. The Iraqi war communiqué made no bones about it. "The waves of insects are attacking the eastern gates of the Arab nation. But we have the pesticides to wipe them out."
Did the Saudi royal family protest? Was there any sympathy for those upon whom the pesticides would be used? No. The then Keeper of the Two Holy Places was perfectly happy to allow gas to be used because he was paying for it – components were supplied, of course, by the US – while the Iranians died in hell. And we Brits are supposed to be not keeping up with our Saudi friends when they are "cracking down on terrorism".
Like the Saudis were so brilliant in cracking down on terror in 1979 when hundreds of gunmen poured into the Great Mosque at Mecca, an event so mishandled by a certain commander of the Saudi National Guard called Prince Abdullah that they had to call in toughs from a French intervention force. And it was a former National Guard officer who led the siege.
Saudi Arabia's role in the 9/11 attacks has still not been fully explored. Senior members of the royal family expressed the shock and horror expected of them, but no attempt was made to examine the nature of Wahhabism, the state religion, and its inherent contempt for all representation of human activity or death. It was Saudi Muslim legal iconoclasm which led directly to the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban, Saudi Arabia's friends. And only weeks after Kamal Salibi, a Lebanese history professor, suggested in the late 1990s that once-Jewish villages in what is now Saudi Arabia might have been locations in the Bible, the Saudis sent bulldozers to destroy the ancient buildings there.
In the name of Islam, Saudi organisations have destroyed hundreds of historic structures in Mecca and Medina and UN officials have condemned the destruction of Ottoman buildings in Bosnia by a Saudi aid agency, which decided they were "idolatrous". Were the twin towers in New York another piece of architecture which Wahhabis wanted to destroy?
Nine years ago a Saudi student at Harvard produced a remarkable thesis which argued that US forces had suffered casualties in bombing attacks in Saudi Arabia because American intelligence did not understand Wahhabism and had underestimated the extent of hostility to the US presence in the kingdom. Nawaf Obaid even quoted a Saudi National Guard officer as saying "the more visible the Americans became, the darker I saw the future of the country". The problem is that Wahhabi puritanism meant that Saudi Arabia would always throw up men who believe they had been chosen to "cleanse" their society from corruption, yet Abdul Wahhab also preached that royal rulers should not be overthrown. Thus the Saudis were unable to confront the duality, that protection-and-threat that Wahhabism represented for them.
Prince Bandar, formerly Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington, once characterised his country's religion as part of a "timeless culture" while a former British ambassador advised Westerners in Saudi Arabia to "adapt" and "to act with the grain of Saudi traditions and culture".
Amnesty International has appealed for hundreds of men – and occasionally women – to be spared the Saudi executioner's blade. They have all been beheaded, often after torture and grossly unfair trials. Women are shot.
The ritual of chopping off heads was graphically described by an Irish witness to a triple execution in Jeddah in 1997. "Standing to the left of the first prisoner, and a little behind him, the executioner focused on his quarry ... I watched as the sword was being drawn back with the right hand. A one-handed back swing of a golf club came to mind ... the down-swing begins ... the blade met the neck and cut through it like ... a heavy cleaver cutting through a melon ... a crisp moist smack. The head fell and rolled a little. The torso slumped neatly. I see now why they tied wrists to feet ... the brain had no time to tell the heart to stop, and the final beat bumped a gush of blood out of the headless torso on to the plinth."
And you can bet they won't be talking about this at Buckingham Palace today.

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Israel resolute to cut Gaza electricity

Yaakov Katz , THE JERUSALEM POST  Oct. 30, 2007
Despite Attorney General Menahem Mazuz's order to review the sanctions, defense officials said Tuesday that Israel would soon begin cutting off electricity to the Gaza Strip as part of the list of measures enacted against the Palestinians in wake of the escalation in Kassam rocket attacks.
On Monday, Mazuz ordered the defense establishment to research the issue and to ensure that the measure was defendable in court. On Sunday, the IDF began cutting back on its supply of fuel to the Gaza Strip in line with the cabinet's recent decision to define Gaza as a hostile entity.
"In the end, the sanction will be implemented," a defense official said. "There might, however, be some changes to the dose and to the amount of time it is done for."
Meanwhile Tuesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that a large-scale operation in Gaza was drawing near. "Every day that passes brings us closer to a broad operation in Gaza," Barak said as he toured the North. "We are not happy to do it, we're not rushing to do it, and we'll be happy if circumstances succeed in preventing it. But the time is approaching when we'll have to undertake a broad operation in Gaza."
On Tuesday night, two Kassam rockets, as well as five mortar shells, pounded Netiv Ha'asara, with one scoring a direct hit on a home in the Gaza-belt community. A woman and her granddaughter were in the house when it was hit but escaped unscathed. Islamic Jihad took responsibility for the fire.
Israeli aircraft hit a police station in the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis late Tuesday, Palestinians said, and rescue workers said at least three people were killed.
The Israeli military confirmed it carried out an airstrike, saying the target was a Hamas position in southern Gaza.
In a statement, the military said the attack followed the firing of mortar shells by Hamas.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hanan Ashrawi praises Hezbullah, blames Hamas on Israel

Attention Hanan Ashrawi fans, here's the latest word
Veteran Palestinian Authority lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi, who represents PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad's Third-Wave party, defended both Hamas and Hizbullah in a speech at Emory University in Atlanta on Monday night.
"The [Second Lebanon] War proved [Israel] could not defeat a nation fighting for freedom," Ashrawi said. Later, the Christian lawmaker blamed Hamas's January 2006 election victory on Israel, saying the occupation bred extremism.
Ashrawi also discussed the plight of the Palestinian people, saying they had plunged into a deep depression with unemployment and poverty at record levels, and that peace was the only answer.
Palestinians are experiencing "one of the most difficult phases in our history," she said. "Violence and [the] extreme ideology of Israel feed violence and extremism on the other side. And that's what led to the election of Hamas."
"Now we see not just a political and economic battle, but a battle over the soul of Palestine," she told an audience of about 200. "We find ourselves in the grip of... the deconstruction of Palestine."
Nearly 75 percent of Gazans were dependent on welfare and the Strip's unemployment rate had skyrocketed to 50%, she said, adding that conditions there had worsened since Hamas seized power in June.
Ashrawi's lecture was part of a series of speeches on the Emory campus focusing on peace-building in wartorn regions. One of the more controversial talks was by former US president Jimmy Carter, who spoke about his much-criticized book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. The book was condemned by many for comparing Israeli actions to the oppression of blacks under South Africa's apartheid regime.
Ashrawi praised Carter as a "prophet" and a "man of conscience," and one of a dwindling number of people who still believed peace was possible in the Middle East.
She said peace talks must be moved forward rather than waiting for the violence to subside.
"You cannot hold peace hostage and say, 'Until every single Palestinian becomes peaceful, I'm not going to have talks,'" Ashrawi said. "You have to talk in order to bring about peace."
The United States plans to host a conference in late November or early December to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian talks.
US officials have engaged in a flurry of diplomatic activity in recent weeks aiming to push Israel and the Palestinians toward consensus on the substance of the conference's joint declaration, which would outline a way for the sides to return to the negotiating table.
AP contributed to this report.

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Egyptian Mufti praises polygamy, blames west for terrorism

According to MEMRI, Egyptian Mufti Ali Gum'a believes that polygamy is a good thing, and it is permitted by Judaism as well as Islam. Terrorism is the fault of the West. Adulterers should be killed - in theory only.
Here's the transcript  

The following is an interview with Egyptian Mufti Ali Gum'a, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on September 13, 2007.
"Cases Of Polygamy Do Not Exceed 2%... [While] Mistresses and Adultery Have Become Widespread Throughout the World"
Interviewer: "The Western world always claims that the Islamic world is not suited to these modern times, because some of its clauses that pertain to women are considered by the Western world to be prejudiced against women. With regard to Egypt, they keep returning to the slogan of 'female circumcision,' and I know your views about this issue.
"But take, for example, the issue of polygamy or the stoning of adulteresses. People who do not belong to this society view such things as a kind of... I don't want to use the word 'backwardness,' but such things are viewed as regression of modern social [Islamic] laws. Honorable Mufti, what do you think about polygamy? Is this Egypt's method of family planning?"
Ali Gum'a: "This is a storm in a teacup. Our statistics show that cases of polygamy do not exceed two percent. That's one thing. Mistresses and adultery have become widespread throughout the world, beginning with the heads of state here and there – and I don't want to mention specific Western countries – and culminating with illegitimate children, who are recognized due to the constraints of reality. I'd like to know if this is preferable to having a rate of two percent [polygamy] among marriages, according to the reliable official statistics. What is this? Are we supposed to allow adultery and ban marriages? In my opinion, this is preposterous."
Interviewer: "What about the way women are punished?"
Ali Gum'a: "Polygamy is one thing, and the punishment is another. Islam never punishes just the woman, but always both the woman and the man."
"I Support Killing [Adulterers], But Killing Them If Certain Conditions Are Met"
Interviewer: "Are you in favor of killing them?"
Ali Gum'a: "Killing whom?"
Interviewer: "The adulteress."
Ali Gum'a: "And what about the man?"
Interviewer: "The adulterer too. So you are in favor of killing them?"
Ali Gum'a: "The kind of distinction you made creates the impression that there is a bias against women. There is no bias against women. Adultery is a sin for both men and women."
Interviewer: "My question was whether you are in favor of killing them."
Ali Gum'a: "I support killing them, but killing them if certain conditions are met. These conditions should not be neglected. These conditions show us what this killing means, and how it takes place. In over 1,000 years, we have not carried out the killing of an adulterer. In Egypt, we have not carried out the killing of an adulterer, and therefore..."
Interviewer: "What are the conditions?'
Ali Gum'a: "There must be four witnesses to testify against the adulterer. They must testify that they saw them having sex."
Interviewer: "In other words, that is impossible.'
Ali Gum'a: "Exactly. This cannot happen unless someone is weary of living and decides to confess." [...]
"To This Day, Judaism Permits Polygamy; the Hindus Permit Polygamy; the Buddhists Permit Polygamy"
Interviewer: "Is a man permitted to have four wives?"
Ali Gum'a: "This is permitted in all religions."
Interviewer: "No, not in all religions..."
Ali Gum'a: "This is permitted in all religions except Christianity."
Interviewer: "In Judaism, a man is permitted to have four wives?"
Ali Gum'a: "Of course! Moses has four wives, and so did Abraham..."
Interviewer: "But today, it is not permitted."
Ali Gum'a: "Today, yesterday...what's the difference? To this day, Judaism permits polygamy. The Hindus permit polygamy. The Buddhists permit polygamy. There is not a single religion on the face of the earth that bans polygamy, but all religions agree that women are not allowed to have more than one husband. Christianity is the only religion that does not permit more than one wife. The rest – six billion people on Earth – permit polygamy."
Interviewer: "Do you have daughters?"
Ali Gum'a: "I have three."
Interviewer: "Would you allow them to marry a man with other wives?"
The Woman Benefits From Polygamy Because "A... Mistress Remains in the Shadows"
Ali Gum'a: "They are free to do what they want. A Muslim girl can decide to agree, or else, she can decide to file for a divorce from her husband if she does not like the new situation, and he too is free to choose. But in Islam, Allah permits us – just like in all religions – to marry several wives, and have things done out in the open.
"For whose benefit is all this? For the benefit of the woman, because a woman who is taken as a mistress remains in the shadows, and loses all her rights. The man does not owe her anything. But since [Allah] permits marrying another wife, she gains respect, status, and rights. Therefore, becoming a second wife reinforces the status of a woman, because she does not become a mistress or a girlfriend who remains in the darkness, and the man does not do things of which he is ashamed."[...]
"Social Violence is the Result of the Secularists' Attempt to Impose Their Principles Upon Society"
Interviewer: "How come the reaction in our society is always one of violence?"
Ali Gum'a: "This culture has emerged from injustice. The Arab people has suffered from imperialism since the mid-19th century."
Interviewer: "But it was not violent in the days of imperialism. It has become violent now, when it became independent."
Ali Gum'a: "I seem to recall the fidayeen movement in the Suez Canal. I seem to recall the fidayeen movement in Syria..."
Interviewer: "I am talking about violence within society."
Ali Gum'a: "Social violence is the result of the secularists' attempt to impose their principles upon society, instead of explaining them. They tried to impose their principles on society, and the result was social violence. The people refuse to deny Allah, and to allow our God to be cursed. The people were brought up on the holy, while the secularists want the profane."
Interviewer: "But excuse me, in the West... I don't want to defend the West too much, but they also accept young Arabs and Muslims into their universities and schools, and they have many immigrants, and when they return home, they carry out violent or terrorist acts. There is something in the very structure... I would like you to explain this structure to me. You talk about injustice and oppression, but injustice and oppression also exist in Africa and South America, yet they do not respond to it [with violence]."
Ali Gum'a: "All the bloodshed in Rwanda and Uganda is not considered violence?"
"People from the Religious Establishment Do Not Resort to Violence, While People From Secular Institutions Do"
Interviewer: "But I've never heard of them carrying out an act of terror in a subway or a theater..."
Ali Gum'a: "It would take a team of sociologists and psychologists to analyze this phenomenon – how come anyone who becomes religious out of the religious establishment turns out violent. In Al-Azhar University, there are 400,000 people, and 20 million people worldwide are affiliated with it – and not a single one of them ever committed a terrorist act. But we've seen a doctor and an engineer who were brought up in the West..."
Interviewer: "What about Muhammad Atta and Al-Zawahiri..."
Ali Gum'a: "Those operations were all carried out by people brought up in the West. How come people from the religious establishment do not resort to violence, while people from secular institutions do employ violence? Are there discrepancies in their way of thinking? Is there a specific psychological structure that leads to [violence]? This requires psychological and sociological studies."
Interviewer: "But bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri were not brought up in the West."
Ali Gum'a: "But the one was an engineer, and the other was a doctor. They were brought up on Western methodology, and not on religious methodology. How come not a single Al-Azhar scholar came up with this idea? We are talking about 20 million... Even Omar Abd Al-Rahman is the exception that proves the rule. He himself never participated in terrorist acts. Even when his ideology became deviant he did not participate in acts of terrorism."
Interviewer: "What would you call the operations that are carried out in Iraq?"
Ali Gum'a: "Shocking. Some things are shocking. Iraq is a complex case, and the one responsible for this is Mr. Bush."

