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Saturday, November 17, 2007

The hate industry in Egypt

The hate industry:
a review of anti-Semitic literature published in Egypt in recent years and sold at the Cairo International Book Fair. Such literature, marketed from Egypt across the Arab and Muslim world, is designed to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish people, virtually justifying the use of violence against them. 
1. The present Information Bulletin reviews seven anti-Semitic books purchased at the Cairo International Book Fair, held between January 24 and February 4, 2007 . Held annually in Egypt , the book fair attracts hundreds of publishing houses from across the globe, many of them being from the Arab and Muslim world.
2. Egypt is the Arab world's biggest center of publishing anti-Semitic literature. Such literature is marketed across the Arab and Muslim world, distributed through the Internet, and sold every year at the Cairo International Book Fair. Such literature is also marketed to such Arab fairs as the 17th Arab Book Fair, held in Qatar in December 2005. (1) The books covered here, including new versions of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, are a representative sample of the extensive "industry" of anti-Semitic literature produced by Egyptian book publishers. The anti-Semitic literature is also targeted against the State of Israel and the Zionist movement, with hatred against the US , the West, and Christianity being a fairly common theme as well.
3. The books reviewed recycle lies, fabrications, and anti-Semitic myths rooted in classical European and Islamic anti-Semitism. Characteristically, the Jews are said to possess all manner of negative qualities and are presented as the source of evil and cause of corruption everywhere in the world. The Jews are accused of striving to take over the world and blamed for all the wars and revolutions ever to befall mankind. Their holy books—the Torah (claimed to be falsified by the Jews) and the Talmud—are presented as a list of instructions for the Jews to murder gentiles and take over the world. Defamations and lies, such as the use of gentile blood for baking the Passover matzos or the claim that Jews are the descendants of monkeys and pigs, are recycled over and over again in those anti-Semitic books.
4. As is the custom in Egypt, the authors of the anti-Semitic books, full of lies and mindless drivel, hold academic and religious degrees and serve in social or official capacities (such as Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Hijazi al-Saqa, who holds a PhD in Comparative Research from Al-Azhar University, or Ibrahim Abu Dah, general manager and editor-in-chief of the oppositionist weekly Al-Siyasi al-Misri). Some anti-Semitic book publishers are big, such as Madbuli Publishing, one of Egypt 's largest. All that combines to give an air of credibility and scientific objectivity to the lies and defamations targeted against the Jewish people.
5. That anti-Semitic literature, whose publication and distribution go against the spirit of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, has a negative impact on Israeli-Egyptian relations, spreading hatred against the Jews across the Arab and Muslim world as well as Arab and Muslim communities in Western countries. (2) Thus, the anti-Semitic myths, lies, and drivel take hold in the consciousness of those exposed to such literature, demonize and delegitimize the Jews, and lay the foundations for acts of violence against them.
6. Despite its ability to impose strict censorship, the Egyptian government nevertheless allows the publication of anti-Semitic books (including The Protocols of the Elders of Zion ) and statements widely distributed through the written and electronic press. It allows that phenomenon to exist as part of a policy designed, as we understand it, to hinder the process of normalization with Israel, as an expression of its displeasure with Israel in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as a factor contributing towards Israel's isolation in the Middle East, and as a pressure release valve, mostly on the part of the radical Islamic opposition.
7. Following are the books reviewed in the present document: (3)
a. "The Nature of the Jews [as reflected] in the Torah and the Talmud, by Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Hijazi al-Saqa ( Cairo , Maktabat Zahran Publishing, 2003).
b. " Israel 's Follies and the Lies of Zionism—Religion and State", by Ibrahim Abu Dah ( Cairo , Maktabat Zahran, 2003).
c. "The Complete Version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion ", by Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Hijazi al-Saqa ( Cairo , Maktabat Zahran Publishing, 2003).
d. "The Jews and the New Crusaders, the Religious and Political Controversy", by Muhammad Younes Hashem ( Cairo , Dar al-Ibda' lil-Sahafa wal-Nashr wal-Tawzi', 2005).
e. "The Divine Inspiration and its Reversal, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion ", by Dr. Baha al-Amir ( Cairo , Madbuli Publishing, 2006).
f. "The Children of Israel and the Lie of Semitism", by Dr. 'Ayid Taha Nassef ( Cairo , Mu'assassat Taibe lil-Nashr wal-I'lam, 2005).
g. "Secrets of the Bastions of the False Messiah in the Hidden Island Triangle, the Wandering Jew and the Bermuda [Triangle] Region", by Muhammad Issa Daoud ( Cairo , Madbuli al-Saghir Publishing, 2005).

Book 1: "The Nature of the Jews [as reflected] in the Torah and the Talmud"by Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Hijazi al-Saqa

Front cover illustration:  an illustration of Earth with a ship called "World Zionism". The Jews are portrayed as snakes that take over and ruin the world. The text on the snake lair in Russia says "The Communist Revolution"; another lair in France has the text "The French Revolution". The text on a drowning ship near England reads "The English Revolution". The message is that the Jews are responsible for spreading revolutionist ideas and stood behind all the revolutions that took place in Western countries. At the bottom of the drawing is a book whose title is "The Torah, the Talmud, and The Protocols", next to which is a knife cutting the world and causing it to bleed. The message is that the Jews use the Torah, the Talmud, and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to spill blood and take over the world.

Appendix A  
Selected list of Information Bulletins published by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center on anti-Semitic literature published in Egypt
1. "The Grand Mufti of Egypt in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – a "fictitious book" that "has no truth to it"; in his article he categorically denies having written the foreword to the 2003 edition of The Protocols , which was attributed to him" (May 15, 2007).
2. "Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism: the Iranian media gave wide coverage to the Holocaust denial conference held in Cairo by marginal opposition parties. The conference was rife with anti-Semitic propaganda, and the director waved The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and repeated the lies it contained" ( January 7, 2007 ).
3. "The Arab hate industry: Egypt continues as a center for the publication of crude anti-Semitic literature encouraging hatred for Israel, the Jewish people and the West, and in effect justifying the use of violence against them" (October 29, 2006).
4. "Monitoring anti-Semitic publications issued in the Arab countries: two anti-Semitic books published in Egypt in 2005 preach hatred of the Jewish people, the state of Israel and the Zionist movement (with no distinctions made between the three) and provide religious Islamic sanction for violence against them" (January 8, 2006).
5. "Exporting Arabic anti-Semitic publications issued in the Middle East to Britain : anti-Semitic books ( The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Mein Kampf ) issued in Egypt and Lebanon are sold in bookstores in London " ( October 10, 2005 ).
6. " The Protocols of the Elders of Zion still a hit on the Egyptian book market: Two new versions of The Protocols, published in Egypt in 2003, are offered for sale in Cairo's bookstores and, in our assessment, are marketed throughout the Arab and Muslim world" (January 25, 2005).
7. "Anti-Semitism in the Contemporary Middle East" (April 2004; the Egyptian section).
8. "A new Arabic edition of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was issued in Egypt in July 2002, by the same company that publishes the weekly establishment newspaper, Akhbar al-Youm, one of the five large publishing houses still under Egyptian government control" (January 2004).
9. "The Arab Information Center: An independent publishing house operating in Egypt, on behalf of Palestinian radical Islamists and in which members of the Egyptian political opposition are also involved, openly conducts an extensive, ongoing, anti-Israeli, pro-Palestinian propaganda campaign. The Center's crudely anti-Semitic publications, preaching hatred and inciting terrorist acts against Israel , the Jews and the Zionist movement (as well as the United States and Britain ). They are written by various (sometimes distinguished) Arab scholars and distributed (usually to subscribers) throughout the Arab and Muslim world, to Muslim communities in the West, to the Palestine Authority (PA)-administered territories and even to Israeli Arabs" (January 2004).

1 For a review of anti-Semitic books sold at the International Book Fair in Qatar, where the most prominent anti-Semitic publishing houses were from Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon, see Information Bulletin: "The Arab hate industry: Egypt continues as a center for the publication of crude anti-Semitic literature encouraging hatred for Israel, the Jewish people and the West, and in effect justifying the use of violence against them" (October 29, 2006).

2 For an example of exporting a Protocols edition from Egypt to London, see Information Bulletin dated October 10, 2005: "Exporting Arabic anti-Semitic publications issued in the Middle East to Britain: anti-Semitic books ( The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Mein Kampf ) issued in Egypt and Lebanon are sold in bookstores in London".

3 For additional anti-Semitic books published in Egypt and reviewed in earlier bulletins of the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center , see Appendix.

HTML  version with illustrations: The Hate Industry


Continued (Permanent Link)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Saudi Arabian rape victim gets more lashes

Some of you may remember this story:

Sex, Gender and the Middle East: Happy Women's Day - Saudi Woman gets 90 lashes for being raped

Well we knew it wouldn't end that way, right? Nobody gets 90 lashes for being raped.
There is a sequel. The woman appealed, and will get 200 lashes instead. A gratifying sequel, isn't it?
Here's the story, from the BBC, below.
Ami Isseroff
Saudi gang rape sentence 'unjust'
A lawyer for a gang-rape victim in Saudi Arabia who was sentenced to 200 lashes and six-months in jail says the punishment contravenes Islamic law.

The woman was initially pnished for violating laws on segregation of the sexes - she was in an unrelated man's car at the time of the attack.
When she appealed, judges doubled her sentence, saying she had been trying to use the media to influence them.
Her lawyer has been suspended from the case and faces a disciplinary session.
Abdel Rahman al-Lahem told the BBC Arabic Service that the sentence was in violation of Islamic law:
"My client is the victim of this abhorrent crime. I believe her sentence contravenes the Islamic Sharia law and violates the pertinent international conventions," he said.
"The judicial bodies should have dealt with this girl as the victim rather than the culprit."
The lawyer also said that his client his will appeal against the decision to increase her punishment.
Segregation laws
According to the Arab News newspaper, the 19-year-old woman, who is from Saudi Arabia's Shia minority, was gang-raped 14 times in an attack in Qatif in the eastern province a year-and-a-half ago.
Seven men from the majority Sunni community were found guilty of the rape and sentenced to prison terms ranging from just under a year to five years.

The rapists' sentences were also doubled by the court. Correspondents say the sentences were still low considering the rapists could have faced the death penalty.
The rape victim was punished for violating Saudi Arabia's laws on segregation that forbid unrelated men and women from associating with each other. She was initially sentenced to 90 lashes for being in the car of a strange man.
On appeal, the Arab News reported that the punishment was not reduced but increased to 200 lashes and a six-month prison sentence.
'Personal views'
Mr Lahem accused the court of letting personal views influence its decision:
"It seems that the sentence was influenced by the fact that the woman escalated the issue with her lawyer and also with the supreme judicial authorities," he said.
"This is astonishing because justice is supposed to be independent from all pressures as well as personal considerations, be it a feeling towards the lawyer or defendant herself," he added.
The Arab News quoted an official as saying the judges had decided to punish the girl for trying to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media.
Mr Lahem said that the judges' decision to confiscate his license to work and stop him from representing his client is illegal.
From BBC

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Warning about Annapolis?

So what is he saying? Never make peace? Arabs (he means Muslims actually) have peace with Spain. Of course, if it were practical, Muslims might conquer Spain, US might conquer Mexico and Russia might conquer Poland and Germany. But it is not practical. Political relations are built on reality.
Ami Isseroff
QUO VADIS ANNAPOLIS?! Yoram Ettinger, Nov. 13, Ynet

Arabs view peace as a tactical means for achieving their strategic objective - defeating the enemy. Peace constitutes a necessary, but temporary, break in the ongoing war against the enemy and/or infidel.

US and Israeli policy makers are premising the Annapolis Conference on foundations that have led to a series of bloody collapses in Oslo, Cairo, Hebron, Wye, Sharm el-Sheikh, Camp David 2, and the "Disengagement." They assume that Abu Mazen has adopted a mentality of peace, thus granting yet another victory to the simplistic world of delusions over Mideast's complex reality.

The late Professor Majid Khadduri, from Johns Hopkins University', considered the world's leading authority on Arab definitions of peace and war, noted that Arabs view peace as a tactical means for achieving their strategic objective - defeating the enemy. Peace constitutes a necessary, but temporary, break in the ongoing war against the enemy and/or infidel.

Khadduri's monumental book, "War and Peace in the Law of Islam," clarifies the meaning of the intriguing 1,400-year sequence - since the 7th century - of wars, terrorism, and the violent violation of agreements, alliances, and treaties among Arabs, among Muslims, and between Arabs and non-Arabs.

According to Prof. Khadduri, "If a catastrophe had befallen the Muslims, (they) might come to terms with the enemy…provided that the Muslims should resume the Jihad after the expiration of the treaty…Defeated Muslims always maintained that their battle with the enemy would be resumed, however long they had to wait for the second round…(pp. 134-136)… If the [leader] entered into treaty arrangements which provided terms he was incapable of fulfilling, the treaty was regarded as void… By their very nature, treaties must be of temporary duration, for the normal relations between Muslim and non-Muslim territories are not peaceful, but warlike…(pp. 220-221)…The Prophet Muhammad has set the classic example by concluding a [628 A.D.] treaty with the Makkans, known as the Hudayabiya Treaty (whereby) a peace treaty with the enemy is a valid instrument if it serves Muslim interests…the Prophet and his successors, however, always reserved their right to repudiate any treaty or arrangement which they considered as harmful to Islam… Muslim authorities might come to terms with (the enemy), provided it was only for a temporary period…a temporary peace with the enemy is not inconsistent with Islam's interests…(pp.203-212)."


The determination of the architects of Annapolis to defy Prof. Khadduri's findings, resembles mathematicians and physicists, who would act in contrast with Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity and Isaac Newton's Theory of Gravitation.

On the other hand, Abu Mazen's school textbooks, religious clerics and official TV, radio and newspapers resonate with Khadduri's theories day and night. They preach for the "liberation" of Jerusalem, the Galilee, Haifa, Jaffa, Ashdod, and the Negev, the destruction of the Jewish State, glorification of homicide bombers and Jihad. Abu Mazin's hate-education system lends credence to a major conclusion from Professor Khadduris book: The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not over the size - but about the existence - of the Jewish State, which is located in a region defined by Muslims as "The Abode of Islam."

Prof. Khadduri adds that "Thus, the Jihad, reflecting the normal war relations existing between Muslims and non-Muslims… was a product of a warlike people… Islam could not abolish the warlike character of the Arabs who were constantly at war with each other; it indeed reaffirmed the war basis of inter-group relationship by institutionalizing war…transforming [inter-Muslim] war into a holy war designed to be ceaselessly declared against those who failed to become Muslims… The short intervals which are not war…are periods of peace (pp. 53-54)." "In practice, however, the Jihad underwent certain changes in its meaning to suit the changing circumstances of life… This change, as a matter of fact, did not imply abandonment of the Jihad duty; it only meant the entry of the obligation into a period of suspension - it assumed a dormant status, from which the [leader] may revive it at any time he deems necessary… There is no [permanent] compromise with non-believers (pp. 64-65)."

The Annapolis Conference is premised on the notions of "Land-For-Peace" and the "Two State Solution," which constitute a timeout that would enable the Arab side to improve its positions in this constant war --just a phase in realizing Jihad's objectives.

The continued disregard to Prof. Khadduri's teachings - which are consistent with the Palestinian track record of the last 14 years since Oslo - adrenalizes the veins of Israel's enemies, radicalizes Arab expectations and demands, pours oil instead of water on the terror fire, exacerbates Middle East turbulence, brings Israel closer to an all-out war under worse conditions, causes a setback to US-Israel relations, minimizes the chance of peace, thus undermining vital US national security interests.

This is not the way to advance peace!

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Living with Iranian nukes?

Olmert aides reportedly are quietly compiling a memorandum on how to deal with an atomic Iran, according to a Reuters report Thursday that cited political and defense sources. A senior official in the Prime Minister's Office denied the report, according to Israel Radio.
There are many useful things to be done. Like, write your will for example.
Ami Isseroff
With Iran set to get nukes, Israel plans for "day after" 
By Roy Eitan  Published: 11/15/2007 

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Israeli government contractors for years have been discreetly digging a bunker network under Jerusalem to allow the nation's leaders to survive a future nuclear strike.

It's a worst-case scenario, but with Israeli intelligence experts saying Iran could acquire a nuclear arsenal as soon as 2009, the unthinkable has edged closer to reality for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's administration.
Olmert aides reportedly are quietly compiling a memorandum on how to deal with an atomic Iran, according to a Reuters report Thursday that cited political and defense sources. A senior official in the Prime Minister's Office denied the report, according to Israel Radio.
The news comes as the International Atomic Energy Commission, a U.N. nuclear watchdog, has issued findings censuring Iran for its lack of cooperation. Iran maintains its nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes, but Israel and most Western governments believe otherwise.
Now even the IAEA, which Olmert and others have blasted for downplaying the Iranian threat, says it cannot be certain the Iranians do not have a secret nuclear arms program.
The Olmert government's secret "day after" study focuses on the need to preserve Israel's military edge in the face of an Iranian bomb and shoring up Israel's public morale and economy in the face of the Iranian menace, according to the Reuters report.
An Israeli official with knowledge of strategic planning told JTA that for now, the government's priority regarding Iran's nuclear program remains preventive rather than reactive.
"First, we must make clear that this is a threat not just to Israel but to the wider world," said Ami Ayalon, a minister in Olmert's security Cabinet. "Second, we must exhaustively consider all preventive options. And third, we must anticipate the possibility of those options not working."
When he was prime minister, Menachem Begin famously pledged never to allow an enemy of the Jewish state to develop the means to destroy it. Olmert has reiterated that promise, but a grim realism may be taking hold behind Israel's tough rhetoric on Iran.
The idea of Israel idly watching Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a Holocaust denier who wants Israel "wiped off the map,"as he builds his nuclear weapons may seem incongruous with the Zionist spirit.
Under Begin, Israel bombed Iraq's main nuclear reactor in 1981, driving underground Saddam Hussein's premier program for building weapons of mass destruction.
With Israel's mysterious Sept. 6 airstrike on Syria this year, many believe that Olmert also deprived another regional foe of a reactor.
But Iran is no Saddam-era Iraq, nor does Tehran invite comparisons to the febrile Syria of Bashar Assad. Iran's nuclear facilities are numerous, well defended and approximately 700 miles from the Mediterranean.
Simply, they may be too tough to destroy even for Israel's venerable air force.
That leaves only the possibility of U.S. President Bush ordering preemptive action against Iran before he leaves office in January 2009.
"We got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel," Bush said last month. "If you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."
Tactically, it would be possible for the U.S. military to carry out a strike against Iran despite its existing commitments in the region -- U.S. ground forces, not strategic Air Force bombers, are the ones overextended in Iraq.
Nevertheless, given Bush's major setbacks in Iraq, and with little support at home or abroad for another conflict in the oil-producing Persian Gulf region, the American leader would have to think twice about a preemptive attack on Iran.
Both Bush and Olmert have endorsed international efforts to curb Iran's nuclear program through diplomatic pressure. There have been two rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions, and the major powers are due to meet next week to discuss a third round.
But Iran so far has shrugged off the measures, insisting it will press ahead with a project its officials define as peaceful but which Tehran is happy to hint could one day threaten the "Zionist entity."
"We are not after military technology," Iran's ISNA news agency quoted former chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani as saying.
Larijani said Western nations should "make friends with a country that has made progress and has necessary capabilities rather than fight with it because those capabilities could be used against enemies."
Some experts say Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program may be aimed not so much at destroying Israel but at significantly broadening Iran's influence and power in the region. The anxiety alone over Iran's suspected program already has earned Tehran expanded influence and, in some cases, admiration.
Israel's secret plan considers both the possibilities of living under the threat of a nuclear strike and repelling an actual attack.
For a country as tiny as Israel, there is no question that even a single nuclear strike could not be absorbed. Last year's Lebanon war, during which Israel suffered approximately 4,000 Hezbollah rocket strikes, showed the home front's limitations even under conventional attack.
So Israel must look to its defensive and offensive capabilities for fending off an Iranian missile salvo.
Israel already has the Arrow II, a missile-killer system designed to shoot down incoming Iranian Shihabs or Syrian Scuds. But military analysts say the Arrow may not be up to the task of knocking down a deluge of missiles.
Faced with such arguments, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced last month that in partnership with the Pentagon, a more advanced version of the system, Arrow III, was being developed.
The initiative, Barak said, "can prevent war because a country that has this system cannot be threatened by missiles."
Then there is the "second strike" defense — a Cold War doctrine under which a country deters a nuclear strike by preserving the capability to destroy its enemy even after sustaining a catastrophic atomic attack.
Israel's second-strike platform is widely believed to be its fleet of German-supplied Dolphin submarines. If the Dolphins carry nuclear missiles, as is assumed, in theory they could fire them at Iran no matter what happens on land. Iran knows this.
Israel has three Dolphins in operation, with another two on order from Germany.
Signaling the importance of its strategic sea assets, Israel in August appointed a former navy chief, retired Adm. Shaul Horev, to head its Atomic Energy Commission.

