Israel News | Zionism Israel Center | Zionism History | Zionism Definitions | ZioNation | Forum | Zionism FAQ | Maps| Edit

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Germans don't want to pay for the Holocaust - again

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/germans-dont-want-to-pay-for-holocaust.html

At least, the pensioners' party is finally doing something other than looking out for their own pensions...
 
Ami Isseroff
 
Germans irate over initiative to reopen Holocaust reparations deal
 By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent  

A recent Haaretz report, outlining Israel's demand to reopen the 1952 reparations agreement with Germany, sparked outrage among German officials over the weekend.
 
Minister for Pensioner Affairs Rafi Eitan, who is in charge of the talks with Germany on reparations for Holocaust survivors and retrieving Jewish property, told Haaretz he intends to discuss the matter with the German finance minister when he comes to Israel in two weeks' time.
 
The German media gave wide coverage to Eitan's initiative.
 

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck's spokesman on Saturday issued a statement saying that the German official has no intention of discussing the topic during his upcoming visit, despite the fact that Eitan has already submitted a request to meet with him.
 
Eitan told Haaretz that the original reparations agreement, the Luxembourg Agreement, did not take into account many issues relating to Holocaust survivors and should therefore be reopened. That agreement stipulated that Germany would give Israel $833 million in money and merchandise, and Israel would look after the survivors, who would not be permitted to sue Germany directly.
 
A state comptroller's report on the treatment of Holocaust survivors, released this past August, said that in the 50 years between 1954 and 2004, the government had spent some $3.5 billion on the survivors, more than four times the sum transferred by Germany.
 
"We see Germany as responsible for the Holocaust survivors," Eitan told Haaretz. "The agreements with them had many holes. Nobody estimated the high cost of the last stage of life in the modern era, or that people would live at least ten years longer on average than they did in the 1950s."
 
The Luxembourg Agreement also failed to take into account the arrival of many additional survivors to Israel. "Nobody thought that 175,000 Holocaust refugees from the former Soviet Union would come to Israel," Eitan said. "That changed the entire picture, even if the Germans aren't interested."
 
An agreement between the Israeli government and survivors' organizations, which the cabinet approved earlier this week, provides for payments and benefits to survivors totaling NIS 2 billion over the next three years. The government undertook to finance the plan, but now expects Germany to contribute its share.
 
Over the last four months, while government officials were negotiating the agreement with survivors' representatives, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other ministers said in closed forums that Israel ought to ask Germany to cover the increased payments. However, this is the first time a minister has said so publicly.
 
The German weekly Der Spiegel reported last week that Eitan sent a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in August, demanding that Germany waive an Israeli debt of 500 million euros, after which Israel would deposit this money in a fund dedicated to survivors' needs. The German deputy finance minister rejected the idea, and Eitan told him: "So just give us the money," Der Spiegel reported.
 
Eitan responded that he did not make demands of Germany, and that this was merely one of many ways in which Germany could finance the survivors' stipends.
 
Sources in the Ministry for Pensioner Affairs said that Accountant General Yaron Zelekha was the one who thought of waiving the debt.
 
The Foreign Ministry is concerned that Eitan's demands might damage the delicate relations between Israel and Germany. "I never denied that my approach is problematic, but it's based on facts and the truth," Eitan responded. "I'm acting for the good of Holocaust survivors."
 
"It's not enough to work with one minister or another," Eitan said. "We told the Germans that we must set up a professional team to examine the issue in a professional way."
 
A senior German Foreign Ministry source told Haaretz that Germany would accept some of the Israeli demands, and that Merkel had instructed officials to handle the matter "sympathetically." However, the German treasury wants to avoid setting a precedent by reopening the reparations agreement.
 
Eitan is convinced that "ultimately, Germany will agree to the demands. They have their own 'treasury boys,' as we do, who guard the public coffers; they're right from their point of view. They're doing their job, and I'm doing mine."


Continued (Permanent Link)

Why Israelis don't go to the army.

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/why-israelis-dont-go-to-army.html

Headline:  IDF: Nearly 28% of Israeli males avoided conscription in 2007 
But it is not quite true. They didn't all "avoid" conscription.
 
The Israel Defense Forces said Tuesday that 27.7 percent of Israeli males of conscription age are not inducted into the army.
 
Army statistics presented at the Sderot conference on societal issues showed that 11.2 percent of those who avoided conscription did so under exemptions granted to yeshiva students.
 
OK, those people are avoiding conscription.
 
According to the article, another 7.3 percent were granted medical deferments. The figure apparently includes psychological deferments, often cited as a source of "gray avoidance," referring to young men who avoid service by presenting evidence that they are mentally unfit to serve.
IDF raised its medical standards over the years. At least half of those people probably have actual diseases or illness. If one in ten people in the world suffer from an affective disorder, there is bound to be a percentage of those unfit for service for that reason, plus people who lost limbs in accidents, have congenital defects or are mentally challenged. A mentally disturbed person with a gun is not a great combination. Picture a young man with a wild look in his eye. If this guy shows up at Tel Hashomer and says "YEAH - GIMME a GUN" what should you do? Is he "avoding conscription?"
 
According to the article, a total of 4.7 percent were ruled ineligible because of criminal records, and 4.2 percent because they were residing abroad. Those numbers should worry us, not just because of the army issue. But it is really not the best idea to train convicted drug dealers in single combat and give them M-16s. Really it isn't. They aren't avoiding army service.
 
The largest single group of young Israelis who avoid conscription is comprised of women who claim exemptions on the grounds of being religious. This group makes up 35 percent of all women eligible for the draft.
 
I suspect these numbers will evoke complaints from American Zionists like Daniel Pipes, who say Israelis are shirking our duty. Perhaps, but I think that 100% of American Jewish males avoided Israeli army service.
 
Ami Isseroff


Continued (Permanent Link)

Habad is the religion closest to Judaism

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/habad-is-religion-closest-to-judaism.html

 
The Chabad challenge
ANDREW SILOW-CARROLL , THE JERUSALEM POST  Nov. 10, 2007
 
A few months back I attended the inauguration ceremonies for Arnold Eisen, the new chancellor of the Conservative movement's Jewish Theological Seminary. In a symposium preceding the main event, a distinguished panel of scholars discussed the future of the movement and American Judaism. Someone mentioned Chabad, and the roomful of rabbis and professors broke out into knowing titters.
 
Dr. Alan Cooper, the JTS provost, rode the titters into a wave of laughter when he repeated the old line: "Chabad is the religion closest to Judaism." There's nothing new about Chabad-bashing - the Chabad-Lubavitch Hassidic movement is mocked by fellow Orthodox for their messianism, by non-Orthodox groups for their aggressive proselytizing, by late-night comedians for the wacky mitzva tanks that roll through Manhattan streets. And there's nothing funny about Chabad's cozy relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and their cynical use of religion and politics to dominate the Jewish revival in Eastern Europe.
But considering the ubiquity of Chabad, and the warm reception they get among many marginally affiliated Jews, the movement becomes a living Yogi Berra line: No one takes them seriously - they're too popular.
 
Husband-and-wife pairs of shlichim, or emissaries, are dispatched from the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown to establish Chabad centers wherever there is a rumor of Jewish life. As far as their late rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, was concerned, Bangkok is Boston is Basking Ridge, if it means bringing even a touch of yiddishkeit to the Jewish margins.
 
Shlichim have begun operating Hebrew schools that are increasingly popular among Jewish families who might have no other Jewish affiliations. Chabad's successful outreach activities include well-run summer camps, unintimidating bar and bat mitzva ceremonies, and dozens of informal community events around the holidays. Still laughing?
 
A few weeks after the Eisen inaugural I was invited by some Conservative rabbinical leaders to discuss challenges facing their movement and synagogues in general. I focused on Chabad. And I described the movement as a challenge in the positive sense: a challenge to others to explore what Chabad does well and how their model can be replicated in non-Chabad synagogues and institutions.
 
SO WHAT'S Chabad's secret? They offer ease of entry. People taking baby steps into Jewish life are intimidated by institutions that seem to demand a deep commitment at the outset. Although individual Chabadniks are committed to "Torah-true" Judaism, the shlichim celebrate individual mitzvot, individual acts of belonging. One is fine, two is great, three's a mechaieh. No one joins Chabad on the installment plan. In fact, people tend not to "join" Chabad at all. Chabad houses tend not to have memberships. Chabadniks will say that the message is that individuals are valued for their participation, not their contribution to the building fund.
 
Chabad is pluralist. I know, I know - theologically Chabad has about as much respect for non-Orthodox, indeed, non-Chabad streams as Ann Coulter has for liberals. But shlichim operate their centers on a come-one, come-all basis, putting up fewer barriers of behavior and biology than even some Reform synagogues.
 
Chabad is friendly. Oy, is it friendly. I always compare the Morristown college to the old IBM in the way it is able to churn out ambassadors who so fully and consistently reflect the mission and values of the institution. I often can't tell various shlichim apart - not because I am a dolt or a bigot, but because so many are so similarly warm and good-natured.
 
Finally, Chabadniks are p.r. whizzes. They were early adopters of all the latest technologies, have an enviable dominance of the Jewish web, and manage to keep their branding cutting-edge.
 
When I presented these ideas to the Conservative rabbis, they bristled. Not because they don't see value in an open, pluralist, easy-entry, cleverly marketed Judaism. Rather, they recognized the structural differences that separate them from Chabad. One of these is accountability to a kehilla, a community. The American synagogue is a self-governed partnership among stakeholders and rabbis - employers and employees. It's a delicate dance, but in the tension between a rabbi's authority and the congregation's diverse needs, most synagogues reach an accommodation that reflects the values of their membership and movement.
 
You can't fire your Chabad rabbi. As a result, their flexibility and creativity often comes with a whiff of condescension.
 
And one rabbi's flexibility is another's lack of standards. Rabbi Eric Yoffie, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, recently wrote a column criticizing Chabad for offering to perform bar and bat mitzvot with few if any requirements. At typical synagogues, such requirements include religious school attendance, a commitment to study and worship, and a level of synagogue skills. Chabad "is the place that you go when you do not want to join a synagogue or subject your child to a meaningful course of study," wrote Yoffie.
 
The challenge for non-Chabad rabbis, then, is to bring some of the Chabad spirit into their programming without sacrificing their own and their movements' standards or identity or the expectations of their longtime and most committed members.
 
Which will lead to another debate, one that may well define Judaism in the coming decades: Are denominations necessary - are synagogues necessary - or has Chabad pioneered a model of American Judaism that transcends them?
 
The writer is editor in chief of the New Jersey Jewish News.
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Jumblatt: End Lebanon-Israel conflict

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/jumblatt-end-lebanon-israel-conflict.html

Jumblatt says Lebanon-Israel conflict should end
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST  Nov. 9, 2007
 
The time has come to take Lebanon out of the Israeli-Arab conflict, Druse leader Walid Jumblatt said in an interview with the pan-Arab satellite television station Al Arabiya, Thursday overnight.
 
In the interview quoted by Israel Radio, Jumblatt said that Lebanon should rest after being in a state of war with Israel for thirty years.
 
Jumblatt called on his country's citizenry to join forces in order to return the Shebaa Farms to Lebanese sovereignty using peaceful means.
 
The contested farms are a small plot of land located on the convergence of three borders - those of Israel, Lebanon and Syria.
 
Referring to Hizbullah, Jumblatt condemned the group vehemently, calling it "a division of the [Iranian] Revolutionary Guards," adding that the organization's sole role is keeping the Syrian regime in place and protecting Iran's nuclear plan.
 
Jumblatt comes from an ancient Druse family that settled in Lebanon in the 16th Century. He is considered the worldwide Druse leader. His father, Kamal Jumblatt, a major political, cultural, and philosophical figure of the Middle-East, was assassinated in Lebanon in 1977 at the hand of Syrian agents.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Ten Commandments of Palestinian Politics

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/ten-commandments-of-palestinian.html

This needs no further comment, except that the same examination should be done for Israeli politics.

by  Barry  Rubin
1. PA cannot stop Arab Palestinians from attacking Israel . To do so would be betraying the cause.
2. He who is most militant is always right. Extremism equals heroism. This is one reason why Fatah has such a difficult time competing with Hamas. It cannot denounce these rivals for being too hardline and intransigent. (It plays the same game.)
3. More violence is good and a victory if it inflicts casualties or damage on Israel . Other than ritual denunciations for the sake of foreign media, these are matters for pride, with the implication being that they advance the cause rather than sabotage it.
4. No Israeli Government can do anything good. Thus, Olmert is no better than anyone else even as he withdraws from the Gaza Strip, offers to accept a Palestinian state, and is ready to give up east Jerusalem . (Objective is destruction of Israel , not peace.)
5. Since Palestinians are the perpetual 'victim', they are entitled to everything they want and never need to give anything in exchange for Israeli concessions. (Israel 's retaliation to Arab terror acts generates more sympathy.)
6. No Palestinian should be imprisoned for attacks on Israel one minute longer than required by the needs of international public relations.
7, Fatah won't discipline or expel anyone for launching attacks.
8. Wiping Israel off the map is morally correct. If anyone says anything different, they will be scared or ashamed...
9. While pretending to be nationalist... It is better not to get a state than to give up this demand. …it is better to focus on destroying Israel from within.
10. It is more important to be steadfast and patient with a terrible status quo than to make big gains by ending the conflict forever.



Continued (Permanent Link)

The Jewish question again: American Jews and power

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/jewish-question-again-american-jews-and.html

In Are American Jews Too Powerful? Not Even Close. Ruth Wisse raises some issues that need addressing. She compares Jewish national power in the United States to that of other nations in their own countries. However, there can be no such thing as real national power for a group that doesn't live in its own nation state. Ruth Wisse explains that Jews are not powerful, and she explains why. But she is comparing the power of Jews to the power of nation states, of people living in their own lands. That is an incorrect and dangerous comparison. No people can tolerate a separate nation living in its midst for long. It produces resentment, fear etc. It is viewed as a challenge to the ruling group, at least in the context of most modern nation states. Israel today has the same problem with Israeli Arabs who consider themselves to be "Palestinians." 
 
Ruth Wisse has perhaps  inadvertantly explained the reasons for anti-Semitism, as well as the mechanism that guaranteed the survival of the Jews. We can compare Jews to Greeks or Chinese, the only ancient peoples with some similar group characteristics. Greeks remained living in their own land by and large. Chinese are dispersed throughout Asia, but retained a homeland. Jews retained national identity in dispersion, without a homeland.
 
Only Jews developed a portable national culture that was divorced from the land, and national institutions that could exist in a Diaspora. That enabled the unique survival of the Jews as a dispersed people, with no "homeland." This made it possible to preserve the group dynamic and aspirations of nationhood in alien lands, and that is incompatible with modern national life.
 
I confess, as an aside, that I did not understand the following:
 
If Jews  are so powerful, why does Israel attract twice as many venture-capital investments as all of Europe, even while it's the only one of the United Nations' 192 member states that has been charged with racism for the crime of its existence? How powerful is that?
I understand the second half of the question. But the response to the first half, that would be given by anti-Semites, is that "the Jews" harnessed the power of the international finance Jewry. Israel attracts investment because the Jews are all powerful, don't you know? Likewise, I suspect that the statement as written is not true. I am sure European venture capitalists invest in Europe. I am sure that there is much more investment in German industry for example, than there is in Israeli industry. Perhaps what is meant is "foreign venture-capital investments," and perhaps we should add "per capita."  Anyhow, what do investment in Israel, or condemnations of Israel in the UN, have to do with the power of American Jews??
 
Ami Isseroff
 
 
 
 
By Ruth Wisse
Sunday, November 4, 2007; B03
 
These days, it's becoming downright chic to hint forebodingly that America's Jews are just too powerful. But whether it's the political scientists John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt or former president Jimmy Carter, those who accuse modern Jews of having excessive clout are getting it precisely backward. In the real world, Jews have too little power and influence. They also have too little self-confidence about defending themselves.
 
Consider a basic paradox. Even anti-Semites often give Jews  credit for having exceptional intelligence. Self-congratulatory Web sites reckon that Jews, who make up about 0.2 percent of the world's population, have been awarded more than 160 Nobel Prizes. But if Jews are so smart, why do 22 Arab League countries account for a tenth of the Earth's land surface while the Israelis struggle to secure a country that is 1/19th the size of California? If Jews  are so powerful, why does Israel attract twice as many venture-capital investments as all of Europe, even while it's the only one of the United Nations' 192 member states that has been charged with racism for the crime of its existence? How powerful is that?
 
In fact, there's an excellent historical reason why Jewish intellectual achievement sits alongside political weakness. Simply put, Jewish achievement in other areas has come at the expense of political strength, and the strange relationship of Jews and power has made them history's favorite prey. Centuries of survival in other people's lands prevented Jews from achieving full acceptance -- and access to the levers of government. Some individual Jews may have lived large, but the Jewish people as a whole lived on sufferance, afraid to antagonize those from whom they sought tolerance.
 
These questions mean a lot to me. I'm often asked how I, a teacher of Yiddish literature, came to write about politics. But remember that the Yiddish language, developed by European Jews over almost a thousand years, was practically erased along with them in a mere six, 1939-45. So studying Yiddish literature, almost by definition, concentrates the mind on Jewish political disabilities.
 
When Jerusalem was crushed by Rome in the year 70 -- so brutally that, according to the historian Josephus, "no one visiting the spot would believe it had once been inhabited" -- some Jews stayed on, but the vast majority made their homes in foreign lands. For more than 18 centuries, Jews survived as a nation without three basic staples of nationhood: land, central government and independent means of self-defense.
 
Instead, Jews turned to strategies of accommodation. They provided goods and services to their gentile neighbors in return for being allowed to stay in the country. They became money-lenders, bankers, minters, craftsmen, midwives -- trades that gentiles would let them perform and that allowed Jews to observe their calendar, customs and religious laws. But they had no independent way to protect their achievements.
 
Unlike their Christian and Muslim overlords, Jews had good reasons to avoid irking those from whom they sought acceptance. The German poet Heinrich Heine, who called conversion to Christianity his "ticket of admission" to European culture, likened Jews to a prince whom "black magic" had transformed into a dog: "All week long he goes on scraping/Through life's excrement and sweepings/To the mockery of jeers of street boys." Only on Friday evenings, while ushering the Sabbath into his own home, does the dog resume its human shape. Heine saw that the humiliation of the Jews was offset by a moral serenity, and that their moral serenity was offset by acute political vulnerability.
 
The creation of the state of Israel in May 1948, after the carnage of the Holocaust, was supposed to change all this. But the newly formed Arab League made opposition to Israel the only common goal of its otherwise quarrelsome membership. The new United Nations, tribune of emerging post-colonial nations, did not protect Israel from assault, and over time the world body became a party to the Arab League's war against Jewish statehood.
 
Of course, Israel now had an army, and a formidable one at that. But the Israel Defense Forces did not change the Jews' existential condition as a minority; Israel was now a minority among the nations, contending with Arab states that sought to dominate or destroy it. Israel still lived by strategies of accommodation, trying to supply its neighborhood with useful services and goods such as medical, agricultural and technological know-how. In the 1990s, utopians such as Shimon Peres, now Israel's president, hailed a "new Middle East" of economic and political cooperation. When Peres and Israel's late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin installed Yasser Arafat as the head of a Palestinian proto-state, they began another doomed Jewish political experiment -- making Israel, as best I can figure, the first country in the world ever to arm its enemy in hopes of gaining security.
 
What about American Jewry? Mearsheimer and Walt allege that a Jewish cabal dictates U.S. policy in the Middle East, helping Israeli interests and hurting U.S. ones. So have American Jews really begun to mobilize effectively to protect Israel, or are people again overstating Jewish power and its supposed dangers?
 
Consider the halls of ivy where, if anywhere, the intellectual firepower of Jews might be expected to be on display in defense of Jewish interests. At Columbia University, the late Edward Said used his authority as a teacher of comparative literature to apologize for Palestinian terrorism and condone Arab violence against Israel, including, in one instance, by personal example. (In 2000, a photographer for a French news agency snapped him in southern Lebanon tossing a rock toward an Israeli position.) Much of the Jewish professoriat looked the other way or signed his petitions.
 
Elsewhere in the academy, Jewish professors themselves lead the anti-Israel barrage. In fact, Mearsheimer and Walt expected Jewish organizations to sponsor their talks and complained of "censorship" when the groups did not. Clearly, there is nothing quite as fun -- or as lucrative -- as baiting Jews.
 
This is not the whole story, though. American Jews have learned from experience, and the United States has encouraged their maturation. During the 1970s and '80s, American Jews who were inspired by the biblical imperative to "redeem the captive" helped free their fellow Jews under Soviet rule. The Soviet Jewry movement gained traction in part because its goals coincided with Washington's Cold War strategy of encouraging communism to collapse from within.
 
Likewise, in the post-9/11 fight against terrorism, American Jews can draw confidence from another intersection of interests, this time between Israeli and U.S. self-defense. The Arab war against Israel and radical Islam's war against the United States are in almost perfect alignment, which means that resistance to one supports resistance to the other. "We are all Jews now," former CIA director R. James Woolsey Jr. said after the September 2001 attacks. "We should all reflect upon the historic reality that when anti-Semitism raises its head, the rest of us, unless we are willing to live with a foot on our necks, will be the next targets." Since the days of Pharaoh, Jews have functioned as a lodestar of religious and political freedom: The Jews' attackers oppose such liberties, and their defenders promote them. The attackers have included Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, extreme nationalist parties from France to Poland, Arab autocrats trying to hold onto power and Islamist challengers trying to seize it. This rule of thumb has less to do with Jewish actions than with those who deal in anti-Jewish politics. A small people whose foes are prone to hugely inflate their image, Jews make a handy scapegoat for dictators. In its August meetings, according to the Hudson Institute, the "revamped" U.N. Human Rights Council directed three-quarters of its indictments of individual states against Israel -- and 2 percent against the thuggish regime running Burma.
 
I understand why some Jews and Israelis try to escape this assault through assimilation or denial, or even by joining their assailants. It's seductive to hope that by accommodating our enemies, we will be allowed to live in peace. But the strategy of accommodation that historically turned Jews into a no-fail target is the course least likely to stop ongoing acts of aggression against them. Indeed, anti-Jewish politics will end only when those who practice it accept the democratic values of religious pluralism and political choice -- or are forced to pay a high enough price for flouting them.
 
 

Ruth Wisse is a professor of Yiddish and
 
comparative literature at Harvard. Her latest book
 
is "Jews and Power."


Continued (Permanent Link)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Hamas promises: We will take over the West Bank

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/hamas-promises-we-will-take-over-west.html

Hamas denied earlier claims that it was planning a coup against Mahmoud Abbas, but the "promise" was repeated again by Mahmoud al-Zahar.
 
Clearly, Israel cannot make concessions that might allow a Hamas takeover until this group is eliminated as a threat, and PA President Mahmoud Abbas would be a fool to demand such concessions, as they would put him out of power.  
 
Ami Isseroff
 
Al-Zahar: If Israel leaves West Bank, Hamas will take over
Mark Weiss and jpost.com staff , THE JERUSALEM POST  Nov. 8, 2007
 
If Israel moves out of the West Bank, Hamas will take over as it did the Gaza Strip, Army Radio quoted Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar as saying Friday.
 
Al-Zahar spoke at a supporters' rally in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. "Israel says that if it will move out of the West bank, Hamas will take control. We say this is true," he said.
 
Al-Zahar's words contradicted statements made by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh earlier in the week, when he said his organization had no intention of repeating its Gaza takeover in the West Bank.
 
Earlier on Friday Israeli negotiators reported significant progress in talks with Palestinians; a development which could pave the way to agreement on a joint statement to be issued ahead of the US-sponsored Middle East conference in Annapolis later this month.
 
Late Thursday, Israeli sources said, Palestinian negotiators accepted Israeli security demands. These assert that progress following the conference will depend on the Palestinians fulfilling obligations set down in the first stage of the road map peace plan, namely the disarming and disbanding of all terror groups.
 
The breakthrough was reportedly achieved during a late-night meeting between chief Israeli and Palestinian negotiators Tzipi Livni and Ahmed Qurei.
 
In response to the reports of progress in the talks, a member of the Palestinian negotiating team who claimed he had attended the said meeting between Qurei and Livni, told Israel radio that the "breakthrough" was being trumpeted for more than it was worth.
 
"I did not sense that there was any progress in the talks with the Israeli side," the negotiator said. He then laughed and further retorted, "What's new about the principle stating that the implementation of commitments depends upon [the Palestinians] fighting terror? Indeed, it appears in the road map, and we of course agreed to the road map."
 
Israeli sources also reported progress on Thursday, with Palestinian negotiators easing their demands that the peace conference lay out a specific timetable for statehood.
 
Israel expected to receive a formal confirmation from the US on Friday as to the date of the Annapolis peace conference. Reports Thursday night suggested President George W. Bush would host an opening evening for the delegations on November 25, with two or three days of summit talks to follow.
 
Israel will be represented at Annapolis by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and a negotiating team made up of officials from the Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign and Defense ministries. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will head the Palestinian delegation, which will include former PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala).
 
Israeli sources confirmed Thursday night that the prime minister was considering a settlement freeze ahead of Annapolis. According to some Israeli officials, a de facto settlement freeze has already been in place for the last five years.
 
But in a report issued Wednesday, Peace Now said that despite the government's pledge to stop settlement expansion, dozens of new buildings had been erected inside existing settlements in the past year, and settlements were growing at a rate over three times faster than the average community growth in Israel.
 
Israeli and US sources said another visit to the region by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was expected before the Maryland gathering.
 