 See the clip here 

Continued (Permanent Link)

Barak threatens major Gaza operation - again

Israel DM Barak said Tuesday that a "broad operation" in Gaza was getting close:
"Every day that passes brings us closer to a broad operation in Gaza..We are not happy to do it, we're not rushing to do it, and we'll be happy if circumstances succeed in preventing it, but the time is approaching when we'll have to undertake a broad operation in Gaza."
It is not the first time he has made these fairly pointless remarks. Of course, if the operation happens in 2010, it is still true that every day brings us closer. But as long as the Annapolis summit is on the horizon, there is little chance of such an operation. The Hamas would just love it if Israel attacked before the Annapolis summit.
Ami Isseroff

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Lebanese TV: Protocols of the Elders of Zion plot to annihilate the world using drugs

TV Channel Affiliated with Lebanese Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Beri in Show on Protocols of the Elders of Zion: Jews Use Drug Trafficking to Control World, Subjugate Other Nations
The following are excerpts from a Lebanese TV report on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The report aired on NBN TV on October 22, 2007.
To view this clip visit:

"Jews Purport to Have Their Own Private God in the Heavens, Who Commanded Them to Annihilate the... Peoples of the World Using Drugs"
Maria Maalouf: "On land and in the heavens – the use that American and Israeli Zionism makes of the weapon of drugs in order to thwart intifadas and revolutions cannot be justified by the American claims about the intensification of the struggle on land, as long as the Jews purport to have their own private god in the heavens, who commanded them to annihilate the nations and peoples of the world, using drugs and causing anxiety, and numbing the mental, psychological, and physical capabilities of non-Jews, as written in the Talmud or The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
"Isn't it true that these Jewish plots to corrupt the peoples were described by American 'plot-disrupters,' such as Benjamin Franklin and Henry Ford, and even by some Jews, like Alfred Lilienthal, and even Karl Marx, who, more than 150 years ago, exposed in his book On the Jewish Question that there was an instinct within the Jewish individual that drives him to take control of the world, by means of illegal money – which is known today as 'money laundering?'" [...]
"Since the Occupation of Palestine, the Zionist Policy has Supported and Spread Drug Abuse in the Holy Lands"
Narrator: "The Koran said about them: 'They strive to spread corruption throughout the land.' Spreading corruption throughout the land is the declared goal of the Zionist hands of evil, which are infiltrating the world. The Zionists have summarized their destructive principles in what has become known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which contains their secret plan to subjugate the entire world by spreading chaos and promiscuity among the nations, by imposing corrupt and depraved ideologies on human minds, and by destroying the foundations of religion, nationalism, and morality.
"Since the occupation of Palestine, the Zionist policy has supported and spread drug abuse in the holy lands, and has acted to get rid of the legal procedures meant to prevent this, and refrain from prosecuting drug dealers and traffickers. The Israeli prison authorities turn a blind eye to smuggling, and even facilitate drug abuse among the Arab detainees, and they clamp down upon Palestinian NGOs trying to curb drug abuse.
"In addition to the provoking of civil strife and to the poisoning of minds, the Jews have turned to physical poisoning. They became known in history for poisoning wells. They are also known for adding certain amounts of harmful substances to medicine and alcoholic beverages, as well as to flour and its products, and to other products that the Jews export, directly and indirectly, to unfriendly peoples, if not to all peoples."
"Drugs Were the Jews' Method of Wearing Down the German People, Which Led to the Nazi Extremism"
"Drugs were the Jews' method of wearing down the German people, which led to the Nazi extremism, in which the Jews themselves played a role. In addition, they carried out widespread drug dealing in Czarist Russia, from the 17th century. This was in accordance with the Jewish Talmud, which says that the Jews must devote their greatest efforts to prevent other nations from ruling the land, so that the rule would be in the hands of the Jews alone.
"In The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the end justifies the means, and when the forces of society are in a state of disarray, the power of the Jews is stronger than that of anyone else."
"Moreover, the ninth Zionist protocol states, in a banal way, that any revolution against the Jews must be made [as futile as] a dog barking at an elephant. The third Zionist protocol states that other nations must be left sick, poor, and lacking any determination or strength. Naturally, drugs are the most effective means to accomplish this goal. The American thinker Benjamin Franklin, in his famous 1789 manifesto, the American industrialist Henry Ford, who wrote The International Jew, and others like them warned of the danger posed by the Jews, who destroy morals. In an indirect reference to drugs, Franklin said about [the Jews]: 'They destroy morale in any land they settle.' He described them as 'bats' and 'blood-suckers,' and said that if they are not kept away from the children of America, these children – according to Franklin – would end up as workers in fields for the feeding of the Jews."[...]
"The Spreading of Drugs is One of Their Means of Taking Control of Non-Jewish Peoples"
Maria Maalouf: "I have a final question about what is written in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion: 'The Jews are entitled to treat the other peoples as animals, to corrupt them, to tear countries apart, to destroy the other nationalities, and to spread promiscuity and chaos.' Some believe that the spreading of drugs is one of their means of taking control of non-Jewish peoples."
Hussein Al-Kheishan: "I believe this is true, we must consider our responsibility – what we should do to overcome this plague, which is killing our society."

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Sheetrit: Close the gates of Israel

According to Interior minister Meir Sheetrit, 'Israel should no longer grant automatic citizenship to Jews'.
Sheetrit had more to say:
"I'd like to see that [the immigrant] is not a criminal, that he's learning Hebrew; that he's here for five years before getting citizenship," he said.
"Don't go finding me any lost tribes because I won't let them in any more," he declared. "We have enough problems in Israel. Let them go to America."
How ironic that the scion of Moroccan Jewish immigrants, themselves a persecuted minority at one time in Israel, should now seek to stifle immigration. Did someone check if Sheetrit's parents and neighbors all learned Hebrew in five years? Should they have done so?
The minister thinks there are too many Jews in Israel, we don't need any more. The Haredi Jews will supply all our manpower needs apparently. They have lots of children, though they often don't work or serve in the IDF. Having gotten a cushy berth, Sheetrit wants to keep others off the ship. Harry Truman was right that as as soon as an underdog gets some power, he starts persecuting others. I agree with Sheetrit, we don't need any Moroccan bigots in Israel. He is full of "sheet" and can go back where he came from.
Ami Isseroff

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Armenian Americans slam Ahmadinejad honors

A statement by an Armenian group:
"The ANCA has never called for further study of the Holocaust," Kaligian said. "That's the analogy you have to make, and I think we've been very clear on it."
But the ANCA has never done much to combat Armenian anti-Semitism either. The analogy we have to make, is if Israelis had an active policy of persecuting Armenians and the ADL never spoke out against them.
Ami Isseroff
Armenian Groups Slam University For Honoring Ahmadinejad

Ben Harris
JTA Wire Service

OCTOBER 29, 2007
New York

Armenian Americans slammed the decision by a university in the Armenian capital of Yerevan to honor Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad during a state visit to Armenia last week was presented with a gold medal and an honorary doctorate Monday from Yerevan State University.

An editorial in the Armenian weekly, the house organ of the Armenian National Committee of America, condemned the university, noting that Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier who has disregarded historical research.

"The university's decision to bestow an honorary doctorate is simply unacceptable," the editorial said. "We are surprised that as the officials in charge of the alma mater of a nation that rose from the ashes of another genocide, they did not take this fact into consideration before deciding to award the honorary degree."

Ahmadinejad's visit came as Armenian Americans and their supporters continued to press for a resolution in Congress recognizing the World War I-era killings of Armenians by Turkey as genocide.

Part of their campaign has focused on the Anti-Defamation League, which initially refused to use the word genocide to describe the killings but backtracked amid opposition from its leadership in the Boston area -- home to one of the highest concentrations of Armenians in the country. The ADL called the massacre of Armenians "tantamount to genocide."

Despite the shift the ADL, along with other major U.S. Jewish groups, continue to oppose a congressional resolution out of concern for its impact on Turkish ties with Israel and the United States. Consequently, the Armenian activists' campaign against the ADL has not eased.