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Anti-Semitism versus Anti-ZIonism

A great article about ani-Semitism versus anti-Zionism, with a not-so-good-title. Before you dismiss it, read the end (sorry to have to tell you how it turns out):
If you judge a Jewish state by standards that you apply to no one else; if your neck veins bulge when you denounce Zionists but you've done no more than cluck "well, yes, very bad about Darfur";

if there is nothing Hamas can do that you won't blame 'in the final analysis' on Israelis;

if your sneer at the Zionists doesn't sound a whole lot different from American neoconservative sneers at leftists;

then you should not be surprised if you are criticized, fiercely so, by people who are serious about a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians and who won't let you get away with a self-exonerating formula—"I am anti-Zionist but not anti-Semitic"—to prevent scrutiny. If you are anti-Zionist and not anti-Semitic, then don't use the categories, allusions, and smug hiss that are all too familiar to any student of prejudice.

It is time for the left that learns, that grows, that reflects, that has historical not rhetorical perspective, and that wants a future based on its own best values to say loudly to the left that never learns: You hijacked "left" in the last century, but you won't get away with it again whatever guise you don.
The challenge for Zionists is to win back that "other left," not to repel it with more warmongering.
Ami Isseroff

Anti-Semitism and the Left that Doesn't Learn


A DETERMINED offensive is underway. Its target is in the Middle East, and it is an old target: the legitimacy of Israel. Hezbollah and Hamas are not the protagonists, the contested terrains are not the Galilee and southern Lebanon or southern Israel and Gaza. The means are not military. The offensive comes from within parts of the liberal and left intelligentsia in the United States and Europe. It has nothing to do with this or that negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians, and it has nothing to do with any particular Israeli policy. After all, this or that Israeli policy may be chastised, rightly or wrongly, without denying the legitimacy of the Jewish state, just as you can criticize an Israeli policy—again, rightly or wrongly—without being an anti-Semite. You can oppose all Israeli settlements in the occupied territories (as I do) and you can also recognize that Benjamin Netanyahu, not just Yasir Arafat, was responsible for undermining the Oslo peace process without being an anti-Semite or anti-Zionist. You don't have to be an anti-Semite or anti-Zionist to think that some American Jewish organizations pander to American or Israeli right-wingers.

The assault today is another matter. It is shaped largely by political attitudes and arguments that recall the worst of the twentieth-century left. It is time to get beyond them. But let me be clear: I am "left." I still have no problem when someone describes me with the "s" word—socialist—although I don't much care if you call me a social democrat, left-liberal, or some other proximate term. My "leftism" comes from a commitment to—and an ethos of—democratic humanism and social egalitarianism.

What I care about is the reinvention of the best values of the historical left—legacies of British Labour, of the Swedish Social Democrats, of Jean Jaurès and Léon Blum in France, of Eduard Bernstein and Willy Brandt in Germany, of what has always been the relatively small (alas!) tribe in the U.S. associated with names like Eugene V. Debs, Norman Thomas, Michael Harrington, and Irving Howe. It's not so much a matter of political programs, let alone labels, as it is of political sensibility. I care about finding a new basis for that old amalgam of liberty, equality, and solidarity, a basis that makes sense for our "globalizing age." But I also want a left that draws real, not gestural, conclusions from the catastrophes done in the name of the left in the 20th century.

There is a left that learns and there is a left that doesn't learn. I want the left that learns to inform our Western societies (a difficult task in George W. Bush's America) and to help find ideas that actually address poverty in what used to be called the third world—rather than romanticizing it.

After 1989, the left that doesn't learn was in retreat. It was hushed up by the end of all those wretched communist regimes, by images broadcast worldwide of millions in the streets demanding liberation from dictatorships that legitimized themselves in left-wing terms. You know who I mean by the left that never learns: those folks who twist and turn until they can explain or 'understand' almost anything in order to keep their own presuppositions—or intellectual needs—intact. Some of them were actual Leninist; now they more regularly share some of Leninism's worst mental features—often in postmodern, postcolonial, or even militantly liberal guise. Sometimes they move about on the political spectrum, denouncing their former selves (while patting their moral backs). You can usually recognize them without too much difficulty: same voice, that of a prosecuting commissar, even if their tune sounds different. It's a voice you can often hear as well in ex-communists turned neoconservative.

Their explanations, their "understandings," often rewrite history or re-imagine what is in front of their eyes to suit their own starting point. Since their thinking usually moves along a mental closed circuit, it is also the end point. Sometimes it is an idea, sometimes a belief system (which they refuse to recognize in themselves), sometimes really a prejudice, and sometimes just ambition. Goblins were often part of the story for the older left that never learned, and so too is the case today. If things don't work out as you know they must, some nefarious force must lurk. After all, the problem couldn't possibly be your way of thinking, or your inability to see the world afresh, or that you got something very wrong in the past. No, it is much easier to announce that you, unlike anyone who could disagree with you, engage in 'critical' thinking. And if your critical thinking is criticized in any way, denounce your foe immediately for "McCarthyism." Pretend that your denunciation is an argument about the original subject of dispute. That's easier than answering any of the criticism.

Consider the collateral damage done by such cries of "McCarthyism" from professors with lifetime job security: their students will never understand the evils of McCarthyism. Consider how an understanding of the evils of McCarthyism is subverted when its characteristic techniques—innuendo, for example—are used by opinionated journalists in magazines with wide circulations. Take, for instance, the case of Adam Shatz, once literary editor of the Nation and now with the London Review of Books. He published an article half a year before the beginning of the Iraq war suggesting that people around Dissent were busy hunting for a "new enemy" following the end of the cold war, and that they found it in a combination of militant Arab nationalism and Saddam Hussein.

"Though rarely cited explicitly," Shatz also explained, "Israel shapes and even defines the foreign policy views of a small but influential group of American liberals" (the Nation, September 23, 2002). In other words, these liberals composed the Israel lobby within the left, and they sought the American war in Iraq for the sake of the Jewish state. True, Shatz didn't hold up a file and say, "I have a list of names of liberals who are really dual loyalists." Instead he pointed to Paul Berman "and like-minded social democrats," even though the overwhelming majority of Dissent's editorial board including co-editor Michael Walzer were opposed to the war.

Shatz didn't deign to engage any of Berman's actual points. And those Berman were to advance in the actual run-up to the Iraq invasion did not focus on Israel, but on liberalism, democracy, and totalitarianism. Arguments made by the author of the words you now read, who was a left hawk (and is now an unhappy one), likewise had nothing to do with Israel and were different—significantly so—from those made by Berman. Nothing that appeared in Dissent before or after Shatz's article lends credence to his innuendos.


HISTORY MAY not progress but sometimes it regurgitates. Over the last decade, a lot of the old junk has come back. The space for it opened for many reasons. They range from the sad failures of the social-democratic imagination in the era of globalization to the postmodern and postcolonial influence in universities to George W. Bush's ascendancy with its many, many miserable consequences (not only in Iraq). The left that never learns often became the superego of the twentieth century's left. Its attempt to play that same role in the twenty-first century needs to be frustrated.

Nothing exemplifies the return of old junk more than the 'new' anti-Semitism and the bad faith that often finds expression in the statement: "I am anti-Zionist but not anti-Semitic." The fixation on Israel/Palestine within parts of the left, often to the exclusion of all other suffering on the globe, ought to leave any balanced observer wondering: What is going on here? This fixation needs demystification.

In theoretical terms, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are pretty easy to distinguish. Anti-Semitism is a form of race or national prejudice that crystallized in the nineteenth century. In part, it displaced or reinvented anti-Jewish religious prejudice (although centuries of religious prejudice easily wafted into racial and national bigotry). Its target was clearly Jews, not simply "Semites." It also, for some, mixed matters up further by identifying Jews with capitalism. Sadly, this became a steady feature within parts of the left that would later, habitually, conflate Jews, capitalism, and Zionism. Oddly enough, that is also what Jewish neoconservatives have tried to do in recent decades.

Anti-Zionism means, theoretically, opposition to the project of a Jewish state in response to the rise of anti-Semitism. Let's be blunt: there have been anti-Zionists who are not anti-Semites, just as there have been foes of affirmative action who are not racists. But the crucial question is prejudicial overlap, not intellectual niceties.

Remember the bad old days, when parts of the left provided theoretical justifications of things like "democratic dictatorship." In fact, if you understood—especially if you bought into—all sorts of assumptions and especially Leninist definitions, the justification works. Any professor of political theory can construct it for you and it will make perfect theoretical sense. But if you lived in a "democratic dictatorship," it was intellectual poison. It was also poison if you were committed to the best values of the left.

They are again at stake when we ask: To what extent does much anti-Zionism replicate the mental patterns of anti-Semitism? And to what extent do demagogic articulations of anti-Zionism enhance anti-Semitism? There is a curious thing about anti-Semitism, and it was captured in a remark by British novelist Iain Pears that ought to be quoted and re-quoted these days: "anti-Semitism is like alcoholism. You can go for 25 years without a drink, but if things go bad and you find yourself with a vodka in your hand, you can't get rid of it." (International Herald Tribune, August 11, 2003).

Much may be gleaned from the fact that the recent campaign by some British academic unions to boycott Israel was thwarted because it was found to violate anti-discrimination laws.

LAST YEAR, Denis MacShane, British Labour Parliament Member, chaired a committee of parliamentarians and ex-ministers that investigated rising
anti-Semitism in Britain and beyond. "Hatred of Jews has reached new heights in Europe and many points south and east of the old continent," he wrote recently in a very brave article in the Washington Post (September 4, 2007). He describes a wide array of incidents. "Militant anti-Jewish students fueled by Islamist or far-left hate" seek on campuses "to prevent Jewish students from expressing their opinions." There is "an anti-Jewish discourse, a mood and tone whenever Jews are discussed, whether in the media, at universities, among the liberal media elite or at dinner parties of modish London. To express any support for Israel or any feeling for the right of a Jewish state to exist produces denunciation, even contempt."

MacShane points out that this sort of behavior is distinct from specific disputes about this or that Israeli politician. Criticism, the investigatory committee "made clear," was "not off-limits." Rightly so; the same should be true with the policies and office- holders of every government on the globe. But MacSchane also warns that something else has been going on, that old demons are reawakening and that "the old anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism have morphed into something more dangerous." The threat, he says eloquently, doesn't only concern Jews or Israel, but "everything democrats have long fought for: the truth without fear, no matter one's religion or political beliefs."
What is "truth without fear" when we speak of the relation between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism? Is it to be found in Tony Judt's declaration to the New York Times that "the link between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is newly created"? (January 31, 2007). How a historian—or anyone else—could assert this is astonishing. Consider what it airbrushes out of the twentieth century—the anti-Semitic binge of Stalin's later years, just for starters.

And surely Judt, who is based at New York University and is now taking what has turned into obsessive anti-Zionist campaigning to the École Normale Supérieure in Paris
NYU's Remarque Center, which defines its goal as "the study and discussion of Europe, and to encourage and facilitate communication between Americans and Europeans" is opening a center there and Judt, its director, will, according to its website, inaugurate it not with an address European or French politics or transatlantic relations but rather: "Is Israel Still Good for the Jews?"
recalls the arrests and assassinations of the leading Jewish cultural figures of Soviet Russia on the grounds that they were "Zionist agents of American imperialism." Surely a historian of Europe like Judt—who was once a hard leftist but then rose to intellectual celebrity in the United States in the 1980s (that is, during the Reagan era) by attacking all French Marxists for not facing up to Stalinism—recalls the charges of "Zionist conspiracy" against Jewish communists who were victimized in the Czech purge trials in the early 1950s.

If he doesn't recall them when he speaks to the New York Times, he might check them out in his own book on postwar Europe. There he cites Stalin's secret police chief, Lavrenti Beria, urging Czech Communists to investigate the "Zionist plot" among their comrades. Surely a historian of Europe, especially one who now refers to himself as an "old leftist," recalls the campaign in 1967 and 1968 to cleanse Poland of "Zionist" fifth columnists (I suppose they were the Israel Lobby of the Polish Communist Party). If Judt doesn't recall it when he talks to the New York Times, he might again look at his own book which cites Polish Communist chief Wladyslaw Gomulka's conflation of his Jewish critics with Zionists. Since he is a historian of Europe and not the Middle East, perhaps Judt hasn't noticed how "anti-Zionism" in broad swaths of the Muslim and Arab media has been suffused by anti-Jewish rhetoric for decades—rhetoric against "al-Yahud" not Ehud Olmert or Ehud Barak.

Remember how air-brushing was done in the bad old days? Trotsky (or someone else) would suddenly disappear from a photo. Lenin or Stalin and the cheering crowds would still be there. The resulting picture is not entirely false. Does all this make Judt an anti-Semite? The answer is simple: no. It does make his grasp of the history of anti-Semitism tendentious. And tendentious history can be put to all sorts of pernicious use.

Judt's political judgment complements his historical perceptions, especially when it comes to a declared concern about Palestinian suffering. Recall his article in the New York Review of Books (October 23, 2003) advocating a binational state to replace Israel. A Jewish state, he explained, is an anachronism. But since then, Hamas, a political movement of religious fanatics, won the Palestinian elections, and later seized power—by force—in Gaza. Israel, in the meantime, had withdrawn entirely from Gaza and torn down all Jewish settlements there in summer 2005. Yet if you follow Judt's logic, Israel should not have withdrawn but instead integrated Gaza into itself. Obviously this would have enabled a new, better life for Palestinians, perhaps even have prevented them from turning to Hamas. And it would have taken a first happy step toward saving Israel from its anachronistic status by affording Israelis, together with Palestinians, a domestic future of perpetual ethnic civil war—a feature of modern politics that farsighted historians, but perhaps not policymakers, who have to worry about real lives, will also imagine is an anachronism. Likewise, I suppose India can save itself from being an unfortunate anachronism by a reintegration with Pakistan.

A FEW YEARS ago I sought to outline commonalities between anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist discourses in a scholarly journal. It is worth reproducing. Here are major motifs that inform classical anti-Semitism:

1) Insinuations: Jews do not and cannot fit properly into our society. There is something foreign, not to mention sinister about them.

2) Complaints: They are so particularistic, those Jews, so preoccupied with their "own." Why are they so clannish and anachronistic when we need a world of solidarity and love? Really, they make themselves into a "problem." If the so-called "Jewish problem" is singular in some way, it is their own doing and usually covered up by special pleading.

3) Remonstrations: Those Jews, they always carp that they are victims. In fact, they have vast power, especially financial power. Their power is everywhere, even if it is not very visible. They exercise it manipulatively, behind the scenes. (But look, there are even a few of them, guilty-hearted perhaps, who will admit it all this to you).

4) Recriminations: Look at their misdeeds, all done while they cry that they are victims. These ranged through the ages from the murder of God to the ritual slaughter of children to selling military secrets to the enemy to war-profiteering, to being capitalists or middlemen or landlords or moneylenders exploiting the poor. And they always, oh-so-cleverly, mislead you.

Alter a few phrases, a word here and there, and we find motifs of anti-Zionism that are popular these days in parts of the left and parts of the Muslim and Arab worlds:

1) Insinuations: The Zionists are alien implants in the Mideast. They can never fit there. Western imperialism created the Zionist state.

2) Complaints: A Jewish state can never be democratic. Zionism is exclusivist. The very idea of a Jewish state is an anachronism.

3) Remonstrations: The Zionists carp that they are victims but in reality they have enormous power, especially financial. Their power is everywhere, but they make sure not to let it be too visible. They exercise it manipulatively, behind people's backs, behind the scenes – why, just look at Zionist influence in Washington. Or rather, dominance of Washington. (And look, there are even a few Jews, guilty-hearted perhaps, who admit it).

4) Recriminations: Zionists are responsible for astonishing, endless dastardly deeds. And they cover them up with deceptions. These range from the imperialist aggression of 1967 to Ehud Barak's claim that he offered a compromise to Palestinians back in 2000 to the Jenin "massacre" during the second Intifidah.
These sketches of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, with just some variation, were originally in Mitchell Cohen, "Auto-Emancipation and Anti-Semitism: Homage to Bernard-Lazare," Jewish Social Studies (Fall 2003).

No, anti-Zionism is not in principle anti-Semitism but it is time for thoughtful minds—especially on the left—to be disturbed by how much anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism share, how much the dominant species of anti-Zionism encourages anti-Semitism.

And so:
If you judge a Jewish state by standards that you apply to no one else; if your neck veins bulge when you denounce Zionists but you've done no more than cluck "well, yes, very bad about Darfur";

if there is nothing Hamas can do that you won't blame 'in the final analysis' on Israelis;

if your sneer at the Zionists doesn't sound a whole lot different from American neoconservative sneers at leftists;

then you should not be surprised if you are criticized, fiercely so, by people who are serious about a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians and who won't let you get away with a self-exonerating formula—"I am anti-Zionist but not anti-Semitic"—to prevent scrutiny. If you are anti-Zionist and not anti-Semitic, then don't use the categories, allusions, and smug hiss that are all too familiar to any student of prejudice.

It is time for the left that learns, that grows, that reflects, that has historical not rhetorical perspective, and that wants a future based on its own best values to say loudly to the left that never learns: You hijacked "left" in the last century, but you won't get away with it again whatever guise you don.

Mitchell Cohen is co-editor of Dissent and professor of political science at Baruch College–CUNY. He recently wrote on French politics and the 'new' Atheism.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Palestinian Recognition of Israel - Again

The recognition sham

Yasser Arafat recognized Israel's right to exist in 1988. He shook hands with Yitzhak Rabin and signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. The PLO later ostensibly amended its covenant, as Bill Clinton visited Gaza, to eliminate calls for Israel's destruction. Most recently, the Palestinians approved the road map, which again was based upon recognition of Israel's right to exist.
So the Palestinians accept Israel's existence, right? Well, perhaps not. Now, on the eve of Annapolis, we discover that all of these claims of recognition may have been a giant sham.
On Monday, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said, "The problem of the content of the document [setting out joint principles for peacemaking post-Annapolis] has not been resolved... One of the more pressing problems is the Zionist regime's insistence on being recognized as a Jewish state.
"We will not agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state," Erekat said. "There is no country in the world where religious and national identities are intertwined."
On Tuesday, another prominent Palestinian negotiator, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said, "It is only a Zionist party that deals with Israel as a Jewish state, and we did not request to be a member of the international Zionism movement."
Yesterday, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad joined in these statements. And Erekat chimed in again on Al-Arabiya TV: "Israel can define itself however it sees fit; and if it wishes to call itself a Jewish state, so be it. But the Palestinians will never acknowledge Israel's Jewish identity." (emphasis added).
All this is mind-boggling from an Israeli perspective. To Jews and Israelis, it is obvious that if Israel is not a Jewish state, meaning (at least) a state with an overwhelming Jewish majority, than it would simply become the 22nd Arab state. Israel would cease to exist.
The Palestinian refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state suggests that all their solemn and myriad expressions of Israel's right to exist did not mean anything. They did not mean that the Palestinians accepted the Jews as a people (as Palestinians expect to be accepted), or that Israel is the legitimate expression of the Jewish people's right to self-determination.
Erekat's claim that the "intertwining" of religious and national identity is unusual, let alone unique, is nonsense. Perhaps he has not heard of the Islamic Conference, a group of 55 states, or the Church of England. While Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia, will officially not let Jews set foot in their country, Israel has never seen a contradiction between its Jewishness and the need to respect and protect non-Jewish minorities.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated this week that Israel would not participate in any post-Annapolis negotiations except on the basis of Palestinian acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state. In essence, Israel is demanding that the Palestinians end their double game.
If Israel is not a Jewish state, it is Palestine, which is exactly the point. So long as they hold to their positions, Fayad, Erekat and Abed Rabbo, representing Palestinian "moderates," are not espousing a two-state solution but a "Greater Palestine" ideology.
There is no way for Israelis to understand the refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state other than as a rejection of the two-state solution and the embrace of the "strategy of stages," whereby a Palestinian state is not an end of claims against Israel, but a down-payment toward Israel's destruction.
As Olmert says, there is no point in entering a "peace process" on this basis. Every conception of the two-state vision has assumed a foundation of genuine mutual recognition. The first point of the first phase of the road map, for example, begins: "Palestinian leadership issues unequivocal statement reiterating Israel's right to exist in peace and security...."
Oslo's Statement of Principles begins, "[Israel and the PLO] agree that it is time to... recognize their mutual legitimate and political rights...."
The 1947 UN partition plan called for dividing mandatory Palestine "into Jewish and Arab states."
Without mutual recognition, there is no basis for negotiation. The Palestinians expect Israel to accept their existence and rights as a people. The Jewish people expects no less.