PA officials said Thursday they were pleased with Israeli pledges to resume peace talks after the conference and were now less concerned about the statement of principles that had bogged down earlier negotiations. Israeli, Palestinian and US officials have all indicated in recent days that sticking points are slowly being resolved.
 
The Palestinians had insisted the document outline the general principles of a peace agreement and provide a timeline for granting them independence. The Israelis sought a vaguer, nonbinding agreement.
 
With negotiators making little progress on these issues, Palestinian officials said they were turning their focus away from the document and toward post-summit talks after receiving Israeli and US assurances that peace efforts would move into high gear after the conference.
 
"We were hoping for a document that would include defined limits and guiding resolutions for every difficult point," said Rafiq Husseini, a top aide to Abbas. "I'm not sure we'll get it."
 
He said he was pleased that there is now talk of reviving the road map.
 
Other Palestinian officials said Abbas was especially encouraged by Olmert's speech Sunday night, in which the Israeli leader suggested that a deal could be reached by the end of Bush's term in January 2009.
 
Olmert described the Annapolis summit as a "starting point" for talks on Palestinian statehood, including the core issues that have scuttled past peace efforts: the final borders between Israel and a future Palestine, the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees.
 
Olmert also said he is ready to carry out Israel's initial obligations under the road map - a freeze in Jewish settlement activity in the West Bank - and said he expected the Palestinians to meet their road map commitment of thwarting terrorism.
 
A US diplomat said Washington was encouraged by the latest Palestinian position, which appears to be in line with Israeli and American thinking.
 
"We've never envisioned Annapolis as a meeting that hammers out core issues, but rather sets the stage for parties to work on the core issues in an atmosphere of confidence," the diplomat said.
 
AP contributed to this article.
 
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Let's celebrate Sigd and Thanksgiving

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/lets-celebrate-sigd-and-thanksgiving.html

OK. But I want Thanksgiving recognized as a Jewish holiday. More Jews celebrate Thanksgiving than celebrate Sigd. More American Jews probably celebrate Thanksgiving than there are Israeli Jews who go to synagogue on Yom Kippur.
 
This article doesn't tell us anything about the religious or national origin of the holiday of Sigd. If there is good food on this holiday, then it is fine with me. It states:
 
"There have been many festivals over the years that were started in the Diaspora but were eventually incorporated into the cycle of Jewish holidays by the rabbis of the time," said association spokesman Avi Masfin. He cited Hanukka and Purim as holidays that were established by particular communities and later adopted by all of world Jewry.
Hanukka was not established in the diaspora, though some of the customs were. It commemorates a specific event in Jewish history in Israel. Purim is anyone's guess. If this event took place, it took place in Persia.
 
The real reason to celebrate Sigd is to show that the Ethiopian community is an integral part of Judaism. That is a wonderful idea. But then, seriously, why not celebrate a version of Thanksgiving to show that American Jews are an integral part of Judaism? What is next? Hanukka bushes? Boxing day for British Jews?
 
Ami Isseroff

 
Ruth Eglash , THE JERUSALEM POST  Nov. 8, 2007
 
Hundreds of members of the Ethiopian community signed their names to a petition Thursday calling for Israel's religious leaders to incorporate the annual Sigd festival in the calendar of religious Jewish holidays.
 
As in previous years, Ethiopian Israelis young and old, Israel-born and new and veteran immigrants were bused from around the country on Thursday to Jerusalem's Haas Promenade to mark the ancient holiday, whose name means "to prostate oneself in worship" and is meant to renew the covenant between God and the people of Israel. It is normally celebrated 50 days after Yom Kippur, on the 29th of the Hebrew month of Heshvan, but was held two days early this year because the date fell on Shabbat. The community's spiritual leaders, or Kessim, recite prayers in the Ethiopian Jewish language of Gez calling for the return of all Jews to Jerusalem.
 
The drive to have the holiday made part of the Jewish calendar was initiated earlier this week by the Israel Association of Ethiopian Jews, which sent its request to Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger.
 
"There have been many festivals over the years that were started in the Diaspora but were eventually incorporated into the cycle of Jewish holidays by the rabbis of the time," said association spokesman Avi Masfin. He cited Hanukka and Purim as holidays that were established by particular communities and later adopted by all of world Jewry.
 
Within an hour of issuing the petition and calling on passersby to show their support, more than 150 people had signed up.
 
"We have talked about this becoming a mainstream Jewish festival for years, but mostly in the privacy of our homes. This is the first time that we have asked for recognition of our traditions from the larger Jewish public," said Masfin.
 
While Masfin talked about the religious significance of Sigd, many of Thursday's revelers seemed anything but interested in the prayers taking place at the far end of the promenade, south of the capital's Old City. Most of the younger attendees were basking in the sunshine or enjoying hot dogs from vendors instead of fasting, as is the custom.
 
"We like to come here and see our friends," said one teenage girl from Lod, who added that she comes to Jerusalem to celebrate Sigd every year. Around her, teens with spiky, bleached blond hair, ripped jeans, chains and piercings seemed to feel the same way.
 
One 15-year-old from Jerusalem said the event was a Jewish festival and that all Israelis should recognize it, "like we celebrate the [Moroccan-Jewish] Mimouna." She suggested that all Israeli school children be taught about her community's traditions.
 
"We are very proud of our culture," she said.
 
"As Ethiopians we are very willing to learn about the Holocaust, even though we were not part of it," said Kiryat Gat Rabbi Sharon Shalom, a veteran immigrant from Ethiopia who has been ordained by the Chief Rabbinate. "We mark it because it is symbolic of persecution that happened to our fellow Jews. In the same way, Sigd should have meaning for all Jews."
 
He said the festival was a chance for all Jews to fast, repent for their sins and pray for a return of the Jewish people to Jerusalem.
 
Shalom did, however, caution that any integration of the festival into mainstream Israeli society should be done carefully, lest it increase existing divides between the community and non-Ethiopian Israelis.
 
Rabbi Itzhak Paraz, director of Amar's office, told The Jerusalem Post Amar had strong relations with the Ethiopian community and was very sympathetic to their needs. He said that Amar, who is currently out of the country, would certainly be willing to sit down with community leaders to discuss the Sigd issue. Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger was not available for comment.
 
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Middle East apocalypse, but not now

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/middle-east-apocalypse-but-not-now.html

Lieberman says, 'Mideast atomic programs apocalyptic' according to Jerusalem Post. Of course he is right. You don't need a minister of Strategic Affairs to know that. He also says Pakistan is a threat, since it is unstable. That is true too. Everyone with a bomb is a threat. After all, Britain and France can have a Muslim majority one day. Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean everyone is NOT out to get you. 
 
The following is significant:
 
Referring to Ahmadinejad's 3,000-centrifuges announcement, Lieberman said that Israel was not surprised but that Iran still had a "way to go" before it would succeed in operating the centrifuges to the point that they could produce enriched uranium. On Tuesday, Military Intelligence said Iran could produce a nuclear weapon by the end of 2009.
So an Israeli attack on Iran is not in the offing, and the reports in Sunday Times were of course a canard.
 
 
The following is somewhat fanciful:
 
Lieberman said Israel needed to ignore ElBaradei and to work on its own - together with other Western countries - to impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic. He said the international community finally understood that Iran was not just a threat to Israel but to the entire Free World.
 
"We are trying to establish sanctions outside the UN," Lieberman said, adding that 70 percent of Iran's commerce was with Europe, the Gulf states and Canada. "If we can get these countries to cut their ties, this can have an effect." 
 
 
Yes, it will have an effect. The effect will be that Iran will move its business to Russia, China and North Korea. Then what?
 
Ami Isseroff
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Is Israel about to invade Gaza?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/is-israel-about-to-invade-gaza.html

It is not the first time that Al-Quds Al-Arabi gets a scoop or a canard. We don't know which this one is. If Israel has such plans, would they reveal operational details to the Palestinian Authority?
 
Israel has informed PA authorities in Ramallah of its intention to send the IDF into the Gaza Strip in order to regain control of the Philadelphi Corridor and put an end to Hamas smuggling of weapons and cash through tunnels from the Egyptian side of the border, the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported Friday morning.
 
According to the report, Israel has told a number of Arab states that after the November 26 Annapolis conference it intends to embark on an extensive operation in the Strip.
 
Palestinian sources received explicit information stating that during the projected first stage of the operation, Israel is determined to gain control of Rafah and areas along the Egyptian border ranging as far as Khan Yunis, the paper said. The second stage will reportedly include an incursion into the central and northern Gaza Strip.
 
Since when does Israel advertise its military moves in advance to Arab states? If Israel is going to invade Gaza, would they really do it in phases as it states here? That seems like a very bad plan in any case, Central and northern Gaza would remain intact, and a base for harassing the IDF in the south, as well as for launching the nice Qassam missiles. What would be the purpose of telling Mahmoud Abbas about it? Here is his reaction:
 
According to Al-Quds Al-Arabi's sources, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who rejected out of hand Israel's plan to recapture the Philadelphi Corridor, intends to send emissaries to regional countries in an effort to convey the sense of urgency regarding the danger of an Israeli incursion.
 
Abbas, the paper said, will state that an Israeli incursion would destroy the Gaza Strip and its infrastructure.
 
Given that reaction, what would be the point of telling Abbas? Of course, it is not literally possible to destroy the Gaza strip.
 
Ami Isseroff
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Palestinians agree to disband terrorist groups before statehood

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/palestinians-agree-to-disband-terrorist.html

It sounds great, but what is a terrorist group? What does "disband" mean? If there is a nice national resistance movement like the Al-Aqsa, do they qualify as a terrorist group just because they murder a few people now and then? If Al Aqsa members join the Palestinian police, their weapons become "kosher." And if there just happens to be a "Liberate Palestine" party composed of Palestinian police members, with a platform of "liberating" Haifa and Tel-Aviv, isn't it a legitimate political party, as Herut was a legitimate party that wanted to "liberate" transjordan?
 
Ami Isseroff
 
 
PA agrees to disband terrorist groups before statehood
Mark Weiss , THE JERUSALEM POST  Nov. 8, 2007
 
Israeli negotiators on Friday reported significant progress in talks with Palestinians Friday; a development which could pave the way to agreement on a joint statement to be issued ahead of the US-sponsored Middle East conference in Annapolis later this month.
 
Late Wednesday, Israeli sources said, Palestinian negotiators accepted Israeli security demands. These assert that progress following the conference will depend on the Palestinians fulfilling obligations set down in the first stage of the road map peace plan, namely the disarming and disbanding of all terror groups.
 
The breakthrough was reportedly achieved during a late-night meeting between chief Israeli and Palestinian negotiators Tzipi Livni and Ahmed Qurei.
 
Israeli sources also reported progress on Thursday, with Palestinian negotiators easing their demands that the peace conference lay out a specific timetable for statehood.
 
Israel expected to receive a formal confirmation from the US on Friday as to the date of the Annapolis peace conference. Reports Thursday night suggested President George W. Bush would host an opening evening for the delegations on November 25, with two or three days of summit talks to follow.
 
Israel will be represented at Annapolis by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and a negotiating team made up of officials from the Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign and Defense ministries. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will head the Palestinian delegation, which will include former PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala).
 
Israeli sources confirmed Thursday night that the prime minister was considering a settlement freeze ahead of Annapolis. According to some Israeli officials, a de facto settlement freeze has already been in place for the last five years.
 
But in a report issued Wednesday, Peace Now said that despite the government's pledge to stop settlement expansion, dozens of new buildings had been erected inside existing settlements in the past year, and settlements were growing at a rate over three times faster than the average community growth in Israel.
 
Israeli and US sources said another visit to the region by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was expected before the Maryland gathering.
 
PA officials said Thursday they were pleased with Israeli pledges to resume peace talks after the conference and were now less concerned about the statement of principles that had bogged down earlier negotiations. Israeli, Palestinian and US officials have all indicated in recent days that sticking points are slowly being resolved.
 
The Palestinians had insisted the document outline the general principles of a peace agreement and provide a timeline for granting them independence. The Israelis sought a vaguer, nonbinding agreement.
 
With negotiators making little progress on these issues, Palestinian officials said they were turning their focus away from the document and toward post-summit talks after receiving Israeli and US assurances that peace efforts would move into high gear after the conference.
 
"We were hoping for a document that would include defined limits and guiding resolutions for every difficult point," said Rafiq Husseini, a top aide to Abbas. "I'm not sure we'll get it."
 
He said he was pleased that there is now talk of reviving the road map.
 
Other Palestinian officials said Abbas was especially encouraged by Olmert's speech Sunday night, in which the Israeli leader suggested that a deal could be reached by the end of Bush's term in January 2009.
 
Olmert described the Annapolis summit as a "starting point" for talks on Palestinian statehood, including the core issues that have scuttled past peace efforts: the final borders between Israel and a future Palestine, the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees.
 
Olmert also said he is ready to carry out Israel's initial obligations under the road map - a freeze in Jewish settlement activity in the West Bank - and said he expected the Palestinians to meet their road map commitment of thwarting terrorism.
 
A US diplomat said Washington was encouraged by the latest Palestinian position, which appears to be in line with Israeli and American thinking.
 
"We've never envisioned Annapolis as a meeting that hammers out core issues, but rather sets the stage for parties to work on the core issues in an atmosphere of confidence," the diplomat said.
 
AP contributed to this article.
 
This article can also be read at


Continued (Permanent Link)

US forcing European firms to leave Iran

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/us-forcing-european-firms-to-leave-iran.html

Washington tells EU firms: quit Iran now
UK, French and German companies begin pullout under US pressure
 
David Gow in Munich and Ewen MacAskill in Washington
Friday November 9, 2007
The Guardian
 

Multinational companies are coming under increasing pressure from the US to stop doing business with Iran because of its nuclear programme. European operators are facing threats from Washington that they could jeopardise their US interests by continuing to deal with Tehran, with increasing evidence that European governments, mainly France, Germany and Britain, are supporting the US campaign.

It emerged last night that Siemens, one of the world's largest engineering groups and based in Germany, has pulled out of all new business dealings with Iran after pressure from the US and German governments. This follows the decision by Germany's three biggest banks, Deutsche, Commerzbank, and Dresdner, to quit Iran after a warning from US vice-president Dick Cheney that if firms remain in Tehran, they are going to have problems doing business in the US.
 

The Foreign Office, while sympathising with City firms, has privately backed the US warnings in recent weeks, telling companies such as Shell and BP of the risks of continuing business with Iran. The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has urged French energy firms Total and GDF not to pursue new business in Iran. Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, is joining him in pressing for new sanctions, probably at EU level.

The US is tightening its economic squeeze on Iran and last month unilaterally imposed a new round of sanctions. It regularly complains in private to the British and other European governments that American efforts are being undermined by European companies continuing to do business with Tehran. If economic sanctions fail to have an impact by next year, pressure will mount from Mr Cheney to launch air strikes against Iran.
 
The under-secretary for political affairs at the US state department, Nicholas Burns, and the under-secretary at the Treasury, Stuart Levey, have made frequent trips to Europe to warn companies they face the loss of American business if they continue to deal with Iran.
 
BP said back in 2005 that "politically Iran is not a flyer" because of the company's huge presence in the US. Rival Shell has been tentatively moving forward with engineering studies on a large gas project in Iran but has insisted in the past that it would only take a final decision once it knew it was commercially viable. A spokesman for the company would not comment last night but industry sources said it was a "very sensitive issue", given the scale of Shell's oil business in the US.
 
The two British banks most frequently mentioned in Washington in relation to Iran are HSBC and Standard Chartered. Both banks have scaled down their operations in Iran but maintain a modest presence in Tehran.
 
Siemens insiders said the group, which is in the throes of clearing up a series of bribery and corruption cases involving payments of some €1.3bn (£900,000), would carry out existing contracts in Iran which have attracted government export credit guarantees, but would seek no new contracts. The engineering group won a contract four years ago to supply 24 power stations to the Iranians and last year secured a provisional €450m deal to supply 150 locomotives for Iran's railways.
 
Officials said Siemens' Iranian business amounted to less than 1% of annual group turnover of €84bn last year. This compares with sales of $21.4bn (€14.4bn or £10.1bn) in the US where the group employs 70,000. It is understood that 80% of the company's trade is in power generation but sources insisted that Siemens had no involvement in Iran's nuclear power programme. Germany is Iran's biggest trading partner, with a 2006 surplus of €4bn, but trade was down 18% in the first half of this year. UK exports to Iran fell 7% last year to £431.4m, according to the British-Iran chamber of commerce.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Let's face it, UNIFIL is worthless

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/lets-face-it-unifil-is-worthless.html

Hezbollah happily held a large maneuver in southern Lebanon, totally oblivious of UNIFIL and the Lebanese army, neither of which did anything to stop it. UNIFIL leadership was "embarrassed." It didn't occur to them to shoot. Where was the Lebanese army? Were they also busy covering their blushes?
 
UNIFIL is worthless. The next war with Israel is apparently only a matter of time and the whims of the Iranian government.
 
From the Jerusalem post:

Hizbullah held its largest ever training exercise near southern Lebanon's border with Israel in preparation for a response to any Israeli offensive, the Shi'ite group's deputy leader, Sheikh Naim Kassem said Thursday.

Sawat al-Balad quoted Kassem as saying that the exercise staged last week involved "enormous and important" maneuvers that were carried out so that the group "won't be caught by surprise."

According to the leader, Hizbullah had acquired a weapons arsenal that was capable of reaching all parts of Israel. "The exercise was unrestricted and was meant to cover all of the territory of the Zionist entity and not simply to strengthen our forces," Kassem claimed.

The operatives were unarmed during the maneuver, Kassem claimed.

"The drill was part of an obligation to make our presence and readiness known and [to show] that we act how we see fit," he added.

The exercise lasted for three days and was reportedly the largest in Hizbullah's history. According to a report in the Al Akhbar newspaper, one of the exercise's main objectives was to convey to Israel the "big surprises" Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah had threatened to unleash if Israel attacks Lebanon.

Furthermore, the exercise was tailored to the IDF's strategy as observed during the Second Lebanon War and after it. The exercise took into account, for example, the increased deployment of UNIFIL peacekeepers since the war ended.

While the leadership of UNIFIL was embarrassed by the liberty taken by guerilla operatives south of the Litani River - an area where they are banned from traveling according to UN resolution 1701 (the cease-fire resolution that went into effect August 14 2006) - the IDF was well aware of the maneuvers and Israeli UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) carried out an unprecedented number of forays during it.

The IAF drones' presence was so prominent that the aircraft were shown on Lebanese TV news editions.
 
 
Incredibly, everyone stands by and watches.
 
Ami Isseroff


Continued (Permanent Link)

Campaign takes aim at Fatah charter, but envoy says it's been replaced

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/campaign-takes-aim-at-fatah-charter-but.html

A case of bad syntax in headlines, because it is not clear whether it is the charter or the Fatah that was replaced. They mean the charter, but quite possibly the whole Fatah is about to go out of business, if an Arab analysis is correct (see The end of the Fatah?). Still, it is a pity if Israel activists are tilting at windmills.
 
The article follows below.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
 
The article:
  
By Ron Kampeas  Published: 11/06/2007 
 

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- The Zionist Organization of America is making headway with its call on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to abrogate his Fatah party's constitution before U.S.-backed peace talks convene in Annapolis, Md. later this month.

Only one problem: According to Palestinian officials, the offending Fatah document has been gone, dead and buried for nearly three decades.
 
Despite this claim, lawmakers and Jewish organizations are taking their lead from a ZOA ad that appeared in the New York Times on Oct. 18, listing the offending articles as "ten commandments," including one calling for "the complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military, and cultural existence."
 
The Jewish community's pre-eminent umbrella group on foreign affairs -- the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations -- is close to signing on to the ZOA's campaign. In Congress, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the minority whip in the House of Representatives, and U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), a prominent Jewish Democrat, have joined the fight, initiating a non-binding resolution that demands Abbas "officially abrogate the 10 articles in the Fatah Constitution that call for Israel's destruction and terrorism against Israel, oppose any political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and label Zionism as racism."
 
But Afif Safieh, the director of the PLO's office in Washington, told JTA that the Fatah charter -- and its offending anti-Israel articles -- are no longer valid. "It has been superseded by Fatah general congresses in 1980 in Damascus and in 1989 in Tunis," Safieh said.
 
"Those who might invoke this issue are resurrecting a document that was 'caduc' long ago," Safieh said, using the French term for "null and void" that the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, made famous in 1989 when he said offensive passages in the separate Palestine Liberation Organization charter were no longer relevant.
 
The current ZOA-led campaign mimics a similar to-and-fro in the 1990s over the PLO charter that was never satisfied to any party's liking, despite the reconvening of the Palestine National Council in 1998 under the aegis of former President Bill Clinton.
 
Safieh said he suspects, then as now, the aim is to scuttle peace moves. "Those who are invoking this issue are ill inspired," Safieh said.
 
ZOA's spokesmen say the documentation chronicling the purported changes in the Fatah charter is sparse at best and that there is no proof of the charter's formal renunciation.
 
"It would be a dangerous policy error to strengthen President Abbas with Israeli concessions, especially statehood, before he formally abrogates his ruling document promoting terror and Israel's destruction," ZOA President Morton Klein told JTA.
 
In making a case for the currency of the Fatah charter, ZOA cites the document's appearance until October on www.fateh.net. That site, however, is based in Lebanon and seems unrelated to the existing Fatah Party, whose official website is www.fateh.ps. Unlike the official site, which lionizes Abbas, the fatah.net site does not even mention him, and offers only two biographies -- of unknown Palestinians, apparantly radicals.
 
Independent experts on Fatah have had difficulty in tracking how exactly the Palestinian faction has evolved over the years.
 
"Fatah's evolution adds up to a series of phases marked by oscillating shifts in emphasized bases of legitimacy," wrote Anat Kurz of Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Center in her 2005 book, "Fatah and the Politics of Violence." The "shifting bases" Kurz referred to are political legitimacy on the one hand and violence on the other.
 
Nathan Brown of George Washington University, another expert on Fatah, said that members of the Palestinian faction speak of bylaws apparently adopted at the 1980 and 1989 congresses, but a compendium of these is hard to come by. Brown said he once saw such a compendium in the hands of a Fatah party official -- the only evidence he has that one exists.
 
Nonetheless, Brown said, his Fatah interlocutors say the party is on board with recognizing Israel's existence and advocating a two-state solution. "'That's the difference between us and Hamas,' is what they say," Brown said.
 
Another problem is that according to the original charter, the head of the movement does not have the unilateral power to convene another congress, which is what it would take to make constitutional changes; ZOA's initiative, according to this view, amounts to calling on Abbas to rescind a document that says he has no such power.
 
These days Fatah hardly exists as an independent, functioning party, Brown said; power is concentrated mostly in Abbas and in the Palestinian Authority. "It's more of a New Year's or Halloween party than a political party," Brown said.
 
In the 2006 Palestinian elections, different factions purporting to represent Fatah often ran in the same district, splitting the pro-Fatah vote. The breakdown helped Hamas, the terrorist group Abbas is now fighting, win the elections.
 
Palestinians in the West Bank are vaguely aware of the original charter's opening "Six Principles," which invoke armed struggle toward liberation but do not in themselves negate Israel's existence. Once, prospective Fatah members were required to swear by the principles and perform some limited military duty. Now, observers in the West Bank say, all that is required is a nominal fee.
 
To the degree that the party functions now, it is toward convening another general congress -- the one in 1989 was the most recent.
 
According to contemporary news accounts, the 1989 congress did go some way toward reversing the most toxic elements of the first Fatah constitution. Fatah was under pressure from Europeans who were telling the Palestinians that the administration of the first President George Bush was ready to take some steps toward recognizing Palestinian rights.
 
The problem was that the resulting document, while accepting at least in the short term the legitimacy of a two-state solution, didn't do much to assuage U.S. and Israeli concerns.
 
A New York Times account has the congress calling for a Palestinian right of return to all parts of the West Bank and Israel, and calling upon Palestinians to "step up" the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The congress also said it would set up a committee to ''oppose the Zionist immigration to our homeland'' and to ''prevent the arrival of Jewish immigrants in our occupied homeland."
 
Subsequently, Israel questioned whether this language meant that Fatah imagined it had the right to decide who gets to live in Israel; Fatah spokesmen said the reference was only to settlements.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Gaza Disengagement: We erred, we made a very big mistake

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/gaza-disengagement-we-erred-we-made.html

Benjamin ben Eliezer admits that 'The disengagement from Gaza was a big mistake' according to a Jerusalem Post article:
 
The disengagement from Gaza "was a mistake" National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer told Non-Stop Radio (Radio Lelo Hafsaka) on Thursday.

"I admit and confess," Ben Eliezer said, "I was with those who strongly supported [former prime minister] Ariel Sharon, and today I say with my head held high: We erred, we made a very big mistake."

According to Ben Eliezer, a move such as the Gaza pullout can only be successful when the territory one leaves is "handed over to responsible hands and anchored in agreements and international guarantees. Here we have a precedent - a territory we left turns into a base for terror - period."

Regarding the ongoing Kassam rocket fire at Israel from the Gaza Strip, Ben Eliezer said there is no escaping the need to act and to respond to the barrages.

...
"Israel must respond, what else?"

Ben Eliezer continued: "Israel continues to say 'I bind myself to ethical obligations,' that no other country in the world binds itself to.

"There is a contradiction here between two disciplines," he said. "One nation is prepared to commit suicide and sees it as a mitzvah and an honor, and another wants to spare every ounce of blood."

Ben Eliezer's comments came Thursday morning as three Kassam rockets landed in Israeli territory. Two of the rockets landed in open fields near the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon - one near a strategic installation. No one was wounded and there was no damage to property.
 