A Web site, No Place For Denial, continues to accuse the ADL of genocide denial, alleging that its statements on the subject have been ambiguous, a charge the ADL denies. The continuing momentum has led several communities in the Boston area to end their partnerships with a highly regarded anti-bigotry program sponsored by the ADL.

Dikran Kaligian, chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America's Eastern Region, rejected the suggestion to mount a similar campaign against Yerevan State University, asserting that such a comparison was "apples and oranges."

The proper analogue to the ADL, Kaligian said, is not Yerevan State but ANCA, which is the largest Armenian grass-roots organization in the United States. The organization is an affiliate of the ArmenianRevolutionary Federation, an international political party founded in 1890.

Kaligian said ANCA has never taken an ambiguous position on the Holocaust. The ADL, by contrast, has endorsed a proposal for Armenia and Turkey to form a joint commission to arrive at a resolution of the issue, a step Armenians adamantly reject.

"The ANCA has never called for further study of the Holocaust," Kaligian said. "That's the analogy you have to make, and I think we've been very clear on it."

Both Kaligian and Sevag Arzoumanian, who runs No Place for Denial, agree that it was appropriate for Ahmadinejad to be invited to Armenia, a landlocked country that depends on good relations with its neighbors for trade and energy. But they said bestowing an academic honor was one step too far.

In an e-mail to JTA, Arzoumanian wrote, "How can Yerevan State University give an academic degree, however symbolic, to someone who takes the intellectually dishonest position that there needs to be further research and academic conferences to determine if the Holocaust occurred? What were they thinking? I think the YSU made a terrible error of judgment, both academically and morally."

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Media reporting of the Middle East: Watching the Watchdog

30.10. 2007
Original content copyright by the authors
Zionism & Israel Center

Watching the Watchdog

The media's role is to be the watchdog of democracy. But what happens when the watchdog falls into an unexpected trap? What happens when it is betrayed from within and maliciously manipulated in order to create a skewed picture of reality?

Nir Boms and Elliot Chodoff (10/25/2007)

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? "Who watches the watchmen?" asked the Roman poet Juvenal, paraphrasing a central problem discussed by Plato in The Republic.

The pursuit of "Justice" is a tricky business in a complicated world demanding that we make judgments about critical issues beyond our immediate perception like global warming, foreign policy, peace and war.

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Gaza situation is getting worse

As Amos Harel notes, IDF's tactical upper hand over Hamas in Gaza is diminishing. Each IDF strike in Gaza is more costly in terms of Israeli casualties:
The casualties Israel has suffered during offensive operations in the Gaza Strip- three dead in the past three months - hint at a troubling trend: The Israel Defense Forces' tactical advantage over Hamas in Gaza is shrinking.
Until recently, it was obvious who was winning this confrontation. The IDF has an enormous advantage in terms of firepower, observation, control of the air, armored vehicles and troop training. Dozens of IDF operations in the strip following the abduction of Gilad Shalit in the summer of 2006 resulted in hundreds of Palestinian dead. During that period, the IDF suffered one dead soldier, killed by friendly fire.

But in recent months, the efforts by Iran and Hezbollah to improve Hamas's military capabilities are beginning to be felt. It is not only better weaponry, but also careful study of the lessons of the Second Lebanon War. Dozens of militants trained in Iran and Lebanon have managed to enter the strip and have subsequently created a system of control and coordination. There is a chain of command for every area, which operates a coordinated network of observation posts, infantry and antitank forces.

Due to the fact that the entry points of IDF forces are relatively limited and predictable, the chance for clashes is relatively high. Israel still has an advantage, but it is harder to emerge from these clashes unscathed.

The IDF also suffers from another limitation: The size of the force allotted to offensive operations in the strip is relatively small, while the tasks are enormous. The soldiers are being drained.
Moreover, it seems that Hamas is building bunkers along the Gaza-Israel border in anticipation of an invasion. Even worse, Hamas is apparently planning a coup in the West Bank.
There are several factors deterring Israel from a massive operation in Gaza. The first is that such an operation would unite all the Palestinians behind Hamas and undermine the government of Mahmoud Abbas. This reason loses its force if Hamas is planning a coup in the West Bank. The second is, as Harel observes, the fact that Israeli casualties in these limited raids signal that a full scale operation would not be a "cake walk." A third consideration is the safety of Gilad Shalit. It is absurd that a single hostage can prevent effective action, but that may be the case.
At the same time, Israel seems to be running out of alternatives, since the UN and Israeli legal authorities will probably prevent the planned cuts in fuel cuts and supplies.
Ami Isseroff

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Zionism's Present and Future - Strength and Courage

Daniel Pipes laments Zionism's Bleak Present. I have seen a lot of predictions and lamentations of this sort:
  • A prediction that in ten years Israel would be bankrupt.
  • A poll in which Israelis predicted that the Histadrut would outlast the State of Israel, and that the State would probably not survive 25 years.
  • A cartoon with a sign at the airport that said "Will the last one to leave the country turn off the lights."
But all those dire portents were evident in the '60s, so apparently they were not so accurate. Pipes writes:

To top it off, Arabs are moving these days in the opposite direction, reaching a fever pitch of ethnic and religious bellicosity.

When I first came to live in Israel, Amman radio referred to Israel as "the Zionist entity" and Nasser ruled in Egypt. Nobody beat Nasser for "ethnic bellicosity."
I am sure, Dr. Pipes, that if you come to live in Israel, you will find that things improve over the years.
Strength and courage, Dr. Pipes. If you will, it is no legend!
Ami Isseroff

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Palestinian Authority trying to stop anti-peace meeting in Damascus

This item illustrates what Annapolis is really about, and what the stakes are for Israel and the Palestinians.

Khaled Abu Toameh , THE JERUSALEM POST  Oct. 29, 2007
The Palestinian Authority has dispatched three senior PA officials to Damascus in an attempt to persuade the Syrians not to host a conference called by Hamas and other radical Palestinian factions.
The two-day conference, which is scheduled to be held in Damascus on November 7, was called in response to the US-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis later this year.
The three officials who were dispatched to Damascus are Nasser Yussef, Rouhi Fattouh and Saleh Ra'fat. They will try to persuade the Syrians to ban the conference under the pretext that it would undermine the PA's standing and deepen divisions among the Palestinians. The three are also expected to warn the Syrians that the planned conference would damage relations between Syria and the PA.
Nimer Hammad, senior political advisor to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said the conference served Israel's interests because it would show that the Palestinians are weak and divided. He also warned that the gathering would have a negative impact on efforts to resume peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel.
The conference is expected to bring together several Palestinian "rejectionist" groups, as well as dozens of Palestinian figures representing various political factions.
The purpose of the conference is to send a message to Abbas and the PA that they don't have a mandate to strike a deal with Israel at the Annapolis conference.
PA officials have expressed deep concern over Syria's decision to host the parley. They view the conference in the context of Hamas's efforts to establish a new PLO.
"The conference in Damascus will deepen divisions among the Palestinians," a senior PA official said. "This is the first time that several Palestinian factions are talking about the possibility of establishing an alternative to the PLO, which is still regarded by many Palestinians as their sole and legitimate representative."
In addition to the extremist groups, a number of prominent Palestinian figures have been invited to the conference in Syria, including estranged and veteran PLO leader Farouk Kaddoumi. The Tunisian-based Kaddoumi, who also serves as secretary-general of Fatah, is an outspoken critic of the Oslo Accords and the current PA leadership under Abbas.
Invitations issued by Hamas and its political allies described the Syria parley as the "Palestinian National Conference for Resisting Schemes Aimed at Liquidating the Palestinian Cause."
"Their declared goal is to foil the Annapolis conference," said another PA official. "What's worrying is that the conference will be held under the auspices of the Syrian regime, which is also unhappy with the US efforts to reach a deal between the Israelis and Palestinians."
The PLO's parliament-in-exile, the Palestine National Council, urged the Syrian authorities to prevent the gathering for fear that it would escalate tensions in the Palestinian arena. The council also warned against attempts to establish a new PLO, "which was built thanks to the sacrifices of our martyrs, first and foremost president Yasser Arafat."
The council accused Hamas of seeking to exploit the conference to divert attention from its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip.
"Hamas wants to legitimize its coup in the Gaza Strip through this conference," it said.

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Hamas plans West Bank Coup

Hamas announced that they are planning a West Bank coup, validating the claims of the Fatah in that regard. What does this due to grandiose peace plans?
Hamas: We'll take control over West Bank in autumn
Senior Islamist group leader says 'our supporters will soon be praying in the Muqata in Ramallah, after Abbas' regime falls like a leaf'
Ali Waked YNET Published: 10.30.07, 00:55 / Israel News,7340,L-3465575,00.html

Senior Hamas leader Nizar Rayyan said Monday that the Islamist group would soon take control over the West Bank.

"In the autumn Hamas supporters will be praying in the Muqata compound in Ramallah (site of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' offices)," he said during a rally in Gaza.

"We are now praying at the Presidential compound in Gaza, just as we said we would. Abbas' regime will fall like a leaf come autumn."

Since Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza last June, the Palestinian Authority's security services have been seeking out Hamas operatives on a daily basis, especially those suspected of belonging to the group's armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Hamas has repeatedly threatened to retaliate to any attacks against its men in the West Bank.

Rayyan continued to say that "in the fall the man who kills his own people will be exposed, and we will annihilate him just as we have annihilated others like him."

Yaser Abed Rabo, a member of Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) Executive Committee, said in response that "Rayyan belongs in an asylum. These people are mentally and nationalistically backward.

"Rayyad, Mahmoud al-Zahar and that whole Hamas gang really, they don't deem Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank to be that important at all. All they want is to spread the Islamic mindset amongst Muslims worldwide. This group has nothing in its arsenal but threats; this gang does not know the meaning of dialog, all they can do is curse," the PA official told the Ma'an news

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Who or what is a Jew and do we need more of them?

The problem of who or what is a Jew, and who should be allowed to become Jewish, is always with us. Judaism is not a race contends Saul Singer and continues to argue his plea for easier conversions, and perhaps for proselytization. He wrote:
The combination of low birthrates, high assimilation and negligible conversion cannot add up to sustainability. We are not a species, but if we were, we would have to place ourselves on the "endangered" list.
In this context, it is mind-boggling that so many Jews seem to fear growth more than they fear becoming a historic anecdote, or worse. Even if attitudes toward conversion changed, is there really a danger of there being too many Jews? Where exactly is the flood of potential adherents that justifies barricading the floodgates? How can Jews simultaneously fear being overwhelmed with newcomers while wondering who would want to be Jewish?
More Reader 2: To be Jewish means you're a member of an exclusive club. God chose to reveal himself to the Jews. God doesn't talk to goyim. Jews don't look for converts because it is God's decision, not man's.
Reader 3: I don't like the idea of seeking an expansion of the Jewish population through conversion because... I'm very skeptical of what most converts really FEEL about being Jewish... I don't believe in "Jews by Choice." I only believe in Jews that have no option but to be Jewish... developing a Jewish identity that may not even be explainable in rational terms.
I HESITATE to even reprint these reactions because I find them so offensive. Get this straight: Judaism is not a race. How can Jews so blithely spout Hitler's line? Indeed, it is the possibility of conversion (aside from opening one's eyes on any Israeli street) that proves Judaism is not a race.
To me, it is convincing. However, I have one or two quibbles. Zionism is based on the idea that the Jews are a people. To join a people, one should not have to make a profession of religious faith. There should be a way to become a member of the Jewish people without becoming a member of the Jewish religion, but there isn't. At least, there should be some way of becoming an "Israelite" that allows Israel to become a single nation, despite the presence here of people of different religions.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israeli AG freezes Gaza power cuts

The stubborn workings of the rule of law in Israel, regardless of all challenges, are sometimes amazing and gratifying.
Mazuz freezes plan to cut Gaza power

Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz determined that the current plan to cut off the supply of electricity and other vital services to the Gaza Strip must not be implemented until a mechanism can be worked out which would prevent "collective punishment" of the Palestinians.