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Iran: to bomb or not to bomb? That is the question

Bush won't bomb Iran and neither will anyone else.
Rattling the Cage: Bush won't do it
Larry Derfner , THE JERUSALEM POST  Nov. 14, 2007
I don't think President Bush is going to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities, not before the presidential election next November 4, and not between then and the day he leaves office the following January 20, either.
As reckless as he is, I don't think he's that reckless. He wouldn't make a move that could set off WMD missile wars, invasions, coups, Islamic revolutions and whatnot all over the Middle East, then just fly back to the ranch and let somebody else clean up the mess. If Bush was at the beginning of his term, he might do it, but not with time running out, and not when he's heading into the sixth year of two Middle Eastern wars he can't win and can't quit.
And that was the situation before this month's state of emergency in Pakistan reminded everyone that Iran isn't the only country where Islamic fanatics could get the Bomb; Pakistan already has it, and the Taliban is that country's rising power.
Bush has to ask himself: What effect would a US attack on Iran do to the situation in Pakistan? Would it strengthen the Taliban even more, would it bring them closer to taking over a nuclear-armed country of 160 million people?
This is just one more nightmarish possibility Bush has to consider before hitting Iran. The likelihood that Iran would hit back with missiles against nearby US bases and against Israel is another. A US ground war in Iran is another. The launching of Syrian and Hizbullah missiles against Israel is another. A Shi'ite uprising against US forces in Iraq is another. The list goes on from there.
EVEN IF Bush wants to bomb Iran's nuclear factories, he knows it will not be the end of the problem, or even the beginning of the end of the problem, which is something he did not know before invading Afghanistan and Iraq. The other thing he knows now is that US armed forces have their limits, and that those limits have about been reached in America's two ongoing wars.
And if he hasn't figured this out on his own, then the people newly in charge of the US military are telling it to him and will continue telling him as his term runs down.
This is Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: "We're in conflict in two countries out there right now. We have to be incredibly thoughtful about the potential of in fact getting into a conflict with a third country in that part of the world." (New York Times interview)
This is General George Casey, commander of the Army: "The demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply. We are consumed with meeting the demands of the current fight, and are unable to provide ready forces as rapidly as necessary for other possible contingencies." (Congressional testimony)
This is Admiral William Fallon, head of Central Command (Middle East): "This constant drumbeat of conflict [with Iran] not helpful and not useful."(Al-Jazeera interview)
Above all, there is Defense Minister Robert Gates. According to Britain's Daily Telegraph, "Insiders say Mr. Gates has ensured that Mr. Bush has seen more extensive studies of the probable negative effect of an attack on Iran than he was privy to before the war in Iraq."
THEN THERE is Bush's alter ego, Condoleezza Rice, who sides with Gates and the military men. The only administration heavyweight said to be eager to bomb Iran is Dick Cheney, but for once he seems to be outweighed.
Bush obviously doesn't like the idea of leaving behind an Iran primed to go nuclear, but he knows that an aerial assault, even if successful, would not end the nuclear threat from the world of radical Islam. Whatever he does or doesn't do in Iran, that larger threat will still be waiting for his successors in the White House. But if Bush bombs Iran, his immediate successor will have not two Middle East wars to fight, but possibly three or four, not to mention the new wars Israel might face.
It's too much of a gamble. Aside from the life-and-death consequences involved, a US attack on Iran would doom the Republicans' chances in next year's election, while an attack in the 21⁄2-month window between the election and Bush's departure is just too crazy to imagine.
Bush isn't crazy. It's not going to happen.
Which means, in my opinion, that Israel isn't going to bomb Iran either, at least not on this president's watch. Such an assault would obviously expose the Middle East and the rest of the world, including America, to huge risks, so Israel would need America's permission. And if Bush decides that attacking Iran is too risky a move for America to make - which I'm convinced he will decide, if he hasn't already - then he won't allow Israel to make that move, either.
So, relatively speaking, I'm optimistic. The most dangerous course of action would be to bomb Iran, but I realize very clearly that not bombing Iran isn't going to leave the world safe. The forces of militant Islam are the nemesis of our age, whether they get nuclear weapons one day or remain with the biological, chemical and conventional weapons they have today. It's going to take courage to overcome this enemy, but it's going to take wisdom, too.

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What's the big Jewish idea?

Bronfman defends 'Jewish idea' plan
michal lando, jerusalem post correspondent , THE JERUSALEM POST  Nov. 14, 2007
Responses to a contest billed as a search for the next big Jewish idea are misdirected, says its initiator, philanthropist Charles Bronfman.
For example, one person suggested a new Braveheart movie with a Jew as the central character.
The response came from one of many Jews busy wracking their brains to become the recipient of the six-figure sum to be granted to the winner of the competition.
Bronfman is not happy with the quality of these responses, and says they are a result of a distortion and misunderstanding.
"It got all screwed up," Bronfman said, who spoke along with Jeffrey Solomon, president of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post.
He was responding in part to skepticism that followed the announcement of the contest.
The contest is really intended to gather brain power in an effort to promote change in Jewish life, explained Bronfman. The gift of $1.5 million to establish a visiting chair in Jewish communal innovation is the latest of Bronfman's efforts to engage younger Jews who are increasingly alienated from Israel and Judaism.
In an editorial, Gary Rosenblatt, the editor and publisher of New York Jewish Week, said there was something both "thrilling" and "disturbing" about the quest for the next big Jewish idea.
"What troubles me is the very notion that we need, and can benefit from, a quick fix to the myriad problems that threaten the future of Jewish life as we know it in America," Rosenblatt wrote. "We set a trap for ourselves if we think that any one project can deal with issues as complex as increasing assimilation, diminishing Jewish birthrates, less identification with Israel and American Jewish institutions, and a rise in secularism and distrust of organized religion, for starters."
Concern came from a misrepresentation of the contest, Bronfman claims. The contest is not looking for a "quick fix," but rather to put ideas on the table. "Some copywriter thought he had a wonderful headline."
"I happen to have a high regard for [the younger] generation, but our institutions have great difficulty in coming to grips with a generation so totally different from any generation that came before," said Bronfman. "All of a sudden you have a custom-oriented generation where being Jewish is one of seven or eight affiliations."
Bronfman said he could not call it a "problem," but rather a "wonderful challenge."
The winner of the contest, to be selected by the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University, will be granted a Bronfman chair at the school and will receive two years of salary, benefits, and research assistance to develop his or her idea into a book.
Bronfman spoke to the Post as the deadline for another project, the Charles and Andrea Bronfman Prize, drew near. This prize, which was established in 2004 as a gift by Bronfman's children in honor of his 70th birthday, sponsors individuals younger than 50 whose humanitarian work has made a significant contribution to their field.
Former winners include Jay Feinberg, founder of the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation; Alon Tal, who founded the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies; and Amitai Ziv, founder and director of the Israel Center for Medical Simulation which works to improve decision-making while also improving healthcare professionals' ability to deal with difficult situations.
The prize is accepting nominations for its fourth round until November 30.

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Chabad Scam: Hassidic sect suspected of money laundering

Crooks in Chabad? Who could believe that?
Chabad heads suspected of major embezzlement
Matthew Wagner , THE JERUSALEM POST  Nov. 14, 2007
Administrators in the Israeli branch of the Chabad Hassidic sect are allegedly embroiled in a multi-million shekel embezzlement, tax evasion and money laundering scheme involving local businessmen, police said Wednesday.
Police arrested four men on Tuesday connected with the sect who are suspected of embezzling and aiding Israeli businessmen in tax evasion by accepting tax-exempt "donations" to Chabad which were later returned laundered.
A Channel 10 report said that among the business leaders suspected of using the money-laundering facilities allegedly run out of Kfar Chabad was Arkadi Gaydamak. Gaydamak, according to Channel 10, had made NIS 1 million in donations to the fund - but was far from the only prominent business figure suspected of involvement. Police said that they would continue to investigate both Gaydamak as well as the other businesspeople.
Police arrested Yosef Aharonov, director of the non-profit Young Chabad Association, which is the main supporter of Chabad activities in Israel. Aharonov's driver, Levi Edrei, and Young Chabad employee Dov Livitin were arrested, too.
The Young Chabad Association represents mainstream Chabad leadership in Israel. It is differentiated from the overtly messianic camp within Chabad that preaches that Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who passed away in June 1994, is really still alive and will reappear as the Messiah.
Aharonov was behind the "Bibi is good for the Jews" campaign that mobilized Chabad to support Binyamin Netanyahu as prime minister in 1996. He also led an aggressive offensive against breakaway groups within Chabad.
Yosef Segal, who was accused over a year ago by Chabad officials of embezzling NIS 17.5 million from Chabad coffers, was also detained by police Wednesday.
Attorney Na'ama Zer-Kavod, who is representing Chabad along with attorney Gideon Fisher, said that all the accusations against Aharonov, Edrei and Livitin were concocted by Segal.
"In an attempt to clear his own name, Segal is disparaging the names of dozens of upright Chabad families," said Zer-Kavod. "Chabad was the one that uncovered the crimes in the first place. Now, for some inexplicable reason, a year later, the police stage this publicized raid."
Asst.-Cmdr. Avi Mansour, head of the criminal investigation against Chabad, rejected the claims by Zer-Kavod and said there was no connection between Segal's embezzlement and the present case.
"Besides, even after Segal was uncovered as an embezzler he continued to be employed by Chabad," said Mansour.
The investigation was launched after the Young Chabad Association aroused the suspicions of the registrar for non-profit organizations in the Interior Ministry who discovered evidence of mismanagement.
"We are talking about huge sums of money that were pocketed by the four suspects and transferred to overseas accounts, including the US," said Mansour.
The police requested that Aharonov be detained for 12 days. However, a Ramle court decided to extend the detention order for six days. On Thursday, the three additional suspects will appear before the court.
Yoni Kahana, a Chabad hassid and advertiser, said that the criminal scandal that wracked the Hassidic sect would not have an impact on operations in Israel.
"Chabad houses across the country are self-sustaining; they do not receive anything from the central administration."
Kahana, who is identified with the more messianic camp in Chabad, estimated that the balance of power among the different camps within Chabad would not change. However, he added that he was concerned the scandal would tarnish Chabad's good name.
"I hope Aharonov does not go to prison, but I do hope that he learns his lesson and retires. He has made a lot of mistakes and it is time for him to go home.
"The man who replaces him should run Chabad the way the Rebbe wants."

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What is happening in Israel and the Middle East?

An astute commentary on Israel and the Middle East by a foremost Israeli analyst
Just the Hard Facts
The hard core of cold facts tends to be washed away in the flood of hollow verbiage in the media's coverage of the twists and turns of the Middle Eastern imbroglio. Daydreams obscure the line of vision to the true horizon, as do misleading analyses and sheer prejudice.
Gaza: Over the coming year, there is no doubt that Hamas, in its upgraded military mode, will be producing Qassam-type missiles with a range of 20-25 kms, bringing all of Ashkelon, Kiryat Gat, Netivot, Ofakim and the many kibbutzim and moshavim that surround them into the line of fire. Over a quarter of a million Israelis will be in range. Moreover, Hamas will be able to fire the rockets from the heart of Gaza, without having to send launch teams to the open areas close to the border fence.
All of which means that unless there's a miracle and a full and stable cease-fire is in place, the government, whether eagerly or out of a lack of any alternative, will have to order the army to carry out a major operation to clean up the Strip, along the lines of the dazzingly successful Operation Defensive Wall in the West Bank in 2002. It will probably be harder and cost more casualties. The army is already preparing for the campaign and Hamas is working feverishly on its defense plans, based mainly on heavy rocket fire into Israel - dozens a day - and fortifications and trenches around the launch sites.
The West Bank: The Palestinian security apparatuses are not in control of the whole area. If it were not for Israel's regular preemptive counterterror raids, Hamas could, if it so wished and even without the use of armed force, paralyze the functioning of the Palestinian Authority. There's no chance that things will change in the foreseeable future. The Fatah movement has in fact ceased to exist, although there are still tens of thousands of card-carrying members. There is no meaningful process of resuscitation or reform under way in either the PA, or its ruling party, Fatah. In private conversations, associates of the PA chairman, Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen), call him "a pensioner still going to the office." For example, the Al-Amari refugee camp in the heart of Ramallah, the "capital" of the PA, has openly declared itself beyond the jurisdiction of the Palestinian police.
When British intelligence operatives asked leading members of the Fatah's Al-Aqsa Brigades in Nablus who their enemies were, they replied: Hamas, corruption, collaborators with Israel, and Israel itself, in that order. The militiamen, in other words, see the rotten government of Abu Mazen as more of a target than the settlers. Instead of gaining strength after the debacle in Gaza, Fatah on the West Bank is growing weaker.
The Annapolis Conference: Abu Mazen has been heard joking with his bureau staff that "after 20 years, I've gone back to being a teacher." What he means is that he finds himself engaged in long hours of explaining to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about the land mines on the way to a permanent settlement. The Egyptians have already advised finding a suitable pretext to postpone the parley indefinitely. Meanwhile, it is becoming clear to all parties to the negotiations that there is no chance of agreement on a declaration that will herald even a hint of a breakthrough. If Abu Mazen compromises, he will be assailed by both Hamas and much of Fatah. If a vague statement is issued, everyone will say yet again that he has nothing to offer to his people.
The Palestinians are fuming at Rice for having trapped them in a corner and have begun to try and get out of it by renewing the talk about a "third step" in the Oslo process that was never implemented. What this means is an attempt to get more territory on the West Bank from Israel without having to reach any substantive
Lebanon: Without knowing how the grave internal crisis in this country will end, these facts are already clear: Hizballah is building a large quasi-divisional formation north of the Litani River, as part of an effort to link the Shi'ites of South Lebanon to the Shi'ite heartland in the Beka Valley, through a corridor across the Christian and Druse villages that separate the two. Syria and Iran are supplying the militia with long-range rockets, anti-tank missiles and other advanced materiel that it never had in the July 2006 war. In the area controlled by UNIFIL south of the Litani, Hizballah is also building its "nature reserves" or rocket-launching bases and underground bunkers in the mountains, quietly but unhindered, and reorganizing, on a larger scale, its deployment in the Shi'ite villages near the Israeli border. The U.N. force is simply not effective in preventing this.
Syria: Following the successful Israeli air strike at the "reactor" that they had begun building in their eastern desert, the Syrians have adopted a new "blocking" doctrine (murnana'a in Arabic). It entails avoiding war with Israel in the new future but deepening involvement in Hizballah and Hamas, creating threats and provocations by using these proxies on other fronts. In the event that Israel's patience runs out, the Syrian military is preparing an "offensive defense" - a capability of attacking the Israeli hinterland with hundreds of heavy missiles, while blocking an Israeli armored attack on the Golan Heights.
Iran: According to the evaluations of most Western intelligence services, the Iranian nuclear program will reach its "point of no return" (the production of sufficient weeapons grade uranium to make a nuclear weapon) in 2010/11, with some even putting the date as early as 2009. And there is already no doubt that in parallel to the overt program that is open to inspection there is a covert, military plan to actually make nuclear weapons, and not only to cross the technological threshhold. The time for drawing conclusions is running out.

Continued (Permanent Link)

IWL conference in Israel: Sustainable development

Over 70 women leaders come to Israel to discuss sustainable development
Jerusalem and Haifa, Israel
18-22 November 2007

The President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, UN Deputy Secretary General, Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro, and 70 women leaders from 58 countries will participate in the biennial International Women's Leadership Conference, held by the Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center (MCTC) located in Haifa , a veteran professional extension of MASHAV.
This gathering, the 25th in a series of international conferences held by the MCTC, is being held this year in cooperation with UNESCO and under the auspices of MASHAV - the official body of the State of Israel for international cooperation.
The Conference, to be held on November 18-22, will be attended by government ministers and senior officials, members of parliament, supreme court justices, high-ranking officials from the UN and from many international and regional organizations, and professional women representing civil society and academia.
The Conference will open officially at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem on November 18th, in the presence of the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tzipi Livni.
The theme of the Conference is Women's Leadership for Sustainable Development. Participants will discuss programs from the gender perspective, and will also visit the Weizmann Institute and Tefen Industrial Park. 
The women leaders will be received by the President of the State of Israel, the Chairman for the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of Women, the Chairwoman of the Council of Women's Organizations, the Mayor of Haifa, and the Mayor of Kiryat Yam.
The Conference will signal the start of events marking 50 years of international cooperation activities of the Foreign Ministry's Center for International Cooperation - MASHAV - which was established at the end of 1957, initially as a small unit for international assistance. The visit to Africa that year by Golda Meir, who was then the Foreign Minister of Israel, gave significant impetus to the unit and transformed it into Israel's international development cooperation program, responsible for designing and implementing training and institutional capacity building programs in a variety of subject matter, in more than 130 countries around the world.

Israel's Center for International Cooperation, known by its Hebrew acronym MASHAV, was founded in 1958 as part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is responsible for initiating and implementing Israeli's development cooperation program worldwide. MASHAV aims at transferring the expertise and technologies, which have assisted Israel on its own path to development, to other countries.
Today, Israel cooperates with over 140 countries, providing training in Israel and abroad, operating on-site demonstration projects and building medical infrastructure in partner countries. MASHAV is active in fields ranging from agriculture to medicine and from community development to entrepreneurship.
The Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center (MCTC) was founded in 1961 by MASHAV as the first international training institute to deal with women and development. The Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center devotes its biennial international conferences to topics declared by the United Nations and its specialized agencies as of current international concern. Previous conferences were devoted to The Impact of Women's Training on Socio-Economic Development (2001), Women's Voice in Conflict Resolution and Peace-Building (2003), and Migration and Gender Issues within the Millennium Development Goals (2005).

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Abbas & Hamas: Sh*t hits fan

The inevitable has come to pass. A movement with democratic secular aspirations cannot coexist with a movement of armed religious fanatics.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 13:52 15/11/2007 
Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas called on Thursday for
the overthrow of Gaza's Islamic Hamas rulers - his first explicit demand that they be removed.
"We have to bring down this bunch that took over Gaza with armed force, and is abusing the sufferings and pains of our people," Abbas said in a speech in Ramallah.

In the past, the Palestinian leader, who has set up a separate government in the West Bank, has not gone beyond demanding that Hamas apologize for overrunning Gaza and reverse the takeover.
In his speech, Abbas lashed out against the outlawed gangs affiliated with Hamas in Gaza City, where forces loyal to the Islamic group opened fire on a mass rally by his Fatah movement on Monday. Eight civilians were killed and dozens were wounded in the strongest Fatah challenge to Hamas rule since the Hamas takeover.
Hamas also rounded up more than 400 Fatah activists, and on Wednesday announced media restrictions and plans to curb public gatherings.
Discontent in the strip is growing, in part because Israel's closure of Gaza's borders immediately after the Hamas takeover has shut down many factories, cost tens of thousands of jobs and driven up prices.
Hamas' efforts to cement its grip on Gaza coincides with efforts by Abbas and Israel to bridge differences ahead of a high-profile summit in the U.S. this month. The conference is aimed at relaunching peace talks and bolstering Abbas in his struggle with Hamas, which does not recognize his mandate to negotiate.
Abbas said in his speech that his government was working relentlessly to make the gathering a decisive-launching pad for establishing a Palestinian state.
But he demanded that Israel halt all settlement construction, release Palestinian prisoners, and end its assassinations of Palestinian wanted men.
Abbas spoke on the 19th anniversary of the Palestinians' declaration of independence at a meeting in Algeria. The declaration has not brought about the establishment of a Palestinian state, but is regarded as important because it implicitly recognized Israel's right to exist.