Ben Eliezer apparently did not discuss the option that was supposedly vetoed by Condoleezza Rice: that Israel would evacuate settlements and leave the IDF in Gaza. Nor did he note that Qassam rockets fell on Sderot when the IDF was in Gaza. Israel cannot respond without incurring the ire of the United States, and the long term responsibility of policing Gaza. As the US experience in Iraq proves, occupation without a realistic plan for rehabilitation can lead to disaster.
 
Ami Isseroff


Continued (Permanent Link)

The end of the Fatah?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/end-of-fatah.html

An astute commentary from asharqalawsat, Fatah and Hamas: The Division Continues…, that indicates the end of the Fatah
 
Many have told Asharq Al-Awsat that Fatah is without leadership and can no longer be considered an organization today. Fatah loyalist Brigadier Yousef al Sharqawi said, "No one is leading Fatah, it is without a head, a headless body that walks alone."
 
"Or," he amended, "perhaps it is a body with multiple heads," and as though he just remembered something, he said, "Fatah is gone."
 
Like others before him, al Sharqawi maintains that Fatah died with Yasser Arafat. Others uphold that although Fatah is the Palestinian Authority, it does not wield any control over it, but that's another story. Some believe that Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad and the ministers he appointed do not represent Fatah; in fact, observers believe that Fayad is headed towards a confrontation with Fatah, as some among the movement's leadership have been saying. There are those who consider this to be the impending second coup in Ramallah.
 
According to a Fatah loyalist, "Today, Fayad is a national requirement but he will soon no longer be," indicating that all the important and influential posts are occupied by officials that are not part of Fatah. This fact was pointed out by the Israeli newspaper 'Haaretz', which also added that a dispute was starting to come to light between Abbas and Fayad over the formation of a Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) that is independent from Fatah and "not affiliated to any political party". This is something that many in the Fatah leadership will regard as a blow. And yet, it was Abbas who granted powers to Fayad, something which he has denied Hamas.
 
Various Palestinian politicians, including businessman Munib al Masri and First Deputy Speaker of PLC, Hassan Khreisheh, are currently discussing the formation of new [political] parties as an alternative to Fatah and Hamas. This move has received the blessing of President Abbas himself. Some cite the Israeli Kadima party as an example, which was able to "seize power from the historic Likud and Labor parties."
Does Israel really have a peace partner? Will Fatah be superseded, or will it be swamped by the Hamas? In Hamas too, there is ferment - mostly movement toward extremism, and disciplining those who hint of negotiations:
 
The resignation of former cabinet's spokesperson Ghazi Hamd although denied by Hamas was confirmed by reliable sources within the movement who said that he had indeed resigned in protest against the movement's policy.
 
The controversy has deeply manifested itself with Hamd's evasion of the media and his keeping a low profile and staying at home. Despite the fact that Hamas has dispelled rumors about a rift with Hamd or that he was dismissed by the movement after making statements that Hamas was negotiating with Israel, Fawzi Barhoum, the Hamas spokesman told Asharq Al-Awsat that, "he [Hamd] still has our respect but he is at home now." The movement's official statement pointed towards the fact that it expressed a personal difference, not one that was held by the movement.
 
Like Hamd, Ahmed Yousef, Haniyeh's advisor has also disappeared from the scene lately. Some sources within the movement had severely criticized Yousef for his declared statements and positions, some going further to describe them as "Fatah-inclined".
 
Although Hamas has publicly and overtly denied the existence of growing rifts; inevitably, hidden cracks are starting to become apparent. Recently, differences have been surfacing between the Hamas leadership in Gaza and that in the West Bank.
 
Political science analyst Abdul Sattar Qasim upholds that "Hamas, unlike Fatah, is a hierarchal organization; it adopts an extremist attitude and does not accept or listen to other opinions."
 
Never many dull moments in the Middle East.
 
Ami Isseroff
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

The Iranian view

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/iranian-view.html

This is the Iranian "narrative" or side of the story, as told by their foreign minister It contains many delightful tidbits. For example:
 
Consider my country, Iran, which has not invaded any country in the past 250 years. After decades of struggle against dictatorship and foreign domination, we secured our freedom and independence in 1979 by establishing a political system of our own choosing. But instead of establishing friendly relations with Iran based on this new reality, the United States has consistently sought to restore its domination, even providing massive diplomatic, financial and military support to Saddam Hussein in his war against my country during the 1980's.
 
Pity the poor and peaceful Iranians, victims of the USA imperialist Zionist warmongers! Is it barely possible that US antipathy to Iran was somehow related to the kidnapping of US diplomats? Not likely, is it? Could it be thought perhaps, that the US didn't take kindly to the Ayatollahs' characterization of the US as the "Great Satan?" Perish the thought. And of course, the US should have been delighted by the crowds at organized demonstrations, screaming "Death to America." Obviously, Iran held out the hand of dialogue and friendship, and it was spurned by those evil Americans.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
Iran's quest for a just global order
By Manouchehr Mottaki
Commentary by
Thursday, November 08, 2007 
 
A major shortcoming in today's world is the persistence of a zero-sum sense of geopolitics. The world expected something different in the post-Cold War era to promote peace and stability. Instead, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, momentum swung toward a "global war on terror" that, in practice, became the rationale for maintaining a Cold War mentality and supporting strategies of pre-emptive war and regime change that have intensified insecurity, instability and international terrorism.
 
Consider my country, Iran, which has not invaded any country in the past 250 years. After decades of struggle against dictatorship and foreign domination, we secured our freedom and independence in 1979 by establishing a political system of our own choosing. But instead of establishing friendly relations with Iran based on this new reality, the United States has consistently sought to restore its domination, even providing massive diplomatic, financial and military support to Saddam Hussein in his war against my country during the 1980's.
 
The current dispute over Iran's peaceful and legal nuclear program is part of this pattern, replete with unfounded accusations, double standards, and moral and legal inconsistency, all hidden behind the alleged threat of proliferation. But Iran's peaceful nuclear program originates from the late 1960s and 1970s. Iran's energy demand will exceed its supply, possibly reducing or even eliminating its oil export capacity in the near future. Thus, Iran urgently needs to produce 20,000 megawatts of nuclear power by 2020.
 
As long ago as 1973, the US government itself saw that Iran would need nuclear power. Indeed, the US expected that Iran would be capable of generating 20,000 megawatts by 1994. Despite the encouragement of Iran's civil nuclear program by the US, Britain, Germany, and France, they all ultimately reneged on their contractual commitments after our revolution in 1979. Today, some of these governments are even questioning Iran's need for nuclear energy - a matter that was obvious to them 30 years ago.
 
Iran does not need nuclear weapons to protect its regional interests, and such weapons have no place in Iran's security strategy. It seeks to win the confidence of its neighbors and has remained within the confines of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified that there has been no diversion of Iran's civil nuclear program to weapons development. Iran has even proposed regional and multinational participation in its uranium enrichment facilities - only to be met by resounding silence from the Western powers.
 
Meanwhile, US policy toward nuclear non-proliferation and the NPT regime is a case in point of double standards and the lack of sensitivity to other countries' security concerns. While the US seeks to use unilateral and unlawful pressure to preclude Iran's legitimate right to peaceful nuclear energy, it has assisted in developing Israel's nuclear capabilities. Indeed, the US has acted as a buffer to insulate Israel - whose prime minister has boasted about its nuclear weapons - from any international scrutiny, while ignoring calls by Iran and other countries to create a Middle East nuclear weapons-free zone.

With regard to international terrorism, Iran, as a victim of terrorism, condemns it in all its forms. But the same double standards are apparent here. The US has used and is still using extremist organizations to promote its foreign policy goals.
 
This could be said of US conduct with regard to Al-Qaeda's precursors in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and of its current dealings with terrorist groups such as the People's Mujahadeen Organization (MKO), and the Kurdish PEJAK and PKK. The MKO, which was once on Saddam Hussein's payroll and responsible for the loss of many innocent lives in Iran and Iraq, is now under the protection of the US government in Iraq and operates freely in the US itself.
 
Iran has always considered regional stability to be in the vital interest of its own security and development. Our efforts to establish a regional security and cooperation arrangement in the Persian Gulf date back to 1986, at the height of the war with Iraq. We have continued to pursue these initiatives in the post-Saddam era, engaging in confidence-building measures with our immediate neighbors in order to offset extra-regional agitations.
 
Iran currently applies the same policy considerations to Iraq and Afghanistan, despite its opposition to the US-led invasions of these countries. Iran has established excellent relations with post-Taliban Afghanistan and post-Saddam Iraq, and the most senior officials of both countries consistently reject US allegations of Iranian interference. These accusations are designed to portray Iran as a threat to regional stability and frighten other countries into creating an anti-Iran coalition, with the aim of diverting attention from the consequences of failed US policies not only in Iraq, but also in Lebanon and with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
 
The world deserves better. A just global order must be defined in terms of peace and security, alleviation of poverty, a fairer distribution of wealth, better protection of the environment, and respect for local cultural particularities. We can build a global order based on justice, one that negates the current unipolar order by developing tolerance for diversity instead of seeking imposition and assimilation. Such an order will be culturally inclusive and less hegemonic, encompassing states, non-state actors and social groups to minimize violence and maximize economic well-being.
 
Erich Fromm, the late German psychologist and philosopher, once said that "history is a graveyard of cultures that came to their catastrophic ends because of their incapacity for planned and rational voluntary reaction to challenges." We cannot predict our fate, but we can be certain that security will only come through real solidarity and global partnership.
 

Manouchehr Mottaki is foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Lebanon's Dual Crisis

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/lebanons-dual-crisis.html

INSS Insight November 8, 2007 No. 34

 

Lebanon's Dual Crisis

Mark A. Heller

Humor, especially black humor, sometimes captures political reality even better than the most incisive analysis. According to a joke popular in some circles in Lebanon, an ambulance on the way to the hospital signifies one of two things: another bombing of an anti-Syrian personality or another Shi'ite baby about to be born. The two possibilities represent, respectively, the focus of Lebanon's near-term government crisis, whose outcome is uncertain, and the essence of its longer-term identity crisis, whose outcome is virtually foreordained.

The current political crisis revolves around the efforts of a Hizbullah-led and Syrian-supported alliance to paralyze or overthrow the government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and, more specifically, to ensure that pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, whose (extended) term of office expires at the end of November, is succeeded by a candidate equally amenable to Syria (and Hizbullah). According to the constitution of Lebanon, the President (who must be a Maronite Christian) is elected by the 128 members of the National Assembly. In the first ballot, a two-thirds majority is required but after that an absolute majority (i.e., 65) is sufficient. The so-called March 14 coalition which sustains Siniora's government holds 68 seats, theoretically enough to prevail on a second ballot, but the inability of the two sides to settle on an agreed candidate, coupled with the threat of the opposition to boycott proceedings and take more severe actions if a president unacceptable to them is elected by a narrow majority, has caused the presidential vote to be postponed twice, most recently in the last week of October. The next scheduled vote is on November 12, just 12 days before Lahoud is obliged to leave the Presidential Palace.

But that is not the only reason for the sense of urgency. Since the last parliamentary election in 2005, the majority coalition has shrunk due to the assassination of at least five anti-Syrian Deputies (along with several other prominent anti-Syrian politicians and public personalities). The latest victim was Antoine Ghanem, whose killing led others in the March 14 coalition to take even more rigorous security measures, restrict their movements, and even go into hiding. Syrian has strenuously denied any involvement in these killings, but the fact that the wave of violence has touched only those in the anti-Syrian camp reinforces the suspicion that the longer the ballot is postponed, the more likely it is be decided by bullets and bombs; according to Saad al-Hariri, leader of the March 14 parliamentary coalition and son of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, both he and Siniora are currently the targets of a Syrian plot.

Some last minute compromise may yet emerge, and much speculation focuses on General Michel Suleiman, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. If there is no agreement, the deadlocked presidential vote will precipitate perhaps the most severe political crisis since the end of the Lebanese civil war. At best, it could lead to the establishment of parallel governments – perhaps following Lahoud's "emergency" extension of his own term -- and the end of even the pretense of a (re-)united country. At worst, it could ignite another civil war, for which certain elements are already preparing. But even if the stalemate is somehow broken, it will only postpone Lebanon's identity crisis, which is grounded in longer-term socio-political trends.

The most important of these is the demographic shift in favor of Shi'ites. Because of confessional sensitivities, no census has been taken in Lebanon since 1932. But it is universally acknowledged that the Muslim population, and particularly its Shi'ite component, has been constantly growing at the expense of the Christian (and especially Maronite) population – because of both higher birth rates among Shi'ites and higher emigration rates among Christians. According to one source, some 100,000 Christians have submitted visa applications to foreign embassies just since the end the war in summer 2006; if they are not leaving, they are at least preparing the possibility of doing so.

These trends were explicitly acknowledged in the post-civil war reforms that enlarged the parliament and replaced the previous 6:5 ratio favoring Christians with the principle of Muslim-Christian equality (despite the fact that Muslims are already widely assumed to outnumber Christians by about 60:40). Perhaps just as significantly, they were implicitly acknowledged in shifting political alliances. Until the mid-1970s, the major axis of conflict in Lebanon involved Maronites and Sunnis. Each camp had satellites and clients from other confessional groups, but it was that antagonism which lay at the heart of the civil war, in which Shi'ites were more often spectators than active belligerents. Since the 1990s, the Shi'ites have been the most assertive and coherent political force in Lebanon, and while politicians from other confessional groups – especially Maronite leader Michel Aoun -- have made common cause with them for tactical purposes, the emerging power of the Shi'ites, expressed most forcefully in Hizbullah, has driven most major Maronite and Sunni actors together in what looks, through the prism of the last civil war, like a marriage of convenience but may actually be a mutual survival pact.

Whatever form that alliance may take, it is unlikely to be more than a holding operation given longer-term demographic trends. Absent some dramatic change, the Shi'ites will increasingly put their stamp on Lebanon as a whole, and extrapolation of current reality implies that Shi'ite predominance will mean Hizbullah predominance. That outcome, however, is not necessarily foreordained. After all, Hizbullah's current agenda has not always resonated among Shi'ites in Lebanon. For many years, Shi'ites were, if not politically quiescent, then inclined to non-confessional approaches (including that of the Communists) that promised them more equitable representation in or at least better treatment at the hands of the Lebanese state. More recently, Hizbullah's radical Islamism and defiance have appealed as the most effective vehicle to achieve those goals, and Hizbullah has also been able to use material resources with which the state could not compete to cultivate further support. It is not inconceivable that the ideological appeal of Hizbullah to Shi'ites will diminish when some of its programmatic promises are fulfilled. It is even more certain that Hizbullah's capacities will diminish if its sources of inspiration and resources in Iran and Syria dry up due to changes in Iranian and Syrian policies and/or regimes. Thus, Lebanon's domestic politics will continue to be influenced by developments elsewhere in the region.

 

 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel and Iranian Nukes: Another Canard from Times Online?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/israel-and-iranian-nukes-another-canard.html

The quote:
 
A claim by President Ahmadinejad that Iran has 3,000 working uranium-enriching centrifuges sent a tremor across the world yesterday amid fears that Israel would respond by bombing the country's nuclear facilities.
 
Presumably, nobody was worried about Iran building nuclear weapons. They were only worried that Israel might try to prevent that. Thus far, nobody has produced any credible evidence that Israel has a workable military plan to strike Iran. All the scenarios that have been leaked have been based on science fiction speculations about Israeli tactical nuclear cruise missiles that nobody knows exist, and fighter aircraft capable of travelling twice the distance of an F15i with extra fuel tanks without refueling.
 
The article notes:
 
The US and Western allies believe that Iran is using its civilian nuclear programme as a cover for weapon development. Tehran says that it merely wants to generate electricity.
The article fails to note that Iran has the second largest reserves of natural gas in the world, from which it could generate sufficient electricity for the next 200 or 300 years, and that Iran was offered, by the EU and Saudi Arabia, a scheme to enrich uranium safely under international supervision. Iran turned down all these offers. The article also fails to note that suspicions about Iran's nuclear program were aroused because Iran concealed its centrifuge factory in Natanz as a "watch factory" and concealed its heavy water reactor at Arak as well. The latter is capable of producing fissionable plutonium for a bomb, and a similar model was used by India for just that purpose.
 
The article states that:
 
Mr Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be "wiped off themap".
This is literally false, as Juan Cole pointed out. Mr. Ahmadinejad did say that the Ayatollah Khomeini wanted "a world without Zionism and without America." Mr. Ahmadinejad said these worthy goals were achievable. So it is not about Israel really, but about the United States and Jews. In Iran and much of the Muslim world, "Zionist" is often synonymous with "Jew."
 
The article states that:
 
Military sources in Washington said that the existence of such a large number could be a "tipping point", triggering an Israeli air strike. The Pentagon is reluctant to take military action against Iran, but officials say that Israel is a "different matter". Amid the international uproar, British MPs who were to have toured the nuclear facility were backing out of their Iran trip.
 
What "military sources" might those be? Could they be two private officers airing their opinions in a Washington bar? What "officials" said that Israel is a "different matter." Does anyone seriously think that Israel  has the capacity or will take the risk of attacking Iran without Western backup? What will Israel do about the possibility of retaliation by Iran with massive missile attacks, or attacks launched by the Hezbollah?
 
An Israeli attack is not impossible, but unlikely. An Iranian bomb is a much more likely prospect, yet it is not bally-hood in the same way as the Israeli attack that would prevent it.  The entire hysteria over putative US and Israeli intervention is typical of biased Middle East reporting. It is intended to distract attention from the real issue, which is Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons and ambitions for regional hegemony.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
US fears Israeli strike against Iran over latest nuclear claim
Tom Baldwin in Washington, James Hider in Jerusalem and Francis Elliott,
Deputy Political Editor
The Times [UK] November 8, 2007
A claim by President Ahmadinejad that Iran has 3,000 working uranium-enriching centrifuges sent a tremor across the world yesterday amid fears that Israel would respond by bombing the country's nuclear facilities.

Military sources in Washington said that the existence of such a large number could be a "tipping point", triggering an Israeli air strike. The Pentagon is reluctant to take military action against Iran, but officials say that Israel is a "different matter". Amid the international uproar, British MPs who were to have toured the nuclear facility were backing out of their Iran trip.

Even before President Ahmadinejad's announcement, a US defence official told The Times yesterday: "Israel could do something when they get to around 3,000 working centrifuges. The Pentagon is minded to wait a little longer." US experts say 3,000 machines running for long periods could make enough enriched uranium for an atomic bomb within a year.

Israel responded by serving notice that it would not tolerate a nuclear Iran. "Talks never did, and never will, stop rockets," said Ehud Barak, the Defence Minister, after talks with the security cabinet.

The US and Western allies believe that Iran is using its civilian nuclear programme as a cover for weapon development. Tehran says that it merely wants to generate electricity.

Concern about Israel's intentions has been heightened by its recent air strike on a suspected nuclear plant in Syria. In 1981 Israel destroyed Saddam Hussein's Iraqi nuclear reactor, and as the sole - if undeclared - nuclear power in the region, it now considers Iran the most serious threat to its security. Mr Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be "wiped off themap".

Efraim Inbar, of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv, said that the figure of 3,000 centrifuges would signal the ability of Israel's arch-foe to produce the nuclear material needed for a warhead. "I wouldn't be surprised if we do something if the international community leaves us alone," he said. "I think we [Israel] are preparing for it. For Israel this is a critical technological moment."

Tehran says it plans to expand its enrichment programme to up to 54,000 centrifuges at Natanz in central Iran, which would amount to
industrial-scale uranium enrichment.

Mr Ahmadinejad, speaking yesterday at a rally, said that UN sanctions had failed to halt uranium enrichment. "The world must know that this nation will not give up one iota of its nuclear rights . . . if they think they can get concessions from this nation, they are badly mistaken," he said. He has in the past claimed that Iran succeeded in installing the 3,000 centrifuges at its uranium enrichment facility but yesterday's speech was the first time he had said all of them were now operational.

The International Atomic Energy Authority recently put the figure at closer to 2,000, with another 650 being tested. The IAEA said yesterday: "We will be publishing a report next week. We will not make any comment about this until then." Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, is shortly to report on Iran's willingness to give up uranium enrichment in exchange for political and trade incentives.

In London, at least five members of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee were refusing to take part in the planned trip to Iran, arguing that it would hand the regime a propaganda coup. The visit, to begin on Sunday, would be the first by a select committee since 15 British Service personnel were held in March. That incident and evidence that the regime is supporting insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq and planning to build a nuclear bomb has strained relations with Britain.

About eight MPs, from all three main parties, are still planning to spend four days in Iran next week.

Eric Illsley, a Labour MP who is one of those to have pulled out, said: "I really don't fancy having pictures of me next to an Iranian nuclear facility beamed around the world."

- Intelligence agencies have begun to vet all foreign postgraduates applying to study sensitive scientific subjects in Britain. The aim is to prevent Iranian students getting expertise in fields related to producing weapons of mass destruction. Sixty Iranians have been refused university places this year.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Islam and democracy don't mix, says Muslim Leader

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/islam-and-democracy-dont-mix-says.html

Quote:
 
Democracy is not an Islamic means. Democracy runs counter to Islam, because it emphasizes the sovereignty of the people, whereas Islam emphasizes the sovereignty of Allah.
 
These are not the words of an islamophobic Zionazi neocon imperialist warmonger. The are spoken by the head of the "moderate" Muslim brotherhood in Indonesia, Abu BakrAl Ba'shir.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
 
 
MEMRI
Special Dispatch-Jihad & Terrorism Studies Project
November 8, 2007
No. 1761
 
Leader of Indonesian Jama'a Islamiyya Abu Bakr Al-Ba'shir:
I Support Bombings in America, But Not in the Muslim World
 
The following are excerpts from an interview with Abu Bakr Ba'shir, spiritual leader of Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya in Indonesia, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on October 26, 2007.
 
 
"Democracy Runs Counter to Islam, Because it Emphasizes the Sovereignty of the People, Whereas Islam Emphasizes the Sovereignty of Allah"
 
Abu Bakr Ba'shir: "The path taken by many political parties in their effort to establish an Islamic regime is not the right path, because these parties adopt democracy. Democracy is not an Islamic means. Democracy runs counter to Islam, because it emphasizes the sovereignty of the people, whereas Islam emphasizes the sovereignty of Allah. Thus, if we are to submit to the law of Allah, Muslims have no choice but to say: 'We hear and obey.' In democracy, Allah's commands may be open to discussion, and if we agree with them, we accept them, but if we do not agree with them, we reject them. Herein lies the flaw. Therefore, as long as the Islamic political parties endeavor to adhere to Islam by means of democracy, they will not achieve their goal."
 
[...]
 
"Jihad should be waged in places where there is war. Bombings in places where there is no war is not a good thing."
 
Interviewer: "So you are against bombings in Arab and Islamic countries, as well as Western countries, if they target civilians?"
    
 
We Are Duty-Bound to Establish an Islamic State, and the Muslims Are Duty-Bound to Live in an Islamic Country"
 
Abu Bakr Ba'shir: "In my opinion, it was wrong to carry out the bombings in Morocco, for example. I am against the bombings in Indonesia, particularly in Bali, because Indonesia is not in a state of war. In my opinion, one should be fighting the infidels in Indonesia by means of Jihad of the tongue – by preaching. Nevertheless, I'm still convinced that [the bombers] are mujahideen, not terrorists, but I believe they were wrong in their judgment."
 
[...]
 
"I do not accept their concept of independent judgment, unless the bombing is carried out in the countries of the infidels who declared war against the Muslims, such as America. America has declared war on the Muslims, and therefore, we are permitted to carry out bombings there, because they are the ones who declared war against the Muslims. Herein lies the problem."
 
[...]
 
"It is a duty... We are duty-bound to establish an Islamic state, and the Muslims are duty-bound to live in an Islamic country. Muslims are forbidden to live in an infidel country. Sheik Fawzan Al-Fawzan issued a fatwa forbidding Muslims to live in the countries of the infidels. That is why we are committed to establishing an Islamic state. The path that the Prophet Muhammad bid us to take is the path of preaching and Jihad. Waging Jihad is the proper conduct. That is why it is essential to establish an Islamic state by means of preaching and Jihad. We have tried to do this in Indonesia, by committing ourselves to Islamic preaching."
 
[...]
 
    
"I Support Osama bin Laden, as Long as he Wages Jihad For the Sake of Allah"
 
Interviewer: "So in fact, you support Osama Bin Laden?"
 
Abu Bakr Ba'shir: "I support Osama Bin Laden, as long as he wages Jihad for the sake of Allah, in order to implement the law of Allah. At times, I may disagree with his independent judgment regarding bombings."
 
Interviewer: "Bombings where?"
 
Abu Bakr Ba'shir: "In places where war is not being waged, where people who have nothing to do with these things may be harmed."
 
 
 To view this clip
 
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Muslim Brotherhood: Moderate or Jihadist?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/muslim-brotherhood-moderate-or-jihadist.html

Think again about the Muslim Brotherhood, which is being increasingly marketed as "soft" Islamism.
 
Ami Isseroff
 

Jerusalem Viewpoints

No. 558   20 Heshvan 5768 / 1 November 2007

 
The Muslim Brotherhood: A Moderate Islamic
Alternative to al-Qaeda or a Partner in Global Jihad?

Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan Dahoah-Halevi

  • The Muslim Brotherhood is increasingly at the center of a heated political controversy in the U.S. and among its Western allies. Foreign Affairs, an important weathervane of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, featured in its March-April issue an article by Robert S. Leiken and Steven Brooke arguing that the Muslim Brotherhood had become a moderate organization.
  • The Select Committee on Foreign Affairs of the British House of Commons issued a report in the summer of 2007 concluding: "As long as the Muslim Brotherhood expresses a commitment to the democratic process and non-violence, we recommend that the British Government should engage with it and seek to influence its members." Ironically, while prominent voices in the West are calling for a new political dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood, in the Arab world many serious analysts warn about its continuing violent nature and global ambitions.
  • At a meeting of the National Defense and Security Committee of the Egyptian Parliament held in January 2007, Muslim Brotherhood parliament member Mohammed Shaker Sanar openly admitted that the Muslim Brotherhood was not committed to Western democratic values. He said that nothing about the organization had changed. "The organization was founded in 1928 to reestablish the Caliphate destroyed by Ataturk..With Allah's help [the Muslim Brotherhood] will institute the law of Allah."
  • This year, newly revealed federal court documents that were accepted into evidence during the trial of the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation revealed further the inner thinking of the Muslim Brotherhood about its global mission. A sixteen-page Arabic document discloses: "The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within."
  • The Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda differ regarding tactics but share a common strategy. Al-Qaeda favors an implacable jihad to destroy the economies of the Western countries. The Muslim Brotherhood supports terrorism and jihad against foreign presence in the Islamic world, but its top priority is constructing a Muslim infrastructure in the West which will slowly but surely enable it to rule during the 21st century. As far as the final goal is concerned, there are no policy differences between al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. The two organizations have the same objective: to place the entire world under an Islamic caliphate.

The Muslim Brotherhood is increasingly at the center of a heated political controversy in the U.S. and among its Western allies. On April 23, Newsweek speculated about whether the attendance of a Muslim Brotherhood leader at a diplomatic party held by the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, Francis Ricciardone, might signal a shift in the Bush administration's policy toward the worldwide radical Islamic movement. Indeed, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also had a brief exchange with the Muslim Brotherhood member at the event, where he heard a brief rationalization of the policies of Hamas, the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood branch that has engaged in suicide bombing attacks and is recognized as an international terrorist organization.

Finally, Foreign Affairs, an important weathervane of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, featured in its March-April issue an article by Robert S. Leiken and Steven Brooke arguing that the Muslim Brotherhood had become a moderate organization.1 The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which seeks to reach out and influence the American political system posted on its website the Foreign Affairs piece on the Muslim Brotherhood .And James Traub echoed many of their arguments in the New York Times Magazine on April 29, 2007, in which he claimed that "the Muslim Brotherhood, for all its rhetorical support of Hamas, could well be precisely the kind of moderate Islamic body that the administration says it seeks."

The opening of a relationship between Washington and the Muslim Brotherhood would represent a major reversal in U.S. policy in the war on terrorism. After all, the Muslim Brotherhood has been widely regarded in the Arab world as the incubator of the jihadist ideology that led to the rise of radical Islamic militant organizations. A former Kuwaiti Minister of Education, Dr. Ahmad Al-Rab'i, argued in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat on July 25, 2005, that the founders of most modern terrorist groups in the Middle East emerged from "the mantle" of the Muslim Brotherhood.2 A recently disclosed British Foreign Office memo from January 17, 2006, which was leaked to The New Statesman, indeed admitted, "The Egyptian Government perceives the Muslim Brotherhood to be the political face of a terrorist organization."

Ironically, while prominent voices in the West are considering opening a political dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood, in the Middle East many columnists are still warning about its hostile intentions. Thus, Tariq Hasan, a columnist for the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram, alerted his readers on June 23, 2007, that the Muslim Brotherhood was preparing a violent takeover in Egypt, using its "masked militias" in order to replicate the Hamas seizure of power in the Gaza Strip.3 And writing on October 23, 2007, in the Saudi-owned Al-Sharq al-Awsat, columnist Hussein Shobokshi wrote that "to this day" the Muslim Brotherhood "has brought nothing but fanaticism, divisions, and extremism, and in some cases bloodshed and killings." Thus, both Arab regimes and leading opinion-makers in Arab states still have serious reservations about the claim of a new moderation in the Muslim Brotherhood.

There are understandable reasons why Arab regimes reach such conclusions; Abdullah Azzam, the teacher and mentor of Osama bin Laden, was a member of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood. Bin Laden's current deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was heavily influenced by the ideology of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.4 And Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the mastermind of the 9/11 attack, joined the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait in his youth.5 Even in recent years the Muslim Brotherhood's publication in London, Risalat al-Ikhwan, maintained its jihadist orientation; it featured at the top of its cover page in 2001 the slogan, "Our mission: world domination" (siyadat al-dunya). This header was changed after 9/11, but the publication still carried the Muslim Brotherhood's motto which includes: "jihad is our path; martyrdom is our aspiration."

Despite this unambiguous historical record, parts of the U.S. intelligence establishment have in the past entertained working with the Muslim Brotherhood. Robert Baer, who was a CIA case officer in the Middle East for its Directorate of Operations, describes how the CIA's station chief in Khartoum, Milton Beardon, did not reject the idea of working with members of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood in order to topple the Libyan leader, Mu'ammar Qaddafi.6 In 1986, Bearden would go on to become the CIA station chief in Islamabad, where he became instrumental in working with the most militant Afghan mujahideen, many of whom were allied with the Muslim Brotherhood and other jihadi groups, in their war against the Soviet Union.7

In 2005, after his retirement, Bearden would join other ex-intelligence officials, like Alastair Crooke, from Britain's MI-6, in seeking to launch a dialogue in Beirut with radical fundamentalist groups, including the Lebanese Muslim Brotherhood, Hizbullah, and Hamas.8 Thus even though the work of Western intelligence agencies in the 1980s produced the "blowback" that was witnessed with the rise of al-Qaeda in the 1990s, there has been a constant school of thought in the West believing in the advisability of working with the representatives of radical Islam, in general, and the Muslim Brotherhood, in particular.

Indeed this school of thought has been making important inroads; the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs of the British House of Commons issued a report in the summer of 2007 concluding: "As long as the Muslim Brotherhood expresses a commitment to the democratic process and non-violence, we recommend that the British Government should engage with it and seek to influence its members."9 The underlying assumption of this recommendation is that the Muslim Brotherhood has indeed become a more moderate organization, just as Leiken and Brooke argue in their Foreign Affairs article. For that reason, it is important to carefully analyze their arguments in order to ascertain whether they have any basis

 
U.S. Policy Toward Radical Islam: The Muslim Brotherhood Debate

The September 11 attack prompted the American administration to change both its domestic and foreign policies and to initiate a comprehensive campaign against radical Islam, which preaches global jihad, and the countries developing weapons of mass destruction that threaten the United States. Promoting the idea of democracy is at the core of President Bush's foreign policy, which seeks to support democratic governments or those aspiring to democracy and to exert pressure on the Arab regimes to adopt the principles of democracy and human rights as a way of battling religious fundamentalism. The president's initiative kindled an argument between those who regard it as an effective way of creating an alternative to the Al-Qaeda-Muslim Brotherhood school of radical Islam and those who feel that conditions in the Middle East are not yet ripe and that such an initiative is liable to achieve the opposite result and pave the way for a radical Islamic takeover of the current regimes.

Dr. Robert S. Leiken, director of the Immigration and National Security Program at the Nixon Center in Washington, and Steven Brooke, a researcher at the Center, have called upon the American administration to institute a dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood to promote democratization in the Islamic world. They published an article in the March-April 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs called "The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood" in which they advise the American administration to enter into a strategic alliance with the organization, which they refer to as "moderate," calling it a "notable opportunity" to use the Brotherhood to promote American interests.

They have also written that "When it comes to the Muslim Brotherhood, the beginning of wisdom lies in differentiating it from radical Islam and recognizing the significant differences between [the] national Brotherhood organizations [operating in various parts of the world]. That diversity suggests Washington should adopt a case-by-case approach, letting the situation in each individual country determine when talking with - or even working with - [the branches of] the Brotherhood is feasible and appropriate..Washington should be taking stock of its interests and capabilities in the Muslim world - a conversation with the Muslim Brotherhood makes strong strategic sense."

Leiken and Brooke based their recommendation on the assumptions that the Muslim Brotherhood is moderate, has a constructive approach to democracy, and is a potential partner for America and the West. This article will contrast Leiken and Brooke's main arguments with facts taken from official, public Muslim Brotherhood sources.

 
Leiken and Brooke: The Muslim Brotherhood has Embraced Democratic Western Values

The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 in Egypt by Hassan al-Banna as an organization seeking to combat the secularization of the emerging Egyptian state. But it evolved into an organization that saw itself struggling against Western civilization, as a whole, in order to advance what it defined as Muslim civilization.10 It quickly spread and established branches in dozens of countries within the Middle East and even beyond.

According to Leiken and Brooke,

the Muslim Brotherhood is a collection of national groups with differing outlooks, and the various factions disagree about how best to advance its mission. But all reject global jihad while embracing elections and other features of democracy..The [Muslim Brotherhood] followed the path of toleration and eventually came to find democracy compatible with its notion of slow Islamization.

A distinction should be made between how the Muslim Brotherhood regards democracy [as positive] and how Al-Qaeda regards it [as infidel]..Many analysts, meanwhile, sensibly question whether the Brotherhood's adherence to democracy is merely tactical and transitory..There is slim evidence that the Brotherhood has pondered what it would do with power. Although it has been prodded by the electoral process to define as its slogan "Islam Is the Solution"..And in extensive conversations with the Muslim Brotherhood's disparate allies throughout the Middle East, we heard many expressions of confidence that it would honor democratic processes.

The Muslim Brotherhood does indeed participate in political activity and defend the democratic process. That is not, however, because it has accepted the principles of Western democracy as Leiken and Brooke have claimed, but rather because the democratic process can be exploited to establish an Islamic regime which will then obviate democracy, as was made evident by its platform in the 2007 Egyptian parliamentary elections.11 The organization claimed to be participating in the elections because "the Muslim Brotherhood preaches the path of Allah.[and therefore it is participating] to fulfill Allah's commands in peaceful ways, using existing constitutional institutions and a decision determined by the ballot box." That is, democracy is Islam's ingress to power. The Muslim Brotherhood platform also noted that "the rule in [Egypt] must be republican, parliamentary, constitutional and democratic in accordance with the Islamic Sharia," and that "the Sharia ens ures liberty for all." The organization does not accept the principle of the separation of church and state, and the Islamic rule they aspire to is, for them, a realization of democracy.

Leiken, Brooke and the Muslim Brotherhood all use the same word, democracy, but their definitions and interpretations are worlds apart. Interviewed on September 17, 2007, by the Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Karama,12 Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Muhammad Mahdi 'Akef said that the organization's campaign slogan would be "The Sharia is the Solution" and that human rights and democracy would be included under Sharia rule. He devoted his May 12, 2007, weekly missive to an exposition of democracy as seen through Muslim Brotherhood eyes. He said that only Islam, which was given to men by Allah, was the expression of true democracy. He wrote that "Islam preceded.doctrines and ideologies devised by men. The final, absolute message from heaven contains all the values which the secular world claims to have invented..Islam and its values antedated the West by founding true democracy, exemplified by the Shura [the advisory council under the Caliphs] and Is lam's respect for the equality of other religions..With regard to liberty, Islam reached a goal which secular preachers have not, for the liberty promised by Islam is genuine in every way, even in faith and religion..As to the claim that Islam does not recognize civil authority, the authority of Islam is democratic.it is genuine liberty, it provides equality in practice and is transparent, it neither oppresses nor robs any man of his rights..It is on that foundation and with those values that the Muslim Brotherhood calls for justice, equality, and liberty."13

'Akef has never equivocated regarding his views on Western democracy. On April 30, 2005, he told the Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Ahram that the Muslim Brotherhood opposed American democracy because it was "corrupt and serves the American agenda..The Muslim Brotherhood has held demonstrations against foreign intervention and against any democracy that serves the Americans..[American] democracy is corrupt because it wants to destroy the [Islamic] nation, its faith and tradition."14 He told the BBC that Western democracy was "unrealistic" and "false."15

One of 'Akef's examples of America's "corrupt values" is the attempt to stop female circumcision in Africa. On July 12, 2007, he wrote that "[the Americans] spend billions of dollars and endlessly plot to change the Muslim way of life, they wage war on Muslim leaders, the traditions of its faith and its ideas. They even wage war against female circumcision, a practice current in 36 countries, which has been prevalent since the time of the Pharaohs."16

 
Leiken and Brooke: The Muslim Brotherhood Opposes Jihad against the West and Does Not Incite Muslims to Wage Jihad

According to Leiken and Brooke, the Muslim Brotherhood deters Muslims from violence and channels them into politics and charity work. They based that claim on having been told the following:

  1. A senior member of the Egyptian Brotherhood's Guidance Council in Cairo said, "If it weren't for the Brotherhood, most of the youths of this era would have chosen the path of violence."
  2. The leader of the Jordanian Islamic Action Front, the Muslim Brotherhood's political party in Jordan, said that his group outdoes the government in discouraging jihad: "We're better able to conduct an intellectual confrontation.[than] a security confrontation with the forces of extremism and fanaticism."
  3. The Brotherhood claims success at sifting radicalism out of its ranks through organizational discipline and a painstaking educational program..If a Muslim Brother wishes to commit violence, he generally leaves the organization to do so.[and is] more likely to join the moderate center rather than to take up jihad.
  4. The Muslim Brothers are intent on achieving national [not global] goals, as opposed to the jihadists who want international murder..The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt pursues internal issues, not jihad.

However, according to the Muslim Brotherhood, jihad, that is, holy war against the infidels, is one of the fundamental elements spread by the Muslim Brotherhood. The organization's ideology, as it appears on its official website, regards "the prophet Muhammad as its leader and ruler, and jihad as its path."17 Jihad has a global strategy beyond self-defense, it is the unceasing attack on every infidel rule, intended to widen the borders of the Islamic state until all mankind lives under the Islamic flag.

Clicking the links "The Goals of the Muslim Brotherhood" and "Muslim Brotherhood Measures" leads to explanations of jihad based on the writings of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna. Jihad, it is noted, is Islam's most important tool in effecting a gradual takeover, beginning with the Muslim countries, moving on to reestablishing the Caliphate over three continents in preparation for a conquest of the West, and finally instituting a global Islamic state. The following are quotations from the organization's website:

We want a Muslim individual, a Muslim home, a Muslim people, a Muslim government and state that will lead the Islamic countries and bring into the fold the Muslim Diaspora and the lands robbed from Islam and will then bear the standard of jihad and the call [da'wah] to Allah. [Then the] world will happily accept the precepts of Islam..The problems of conquering the world will only end when the flag of Islam waves and jihad has been proclaimed.18

The goal is to establish one Islamic state of united Islamic countries, one nation under one leadership whose mission will be to reinforce adherence to the law of Allah.and the strengthening of the Islamic presence in the world arena..The goal.is the establishment of a world Islamic state.19

And if prayer is a pillar of the faith, then jihad is its summit.and death in the path of Allah is the summit of aspiration.20

It is evident that the Muslim Brotherhood does not hide its global aspirations and the violent path it intends to follow to achieve them. The Muslim Brothers are meticulous in their step-by-step plan first to take over the soul of the individual and then the family, people, nation and union of Islamic nations, until the global Islamic state has been realized. The principle of stages dictates the Muslim Brotherhood's supposed "moderation," which impressed Leiken and Brooke so deeply. However, that "moderation" will gradually vanish as Muslim Brotherhood achievements increase and acceptance of the existing situation is replaced by a strict, orthodox Muslim rule whose foreign policy is based on jihad.

Unlike Leiken and Brooke, who minimize the importance of jihad in the Muslim Brotherhood's world concept, for 'Akef it is at the center of the struggle against the United States, the West, Israel, and other infidel regimes. He regards Islam as waging "a battle of values and identity" against the forces of "imperialism" and the "Anglo-Saxons" attacking the Arab-Muslim world "on the pretext of spreading democracy, defending minority rights, and opposing what they call terrorism." He advises Muslims to adopt "the culture of resistance against the invasion," explaining that Allah gave "the occupied, oppressed nations jihad and resistance as a means of achieving freedom." He added that "the culture of resistance to invasion and occupation have intellectual, military, and economic aspects. Experience in Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan have proved that resistance is not imaginary or fictitious or impossible, but rather it is possible when the [Islamic] nati on presents a united front and uses its weapons and faith to face an imperialist, whether he comes with arms or inundates us with his ideas, values, or obsolete morality."21

In a recent weekly missive, 'Akef declared a new strategy adopted by the Brotherhood to confront Western imperialism and the satanic alliance between the U.S. and Israel based on supporting the "resistance" in any Muslim country under foreign occupation, including Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan. For the first time, 'Akef called upon the Brotherhood to grant not only financial and material support but to join the resistance to achieve freedom for the Muslim nation.22

One of the planks of the Muslim Brotherhood platform in the Egyptian Parliamentary elections in 2005 dealt expressly with that aspect, stating that "it is important to support national resistance movements in all the occupied Arab lands in every way possible."23 During the war in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah during the summer of 2006, 'Akef called upon Egyptian President Mubarak and the other Arab leaders to support "the Lebanese resistance," and it was implied that the Muslim Brotherhood had a broad military infrastructure in place. 'Akef said that he was "prepared to send 10,000 jihad fighters immediately to fight at the side of Hezbollah" if the Egyptian government would permit it.24

The links between the Muslim Brotherhood and global terrorism were also made evident by the reception Hassan al-Turabi, a high-ranking Muslim Brother and at that time one of the heads of Sudan, provided for Al-Qaeda in the early 1990s. In 1991, accepting al-Turabi's personal invitation, Osama bin Laden moved from Saudi Arabia to Sudan and established a terrorist network there. In addition, al-Turabi founded the Popular Arab and Islamic Conference, some of whose members were the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, and the Egyptian Jihad. The Conference met in April 1991, December 1993, and March 1995.25 In August 1993, in the wake of the attack on the World Trade Center, the United States included Sudan in its designated list of terrorism sponsoring states.26 Prior to the U.S. led attack on the Taliban regime, the Muslim Brotherhood actually had training camps in Afghanistan, where it worked with Kashmiri militants and sought to expand its influen ce in Central Asian states, especially Tajikistan.27

Similarly, in the Gaza Strip, Hamas (the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood) enables the various Islamic terrorist organizations - including Al-Qaeda branches - to operate unhampered. One of the factions, the Army of the Nation (more commonly known as the Army of Islam and openly boasts of direct connections with Al-Qaeda), participated in joint terrorist attacks with Hamas and was responsible for the abduction of BBC journalist Alan Johnston in March 2007. Sources in the Gaza Strip said that to secure Johnston's release, Hamas gave it $5 million and more than a million rounds of ammunition for Kalashnikov rifles and promised not to harm its operatives.28 Interviewed for the Ilaf Website on July 17, 2007, Abu Ashur, right-hand man of Army of Islam chief Mumtaz Durmush, admitted that the Army of Islam had "adopted Al-Qaeda's principles" and was working toward the establishment of an Islamic state in the Gaza Strip and the liberation of Palestine. He said that Al-Qaeda both sent money to finance the Army of Islam and gave it instructions.29

 
Leiken and Brooke: The Muslim Brotherhood Does Not Reject the Possibility of Recognizing the State of Israel

Even on the central issue of Israel, each national organization calls its own tune. Every Muslim Brotherhood leader with whom [Leiken and Brooke] spoke claimed a willingness to follow suit should Hamas recognize the Jewish state..Zawahiri expressed the jihadist view saying, "No one has the right, whether Palestinian or not, to abandon a grain of soil from Palestine, which was a Muslim land and which was occupied by infidels." The Muslim Brotherhood does not stress the religious aspect, and that enrages the jihadists. Compare the statement from the Brotherhood's Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who argues that "the enmity between us and the Jews is for the sake of land only," with this one from Zawahiri: "[Allah], glory to Him, made religion the cause of enmity and the cause of our fight."

Yet in reality, the Muslim Brotherhood leadership has repeatedly proclaimed that the movement will never recognize the State of Israel or its right to exist.30 'Akef, interviewed by the daily Filisteen al-Muslima in 2005, glorified in the increase in the number of Palestinian "resistance organizations" [i.e., terrorist organizations], calling them "a great blessing," if only they would all unite to work for "the genuine goal, the expulsion of the Zionists from the land of Palestine." He called the State of Israel "a foreign body which by virtue of its nature cannot remain where it is."31 In October 2007, he again stated that the Muslim Brotherhood vigorously opposed the idea of recognizing Israel and that this position was "one of the movement's basic principles and will not be negotiated." He said that "as far as the movement is concerned, Israel is a Zionist entity occupying holy Arab and Islamic lands.and we will get rid of it no mat ter how long it takes."32

Completely contradicting Leiken and Brooke's claims, the Muslim Brotherhood justifies its position toward Israel with religious arguments similar to those of Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's second in command. 'Akef, like Zawahiri, has said that "no one has the right to give up one inch of Palestinian soil, for the land of Palestine is the natural right of its [Arab] inhabitants and of all Arabs and Muslims." He has also said that "those rights [of Muslims to Palestine] cannot be negotiated, and no one can waive them, nor does posterity have the right to waive them under any pretext..Our religion does not permit acceptance of the loss of the land and the contamination of the holy places."33

Therefore, the Muslim Brotherhood fully agrees with Al-Qaeda regarding Palestine, basing its position on the Islamic faith and on jihad as the way of achieving the final goal. That goal is the destruction of the State of Israel and the establishment of a state ruled by Islamic law on its ruins. Leiken and Brooke's claim that Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi has moderate views regarding Israel is extremely strange, to say the least. Qaradawi is known for his radical fatwas, for providing religious Islamic justification for carrying out suicide bombing attacks against Israeli civilians, for a fatwa permitting Palestinian women to carry out such attacks,34 for brainwashing Palestinian youth into joining the jihad, and for raising funds for charitable societies in the Palestinian Authority affiliated with Hamas.35 Sheikh Qaradawi, considered Hamas' spiritual mentor, is well known in the Muslim world, is often interviewed, and o ften expresses his opinions publicly. Thus it is particularly strange that his views were not known to Leiken and Brooke.

Like Zawahiri, Qaradawi's view of the Jews is filtered through religious hatred. He has written that "today the Jews are not the Israelites praised by Allah, but the descendants of the Israelites who defied His word. Allah was angry with them and turned them into monkeys and pigs, and that is why they are called a stiff-necked race. Allah pledged they would suffer until they gave up their tyranny, corruption, and crime, which is what they have employed in Palestine. Among the slaves of Allah, the faithful will be those who carry out Allah's pledge regarding the Jews." He also said that today the Jews have the same character faults as the Jews in the Qur'an, "they are evil, deceitful, and violate agreements."36 The future will lead to a total victory of Muslims over Jews: "There is no doubt," he said, "that the battle in which the Muslims overcome the Jews [will come].. In that battle the Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them."37

 
Leiken and Brooke: The Muslim Brotherhood is Not an International Organization with a Single Agenda

According to Leiken and Brooke, there is no Islamist Comintern. The Brotherhood's dreaded International Organization is in fact a loose and feeble coalition scarcely able to convene its own members..The ideological affiliations that link Brotherhood organizations internationally are subject to the national priorities that shape each individually.

In a December 2005 interview with the London-based daily newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat, 'Akef boasted that the movement was "the largest organization in the world," and said that "a [Muslim] person who is in the global arena and believes in the Muslim Brotherhood's path is considered part of us and we are part of him."38 In a different interview he revealed that the Muslim Brotherhood operated in more than 70 countries. When asked if the Muslim Brotherhood leader served all the movement's branches, he answered that it did, saying "the Muslim Brothers have the same guide [leader] all over the world. And [the heads of the movement's branches] outside Egypt have the title of Inspector General. Every region is free to make its own decisions and determine its own policy, but there are certain general issues on which we take a stand."39

In an in-depth interview with Al-Jazeera, Yusuf Nada, the Muslim Brotherhood's "foreign minister," explained the relations between the world leadership in Egypt and the various branches around the world. He said that the movement had one guide [i.e., Muhammad Mahdi 'Akef] and no other. There were, he said, representatives who met for specific purposes. When asked if the Shura council operated the various branches, Nada answered in the affirmative.40

In an interview with Al-Sharq al-Awsat, Sheikh Kamal Helbawy, the founder of the Muslim Association of Britain and one of the founders of the Muslim Council of Britain, revealed how the Muslim Brotherhood operated globally. He said there was "coordination at the global level. similar to federal [coordination]. Meetings and consultations are held [regularly]..Every aspect is the subject of consultations..The Muslim Brotherhood's main headquarters are in Egypt, and the Supreme Guide is Muhammad Mahdi 'Akef. There are independent organizations [i.e., within the federal structure] outside Egypt..International coordination has not ceased and will never cease, unless there are the means [for collaboration], which will hopefully bring about.the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate following the path of the prophet [Muhammad]..Coordination is continuous in the Islamic movement [the Muslim Brotherhood] between regions, not individuals. The regions choose whoever is capable of participating in international coordination [that is, in the Shura council]..In regions where Islamic movement activity is just beginning, the focus is usually on construction, education, and studies, guided by activists preparing for the future."41

Therefore, it can be seen that Muslim Brotherhood authority rests with the Supreme Guide, Muhammad Mahdi 'Akef, but the branches in the various host countries are able to act independently as necessary. The situation of Muslim Brotherhood activists in Syria, where the organization's activities are banned by law, is different from that in Jordan, where they can operate freely. Every branch throughout the world is committed to the movement's ideology as set down by Hassan al-Banna and to the decisions made by the world leadership. Thus the policies expressed by 'Akef are binding and are the true voice of the movement.