The decision was taken in a meeting with Defense Ministry representatives on Monday.

That meeting came in response to a petition for an injunction against the move filed to the High Court of Justice on Sunday by Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, as well as other human rights groups. Adalah claimed that it was illegal for Israel to collectively punish the 1.4 million people in Gaza.

According to a Channel 10 report, Mazuz insisted that the defense establishment first devise a system for ensuring that the move would not cause a humanitarian crisis for Palestinian civilians. One suggestion that was reportedly discussed was to warn hospitals in Gaza of impending action so as to give them time to start their generators.

Deputy Supreme Court President Eliezer Rivlin ordered the state to respond to the petition within five days.

Israel began scaling back its supply of fuel to the Gaza Strip on Sunday, as part of the sanctions package approved last week by Defense Minister Ehud Barak following the recent escalation in rocket attacks.

Dor Alon, the Israeli energy company that sells fuel to Gaza, confirmed it received instructions from the Defense Ministry to reduce shipments.

The fuel cut drew harsh condemnation from Palestinians in the Strip, which relies on Israel for all of its fuel and more than half of its electricity.

Defense officials said that starting Sunday Israel cut fuel supplies to Gaza by 5 percent to 12%. The main reduction was in gasoline: Instead of 450,000 liters a week, Israel will now supply 300,000; Israel will continue to supply the same amount of industrial fuel - 1.75 million liters per week - for Gaza's sole power plant; and instead of 1.4 million liters a week of diesel, Israel will now supply 1.25 million.

"This is a serious warning to the people of the Gaza Strip. Their lives are now in danger," said Ahmed Ali, deputy director of Gaza's Petroleum Authority, which distributes Israeli fuel shipments to private Palestinian companies. "The hospitals, water pumping station and sewage will now be affected by the lack of fuel."

Israeli officials said the changes would not affect hospitals, water supplies or sewage plants, and that the gasoline cuts were "marginal" but were enough to disrupt the daily lives of Palestinian civilians and cause them "to ask themselves if the Kassam rocket fire is beneficial for them or not."

Officials said that while Israel did not want to ground ambulances or garbage trucks, the defense establishment decided to reduce the diesel supply since it was also employed by Hamas for its car pool that is used daily in terrorist activity.

In a further effort to pressure Hamas, the IDF also decided to permanently shut down the Sufa crossing into Gaza, which had been used in recent months as a temporary replacement for the main Karni cargo crossing that has been closed due to increasing terrorist threats against it.

With Sufa closed, the Kerem Shalom crossing near Sinai will be the only entry point operated by the IDF for the transfer of humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip. Defense officials said Sufa was being shut in line with the new policy of increasing pressure on Hamas.

"There are daily rocket attacks against the crossing, and until now we used to switch off between Kerem Shalom and Sufa and used the one that wasn't under fire," an official said. "From now on, however, if Hamas fires at Kerem Shalom it will immediately shut down and will only reopen the next day if the firing stops."

Closing Sufa means that it will cost three times as much to transport food into Gaza as it did before Hamas took over the Strip, according to Kirstie Campbell, Gaza emergency coordinator for the World Food Program.

Since Hamas took over Gaza in June, Sufa had replaced Karni as the main crossing for goods into Gaza, at double the price, she said, and using the Kerem Shalom crossing would add another 50%.

So that what cost $25 per ton to bring through Karni, cost $50 at Sufa and would now be $75 per ton at Kerem Shalom because it was the most labor intensive of the three crossings, Campbell said.

She said the increased cost would overly tax donor support and ultimately mean less food for Gazans, of whom 80 percent, or some 1.1 million of the estimated 1.4 million people there, are dependent on food handouts from the international community.

Closing Sufa would increase the vulnerability of the food supply, she said.

Reducing fuel supplies also harms people's ability to feed themselves, since basic staples such as flour and rice needed to be cooked, she said.

The outlook for Gaza under these conditions, she said, "is very bleak."

In Geneva on Thursday, John Holmes, UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said Gaza's food supply had been reduced as a result of Israeli restrictions at the crossings.

"The squeeze was tightening all the time," Holmes said. In July, the UN helped bring 3,000 trucks into Gaza, a number that dropped to 1,508 in September.

In July, he said, 40 patients a day had been allowed to cross into Israel, which had fallen to under five a day in September.

While he condemned the Gazan rocket attacks against Israel, he said stopping the supply of fuel to "punish the population of Gaza" did not appear to be an appropriate response.

Unofficially, Israeli sources are saying Israel has no responsibility to supply fuel for the vehicles that are transporting the Kassams to locations where they can be fired on Israel, nor does Israel have an obligation to supply the fuel used to build the rockets.

A senior official in the Prime Minister's Office said that while it had not yet been decided when to begin suspending electricity to the Gaza Strip in response to rocket attacks, this new policy would also likely be implemented within the next few days.

The officials said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had not been flooded with urgent calls for Israel to rescind these measures, and that Israel had explained to the international community that the goal was not to punish residents of the Gaza Strip, but rather to protect Israeli citizens.

The issue - according to officials in the Prime Minister's Office - was not raised during a meeting Olmert held Sunday evening with a delegation from the Board of Directors of the United Nations Foundation that included former UN secretary general Kofi Annan.

The delegation also included Ted Turner, the founder of CNN and chairman of Turner Enterprises, and former Atlanta Mayor and US ambassador to the UN Andrew Young.

Olmert praised the UN for its involvement in putting together the Security Council resolution that ended last summer's war in Lebanon, and said that there has been a gradual improvement in Israeli attitudes toward the UN.

The prime minister told the delegation that Israel would be more than willing to converse with Hamas if it accepted the principles that Annan himself had laid down: recognizing Israel, rejecting terrorism and accepting previous Palestinian-Israeli agreements.

Also Sunday, Olmert briefed the cabinet on his talks on Friday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and said the upcoming Middle East conference in Annapolis, Maryland, would touch on the core issues of Jerusalem, borders and refugees, but would not try to solve them.

Olmert said that the declaration that the two sides were working on to present at Annapolis would be a general declaration that would include a commitment to continue negotiations after the meeting.

"We will go to negotiations after the Annapolis meeting with the intention to solve all the problems, and which will make possible the establishment of a Palestinian state that lives in security alongside Israel, a Palestinian state that is the national home of the Palestinian people, as Israel is the national home of the Jewish people." The Annapolis declaration would not include a detailed timetable for negotiations, he said.

Tovah Lazaroff and AP contributed to the report.

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O Jerusalem!: to divide or not to divide - that is the question

Zionists and Palestinian advocates are lining up on opposite sides, as usual, on the issue of Jerusalem. Palestinians claim the entire eastern part of Jerusalem, from which Jews were ethnically cleansed in 1948 (see The Ethnic Cleansing of Jerusalem). To most Israelis, it is unthinkable to give up the Wailing Wall, the cemetery on the Mt. of Olives, or the Hebrew University in Mt Scopus. For us, it is not a religious issue, but a national issue. Jerusalem was our ancient capital and was always central to the Jewish national consciousness. Zion is a place in Jerusalem and Zionism refers to return of the Jews to Jerusalem.
Most Israelis probably recognize that there must be a compromise about the temple mount, which is claimed as a holy place by Muslims as well. Zionists in the United States. Many Israelis also understand that it is pointless to maintain the quarter of a million Arabs who live in other parts of the expanded Jerusalem municipal boundaries as a subject people. American Jews have a different opinion apparently. Therefore, they were shaken when an orthodox rabbi announced his support for partition of Jerusalem.
A different, but relevant question, is whether or not it is wise for private persons to "offer" concessions in lieu of the Israeli government.
Ami Isseroff
By Tom Tugend  Published: 10/28/2007 

LOS ANGELES (JTA) -- A prominent Orthodox rabbi has broken a taboo by publicly advocating that his community consider a possible division of Jerusalem to achieve a lasting peace with the Palestinians.
Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of B'nai David Judea wrote in Friday's Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles that the "worst-case scenario" of returning the Western Wall and the Temple Mount to Arab control would be horrifying and unfathomable to him.
"At the same time, though, to insist that the [Israeli] government not talk about Jerusalem at all (including, the possibility, for example, of Palestinian sovereignty over Arab neighborhoods) is to insist that Israel come to the negotiating table telling a dishonest story -- a story in which our side has made no mistakes and no miscalculations, a story in which there is no moral ambiguity in the way we have chosen to rule people we conquered, a story in which we don't owe anything to anyone," Kanefsky wrote.
The 44-year old rabbi occasionally has startled Orthodox circles with his innovative ideas, but he enjoys wide respect among his peers in other denominations, who elected him to a term as president of the Southern California Board of Rabbis.
Kanefsky predicts that no peace conference will succeed until Israelis and Palestinians accept honest versions of their conflict and admit their mistakes over the past 40 years, including the occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank after the Six-Day War in 1967.
He acknowledges that the slogan "Jerusalem: Israel's Eternally Undivided Capital" is treated with "biblical reverence by my community," adding that it is "a corollary to the belief in the coming of the Messiah."
It is because of the unquestioned acceptance of this slogan by the Orthodox, as well as Christian evangelists, that he decided to initiate "a conversation that desperately needs to begin," Kanefsky wrote.
Within hours of the opinion piece's publication, reactions began to pour in to the Jewish Journal. Editor-in-Chief Rob Eshman said he received more than 100 letters, e-mails and phone calls about the article, along with a number of op-ed rebuttals.
On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reported on Kanefsky's article as the lead story in its California state section, along with local and national reactions.
Predictably, comments in mainstream Orthodox circles were highly critical, while liberal rabbis and peace groups praised Kanefsky's views and his courage in speaking out.
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the community's umbrella organization, is drafting a statement on the article. However, its Web site said "the Orthodox Union is preparing a comprehensive action plan which will call upon members of our community to join on the walls of Jerusalem and become her defenders against those who would divide her."
Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of the National Council of Young Israel, denounced the article, telling the Los Angeles Times that "Rabbi Kanefsky is completely off-base. I think his call for this discussion is ridiculous. It would amount to religious suicide."
A Conservative Los Angeles rabbi, David Wolpe, also disagreed with Kanefsky's viewpoint.
"To give up Jerusalem to people who want to destroy your country is an emotional high jump you'd have to be better than an Olympic athlete to vault," Wolpe said.
A Conservative Los Angeles rabbi, David Wolpe, also disagreed with Kanefsky's viewpoint.
"To give up Jerusalem to people who want to destroy your country is an emotional high jump you'd have to be better than an Olympic athlete to vault," he said.
However, another prominent Conservative rabbi, Harold Schulweis, applauded Kanefsky's courage "to touch the third rail, which this is. It is a mark of courage and conscience."
Reform Rabbi Laura Geller also praised Kanefsky as "a visionary leader" and hoped his article would lead to a thoughtful debate.

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Nadia abu al Haj - Academic martyr to McCarthyism or bad scientist?

In The Nation, Larry Cohler-Esses attacks what he calls "The New McCarthyism," which he describes as attempts by pro-Israel groups to discredit faculty with unfavorable opinions of Israel. As examples, he cites the case of Norman Finkelstein, who did not get tenure at DePaul university. It is a fact that Finkelstein has very shaky ideas about the Holocaust, and attacked Alan Dershowitz's "The Case for Israel" on specious grounds. Be that as it may, there is a sufficient stock of anti-Israel academic figures in every university, whose bids for tenure do not seem to have been hurt by their political views, whether they are factual or not.

The centerpiece of Cohler-Esses' attack is the movement to deny tenure to Nadia abu al - Haj. Paula Stern, who initiated the petition against Nadia abu al-Haj, replies below to an article by Cohler-Esses in Jewish Week, that made identical charges, and was apparently recycled for The Nation.

Ami Isseroff

Editor with a Hatchet: Larry Cohler-Esses

By: Paula R. Stern
October, 2007

Larry Cohler-Esses is a man on a mission. He's an editor with a hatchet, ready to wield it in the noble cause of "gotcha" journalism. Of course, he refuses to focus on the little details, like the voices of experts on the very subject on which he writes nothing about his inability to focus on the forest when the tree beckons. During a recent interview, so fascinated with one petition, Cohler-Esses managed to miss the forest: that Barnard College is about to give tenure to a professor who has written a wholly inferior and highly political book which fails completely when measured against the scales of truth, integrity, academic honesty and simple facts.

Like many newspapers, the Jewish Week was interested in a story about the tenure decision of Barnard professor Nadia Abu El Haj. I became aware of the ongoing controversy more than a year ago and read her book to see if it could possibly be as inaccurate and filled with anti-Israel propaganda as the experts claimed. A quick read suggests this is true; a more in-depth study confirms it. At the time (a year ago), I made notes, highlighted sections, and decided to do what I could to make certain that Barnard and Columbia did not give tenure to a professor who is more of a propagandist than a qualified scholar.

I wrote to the Barnard administration and contacted other Barnard graduates. Barnard doesn't want their alumnae to mess with the process; we are there for giving donations only, it seems. When the administration was unresponsive, I started an online petition. I was in a hurry, after all, the decision was to be soon and Barnard was refusing to give any details of the time schedule (plus I have a business to run, a daughter was getting married, a son was going into the army, three other children needed my attention, etc.). I did a quick review of my notes, wrote up a petition, and posted it.

I asked dozens of people to sign it. I later noticed a couple of minor errors in my text. Little things like – El Haj is virtually ignorant of the Hebrew language instead of completely ignorant. That her reference to one specific dig was wrong, but named a different dig instead. These minor corrections should have been made, but once a petition is posted at, no corrections to the text are possible.

Historians James Davila and Ralph Harrington concur that the petition was correct in its criticism of El Haj, except that : "I doubt that it is accurate to say that Abu El-Haj did not know Hebrew when she wrote the book. But in it she does make elementary errors that someone with a decent knowledge of the language would not have made, which raises the question whether she knew it well enough to pull off the ambitious project she undertakes in the book."

Several journalists have contacted me and interviewed me. Each focused on the forest - the Barnard tenure decision. Cohler-Esses called me moments before the Jewish Sabbat was to begin and we agreed he would call me back after the Sabbath ended in New York - that meant having a discussion at 12:30 a.m. in Israel. I asked that he speak to the experts on the subject for a detailed analysis of her work, but welcomed him to speak to me about my efforts. Little did I know that Cohler-Esses is a tree-man and likely wouldn't see a forest, even from way up high in the sky. The real question one must ask, is not why the petition is 100% accurate or not, but why Abu El Haj's book isn't accurate. And, of course, why attack-journalist Cohler-Esses devoted his time to seeking tiny criticisms in my petition instead of noting that Barnard is considering giving tenure to Abu El Haj on the basis of a single book that is riddled with serious errors of fact and of methodology.

The petition continued to grow, gaining more than 2,500 supporters, many of whom are Barnard and Columbia graduates. It's a fine showing, a clear message to Columbia University that its graduates are against this latest attempt to add yet another documented Israel hater to its ranks.

During this whole process, I've acted as an archive, posting many articles written by experts on the subject of El Haj's past and current research. It was on the basis of these articles, and not my opinion, that I asked concerned Barnard and Columbia graduates to make a decision. I asked the same of many reporters who contacted me. Most understood that the petition was an expression of concern and condemnation. Only Larry Cohler-Esses gave it the holiness one would normally equate with the Bible. Each word, he studied – more than he probably has ever bothered to study the Torah.

Cohler-Esses' mission can best be summed up in his own pre-determined prejudice, "This is the modus operandi of the New McCarthyism. It targets a new enemy for our era: Muslims, Arabs and others in the Middle East field who are identified as stepping over an unstated line in criticizing Israel, as radical Islamists, as just plain radical or as in some way sympathetic to terrorists."

In other words, Cohler-Esses was the most dangerous of hatchet editors – a man with a preconceived conclusion and the power to wield it. Sadly, he wasn't honest enough to make his opinions known, but hid behind innocuous questions and then minimized El Haj's 281-page manifesto as merely "criticizing Israel."

Rather than attack Cohler-Esses (as a response to his attack on me), this reporter will focus on the "facts" he raised and the answers he should have provided:

The four statements about her book that Cohler-Esses claims are false are that Abu El Haj:

  • claims the ancient Israelite kingdoms are a "pure political fabrication,"
  • denies the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 CE and instead blames its destruction on the Jews,
  • does not speak or read Hebrew yet had the temerity to publish a book on Israeli archaeology that demanded such expertise,
  • is so ignorant of her topic that she quotes one archaeologist on how a dig might have damaged the ancient palaces of Solomon--oblivious to the fact that those palaces, if they existed, were far from the site in question.

Let's take these statements point-by-point and demonstrate how wrong Cohler-Esses is:

Nadia Abu El Haj claims the ancient Israelite kingdoms are a "pure political fabrication."

I stand by this statement. El Haj does indeed claim that the story of ancient Israel is a "pure political fabrication." Here is a link to an essay that shows Cohler-Hess was incorrect, despite his almost desperate attempt to find some other meaning in El Haj's words.

Another, by a leading historian, comes to the same conclusion:

Both these scholars agree that El Haj's characteristically convoluted language does not mask her true intent – to say that the ancient Israelite kingdoms are a "pure political fabrication."

Nadia Abu El Haj denies the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 CE and instead blames its destruction on the Jews.

What Abu El Haj actually says is that that Jerusalem in the times of Jesus was not Jewish. "...for most of its history, including the Herodian period, Jerusalem was not a Jewish city, but rather one integrated into larger empires and inhabited, primarily, by 'other' communities." pp 175-6. El Haj is simply wrong, and pretty much everyone except El Haj (and maybe Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) knows it. To claim Jerusalem, whose very name is an Anglicized version of its Hebrew name, as anything but the Jewish city it has always been recognized to be, is a mockery of history, revisionism most insidious.

El Haj then makes herself ridiculous by asserting, with regard to the fires that destroyed a particular site in ancient Jerusalem, that there are "several alternative but equally plausible accounts." Some two thousand years after the destruction of Jerusalem, Nadia Abu El Haj has set herself as the defender of Rome. It is her goal to acquit the ancient Roman Empire and to do so, she must find a culprit. Since there were but Jews and Romans present at the time, she is limited in her choices. Limited but not defeated, she makes her wild and undocumented suggestion, nonetheless, by suggesting that "some of the evidence… could just as convincingly be read as evidence of a class or sectarian conflict within Jewish Society…" pp 145

Here is yet another essay showing how El Haj got this wrong. Cohler-Esses continues his attack on the petition by focusing on the exact wording while missing the main point that El Haj did, in fact, attempt to shift blame for the burning of Jerusalem to the Jews. That she did this for only a section of Jerusalem and not the entire city, as one might interpret from the petition, means nothing to Cohler-Esses. He can take the petition word for word, but cannot manage to do the same with El Haj's book - again, because that might disagree with his own intention.

Two points down, and one can begin to see a pattern to Cohler-Esses writing, but let's continue.

Nadia Abu El Haj does not speak or read Hebrew yet had the temerity to publish a book on Israeli archaeology that demanded such expertise.

Here one must concede, again, that the petition is correct in its conclusion, but with the added explanation that it seems that El Haj knows some Hebrew, just not enough to read and write intelligently on her chosen topic.

As I wrote on my site, "Any Israeli reading the book will quickly see that the numerous mistakes she makes are a clear indication...this woman is as uncertain and unskilled in her Hebrew skills as she is in her research, her documentation, her ability to draw logical and intelligent conclusions based on real facts on the ground." See

When I tried to admit that the petition was correct in its essense, if not phrased as best as could be expected, one can almost hear the glee in Cohler-Esses pathetic attempt to misplace this "admission" to devalue the entire petition. But luckily, the only thing devalued in this process is the integrity of Cohler-Esses and any newspaper that would print his article without further investigation.

Nadia Abu El Haj is so ignorant of her topic that she quotes one archaeologist on how a dig might have damaged the ancient palaces of Solomon--oblivious to the fact that those palaces, if they existed, were far from the site in question.

Abu El Haj's ignorance of archaeology is monumental. As I mentioned previously, if Cohler-Esses wanted a professional discussion of all facets of El Haj's work, he should have spoken to the experts and he should have conducted a professional interview, not one with someone at 12:30 a.m. who is sitting in her bed wanting to go to sleep, or someone who was not informed that her notes and a copy of the book would be required to answer his questions. Cohler-Esses did a hatchet job because he wasn't interested in truth or the facts on Abu El Haj, but because he wanted to put forth his conspiracy theory of a new McCarthyism sweeping American colleges. Do not take my opinion on this.

As I asked Cohler-Esses to do, those who wish to be informed, should read the opinions of leading scholars, including these:


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Israel-China cooperation: Mashav

Israel-China cooperation is good news - and it is ongoing. Mashav is only one aspect of it.

FM Livni receives Chinese Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of  MASHAV

FM Livni: "Despite the huge difference in size between the two countries, the ceremony bears testimony to the communal values China and Israel share, and the mutual commitment of the two countries to contend with the global challenges of the 21st century". 

 (Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni today (Monday, October 29) was presented with a special Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of MASHAV - the Israel Foreign Ministry's Center for International Cooperation - for its activities in China, from The China Association for International Exchange of Personnel (CAIEP), which is the nationwide government-sponsored institution engaged in the international exchange of specialized technical and managerial personnel.