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Report: Explosions at Iran nuclear site

Last update - 11:03 15/11/2007    
A series of explosions blasted through a crucial Iranian military industrial site last Tuesday, according to a statement released by "The National Opposition Council of Iran."
According to the statement, the explosions were in Parchin, about 30 km south of Tehran, and sparked a large fire which caused some injuries to personnel at the site.
Many firefighting and rescue squads were called to put out the fire. In the statement, the opposition group who are linked with the Mojahedin-e-Khalq movement, maintains that the Iranian government are trying to prevent the publication of the blasts, and therefore only said that a fire raged at the site, but was quickly extinguished.
Over the last four years, the group has divulged classified information regarding Iran's nuclear program, including locations of nuclear sites that the Iranian government failed to report to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Following continuous reports of nuclear development at Parchin, IAEA and U.S. officials demanded to inspect the site. However, only after several months did Iran agree to allow nuclear inspectors from the United Nations into the major military complex.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pallywood Hijinks: Missing footage in Mohamed Al-Dura Film

According to this report, several minutes of footage were missing from the footage shown in court by France 2 which was filmed when 12 year old Mohamed Al Dura was supposedly killed by Israeli soldiers. Charles Enderlin of France 2 claims the film shows an authentic event. Al-Dura's death, as shown by France-2, was used to motivate Palestinian violence in the Intifada that began in 2000, However, Phillip Karsenty and others claimed that the film was heavily edited and that there is evidence that Al-Dura was alive at the end. It is not clear from the film who was shooting at him. Karsenty got a court order forcing France-2 to show the film in court. As one might anticipate, several minutes of the film were mysteriously missing.
From the report:
What did the raw footage show?
We can definitely say that nobody can say who was shooting at who. Charles Enderlin said in court that the Palestinians started shooting first, but in the end, there's no way we can say what happened that day. You can't tell who did what. The assertion from Charles Enderlin, that the Israeli army killed the boy, is totally wrong. The least he could've said was that the boy was killed--but we don't know by who.
There was a dispute over how much footage was to be screened. Was the full video shown?
Charles Enderlin submitted 18 minutes of footage. The judge, without any prompting from Philippe's lawyers, asked what happened to the 27 minutes. Enderlin said on record in court that he had to manipulate some footage that was not relevant to that day. He said he transferred the footage onto DVD for the court. That was amazing.
So she asked if anyone in attendance had seen the full footage. Luc Rosenzweig was there, stood up , and said he saw a tape that was more than 20 minutes long. Richard Landes also stood up. He saw the footage at Enderlin's office. He said the timer he saw was at least 21 minutes long. The judge basically let that issue rest, but there was serious doubt hanging over the room that the footage was tampered or doctored.
It is too early to know what will be the outcome of the hearing. It is difficult to understand why the court did not demand the original film. The report claims "Dura Discredited," but that is not necessarily the case.
Ami Isseroff

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Solana: Middle East Peace - No Problem

Last update - 19:16 14/11/2007
Report: Solana: Israeli-Palestinian peace deal possible by the end of 2008 
"My impression is that the whole process is doable, it can be done. Everyone has to work so the process ends up well,"
OK - show us how to get Hamas out of Gaza. A trivial problem for Solana. Get Mr. Erekat to recognize a Jewish State. A mere bagatelle. No Problemo! Right?
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Snap judgement: Nablus is Safer since PA takeover

"The U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, Jacob Walles, visited Nablus on Wednesday for a first-hand look at the performance of the Palestinian security forces. Chaotic Nablus, once a militant stronghold, had been chosen as a test case by the Palestinian government, and 300 Palestinian police were deployed last month. "
How does he know? He went through the town on a guided tour surrounded by security people? Is this supposed to be a serious evaluation? Yes it is:
"The U.S. assessment matters because Washington will be the judge of whether Palestinians and Israelis are meeting their short-term peace obligations. For the Palestinian government, that mainly means disarming militants, while Israel is required to freeze settlements and dismantle settlement outposts. "
This is how performance will be judged? Give us a break.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 18:49 14/11/2007
 Top U.S. diplomat: PA has improved Nablus security 
By The Associated Press 
Palestinian security forces have made some progress in restoring order in the West Bank city of Nablus, which was long ruled by gangs, a U.S. diplomat said after a tour Wednesday.

The U.S. assessment matters because Washington will be the judge of whether Palestinians and Israelis are meeting their short-term peace obligations. For the Palestinian government, that mainly means disarming militants, while Israel is required to freeze settlements and dismantle settlement outposts.

Palestinian negotiators say that while they have started meeting their security obligations, Israel has done nothing so far. Haaretz reported Wednesday that an Israeli delegation is heading to Washington to negotiate the terms of a partial settlement freeze with the Bush administration.

Under the U.S.-backed road map plan, which has been revived as part of current U.S.-led peace efforts, Israel is to freeze all construction immediately, and in parallel with a Palestinian security clampdown.

The U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, Jacob Walles, visited Nablus on Wednesday for a first-hand look at the performance of the Palestinian security forces. Chaotic Nablus, once a militant stronghold, had been chosen as a test case by the Palestinian government, and 300 Palestinian police were deployed last month.

"The Palestinian security forces have made some progress, and the condition in the streets is better," said Walles, who was accompanied by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Asked to comment on Israel's performance so far, he said: "Our position is that both sides need to meet their obligations."

Walles said the U.S. would spend $1.3 million on various aid projects in Nablus, including building and cleaning up schools and refurbishing a government ministry.

This week, Palestinian police arrested three local leaders of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, a violent offshoot of Fatah. The men were from the Balata refugee camp, a stronghold for group.

Residents of Nablus said they have felt a significant improvement in recent days and were encouraged by the arrests of gang members, including those who in the past enjoyed immunity because of their ties to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement.

Downtown shopkeeper Ziad Abu Rateb, who voted for Fatah's rival, Hamas, in 2006 parliament elections, said he was impressed by the latest sweep. "Last night, they arrested one of the bloodiest gang leaders here," he said.

Palestinian officials complained that Israel is undermining the campaign by continuing arrest sweeps in Nablus. Early Wednesday, Israeli troops seized seven Palestinians in the city.

Israel says that it's too early to entrust its security to Palestinian police. In the past, scores of Nablus militants were involved in shooting and bombing attacks on Israelis.

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Ultra-Orthodox child nolester fled to Israel

This shouldn't happen, but it does. According to Ha'aretz:

 U.S. asks Israel to extradite ultra-Orthodox Jew accused of child abuse 
By Aviva Lori, Haaretz Correspondent 
The U.S. Justice Department has asked Israel to facilitate the extradition of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man suspected of raping and sexually abusing dozens of boys.

Avrohom Mondrowitz was investigated by the New York Police Department in the 1980s and was indicted for sex crimes against four boys in Brooklyn, N.Y., but fled to Israel before he could be arrested.

According to witness reports, 60-year-old Mondrowitz, a married father of seven, would pose as a psychologist specializing in the treatment of children that suffered sexual abuse.

U.S. asks Israel to extradite Hassidic Jew wanted for molesting minors extradite

One of Mondrowitz's victims, 40-year-old Chicago resident Mark Weiss, who, as a child, was sent by his parents to New York for therapy with Mondrowitz after he had dropped out of several educational frameworks, recounted his ordeal. "[Mondrowitz's] family was at a cottage in the Catskills and I was sleeping at his house. at night he suddenly touched me. I was naive. I thought he was being nice, that he was trying to make me feel better," said Weiss. "It was all a big Fraud," he concluded.

Regarding the way the affair was handled by rabbis within the community, Weiss said: "[The rabbis] paralyzed an entire generation. When one of them destroys another person, they do nothing."

Mondrowitz currently resides in Jerusalem. Over the years he has worked in several educational institutions, but he is now unemployed, and allegedly supports himself by selling forged academic degrees.

A month ago, police summoned him for an interrogation over Web sites that he had visited, and then released him on conditions.

Mondrowitz refused to answer questions regarding the allegations against him.

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Distorting the image of America - on purpose

Special Dispatch-Reform Project/U.S. and the Middle East
November 15, 2007
No. 1766
Editor of Arab Reformist Website: Dictatorial Arab Regimes are Winning the "Battle for Hearts And Minds" In America
In an editorial in the Arabic reformist website, editor Omran Salman explains the failure of American public diplomacy efforts and blames the dictatorial Arab regimes of being behind the campaigns to smear America as part of their struggle for survival.
The following is the editorial.(1)
"The Distortion of the Image of the U.S. Has Become a Political Objective for Arab Governments in Their Struggle for Survival"
"The news of the resignation of Karen Hughes, the official responsible for American public diplomacy who was tasked with improving the image of America abroad, especially in the Middle East, was received with relative quiet. This was in contrast to the news of her appointment to the position in 2005, which enjoyed wide coverage and high hopes.
"But Hughes failed in her mission, though with distinction, and it is expected, or so it is hoped, that this failure will deliver a severe shock to American diplomacy that may perhaps awaken it from the delusions and bureaucracy that are firmly established in the corridors of the Department of State.
"In any case, it was not destined for that Hughes would succeed in 'winning the hearts and minds of the Arabs' in all circumstances, and this has nothing to do with her skills or her competence.
"According to the Reuters article that reported her resignation, Hughes is known for her fast-talking, enthusiastic style, a trait that was not always well received, particularly in the Middle East.
"But this is not the reason, of course. The distorted image of the United States – in the Arab world, at least – is not due to lack of information about the motives and nature of American foreign policy, and not because Arab citizens have insufficient information about American life, or the laws or institutions of the United States.
"The residents of the Arab world do not live on another planet, and they are not isolated from the revolution of rapid communication, technology, and the Internet, where anyone can push a button and get the information he wants. Many Arabs have visited the United States or have a relatives or friends living in America.
"The real reason is that the distortion of the image of the United States has become a political objective for Arab governments in their struggle for survival, and a tool to banish the specter of democracy and change in the Arab region.
"Those conducting this smear campaign are primarily autocratic Arab regimes, as represented by Ministries of Information. They have decided to make the United States pay the price for toppling one of their regimes – the regime of Saddam Hussein – and then calling for reform in the region."
"What Those Conducting American Public Diplomacy Do Not Realize is that, in the Arab World, Little Happens by Chance"
"To this end, they poisoned the views and ideas in the Arab world, and filled the minds of the people with such extraordinary superstitions, fantasies and conspiracy theories, beginning with the accusation that the CIA and the Jews masterminded the attacks of September 11 and not ending with the 'Crusader war' that President George Bush has declared on the Islamic world.
"What those conducting American public diplomacy do not realize is that in the Arab world, little happens by chance.
"When Karen Hughes visited a school in an Arab capital to meet with the pupils, or a social institution to meet with its employees, she thought that people were speaking naturally and revealing what they actually believe – their opinions, in fact – especially toward the United States.
"Such things may happen in America, where people are free in what they believe and what they say. But it is naive to assume that the same thing happens in the Arab world.
"In the Arab world, numerous authorities intervene to shape people's views and impose on them what to say. First, there is the information authority, for the most part owned by the government or by agencies close to it; this information, whether it comes in the apparent form of news or opinions, teaches people negative views of the United States day in and day out.
"Then, there is the imam of the mosque. Generally, he is a government official, and it is impossible for him to leave cursing the Jews, the Nazarenes (Christians), and the global arrogance – headed of course by America! – out of his sermons."
"Those Who Conduct American Public Diplomacy Have Allowed the Arab Governments and Their Corrupt and Despotic Agencies To Deceive Them – And Have Then Themselves Attempted to Deceive American Public Opinion"
"And then there is the school – a government institution – which programs the pupils from childhood on with hostility toward everything non-Arab and non-Muslim, and programs them to believe in declaring other Muslims apostates and infidels, and in jihad, and in the restoration of the Caliphate and the revival of Arab and Islamic glory – to which the West is an obstacle!
"Instead of researching the true reasons for the distortion of America's image in the Arab world, and presenting a list of the organizations and individuals engaged in the distortion – which in any case takes place openly, in broad daylight – those who conduct American public diplomacy have allowed the Arab governments and their corrupt and despotic agencies to deceive them – and have then themselves attempted to deceive American public opinion.
"What they do not know is that they have become a joke in the Arab world, subject to jest and ridicule from all sides.
"Thus, instead of the United States winning the hearts and minds of Arabs and Muslims, the Arab governments and Muslim Brotherhood have ensnared the hearts and minds of many State Department diplomats, as well as those of some of Washington's influential research institutes."
(1), November 2, 2007.

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
Search previous MEMRI publications at

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israeli Confidence Building Measures towards the Palestinians

Behind the Headlines: Israeli Confidence Building Measures towards the Palestinians
Israel Ministry of Foreign affairs
Israel believes that the new Palestinian Government provides a renewed opportunity to move forward in the peace process toward the realization of the two-state vision. It is in this spirit that Israel has recently taken practical steps to assist the Palestinian government in creating a better environment for progress
Israel believes that the new Palestinian Government - established after the takeover of Gaza by Hamas terrorists in June 2007 - provides a renewed opportunity to move forward in the peace process toward the realization of the two-state vision. It is in this spirit that Israel has recently taken practical steps to assist the Palestinian government, led by President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, in creating a better environment for progress. The following is a brief list of some of the confidence building measure recently taken by Israel towards this end:
 1. Releasing Withheld Tax and Customs Revenues – About 1 Billion NIS (approx. $250 million) have already been transferred to the PA, and the remainder of the revenues, another 1 Billion NIS, will be transferred by the end of the year. Israel and the PA have established a mutually acceptable mechanism for transferring and monitoring these funds, to prevent their use by terrorist organizations.
 2. Promoting Palestinian Development:
 - Promotion of Sewage Project with World Bank in Gaza, now underway in Beit Lahia, and serving the Northern Gaza strip
 - MASHAV Projects – More than 230 Palestinian Trainees in such fields as Public Health, Small Business, Agriculture, Import/Export,  Educational Planning and Empowerment of Women and Youth
 3. Security-related Measures:
 - Easing of Movement – 25 roadblocks and checkpoints were removed in the West Bank
 - Amnesty of Wanted Terrorists – About 170 wanted Fatah terrorists were offered amnesty in exchange for renunciation of terrorism and surrendering of weapons.
 - Prisoner Release – About 350 prisoners were released in two phases (20 July and 1 October) with a third phase now being contemplated.
 - Provisions for PA Security Forces – Israel recently consented to the transfer of supplies and equipment to the PA Security Forces, above and beyond that called for in the Israel-Palestinian agreements.
 - Palestinian Security Force Deployment – PA security forces, with Israel's consent, have just been redeployed in Nablus (the largest West Bank city), and other cities are being considered for further redeployments.
 4. Re-convening the Bilateral Committees established in the Oslo Accords, in order to address the ongoing needs of the Palestinian Authority:
 - Health, Tourism and Agriculture Committees already working
 - Legal Committee and Joint Economic Committee (established by the Paris Accord) to begin working soon
5. Expanding Economic Cooperation:
 - Meetings of Business Community Leaders – Lately Israel has facilitated and supported several meetings between Israeli and Palestinian business community which have taken place under various non-governmental auspices. For example, the Israeli Manufactures Association has conducted a high level forum with Palestinian counterparts, and the Portland Fund has initiated the establishment of an Israeli-Palestinian Chamber of Commerce.
- Promotion of Economic Projects with International Partners - Turkey's Industrial Zone Project in Tarqumieh and Japan's 'Corridor of Peace' Project in Jericho are two such projects

It is Israel's hope that these measure, and others that will be taken in the near future, will help create and support an atmosphere condu

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Meaningless Iranian inpections

From Associated Press, we learn this about IAEA monitoring of Iranian nuclear efforts:
Senior IAEA officials were refused interviews with at least two top Iranian nuclear officials suspected of possible involvement in a weapons program, they said. One was the leader of a physics laboratory at Lavizan, outside Tehran, which was razed before the agency had a chance to investigate activities there. The other was in charge of developing Iran's centrifuges, used to enrich uranium.
So, whatever is interesting, is simply "disappeared" and the relevant people are quarantined.
Iran did surrender copies of documents about how to make nuclear warheads, which, it claims were given to it more or less "by accident"
Iran maintains it was given the papers without asking for them during its black market purchases of nuclear equipment decades ago that now serve as the backbone of its program to enrich uranium - a process that can generate power or create the fissile core of nuclear warheads. Iran's refusal to suspend enrichment has been the main trigger for both existing UN sanctions and the threat of new ones.
Indeed. It is certain that black market operators are philanthropists and give things away for free. Maybe the papers were used to wrap someone's lunch.
Here is the story...
Iran gives UN blueprints of how to make uranium warheads

Associated Press , THE JERUSALEM POST  Nov. 13, 2007
After years of stonewalling, Iran has given the UN nuclear agency blueprints showing how to mold uranium metal into the shape of warheads, diplomats said Tuesday, in an apparent concession meant to head off the threat of new UN sanctions.
But the diplomats said Tehran has failed to meet other requests made by the International Atomic Energy Agency in its attempts to end nearly two decades of nuclear secrecy on the part of the Islamic Republic.
The diplomats spoke to The Associated Press as IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei put the finishing touches on his latest report to his agency's 35-nation board of governors, for consideration next week. While ElBaradei is expected to say that Iran has improved its cooperation with his agency's probe, the findings are unlikely to deter the United States, France and Britain from pushing for a third set of UN sanctions.
The agency has been seeking possession of the blueprints since 2005, when it stumbled upon them among a batch of other documents during its examination of suspect Iranian nuclear activities. While agency inspectors had been allowed to examine them in the country, Tehran had up to now refused to let the IAEA have a copy for closer perusal.
Diplomats accredited to the agency, who demanded anonymity for divulging confidential information, said the drawings were hand-carried by Mohammad Saeedi, deputy director of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization and handed over last week in Vienna to Oli Heinonen, an ElBaradei deputy in charge of the Iran investigations.
Iran maintains it was given the papers without asking for them during its black market purchases of nuclear equipment decades ago that now serve as the backbone of its program to enrich uranium - a process that can generate power or create the fissile core of nuclear warheads. Iran's refusal to suspend enrichment has been the main trigger for both existing UN sanctions and the threat of new ones.
Both the IAEA and other experts have categorized the instructions outlined in the blueprints as having no value outside of a nuclear weapons program.
While ElBaradei's report is likely to mention the Iranian concession on the drawings and other progress made in clearing up ambiguities in Iran's nuclear activities, it was unclear whether it would also detail examples of what the diplomats said was continued Iranian stonewalling.
Senior IAEA officials were refused interviews with at least two top Iranian nuclear officials suspected of possible involvement in a weapons program, they said. One was the leader of a physics laboratory at Lavizan, outside Tehran, which was razed before the agency had a chance to investigate activities there. The other was in charge of developing Iran's centrifuges, used to enrich uranium.

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IDF Chief of General Staff at Nato conference

November 13th, 2007


Chief of General Staff participates in NATO conference in Brussels

The Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, arrived in Brussels this morning in order to participate in the NATO Chiefs of Staff Conference. During the conference Lieut. Gen. Ashkenazi will undertake a series of meetings focusing on the situation in the Middle East, the ongoing war on terror and the relations between the IDF and the NATO nations and militaries.

The Chief of General Staff will address the conference forum and will carry out numerous meetings with the NATO Secretary General, several senior members of NATO and also with fellow Chiefs of Staff throughout the world, including the Chairman of the Joint Staff of the US military.

Throughout his meetings, Lieut. Gen. Ashkenazi will present the security challenges faced by Israel, the current situation in the Middle East, the continuing struggle against terrorism and the implementation of the lessons learned from the Second Lebanon War. Accompanying the Chief of Staff are the head of the Chief of Staff's office and the IDF's Military Attache in Brussels.

This is the Chief of Staff's first trip outside of Israel since his appointment in February 2007.

The Chief of Staff is due to return to Israel tomorrow night, November 14th, 2007.