 
The Muslim Brotherhood's Global Goals

Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, a staunch Islamist, who in the past was a candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, issued a fatwa in April 2003, describing how Islam would conquer Europe and defeat Christianity by exploiting Western liberalism and democracy. It would be made possible, he promised, by spreading Islam until it was strong enough to take over the entire continent. He wrote that "it is eminently clear that the future belongs to Islam, and that the religion of Allah will be victorious and will, by the grace of Allah, conquer all other religions." His prediction was based on an Islamic tradition according to which the prophet Muhammad said that one of the signs of redemption in Islam would be the initial conquest of Constantinople and then the conquest of Rome.

According to Qaradawi, "Constantinople was conquered in 1453 by a 23-year old Ottoman named Muhammad ibn Murad, whom we call Muhammad the Conqueror. Now what remains is to conquer Rome. That is what we wish for, and that is what we believe in. After having been expelled twice, Islam will be victorious and reconquer Europe..I am certain that this time, victory will be won not by the sword but by preaching and [Islamic] ideology..The conquest of Rome and the spread of Islam East and West will be the fruit of the seed we plant and entail the return of the Caliphate, which treads the straight path [of Islam] and is based on the path of the prophets..[The Caliphate] is worthy of leading the nation to victory.."42

Like Qaradawi, 'Akef does not hide the Muslim Brotherhood's aspirations to lead a world Islamic revolution. He has stated that "the path of the Muslims is global," and Islam is the "religion of humanity." The Caliphate, he explained, is "the home of the entire [Islamic] nation, not only of the Muslim Brotherhood..We want.the Arab-Muslim world to be one nation, relying on the words of Allah: 'This is your nation, one nation.'"43

At a meeting of the National Defense and Security Committee of the Egyptian Parliament, held in January 2007, Muslim Brotherhood parliament member Mohammed Shaker Sanar openly admitted that the Muslim Brotherhood was not committed to Western democratic values. He said that nothing about the organization had changed. "The organization was founded in 1928 to reestablish the Caliphate destroyed by Ataturk..With Allah's help [the Muslim Brotherhood] will institute the law of Allah."44

This year newly revealed federal court documents, accepted into evidence during the trial of the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation, revealed further the inner thinking of the Muslim Brotherhood about its global mission. A sixteen-page Arabic document, entitled "An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal of the Group," established that it sought to create "a stable Islamic Movement led by the Muslim Brotherhood." In explaining the "role" of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America, the memorandum discloses: "The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers, so that it is eliminated, and God's religion [i.e. Islam] is made victorious over all other religions."45

 
Conclusion and Evaluation

The thesis presented by Leiken and Brooke was inspired by impressions received during conversations with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose names are not mentioned and who are quoted neither fully nor accurately. It is clear that both Leiken and Brooke were duped by the ambiguity of their interlocutors' rhetoric, which was tailored for Western ears and meant to lull suspicions and hide genuine intentions. Leiken and Brooke were deeply impressed by the support given by the Muslim Brotherhood for "democracy," but they failed to understand that for the Muslim Brotherhood and the West, the word has two completely different meanings. As far as the Muslim Brotherhood is concerned, Islamic rule expresses "true democracy," and that is the only kind to which they are committed.

The Muslim Brotherhood poses a serious threat to the West. It hides behind ambiguous terminology, which makes the organization appear moderate and enables it to operate freely in its host countries, thereby establishing a convenient base from which to disseminate radical Islamic ideology among the growing Muslim communities. Once that has been achieved, demography and radically-minded public opinion will enable the Muslim Brotherhood to take over a government by "democratic" means. That will signal the last day of Western democracy in that country and the installation of an Islamic government, whose objective will be to export radical Islamic rule to other countries, the next step in realizing the vision of a world Caliphate. In Europe the sand is running out, and a showdown with the Muslim Brotherhood is closer than anyone suspects. However, to a certain extent, the focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict delays the realization of Islamic aspirations in Western Europe.

As far as the Muslim Brotherhood is concerned, Spain is an occupied country, as are other regions in Europe that were once under Islamic control. The organization's "pragmatism" is manifested by its willingness to postpone a confrontation until it has garnered sufficient political (or military) power to shake the ruling governments to their foundations and effect a complete reversal. The collapse of the moderate Arab regimes into radical Islamic hands is likely to accelerate the empowering of an Islamic state that regards the West and its culture as the chief enemy.

The Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda differ regarding tactics but share a common strategy. Al-Qaeda favors world Islamic recruitment for a revolution made possible by terrorist attacks and an implacable jihad to destroy the economies of the Western countries and expel Western presence from Muslim regions. The Muslim Brotherhood supports terrorism and jihad against foreign presence in the Islamic world, but its top priority is constructing a Muslim infrastructure in the West that will slowly but surely enable it to rule during the 21st century. The organization's stance is that an Al-Qaeda attack against the West at this time might hamper the Islamic movement's buildup and focus the West on the threat implicit in Muslim communities. However, as far as the final goal is concerned, there are no policy differences between Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. The two organizations have the same objective: to place the entire world under an Islami c caliphate.

The Muslim Brotherhood is involved in terrorism and provides religious Islamic justification for suicide bombing, terrorism, and terrorist attacks against American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jihad in all its aspects, including military, is perceived as the prime tool in the battle against the West. It is difficult to find a common set of interests for the United States and the Muslim Brotherhood, as do Leiken and Brooke. Collaboration with the Muslim Brotherhood, while turning a blind eye to their intentions, both overt and hidden, is tantamount to paving the way for their "democratic" takeover of the moderate Arab regimes (similar to the bitter experience of the Legislative Council elections in the Palestinian Authority in January 2006) and for harming the United States' most vital interests in the Middle East. It is not easy to understand why Leiken and Brooke have recommended that the American administration consider the Muslim Brotherhood a potentia l partner, given that the United States is its principal enemy. The organization actively seeks to destroy America's status as a world power and to replace it with an Islamic power whose foreign policy will be based on jihad and the spread of Islam.

* * *

Notes

1 Robert S. Leiken and Steven Brooke, "The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood" in Foreign Affairs, March/April 2007. For an initial response to Leiken and Brooke, see Patrick Poole, "Mainstreaming the Muslim Brotherhood," Front Page Magazine, March 26, 2007.
2 MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 941.
3 "Warnings in the Egyptian Press: The Muslim Brotherhood Is Going the Way of Hamas in Gaza," MEMRI, Special Dispatch, No. 1638, June 28, 2007.
4 Montasser al-Zayat, The Road to Al-Qaeda: The Story of Bin Laden's Right-Hand Man (London: Pluto Books, 2004), p. 24.
5 9/11 Commission Report, p. 145.
6 Robert Baer, See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism (New York: Crown Publishers, 2002), pp. 86-88.
7 Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, (New York : Penguin, 2004), pp. 147-156.
9 Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Eighth Report (London: The United Kingdom Parliament, July 25, 2007), Section 5, No. 161. See: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmfaff/363/36308.htm.
10 Richard P. Mitchell, The Society of the Muslim Brothers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969) pp. 224-231.
17 http://web.archive.org/web/20060206153332/ikhwanonline.com/Principles.asp; http://web.archive.org/web/20060206153300/ikhwanonline.com/Procedure.asp
25 Ami Ayalon, ed., Middle East Contemporary Survey (Boulder, Col.: Westview Press, 1991), pp. 182-184
26 http://www.thenation.com/blogs/capitalgames?bid=3&pid=8552 , http://www.state.gov/s/ct/c14151.htm , http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2000/2441.htm
27 See British Intelligence document in Roland Jacquard, In the Name of Osama Bin Laden (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002), pp. 263-267.
28 Al-Quds al-Arabi, July 5, 2007.
38 Asharq Alawsat (London), December 11, 2005.
45 "An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America," May 22, 1991.

* * *

Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan Dahoah-Halevi is a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is a founder of the Orient Research Group Ltd. and is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


The Jerusalem Letter and Jerusalem Viewpoints are published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 13 Tel-Hai St., Jerusalem, Israel; Tel. 972-2-5619281, Fax. 972-2-5619112, Internet: jcpa@netvision.net.il. In U.S.A.: Center for Jewish Community Studies, 5800 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215 USA, Tel. (410) 664-5222; Fax. (410) 664-1228. © Copyright. All rights reserved. ISSN: 0792-7304.

The opinions expressed by the authors of Jerusalem Viewpoints do not necessarily reflect those of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.



To subscribe to the Jerusalem Letter/Viewpoints, please send a blank email message to:

To unsubscribe to the Jerusalem Letter/Viewpoints, please send a blank email message to: http://www.list-jcpa.org/mail-jllist/forms/optoutform.asp


Continued (Permanent Link)

Reform Party of Syria answers questions by Israelis

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/reform-party-of-syria-answers-questions.html

It is their point of view, that should be heard, though we may not agree with their analysis.
 
Ami Isseroff
  
In Responses to Questions by Israelis on the Omedia Web Site
 
Washington DC, October 27, 2007/Omedia - Farid Ghadry/ -- The "Free Syria" Project on Omedia sponsored by both the Reform Party of Syria and Omedia has generated quite a stir, some positive and some not so positive as I can tell from your letters and concerns. We are delighted to see this dialogue take place, which represent the baby steps necessary to build a bridge of common goals based on goodwill and the free will to express oneself in an atmosphere of co-existence and acceptance of the opinions and aspirations of people who are different than you.
 
I just want to add another note that I feel is important. Many of my Syrian compatriots and supporters asked me why did RPS and Omedia arrange for this "Syrian Opposition" corner? With so many problems inside Syria and so much to do, why Israel? The answer lies in understanding the mechanics of an oppressive regime that has developed a strategy of survival to include stifling liberties of Syrians and spreading hate against Israelis in an attempt to target an enemy, which the regime needs in order to continue justifying its stifling of liberties. The Syrian government argues that Assad is resisting the enemy and now is not the time to seek justice or freedom. Our strategy has two purposes: 1) To really build understanding between the Syrian and the Israeli public and, 2) To upset the strategy of resistance by showing Syrians that communications with all of Syria's neighbors is possible and that the resistance strategy carried forth by Assad has but one purpose: To keep the Assad family in power against all odds, humane or otherwise.
 
On to the Q&A.
 
Q. Do you represent a true opposition to Assad, in the sense that you can be a viable political alternative?
 
A. We consider any opposition, and not just RPS, who wish to see a free Syria governed by a democratic government and respectful of the rule of law as a viable alternative to the Assad regime. However, the true alternative to the regime is not any one party or one man, but the true alternative is freedom and democracy. Once democracy is established in Syria, as is in Israel, and respected by all, then the Syrian opposition would have achieved its goals.
 
Q. Isn't Israel safer, when a dictator in Damascus saves Syria from the Extreme Islamists taking over?
 
A. There is this myth that somehow is being circulated, and has been circulating for a long time by the Assad regime and its supporters in the State of Israel, that the alternative to Assad are extremists. The Muslim Brotherhood is mentioned often as an example of that extremism, even though 50% of all Muslims in Syria belong to the Sufi Order (Sufism represents moderation in Islam). The Grand Mufti of Syria named Hassoon is a Sufi. He has met with Jewish leaders around the world and is representative of Sunni Muslims in Syria.
 
I think, in a post 9/11 world, it is our responsibility and yours to visit and analyze this question and not simply repeat the rhetoric of the Assad regime like parrots. If we all agree that people seek freedom the way they seek to breathe oxygen, then I think you would also agree that as long as freedom is missing, people will look for alternatives. In Syria, a political alternative is unimaginable given the tight control the Assad regime exerts over Syrians. Instead, Syrians turn to religion for answers because the Assad regime cannot stop them. There is nothing wrong in people turning to God for answers; in fact, we humans have always had the curiosity and the intellect to question our motives on earth. But when we turn to God in search of relief from misery, and on the way fall in the hands of people who have interpreted the Koran to suit their political goals, then we are allowing to instill political Islam into Arab societies. In other words, oppression is the direct feeder of political Islam and lack of freedom cannot be an excuse any longer.
 
The longer Assad stays in power, the more Islamic the Syrian society becomes. The Bin Ladens of the world did not exist some thirty years ago but today they are a dime a dozen. Anyone in Israel who supports the continuation of the Assad regime is indeed permitting the continuation of political Islam to gain momentum and become far more dangerous in the future. Furthermore, I do not believe that Assad can contain this phenomenon and sooner or later, it will come back to haunt Syrians and all of Syria's neighbors.
 
It also behooves the Israeli society to truly analyze what are the alternatives and how Syrians are willing, with the help of the international community, to construct a transitional period to democracy with a bullet-proof mean by which that transition takes place void of violence. That is the real challenge ahead of us. Allowing Assad to remain in power is like giving-up before one even tries and if that is not acceptable to the Syrian opposition it should not be acceptable either to those who advance humanity by giving freedom a chance.
 
Q. Aren't you naïve about the possibility of overthrowing Bashar now?
 
A. Who would have thought that the Ukraine would become free? or Georgia? or that the Soviet Empire would falter and fall or that 90 countries would become democratic up from 20 countries prior to WWII? Who would have believed that the Apartheid system in South Africa, with all its power and ruthlessness, would yield to the rule of the majority? Creators of pioneering ideas are called visionaries when they succeed and naive prior to their success.
 
If you, like us, believe in the power of the people and the power of human rights and freedom, you would also believe that one day you will make a difference. This is not a question of choice but rather a question of duty.
 
When I was in Israel, and on my way to the Golan Height to visit accompanied by MK Yuval Steinitz, Dr. Hussein Saado, and Nir Boms, I observed, at rest stops, many Israeli soldiers heading to the Golan. To some, it is a question of choice but to many, it is also a question of duty. This is how Syrians feel about freedom and human rights in Syria.
 
There is a saying that goes: "All good things come to an end". I would add to it:" and all bad things come to a sooner end". The Assad regime has lasted almost 45 years and must come to its end soon because it has yielded nothing but misery, oppression, economic deprivation, and corruption. The only good thing that supporters used to say about Assad was that the regime is secular and will protect the region from extremism. As we have seen in Iraq, with irrefutable proof, the Assad regime, with Iran, have become the most important financiers and supporters of terrorism. There is no one good reason for this regime to stay in power. NOT ONE. Yet, fear from the unknown is driving policy makers to resist the idea of regime change in Syria. However, I believe that fear will dissipate the moment we realize that the Assad regime is worse than any imaginable alternative. How can it be worse than supporting al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and creating Fatah al-Islam and so many others waiting to spring to action in one part of the Levant or other? Enough resistance, enough terror, enough violence. We want to develop our economy and like you try and provide better standards of living to our people. Syria will always be dangerous as long as it is weak and the moment our economy develops, our competitiveness will be expressed not on a battlefield but in trade and balance sheets.  
 
Q. What about the Golan Heights? How can this issue be resolved?
 
A. The Golan Heights is a land that belongs to Syria and it is imperative that it is returned to Syria in a peaceful manner. However, it is also important for Syrians to realize that there is a price to be paid to get the Golan back and also to understand how Israelis feel about their security and why in the first place the Golan was occupied and annexed on Dec. 14, 1981.
 
This is a subject that RPS is preparing a White Paper on that we intend to publish in the next coming months. The main jest of the idea is that once Syria becomes democratic, Israel will have little to fear because our politicians become accountable to the people and therefore, will be unwilling to engage Syria in military adventurism that would revoke the people's votes in the next round of elections (i.e. this includes starting wars). This, in our opinion, covers about 20% of the security requirements between the two countries. The other 80% will come with time, trust-building mechanisms to be established on the Golan, and most important to allow Israelis citizens the choice to remain on lands they already own but whose taxes would have to be paid to a democratic Syrian government. We, Syrians, do not see any scenario under which Israelis would leave the lands they have helped build and whose income to Syria via taxation is more precious than the pan-Arabist grandstanding we usually hear through slogans and chants by the Ba'ath Party in Syria. Israelis living on Syrian soil and paying taxes to Syria is the best protection both of our countries can have by commingling economic interests with security interests. Down the road, we see the Golan become a major international center by either building a Middle East Olympic city or some other international attraction in order to create an atmosphere free from politics and assist in building a culture of camaraderie and understanding. Nothing like sports to bring the people together.
 
Q. Are you an authentic Arab opposition, or just an imitation of westernized image of the way an opposition should look?
 
A. Most Syrians living abroad will tell you that they do so because of lack of opportunities and lack of freedom in their homeland. The fact that many of us live abroad was never a question of choice but rather a question of necessity or forced into exile as many Syrians will tell you. But having lived in the US for many years, one learns important lessons about governance, accountability, and transparency. Elements one would wish Syria would be rich with.
 
As one of the many opposition figures living in the Diaspora, we blend the old with the new, for a formula that throughout history has changed the courses of many countries. I am reminded of a book I read by the prominent Professor Bernard Lewis called: "What went wrong" in which he discusses the Ottoman Empire's last 300 years in power and its lack of interest in exchanging ideas and literature, culture and intellect, with the western world; all the meanwhile, the western world was thirsty for knowledge and would send orientalists constantly visiting the four corners of the Ottoman empire in search for the new and the innovative. The consequence is that the region has suffered tremendous backwardness that resulted in deficiencies on a scale that we, Arabs, are paying a dear price for today. The Turks, through an extraordinary man named Ataturk, were able to grasp and correct these deficiencies in their 1921 Constitution, changing to Latin alphabet, etc.. to re-integrate themselves with the west the result of which we see today with Turkey enjoying political and economic freedoms able to improve the standards of living of its people.
 
We, dissidents living in the west, together with the Syrian dissident community inside Syria can and will be able, having learned the ways to success to economic prosperity from well tested western models, to help usher that knowledge and know-how with no reservations or bias while taking into consideration our rich culture and heritage. So although we have not lived in our homeland for many years, our value system is still connected to that Homeland in the same manner of how Jews feel affinity for the State of Israel.
 
Q. Aren't you more popular in Washington than in Syria, helping the Bush agenda of forcing democracy on a not so-ready peoples of the Middle East? The same way Chalabi was for Iraq?
 
A. We believe this is another way of looking at the prism of the work of the Syrian dissidents. As far as our popularity is concerned, let me answer it this way. It is not something we embrace or encourage but the reality on the ground always projects the truest sensibilities of the Syrian street. The Assad regime belongs to the Alawite minority of Syria, which at best, accounts for about 9% of the population. 70% of the population belongs to the Sunni Muslim community of which I am a part of. Our popularity is self-evident in how we are perceived even though we try hard to discourage this notion of ethnic loyalty.
 
In Syria today, there is a minority Alawite government oppressing the majority, which happens to be the Sunni Muslim community. This formula for disaster cannot last for a long time. There will be a time when the majority, under such oppressive measures, will rise to earn its freedom and the right to rule. But unlike Assad, a minority that rules the majority with an iron fist, our vision for a rule by the majority does not mean neglecting the minorities. It is important to realize that a future majority rule comes with more responsibilities than one can imagine. As someone who belongs to that majority, it is my duty not only to protect the minorities but to insure that they prosper under special conditions. In other words, I know that the majority Muslim community will prosper because our representation in the government will create the conducive environments for that prosperity but what is very important is to insure that the minorities prosper as much if not more because their survival and prosperity would mean survival and prosperity for all of Syria. Syria is rich because Syria is diverse and that diversity must be protected at all costs. This is a major cornerstone of our vision for Syria.
 
As far as the people not being ready, one has to weigh this argument against the one we made in answering one of the questions above, which essentially facilitates and accelerates the Islamization of the society. The answer lies in-between and not in a sudden knee-jerk action, be it military or otherwise, to democracy via the right to vote. This transition process has been engineered by the Syrian opposition and its blueprint permits the building of a strong civil society and the time necessary to realize one's freedom. What is needed now is the critical mass necessary for the international community to help Syrians implement the blueprint in a peaceful manner. That has not happened yet but soon it will because we have no choice but to consider the tough choices. More on the blueprint in the next question.
 
Q. Are the Syrians ready for a democratic system? Isn't it dangerous to hold an experiment in Democracy that might end up in chaos, as it did in Iraq for so long?
 
A. This is a very good question considering not only Iraq, which I believe turned into chaos because of Syrian and Iranian terror and also because of dramatic American mistakes in its perception of the Iraqi people, but also how Hamas came to power and the suffering the Sderot people of Israel are going through for that failed experiment.
 
Syria's ethnic make-up today has created the opportunities for a dictatorship to control our political life but Syria's ethnic make-up is also an opportunity that has yet to be explored. The Alawites are central to that opportunity. Here is what I believe is a good blueprint for change in Syria.
 
Today in Syria, the Alawites control the army as well as the intelligence services. This is a very similar condition as to what is already a fait accompli in Turkey where the Ahlevies (Not to be confused with the Syrian Alawites as people but similar in secular behavior and anti extreme Islamist tendencies) have much power within the ranks of the Turkish Army. The obvious benefits are that the Alawites are committed to secularism in general and they already hold the reigns of power in Damascus.
 
We foresee a scenario by which the Alawites will remain in control of the Syrian armed forces and a democratically-committed transitional government is established by the Syrian opposition in consultation with all the different groups, unions, tribes, etc.. of Syria. The main tasks of this transitional government are to forge a New Constitution and to permit the Syrian civil society to grow and prosper under its protection to prepare the Syrian street for elections in a post-transitional stage. Meanwhile, the control over the Syrian armed forces, exercised by the Alawites, will insure that violence is muted, that the Islamists are not given free reign to intimidate or attempt to hijack the government, that the work of the free transitional government is enforced, and that no revenge act can be taken against them by over-zealous Syrians. The Alawites should remain in control of the armed forces as long as is needed to protect the Syrian Constitution and our nascent democracy.
 
Under these conditions, Syria will have a chance to create an environment that fulfills all the requirements for a transition to democracy. There are three important issues that we must protect: 1) That the transitional government is truly transitional and no politicians, after this transitional period, is allowed to be elected for some years after the termination of its work (to be decided constitutionally) and 2) That the Alawites in control of the armed forces will commit themselves to democracy without a shadow of a doubt and, 3) That the international community will provide total financial support for Syria to insure that no one group or political entity forges financial alliances with other countries in the region. Under this scenario, I see international guarantees governing those three conditions to be signed by all.
 
Copyrights © 2003-2007 - Reform Party of Syria (RPS) except where otherwise noted - all rights reserved.
 

 
 
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Arab Palestinians rushing to become Israeli citizens

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/arab-palestinians-rushing-to-become.html

Apparently, there is no "Ethnic Cleansing" of Jerusalem by Israel. Arab Palestinians residing there were always given the choice of becoming Israeli citizens, but most chose not to accept citizenship. Now this is changing, because these Arabs do not want to be part of the wonderful Palestinian state in the making.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
Thousands of Palestinians apply for Israeli citizenship
Intensive talks over division of Jerusalem has prompted its Palestinian residents to make a move once considered the ultimate treason
Ronny Shaked YNET Published: 11.07.07, 10:22 / Israel News

Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem calling to set up an appointment with the Interior Ministry to apply for an Israeli citizenship will discover the next available interview date is only in April.

In the months leading up to the upcoming Annapolis peace conference talk of a future division of the city has prompted a staggering increase in nationalization requests by Palestinians seeking to escape life under the Palestinian Authority.

Some 250,000 Palestinians currently reside in Jerusalem. Only 12,000 of them have sought to obtain an Israeli citizenship since 1967, an average of about 300 new citizens a year.

But over the past four months the Interior Ministry has registered an unprecedented 3,000 applications, primarily residents of the Arab neighborhoods unlikely to remain under Israeli sovereignty according to the political initiative currently on the agenda.

The 240,000 non-naturalized Palestinians in the city currently hold the status of permanent residents. As Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem they were also eligible to participate in the elections held by the Palestinian Authority.

As accepting Israeli citizenship was viewed by many within the community as tantamount to treason, most Palestinians opted to remain permanent residents and enjoy the benefits of living under Israeli sovereignty - full welfare rights, municipal voting rights and unrestricted movement - without putting their loyalty to the Palestinian Authority into question. The average Palestinian family in East Jerusalem currently receives a $770 monthly stipend from Israel.

"They've weighed the pros and cons of life under the Palestinian Authority and those under Israel and they've chosen," said residents in East Jerusalem of their naturalization-seeking neighbors.

33-year-old Samar Qassam said his motivation to apply for Israeli citizenship was to seek a better future for his family. Along with his wife and son, Qassam once lived in the Old City but recently moved to Beit Safafa, an Arab village south of Jerusalem.

"I was born in Jerusalem, this is where I grew up and this is where I make my living. My entire life is here. My wife comes from the West Bank, so I do fear she may be deported and therefore filed a naturalization request for her as well. I want to keep living here with my wife and child without having to worry about our future. That's why I want an Israeli citizenship," Qassam said.

"I don't know what the future holds. There's talk of the Palestinian Authority coming to Jerusalem.

Personally, I don't think that will happen. But only God knows what will happen. I work as a mechanic for an Israeli company, I have both Jewish and Arab friends. I speak Hebrew and go out to Tel Aviv and Akko in the evenings. I just want a better future," he said.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Slanted journalism at Ha'aretz?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/slanted-journalism-at-haaretz.html

Every journal slants the news and editorial opinion, but Ha'aretz seems to have gone overboard.

 

Ami Isseroff

Shame on 'Haaretz'

by Isi Leibler
November 7, 2007

We frequently boast that notwithstanding its limitations, the Israeli media is unfettered by government intervention and could serve as a role model for a free press in any democracy.

As in most Western countries, Israeli journalists are inclined to the Left and substantially outnumber the more conservative-minded. In fact, one constantly hears complaints that to hold right-wing views is a major stumbling block in obtaining promotion in the media world. But that is not unique to Israel.

The majority of Israelis who read a newspaper on a daily basis read one of the tabloids. In that sense, the broadsheet Haaretz stands alone. It presents as a serious liberal newspaper and aspires to assume the mantle of a Hebrew-language counterpart to The New York Times. Despite a limited circulation, it is extraordinarily influential and read by most opinion makers.