The impressive ceremony, marking 50 years of MASHAV operations around the world and 15 years of operations in China, was held under the auspices of Minister Ji Yunshi, Director of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs. In her speech, FM Livni said that despite the huge difference in size between the two countries, the ceremony bears testimony to the communal values China and Israel share, and the mutual commitment of the two countries to contend with the global challenges of the 21st century. 

The connection between MASHAV and CAIEP began in 1992, soon after diplomatic relations between the two countries had been established and subsequent to the signing of an agreement of cooperation between the two organizations. Since the signing of the agreement, MASHAV has sent over 20 Israeli experts to China, and over 600 Chinese trainees have participated in various courses held in Israel.

MASHAV activities in China received a very warm response from the local administration, and just recently, Yigal Cohen, a MASHAV expert, received the most prestigious National Certificate of Merit for his work in Zhejiang province.

Israel is perceived by the Chinese as a source of knowledge and advanced technology, which can be implemented locally by cooperating with MASHAV. The Chinese authorities aspire to make use of this cooperation to accelerate agricultural development in rural areas by improving both crop quantity and quality, to cope with scarcity of water in urban and rural locations, to improve the Chinese food basket by developing the dairy industry, Research & Development, medical education, etc.

From their inception, MASHAV operations in China formed the basis of Chinese-Israeli bilateral relations.

MASHAV activities in China concentrate on four main spheres of operation:

1. Demonstration dairy farm near Beijing
Initiated in 2001, the project formed a part of the Chinese government's plan to encourage increased consumption of dairy products by the population.

MASHAV implemented the considerable milk production knowledge and technology accumulated in Israel over the years and adapted them to local conditions and genetics, successfully expressing Israeli dairy production capabilities. When the program commenced in 2001, average milk production was 400 liters per cow per year. Current production, six years later, has reached 10,500 liters per cow per year.

2. Chinese-Israeli International Centre for Training in Agriculture at the Chinese Agricultural University in Beijing
MASHAV holds annual agricultural training courses at the university. The topics are determined jointly by MASHAV and the university. Two Israeli experts deliver the training courses, which are each attended by 25 Chinese students.

3. The Western-China field crops project
An advanced Israeli irrigation system combining sprinkler and drip irrigation techniques was integrated into this project. The advanced irrigation methods saved 40% of previous water expenditure, increased yield by 50% and also improved crop quality. Crops include cotton, industrial tomatoes and sugar beets).

4. The Western-China vegetable and flower greenhouse production project
This project encompasses an area of 85 dunams of greenhouses, some of which have been allocated state-of-the-art Israeli technology. The yields of both vegetable and flowers serve as a shining example in relation to traditional crop growing methods of the region.

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Lebanon: Give the people what they want

Rami Khouri styles himself an advocate of democracy. In the Beirut Daily Star, Rami Khouri takes America to task for its wicked policies, which, according to him, include:
 Attacking any Arab or Islamic power or mass popular force that rises in the region, such as Nasser's Egypt, Baathist Iraq, Iran, Hizbullah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and others;
I have to agree with Rami Khouri on that. If the Lebanese people, with Rami Khouri as their spokesmen, want an Islamic Republic ruled by the Hezbollah, then why should the Americans or anyone else interfere? Let the Hezbollah keep killing Lebanese politicians until they have a majority in parliament, and there will then be a democratically elected pro-Hezbollah government. It is certainly madness for Western powers to exert themselves to save Khouri and the Seniora government from the Hezbollah, theocracy and de-facto annexation of Lebanon to Syria, if that is precisely what they want.
Ami Isseroff 

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Truth about the Holocaust detailed in Bad Arolsen archives

As detailed in the article below, the Bad Arolsen archives are revealing the details of the Systematic mass murder of Jews  in the Holocaust. Too bad that the archives were kept hidden from the public for so long, because of considerations that were contrary to justice - to let accomplices of murderers get away with their crimes.
We can only hope that every depressing detail will be chronicled, and will finally put to rest the evil claims of Holocaust denial.
Ami Isseroff
BAD AROLSEN, Germany - Twenty days of systematic murder of prisoners in the Majdanek concentration camp are detailed in a thick office binder in the huge archive of Nazi documents in this central German city.
The binder contains hundreds of pages written on both sides. Each one has a table containing the following information: first name, last name, date of birth, address, date of death - all written out in a careful longhand. The blue ink has faded over the years, but the Jewish names jump out. Lists upon lists of towns and cities throughout Poland, Czechoslovakia and Germany. In the last column, the date of death, there is not much variety: one of 20 days in September, 1942. The title on the binder reads: Lublin-Majdanek, crematorium list 08.09-1942-28.09.1942.
The lists were apparently brought out of the Majdanek concentration camp after it was liberated by the Russians. On the shelves around this one binder, on the first floor of the International Tracing Service (ITS) complex, are thousands more binders - the original records of the dead at the Buchenwald and Matthausen concentration camps, lists made by the Gestapo of deportees from Holland, who were captured at its headquarters after Germany surrendered, etc. All the documents are cataloged according to the names of victims and survivors, reflecting the efficiency of the Nazi bureaucracy.
This is the largest archive of Nazi documents in the world - more than 33 million pages of records, stored in six buildings in Bad Arolsen, a Baroque town north of Frankfurt. The archive was established after World War II by the Allies, taking advantage of the town's location between Germany's four areas of occupation, and the fact that it had suffered practically no damage from bombardment. It is funded by the German government and operated by the Red Cross. Searching among the 17.5 million names recorded there, staffers assist people seeking information on the fate of their families or submitting demands for reparations from the German authorities.
For more than 60 years, the archive was open only to survivors and their families, international Holocaust organizations, scholars and journalists. Last week Greece, one of the 11 countries who are members of the archive's council, became the last to approve an agreement opening it to the public.
At a time when neo-Nazis are burning copies of "The Diary of Anne Frank," there is significance to one line concealed here among the names of Jews brought to Holland's Westenbork camp on the way to Auschwitz: "Frank, Annelise."
The archive contains four collections. The 'imprisonment list' is the most interesting in terms of the information that it provides. It includes documents from concentration camps, ghettos and prison camps dating from 1933 to 1945. It was copied in its entirety in the 1950s by the Yad Vashem Holcaust Memorial and transfered to Jerusalem, but at Bad Arolsen it's more accessible. It has also been copied digitally in recent years and transfered to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. and to Yad Vashem, and may soon be accessible on the Internet.
The second collection contains 'documents from the period of the war,' with information about forced laborers in Germany beginning in 1939, including places of work and illness reports. The third collection, which is the largest, contains 'documents after the war,' with lists of all refugees and displaced persons who passed through Germany and all of Europe after the war. The fourth collection is information concerning lost children.
Inquiries can be submitted by telephone, mail or email. For example, an inquiry about a Jewish survivor of Buchenwald who immigrated to Israel could be answered by a list of deportees from the ghetto, information detailing a certain period in the camp or describing its liberation by the Americans, or lists from transit camps of people immigrating to Israel.
The ITS staff will conduct a search according to name, date and place of birth, and send the results to the inquirer, or invite him/her to the archive to look at the original documents. The ITS promises a response within eight weeks. Last year, it received 800 inquiries from Israel.

Last weekend, in one part of the archive, a book of the victims of the Matthausen concentration camp in Austria lay open on a table, where a staffer was working on an inquiry. The book reveals that on April 20, 1942, in honor of Hitler's 53rd birthday, 53 prisoners were executed. Their names were listed with times of death about two minutes apart between 11:20 and 12:54. Cause of death: 'Shot by order of the Reich defense ministry,' with space-saving 'ditto' markings beneath the first entry.
One of the names that came up randomly in the Auschwitz death book was M. Schlusser, a Jewish locksmith, who died on February 11, 1943. His parents' names and his place of birth were also noted, along with his age, 22, and cause of death: "exhaustion."
"There are apparently no new historical revelations about the Holocaust hiding here," Reto Meister, the ITS director says. "But there is an abundance of private historical information waiting for families of victims and survivors. We want to be a center to which families can come to get answers to the questions that trouble them."
And what does Meister say about the huge collection itself? "There is no doubt that human society has a strong need for order, which expresses itself in the recording of history. What for me is inconceivable is how this need was utilized so horrifically to destroy human beings. The obsessive recording of the Nazis was a kind of terrible way to pretend that something completely ordinary was going on."
The main feeling one gets from leafing through the well-ordered documents with their careful writing is how those 20 days at Majdanek, or those three years of the Final Solution, were truly ordinary for those who inscribed these lists.

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Canard or truth? Haaretz claims Nativ seeking to boost Aliya in North America

According to the somewhat misleading headline, Lieberman seeks to encourage aliyah of Russian Jews from Canada, 
Ha'aretz reports that, " Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman is seeking to involve the immigration support agency Nativ in persuading Russian-speaking Jews in Canada to immigrate to Israel."
We then read,
"The semi-covert agency Nativ is preparing to expand its activities to North America, sources within the organization told Haaretz."  (emphasis added).
So it was "sources" in Nativ who reported this. Based on this shaky information, Ha'aretz builds a whole story about Nativ operating in Canada. They tell us:
Recently, Lieberman revisited the North America issue, placing a particular emphasis on the large Russian-speaking Jewish community currently living in the Montreal area. Having drawn the appropriate lessons from their brush with Jewish leaders in Germany, officials in Jerusalem are moving ahead with encouraging aliyah though this time in concert with local Jewish organizations in Montreal. Nativ representatives will be allowed to pursue its aliyah-related activities in the Montreal area under certain conditions.
But at the conclusion, they include a single line that seems to cast doubt on the whole idea:
In response, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs issued a statement which read: "Nativ does not operate in North America."
Wait and see if this is just another canard.
Ami Isseroff  

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Dangerous Israeli dependence on the United States

This editorial by Itamar Rabinovich points out the danger signals for Israel being emitted from the United States. Israel cannot, and must not count on indefinite support from the United States. It is very unhealthy for any country to mortgage their future so completely to another. That is not an anti-American sentiment, but a general observation of common sense. Together with the warnings and signals below, we must also take into account that the star of the US is growing dim in the Middle East.
The problem is not necessarily what will happen after Bush. The current administration may well decide to cut its losses in Iraq and impose a solution on Israel as well - a solution we cannot live with. In the past, as for example in 1956, the Americans have shown a great willingness to impose solutions or encourage them, but subsequently left Israel alone to deal with the consequences, as happened in the Six Day War.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 09:14 29/10/2007    

What will happen after Bush?
By Itamar Rabinovich
In its latest issue, dated November 8, The New York Review of Books published in a prominent - if not screaming - manner a letter signed by eight famous individuals and addressed to United States President George W. Bush, warning him of the grave dangers inherent in a possible failure of the Annapolis conference.
To avert this danger, the signatories suggest adopting a number of recommendations that will distance both the conference and Washington's policy from the widespread view that prevails today, albeit with slight variations, in the Bush administration and the government of Israel. The signatories include Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security advisor in the administration of former president Jimmy Carter; Lee Hamilton, the former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Brent Scowcroft, the national security advisor of former president George H. Bush; and Thomas Pickering, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel.
The authors see the Annapolis conference as "a genuine opportunity for progress toward a two-state solution." They believe that the Middle East is in the throws of an extremely grave crisis and that a conference with a positive outcome will play a crucial role in stemming instability and violence. They also hold that the conference must deal with "the substance of a permanent peace" and that it should adopt the outlines of a permanent status agreement, especially in light of the impossibility of reaching a comprehensive agreement before the end of November. If Israelis and Palestinians do not manage to reach such an agreement, the Middle East Quartet (made up of the U.S., Russia, the EU and the UN) will have to propose a formulation of its own for an agreement that will be based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the Clinton parameters of 2000, the Arab peace initiative of 2002 and the 2003 road map.  Advertisement

The main points of a comprehensive agreement are the partition into two states on the basis of the June 4, 1967 lines, with additional territorial exchanges at a ratio of one to one; Jerusalem as the capital of both states; a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem in a manner concordant with the principle of two states, alongside addressing the profound sense of injustice among the refugees and their compensation and rehabilitation.
The signatories congratulate the Bush administration for inviting Syria to the conference but believe that the U.S. government itself should also enter into negotiations with Damascus, based on the belief that a breakthrough in this channel could change the regional situation. As for Hamas, it is preferable to hold a dialogue with it than to attempt to isolate it.
The recommendations that appear in "the letter of the eight" and the basic assumptions on which it rests are not surprising. Its initiators have been disagreeing with the Bush administration's Middle East policy for years now. The letter is presented as a joint initiative of the U.S./Middle East Project, Inc. headed by General Brent Scowcroft and Henry Siegman and the International Crisis Group headed by Gareth Evans, along with the New America Foundation/American Strategy Program.
Scowcroft's chilly attitude toward Israel has been known for years and Henry Siegman, who was the director general of the American Jewish Congress, has been identified with and continues to uphold opinions that are in line with those of Meretz's left wing. For more than a decade now, Gareth Evans, Australia's former foreign minister, has been the primary advocate at the International Crisis Group of a view that disagrees with the positions of the governments of Israel and the Bush administration. Hamilton was James Baker's partner in the Baker-Hamilton committee, which recommended embarking on a dialogue with Iran and Syria, which he viewed as one of the essential elements for a solution to the Iraqi mess - the other element being the Israeli-Arab conflict. In their view, the Israeli-Arab conflict, and its Palestinian aspect in particular, are responsible for the region's instability and the spread of anti-American attitudes. Without giving the Israeli-Palestinian issue a "root canal" treatment, the United States will not be able to resolve the crisis in Iraq and deal with the other challenges it is facing in the region.
It is not surprising that this letter was published in The New York Review of Books, the bastion of the liberal intelligentsia in the United States. Among its regular contributors are those who can be found on the left of the Israeli consensus, and it published historian Tony Judt's article calling for the establishment of a binational state in Israel.
The chances that "the letter of the eight" will influence the Bush administration's policy are small. The administration wants the Annapolis conference to be a success for reasons of its own and it is certainly not interested in another resounding failure in the Middle East. Indeed, its attempts to prevent a negative outcome - including the American secretary of state's efforts to invite Syria to the conference - are narrowing the gap between it and the letter's formulators. Nevertheless, the letter's spirit and the practical suggestions it contains are unacceptable to the administration and, above all, to the president.
The importance of this letter must be sought in two other contexts. The first is the effort to shape the American agenda on "the day after" the presidential elections. This is not the only attempt. Think tanks and other organizations are preparing reports of their own, with all of them aspiring to repeat the extraordinary success of the 1976 Brookings report that was adopted by the Carter administration as its Middle East policy. The day after the elections will see an increase in the efforts to convince the new president, whoever he or she may be, that there is no better way to shake off Bush's legacy than by bringing about a far-reaching change in the Middle East policy of the United States.
Another context is the continuing erosion of Israel's standing in the United States. This does not manifest itself in public opinion polls and in votes in Congress, but rather in the loss of the "moral horizon," the change that has occurred in the standing of Israel, which used to be regarded as an attractive and just state. A clear expression of this is the recent reception of Jimmy Carter's book and of the book written by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt about the Israeli lobby, which not only expressed criticism of Israel's policy but also questioned its legitimacy. Despite the criticism to which they have been subjected, these books are making waves and their authors are appearing throughout the United States. The "letter of the eight" is another link in this chain.
The author, a Middle East specialist, was Israel's ambassador to the United States from 1993-1996.

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Israeli PM Ehud Olmert has prostate cancer - won't step down

Prime minister says condition will not force him to step down Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST Oct. 29, 2007
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, he announced Monday at a surprise press conference.

The conference was called after Olmert learned of his condition at the end of last week.

Olmert, 62, said that in recent years he has taken care to undergo a complete annual physical, mainly to allow the early detection of any disorders. Upon returning from a visit to Russia 10 days ago, he said, he was examined. The exam showed the first signs of prostate cancer.

The prime minister described the growth as "microscopic," and said he had been assured by his doctors that it could be removed surgically. Furthermore, Olmert said, he had been told he would not need radiation or chemotherapy. Olmert said that his doctors had assured him he could make a full recovery.

Olmert stressed that his condition would not in any way affect his ability to manage his duties as prime minister, and that he had no intention of stepping down. He added that despite the fact that the prime minister has no legal obligation to reveal any medical condition, he had decided to do so because the citizens of Israel "had a right to know."

"I decided to make a full and frank disclosure shortly after learning [of my condition,]" Olmert said.

As soon as reports began circulating, prior to the press conference, that
Olmert would publicly address a health problem, the nation's leading stocks
dropped some 10 percent.

On an average day six Israelis are diagnosed with prostate cancer and one dies of it, according to the Israel Cancer Association, which held its second annual Prostate Cancer Awareness Day in September.

'Every man aged 50 and over must recognize the symptoms,' said ICA chairman Prof. Eliezer Robinson. 'Don't die of shame. Go to your doctor.'Each year some 2,250 Israelis are diagnosed with prostate cancer, the most common cancer in men, and 380 are killed. Risk increases with age and a family history of the disease (if your father, brother or son had prostate cancer, you are twice as likely to have it).

Smoking, drinking alcohol and an improper diet are also suspected as increasing risk. A new study published in the International Journal of Cancer links prostate cancer in its most aggressive form with being overweight or obese.

Because the type of tumor in prostate cancer develops slowly, 'every Israeli male should be aware of the disease and be examined,' Robinson said. 'There is no need to be ashamed. Diagnosis on time and treatment save lives.'

Mass screening for prostate cancer, however, is not recommended for all men since it has not been proven to reduce mortality. But men who are at high risk should get annual blood tests from the age of 40.

The PSA test, or prostate-specific antigen, checks the amount of a protein produced in cells of the prostate gland that is released into the bloodstream. The higher the PSA reading the more likely a man has prostate cancer. Rectal examinations and rectal ultrasound scans are also used to diagnose the disease.

For more information and a free booklet on prostate cancer, call the ICA at 1-800-599-995.

Free lectures on the disease will be held in September at the ICA's branches around the country, in cooperation with the Israel Urologists Society.

Judy Siegel-Itzkovitch contributed to this report.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

More Human Rights allegations against Israel

It seems that Kenneth Roth of HRW is at it again. as noted below. Strangely, nobody talks about Lebanese "war crimes" in Nahr al Bared refugee camp. Of 400 people killed in the assult on Fatah al Islam "fighters" ("militants" if you like), nearly 200 were Palestinian civilians unconnected with the fighting. Yet nobody has condemned the Lebanese army, because it was quite clear that the fighters of Fatah al Islam, like the "fighters" of Hezbullah, had embedded themselves in the population deliberately. Blame is only reserved for Israel.

HRW's Kenneth Roth in Ha'aretz - False Claims and Moral Bankruptcy

October 28, 2007            Today's Ha'aretz English edition (October 28 2007) included Ken Roth's latest salvo regarding the 2006 Lebanon War. During and after the war, Roth and Human Rights Watch, which he heads, were central in the political assault on Israel, publishing 30 statements, opeds, and reports — almost all condemning the Israeli response to Hezbollah's aggression. Using the rhetoric of demonization, HRW repeated terms such as "war crimes", "indiscriminate attacks against civilians", "disproportionate force", "violation of international law", etc. HRW generally published these charges without any verifiable evidence, basing them on Hezbollah propaganda, and giving legitimacy to false claims from so-called eyewitnesses. This was the case in HRW's claim that over 50 civilians were killed in Qana — the number was later reduced by half and some or perhaps many were Hezbollah personnel; and in HRW's claims that Israel killed some 42 civilians in Srifa — when it turns out that only half that number were killed and almost all were Hezbollah fighters.  And, as documented in detail by NGO Monitor, there are many other unsupported allegations, while, in parallel, Roth and HRW largely ignored the real human rights issues - such as Hezbollah's extensive use of human shields and its kidnapping of Israeli soldiers.

            HRW's clear failures- both moral and evidentiary -have increased the criticism and close examination of bias that has been slowly mounting over the past decade. This once respected organization has been forced on the defensive for its obsessive attacks on Israel, in which the context of terror and aggression have been systematically erased. And while Israel is the favorite target, real human rights abuses in Burma and deadly conflicts such as in Sri Lanka are largely ignored.

In September 2007, more than one year later, HRW issued two detailed reports, together over 400 pages, which were designed to defend its statements during the war, and restore Roth's status as an accepted arbiter of ethical issues. While these reports include many unacknowledged retreats from the bombastic allegations made during the war, the transparent objective is to defend HRW, particularly among Jewish donors who are also support Israel's basic right to self-defense.

            Today's oped is more of the same, repeating much of the incongruous logic, tired rhetoric and false assertions. Roth begins by comparing Hezbollah (which he calls "an armed group" - the word terrorist is not part of his vocabulary) with the Government of Israel - both of which, he claims, failed to welcome HRW's ostensibly moral and unbiased assessment. As in the past, Roth's moral blinders fail to distinguish between Israel's democracy and Hezbollah illegal terrorist state within Lebanon. He revels in being threatened by Hezbollah and forced to cancel a press conference in Beirut - an event that no one with any understanding of the situation expected to place.

            Under this immoral and distorted logic, Roth moves to the sins allegedly committed by the IDF, which, he pontificates, was also "reluctant to confront the facts" (or at least HRW's version). Having dispatched "research teams" which examined "94 attack sites representing roughly half of civilian deaths", Roth again asserts that there was no Hezbollah presence, and therefore no justification for Israeli military action. But these researchers (often consisting of one HRW official and an unnamed translator on which he was entirely dependent) and the "findings" (based largely on such scientific methods as reports of "martyr" markings on graves to distinguish fighters from civilians) are no more credible than the "eyewitness" reports issued during the war. Anyone reading HRW's reports will see that most of the sources cited for the number of Lebanese civilians are Hezbollah's assertions. And while Roth claims exceptional skill at assessing eyewitness testimony, the evidence points the other way — many of the claims in the latest reports are in complete contradiction to earlier eyewitness reports. And Roth's frequent references to the "laws of war", which he claims were violated repeatedly by the IDF, are his own arbitrary interpretations, based on and filtered through personal agendas. 

In contrast, where the evidence does exist, Roth and HRW often choose to ignore it. HRW's August 3, 2006 "Fatal Strikes" report  – issued in the middle of the war — claims to have found "no cases" of Hezbollah's use of human shields. In contrast, Hassan Nasrallah - the leader of Hezbollah's openly declared "'[The organization's operatives] live in their houses, in their schools, in their mosques, in their churches, in their fields, in their farms, and in their factories.' " And of course, the HRW "research teams" visiting under close Hezbollah guard were not able to check for evidence of rocket storage in these civilian structures. As a result, in contrast to the stark condemnations alleged IDF violations, the language on Hezbollah is tolerant and even apologetic. "While we documented cases where Hezbollah stored weapons inside civilian homes or fired rockets from inside populated areas, our investigations to date suggest relatively few cases where Hezbollah might have specifically intended to use the presence of civilians to shield itself from counterattack-certainly not enough to constitute a widespread or systematic pattern."

Such tendentious publications, when added to the voluminous record during the 2006 war and over the past decade, demonstrate the degree to which ideological agendas mixed with low levels of professional competence have denigrated the moral standing of human rights. While the IDF should and must be held accountable for its actions by the citizens of Israel, including human rights violations when they occur, HRW's political reports and campaigns only serve to further undermine the moral foundations of universal human rights.

Gerald M. Steinberg

Executive Director, NGO Monitor

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israeli aid to Africa - People to People

Israeli Students to Offer Long Term Aid to Tanzania's Poor

Oct. 28, 2007 (By IsraAID,
This weekend a group of Israeli students from Be'er Sheva University (BGU) left Israel to assist the poor in Tanzania.  There, they will be living for a few months and manage humanitarian aid programs that include an orphanage as and a local tourist micro finance initiative.

Dr. Tamar Golan, former Israel Ambassador to Angola and Congo and currently the head of the African Department at BGU, initiated this 3 month humanitarian aid program which will add more faculties at BGU to this initiative. Dozens of students have already signed in for the next programs in Tanzania and Angola.
Maya Nalbistzki, studying Geography at BGU, is among the Israelis participating in the program.  "I felt that I want to go to Africa and see the situation from first hand" says Nalbistzki.  "Our aim is to help Africa with what is needed".  Assaf Kesller, who is also a student in the Geography department, will travel with Maya. "I actually caught the "African bug" after being moved by the flow of African refugees who crossed the Israeli – Egyptian border", said Kesller.
An estimated group of 10 students have already departed, purchasing their own plane tickets with some sponsorship asistance by two Israeli donors. Six of the students will be going to Arusha and four to Merango village near Arusha.

The volunteers will split their time between working in a local orphanage, a hostel which treats children with disabilities and a Dutch tourism micro finanace project.
The Israeli contact on the ground is Sigal Horowitz, a legal aid in the International Tribunal Court on the Rwanda Genocide. Horowitz is helping the group with local government connections, local aid groups and finding their way around.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Britain to follow US in Iran Sanctions

Britain will follow the US in boosting Iran sanctions, according to an AP story. That is the real significance of the American move to increase sanctions against Iran: a signal to partners to do the same. The effectiveness of the strategy depends on the willingness of partners to follow suit, and the extent to which US, Britain and France supply vital materials that cannot be obtained from Russia or China. Otherwise, the sanctions are not going to do much other than throw more trade to China and Russia.
Story is below.
Ami Isseroff

Associated Press

October 24, 2007
ROME - The British government will seek further sanctions against Iran over its atomic program, the prime minister said yesterday, as Iran's new nuclear negotiator had his first meeting with the European Union's foreign policy chief.

The Bush administration has led the push for sanctions against Iran, but last month agreed to Russian and Chinese demands to give the country until November to address international concerns.

The United States and some of its allies accuse Iran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and have demanded it halt uranium enrichment, a key step atomic weapon production. Tehran denies the claim, saying its program is for peaceful purposes including generating electricity.

"We are absolutely clear that we are ready, and will push for, further sanctions against Iran," Prime Minister Gordon Brown said. "We will work through the United Nations to achieve this. We are prepared also to have tougher European sanctions. We want to make it clear that we do not support the nuclear ambitions of that country."

Brown sidestepped a question about military action, promulgated by some hawks in the Bush administration. "I believe the combination of our willingness to go through the UN process, which we will do, and our ability to take sanctions as a European Union, sends the strongest possible message to Iran," he said.

The EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana described his first meeting with Iran's new negotiator yesterday as "constructive" and said more talks were planned for November.

It was Saeed Jalili's first introduction to Solana since his appointment following the weekend resignation of Ali Larijani. Both Iranians took part in yesterday's session and said Iran would continue negotiations with the EU representative.

"Negotiation and cooperation is our basic approach," said Jalili. Larijani said the talks addressed Iran's work with the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is conducting an investigation into Iran's past nuclear activities, as well as other issues.

The departure of the more moderate Larijani was seen as a victory for hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a possible indication Iran might take an even more defiant position. But Larijani dismissed speculation over his resignation and alleged differences with Ahmadinejad, saying the replacement was merely a matter of a generational change.

The talks came as a poll showed 65 percent of the American public preferred economic or diplomatic moves against Iran, compared to 19 percent who favored military action or threats. When the question was asked in March, 13 percent chose threatened or actual military steps. The new poll was conducted during Ahmadinejad's mixed reception in New York, a report for Public Agenda, a nonpartisan public policy group, and the journal Foreign Affairs said.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel - slow recovery from Lebanon II?

Israel is supposed to be learning the lessons of the Second Lebanese War. The diplomatic lesson is "don't go to war if Ehud Olmert is Prime Minister and Amir Peretz is Dedense Minister." The biggest overal lesson is taken from the Talmud "Say little and do much," and in practical tems, "Don't boast that you won the war before you started." A major military lesson is "don't bomb airports above ground if the enemy is in bunkers below ground." Other lessons include, "When you go to war, it is best to mobilize reserves at the start, rather than after you lost," "Praying is not a good substitute for air-raid shelters," "Don't announce location of troops on the radio," Don't retreat from a position for no good reason," and "Don't launch a major attack when you are about to withdraw."  It is not clear that all these lessons have been learned. Alarmingly, a year after the war, we are learning that Israel is only now begining to restock its war reserves. Military exercises being held this week will, as usual, not use live fire or full mobility.
According to a less than brilliant UPI story by Joshua Brilliant,  Israel "intends"  to spend some $62.5 billion in the coming five years to cope with an array of enemies from Palestinian militants to Iranians. Actually it is not clear that this money is actually going to be allocated by anyone, or whether it will come at the expense of other parts of the military budget or be taken from urgent needs like subsidizing Yeshiva students. Israel decided that the Middle East is becoming more menacing. To which we can only say, "You don't say."

For years Israel (or actually, some guys in the government) believed the main threat to its existence was in Iran, which has been developing a nuclear capability and the missiles to deliver nuclear bombs. It coped with the Palestinian intifada that experts consider a "low-intensity conflict." For some reason, threats from Hizbullah were ignored. Israel has peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt, but both countries could be taken over by extremists, and Egypt has a formidable army. The majority of Jordanians are Palestinian Arabs who don't have much use for the peace treaty.
Actually it is probably true that the main threat is Iran, but that doesn't mean it is the only threat, and it should not have been a cause for complacency. Czechoslovakia, after all, had only one major military threat: Nazi Germany. Likewise, it did not take a geopolitical genius to see the connection between Iran and Hezbollah.

UPI tells us (we knew) that Israel cut its defense budget. It closed combat divisions and air force squadrons, and dismissed career army men. What UPI doesn't mention, is that Israel moved army bases to the West Bank and converted them from training areas into stockades meant to protect settlements. It cut down its stockpiles, as UPI tells us. UP doesn't meantion that Israel also destroyed the Israel defense industry and came to rely on cheaper (free actually) US armaments, the availability of which depends on political whims of Washington. US arms, it seems, are not always the best quality or the most suitable for the Israeli theater. Humvees are fine for carrying troops on exercises in the United States, but as both US and Israel discovered, they are vulnerable to IEDs planted by guerillas. So now Israel will have to spend money converting old tanks to troop carriers and building its own troop carriers that actually protect troops. US manufactured cluster bombs have a habit of not exploding and not killing the bad guys, and then exploding later and killing little kids. Israel opted for those over a superior product made by its own defense industries because they were free. We saved money. The result was ineffective firepower, and the usual condemnations from John Dugard and the rest of the anti-Israel chorus.
UPI also doesn't mention the logistics disaster. Warehouses were discovered to be empty of essential equipment at the beginning of the war, because apparently nobody had been tracking inventory depletion. And UPI doesn't tell us that much of the army resources that remained after the budget cuts were devoted to guarding settlements.
According to the UPI article, the Second Lebanon War caught Israel by surprise. Since we started the war, it is absolutely amazing that we were caught by surprise.

Now, according to UPI military sources say Syria and Iran are helping Hamas build an army in the Gaza Strip and that "many tens of tons" of TNT have been smuggled into Gaza since June. You  don't say! Presumably, Israel must wait until the Hamas actually have an army before we can act against Hamas. Maybe we should wait until the Hamas get an A-bomb or two from Iran. 

Israel supposely decided to allocate 8 percent of its gross national product to defense. That is 6 percent more than in other members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, noted Professor Manuel Trachtenberg, head of the National Economic Council at the Prime Minister's Office. On the other hand, Germany and France do not have the Hamas on their southern border, Hezbollah on their northern border and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatening to wipe them off the map. That might make a difference. They also have a great defense umbrella provided by the United States, and they are also disastrously complacent in view of the rising Russian aggressiveness.
One of the greatest deficiencies discovered in the last war was the deplorable level of training in the reserve units. According to the UPI article, about half the units had undergone retraining by the beginning of last summer -- clearly not enough. It seems that nobody felt there was any real urgency to the matter.
Reading on in this UPI story, we learn that  the new plan still requires Israeli Cabinet approval. The budget also requires Knesset approval of course. So it is just a proposal of Defense Minister Ehud Barak apparently, and not an actual program. Barak has been very successful in projecting an image of competence, but it is not clear to what extent this has translated into reality. He smiles too much, and is a bit too plump. A defense minister should have that lean and hungry look. The cabinet will want to spend money on other things, like Yeshiva students. We seem to need a lot of those. There is a great distance between announcements of this sort and actual implementation. To be sure, we have seen a lot of announcements.  Apparently, nobody in Israel learned the greatest lesson of the Lebanon war, which is, don't announce what you are going to do, just do it. "Say little, and do much."

Continued (Permanent Link)

IDF - Did we learn anything from the war?

Israel will begin a large-scale military operation in the Galilee on  Sunday. The exercixe was originally to take place in the Golan Heights. It
was moved due to concerns that it would exacerbate rising tensions with Syria.

It does not inspire confidence to learn that a similar drill was held a month before the Second Lebanon War. In both cases, the operations involved joint ground, air and naval forces as well as intelligence and S4 units. Troops will only be partially mobile. whatever that means, and no live fire will be used. This saves money and possibly lives, but it is apparently not the best sort of training.

The objective of the exercise is to supposedly to cooredinate the decision making process between the various military bodies in a crisis situation. Of course, if there is no real enemy, and not even live fire, there is not much of a crisis.

The war games will "pressure" the decision makers by complicating the combat scenarios with various possible political developments as well as the opening of a new front in southern Israel. Hoever, there is nothing like the real thing.

Continued (Permanent Link)

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