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Give us that old time religion

The Leviev spokesmen said:
We hope this is not an attempt to disqualify the plan due to ulterior motives
The ulterior motive of the program is religious coercion. Disqualification of the program should be automatic in a secular democracy. What are they thinking?
Israel doesn't have enough ultra-orthodox people Lev Leviev thinks. So he is making more of them.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 03:36 13/11/2007    
 Ultra-Orthodox program taught in schools despite ministry ban
 By Or Kashti, Haaretz Correspondent  

Ultra-Orthodox businessman Lev Leviev is continuing to run an elementary school program to increase Jewish content in the curriculum, even though the Education Ministry decided the program was unfit to be taught in state schools.
A few months ago, the Leviev Foundation presented the ministry with a second version of the program, but it too was rejected, in part because the ultra-Orthodox approach predominated in it.
Haaretz has found that contrary to the ministry's decision, former Education Ministry director general Shmuel Abuav approved the program for some local authorities.
Some 70 schools in Rishon Letzion, Netanya, Petah Tikva and Beit Shemesh are running the program, Zman Masa (Travel Time). The Education Ministry has permitted these schools to continue implementing the program until the end of the school year, as long as a teacher attends the lessons to make sure the material does not contradict the spirit of state education.
The program was first implemented during the last school year in about 18 elementary schools. The Leviev Foundation finances the study hours, books and other materials. The lessons are held in the middle of the school day, so all the pupils are obliged to take part in them.
In January 2007, the Education Ministry's pedagogical secretariat, which is in charge of approving study programs, ruled the program was not fit to be taught in state schools. A few months later the Leviev Foundation submitted a new version, which was also rejected.
"Apparently, many of the problems with the former program no longer exist," wrote Professor Anat Zohar, chair of the pedagogical secretariat, in her second opinion. "However, a more careful reading reveals quite a few residual views that are not in keeping with the spirit of the Shenhar Report." The Shenhar Report stated that Jewish studies in state schools should be taught with a secular-humanist, rather than theological, approach.
"The program has various pedagogical limitations," Zohar wrote.
In most cases, the program is taught by religious and ultra-Orthodox teaching students.
The program is intended for pupils in first to sixth grades. The study book for third and fourth grade, for example, asks the pupils to point out which animals are considered clean and unclean according to Judaism. The children are taught about the various uses of olive oil, Sabbath candles and the blessings that must be said before lighting Hanukkah candles.
The prelude to the sixth grade study book tells the pupils about the "nation's mothers and fathers" ¬ it says Abraham met his creator when he was only three years old, and "revealed the world's creator to thousands and tens of thousands." The book says that "thanks to Sarah, the light in the house was blessed."
Zohar wrote, "Despite the fact that many parts deal with values, the Orthodox approach ¬ dealing mainly with principles of Jewish faith, religious laws and customs ¬ prevails."
She also criticized parts of the textbooks and teachers' guidebook, including statements that "blessing and livelihood is granted from heaven to help the weak and needy"; "read the prayer with all your heart and your wish will be granted"; "the upheaval of the candle lighting moment must be enhanced. At this moment all work ceases, and Sabbath enters and brings a special atmosphere."
Zohar said that the program emphasizes only the religious aspect of holidays. "Children in state schools cannot be taught this way," she wrote.
The opinion rejecting Leviev's program was written in June 2007. A month later, then-education ministry director general Shmuel Abuav visited Rishon Letzion and authorized the program's implementation in 20 schools.
The announcement that the program had been found unfit to be taught in state schools, which was to appear in the Education Ministry director general's memorandum several months ago, appeared only in November's memorandum. "Abuav apparently didn't want the ministry's rejection of the program to be commonly known," a ministry official said Monday.
"Some of the local authorities knew the program had not been approved, yet implemented it in their schools anyway," he said.
Abuav said, "After a few rounds of corrections, the program was finally ruled unsuitable for state education. I insisted on putting the ban in the director general's memorandum."
Parents who tried to find out whether the program was authorized for implementation in their children's school had difficulty getting a clear answer.
"Every time I asked, the school evaded the question," a mother from Netanya said. "I was told I was petty and apparently bored. When I insisted, they promised to get it authorized retroactively."
A mother from Rishon Letzion said, "I did not send my children to a state school to have to ask them what exactly they learned in Jewish identity class. It's impertinent of ultra-Orthodox groups to presume to teach us, the secular people, about Jewish tradition, as though we don't know those things. The most infuriating thing is the Education Ministry's incompetence."
Leviev's pubic relations' agency said, "The program's pilot was approved at a discussion in the education minister's bureau, and later the former director general examined the study material. To this day we have received no official notice that the program was rejected, and all the requests to meet the ministry officials dealing with it have been refused. We hope this is not an attempt to disqualify the plan due to ulterior motives."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Palestinian rights group mildly condemns Hamas rights violations

Hamas's barbaric use of force against Gaza demonstrators got this mild reprimand from PCHR. There is not a single word in this condemnation that mentions that people have the right of assembly. It was OK to break up the demonstrations according to PCHR.
Ami Isseroff

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Press Release 
Ref: 160/2007
Date: 13 November 2007
Time: 13:00 GMT
 PCHR Condemns Excessive and Lethal Use of Force against Civilians in Gaza
 PCHR strongly condemns the excessive use of force by the Palestinian police to disperse the participants in the Fatah rally in Gaza City yesterday. The Centre condemns the use of gunfire that resulted in the death of 6 civilians, including a 12-year old boy, and injury of more than 80 others. The Centre calls upon the Palestinian government in Gaza to immediately investigate these attacks, prosecute the perpetrators, and take serious steps to prevent their recurrence.
The Center's preliminary investigation and eyewitness accounts indicate that tens of thousands of participants from all over the Gaza Strip started to arrive in Qatiba Grounds near Al-Azhar University in Gaza City on the morning of Monday, 12 November 2007. They were arriving to attend the Fatah rally on the 3rd anniversary of the death of the late President Yasser Arafat. The rally was scheduled to start at 13:00 Gaza time.
Palestinian police armed with guns and batons and civilian-clothed gunmen were deployed in roads leading to the Qatiba Grounds since the early morning hours. Clashes broke out between the police and rally participants at 11:30 and resulted in the death of Tariq Mahmoud El-Najjar (29) by a bullet to the chest and right hand. One of the Center's staff stated that he witnessed clashes between rally participants and members of the police in the area. He stated that at about 11:30, a jeep carrying civilian-clothed gunmen was heading in the direction opposite to hundreds of people heading to the rally in Jamal Abd El-Naser Street. He added that the jeep's presence was provocative and an attempt to "show off" by driving in the midst of hundreds of rally participants. As the jeep passed, there were harassments; and the gunmen replied by firing in the air. They made their way out of the masses into a side street.
After the end of the rally, violence broke out between rally participants and the police. The demonstrators threw rocks at the police who responded by indiscriminate gunfire and raiding the rally grounds. Pictures showed members of the police deployed around Qatiba grounds firing indiscriminately at the rally participants.
 The firing resulted in the death of 5 people and injury of 80 others in the area around the Qatiba Grounds. Three of the injuries are serious. There are 9 children and 2 women among the injured. The victims killed are:
1-       Ibrahim Mahmoud Ahmad (12) from Beit Hanoun; killed by a bullet to the neck.
2-       Mohammad Ahmad El-Masri (67) from Khan Yunis; killed by a bullet to the head.
3-       Yehia Khaled Abu Samra (19) from Deir El-Balah; killed by a bullet to the chest.
4-       Kamel Mohammad Zeyara (19) from Beach Camp; killed by a bullet to the chest.
5-       Husam Bader El-Ewadi (26) from Gaza City; killed by a bullet to the head.
The police also chased rally participants and beat them with batons and sticks. In the meantime, several journalists were attacked, including:
-          Khaled Jamal Bolbol, a photographer for Zoom Press. He was beaten and his camera was broken and confiscated.
-          Mohammad Sawalha, a photographer for Abu Dhabi Satellite Station. He was detained and his camera tape was confiscated.
-          Mowafaq Matar, a journalist for Al-Hayat Newspaper. He was detained and pictures were erased from his camera.
In a development of the events, the police fired at demonstrators in the funeral procession of Yehia Abu Samra near the Deir El-Balah police station. The firing came after youth shouted insults at the police. Seven people were injured, including three suffering shrapnel wounds.
In the evening, the police carried out a large-scale arrests operation against tens of Fatah activists throughout the Gaza Strip. Others received summoning orders to police stations today and tomorrow. PCHR's fieldworkers indicated that the operation continued throughout the night and into the early morning hours.
 PCHR strongly condemns these attacks, and points to the following observations:
1-       Our staff documented the deployment of police roadblocks on the main roads in and around Gaza City to prevent the arrival of Fatah supporters to the rally in Qatiba Grounds in Gaza City.
2-       Our staff documented the heavy deployment of uniformed police armed with guns and batons and civilian-clothes security personnel and gunmen in the streets leading to the rally grounds and around it. This deployment laid the groundwork for violence friction and for the actions that transpired.
3-       Security authorities have the right to take security precautions to preserve the civilian lives and property; however it is not permissible to push hundreds of gunmen and security personnel in a confrontation with civilians.
4-       The acts of violence that accompanied the large rally over a large area, including throwing rocks at the police and security personnel, does not justify the excessive and disproportionate use of force by the police.
5-       Our staff did not register or find any member of the police or security who was injured by gunfire, which contradicts the statements by the police and Hamas.
6-       The duty of the police and security personnel is to protect participants. And in the case of coming under gunfire, as claimed by governmental sources in Gaza, indiscriminate, excessive, and lethal firing by the police at civilian gatherings is not justified.
7-       The government in Gaza seems to be dealing with demonstrations and peaceful rallies in this typical manner, which is rejected and condemned by the Centre.
8-       The Centre renews the call to the dismissed government in Gaza to immediately investigate these attacks, especially the circumstances of the death of the 6 civilians, and to prosecute the perpetrators.
9-       The Centre calls upon the dismissed government in Gaza to take the necessary security and political steps to ensure that such events do not recur.
10-    The Centre calls for the immediate release of all persons detained for political reasons, noting that political detention is illegal in Palestinian law.
Public Document
For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 - 2825893
PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. E-mail:, Webpage
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Continued (Permanent Link)

Egypt: Is this torture or is it a good idea: 80 lashes for slanderers

Is 80 lashes for slander "torture"? Is it constitutional?
Also contributing to this interpretation was the fact that on the previous Friday, Sheikh Tantawi had called for a boycott of newspapers that "spread false rumors."(4)
That would be a terrible disaster for Middle East and other newspapers, as their readership would drop to zero. And no Muslim could read The Guardian and The Independent. No more titilating tales of impending Israeli attacks on Iran, no more stories about Mossad agents and 9-11, no more of Robert Fisk's uranium bombs in southern Lebanon.
A good Idea Sheikh Tantawi! Sahten.
Ami Isseroff
MEMRI: Inquiry & Analysis-Egypt
November 14, 2007
No. 404
Egyptian Journalists Up In Arms Over Al-Azhar Sheikh's "80 Lashes for Slanderers" Fatwa
By D. Lav and L. Azuri*
Press freedom issues in Egypt are continuing to make headlines, both within the country and outside it. In several September 2007 court cases, newspaper editors received prison terms for spreading what was ruled to be false information about government officials.(1) Then, on October 8, 2007, Al-Azhar Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi gave a speech, in the presence of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, during which he stated that, based on a verse in the Koran, slanderers should be punished with 80 lashes. Coming as it did in the wake of the high-profile prosecutions of the independent press, many in the press took Sheikh Tantawi's statements to have been directed against journalists, setting off a lively polemic and leading to demands that he step down as Sheikh of Al-Azhar.
Al-Azhar Sheikh Tantawi: 80 Lashes for Slanderers
On October 8, 2007, Al-Azhar Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi delivered a speech to mark Laylat Al-Qadr, a holy day during the month of Ramadan that celebrates the beginning of the revelation of the Koran; among those present was President Mubarak. During his speech, Sheikh Tantawi said that slanderers should receive a punishment of 80 lashes.
According to the official Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, Tantawi said: "Islamic shari'a made everyone equal with regard to punishment for the crime of slander... Allah punished those who slander others with false accusations with three punishments. The first is sensory, and it consists of their being flogged with 80 lashes. The second is moral, and consists of their testimony not being accepted. The third is religious, and consists of Allah describing them as sinners."(2)
While there is no evidence that Sheikh Tantawi mentioned journalists or singled them out for punishment, the fact that his speech came against the backdrop of a recent slew of high-publicity prosecutions of journalists led many to conclude that this was his intention – and this fact was reflected in the newspaper headlines.(3) Also contributing to this interpretation was the fact that on the previous Friday, Sheikh Tantawi had called for a boycott of newspapers that "spread false rumors."(4)
In a statement, the Egyptian Journalists' Union said that the statements attributed to Sheikh Tantawi came as a "profound shock, as though he were participating, from his elevated position, in the escalating campaign of incitement against the press." It added that the statements attributed to Tantawi were "doing the greatest damage to Egypt's international reputation."(5)
On October 19, 2007, Sheikh Tantawi told Al-Arabiya TV that his Laylat Al-Qadr speech had not been directed specifically against journalists, but against anyone spreading false rumors. He added that that this was Allah's law, not a law of his own invention, and that it was no fault of his if it applied to journalists as well.(6)
Grandson of Past Al-Azhar Sheikh: Tantawi is an Unimportant Man in an Important Post
In the meantime, calls for Tantawi's removal from his post as Al-Azhar sheikh began to surface. In a sharply worded statement, Islamic scholar Tareq 'Abd Al-Halim, grandson of past Al-Azhar sheikh Salim Al-Bishri, said that he would take judicial action to remove Tantawi, and that if he did not succeed, he would demand that his grandfather's name be removed from the list of former heads of Al-Azhar.
In his statement, 'Abd Al-Halim said that Sheikh Tantawi's ruling on the flogging of journalists (as he put it) was the latest in a series of fatwas in the government's favor, and that it supported the government's attack on freedom of expression. He said that the post of Al-Azhar sheikh was an important one that had been entrusted to an unimportant person who adopted opinions based on the degree to which they concurred with the government's whims.(7)
The matter also became a bone of contention between rival Al-Azhar scholar associations. In a meeting headed by Tantawi himself, the official Al-Azhar Academy of Islamic Research decided to issue a statement in support of Tantawi.(8) The Front of Al-Azhar 'Ulama rebutted with a sharply worded criticism of the academy's statement, saying, "Allah and history will not forgive you," stated its support for the press, and expressed its view that the Koranic verse cited by Tantawi dealt only with false accusations of adultery.(9) 
Mustapha Bakri, member of parliament and editor-in-chief of the Egyptian weekly Al-Usbu', also expressed his intention to ask President Mubarak to remove Tantawi.(10)
The official Al-Ahram daily, on the other hand, came to Tantawi's defense; in an October 17, 2007 article, editor Osama Saraya wrote that the press's reaction to Tantawi's speech reflected "a crisis of dialogue among a minority that wants to impose its view, through violence and raised voices, on the majority." He added that Tantawi had not been speaking specifically about the press, and that he was simply expressing a religiously definitive law on slander.(11)
Saudi Liberal Journalist 'Abdallah Al-Mutairi: We Must Stop Looking On With Medieval Eyes and Thinking With a Medieval Mind
On October 17, 2007, the liberal Saudi daily Al-Watan published an article by columnist 'Abdallah Al-Mutairi criticizing Sheikh Tantawi's statement. Al-Mutairi wrote that the fatwa was evidence of the "medieval" state of contemporary Islamic thought and of the need for comprehensive reform:
"In a new fatwa, Al-Azhar Sheikh Tantawi demanded that journalists who 'spread rumors' should receive 80 lashes, in accordance with the [Koranic] punishment for defamation...
"This fatwa could be taken as an indicator of the state of Islamic thought today...
"Could this kind of fatwa be issued today anywhere but in the Islamic world? Could a religious leader anywhere [else] in the entire world demand the flogging of journalists? I don't think this occurs anywhere except in the Islamic countries...
"The majority of peoples in the world are moving towards an intellectual and human horizon in which flogging journalists for publishing unreliable reports is not only unacceptable, but unthinkable.
"The entire world understands the role of the press as the fourth estate that must be accorded the freedom to monitor affairs in the country and the world, and that allows opinions to be represented and assumes its right of expression. Humankind has reached this horizon in the modern age, and it is an important and significant development in the understanding of human freedom and the right to expression...
"And where does Islamic thought today stand in relation to all of this? Or, to be more exact, where do the important, popular, and influential Islamic ideological currents stand in relation to this horizon?... They still look on with medieval eyes and think with a medieval mind...
"In the 1960s, the Catholic Church made peace with modernity and stopped accusing it of apostasy. It recognized all of the Age of Enlightenment's freedoms and accomplishments, and recognized the other religions and freedom of belief... This development in Church thought followed a long series of violent and bloody struggles with free thought...
"In the Islamic [world], this development has not been achieved. Perhaps this is because the struggle has not yet reached the level of the Church's struggle with free thought. The events of 9/11 may be one of the forms of this struggle or clash with the world, but the ideological struggle has not yet materialized in a form that can help shatter fundamentalism and as a result develop [new] Islamic thought.
"In other words, there has not yet formed an influential and active ideological current outside of the religious currents – one that will struggle with them on the ideological level and force them, through criticism, to develop, and abandon the medieval horizons where they hunker down...
"When the Al-Azhar sheikh was asked about this fatwa that he issued and the journalists' anger at it, he said: 'I am free... I say what I believe... Is this not the freedom of opinion for which they call? They allow it for themselves and forbid it for others.'
"[His] use of this 'freedom' excuse... was meant to vex the journalists, and was not [spoken] out of conviction. [Tantawi] does not differentiate between employing freedom to make use of it and to seek more of it, and employing freedom to lessen it, to forbid it to a group of people, and to demand that they be flogged...
"The important thing today is for the ideological and political currents based on human rights and freedoms to redouble their efforts to establish these concepts [of human rights and freedoms], and to openly and clearly confront the thinking that is opposed to them..."(12)  
Egyptian Islamic Reformist Gamal Al-Bana: The Fatwa Has No Basis in Islam
In an October 17, 2007 article in the Egyptian opposition daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm, prominent Islamic thinker Gamal Al-Bana(13) argued that Sheikh Tantawi's fatwa had no basis in Islam, and that he was betraying the cleric's proper role of standing with the people against oppressive rulers:
"...I was stunned to read [Tantawi's] words, because the traditional position with which the people entrusted clerics has been to stand together with the people against the ruler and with the weak against the strong. For [Tantawi] to encourage the ruler to punish the press is something that places the religious scholar – the 'successor to the prophets' – in the same trench with the oppressive ruler, and that uses religion in accordance with [the ruler's] political will..."
Al-Bana also disputed Sheikh Tantawi's reading of Koran 24:23, on which he based his punishment for slander. The verse reads: "Those who slander chaste [but] heedless believing women are cursed in this world and the next, and they will be severely punished." Al Bana writes: "These verses were revealed in order to protect the 'chaste [but] heedless women' from being falsely accused of adultery. Allah wanted to protect these poor women, who have neither power nor might, and cannot defend themselves, or even speak.
"Is it right to draw an analogy between these poor women and the government, which has power, might, an army, central security, and police divisions that spread terror and use torture?! Is it this government that is in need of protection, or rather the helpless people?...
"Today, the press is the only voice that is raised to protect the people's moral and material rights; to guard its assets and resources; to fight the policy of 'selling off Egypt'; to reject the succession [of Gamal Mubarak], which is contrary to [both] Islam and democracy; to fight the spreading corruption, which has become ubiquitous in the ministries, the banks, and [public] institutions; and so forth...
"I would hope that the honorable Al-Azhar sheikh would see press activities as a kind of [fulfillment of the Koranic injunction of] 'commanding good and forbidding evil,' especially as only the press is capable of doing so, and thus this becomes a personal obligation [for it]...
"The press has been doing what Al-Azhar should have been doing..."(14)
Egyptian "Heretic" Salah Al-Din Muhsin: Don't Blame Tantawi, Blame Shari'a
In contrast to Gamal Al-Bana and others who argued that flogging journalists is against Islam, Salah Al-Din Muhsin, a liberal secularist Egyptian author who spent three years in prison on charges of offending the religion,(15) wrote on the left-wing Modern Discussion website that there was no sense in blaming Sheikh Tantawi, as the real problem lay in Islamic shari'a and its role in Egyptian public life:
"...The punishment of flogging is an uncivilized punishment which abases human dignity. It is among the punishments employed in ancient times; since then many centuries have passed, and these [punishments] have become outdated. It is unthinkable to revive it today.
"But, frankly, I think that the demand to fire the sheikh of Al-Azhar is no less unjust than the injustice and darkness of the fatwa [itself]...
"The sheikh of Al-Azhar is not responsible for the fatwa and the flogging law. That law goes back to the ages of backwardness and primitivity. The law of flogging, the law of cutting off hands, [the law of] beheading..., the law of stoning, and the law of cutting off [a person's] opposing  arm and leg – all of these crude and harsh laws and punishments are laws in Islamic shari'a.
"So why blame the Al-Azhar sheikh personally? Did he bring this law from his father's house? Did Sheikh Tantawi invent something of his own? By no means. These are laws in Islamic shari'a, and [Tantawi] was speaking in his capacity as sheikh of Al-Azhar, the greatest Islamic university...
"Whoever has a just opposition to this law [and] this fatwa should be honest and should not demand that this person be fired, but rather should demand that shari'a, that rules by outdated laws, not be implemented. And he should demand that this shari'a not be taught, and that its laws not be taught at Al-Azhar University...
"So take your hands off Sheikh Tantawi; take your hands off the sheikhs. They, and we, are victims and prisoners of the Bedouin's ancient desert ignorance. The time has come to liberate ourselves, and to liberate them..."(16)
*D. Lav is Director of MEMRI's Middle East and North Africa Reform Project and L. Azuri is a research fellow at MEMRI.
(1) See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 396, "In Egypt, Debate on Press Freedom Follows Imprisonment of Opposition Press Editors," October 12, 2007,
(2) The transcript for the speech was given to columnist Salah Al-Muntasar by Minister of Religious Endowments Dr. Zaqzuq. Al-Ahram (Egypt), October 24, 2007.
(3) Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), October 10, 2007; Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 12, 2007.
(4) Al-Misriyyun (Egypt), October 26, 2007.
(5) Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 12, 2007.
(6) Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), October 20, 2007.
(7) Al-Misriyyun (Egypt), October 22, 2007.
(8) Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), October 21, 2007.
(9) Al-Misriyyun (Egypt), October 26, 2007.
(10), October 14, 2007.
(11) Al-Ahram (Egypt), October 17, 2007.
(12) Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), October 17, 2007.
(13) For more on Gamal Al-Bana, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 334, "Sheikh Gamal Al-Bana: Social and Religious Moderation vs. Political Extremism," March 16, 2007,
(14) Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), October 17, 2007.
(15) See Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), January 28, 2001.
(16), October 19, 2007.