Its news coverage and access to inside information exceeds that of the tabloids. However, whereas it carries superb pieces on culture and society, with especially insightful articles on religious issues, its frequent endorsement of radical policies does tend to increasingly link Haaretz with fringe rather than mainstream opinion.

Indeed, many would even argue that a considerable proportion of Haaretz editorials and op-ed columns are politically off the wall. Its op-ed and magazine articles demonizing Israel and inclined toward post-Zionism are increasingly being quoted by Arabs and anti-Israeli propagandists. In fact, a man from Mars observing the level of the newspaper's frequent vitriolic condemnations of Israeli governments could understandably be misled into believing that some Haaretz writers are consciously acting as propagandists for the Palestinian cause.

Current editor David Landau is an observant Jew wearing a black kippa. He made aliya from London and is a highly talented writer. His book on haredim published in 1993 to this day remains the best reference work on the subject in the English language. And the English edition of Haaretz was unquestionably his brainchild.

I first met him in March 1987, when he was a senior staffer at The Jerusalem Post, then being edited by Ari Rath and Erwin Frenkel. Landau had been sent to cover the second Asian Jewish Colloquium of scholars in Hong Kong, which I had organized on behalf of the World Jewish Congress and the Asia Jewish Pacific Association.

Since he assumed the role of editor at Haaretz, the newspaper's traditional bias relating to the Israel-Palestinian conflict has intensified.

Landau concentrates much of his wrath on religious Zionists, regarding those who settled across the Green Line as messianic lunatics and the greatest threat to Israel. This obviously makes him a darling of the ultra-Left.

Today Landau allegedly even refuses to correct articles containing blatantly false information if they conflict with his political agenda. According to the Web site of the highly respected American Jewish media watchdog organization CAMERA, not only did Landau decline to consider its complaints regarding alleged falsehoods published in Haaretz, he even went on record informing the JTA that "as a matter of principle" he had instructed his staff not to respond to criticism from CAMERA because they were a "McCarthyite" organization.

Needless to say, this casts an ugly shadow on a daily newspaper purporting to represent the highest levels of journalistic integrity. It is now widely accepted that many policies promoted by Haaretz are effectively supportive of Israel's adversaries.

In fact, Nahum Barnea, the distinguished Yediot Aharonot columnist, went so far as to describe senior Haaretz journalists Gideon Levy, Amira Haas and Akiva Eldar as failing to pass the "lynch test" - i.e., even failing to condemn Palestinians when they murdered two Israelis in a lynch mob in Ramallah at the onset of the second intifada.

More recently, consistent with frequent Haaretz depictions of Israel as a racist entity, the paper's chief Arab affairs expert, Danny Rubinstein, told a UN body that Israel was indeed an apartheid state.

Of course, behind this torrid situation stands the publisher of Haaretz, Amos Schocken, who is personally convinced that Israel does indeed practice apartheid.

But it was only recently that Landau threw away all semblance of journalistic integrity and publicly confessed to crossing the ultimate red line that distinguishes reputable journalism from propaganda.

According to The Jerusalem Post, at the recent Russian Limmud Conference in Moscow, Landau, one of the few non-Russian-speaking participants, dropped a bombshell. He stunned those present by boasting that his newspaper had "wittingly soft-pedalled" alleged corruption by Israeli political leaders including prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, when, in the opinion of Haaretz, the policies of those leaders were advancing the peace process.

When participants challenged him concerning the morality of such an approach, Landau responded with the extraordinary assertion that "more immorality happens every day at a single roadblock [in Judea and Samaria] than in all the scandals put together."

He then unashamedly assured those present that Haaretz was ready to repeat the process in order "to ensure that Olmert goes to Annapolis."

Even former Bolsheviks in the audience must have gasped at such views, openly stated, which incorporated all the hallmarks of the Stalinist era.

It is surely scandalous for the top editor of what purports to be a reputable and prestigious daily newspaper to publicly proclaim - and take pride in - having deliberately "soft-pedalled" and possibly even covered up acts of corruption by senior political leaders in order to promote his own political agenda, and, moreover, boast that his paper would continue to do so in the future.

Could one, for instance, visualize The New York Times suppressing information about an American president involved in corruption out of a desire to promote the administration's foreign policy objectives? No newspaper of integrity in the world would tolerate an editor making such an outrageous statement.

The Israeli Press Council code of ethics contains clauses explicitly condemning such practices. Article 40 (and 16a): "A newspaper or a journalist shall not refrain from publishing information where there is a public interest in its publication, including for reasons of political, economic or other pressures."

Article 7: "Mistakes, omissions or inaccuracies which are in the publication of facts must be corrected speedily…."

If in the face of such violations of their charter by the editor of one of their most prestigious newspapers the Press Council fails to publicly condemn such behavior, it should be dissolved and the public must demand an accounting.

Exploiting a newspaper as a propaganda vehicle for a clique of leftist ideologues willing to do anything, including suppressing or "soft-pedalling" information about potentially criminal actions in order to pursue a private agenda must not be tolerated in a country which purports to adhere to ethical and democratic norms of conduct.

The writer chairs the Diaspora-Israel relations committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and is a veteran international Jewish leader.

ileibler@netvison.net.il

http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1192380752316&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull


Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Olmert nixes rights claims for Jewish refugees from Arab lands

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/olmert-nixes-rights-claims-for-jewish.html

Headline:
 
Olmert: Not yet on Jewish refugees
Lede " Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is cautioning advocates of Jewish refugees from Arab countries that any discussion of the issue is premature. "
 
Premature relative to what?? Palestinian Arabs have been busy impressing their claim on the world for 60 years. When exactly does Olmert think it will be the right time to raise this issue??
 
Ami Isseroff
 
Published: 11/05/2007
 
Ben Harris

NEW YORK (JTA) -- Organizers of a major conference on behalf of Jewish refugees from Arab countries were told by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that any discussion of the issue was premature.
 
In a recent letter to leaders of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, which organized the conference here Monday, Olmert said it was premature to raise the refugee question now. But he gave assurances that when the issue is eventually put on the table, Israel would "reaffirm its commitment to resolving the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab countries as well."
 
Olmert's letter, dated Oct. 8 and obtained by JTA over the weekend, came as Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, an advocacy coalition of 72 groups, was preparing to unveil documentation showing how Arab states conspired to persecute their Jewish citizens. In the aftermath of Israel's creation, hundreds of thousands of Jews fled Arab lands where they had lived for centuries, a total roughly equivalent to the number of Palestinian refugees that fled or were driven from Israel.
 
Estimates of the number of Jewish refugees range generally from 700,000 to one million, a majority of whom were absorbed by Israel.
 
Leaders of the coalition insist that their efforts to publicize the rights of Jewish refugees, and the culpability of Arab governments in exacerbating their plight, have nothing to do with winning reparations. Instead, they say, they are seeking justice and establishing an accurate historical record. With a major peace conference planned for Annapolis in the coming months, they say, raising the profile of Jewish refugees could provide the Israeli government a powerful bargaining chip to offset claims by Palestinian refugees.
 
"This is not about money. This is not anti-Palestinian refugees," said Stanley Urman, the executive director of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries.
 
"We have one simple objective and that is, in the context of peace, the issues for both sides must be addressed. And our objective is to ensure that any explicit reference to Palestinian refugees is matched by an explicit reference to Jewish refugees, as a matter of law and equity."
 
Previously, Israeli leaders appeared committed to that objective. In March 2002, and again in December 2003, the Israeli Cabinet decided to pursue the restoration of property owned by Jews who fled Arab countries and authorized cooperation with other ministries and organizations toward that end. But in more recent statements, Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni have acknowledged the suffering of Palestinian refugees without mentioning the plight of Jewish refugees.
 
Olmert's letter, while pushing off the issue, was intended to reassure the coalition of Israel's continuing commitment to the rights of Jewish refugees.
 
Urman told JTA that delegates to the New York conference were "gratified" by Olmert's assurances. According to Urman, delegates planned to issue a declaration on the conclusion of the conference outlining the organization's plan of action.
 
On Monday, the coalition released documents discovered in United Nations archives showing that following the General Assembly's partition resolution in November 1947, the Arab League drafted a law allowing for various measures to be taken against their Jewish citizens. Among the measures were the freezing of Jewish bank accounts, imprisonment, exile and forced conscription into the military.
 
In a 1948 memorandum to the U.N. Economic and Social Council, the World Jewish Congress drew attention to the draft law and warned that the situation of Jews in Arab countries had become "critical." Consideration of the matter was subsequently killed by a pro-Arab parliamentary maneuver.
 
"We seem to have found a body of evidence relating to both events and materials that suggest that the displacement of 1 million Jews in 10 Arab countries did not happen by happenstance," Urman told JTA. "The documents we have uncovered reveal that there was an orchestrated effort by the Arab League to have all its member states react in a coordinated fashion to persecute their Jewish populations and use them as political weapons in their struggle against the State of Israel."
 
Although this history has long been known, Urman said the new documents are the "smoking gun" that conclusively demonstrate collusion among Arab leaders in driving out their Jewish citizens.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Book: Rice ruined Sharon's disengagement plan

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/book-rice-ruined-sharons-disengagement.html

According to a new book, Condoleezza Rice meddled in Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan and ruined it:
 
 In his book, Kessler details Rice's early skepticism of Bush's "road map," an effort to bring about Palestinian statehood and end Palestinian terrorism. Israeli officials tell Kessler that Rice assured them that it was "at best a marginal plan" that would not get much U.S. attention ahead of the 2004 elections. She asked the Israelis to come up with a better plan, and Ariel Sharon's government responded by proposing the removal of Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip. Rice pushed the Israelis further.
 
"It is not any sort of political breakthrough," she reportedly told the Israelis. "If you want a different reality, it has to be Gaza in its entirety."
 
In retrospect, critics say, that was exactly the wrong plan. Had Sharon stuck to his original proposal to evacuate Gaza's 8,000 settlers, but left behind troops, he likely would have scored a triumph over the settler movement unadulterated by the Hamas stronghold Gaza has become, barraging southern Israel daily with rockets and inhibiting popular Israeli support for further concessions.
 
Read it and weep.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
Behind the Headlines
Rice chronicle contains criticisms of diplomat's Middle East efforts 
  
 
"The Confidante", a new book about Condoleezza Rice discusses her handling of Israeli-Palestinian affiars and other Middle East issues.
 
By Beth Young  Published: 11/06/2007 
 

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- As Condoleezza Rice prepares for what could be the make-or-break event of her career -- the upcoming Israeli-Palestinian summit -- a new book is raising questions about the U.S. secretary of state's handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other Middle East issues.
 
 "The Confidante" (St. Martin's Press, 304 pp, $25.95), by the Washington Post diplomatic correspondent Glenn Kessler, has earned rave reviews for depicting Rice's delicate balance between her friendship with Bush and the demands of the international community.
 
Kessler has traveled the world as part of Rice's press entourage, and he provides a blow-by-blow and sometimes devastating account of her foreign policy decisions. Middle East watchers will be especially interested in his sharp criticism of several of Rice's judgment calls pertaining to the region, including her promotion of elections that ended up bringing terrorist organizations to power.
 
Rice clearly had designs on the role of top U.S. diplomat as early as 2002, when she was Bush's national security adviser and Colin Powell was secretary of state, often shoving him aside in dealing with the Israelis and Palestinians during the second intifada.
 

Upon taking the job in 2005, she was seen as a Bush loyalist who often had leaned toward those in the administration pressing a hawkish line on Iraq, Iran and the spread of democracy.
 

But on at least one point, Rice watchers say, the secretary of state has moved away from the neoconservative article of faith that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not central to the stability of the Middle East. The result has been an increasing push from Rice for a greater U.S. role in facilitating peace talks and boosting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
 
"She has really evolved in her views," M.J. Rosenberg of the Israel Policy Forum told JTA. "She used to be fairly predictable as a Bush spokesman on this issue, but now she's absolutely determined to reach an agreement. She wants it to be her legacy. I think she has real empathy for both the Palestinians and the Israelis."
 
Rice was back in the region over the weekend, meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in an effort to lay the groundwork for the summit that is expected to take place at some point in the next six weeks in Annapolis, Md.
 
Abbas had been threatening to boycott over Israeli and American efforts to postpone any specific statement of principles to future negotiations, but was sounding a more conciliatory tone after his meeting with Rice.
 
In his book, Kessler details Rice's early skepticism of Bush's "road map," an effort to bring about Palestinian statehood and end Palestinian terrorism. Israeli officials tell Kessler that Rice assured them that it was "at best a marginal plan" that would not get much U.S. attention ahead of the 2004 elections. She asked the Israelis to come up with a better plan, and Ariel Sharon's government responded by proposing the removal of Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip. Rice pushed the Israelis further.
 
"It is not any sort of political breakthrough," she reportedly told the Israelis. "If you want a different reality, it has to be Gaza in its entirety."
 
In retrospect, critics say, that was exactly the wrong plan. Had Sharon stuck to his original proposal to evacuate Gaza's 8,000 settlers, but left behind troops, he likely would have scored a triumph over the settler movement unadulterated by the Hamas stronghold Gaza has become, barraging southern Israel daily with rockets and inhibiting popular Israeli support for further concessions.
 
Abbas was elected P.A. president in early 2005, and his relative moderation appeared to meet the new secretary's criteria for a new partner for peace. Kessler, however, said Rice expressed much skepticism about the Palestinian leader.
 
"She thought Abbas was a nice man but ineffective," Kessler wrote. "The United States had invested in him, she thought, and he seemed incapable of delivering."
 
Samar Assad of the Palestine Center in Washington believes that while Rice and Abbas have a cordial relationship, it lacks the personal warmth of her relationships with Israeli leaders.
 
"I don't think it's gone beyond professional," Assad told JTA.
 
At the same time, he added, Rice "seems to be, from the Palestinian point of view, a secretary of state that listens more to Palestinians and their grievances."
 
Kessler believes that Abbas' plan to invite Hamas to participate in legislative elections in 2006 was both a calculated play to U.S. zeal for democracy in the Middle East and a flawed judgment call by Rice and others in the administration who underestimated the terrorist group's popularity.
 
Other experts on the push for Gaza elections believe Rice's role was a limited one.
 
"That idea came completely from Bush and Natan Sharansky," the Israeli politician, Rosenberg said. "Bush totally signed on to that idea of going for democracy in every situation. I think she had a much more nuanced position, but she wasn't the person that made that decision."
 
For other analysts, the decision to go forward with P.A. elections was part of a wider -- and seriously flawed -- worldview.
 
"The biggest part of the problem the administration has is that many inside the State Department have become more focused on their legacy than on principles," Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute said. "There's no question that people in the administration lied to themselves about what was going to happen. If you admit that there's going to be an undesirable outcome, then you have to do something about it."
 
It didn't help, Kessler writes, that Rice had played a role in botching the implementation of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza: No plans had been implemented for border crossings from Gaza, and Palestinians who had fought for control of greenhouses there watched as their harvest rotted with no way to export it to the outside world.
 
All this, Kessler argues, helped set the stage for the Hamas victory in January 2006.
 
Larry Garber, who had worked as a U.S. Agency for International Development director in the Palestinian areas and now directs the New Israel Fund, believes Rice's problem with follow-up has been endemic through several administrations.
 
"I think she tried to work it out, but like many of these issues, you don't just solve the issue," Garber said. "There's lots of need for follow-up, and clearly it's important for her to play a dominant role. It's not just her. Other people have the sense that you bang some heads and get everyone to agree, celebrate and assume it's going to work out as planned."
 
Kessler's book is also highly critical of Rice's role in ending the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon in the summer of 2006.
 
Kessler argues that Rice waited far too long to respond to the conflict and described her efforts as "drive-by diplomacy" that didn't include either Syria or opposition candidates within Lebanon. He said Rice was ridiculed in the international press for describing the conflict as "the birth pangs of the new Middle East" and waiting seven days to fly to Beirut.
 
Rice thwarted early cease-fire efforts that did not call for a total disarming of Hezbollah. So diplomats were surprised to find that the final draft of the U.N. Security Council resolution that ended the conflict, sticky with Rice's fingerprints, was rife with vague language and compromises similar to those she had rejected before scores of Israelis and hundreds of Lebanese lost their lives.
 
Kessler quotes John Bolton, then the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, as describing the resolution as "a pile of crap."
 
Bolton, whose own book, "Surrender is Not An Option," is due to be released this month, would not comment at length on the negotiations due to a publisher's embargo. He told JTA that one of his major frustrations with Resolution 1701 was the refusal of many Arab nations to insist that Hezbollah be disarmed before an agreement was reached.
 
"The Arab League just wouldn't buy the resolution we drafted. A lot of changes were made," he said. "It's clear that 1701 not only has not been implemented, but things we planned never came to pass. The process we envisioned hasn't succeeded. There clearly has been a rearming of Hezbollah."
 
Hezbollah was a part of the Lebanese government at the time it unilaterally launched the war against Israel. Kessler believes that the continued dominance of militia groups in the Middle East is the result of the overarching problem with the way Rice and the Bush administration have conducted American foreign policy and insisted on democracy in the region.
 
"Ironically, in the two most liberal societies in the Middle East -- the Palestinian territories and Lebanon -- militia groups had been voted into the governments," he writes. "The influence and rise of Hamas and Hezbollah directly affected the way the United States was seen in the region: on the defensive and in decline."


Continued (Permanent Link)

Wife beating 101: Introduction to wife beating in Islam

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/wife-beating-101-introduction-to-wife.html

Wife beating 101: Introduction to wife beating in Islam - First lesson is, "don't leave any marks:
 
"If you beat her with a toothpick, or if you beat her lightly with your hand, and so on, it is meant to convey: 'Woman, it has gone too far. I can't bear it anymore.' If he beats her, the beatings must be light and must not make her face ugly. He must beat her where it will not leave marks. He should not beat her on the hand... He should beat her in some places where it will not cause any damage. He should not beat her like he would beat an animal or a child - slapping them right and left. Unfortunately, many husbands beat their wives only when they get mad, and when they start beating, it as if they are punching a wall – they beat with their hands, right and left, and sometimes use their feet. Brother, it is a human being you are beating. This is forbidden. He must not do this."
 
 
Special Dispatch-Saudi Arabia
November 7, 2007
No. 1759
 
Ramadhan TV Show:
Saudi Cleric Muhammad Al-'Arifi Explains Wife-Beating in Islam to Young Muslims
 
 
The following are excerpts from a program with Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-'Arifi, which aired on LBC TV on September 9, 2007.
 
"While the Man May Use Beating to Discipline His Wife, She Sometimes Uses Her Tears to Discipline Him"
 
Muhammad Al-'Arifi: "Men beat women more often than women beat men. I said that some women beat their husbands because this happens, but it is rare, and there is no need to hold conferences on wives who beat their husbands. I believe this is less prevalent, because by nature, the body of the man... In most cases, Allah made the body of men stronger than the body of women. Therefore, you and your sister... You may be taller than your mother, right? If your mother is ill, you may be able to carry her, but she cannot carry you. Allah created women with these delicate, fragile, supple, and soft bodies, because they use their emotions more than they use their bodies. Therefore, while the man may use beating to discipline his wife, she sometimes uses her tears to discipline him. He gets what he wants by screaming, while she gets what she wants from him by crying and displaying emotions. For men, women's emotions may be fiercer than the strike of a sword." [... ]
 
 
"If Neither [Admonishing nor Refusing to Share Your Bed] Works With Her, What is the Third Option?"
 
"First, "'admonish them' – once, twice, three times, four times, 10 times. If this doesn't help, 'refuse to share their beds.' In such a case, the husband does not sleep with his wife, or, in other words, he is angry with her. He gives her the silent treatment, refusing to talk to her. If he comes to eat, and she asks him: 'How are you?' – he doesn't answer. If she asks him: 'Do you want anything?' – he doesn't answer. He distances himself from her in bed and in conversation; he does not sleep with her, but goes to sleep in another room. He shows her that he is angry with her. If this does not help – if the admonishing does no good, and when he goes to sleep in another room, she says: 'Thank God he's gone. Now I've got the whole bed to myself, I will sleep alone in bed and roll over at night as much as I like.' If neither method works with her, what is the third option?
 
Guest: "'And beat them.'"
 
Al-'Arifi: "That's right. How is this beating performed? What do you think?"
 
Guest: "Light beatings."
 
Al-'Arifi: "Light beatings in what way?"
 
Guest:" For example, I wouldn't beat her in the face..."
 
Al-'Arifi: "Beating in the face is forbidden, even when it comes to animals. When a person is beating an animal... Even if you want your camel or donkey to start walking, you are not allowed to beat it in the face. If this is true for animals, it is all the more true when it comes to humans. So beatings should be light and not in the face.
 
"Some religious scholars say: 'He should beat her with a toothpick.' I happen to have a toothpick with me. A man who is angry with his wife because she doesn't get it... If he says to her: 'Watch out, the child has fallen next to the stove,' or: 'Move the child away from the electrical socket,' and she says: 'I am busy' – then he beats her with a toothpick or something like it. He doesn't beat her with a bottle of water, a plate, or a knife. This is forbidden. The scholars said he should beat her with a toothpick.
 
"Check out how gentle the toothpick used for beating is. This shows you that the purpose is not to inflict pain. When you beat an animal, you intend to cause it pain so it will obey you, because an animal would not understand if you said: 'Oh camel, come on, start moving.' The camel does not understand such things, unless you beat it. A donkey understands nothing but beatings, but a woman, a man, a child, and so on, are generally more affected by emotions than by other things."
     
 
"He Must Beat Her Where It Will Not Leave Marks"
 
"If you beat her with a toothpick, or if you beat her lightly with your hand, and so on, it is meant to convey: 'Woman, it has gone too far. I can't bear it anymore.' If he beats her, the beatings must be light and must not make her face ugly. He must beat her where it will not leave marks. He should not beat her on the hand... He should beat her in some places where it will not cause any damage. He should not beat her like he would beat an animal or a child - slapping them right and left. Unfortunately, many husbands beat their wives only when they get mad, and when they start beating, it as if they are punching a wall – they beat with their hands, right and left, and sometimes use their feet. Brother, it is a human being you are beating. This is forbidden. He must not do this."
 
 To view this clip visit: http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1594.htm 
  

*********************
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.

MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC 20038-7837
Phone: (202) 955-9070
Fax: (202) 955-9077
E-Mail:
memri@memri.org
Search previous MEMRI publications at www.memri.org

If you no longer wish to receive this publication via email, please reply and enter only the word "UNSUBSCRIBE" in the subject line.



Continued (Permanent Link)

Report: PA force routed in Nablus

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/report-pa-force-routed-in-nablus.html

This reported claim of a a defeat of a Palestinian force by the Hamas in Nablus has a problematic feature. The force that entered Nablus November 2 was a police force intended to police crime and not the PA security forces.

 

Ami Isserlff

 

DEBKAfile Exclusive: US-trained Palestinian special force routed in West Bank Nablus camp by Hamas-led extremists Monday

November 5, 2007, 4:59 PM (GMT+02:00)

Palestinian Authority force in Nablus

The 300-man force, introduced to Nablus Friday, Nov. 2, was thrown back in a two-hour battle Nov. 5 with five critically wounded troops in its first attempt to assume control and detain terrorists in the Nablus Balata bastion of the Fatah-al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Hamas, Jihad Islam and the Palestinian Fronts. This is reported by DEBKAfile's exclusive military sources.

The Palestinian Authority timed the assault to coincide with the US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice's meeting in Ramallah with its chairman Mahmud Abbas. The plan was for the special force to carry the day in its first anti-terror operation and so demonstrate that the PA was finally capable of subduing terror and so meeting the first proviso of the Middle East Road Map for progress in the peace process. However, the PA's special force was expected and greeted in Nablus' Balata camp by an ambush and crossfire on all sides from the Palestinian extremist groups, who were clearly acting on an advance tip-off.

The force retreated with a single prisoner, only to be faced with an ultimatum. They were told to release him by nightfall or else face a wholesale assault on the bases and roadblocks they set up in the West Bank city three days ago. In consultation with Mahmoud Abbas, it was decided to give in to the demand and let the captive go after the PA special force's commander said his outfit would cave in if forced to withstand another round of combat and more casualties.

DEBKAfile's military sources report that the Americans, Palestinians and Israelis had clearly overestimated the capabilities of the new force before introducing it to the Nablus arena. It had been hoped that its success in beating down Palestinian terrorists would be followed by a victory parade led by the PA chairman around the streets of Nablus prior to the handover of more West Bank towns to his security control ahead of the Annapolis peace conference. These hopes were dashed Monday.


Continued (Permanent Link)

What the Annapolis summit is about: American viewpoint

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/what-annapolis-summit-is-about-american.html

What is Condoleezza Rice trying to do at the Annapolis conference? This important op-ed by David Brooks tells us it is about buildign a coalition to counterbalance Iran and gaining support for Arab accomodation with Israel. The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is secondary window dressing.
 
He could be right. Rice wanted to have this conference immediately after the Arab summit renewed the Arab peace initiative.  But the chances of actual success don't look good. She was rebuffed then, but won an additional lever when Hamas took over Gaza, threatening to spread radicalism throughout the Arab world.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
Present at the Creation

DAVID BROOKS
 
Published: November 6, 2007
Amman, Jordan
 

David Brooks
 
What is Condi doing?
 
This is the question that's been floating around foreign policy circles over the past few months. It is then followed by more specific questions: Why is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spending her remaining time in office banging her head against the Israeli-Palestinian problem? Why has she bothered to make eight trips to the region this year? What can possibly be accomplished when the Israeli government is weak and the Palestinian society is divided?
 