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Historic first: Peres addresses Turkish Parliament

It is not every day that the President of Israel gets to address a Muslim legislature. Peres's visit to Turkey is doubly significant because Turkey is slowly turning away from the secularism of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and moving toward an Islamic society of as yet unknown description. President Gul's election was controversial because of his supposed sympathies with clericalist opinion. Israeli-Turkish friendship could be the model for remaking the Middle East.
ANKARA - In an historic first address to a Muslim state parliament by an Israeli president, Shimon Peres told Turkish lawmakers Tuesday that Israel is ready to end its decades-long conflict with the Palestinians.

In the first speech by an Israeli president before a Muslim legislature, Peres said, "Israel is determined to reach a two-state solution."

Peres expressed the gratitude of Israel to the people in Turkey who opened their doors to Jews when they were expelled from Spain in 1492. Turkish Sultan Beyazid II accepted Jews into the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor of modern Turkey, after they were expelled from Spain.

"Here, they found a home of tolerance where they could freely practice their religion," Peres said in his speech, given in Hebrew and translated into Turkish. "I came here to express my gratitude to Turkey."

Turkey also aided Jews fleeing the Holocaust, including Turkish Jews abroad.

Turkey's President Abdullah Gul and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas were among those in the audience in Turkey's 550-seat Parliament.

Earlier Tuesday, Abbas expressed optimisim on the prospects for peace, following a meeting with Peres in the Turkish capital.

"If peace comes and the occupation comes to an end, Israel will live in a sea of peace," Abbas said at a joint news conference with Peres.

Abbas said his administration was preparing for the upcoming Middle East conference in Annapolis, Maryland, aimed at relaunching peace negotiations between the two sides after they broke down amid violence seven years ago.

"We are working with our full force to ensure that the meeting in Annapolis is a success," he said.

Turkey asks Peres for a Turkish Cypriot representative office in Tel Aviv

Turkey has requested openning a Turkish Cypriot representative office in Tel Aviv, according to Turkish President Abdullah Gul, who raised the issue at his meeting with President Shimon Peres Monday.

Peres said he would have to discuss the matter with Israel's Foreign Ministry before replying.

The Israeli delegation to Turkey was surprised when Gul broached the matter of Turkish Cyprus at the first meeting. In 1974, following a coup against the democratic Cypriot government by the Greek military junta then ruling in Athens, Turkey invaded Cyprus and occupied the northern half of the island. In 1983 the Turkish minority there declared independence, which is seen by the world, apart from Turkey, as occupied territory of sovereign Cyprus.

Gul told Peres that Israel must halt settlement construction in the West Bank if it wishes to seriously pursue peace efforts with the Palestinians. "Israel's security is important, but one can't ignore Palestinian problems," he said. "Israel must stop building in settlements."

Palestinian leaders, he said, "spread out maps before me and show me the settlement growth. It doesn't leave me much to say on the matter."

Peres told a joint news conference that he believed that Israel could currently make peace with the Palestinians, but cautioned that the process might take time.

Gul told Peres that Damascus should be invited to the Annapolis peace summit at the end of the month, and that Syrian President Bashar Assad "is interested in real peace." Peres said "Assad needs to take action that shows he is serious, and come to Jerusalem."

The two presidents also discussed U.S. congressional legislation - to which Turkey is vehemently opposed - which labels the massacre of Armenians during World War I as a genocide.

"It's not a good idea to spoil relations between Turkey and Israel because of events from 90 years ago," Gul told Peres, "but we can't stand a situation in which every half year the issue is raised in the United States."

Regarding the Iranian nuclear threat, Peres told Gul that it is clear that Iran, which claims its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, is actually trying to develop nuclear arms. Gul disagreed, but said Turkey would not stand for Iran acquiring nuclear arms.

Peres requested that asked Gul send the Siloam inscription - describing the tunnel digging in King Hezkiya's days in 703 CE and now exhibited in Archaeological Museum of Istanbul - to Jerusalem for Israel's 60th anniversary.

Continued (Permanent Link)

More bad news from Pakistan: Bhutto under house arrest

In Pakistan, the United States has clearly gotten itself into a lot of trouble, once again supporting an oppressive and unpopular regime, in the name of "democracy." Pervez Musharraf, who declared an emergency in order to ensure the "correct" outcome of elections, has now put his prinicple opponent, Benazir Bhutto, under house arrest, according to the Washington Post. Bhutto was to lead a protest march against the emergency decrees. Supposedly, she is to run as Prime Minister, and is favored to win, in the upcoming elections. The troubles began when Musharraf refused to step down as head of the armed forces as required by the constitution, and fired several judges who declared the move unconstitutional.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Barak: Israel should launch its own peace initiative

Quote: "Defense Minister Ehud Barak supports a comprehensive peace initiative that would include promoting a peace agreement with Syria, Ynet has learned Monday evening.

Barak has told his associates in recent days that only such an initiative could stop other peace plans, like the Arab peace initiative, from being forced on Israel.

According to the defense minister, the issue of talks with the Syrians should be reexamined, and a change of policy may lead to positive results. He stressed that with Syria, "the price is known and the outcome important."

"Why not have an Israeli initiative?" Barak asked his aides. "Why shouldn't we stipulate out interests, what we want, what we are willing to give, and then launch our own peace plan as a starting point for negotiations?" he

A very good suggestion, but why didn't he do it in 2000? Why hasn't Israel ever laid out at least minimal requirements for a peace agreement? How is it that after all this time, Saeeb Erekat still doesn't understand that "peace" requires that the Arabs accept Israel as the state of the Jewish people?
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, November 12, 2007

General Assembly of United Jewish Communities to meet in Nashville

The article states:
In coming to Nashville, American Jewry is making a dramatic statement: that it must look inward toward its own growing problems and must focus its minds, institutions and financiers on the troubling future of a community that is both the strongest and, in some ways, the most endangered on the planet.
Either that, or they got the best hotel deal there. Next year they are meeting in Jerusalem. Last year they met in Los Angeles. The statement made by meeting in LA had to do with Disnneyland??
Ami Isseroff

Haviv Rettig , THE JERUSALEM POST  Nov. 12, 2007
The home of country music and Christian pop is an unexpected location for the largest annual convention of the central American Jewish umbrella organization, a conference focused on Jewish continuity.
As the three-day General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities got underway Sunday, the dissonance between the conference and the cultural backdrop of Nashville underscored the changing priorities of American Jewry.
More than in previous years, this year's GA isn't about Israel or hungry Jews around the world. Though Nashville's Jewish community is old - the first minyans date back to the 1840s - it is tiny, comprising fewer than 8,000 souls. And the entire state of Tennessee has about 20,000 Jews. So it isn't about Nashville, either.
In coming to Nashville, American Jewry is making a dramatic statement: that it must look inward toward its own growing problems and must focus its minds, institutions and financiers on the troubling future of a community that is both the strongest and, in some ways, the most endangered on the planet.
Flush with cash and armed with significant political and social influence at all levels of American politics and society, American Jews, accounting for almost 80 percent of the Diaspora, are seeing a generational shift that is realigning the loyalties and aspirations of the average American Jew.
Young Jewish professionals are increasingly abandoning the community's institutions in favor of mainstream, mobile and increasingly "personalized" tech-savvy American life. All American communities are under siege from this trend away from traditional communities - mainline Protestant churches, the Catholic Church and even the Rotary Club face shrinking participation among the young - and the Jewish community has not yet found a way to reverse this trend.
In that context, Nashville may be a symbolic venue. Tennessee's community is a telling microcosm of American Jewry in general. The tiny Jewish presence in small-town Tennessee has become almost extinct as the community aged and the ambitious young left for the big cities and universities. Meanwhile, the big cities, including Nashville's expanding job market, have attracted Jewish professionals from out of state. And in the cities, as in the rest of America, assimilation is taking its demographic toll.
So for three days this week, Nashville's Jewish community will grow by almost half, as some 3,000 delegates from North America and Israel descend on the town's Gaylord Opryland Resort.
The Israeli delegation will be small. MKs Yoel Hasson (Kadima) and Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor) and Diaspora Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog (Labor) are here, and some sessions will discuss investment in Israel and trips there as part of American Jewish identity-building. But the hallway conversations, the constant unstructured buzz that is the reason most delegates come, will focus on America.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will speak at the closing plenary on Tuesday, joining former presidential candidate and current Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean and Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen in representing the American political establishment.
Last year's GA in Los Angeles dealt extensively with Israel's security and social welfare in the wake of the Second Lebanon War. Next year's GA will bring thousands of representatives of American Jewry to Jerusalem. This year, far from its centers of gravity, American Jewry is taking a breath and looking inward.

Continued (Permanent Link)



EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW By Yaniv Halily - Yediot Achronot - November 9, 2007

7 Days Weekend Magazine Front Page Feature Article

Translated to English by Justice4JP Released in English November 12, 2007.

SUBTITLE INTRO: Alone, disgusted, worn out and fed up, locked up with murderers and pedophiles, Jonathan Pollard believes that the State of Israel would prefer him dead. Twenty-two years after being sentenced to life without possibility of parole, the man who spied for the benefit of Israel and was abandoned by her, fires in all directions taking aim at those whom he sees as being directly responsible for his fate, mainly Rafi Eitan, Shimon Peres, and Ehud Barak. His last hope, on the eve of the Annapolis Summit, appears to hang upon the Palestinians who are likely to suggest a deal in which Marwan Barghouti would also be released. "I will be very sorry," he says, "if they free me in return for an abhorrent murderer." Yaniv Halily reports from North Carolina.


At the entrance to the prison facility in Butner, North Carolina, hangs a breath-taking poster depicting snowy mountains and faraway horizons, and at the bottom the title: "Possibilities." Perhaps the poster is intended to awaken a sense of motivation in the guards who work there, who are able to take off and enjoy the freedom of a ski vacation any time. But it is impossible to escape the mixed emotions the poster evokes in those who come to this place to visit Jonathan Pollard, locked up in this facility for the rest of his life.

A month ago Pollard marked 8000 days in prison. For 22 years the former Israeli agent has been incarcerated in different prisons in the United States - Butner is his 4th home behind bars - and the only thing that he can see at the end of the tunnel is another metal door.

Our visit takes place on Halloween which is the American version of Purim. It seems as if the incidental timing of our meeting has symbolic meaning. It is hard to understand the Kafkaesque story of Pollard which starts with espionage in the service of the State of Israel and ends, to date, with Israel's lack of interest in doing something, or even less than nothing for him. With the exception of a few politicians on the right who paid condolence visits to him, no one in Israel is in any rush to demand his release.

And Pollard? He is fading away from day to day as disappointment eats away at what little hope remains. "I am tired" he says with eyes dimmed. "I was awake all night, thinking about what to say to you. I am up to date on everything that goes on in Israel. Esther, my wife, says that it is important for me to be in Israel, even if only mentally. But I am fed up and disgusted. And mainly I am tired of it all."


Jonathan Jay Pollard was born on August 7, 1954. In June of 1984, just shortly before his 30th birthday, he was promoted as an officer to the new Anti Terror Alert Center (ATAC) of the US Navy's terror investigation department. His list of responsibilities included the investigation and analysis of intelligence and information relating to potential threats to the United States. He had direct access to classified information concerning the Middle East. When Pollard discovered that the department he worked in was imposing an illegal intelligence embargo on Israel he asked his superiors about it and was brushed off with responses like, "Don't mix into matters that do not concern you."

This policy was in effect as a consequence of a strong anti-Israel atmosphere which trickled down through many government offices at the time of the tenure of Secretary of State Caspar Weinberger. Pollard knew that Israel was also supposed to benefit from the sharing of classified information, as was legally mandated according to a strategic intelligence-sharing agreement between Israel and the USA. He made contact with Aviam Sella, a senior officer in the Israeli Air Force who was in the US on a study sabbatical, who then made the connection between Pollard and LAKAM, a secret intelligence bureau operated by the Ministry of Defense, and headed by Rafi Eitan. In the course of a year and a half, Pollard transferred hundreds of documents to the heads of LAKAM. The information which he provided, as has been previously published, was of high quality and great value, and included information on the chemical, biological, and nuclear capabilities of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya. Pollard supplied Israel with detailed information on the development of ballistic missiles in neighboring Arab states, on plans to launch attacks on Israeli civilian targets, and on weapons deals arming the enemies of Israel. The crown jewel of the stack of information was satellite photos of the secret bases of enemy forces, including maps of the PLO headquarters in Tunis.

Pollard did not act alone. He recounts that the Embassy in Washington had rented an apartment where he would rendezvous every weekend with a large package of top secret documents. He would leave the documents in the apartment and a clerk from the Embassy would copy the documents and then return them to the apartment. At the beginning of each week, Pollard would retrieve the documents and return them to their proper files at his office.

But after someone whispered in the ears of the Americans that Pollard was a spy in the service of Israel, they began to watch him closely. Pollard remembers very well the events of the last days before he was caught. "On the last Friday I spent as a free man, the safe in my office was broken into and when I reported it to my superiors they reacted with equanimity. When I left the office for the weekend, I noticed that one of my colleagues was following me and even reporting on my movements by telephone. I discovered a hidden camera between the bricks on the ceiling in my office, right above my desk. But I could not run away: there were too many documents that I had left there which were important to the State of Israel which my disappearance would immediately have exposed."

Throughout the weekend Pollard recognized secret agents waiting outside his house. They followed him when he went for a walk with his first wife, Ann, and continued to monitor his every move. "The first thing I thought of was that I had to warn Aviam Sella so that he could escape before he was exposed. I sent Ann to speak with him. When she returned, I questioned her: 'Aviam was supposed to take you to Israel with him. Why didn't you go with him?' She replied that she did not want to leave me behind and that Aviam was not interested in taking her with him. I couldn't believe it! I asked her, "What, he deserted you?!"


On Monday, two days before he was arrested, his wife realized that someone had done a thorough search of their apartment. It was not an issue of 'so what?' since secret documents, which had been "borrowed" by Pollard and which he had not had a chance to return, were hidden in their apartment.

That night when Pollard left work and was walking towards his car he was taken by surprise when someone put a gun to his head. "You make one move and I'll shoot," said a voice from behind. Within seconds it became clear that these were the 2 agents who had done the intensive search of his apartment and located the briefcase filled with secret documents which Pollard was now carrying with him. When questioned, Pollard made an excuse about intending to work on them at home with a colleague from the office.

In order to mislead the agents, he told them that he was working for Pakistan. He was detained, questioned for a few hours and then released. But from this point on he knew he was living on borrowed time. "At this stage, I knew I had been burned. I called the emergency telephone number Rafi Eitan had given me, but the number was disconnected. I called a second number and reported that they were on to me and that I need to be evacuated, but the voice on the other end of the phone made it clear to me that there was no plan for my escape. Only the next day was I told to go to the Embassy."

On November 21, 1985 the State of Israel and Jonathan Pollard parted ways. He did exactly as he had been instructed to by his handlers who, he says, promised him that if he were caught he could seek refuge in the Embassy and he would not fall into the hands of the Americans.

"We got up in the morning and saw many secret service cars waiting outside the house. I took Ann and we went to the doctor in order to make it seem like business as usual. From there we continued on to the Embassy, but at this stage there were already secret service cars tailing us, and a number of helicopters circling overhead. At the gateway to the Embassy a car was waiting for me. I followed it inside and the gates closed behind my car. When I got out of the car I took a deep breath. "I'm home, aren't I?" I asked the security guards, and they nodded in the affirmative.

In the meantime American secret servicemen were waiting outside the fence and calling to me to come over. I didn't go. After several minutes an Embassy security officer approached me to tell me that they had spoken with Jerusalem and that I must leave the Embassy grounds. I was sure he was joking. But everyone around me quietly disappeared. My heart sank. I felt like I was in a bad dream. I thought maybe someone had made a mistake. I asked the officer if he knew who I was. He just looked at me and said that these are the orders he received.

I told him, "At least let my wife inside. She is very sick and she is innocent." But the officer refused and ordered: "Both of you have to leave, now!" We got inside the car, and I said good-bye to Ann in a whisper. I told her, "It is all going to be very bad. Be strong and maybe we will make it out of this. They are going to try to hurt you to get information, but don't tell them anything. After the event, it will be told, to her credit, that she really did not say anything."

When we left the Embassy, the agents arrested me immediately. I remember looking behind me one last time, and all of the blinds on all of the windows of the Embassy were being drawn shut, one after the other. I looked at the Israeli flag which was fluttering in the strong wind, as if it too were not comfortable with what it had just witnessed. It was a very dark and rainy day."


During the initial interrogation Pollard refused to admit guilt and even refused to hand over the names of his direct handlers (Aviam Sella, Rafi Eitan, and Yossi Yagur, head of LAKAM in New York). His reticence enabled them to escape securely from American soil. Pollard recounts that it was only when his interrogators put a box in front of him full of the documents he had given to Israel, still bearing his fingerprints, that he realized that he had been abandoned and he admitted his guilt.

In order to spare both countries the embarrassment of a trial, a plea deal was worked out in which Pollard admitted his guilt and was charged with one count of espionage only. Days before sentencing, then Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger submitted a 46 page memo to the sentencing judge. Later it was learned that in the document, whose contents have not been revealed publicly to this day, Weinberger claimed that Jonathan had done serious damage to American intelligence and therefore should be given the harshest possible sentence.

On March 4, 1987 Judge Aubrey Robinson (who was not obliged to honor the plea deal) decide to impose a life sentence on Pollard, without possibility of parole. His wife was sentenced to 5 years. Pollard fulfilled his end of the plea deal but has been rotting in prison ever since.

Dennis Ross, former American Special Envoy to the Middle East, provides an explanation for Pollard's long on-going incarceration. Ross states that Pollard is a bargaining chip that the US needs to hold onto until results are achieved in the final status talks between Israel and the Palestinians. In his book, "The Missing Peace" (published in 2004) Ross recounts how he sabotaged a unique opportunity for Pollard to be released by President Clinton at Wye: "I told [Clinton], you don't have many cards like this one in your pocket, save [Pollard] for later."


In recent years there has been a devaluation in the status of Pollard and in his value as a spy which was ascribed to him in the 80's. Few in the US are interested in him today, nor see in him any real threat. Few are opposed to him in the halls of Government, and even the American Jewish leaders who once ignored him, today are in favor of giving him public support. "After all, how long can one go on being opposed to a spy who was active in the days when the Soviet Union was still a political entity, and is now a distant memory," an American intelligence officer told me this week.

Yet all of the American officials that I spoke with this past week raised the same point with profound astonishment: how is it that Israel is not taking any meaningful action to free the agent who worked on behalf of the State and in its name? How can the State abandon a man who risked his life to save the lives of Israeli citizens?

Pollard feels this way as well. "There are people and institutions in Israel that are trying to save their own blood by spilling mine. We are talking about people who were thoroughly involved in my operation. If I were returned home they would be very embarrassed and perhaps find themselves subject to legal action. I am talking about politicians who have denied involvement in the espionage operation, when they knew every single detail of it. People like Shimon Peres, Rafi Eitan, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert have a personal agenda against me. They resent the embarrassment that I caused Israel and they are furious that I am still alive. Some of them flaunt their warm relations with the Americans and with their ability to come and go in the corridors of power. If the relationship between Israel and the United States was so wonderful, why did they need my service?"

"But you know what hurts me the most in this whole story? That we have become a nation whose leaders are opportunists. Each one thinks only of his own position, of his political career, and about how best to achieve his own personal interests. The Government of Israel is concerned only with perpetuating its own existence. Look at what is going on with the police and with education in Israel. You are talking to me, a man who has been in captivity for 22 years, but ask yourself as well what is going on with the rest of our captives and MIAs: where are they? Why is no one concerned about bringing them home?"

Throughout his years in prison Pollard fought for recognition as an official agent who was run by the State and with the knowledge of its leaders. In 1995 Pollard requested Israeli citizenship, but his request was denied by then Minister of the Interior Ehud Barak, who had also been the head of Israel's Military Intelligence when Pollard was caught. Only after Pollard appealed to Bagatz (Israel's Supreme Court) and proved that during the operation he had been granted an Israeli passport under the name of Danny Cohen, was Barak forced to sign off on Pollard's citizenship application.

A year later, it was Prime Minister Shimon Peres' turn to reject Pollard's request for recognition as an official agent of the State of Israel. Pollard again appealed to Bagatz, and in 1998 he was granted the status he sought, in the form of an official letter which reads in part: "Jonathan Pollard was an Israeli agent, handled by high ranking Israeli officials in an Israeli authorized official bureau, LAKAM." This wording was not incidental: Pollard was run by LAKAM, but the State of Israel continues to deny that her top officials and leaders, amongst them Shimon Peres, Rabin, and Arens, knew about Pollard's operation and authorized it.

Two years ago, Pollard's wife Esther and representatives in Israel met with the State Comptroller, Micha Lindenstrauss, and appealed to him to investigate the government's handling of the case. Lindenstrauss promised he would investigate, but more than a year later he responded that Pollard's case is not within his jurisdiction.

Israel, at the outset, maintained that Pollard was an insignificant agent run by LAKAM, a small and unimportant intelligence agency in Israel. The Americans didn't buy it. Immediately after his arrest, the Americans demanded an explanation from the Government of Israel and a public acknowledgement of their complicity in the espionage operation. Israel refused to admit it, but instead gave the Americans a "gift" which buried Pollard in prison: a box of documents which Pollard had passed to Israel with his fingerprints on them. When the Americans examined the documents they were stunned: the documents were of great intelligence value and pertained to a number of American intelligence departments.

Judging by the range of the documents, the Americans understood that the Pollard operation was not a small one. Which is to say the Americans did not buy the claim that top government officials did not know about Pollard. Nevertheless, the highest levels of the Israeli government persisted in their denial.

Shortly after Pollard was exposed, former American Secretary of State George Shultz agreed to put an end to the affair. The only thing he asked was to receive sworn affidavits from the officials involved in the operation in order to be able to assess the extent of any damage. The task fell to Leonard Garment, a Jewish attorney, and former legal advisor to President Nixon, who had been retained to represent Aviam Sella, Pollard's handler who had escaped from the US.

Garment arrived in Israel, met with those who were involved and collected affidavits from them. One evening, Garment and Sella arranged to meet for a private conversation. Sella, who was the architect of the Pollard operation, provided Garment with a detailed description of how Pollard had been run over the 18 months that he provided information to Israel. Sella's account did not match the affidavits of the rest of those who were involved in the affair. Garment advised Peres and Rabin to change the affidavits they had given, with regard to the level of their involvement, because the Americans did not "buy" it. Garment says they both refused.


A short while after, in 1986, an Israeli delegation came to Washington to meet with Garment. The delegation, which included people from the Foreign Ministry, handed over to Garment the affidavits of all of those who had been involved in the affair (a new proffer for the Justice and State Departments). Garment recounts in his book that he had a look at the affidavits and told the members of the delegation that these were false affidavits and the Americans would find it very easy to prove that the statements were not true. When the members of the delegation expressed astonishment at how Garment knew that the statements were false, Garment pulled out the notepad where he had documented his private meeting with Aviam Sella. What happened next, Garment describes in his book, "Crazy Rythmn" which was published in 2001. From what Garment writes, the members of the delegation demanded that he hand over his notes and when he refused, they panicked and even decided to fire him as Aviam Sella's attorney.

The reaction was not long in coming. George Shultz read the Israeli affidavits and was enraged. The Americans decided to pursue charges against Sella even though he had already escaped from the United States. A short time later, a report appeared in the Los Angeles Times which announced that Aviam Sella had been promoted to the rank of Commander of Tel Nof Air Base and reported the promotion of Rafi Eitan, the second lead player in the affair, as CEO of Israel Chemicals Ltd. These promotions were interpreted by the Americans as proof that the Government of Israel knew about the running of Jonathan Pollard and was now rewarding his handlers.

Pollard signed a plea agreement with the US Government which was supposed to lead to a sentence of somewhere between 4 and 7 years, as was usual for those sentenced for spying for an ally. Even though the prosecution signed the plea agreement, the judge, Aubrey Robinson, decided to ignore the plea deal and sentenced Pollard to life in prison without parole. Given the absence of any other senior Israeli official on the ground, Pollard became America's whipping boy.

In a telephone conversation [with Yediot this week], Leonard Garment recounted how he tried to work to calm the affair and bring it to a comfortable resolution for both countries but Israel's overwhelming intransigence torpedoed the mission. "I met with Peres, Rabin and Arens, as well as with the rest of the people involved in the affair. Each one of them denied involvement in the operation, but the Americans wanted them to take a step forward and just admit to running an agent. In other words that they should admit that there was government involvement in running Pollard and that this was not about a freelance agent who acted on his own.

"I prepared an affidavit which said that the Government of Israel knew about the operation. The affidavit was authorized by the American Justice Department, and the Americans promised that once the Israelis signed, they would cancel the charges against Aviam Sella and reduce Pollard's sentence. I sent the affidavit to Prime Minister Shimon Peres, but never heard back from him."

Yediot: Why, in your estimation, did the Government of Israel refuse to admit involvement in the operation?

"They feared the political fallout from this kind of admission in Israel. It was likely to impact severely on the political life of every one of the top officials of the Israeli Government and on their political futures."

Yediot: If the Government of Israel were to admit today that it knew about running Pollard what damage is likely to be caused to the relations between the two countries?

"I don't think it would do any damage whatsoever. On the contrary, I am convinced that such an admission would lead to the release of Pollard. In my opinion the justice system's handling of his case was not fair."

And what does the prisoner, Pollard himself, have to day about this? "I knew this very well, right from the outset. When Peres made a deal with the Americans that the Americans would not use the documents which Israel returned to the US to prosecute me, it was clear to everyone in Israel that that was the end of me. In the 1987 Eban Commission report, which was the report of the Knesset Committee appointed to investigate the affair, it states that even Olmert testified at the time that the return of the documents would result in my death. In the last Bagatz which we filed (in Israel's Supreme Court) not long ago, the Government denied that any such deal existed between the Americans and Peres. The conclusion? Peres has lied the whole way, from start to finish."

YEDIOT: Have you ever tried to approach Peres to ask for his help?

"After Peres lost the elections to Bibi Netanyahu, my wife Esther appealed to Peres and he wrote her a hand-written letter in which he committed to work for my immediate release. But his words were empty promises; he has never done anything for my release. Not long ago he was here, visiting a place not far away from the prison, but he did not bother to visit me. Last month, during a trip to the Golan Heights he was asked about my release, and he responded, 'It is not in Israel's hands,' but it is indeed in Israel's hands."

YEDIOT: Why are you so convinced of that?

"Nine years ago, after filing in Bagatz and a long struggle, I won official recognition as an Israeli agent. The official document, signed by the Government's Legal Counsel Shimon Stein, was given to my attorney. But in all the time that has elapsed since then, Israel has not done a thing with that document. No copy was ever officially sent to the American Government so that it would know that the Government of Israel is behind me, and that Israel is serious about securing my release. Nor was an official copy even sent to the US Bureau of prisons so that I could have an easier time of it in prison. To this very day I am here with the status of a common criminal, not an agent in captivity. If that document were presented officially to the prison authorities I would be recognized as an agent and would receive better treatment."

YEDIOT: Prime Minister Olmert claims that he is working secretly for your release. Why shouldn't you believe him?

"I don't believe him, just like most of the people of Israel don't believe him. Physiologically, Olmert is incapable of telling the truth. We have some well-placed contacts both on the Israeli side and on the American side. And no one, on either side, has heard anything about any serious efforts by the Prime Minister to secure my release. The only consistent message that I get is that as far as the State is concerned I am dead."

YEDIOT: Do you still have any hope that someone in Israel will work for your release?

"The only person who might work on my behalf is Bibi Netanyahu. His heart is in the right place, but his lack of involvement for the last 9 years since Wye is outrageous. He is well-known in the United States, his opinions are respected, and he could work on my behalf, if only he wanted to. He is the only politician in whom I have any hope."

YEDIOT: What about Defense Minister Ehud Barak? He was the head of AMAN (Israel Military Intelligence) when you were caught. He surely knows the story well.

"He was directly involved in my operation. The tasking orders which I received came from AMAN. Rafi Eitan would ask AMAN what kind of information was needed, and he would task me to secure it. Many times, especially during the period preceding my arrest, I received orders which came to me on stationery with the AMAN logo. I also know that Barak came to the US shortly after I was exposed to testify that AMAN was not involved in running me. He has lied the whole way through. G-d help the State of Israel if Barak should be Prime Minister again!"


A central and disturbing part of Pollard's story has to do with the accusations against Rafi Eitan. Pollard says that Eitan, who gave him an Israeli passport during the operation, wants to see him die in prison to settle an old score: Pollard refused to provide Eitan with information not directly related to Israel's national security. Among other things, he reiterated these charges which I had heard before in a previous interview.

"In the summer of 1984 Eitan invited me to a meeting in a mansion in Paris, far from the watchful eyes of the Americans. During the course of the meeting he asked me to provide him with a list of the names of American agents operating on Israeli soil and for me to pass him political information that could be used against Arik Sharon's political enemies. Of course, I refused. I refused to hand over a list of American agents, on the grounds that that would be an outright betrayal of my country; and I would not hand over political information because that was not my mission."

YEDIOT: Eitan claims that in his current status as a minister of the Government of Israel, he is working quietly for your release.

"When Rafi Eitan says 'quietly' he probably means as in the following example: a few years ago he met with Esther, my wife, and told her that he had made a big mistake in this affair. Esther expected that he would say he was sorry that he had abandoned me, but instead he said, "I made a mistake on the morning of Jonathan's arrest beside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, that I did not put a bullet through his head."

Pollard, prisoner number 09185-016 is incarcerated at FCI Butner, a federal prison facility, next to the sleepy town of Butner, North Carolina. The road to FCI Butner is reminiscent of a trip through the winding roads of the Galilee.

When you arrive at the Federal Correctional Institution, which is the official name of the facility the atmosphere changes completely. On the outside, however, a serious attempt has been made to retain an outward facade of tranquility. Anyone who does not know that this is a prison is liable to think that he has arrived at a high tech suburb with new buildings and expansive lawns. But the entrance to the prison is the entrance to a parallel world.

In terms of American prisons, the conditions of Pollard's incarceration are considered reasonable. But the road to Butner was not an easy one. He endured years of severe conditions and harsh afflictions at a number of federal institutions, starting with USP Petersberg, Virginia which was his first facility after the sentencing hearing. According to his testimony (detailed in Bagatz submissions) he was repeatedly subjected to freezing showers for hours on end, and frequently forced to endure intrusive, humiliating body cavity searches without reason or rhyme.


In the prison with Jonathan now, more than 100 prisoners are locked up in the same unit, amongst them murderers, rapists, and many pedophiles. His last cell mate died of cancer recently, after a lengthy illness which Pollard was not only forced to witness, but also to care for him. His current cell mate came to prison after an illustrious career as a drug dealer. It is reasonable to assume that Pollard is the only prisoner with a Master's degree, and that he does not have many friends within the prison walls.

His daily routine is the same. He gets up at five in the morning. Immediately afterwards there is a count of prisoners to check that none of the prisoners have committed suicide or escaped. Pollard's first activity of the day is prayer, to which he devotes about an hour. "My prayers are a set routine that includes Tehillim; prayers for my wife; prayers for Israel; and prayers for the welfare of the soldiers of the IDF."

Daytime hours he spends scrubbing the unit's bathrooms. Every few hours he is permitted to walk outside onto the prison compound, but most of the time he avoids going outside during the day since he suffers from a circulatory illness which prohibits exposure to the sun.

He reads a book a day, either on Jewish history or physics. For years he has been laboring on engineering plans and a portfolio of sketches for the creation of alternate energy power plants. "I hope that one day I will be able to realize my dream to design power plants in Israel."

Until he realizes his dream, Pollard is forced to be a witness to nightmarish scenes and to live under constant threat. " There is constant violence amongst the prisoners. Most altercations end fairly quickly and the guards don't even know they occurred. In prison one has to develop a sixth sense to be able to anticipate when something is about to happen and to get as far away as possible. But it is not always easy. Not long ago a prisoner was walking opposite me and another prisoner came along behind him and whacked him with a metal ball, cracking his skull open. What did I do when this happened? I distanced myself as far as possible, as quickly as possible, and I never looked in the direction of the wounded prisoner, because that would invite the next attack to be on me."

YEDIOT: Is it hard deal with such sights or does one become indifferent over time?

"The hardest thing is my inability to help another prisoner who is wounded or under attack. Too many times I have been a witness to the sexual assault and rape of prisoners by other prisoners. These are especially gruesome sights. Man times I have been torn between my desire to help the prisoner under attack, and my obligation to get as far away as possible so that I myself do not become a victim of sexual assault. But even when I distance myself, I can still hear the screams of the prisoner being raped, and it is very hard for me to deal with the fact that I am not able to do anything. There have been times when I have just broken down and cried."

The hardest times of all for him are Shabbat and Chagim (Jewish holidays). Pollard, who completed the process of tshuva (becoming observant) behind prison walls, is forced to spend the Sabbath and holidays alone. "Most Jews here are sex offenders and pedophiles. I am not capable of sitting down at the same table for Shabbat with people who raped their own children. Many who claim to be Jews here, are not Jews at all, but they pretend to be, in order to try to extract extra benefits, like holiday meals. Last Succot the prison authorities erected a succah for the Jewish prisoners. I walked in, took one look at the faces of the pedophiles and non-Jews sitting there. I took a little schach, walked out and went off to the side to spend the holiday alone."


The interview with Pollard takes place under the careful supervision of a prison guard and in the presence of Nick, an officer of the Department of Naval Intelligence, the same department where Pollard used to work. Nick makes it clear that during the interview we are to speak only English. Pollard is forbidden from revealing secret information to me or from discussing specific details of the espionage operation. For security reasons and for the sake of privacy, the interview is conducted on Wednesday, a day when visits are not held in the prison.

I am ordered to check my belongings in a special locker near the front entrance to the prison; and I am allowed to enter with only pen and paper. Following a thorough security check, I am asked to hand over to Nick the writing paper I brought with me. Only after he checks it carefully, am I permitted to bring it in with me. We pass through two electrified steel gates and there ahead of us is a long, sparkling clean corridor leading to the visit room.

A few minutes after we enter the visit room Pollard sweeps in from within the prison compound. His hair, which had grown long over time, has surprisingly been shorn short. "To get ready to come home soon," he explains.

Pollard and Nick are glad to see one and other again. Later Nick explains to me that, "Jonathan is an extraordinary man, brilliant, and refined."

His life in prison has changed radically. He not only became religiously observant and married again, but also severed ties with his past. His ex-wife Ann was released from prison in ill health, mentally and physically, after serving 3 years (of a 5 year sentence) in prison. When she was released from prison she was served with divorce papers. "There were many casualties of this affair, and unfortunately my first marriage was one of them. I am not in contact with Ann and have no reason to be. I wish her all the very best."

His mother died a few years ago and he was not permitted to accompany her on her final journey. He has severed his relationship with his father and his two siblings. "When I am home, I hope to renew contact with my family," he says. He recounts that up until a few years ago, he used to receive visits from Mossad agents, "They told me that if I were as much of a patriot as I hold myself to be then I ought to commit suicide in prison. I call the Mossad the 'chevra keddishe' (the burial society) because what they most want of me is for me to kill myself. You can tell them not to hold their breath; it is not going to happen any time soon."

Alternately, visits from friendly faces are few and far between. HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu (former Chief Rabbi of Israel) who has worked for Pollard's release for years, makes a point of visiting him regularly, so does Rabbi Pesach Lerner (Exec. VP of the National Council of Young Israel) who accompanied me on this visit. A few politicians, mainly from the right, have come to visit in recent years. Pollard made it possible for them to launder and air public statements about how they were going to work overtime for him and even provided them with photo-ops. But in the end, Pollard says, not a single one did anything for him.

The struggle for his release in Israel is identified, more than anything else, with an energetic, strong-willed and articulate woman: Esther Pollard, his second wife. Until a few years ago, Esther lived in Butner, in a cheap roadside motel near the prison. She decided to relocate her home base to Israel to be able to work hands-on for her husband on the ground.

The story of their marriage is a sad one. The relationship blossomed when Esther, a Canadian-born Jew, heard his story and decided to write him a letter of support. They began with an exchange of letters which ended with a secret marriage which was arranged for them by a rabbi, and without permission from the US Bureau of Prisons. If this story reminds you of another famous couple, that is where the similarity ends. Unlike Yigal Amir, the assassin of the Prime Minister, Pollard is not permitted conjugal visits with his wife, not even one. His appeals to be allowed to bring children into the world with his wife fell on deaf ears. They have been together for 17 years, but have not had the privilege of realizing their love.

YEDIOT: Have thoughts of suicide ever crossed your mind?

"No. A Jew does not commit suicide. Ever. It is very difficult for me, but I never think of giving up, only of opportunities. Genetically I am not programmed for surrender. I spend every day thinking about what I will do when I get out of here."


The official excuse for this interview was the Annapolis Summit which is set to deal with negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Traditionally, the question of Pollard's release has only come up in the context of negotiations with the Palestinians. Clinton first promised Prime Minister Rabin z"l that he would pardon Pollard, but his decision met with strong opposition from branches of the Intelligence Department. Later on, the issue of Pollard's release came up as well at the Wye Summit , but on the advice of Dennis Ross , Clinton chose to keep "the bargaining chip" - their words- for a later date and the signing of a hoped-for final agreement. There was great hope that when Clinton left office he would pardon Pollard on humanitarian grounds amongst all of the prisoners granted clemency by the president as his final act in office. The day came and Pollard's name was not on the list.

In recent months Pollard's close contacts have been kept updated on his release by senior Palestinian officials . They are interested in advancing his release as part of a deal that would lead to the release of Marwan Barghouti who is in prison in Israel. Pollard is not enamored of the idea. "I will be very sorry if they free me for the release of an unrepentant terrorist and abhorrent murderer." If it should happen, I would make a point of apologizing to the families of the victims he murdered.

"Nonetheless, I have great respect and appreciation for the Palestinian leadership's dedication to freeing its prisoners. It is amazing to see how the Palestinians do not forget their own people. That is a lot more than I can say about the Government of Israel."

YEDIOT: What are your expectations of the Annapolis Summit?

"I expect that my name should be brought up with the Americans and my immediate release demanded, unconditionally, and not as part of any prisoner swap. That is enough. What else needs to be done to get me out?"

YEDIOT: In hindsight, would you go back and spy for Israel again if you knew the price that you would pay for doing so?

"I would act upon my concerns for the State, but I would find a legal means to do so without endangering myself."

YEDIOT: What is the first thing you want to do when you get home?

"First of all, I want to enjoy being with my wife, to have the pleasure of doing ordinary things together, without having video cameras and overhead monitors following my every move every single minute. This is what I lost and what I miss most in the last 8000 days I have been in prison, this the freedom I long for. After that, I will go and eat some shawarma."

### J4JP: May be reprinted provided the following conditions are met

1) Article must be reprinted as is, without editing and without insertions or deletions.

2) Appropriate credit must be shown as to author, Yaniv Halily; original venue, Yediot Achronot 11/9/07; and source of translation, J4JP: Justice for Jonathan Pollard.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Fair Witness Deplores Sabeel Apartheid Conference

Fair Witness Deplores Sabeel Apartheid Conference

Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East deplores the Sabeel Apartheid Conference held in Boston's Old South Church, October 26-27.  While claiming to be a paradigm for "Justice & Peace," the conference was filled with vitriolic and one-sided attacks on Israel and invidious comparisons of racist South African apartheid to policies Israel has adopted largely in the context of self-defense.

 "This is particularly disturbing in light of Sabeel's history of employing deicide imagery when referring to Israel, championing a one-state solution and openly questioning the legitimacy of a Jewish state," stated Sr. Ruth Lautt, Fair Witness National Director.

Comparisons of Israel to an apartheid state at this conference were not linked to factual reality.  For example, in a speech given by David Wildman, Executive Secretary for Human Rights & Racial Justice at the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982 was characterized as one of the "apartheid realities."   According to Rev. L. T. Archer Summers, Senior Minister at the First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto, California, "Mr. Wildman's reference to an internationally sanctioned ceasefire that 'allowed . . .PLO fighters safe passage out,' portrays the PLO in Lebanon as innocent victims of unprovoked Israeli aggression.  The reality? The PLO had been launching attacks on Israel from southern Lebanon through the 1970s.  Why is this key part of the history missing from Mr. Wildman's narrative?"

"The selective telling of both historical and current facts on the ground has become a staple for Sabeel," notes Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton, the Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College.  "Their factual distortions are then coupled with classic anti-Semitic ploys which masquerade as Biblical themes.  In Mr. Wildman's recounting of Luke's parable of the persistent widow, for example, he replaces the Jewish widow of the Gospel with a Palestinian widow whose husband  he imagines might have been killed at an Israeli checkpoint."

"Sabeel has for years claimed to be a Christian group seeking peace in Palestine/Israel.  However, any group that routinely employs anti-Semitic canards and historical distortions that invariably cast one party (Israel) as evil and cruel must be seriously questioned as a voice of truth and an authentic seeker of peace," says Fr. James Loughran, S.A., Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute.

Sr. Ruth Lautt, OP, Esq.

National Director

Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East

475 Riverside Drive, Ste 1960
New York, NY 10115

(212) 870-2320

Continued (Permanent Link)

It was too good to be true..

If it is too good to be true, then probably it isn't. An earlier report stated that Palestinians had agreed to disband the terror groups before statehood.
Last night I had
The strangest dream,
I never dreamed before.
I dreamed the world,
Had all agreed,
To put an end to war.
I dreamed I saw
A great big room,
And the room was filled with men.
And the papers they were signing said,
They'd never fight again.
But the reality is something else, as the article below told us.
Ami Isseroff

Malki: PA won't disband terror groups Staff ,


Palestinian Authority Information Minister Riad Malki denied late Friday reports circulated by Israeli sources that Palestinian negotiators had agreed in a meeting with Israeli representatives ahead of the planned Annapolis peace parley to disarm and disband all terror groups operating in the PA.

According to Israel Radio, Malki spoke in an interview to the American Arabic-language Radio Sawa.

Israeli sources reported Thursday that 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."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Details of Hamas arms smuggling

This letter from Yuval Steinitz details the extent of Hamas arms smuggling from Egypt, that is allowed by the Egyptian authorities. In view of the massive volume of this traffic, the protests that Gaza is under "seige" by Israeli seem silly. The question remains, why Egypt does nothing to stop the smuggling.
Ami Isseroff

November 7, 2007


U.S. Senate

493 RUSSELL Office Building

Washington, DC 20510 USA

Dear Senator STEVENS,

During some meetings with members of Congress last October, I was asked to provide further details about the expansion of arms smuggling from Egypt to the Gaza Strip. Because of the importance of this subject, which has been recently addressed by the House of Representatives, I have put into writing the most recent developments:

1. In recent years the flow of weapons and ammunition through Egypt to terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip - mainly to Islamic groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Palestinian affiliates of Al-Qaeda - has became extremely significant.

2. In the last two years, the rate of smuggling enables Hamas to establish a fundamentalist terror army in Gaza, based on the Hizbullah model in Lebanon. According to Israeli intelligence Gaza is absorbing, on an annual basis, approximately: 20,000 rifles, 6,000 anti-tank missiles (mainly RPG's), 100 tons of explosives, and several dozens of Katyusha rockets as well as shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles.

3. Six months ago, Hamas defeated the Palestinian security forces loyal to president Mahmoud Abbas and conducted a "mini-Iranian Revolution" in the Gaza Strip. This resulted in the establishment of an Iranian satellite, Hamastan, right next to Israel's south. Needless to say, that the weaponry and financial assistance that enabled this fundamentalist victory arrived mainly through Egypt.

4. A new development that has only begun in the last three months is the organized departure of large groups of operatives from Gaza for military training in Iran. Egypt permits their transit to Tehran, where they are trained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in a wide array of terrorist activities, like the production of rockets and road-side bombs, as well as in basic military training. In late September, a group of 100 operatives who completed their exercises in Iran was permitted to cross the border back into Gaza, despite strong Israeli protests.

5. Egypt's claim that it is doing its best to end this situation by uncovering smuggling tunnels into Gaza is simply an insult to the intelligence. All the experts who have testified before us expressed their conviction that it is almost ridiculous for the Egyptians to focus on finding the tunnels, since it would be much easier for them to intercept the smugglers before they get anywhere near the border.

All they have to do for this purpose is to erect a number of roadblocks along the very few roads that run from mainland Egypt to the Gaza region, in order to intercept heavily loaded trucks carrying hundreds of rifles and missiles from reaching the border. Alternatively, they can declare the border area a closed military zone, with a depth of 2-3 miles into the interior of Sinai, and prevent any movement in it. Since the entire length of the Egyptian-Gaza border is less then 9 miles, the area affected will be equivalent in size to a military airbase.

6. Comparison between Egypt and Jordan will help to clarify how baseless the Egyptian's excuses on the smuggling issue are - taking into account that Jordan shares a far longer border with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank (see the attached map).

True, in contrast to the Egyptian-Gaza border, the Israel Defense Forces are deployed in the Jordan Valley between Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Yet it is illuminating to note, that the Jordanian security forces do succeed in blocking most smuggling to militant Islamic groups in the West Bank, well before they reach the border area. This is because instead of concentrating their efforts solely at the border area, they prevent the entry of illegal weapons shipments into their territory in the first place. Additionally, and again unlike the Egyptians, they have smashed smuggling networks all over Jordan and imprisoned their leaders for long terms. Hence, when an Arab country truly wishes to fight against terrorism and fundamentalism, it is within its capacity.

It is hard to deny that this Egyptian behavior constitutes a gross violation of the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty, as well as the 2005 Philadelphi Corridor Agreement. Unfortunately, this phenomenon, combined with the daily rockets attacks on the Israeli town of Sderot, will ultimately require the Israeli Defense Forces to re-enter Gaza and to move with great panache against the terrorist forces and infrastructure, causing additional bloodshed for both Israelis and Palestinians.

It should be also noted that this Egyptian policy has already undermined the capacity of the Palestinian Authority to govern the Gaza Strip, as well as the chances of success of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In practice, it does not seem extremely consistent with the U.S. policy of strengthening the moderates in the Middle East vis-א-vis their militant rivals.

In essence, this strategy of turning a blind eye to the smuggling is quite similar to the policies of Syria and Iran regarding arms smuggling into Iraq. The only difference is that in contrast to those countries, Egypt is still considered an ally of the west, and is heavily supported by the United States.

After several years of Israeli and American protests, it seems hard to avoid the following conclusion: as long as Egypt is not required to pay a real price for this behavior, weapons and financial aid will continue to flow into the hands of Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza.

It must be stated, however, that the difficult issue raised above is not intended to downgrade the strategic importance of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty signed on the White house lawn. Yet it is my belief that when grave problems arise they should not be ignored. Egypt's compliance with its treaty obligations is a pre-requisite for the Arab-Israeli peace process as a whole, as well as for the success of the regional and global struggle against terrorists.

With best wishes,

M.K., Dr. Yuval Steinitz Chairman of the Knesset Subcommittee on Defense Readiness and Combating Terrorism


IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis Website:

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Israel may sell Arrow and Ofek to Turkey

Are we going to be sorry about this one day?
yaakov katz, jerusalem post correspondent , THE JERUSALEM POST  Nov. 11, 2007
Israel and Turkey are holding high-level talks on a possible sale of the Arrow ballistic missile defense system and a model of the Ofek spy satellite to Turkey, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Turkish officials said senior Israeli defense delegations had recently met with their counterparts in Ankara for talks on the sale of the systems, two of Israel's most advanced military platforms. Defense Minister Ehud Barak is scheduled to visit Ankara in January to continue the negotiations.
On Sunday, President Shimon Peres arrived in Ankara under heavy security for a three-day visit, at the invitation of Turkish President Abdullah Gul. Peres received an honorary doctorate from Bilkent University in Ankara.
"Turkey is an important player in the Middle East in relation to Syria, the United States and the Palestinians, as well as us," Peres told reporters en route to Ankara.
Peres, Gul and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are scheduled to meet at the Ankara Forum on Tuesday and are expected to announce the establishment of an industrial zone in the West Bank. Peres said Sunday that "150,000 jobs are far more important [for promoting peace] than 15,000 rifles."
To strengthen Abbas, Peres said, Israel needed to improve the quality of life in the Palestinian territories. He expressed optimism that Palestinian and Israeli negotiating teams would agree on a joint document to be submitted to the Middle East conference in Annapolis, Maryland, later this month.
Peres's talks with the Turkish leadership will focus on the possibility of renewing Israeli negotiations with Syria, the Iranian threat and the growing rift between Turkey and the US over a nonbinding resolution to formally recognize the Armenian genocide of 1915.
The sale of the Arrow and the Ofek is not expected to come up during Peres's conversations here, since the issue is being dealt with on a defense industry level. Both systems are manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries.
Turkey and Israel have held talks over a sale of the Arrow for several years, and the deal is pending approval from the United States, which finances more than 30 percent of the defense system's production. In April, Arieh Herzog, head of the Homa Missile Defense Agency, told the Post he favored selling the Arrow to Israel's allies, including Turkey.
Israeli defense officials said Turkey was interested in acquiring a missile defense system in the face of Iran's race toward nuclear power. The sale of an Ofek satellite (Israel launched the Ofek 7 in June) would dramatically increase Turkish intelligence-gathering capabilities, since today Turkey does not have its own spy satellites.
"The purchase of these two systems would skip Turkey years forward in operational capabilities," an Israeli defense official said.
This article can also be read at

Continued (Permanent Link)

New immigrant: A portrait

Arrivals: From Azezo, Ethiopia, to Jerusalem
* Birthplace: Gondar
* Aliya date: 1992
* Occupation: Writer and journalist
* Family status: Divorced father of two
Zenaneh David (Dawit in Amharic), now 50, a writer and journalist, was born in Gondar, a region in northern Ethiopia. His father taught him the basic skills of reading and writing in Amharic. "When I was in high school, I was writing stories and reading them to my mother. I developed a love of reading and writing when I was young," he says.
He attended ninth and 10th grades in Gondar, and 11th and 12th grades in Addis Ababa. Zenaneh has four brothers and two sisters, all of them educated.
When students were sent to the countryside on a literacy campaign, he stayed in Addis Ababa, took a course in journalism and became a journalist. He worked as a radio newscaster and commentator.
"When I was a high school student, I wanted to be a surgeon," he says, "because I heard the emperor's private doctor, Prof. Asrat Woldeyes, took out a piece of bone which got stuck in the throat of one of the emperor's relatives. As a young student, I was impressed by what he did and I wanted to become a physician to operate on people and make miracles just like the professor.
"But I lost interest in medicine when, for the first time, I saw a line of dead bodies in Gondar Medical School, displayed for students to study. I nearly vomited. From then on, I turned my attention to my second choice: journalism."
He worked in radio as well as in television for 19 years. "I was the only person who worked in two places at the time," he says. He was imprisoned for two years for political reasons, and after he was released, he crossed the border into Kenya, thinking that life would better there. "In fact," he says, "it was worse than in Ethiopia. So I went back to Ethiopia."
While he was working in the media, he wrote two books, Liberty and Under the Roof, both published in Amharic.
Zenaneh came here in 1992, eight months after Operation Solomon. "Upon arrival, I went straight to Petah Tikva to live with relatives. I did not live in an absorption center. I knew English and could get along with people in English. I didn't need anyone's assistance like those immigrants who came from the countryside."
People from the Thomson Foundation in Britain came to Addis Ababa and gave courses in journalism. "I was one of the seven students selected to take a course in journalism. I stood first."
Besides journalism, Zenaneh studied history at Addis Ababa University, but he quit his studies while he was a third-year student.
He studied film directing in Jerusalem, which enabled him to work in educational television.
Zenaneh worked in the English section of Educational Television as an assistant film director and producer.
At the moment, he works for the Voice of Germany (Amharic section) on Middle Eastern affairs. "In my radio broadcasts, I tell Amharic listeners in Europe and America about Israel. When I was traveling in Europe, many people asked me a lot of questions about Israel. I feel I am acting as a self-appointed ambassador for Israel," he says.
Zenaneh speaks Amharic, English and Hebrew, and some Italian. "I studied Hebrew in the ulpan," he says. "My Hebrew is not as good as it should be. As my children were still in Ethiopia, my whole attention was on how to bring them to Israel. I didn't focus much on Hebrew."
Zenaneh divorced before he made aliya. He has two daughters, and both are here. The elder studies ballet after having completed army service. The second is in the army and is studying theater.
"Marriage is not on my agenda at the moment," he says. "My major priority is to give a solid education to my daughters."
"I love to read. I read everything: newspapers, journals and books. As a writer, I read all kinds of books. I am writing poetry in Amharic and recording it on a CD. I read psychology. It gives me insight to understand human nature." He is also writing an Amharic novel.
He lives on welfare. He also earns a meager income from his German Radio broadcasts. "I live in a rented house and it costs a lot. I need money to get my poetry and the book I am writing published. Life is not easy," he says.
Zenaneh lives in Jerusalem's Talpiot neighborhood. "I like the place. The people in my neighborhood are peaceful. I rarely meet people, even Ethiopians whose language and culture is mine. I have no communication with them."
"My books are my friends," he says. "I know many Ethiopians, but I have few friends. I read books. There are no Ethiopians in my neighborhood who read books that I can discuss with them. My daughters are my best friends. They live with me. I don't regret having no other friends."
Zenaneh is secular. But he says he reads the Bible every day. He observes Shabbat. "I rest on Shabbat. Toward the end of the week when Shabbat approaches, I feel happy."
"I feel I am Israeli. I also feel I am Ethiopian in culture, in history and in language. I write my poems and books in Amharic. Politics does not interest me as much as literature and writing."
Zenaneh is planning to get his manuscripts published. "I am a writer and want to continue to write. The Ethiopian community here in Israel does not have direction. Through my writings, I want to give direction to my community."
He is also planning to create a library. "I have a collection of 5,000 books that I have been buying from time to time. With this collection and more to come in the future, I want to open a library for Ethiopians, mainly for the young. There is no library run by Ethiopians for Ethiopians in this country. I want to start it."
To propose an immigrant for an 'Arrivals' profile, please send a one paragraph e-mail to:

Continued (Permanent Link)

A child is born in Beersheva

Peace can be a deadly business, but it is a necessary one.
Headline: The Human Spirit: Brit in Beersheba

Barbara Sofer , THE JERUSALEM POST  Nov. 8, 2007
Today, November 9, in the city of Beersheba, where the patriarch Abraham once dwelled and dug a well, an eight-day-old Jewish baby will enter into the covenant of the same Abraham. What makes this circumcision ceremony unusual is that the father of the newborn died seven years ago.
The baby is the first child of Aviya and Shimon Ohana. Those of us who spent the years of the second intifada in Israel are likely to remember Shimon's story. A border policeman on his first assignment, Pvt. Ohana was dispatched to Gilo as shelling on the Jerusalem neighborhood began. He leapt forward to protect a child and took a bullet in the chest. Medics tried unsuccessfully to revive him in the field. He was brought to Hadassah-University Hospital in Ein Kerem: Dead on arrival. His heart had stopped beating.
Chief surgeon Avi Rivkind, in a decision he has a hard time explaining or justifying seven years later, (except to say "you can't argue with success") turned to his team of medical all-stars and asked them to try to revive the dead man. Call it a sixth sense, call it a moment of heavenly inspiration. Vast units of blood were poured into the heart, which was empty. Cardiothoracic surgeon Amir El Ami sewed up a bullet hole and then found another, and repaired that. He massaged the heart until he felt the first beat. It began to pump. The anesthesiologists poured in adrenalin. Shimon Ohana was alive again.
The dark-haired teenager lay in a vegetative state. Nonetheless, Prof. Rivkind continued to tell Ohana's mother Rahel and his father Meir that they shouldn't worry; one day, he would personally jog with Shimon on the streets of Beersheba. More than that, he promised that he would stand under the huppa with Shimon on his wedding day.
Eighteen motionless days passed. And then suddenly, the patient's eyes fluttered and he woke up.
SHIMON REFUSED to eat. Rahel Ohana confessed that her only son had always been a picky eater. What did he like? Only her homemade meatballs. Prof. Rivkind ordered her home to Beersheba to cook meatballs. Who was she to argue with the doctor who had predicted her son's recovery? She took a taxi south, on the way phoning her neighbor to please defrost the meat in the freezer. All night, Rahel Ohana cooked meatballs. In the morning, she returned to Jerusalem with a pot full of the fragrant food. This time she was the one giving orders to Dr. Rivkind. The trauma surgeon would have to stand nearby if she was going to try to feed her recuperating son his real first meal: peppery Moroccan meatballs redolent with garlic and cumin, each one larger than a golf ball.
When Shimon finished his first meatball, he made awful gulping sounds. At first Rahel thought she'd injured her son, but then she realized he simply wanted more. His doctor nodded. Shimon swallowed another meatball and made the same scary sounds. Four meatballs later he was calm and quiet.
Before long he left the hospital on his own two feet.
Shimon became a celebrity, cheered at national soccer tournaments. He was invited to Paris and rode to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Eventually, Avi Rivkind ran with him on the streets of Beersheba, and when Shimon and Aviya wed a year ago, he showed up for Shimon's wedding. No trumpet would hit the right note; the musicians blew a shofar.
I CAN ASSURE you there won't be a dry eye at the circumcision ceremony on Friday as new life is celebrated in the Ohana family. But this isn't just one of those happy-ever-after stories. During the years of rehabilitation, through the many ups and downs, Rahel confided her worries about Shimon's future. He's not, as she says, exactly the same as he was before in terms of his health and concentration.
Neither are we the same, the people of Israel, as we tentatively approach a pressure-filled peace conference in Annapolis. We are not the nation of the year 2000, when all polls reported we were ready to accept the painful concessions prime minister Ehud Barak proposed at Camp David. A European journalist I hosted last week simply couldn't understand why we weren't racing toward this "opportunity." Middle East envoy Tony Blair has urged us to make a "psychological shift" from indifference and skepticism to active determination.
With tenacity and faith, strength and guts, ingenuity and prayer, we came through the five years of terror. But dspite our blessed resilience, we haven't forgotten those years. We remember the cheering on the Palestinian rooftops as the Twin Towers crumbled, and the father from Bethlehem who went on TV to urge his other nine children to blow up buses as his terrorist son had. We remember the schoolteacher with an explosive belt who stood in the middle of an accordion bus from the Western Wall to maim as many children as possible.
I asked Dr. El Ami, the heart surgeon who sewed up Shimon Ohana, what happens to a heart muscle with holes in it. First, you can get a heart attack while the surgeon is sewing. Sometimes, because of the initial injury and the repair, the heart gets tough, losing its flexibility and elasticity.
Not a bad description of how we feel about making peace these days. You might say we're gristly.
So today, also the anniversary of Kristallnacht, we will be welcoming Baby Ohana into the Jewish people with bittersweet tears.
Bittersweet tears and spicy meatballs.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Qassam rocket kills kibbutz Cows

The kibbutz remains unnamed because supposedly localizing the Qassam hits allows the terrorists to zero in on their targets. Firefighters were working Sunday morning to extinguish a fire that broke out in a dairy after a Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in a western Negev kibbutz.

According to reports, six cows were killed in the attack.

Earlier Sunday, two others Qassams were launched from Gaza and landed in open territory.

There were no reports of wounded as a result of any of the attacks.

Continued (Permanent Link)

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