It took a trip to the region for me to finally understand that this peace process is unlike any other. It's not really about Israel and the Palestinians; it's about Iran. Rice is constructing a coalition of the losing. There is a feeling among Arab and Israeli leaders that an Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance is on the march. The nations that resist that alliance are in retreat. The peace process is an occasion to gather the "moderate" states and to construct what Martin Indyk of the Brookings Institution's Saban Center calls an anti-Iran counter-alliance.
 
It's slightly unfortunate that the peace process itself is hollow. It's like having a wedding without a couple because you want to get the guests together for some other purpose. But that void can be filled in later. The main point is to organize the anti-Iranians around some vehicle and then reshape the strategic correlation of forces in the region.
 
Iran has done what decades of peace proposals have not done — brought Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Palestinians and the U.S. together. You can go to Jerusalem or to some Arab capitals and the diagnosis of the situation is the same: Iran is gaining hegemonic strength over the region and is spreading tentacles of instability all around.
 
The Syrians, who have broken with the Sunni nations and attached themselves to Iran, are feeling stronger by the day. At least one-third of Iraq is under Iranian influence. Hezbollah is better armed and more confident now than it was before its war against Israel. Hamas is being drawn closer inside the Iranian orbit and is more likely to take over the West Bank than lose its own base in Gaza.
 
In short, Iran is taking advantage of the region's three civil wars and could have its proxy armies on Israel's northern, western and southern borders.
 
Arab opinion, even in Sunni nations, is sympathetic to Iran. Egypt, which should serve as a counterbalance to Iran, is sclerotic and largely absent from the scene.
 
It's no wonder Rice has acted so forcefully to forge the "moderate" coalition. She seems to sense what leaders in the region say privately: It's not so much that they have high hopes of peace; it's that they are terrified they will fail. If they cannot restart the peace process and build an anti-Iran alliance upon it, then the days of the moderates could be numbered. That's why Ehud Olmert, the prime minister of Israel, pinned what's left of his career to this Annapolis process at a speech before the Saban Forum Sunday night, and why other leaders are so fervent behind the scenes.
 
There are a few problems to overcome. The Saudis, as is their nature, are trying to play both sides, making supportive noises about the anti-Iran project without doing much to actually help.
 
Some "moderate" Arab autocrats have become soul brothers with Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharaff, and are lobbying America to betray its principles and not condemn him.
 
Finally, there is the peace process itself. There is remarkably little substance to it so far. Even people inside the Israeli and Palestinian governments are not sure what's actually going to be negotiated and what can realistically be achieved. Moreover, it's not clear that either of those governments can actually deliver anything. The Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, can sign deals, but it's not clear that he controls events a block from his headquarters. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert can do the same, but his cabinet is hostile and his people are cynically disengaged.
 
The whole thing could backfire and leave the anti-Iranian cause in worse shape than ever. If that happens, then life will get really ugly for Rice. America's friends in the region will try to flip Syria out of the Iranian orbit by offering it the re-conquest of Lebanon. Rice would then face a Faustian bargain — continue the struggle against Iran, but at the cost of her own principles.
 
Still, despite these perils, Rice is surely right to be trying something. She's an admirer of former Secretary of State Dean Acheson and is now present at the creation of a containment policy across the Middle East. The Bush administration is not about to bomb Iran (trust me). It's using diplomacy to build a coalition to balance it, and reverse an ugly tide.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Iran eyes Turkey alliance, axis with Russia

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/iran-eyes-turkey-alliance-axis-with.html

This article from the Iranian News Agency Fars News presents an all too real possibility - an alliance of Syria, Turkey, Iran and Russia.

A Russian-Turkish alliance would be contrary to Turkey's traditional national and geopolitical stance, going back 200 years. But the world changes, and such an alliance would be of immense value to Russia.

If they will, it is a nightmare.

Ami Isseroff

 

Inevitable Iran-Turkey-Syria-Russia Alliance News number:

860814033814:09 | 2007-11-05

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- The Middle East has acquired immense strategic value as one of the determining fulcrums in the global balance of power due to its being the world's largest known storehouse of low-cost energy supplies.

The region's geopolitical importance, the kaleidoscopic nature of politics among its states, the presence of volatile social and political forces within them and the interference of world superpowers all insure that the region will remain a potentially explosive source of tension for years.

Emboldened by its military strength after World War II, Moscow prepared to carve up its southern neighbors. It demanded territorial concessions and control of the Bosporus from Turkey and refused to withdraw from northern Iran, which it had occupied in 1941. Turkey and Iran rebuffed Soviet coercive diplomacy with the support of the United States and became key allies in the American effort to contain Soviet expansion.

The Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) was a defense alliance between Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Great Britain. Originally named the Baghdad Pact, the name was changed when the Iraqi revolution led Iraq to withdraw in 1959. The United States had observer status in the alliance but was not a party to the treaty. The fall of the shah removed the American shield from Iran, sounded the death knell for the anti-Soviet CENTO alliance and sailed Iran towards new horizons.

Now the same faith is on the road for Turkey. The measureless and injudicious backup given by the occupying power in Iraq -- the US government -- to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and to Massoud Barzani, the former tribal leader of the Iraqi Kurds and now the leader of the Iraqi Kurdish region.

Turkey, taking into consideration the ongoing assaults by the PKK terrorists in the southeastern regions and the measureless backup given by US government to Iraqi Kurds, has drawn up a new strategic alliance policy that weakens ties with the US and strengthens relations with Iran and Syria, its millennium-long neighbors.

The US has failed to keep its promise to Turkey to confront the PKK. Turkey now feels that it has no choice but to attack the PKK's sanctuaries in northern Iraq together with Iran.

Iran is also suffering from similar assaults originating from the same terrorist group located in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq under the name of Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK).

The US and Iran are increasingly at odds over a range of issues, and Turkey has stood nearby the US as an old and devoted ally for the past 57 years, but now the sympathy of Turkish people towards the US had fallen sharply over the past couple of years, and it will take decades for US to recover it.

It seems it is now mandatory for Turkey and Iran to form a common cooperative ground in regard to common problems and interests. New and stronger cooperative action in the economic field by Turkey and Iran will play a major role in the eradication of the political distrust and concerns between the two countries. The parties have announced an upcoming doubling of the volume of their trade.

Both countries have already agreed on the elimination of the main source of discord: support for each other's separatist and oppositional organizations. Iran has committed to adding the PKK to its list of "terrorist organizations." Turkey has done the same concerning the anti-Iran terrorist group "Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO)."

The second stage is the escalation of high-level cooperation between Turkey, Iran and Syria and this is moving forward, as well.

Aversion to American global policy, in particular to the actions of the US in Iraq, the common allies of Syria and Iran, and also shared economic interests, will lead to the merging of the political strategies of Russia and Turkey. Countries that were previously historical opponents will turn into partners in the creation of a new Eurasian coalition.

The final effect of the region's aversion to American policies will be the formation of the "union of four:" Russia, Turkey, Iran and Syria. Of course, this rapprochement between Ankara, Moscow, Damascus and Tehran will definitely affect Washington's position in the Middle East.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Group seeks justice for 'forgotten' Jews

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/group-seeks-justice-for-forgotten-jews.html

The case is well put here.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
Published: November 5, 2007
 
UNITED NATIONS, New York: With assertions of Palestinians' rights to reclaim land in Israel expected to arise at an upcoming Middle East peace conference in the United States, a Jewish advocacy group has scheduled a meeting Monday in New York to call attention to people it terms "forgotten refugees."
 
The organizing group, Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, said it was referring to the more than 850,000 Jews who left their homes in Arab lands after the declaration of the state of Israel in 1948.
 
"This did not occur by happenstance, as is sometimes said," said Stanley Urman, executive director of the five-year-old New York-based organization. "In fact, we have found evidence that there was collusion among the Arab nations to persecute and exploit their Jewish populations."
 
To back the claim, the group had reproduced copies of a draft law composed by the Arab League in 1947 that called for measures to be taken against Jews living in Arab countries. The proposals ranged from imprisonment, confiscation of assets and forced induction into Arab armies to beatings, officially incited acts of violence and pogroms.
 
Subsequent legislation and discriminatory decrees enacted by Arab governments against Jews were "strikingly similar" to the actions laid out in the draft law, Urman said.
 
In January, 1948, the World Jewish Congress submitted a memo with the text of the draft to the UN's Economic and Social Council. It accompanied the submission with a warning that "all Jews residing in the Near and Middle East face extreme and imminent danger."
At a meeting two months later, however, Charles Malik, the Lebanese ambassador and president of the council, succeeded in a parliamentary maneuver that ended consideration of the memo. Though the event drew news coverage at the time, it had gone unnoticed since.
 
The Arab League draft law had been drawn up in response to the Nov. 29, 1947, vote in the General Assembly to partition Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish.
 
With the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, the status of Jews in Arab countries changed dramatically as most of those countries either declared war on Israel or backed the war to destroy the new state.
 
The group cites UN figures showing that 856,000 Jewish residents left Arab countries in 1948.
 
"This was not just a forced exodus, it was a forgotten exodus," said Irwin Cotler, a former Canadian minister of justice scheduled to speak Monday at the opening of the campaign on behalf of the Jewish refugees.
 
For that reason, he said, the main goal of the campaign was to raise public awareness rather than to seek compensation. "It's not about the money, it's about the other components of redress recognition, remembrance and acknowledgment of the wrongs committed," he said.
 
He said that a particular focus of the campaign would be the United Nations, where Palestinian concerns got regular attention and Israel was frequently the object of condemnatory resolutions. "The UN has participated in expunging this experience from the Mideast narrative and from the UN narrative," he said.
 
The campaign was aimed at assuring that mention of Jewish refugees was included in future General Assembly and Human Rights Council resolutions and commemorations.
 
The next occasion was Nov. 29, the date of the partition vote, officially recognized as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This year marked its 60th anniversary.
 
The United Nations said that 711,000 Palestinians left Israel-controlled territory in 1948 and 1949 and that today, along with their descendants, the number of Palestinian refugees was at least 4 million.
 
"There is mention, as there should be, of Palestinian refugees, but no mention of Jewish refugees," Cotler said of the annual commemoration.
 
Another objective was pushing for early passage of resolutions introduced in the U.S. Senate and House that say that any explicit reference to Palestinian refugees must be matched by a similar explicit reference to Jewish and other refugees.
 
A U.S.-sponsored peace conference was scheduled to take place in Annapolis, Maryland, before the end of the year to address core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict like borders, the status of Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugee problem.
 
"We want to have this meeting now, in advance of the Annapolis conference, to insure that this issue is front and center in the international awareness as it should be," Urman said.
 
Daniel Carmon, an ambassador at the Israeli mission, said that while there ought to be a change in attitude at the United Nations, no one expected it to occur soon. "This has not been forgotten because it does not exist, it is a reflection of the dynamic at the UN," he said.
 
Cotler said a change in perception would help bring the region's antagonists together. "I believe that if we allow people to understand the truth of what occurred, then they will be able to recognize the other," he said.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Arab Israel boycott and what it still means

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/arab-israel-boycott-and-what-it-still.html

It is unlikely that anything could move the US from its purpose of supporting the Palestinian authority, so the thesis below seems to be utter fantasy. In any case, the Palestinians do not (and cannot) boycott Israel. But the following is priceless:
 

A few years ago a Gulf kingdom ordered a large shipment of drip irrigation equipment from Israel. The Israeli company felt compelled to erase all "Made in Israel" tags on the piping. The kingdom's purchasing agent came back complaining that it was hard to move the merchandise because his customers wanted proof the product was made in Israel.

Today, a boycott of Israeli products would mean doing without many models of cellphones, computer processors, and medicines, to name just a few products containing technologies developed in Israel.

Ami Isseroff

Could the Anti-Israel Boycott Threaten U.S. Military Assistance to the Palestinians?

 Lenny Ben-David Tuesday, November 6, 2007

 

The Central Boycott Office in Damascus is convening another of their meetings this week to discuss ways to further the economic, cultural and diplomatic boycott of Israel. The once powerful organization, established in 1951, has lost much of its clout. It was a big thing decades ago to impose a boycott on Israeli oranges or to ban Coca Cola for dealing with Israel. But today, Israel is such an economic and technological powerhouse that it's difficult, even self-destructive, for Arab countries to enforce the boycott.

A few years ago a Gulf kingdom ordered a large shipment of drip irrigation equipment from Israel. The Israeli company felt compelled to erase all "Made in Israel" tags on the piping. The kingdom's purchasing agent came back complaining that it was hard to move the merchandise because his customers wanted proof the product was made in Israel.

Today, a boycott of Israeli products would mean doing without many models of cellphones, computer processors, and medicines, to name just a few products containing technologies developed in Israel.

Perhaps that's why eight Arab countries, including Jordan and Egypt, stayed away from the boycott meeting. But 14 other countries and representatives from the Palestinian territories did show up, according to the AP account.

It's worth following up to see which countries attended and who the Palestinian representatives were. Were they officials from the Palestinian Authority? With Secretary of State Rice shepherding Israel and the Palestinian Authority to Annapolis, it is hoped that the PA is not engaged in economic warfare against Israel.

The would-be boycotters should know that Congress loathes the Arab boycott.

The following excerpt is from the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008, HR 2764:

SEC. 634. It is the sense of the Congress that. .the President and the Secretary of State should continue to vigorously oppose the Arab League boycott of Israel and find concrete steps to demonstrate that opposition by, for example, taking into consideration the participation of any recipient country in the boycott when determining to sell weapons to said country..

If the Palestinian Authority attended the Damascus boycott meeting, could it jeopardize the extensive military training and assistance the U.S. Government is providing to the Palestinian Authority?


Continued (Permanent Link)

Israeli film wins prestigious awards and international acclaim

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/israeli-film-wins-prestigious-awards.html

Israeli film wins prestigious awards and international acclaim
 
Director Eran Kolirin's understated feature film debut, The Band's Visit, eloquently communicates the optimistic message that perhaps the peoples of the Middle East can indeed live together in peace.
 
"The Band's Visit", director Eran Kolirin's understated feature film debut, is earning prestigious awards and praise around the globe.
 
 A melancholy comedy depicting a clash of cultures that gives way to a meeting of minds, the movie tells the story of an Egyptian police band arriving in Israel to play at the opening ceremony of a cultural centre. Mistaking the directions they are given, they arrive at a remote, imaginary town in the midst of the Negev desert, where they discover their mistake – and the fact that there is no transport until the following morning. They are befriended by a local kiosk owner, who finds them all accommodation for the night with local residents.
 
 Virtuoso acting, sensitive direction and outstanding photography all come together in this subtle comic drama. At the Cannes Festival held in May, the film was awarded the 'Coup de Coeur du Jury' by the Jury of the FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics). The film was also awarded the 26th Youth Prize in the Un Certain Regard section. The film has since gone on to win many additional prestigious awards, among them 8 awards at the Israel Film Academy's Ophir Awards competition held in Israel in September. The awards include best film, best director, best actor, best actress and best script.
 
 The film was screened recently (3 November 2007) at AFI FEST (American Film Institute Festival) in Los Angeles, to general acclaim. That same day it won the special jury prize at the fifth Worldfilm Festival of Bangkok, Thailand. A week previously, it won the Sakura Grand Prix at the twentieth Tokyo International Film Festival.
 
 The film will be commercially distributed in North America by Sony Classics.
 
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Nadia Abu El Haj and the rewriting of history

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/nadia-abu-el-haj-and-rewriting-of.html

In her book, "Facts on the Ground," Barnard Professor Nadia Abu El Haj advances the thesis that the "myth" of ancient Jewish national life in the land of Israel was created by Israeli archaeologists. Her ideas have no more relation to facts than blood libels and other racist fables concocted about Jews, but they enjoy respectability in certain academic circles, and have won her tenure at Barnard. 
 
In two articles, I discuss why her ideas are absurd, and how it is possible that such ideas are discussed seriously and accepted in a part of the academic community:
 
 
 
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Happy anniversary Iran

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/happy-anniversary-iran.html

"Interior Minister Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, in a keynote address, hailed the embassy seizure as 'a great and glorious event' from which Iranians were still drawing inspiration."

Nov 4, 2007

Iranians celebrate US embassy seizure

TEHERAN - THOUSANDS of young Iranians proclaimed 'Death to America' on Sunday as they celebrated the 28th anniversary of the storming of the US embassy in Tehran by student radicals.

A massive crowd, composed mainly of schoolchildren bussed in to central Teheran, gathered outside the site of the former US embassy, known locally as the 'Den of Spies.' 'Death to America! Death to Israel!' the young people shouted, wearing bibs that depicted the burning of the US and Israeli flags.

Interior Minister Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, in a keynote address, hailed the embassy seizure as 'a great and glorious event' from which Iranians were still drawing inspiration.

But he also cautioned Iranians to cut down on consumption to deflect what he called the latest plot of Iran's arch enemy the United States - namely sanctions over Teheran's nuclear programme.

'We have to devise very clear plans so the pace of our progress is not stopped.

'All of us in our households can bring down our consumption expenditure by 10 per cent. Our culture of consumption needs to be changed. We need to send a call to the young people,' he said.

Mr Pour Mohammadi described warnings of US military action against Iran as a 'joke,' but also called on Iranians to show 'national solidarity' in order to defeat the plots.

The interior minister gave the address after unexpectedly replacing former top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani who had been announced as the main speaker by official notices last week.

The young people gathered for the protest denounced the United States and said relations could only be possible if they were on an equal basis.

'By being here I am doing my religious duty, and by being here I am saying I hate the bullying powers, especially the United States and Israel,' said 18-year-old seminary student Esmaeel Mohammadi.

Reihaneh Deqipour, 16, said: 'My coming here is a sign I am ready to defend my country and slap the United States in the face, and I'm ready to defend the country to the last drop of my blood.

'Relations with the United States are fine as long as we are equals,' she added.

A major shadow is still cast by the seizure of the embassy on November 4, 1979 in the wake of the Islamic revolution that toppled pro-US shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Washington officially broke off diplomatic relations during the crisis, a rupture that has yet to be healed. Iran still lauds the seizure as a revolutionary act while Washington condemns it as an abuse of human rights.

The students took more than 60 US diplomats, marines and other expatriate staff hostage, immediately triggering the collapse of the government of moderate prime minister Mehdi Bazargan.

They allowed 13 Americans who were women or of African-American origin to leave two weeks later. But 52 remaining staff were released only in January 1981 after 444 days in captivity.

The participants claim they thought the seizure would only last a few days, but the support of the Iranian public and above all of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini encouraged them to carry on.

Many of the leading participants such as Massoumeh Ebtekar, Abbas Abdi, and Mohsen Mirdamadi have gone on to become reformists highly critical of the conservative government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

They have openly mocked US claims that Mr Ahmadinejad was involved in the embassy seizure. --AFP


Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Arab Israel boycott continues

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/arab-israel-boycott-continues.html

 
Arab delegates meet on Israel boycott
Associated Press , THE JERUSALEM POST Nov. 5, 2007

Delegates to a Syrian-based anti-Israel office began talks in Damascus Monday on ways to revive momentum for the Arabs' boycott of the Jewish state.
 

Eight Arab countries stayed away from the four-day meeting, including Egypt and Jordan which have signed peace treaties with Israel.

Those attending the gathering, held twice a year at the headquarters of the Central Boycott Office in Damascus, included delegates from 14 Arab states and Palestinian territories.

Topping the agenda was the boycott of companies that do business with Israel and ways to abort attempts by some Israeli companies to penetrate Arab markets.

The commissioner general of the organization, Tunisia's Mohammad al-Tayyeb Bouslaa, stressed that the boycott was needed because of the "flagrant Israeli aggression" on the Palestinians and the continued Israel occupation of Arab lands.

"Boycott is legitimate and we cling fast to it so long as it is considered a tool of pressure on Israel to force it to bow to give back the usurped Arab lands and rights," Bouslaa told the meeting's opening session.

Mohammad Ajami, head of the Syrian office for the boycott of Israel, told reporters the boycott still remained "influential and a popular Arab demand."

"Some Arab countries are committed to the meeting after they have discovered that peace with Israel is a mirage and a lie," Ajami said.

The once-influential Damascus office was set up in 1951 and was funded by the Arab League to track down foreign companies that do business with or support Israel and then ban them from operating in the Arab world.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel-Palestinian peace deal before 2009?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/israel-palestinian-peace-deal-before.html

Realism is not a strong point of Middle East diplomacy and never was.

Abbas: Aiming for peace deal before Bush leaves office 
 
 By Aluf Benn, Barak Ravid and Yuval Azoulay, Haaretz Correspondents and Reuters

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday that Israel, the Palestinians and the United States have agreed to aim for a regional peace settlement before President George W. Bush steps down in January 2009.

During a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Ramallah, Abbas said there is a real possibility for achieving a peace deal with Israel by then, but also called on Israel to start meeting some of its short-term peace obligations, such as a settlement freeze.

"I agree with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that there is a real possibility to achieve peace, and I say we are serious to use this opportunity to reach this historical peace," Abbas said.


 
Abbas said he has received encouraging signs from Israel and the U.S., but expects tough going in the negotiations.

He called on Israel to begin immediately meeting its obligations under the first stage of the road map peace plan. The plan requires Israel to freeze settlement construction, remove illegal settlement outposts and ease Palestinian movement.

Abbas said the Palestinians are ready to do their part, including trying to disarm Palestinian militants.

During the news conference, Rice said she hoped a U.S.-led Middle East conference in Annapolis later this year would be the launching pad for "negotiations that I sincerely hope ... could achieve their goals within the time remaining to the Bush administration."

Rice met in Ramallah on Monday with Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. She was also to meet with lead Palestinian negotiator for the upcoming peace conference, Ahmed Qureia.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said earlier Monday the Palestinians have made progress in carrying out their obligations, while Israel has done little. Settlement construction continues and the vast majority of the outposts have not been dismantled.

"It seems that the Israelis have not read their obligations, Erekat said.
"The Palestinians will ask Rice to give each side a list of its obligations, with a timetable for implementation."

"The U.S. should be the judge, and every week say something about who is implementing, he said."

In a speech Sunday night, Rice warned that if the conference fails to produce progress toward setting up a Palestinian state, Muslim extremists would increase their influence.

"If we do not act now to show the Palestinians a way forward, others will show them a way forward," she said.

Rice told a gathering of scholars, leaders and former negotiators that both sides must take advantage of the current opportunity for peace talks. "Palestinians have waited too long for the dignity that will come with an independent state," she said. "We have all waited too long for peace.

Lieberman: PM plan to free more prisoners could rock coalition
The prime minister's plan to release more Palestinian prisoners as a gesture of good will to the Palestinian Authority prior to the Annapolis summit threatens the stability of the government coalition, Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman Israel Radio on Monday,

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is currently examining a request by the PA for freeing as many as 2,000 prisoners, according to sources in his bureau, but no decision has yet been made on the final number or the timing of the release.

On Sunday, during meetings with Rice, Israeli officials said that any deal that will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state would first have to assure Israel's security.

The secretary of state had a working lunch with Olmert, and a source in the Prime Minister's Bureau said that Rice had agreed to most of Israel's conditions regarding the Annapolis summit. The official said they spoke about the upcoming summit and "adhering to the principles of the road map as a basis for progress between Israel and the Palestinians."

Olmert has insisted that the joint declaration at Annapolis will not refer to the "core issues," nor to a fixed timetable for a solution to them. However, later Sunday, the prime minister did say that negotiations with the Palestinians after the summit will focus on the core issues.

"All the fundamental questions, the substantive issues, all the historical questions burdening our debate - are on the agenda," Olmert said during an address at the Saban Forum, an annual gathering of Israeli and U.S. political leaders.

The reference to the core issues, among the main bones of contention between the two sides, concerns the questions of refugees, Jerusalem and borders.

Discussing the possibility of an additional release of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, a political source in Jerusalem said Sunday that "because at Annapolis there will be no solutions presented to the core issues, the Palestinians want to show that they are making gains in routine matters - both in the implementation of the road map and in the release of prisoners."

"From our point of view, the release of prisoners is the easiest price to pay, but there are still no numbers," the same source clarified.

In recent months Israel has twice freed Palestinian prisoners, as a gesture of good will meant to bolster the position of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. A total of 250 prisoners were released on the eve of the summit at Sharm el-Sheikh in June, and 90 more in September, for the holy month of Ramadan.

The last release of prisoners was opposed by Shas and Yisrael Beitenu coalition partners, as well as by Minister of Transport Shaul Mofaz of the prime minister's party, Kadima.

Unlike other moves that directly affect the quality of life of Palestinian civilians, a decision to free prisoners is less dependent on agreement by the defense minister and defense establishment, in general. In deciding on such a release, Olmert can rely on the support of his Labor coalition partners and the majority of his Kadima colleagues.

Barak: Gaza sanctions won't lead to humanitarian crisis
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Rice during their meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday that the sanctions Israel has imposed on the Gaza Strip will not lead to a humanitarian crisis.

He also promised to allow Palestinian policemen to deploy to other cities in the West Bank, if the deployment of 300 PA policemen in Nablus, which was carried out on Friday, proves to have a positive effect.

Rice also met Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Sunday, who told reporters afterward that the Palestinians "need to understand that the implementation of future understandings will be implemented only according to the phases of the road map - meaning security for Israel first and then the establishment of a Palestinian state."

Abbas, who was planning to meet with Rice on Monday, said in a speech in Ramallah that Palestinians had abided by 90 percent of the road map requirements and now "Israel must do its part."

Livni, who heads Israel's negotiating team preparing for a Middle East peace summit scheduled to take place in Annapolis, Maryland later this year, said that Israel was prepared to move forward in discussions with the Palestinians, although the situation was "complicated ... more than ever."

Rice told Livni she hoped her visit here would help to "advance the work you are doing bilaterally with the Palestinians as well as continuing to plan for the Annapolis meetings."

Also Sunday, Quartet envoy and former British prime minister Tony Blair said he hoped to announce a series of projects soon that will help bolster the Palestinian economy. He told a conference in Jerusalem that formal negotiations over creating a Palestinian state should not be "impossibly difficult." But he acknowledged that the path was "utterly fraught" and that both sides had to take steps to build confidence.


Continued (Permanent Link)

FM Livni to attend Euro-Med Conference in Lisbon

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/fm-livni-to-attend-euro-med-conference.html

FM Livni to attend Euro-Med Conference in Lisbon
Representatives of 27 EU states will participate in the meeting together with representatives of the Arab states partners to the Barcelona Process.
(Communicated by the Foreign Minister's Bureau)

Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni will leave on Monday night (5 November) to attend the 9th European Union Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Meeting of Foreign Affairs to be held in Lisbon. Representatives of 27 EU states will participate in the meeting together with representatives of the Arab states partners to the Barcelona Process: Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia and others.

FM Livni will address the conference on the subject of the peace process in the Middle East, ways of strengthening direct cooperation between Israel and the EU and between Israel and the countries of the region. FM Livni will also hold personal meetings with foreign ministers of various European and Arab states attending the conference.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Collective punishment: Qassams and power blackout

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/collective-punishment-qassams-and-power.html

Israel is reluctant to inflict power blackouts on the Palestinians in Gaza, as these would be "Collective Punishment." Palestinian terrorists have no such qualms.
 
Qassams cause blackout in Sderot
Rocket fired at southern town hits power line, damages several buildings; a number of people suffer from shock
Shmulik Hadad YNET Published: 11.04.07, 13:08 / Israel News

Three Qassam rockets were fired Sunday afternoon from the northern Gaza Strip towards the western Negev. One of the rockets hit a house, causing damage to the building and its surroundings.

IDF forces arrived at the scene shortly afterwards and disposed of the
rocket's debree.

A second rocket hit a power line, starting a small fire. Several people suffered from shock. The damaged power line also resulted in a temporary blackout in Sderot.

"We heard three loud explosions, but the Color Red alert system didn't sound. My whole house was shaking," one of the residents told Ynet.

Several of Sderot's residents arrived at the house and confronted the IDF forces, protesting what they called the military's helplessness in fighting the Qassams.

On Sunday morning, the al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad's military wing, fired three Qassam rockets at Israel. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

In response, the IDF struck in the Gaza Strip, killing five Palestinians.

Also Sunday, Ynet reported that Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz had a heated exchange of words following Mazuz's decision not to approve the plan to restrict power supply to the Gaza Strip.

Barak was reported to have told Mazuz, "You not be making the decisions for me."


Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel evacuates an illegal outpost

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/israel-evacuates-illegal-outpost.html

 
Border Guards, police evacuate illegal West Bank outpost
Efrat Weiss YNET Published: 11.04.07, 15:36 / Israel News

Border Guards and police officers evacuated the illegal West Bank outpost of
Shvut Ami, near the settlement of Kedumim, Sunday.

Some 50 right wing activists and settlers are on the premises. Two police
cars were damaged in the evacuation.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Weizmann Institute launches a new nationwide Women in Science Program

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/weizmann-institute-launches-new.html

Weizmann Institute launches a new nationwide Women in Science Program

11 young Israeli women scientists are to receive career enhancement awards from the new nationwide 'Women in Science' program established by the Weizmann Institute of Science

(Communicated by the Weizmann Institute Publications and Media Relation Department)

In a festive ceremony at the Weizmann Institute of Science, 11 young women scientists, who had completed their Ph.D. studies with honors at several Israeli universities and academic institutions, will each receive an award of about $20,000 a year (for two years). These awards, which will help them conduct postdoctoral studies at leading universities abroad, are being granted within the framework of the new Weizmann Institute Women in Science Program aimed at assisting highly talented young women to work toward a career in the natural or exact sciences. The goal of the program is to begin closing the gap between male and female scientists in the highest ranks of academia. 

 

Recipients of the Sara Lee Schupf  Postdoctoral Awards have been selected by a special Feinberg Graduate School committee, headed by the Weizmann Institute President's Advisor for the Advancement of Women in Science, Prof. Hadassa Degani. The new program, funded by the Clore Foundation and S. Donald Sussman, is in its first year.

 

Three of the recipients have conducted their doctoral studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, three at the Weizmann Institute of Science, two at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, two at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and one at Tel Aviv University.

 

The 2007 award recipients are:

 

o        Lilac Amirav. Title of Ph.D. thesis from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Department of Chemistry: "A Novel Spray Technique for the Production of Semiconductor Nanocrystals." Topic of postdoctoral research to be conducted at the University of California, Berkeley: "Improved Solar Energy Harvesting with a Semiconductor-Metal Nanorod Photocatalyst."

 

o        Yael Artzy-Randrup. Title of Ph.D. thesis from Tel Aviv University, Department of Zoology: "Modeling Spatially Structured Biological Systems." Topic of postdoctoral research to be conducted at the University of Michigan: "The Impact of Environmental Forcing on the Dynamics and Evolution of Infectious Diseases.

 

 

o        Hadas Hawlena. Title of Ph.D. thesis from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Life Sciences: "Interrelated Nature of Host-Parasite Interactions: Role of Ecological Factors." Topic of postdoctoral research to be conducted at Indiana University: "Evolution of Virulence and Bacteriocins in Bacteria."

 

o        Ayelet Lamm (Margalit). Title of Ph.D. thesis from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Genetics: "Functional and Structural Analysis of the Barrier-to-Autointegration Factor (BAF) Gene in C. elegans." Topic of postdoctoral research to be conducted at Stanford University's School of Medicine: "Genomic Imprinting and Epigenetic Modifications in C. elegans."

 

o        Anat Levin. Title of Ph.D. thesis from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, School of Computer Science and Engineering: "Learning and Inference in Low-Level Vision." Topic of postdoctoral research to be conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: "A Bayesian Analysis of Camera Light Field Samplings and Reconstructions."

 

o        Genela Morris. Title of Ph.D. thesis from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Physiology: "Neural Mechanisms of Reinforcement Learning in the Basal Ganglia." Topic of postdoctoral research to be conducted at the Neuroscience Research Center, Charite, Germany: "Evaluating the Roles of the Cortex, Basal-Ganglia and Hippocampus during Sensory Rule Learning."

 

o        Irena Pekker. Title of Ph.D. thesis from the Weizmann Institute of Sciences, Department of Plant Sciences: "Mediators of the KANADI-Morphogenetic Signaling."   Topic of postdoctoral research to be conducted at the University of Massachusetts Medical School: "The Role of the Essential RNA Helicase Armitage in Gene Silencing."

 

o        Adi Salomon. Title of Ph.D. thesis from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Department of Materials and Interfaces: "A Different View of Charge Transport through Alkyl Chain Monolayers." Topic of postdoctoral research to be conducted at ISIS, France: "Surface Plasmons Molecules Coupling."

 

o        Genia Sklute. Title of Ph.D. thesis from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Department of Chemistry: "Dinuclear Zinc Catalysis: Towards the Asymmetric Cyanomethylation Reaction." Topic of postdoctoral research to be conducted at Stanford University: "New Multicomponent Approach for the Creation of Chiral Quaternary Centers in the Carbonyl Allylation Reactions."

 

o        Ervin Tal-Gutelmacher. Title of Ph.D. thesis from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Materials Engineering: "Hydrogen Interactions with Titanium Based Alloys." Topic of postdoctoral research to be conducted at the Institute for Materials Physics, Germany: "The Effect of Hydrogen on the Grain Growth Phenomena in Titanium."

 

o        Neta Wexler Sal-Man. Title of Ph.D. thesis from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Department of Biological Chemistry: "Characterization of the Parameters Involved in the Oligomerization of Transmembrane Domain of Integral-Membrane Proteins." Topic of postdoctoral research to be conducted at the University of British Columbia: "The Assembly of Type III Secretion System of Pathogenic Escherichia coli."

 

The awards will help outstanding women scientists overcome the main bottleneck that impedes their professional training – conducting postdoctoral research abroad. These two or so years are considered a critical step in which up-and-coming scientists must prove their ability to conduct independent research. Yet personal, financial and family considerations may all conspire to keep many women from being able to spend several years abroad, and the result is a relatively small number of women entering the academic track compared to men.

 

The Weizmann Institute's Women in Science Program aims to change that situation. Within its framework, the Institute will now annually grant special awards that will allow outstanding women scientists to conduct postdoctoral research in leading labs around the world. The grants will give women (particularly married women or mothers of young children) incentives – financial, but also social, personal and professional – to spend two years of training abroad. The long-term goal of the program is to invest resources in women who plan to develop their scientific careers in Israel, and to create a feminine leadership within the Israeli research community


Continued (Permanent Link)

O nation of jihad - Al-Qaeda in Libya unveiled

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/o-nation-of-jihad-al-qaeda-in-libya.html

"O nation of jihad, support your sons so that we defeat our enemies and rid our homeland of their slaves,"
 
And you thought Jihad is an inner spiritual struggle, right? Al-Qaeda is going into the entertainment business in a big way. In 2006, al-Qaeda's as-Sahab released 58 videos compared to 16 in 2005, according to a photo caption in the article below.  
 
 
Al-Qaeda deputy unveils Libya wing   
 
 
Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's second-in-command, has announced a Libyan group has joined the organisation.
 
"Today, with grace from God, the Muslim nation witnesses a blessed step," al-Zawahiri said in a recording posted on the internet on Saturday.
 
"Honourable members of the Fighting Islamic Group in Libya announce that they are joining the al-Qaeda group to continue the march of their brothers," al-Zawahri said in the statement produced by as-Sahab, the al-Qaeda's media arm.
 
He urged mujahideen in North Africa to topple the leaders of Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
 
"O nation of jihad, support your sons so that we defeat our enemies and rid our homeland of their slaves," he said, naming the leaders of the four North African Arab nations.
 
'Loyal soldiers'
 
   
 
Al-Zawahiri presented Abu al-Laith, who appeared to be the leader of the new Libyan wing.
 
"We announce we are joining al-Qaeda as loyal soldiers," Abu al-Laith said in a 28-minute recording posted on an Islamic website on Saturday.
 
The Fighting Islamic Group first announced its presence in 1995, vowing to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader.
 
Its members have clashed with government forces for years and several of its leaders have been arrested in Libya and abroad.
 

In 2001, the group was added to a UN list of individuals and institutions "belonging to, or associated with, al-Qaeda".
 
 
'Enemy of Islam'
   
 
Al-Zawahiri described Gaddafi as an enemy of Islam and criticised him for abandoning his "weapons and equipment to ... crusader masters".
 
The statements were in reference to the Libyan leader's decision to end years of international isolation in 2003, when it promised to give up nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing in 1988.
   
 
Al-Zawahiri also urged members of Fatah, the Palestinian movement, backed by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to abandon his secular line and join Islamic-led fighters, in an apparent reference to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.
   
 
"I urge ... Fatah and al-Aqsa [Martyrs] Brigades to confront their leadership which turned their organisation into a branch of the CIA and the Mossad," al-Zawahiri said.


Continued (Permanent Link)

IAF raid kills three (make that four) in Gaza

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/iaf-raid-kills-three-make-that-four-in.html

An additional incident killed another Palestinian. Are piece-meal attacks doing anything other than making everyone sore at Israel?
 
Last update - 09:06 04/11/2007    
 
 
By Avi Issacharoff and Mijal Grinberg, Haaretz Correspondents and The Associated Perss
 
 
The Israel Air Force opened fire on the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday, killing three Palestinian civilians, hospital officials in the coastal strip said.
 
The attacks came shortly after militants in the Gaza Strip launched three Qassam rockets at the western Negev. There were no casualties or damages reported in the rocket strike.
 
The Israel Defense Forces said it had opened fire on the rocket-launching squad that had fired the Qassams at Israel. The army had no information on casualties.  

Palestinian witnesses said an IAF missile struck a trailer near the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya. Hospital officials identified the three dead men asZaher al Aaer, 40, his 18-year-old son, Youssef, and a neighbor,Mohammed Abu Herbet, 23.
 
On Saturday, an IAF air strike killed a Hamas operative near Rafah, on the Gaza-Egypt border. The dead man was identified as Mohammed Siyam, 34. Two other Hamas operatives who were in the car with him when the missile hit were wounded.
 
According to the IDF, the strike was in response to a barrage of some 15 mortar shells on southern Israel on Friday. Three of the shells hit Moshav Netiv Ha'asara, but caused no casualties.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Part time cops in Nablus

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/part-time-cops-in-nablus.html

IDF continued to operate overnight - Does your police force lost its flavor on the bedpost overnight?
 
Last update - 09:42 04/11/2007    
 
 
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent
 
The 300 Palestinian policemen whom Israel allowed into Nablus on Friday are only permitted to operate between 6 A.M. and midnight, the policemen said Saturday. During the remaining hours, Israel's agreement with the Palestinian Authority leaves the Israel Defense Forces in charge, and any police activity during those hours requires the IDF's consent.
 
This deal was reached Thursday night in a meeting between senior IDF officers and Palestinian security officials.

The police deployment, which is supposed to help the PA restore law and order in the city, was agreed on about six weeks ago, but was delayed by the shortage of trained policemen. That is also why only 300 policemen were deployed on Friday, though Israel had agreed to 500.
 
The policemen are charged only with fighting ordinary crime. The IDF retains responsibility for counterterrorism.
 
Also on Friday, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas met with three senior Hamas officials in the West Bank: former education minister Nasser Shaer, Hussein Abu Kwik and Freij Ghoman. The meeting, officially a joint prayer session, was arranged after the three condemned a statement by a senior Hamas official in Gaza, Nizar Ghayan, who said that Hamas would be praying in PA headquarters in Ramallah next fall, after overthrowing Abbas.
 
This is the first time Abbas has met with senior Hamas officials since Hamas ousted his forces from Gaza this summer.
 
A Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Ayman Teh, told Haaretz that during Friday's meeting, Abbas promised that his forces would stop pursuing Hamas members in the West Bank and would release some arrested Hamas members from prison.
 
On Saturday, an IDF air strike killed a Hamas operative near Rafah, on the Gaza-Egypt border. The dead man was identified as Mohammed Siyam, 34. Two other Hamas operatives who were in the car with him when the missile hit were wounded.
 
According to the IDF, the strike was in response to a barrage of some 15 mortar shells on southern Israel on Friday. Three of the shells hit Moshav Netiv Ha'asara, but caused no casualties.
 
Also on Saturday, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayad demanded that Israel release 2,000 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture in advance of the Annapolis summit. Speaking to the Associated Press, Fayad said that such a gesture was necessary to make Palestinians believe in the peace process.
 
Israeli officials said that they are considering Fayad's proposal.
 
Yuval Azoulay contributed to this report.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Livni: Stick to the plan

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/livni-stick-to-plan.html

Tzipi Livni has at last articulated the Israeli rationale for not issueing a comprehensive final status statement:
 
Livni emphasized Israel would not relinquish its demand that the road map plan be implemented, despite the Palestinian suggestion to advance talks independently from it.
 
It is an idea: Stick to the plan. It might not be a workable idea though.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
 
 
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent
 
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Jerusalem on Sunday morning for talks aimed at overcoming the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians ahead of a U.S.-sponsored regional summit.
 
At the start of their meeting, Livni said that negotiations with Palestinians ahead of the peace summit have stalled. The summit is scheduled to take place later this year in Annapolis, Maryland.
 
"There is no tension, but there are problems," Livni said. "There are differences of opinion are over the road map. We must reach a basic understanding that the creation of a Palestinian state should occur only after Israel's security is established."  

Livni emphasized Israel would not relinquish its demand that the road map plan be implemented, despite the Palestinian suggestion to advance talks independently from it.
 
"The situation is complicated," Livni said. "One must understand that we have a shared interest with the moderates in the [Palestinian] Authority, and they need to understand that first there must be security, and only then a Palestinian state. The problem is not over making a joint declaration, but what its content would be."
 
Rice held a rare meeting with Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem on Saturday as the West stepped up pressure on Damascus not to interfere in Lebanon's presidential election process.
 
Rice told Livni on Sunday that the purpose of those talks was to ensure that the election be democratic and free of intimidation. The secretary of state reiterated that the U.S. had not changed its policy toward Syria.
 
The United States and France, Lebanon's former colonial power, have led international criticism of what they call Syria's constant meddling in its neighbor's affairs. Syria denies the accusations.
 
Officials made no comment on Rice's talks with Moallem, held on the sidelines of an international conference on Iraq in Istanbul.


Continued (Permanent Link)

VIDEO: Hamas firing mortars from schoolyard

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/video-hamas-firing-mortars-from.html

Why do Palestinians suffer so many civilian casualties? So many dead children!
 
The 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.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Holocaust denial in Iran - explaining a mystery

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/holocaust-denial-in-iran-explaining.html

A fascinating read about Iran. Among other things, this article sheds light on an earlier mystery: How it happened that the government of Iran allowed a drama portrayal of an Iranian official who saved Jews from the Nazis in World War II. (see Iran and the Holocaust: Habib's list). In that story, AP gushed:

 

TEHRAN, Iran - It is Iran's version of "Schindler's List," a miniseries that tells the tale of an Iranian diplomat in Paris who helps Jews escape the Holocaust — and viewers across the country are riveted.

That's surprising enough in a country where hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has questioned whether the Holocaust even took place. What's more surprising is that government media produced the series, and is airing it on state-run television.

The Holocaust is rarely mentioned in state media in Iran, school textbooks don't discuss it and Iranians have little information about it.

Yet the series titled "Zero Degree Turn" is clearly sympathetic to the Jews' plight during World War II. It shows men, women and children with yellow stars on their clothes being taken forcibly out of their homes and loaded into trucks by Nazi soldiers.

 

Not exactly. This is probably closer to the truth:

In the end, however, the program offers little more than an aesthetically pleasing venue for the regime's usual diatribes. Its linchpin is a conspiracy theory: Two Israeli agents assassinate the chief rabbi of Tehran to frighten the Iranian Jewish community into leaving Iran for Israel. The noble chief of the Iranian embassy in France, Abdol Hossein Sardari, who facilitated the escape of hundreds of Iranian and French Jews by providing them with Iranian passports, is portrayed as a mere opportunist motivated by bribes.

Ami Isseroff

Holocaust Denial and Tehran

By ROYA HAKAKIAN November 3, 2007

Dictatorships bear paradoxes. I came across a set of them 10 years ago, when I hosted a dinner for two female Iranian medical students who'd come to Yale Medical School on a rare academic exchange program. These impressive women had climbed to the top 10th percentile in a man's profession, in a man's country. But I was stunned to learn that -- despite 16 years of education at some of Iran's premiere schools -- neither had ever heard of the word "Holocaust," or thought of Hitler as anything but the German equivalent of Napoleon.

Tehran's Holocaust denial did not begin with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It began in 1979 with the Islamic Revolution and the subsequent miseducation of the entire post-revolutionary generation. The Holocaust did not exist in the textbooks of my two young guests, and there was hardly any literature about it in Persian.

Now, millions of Iranian youths are hearing about the Holocaust for the first time through the airing of a government-sponsored soap opera called "Zero Degree Turn." In it, the Islamic Republic's handpicked director, Hassan Fatthi, breaks the regime's taboos. Beautiful women appear without the Islamic dress code. Men and women also come together, hold hands, and even fall into a fleeting embrace.

In the end, however, the program offers little more than an aesthetically pleasing venue for the regime's usual diatribes. Its linchpin is a conspiracy theory: Two Israeli agents assassinate the chief rabbi of Tehran to frighten the Iranian Jewish community into leaving Iran for Israel. The noble chief of the Iranian embassy in France, Abdol Hossein Sardari, who facilitated the escape of hundreds of Iranian and French Jews by providing them with Iranian passports, is portrayed as a mere opportunist motivated by bribes.

The good news is that Iran is now home to a highly rebellious young generation that is deeply disenchanted with the status quo and suspicious of government propaganda in all its forms, including misinformation about Jews and Israel. Iranians actually possess a healthy curiosity toward Israel. In the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah, for example, young Iranians were reportedly not interested in supporting Hezbollah, and were vehemently against their government's investment in it.

Unfortunately, Mr. Ahmadinejad steals the spotlight. With his threats toward Israel and his dreams of a nuclear Iran he has engendered a fear, however legitimate, that too often blinds Western and Israeli leaders of the broader, more complex realities of the Iranian people. American, European and Israeli media are full of dire warnings about the threat of a nuclear Iran. There is little mention of the plight of the Iranians themselves, or the ripe opportunity presented by a nation disenchanted with 30 years of theocratic rule: A people that has historically been friendly to Jews, can, with some effort, be so once again.

Mr. Ahmadinejad, along with his coterie of fundamentalist radicals, is already a threat to Israel and the region. But they do not represent everyday Iranians. And as much as the regime in Tehran would like to deny it, a more accepting, rational view of Israel was once held by Iranian leaders.

In the early 1960s, several leading Iranian intellectuals traveled to Israel on the invitation of the Israeli foreign ministry and for the most part, the travelogues of their trips amounted to what may be the longest love letter to Israel ever to be penned in Persian. That sentiment, of course, would change dramatically. But for several years at least, it seemed that it would determine the attitude of an entire generation toward Israel.

Iran's Holocaust education could begin in Iran itself. Through the Port of Pahlavi in 1942, tens of thousands of Polish refugees, Jewish and non-Jewish, escaped the Nazis found a safe haven in Iran. Eventually, the majority of them relocated to other parts of the world. Yet, hundreds fell in love with "Persia" and stayed. Iranians could learn of their shared history with the Jewish people by visiting the hundreds of Polish graves in Tehran's Doulab cemetery alone.

Despite the regime's anti-Semitic rhetoric, the people have held fast to the values of their ancient civilization. They pride themselves on the idea that they have accepted members of other religions and ethnicities as equals, and as Iranians.

Ms. Hakakian is the author of "Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran" (Three Rivers Press, 2005), a memoir of growing up Jewish in Iran.




Continued (Permanent Link)


FREE EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION
Subscribe to
ZNN
email newsletter for this site and others

Powered by groups.yahoo.com


Feedblitz subcription
To this Blog only

You can receive our articles by e-mail. For a free subscription, please enter your e-mail address:


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Web Logs & Sites

This Site

Zionism & Israel
Zionation Web Log
IMO Web Log (Dutch)

ZI Group
Zionism-Israel Pages
Israël-Palestina.Info (Dutch & English)
Israël in de Media
MidEastWeb Middle East News and Views
MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log

Brave Zionism
Israel: Like this, as if
Israel & Palestijnen Nieuws Blog

Friends and Partners
EinNews Israel
Israel Facts
Israel Proud Adam Holland
Middle East Analysis
Irene Lancaster's Diary
Middle East Analysis
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Israpundit
Israel Facts (NL)
Cynthia's Israel Adventure
Jeff Weintraub Commentaries and controversies
Meretz USA Weblog
Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers
Simply Jews
Fresno Zionism
Anti-Racist Blog
Sharona's Week
Z-Word Blog
Z-Word
Jewish State
Take A Pen - Israel Advocacy
Zionism on the Web
UN-Biased
ZOTW's Zionism and Israel News
Zionism On The Web News
ZOTW's Blogs
Christian Attitudes
Dr Ginosar Recalls
Zionism
Questions: Zionism anti-Zionism Israel & Palestine
Southern Wolf
Peace With Realism
Sanda's Place
Liberal for Israel
Realistic Dove
Blue Truth
Point of no Return
Christians Standing With Israel
Christians Standing With Israel - Blog
Liberticracia
CNPublications
SEO

Reference
Zionism
Anti-Semitism
Anti-Zionism
Encylopedic Dictionary of Zionism and Israel
Middle East Encyclopedia
Bible
Zionism and its Impact
Zionism & the creation of Israel
Zionism - Issues & answers
Maps of Israel
Christian Zionism Resources
Christian Zionism
Albert Einstein
Gaza & the Qassam Victims of Sderot
Islamism
Jihad
Zionist Quotes
Six Day War
Jew Hatred
Israel
Jew
Learn Hebrew
Arab-Israeli Conflict
International Zionism
Russian

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Israel Boycott
Boycott Israel?
Amnesty International Report on Gaza War
Boycott Israel?
Dutch Newspaper Reporting: A Study of NRC Handelsblad
Hamas (Dutch)
Dries van Agt (Dutch)
Experimental
Isfake lobby
Mysterology

At Zionism On the Web
Articles on Zionism
Anti-Zionism Information Center
Academic boycott of Israel Resource Center
The anti-Israel Hackers
Antisemitism Information Center
Zionism Israel and Apartheid
Middle East, Peace and War
The Palestine state
ZOTW Expert Search
ZOTW Forum

Judaica & Israel Gifts
Jewish Gifts: Judaica:
Ahava Products
Mezuzah

Elsewhere On the Web
Stop the Israel Boycott

Categories
Anti-Semitism
Anti-Zionism
Arabs
Archeology
BookReviews
boycotts
Business
ChristianZionism
Druze
Egypt
France
Gaza
Golan
Holocaust
HumanRights
Humor
Identity
IDF
Incitement
Introduction
Iran
Iraq
Islam
Israel
Jerusalem
Jews
Judaism
Lebanon
Media
Nazis
NuclearWeapons
Palestinians
Peace
Politics
Religion
Security
Settlements
Sports
Syria
Terror
UnitedNations
USPolicy
Women
Zionism

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]


RSS V 1.0

International Affairs Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory