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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Israeli government favors Hamas plan

Israel favors the Hamas proposal of broader economic ties with Egypt for Gaza. It sounds good, right? Apparently, somone in Israel doesn't understand that the situation Hamas wants to create would effectively turn Gaza into an independent state with an open border that can import heavy armaments and material for manufacturing arms, building fortifications etc.
Ami Isseroff

J'lem said to favor Hamas bid to cut Israel-Gaza ties
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent, and News Agencies Last update - 23:57

A source in Jerusalem said Saturday Israel is in favor of Hamas' declared intention of cutting economic ties between Gaza and Israel.

"This is excellent," the source said. "It is what Israel has desired for years, and it is only good for us."

The political source added: "If Egypt agrees to the process, Israel will give it its blessing."

Hamas' deposed prime minister Ismail Haniyeh was quoted Saturday as saying that Gaza must forge stronger economic ties with Egypt as a way of disconnecting from Israel.

Haniyeh told the pro-Hamas daily Palestine in an interview published Saturday that Hamas would like to see Gaza's economy cut its ties with Israel, and instead receive fuel and electricity from Egypt.

"We have said from the days of our election campaign that we want to move toward economic disengagement from the Israeli occupation," Haniyeh said.

Egypt has a greater ability to meet the needs of Gaza, he added.

The Hamas leader was also quoted as telling the daily on Friday as saying he would not allow the border to be resealed. "The Palestinian people have many options."

Meanwhile, senior Hamas hardliner Mahmoud Zahar said Saturday that Egypt has decided to close its breached border with Gaza on Sunday, and Hamas will not stand in the way.

Zahar spoke upon his return to Gaza after holding talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo.

At the same time, Zahar added, Egypt has agreed to coordinate with Hamas on some border issues and to enable thousands of Palestinians stuck in Egypt to head to third countries for which they have visas or residency permits.

These travelers are currently waiting in the Egyptian border town of El Arish for Egyptian approval to continue their travels.

Egyptian officials were not available for comment on the Hamas claims. It was unclear whether the border would be sealed hermetically, as it was before Hamas blew up sections of the border wall on January 23, ending a seven-month blockade by Israel and Egypt. It also wasn't clear to what extent, if at all, Hamas' demand to be given a say in running the Egypt-Gaza border was being considered.

In an interview with Associated Press Television News, Zahar suggested the Egyptians planned to reopen the border after talks with European officials arriving in the region.

"Tomorrow they [the Egyptians] are going to start dialogue with the European people in order to make an end for our sanctions and to allow opening of the gates freely and without preconditions," he said.

The EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, was expected to arrive in Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials later Saturday. The international Mideast envoy, Tony Blair, was also planning a trip to the region in coming days to address the border standoff.

Zahar was greeted Saturday by supporters at the border. Since the breach, hundreds of thousands of Gazans have flooded Egypt's border area and Hamas has thwarted repeated attempts by Egypt to reseal the border.

The Hamas leader said Egyptian officials told him they would restore order at the border. "Egypt's message was very clear, that Sunday should be the day to put an end to this scene," Zahar told the Arab satellite TV station Al Jazeera.

At the border, Zahar said gunmen would not be allowed to bring weapons close to the border, or use bad words or violence towards Egyptian police.

Zahar, who is widely seen as the mastermind of Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza in June, said Hamas would cooperate with Egypt in its efforts.

"We will work to close the border between us and Egypt," Zahar said. "We will restore control over this border, in cooperation with Egypt and gradually."

At the closed Rafah border crossing, around 600 women loyal to Hamas protested to demand its opening. The women, many wearing black robes and headcoverings, held up green Hamas flags and chanted on the Palestinian side of the crossing.

Some of the women said the gaps in the border - created by Hamas militants had not resolved pressing issues created by Gaza's closure to the outside world. The sick still need to travel, we need cement, said Naima Diab, a 55-year-old Hamas loyalist wearing a black robe with a white headscarf, sitting on a nearby rock.

On Friday, Hamas militants hauled away metal spikes that Egyptian soldiers had placed at sections of the Gaza-Egypt border in an attempt to stop the influx of Gazans.

Hamas' demand for a role in running the border with Egypt was rejected this week by Egypt and Hamas' rival, Fatah's moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


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An illustrative case: Hamas wants to change border agreement of 2005

Maannews, the Palestinian news service, carried the following fascinating bit of news:
Hamas delegation to Cairo express reservations on AMA border agreement
Date: 02 / 02 / 2008  Time:  11:34

Gaza - Ma'an - A Hamas delegation to the Egyptian capital on Saturday expressed reservations concerning the Agreement on Movement and Access (AMA)  drawn up by Israel and the Palestinian Authority in November 2005.

Hamas leader in-exile Muhammad Nasr said that the Hamas delegation has stated it reservations on reconsidering the agreement, which they perceive as no longer valid. The delegation is now waiting for a response from the Egyptians, he added.

The AMA was agreed under the once Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan in 2005. 

Under the agreement, European monitors replaced Israel military forces at the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Israel retained effective control to open and close the crossing, however, because it could prevent the European teams from reaching the crossing point.
Why is it interesting? Firstly, because many "analysts" insist that Israel disengaged from Gaza without making any agreements with the Palestinian Authority, and that this is the source of the problems in Gaza.
Secondly, because the Hamas are now attempting to change the agreement - by negotiating with Egypt.
Third, because it is illustrative of the value of such agreements.
Ami Isseroff

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US Jews support Hillary Clinton - not extremists

If US Jews are all reactionary neocon warmongers supporting the "Israel Lobby" and opposed to peace with the Palestinians, why aren't they turning out in droves for McCain and Huckabee?
US Jews in Clinton's pocket?

Fifty-eight percent of Jewish voters support New York senator in Florida primary elections. 'Jewish support for Hillary Clinton greater than support she gets among white voters,' says Steve Rabinovich, political strategist who served in White House during Bill Clinton era
Yitzhak Benhorin
Published:  02.01.08, 23:05 / Israel Jewish Scene
WASHINGTON – The Jews continue to support the Democratic Party, and Hillary Clinton is the preferred candidate for the president of the United States.

A survey conducted among voters leaving the polling stations during the Florida primary elections on Tuesday revealed that 58% of the Jews voted for Hillary Clinton, 26% voted for Barack Obama, and only 13% supported John Edwards, who quit the White House race on Wednesday.
The poll was based on a sample of 1,516 voters and was ordered by the country's leading media outlets in a bid to segment the voting distribution. Florida was the first state with a population composition similar to that of the entire US to hold primary elections.

The Jews comprise only 3.5% of Florida's population, but are known to have political awareness and take part in the elections. The Jewish voting power in Florida reached 9% of the democratic voters.

The percentage of Jews among the Republican voters stood at 3% - a figure which is within the statistical error and therefore makes it impossible to check the distribution of support between John McCain, Mitt Romney and Rudolph Giuliani.

A poll conducted by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in November revealed that most Jews support Clinton and Giuliani.

Obama's dramatic leap in the primary elections appears to have no impact on the Jewish vote. One estimate is that the chain letter Obama he is hidden Muslim, alongside the questions regarding his stance towards Israel, have hurt the Jewish support for the African-American senator.

Obama himself tried to relieve the concerns in a phone conversation he held this week with a small number of Israeli and Jewish reporters. He also plans to publish ads in Jewish newspapers in a bid to encourage Jews to vote for him in three states rich with delegates and large Jewish populations – California, New York and New Jersey.

Democratic political strategist Steve Rabinovich, who served in White House during Bill Clinton era, told Ynet that the Jewish support for Hillary Clinton is greater than the support she gets among the White voters.

According to Rabinovich, about one-quarter of the White voters (excluding the Hispanic population) in New York, New Jersey and California are Jews.

Jews to move their support from Giuliani to McCain
According to estimates, Florida's Republican Jews voted for Giuliani and are now expected to move their support – along with Giuliani himself – to Senator McCain.
McCain is the most prominent candidate ready for a military confrontation with Iran over its nuclear problem and has stated that the only thing worse than a military move against Tehran is a nuclear Iran.
McCain's foreign policy team includes hawkish and neoconservative members like David Frum, Daniel Pipes, Michael Rubin, Norman Podhoretz and Martin Kramer.

One of his main fund raiser, if not the most important, is Fred Zeidman of Houston, who also helped raise funds for US President George W. Bush. Zeidman is the chairman of the US Holocaust Museum in Washington.

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More Palestinians in Sinai planning terror attacks on Israelis

Egypt searches for Palestinian terror cell

Security forces look for four Palestinians who slipped into country from Gaza, are suspected of planning suicide attacks against resorts in Sinai Peninsula, local security official says. Search follows arrests of 15 Palestinians caught carrying weapons and explosives in town of el-Arish, other remote parts of Sinai desert
Associated Press
Published:  02.01.08, 21:13 / Israel News
Egyptian security forces were looking for four Palestinians on Friday who slipped into the country from the Gaza Strip and were suspected of planning suicide attacks against resorts in the Sinai Peninsula, a local security official said.

The search follows the arrests of 15 Palestinians over the past few days who were caught carrying weapons and explosives in the town of el-Arish, located some 35 kilometers (22 miles) from the border, and other remote parts of the Sinai desert.
 Twelve of those arrested were members of Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that seized control of Gaza last June, said a senior intelligence officer in northern Sinai, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
The group consisted of two cells arrested separately as they attempted to sneak out of el-Arish carrying explosives, electric circuits, machine guns and ammunition, the official added.

Egyptian officials have expressed concern that gunmen could attempt to sneak into the country ever since Hamas blew open the border wall with Gaza on January 23.
Israel issued a travel warning to its citizens last week, advising them not to visit Sinai, the vast desert peninsula between the Gaza border and Cairo, for fear of attacks by militants.
Egypt has attempted to reseal the breached frontier, but thousands of Palestinians continue to pour through.
 On Friday, Hamas militants hauled away metal spikes Egyptian soldiers had placed at sections of the 12-kilometer-long (7-mile-long) border to choke off the flow of vehicles from Gaza.
Egyptian security forces have hired local Bedouins to help them track down the four suspected Palestinian suicide bombers, the official said. Bedouins have a reputation for being experts at navigating the desert, finding back ways to avoid checkpoints.

There have been three major bomb attacks in Sinai since October 2004. The blasts in the resorts of Sharm el-Sheik, Taba and Dahab killed 125 people. The government blamed the attacks on a local Islamic militant group, which appears to have been inspired by al-Qaeda ideology.

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UN Commissioner for Human Rights expresses doubts about Arab Charter on Human Rights

After welcoming the approval of this racist document, Louise Arbour backs off a bit. I wonder what the Arab Charter on Human Rights says about blowing up retarded women as a means of "resistance."
Ami Isseroff
'Anti-Zionist' Arab charter inconsistent with UN norms'
Haviv Rettig , THE JERUSALEM POST  Feb. 1, 2008
The office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour expressed concern on Wednesday over the "incompatibility of some of the provisions" of the Arab Charter on Human Rights "with international norms and standards."
On January 24, Arbour had welcomed the charter's ratification, saying it was "an important step forward" in strengthening the enjoyment of human rights in the Arab world.
On Wednesday, Arbour's office issued a statement citing the "incompatibility of some of [the charter's] provisions with international norms and standards," including "the approach to death penalty for children and the rights of women and non-citizens."
The office also said that the charter, "to the extent that it equates Zionism with racism... the Arab Charter is not in conformity with General Assembly Resolution 46/86, which rejects that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination. OHCHR does not endorse these inconsistencies."
Earlier this week, UN Watch sent Arbour a letter citing "blatantly anti-Semitic statements contained in that charter."
As an example, UN Watch quoted from the Arab charter's preamble, which rejects "all forms of racism and Zionism, which constitute a violation of human rights and a threat to international peace and security."
According to Article 2 of the charter, "All forms of racism, Zionism and foreign occupation and domination constitute an impediment to human dignity and a major barrier to the exercise of the fundamental rights of peoples; all such practices must be condemned and efforts must be deployed for their elimination."
A text that "equates Zionism with racism, describes it as a threat to world peace, as an enemy of human rights and human dignity, and then urges its elimination, is blatantly anti-Semitic," UN Watch said.
The paragraph in the preamble equating Zionism with racism is displayed on the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' Web site, under documents "aimed at promoting and consolidating democracy."

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Canadian board finds deaths of UN observers were due to IDF errors

Deaths of UN observers 'IDF error'
Associated Press , THE JERUSALEM POST  Feb. 2, 2008
The deaths of four UN military observers during Israeli clashes with Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War two years ago were preventable, a Canadian Forces board of inquiry found Friday.
The deaths of Canadian Maj. Paeta Hess-Von Kruedener and three other unarmed observers from China, Austria and Finland were "tragic and preventable," and were the result of errors by the IDF, the board said.
The UN observers died when their compound was hit by a 500-kilo bomb dropped by an IAF aircraft. The compound was also hit by four 155-mm artillery shells fired by the IDF during clashes with Hizbullah, the report said.
"As the shelling and bombing in the vicinity of Patrol Base Khiam increased in frequency and accuracy, the decision was made to evacuate," said the report. "But the fatal bomb was dropped before the four observers could be withdrawn."
The heavily censored report said the compound's main building was nearly destroyed by the strikes.
The incident occurred two weeks after reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were captured and the IDF launched incursions against Hizbullah across the border in Lebanon.
Both the United Nations and Canadian chains of command were aware of the risks of the peacekeeping operation, said the report, but the Canadians deferred to the UN on all tactical decisions.
The board could not assign blame beyond the IDF because neither the United Nations nor the army fully cooperated with the investigation. The IDF provided only an oral summary of its findings that was of limited use, said the board.
The report's 13 recommendations include calls for better communication and situational analysis, but it found no fault with UN command in the area of operations.
"The board's findings and recommendations will improve the safety of the young men and women who proudly wear our uniform. Maj. Hess-Von Kruedener did not die in vain and we shall never forget his ultimate contribution in the pursuit of peace," Canada's chief of defense staff, Gen. Rick Hillier, said in a statement.
Hess-Von Kruedener and the other observers were working as part of Operation Jade on behalf of the UN Truce Supervision Organization.
The Canadian Forces board is an administrative inquiry that examines and reports on significant military events to prevent similar future situations. It is not a criminal investigation.

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Mauritanians arrest 3 for attack on Israel embassy

According to Israel Radio, opposition parties in Mauritania expressed support for the attack.
Three arrested in embassy attack staff and AP , THE JERUSALEM POST  Feb. 1, 2008
Three people were arrested in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott on Saturday morning a day after allegedly opening fire near the Israeli Embassy in the northwest African country.
The suspects were arrested after trying to flee a police roadblock on their way to a waiting getaway car.
The identities of the suspected attackers were not released.
Mauritanian authorities reported that Israeli and US investigators were participating in the probe of Friday's terror attack in which six gunmen reportedly opened fire near the embassy, trading fire with guards before fleeing and screaming "Allah Akbar."
The six men arrived by car and regrouped in front of a discotheque that is just beside the embassy, said Hamza Ould Bilal, a taxi driver who was parked outside the club called 'The VIP.' He saw them pull out their automatic weapons and scream "God is Great!" in Arabic, before assailing the embassy, he said.
Guards at the embassy traded fire with the gunmen, repelling them. The men fled on foot, before jumping into a car, said Bilal.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that since the attack occurred in the early hours of the morning at a time when few embassy workers had arrived, none of the embassy workers was hurt.
An eyewitness said he saw at least a woman wounded; later Friday it was revealed three French nationals were hurt, one of them a restaurant owner, another a passerby, and a third French citizen hurt himself while falling when he fled the scene.
The Mauritanian government claimed that the target of the terrorists was not the embassy but the nearby 'VIP' discotheque.
Israeli Ambassador to Mauritania Boaz Bismut told media outlets that despite foreign reports, only one gunman had carried out the attack.
"Israel and Mauritania have had full diplomatic relations since 1999 ... both countries understand the severity of the incident," Bismut told Army Radio.
The neighborhood has been roped off by the Mauritanian military, which is preventing journalists and visitors from entering.
Last week Mauritanian protesters mounted pressure on their government to cut ties with Israel as a punishment for alleged Israeli mistreatment of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Among the demonstrators were members of the government's main opposition.

On Christmas Eve, four French tourists were killed by gunmen while picnicking on the side of a road in Mauritania, an act the government blamed on a terror sleeper cell affiliated with al-Qaida. Their killing led the French organizers of the famous Dakar Rally to cancel the long-standing trans-Saharan race, which would have traversed this desert nation last month.

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Al-Qaeda 'fighters' use mentally challenged suicide bombers

The thing to remember about evil people, is that they are really evil, and their depravity knows no limits whatever. AP reports:

Remote-controlled explosives strapped to two mentally retarded women detonated in a coordinated attack on Baghdad pet bazaars Friday, Iraqi officials said, killing at least 73 people in the deadliest day since the U.S. sent 30,000 extra troops to the capital last spring.

The chief Iraqi military spokesman in Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, said the female bombers had Down syndrome and that the explosives were detonated by remote control indicating they may not having been willing attackers in what could be a new method by suspected Sunni insurgents to subvert stepped up security measures

The so-called "suicide bombers" in the latest attacks in Iraq were not suicide bombers - they were mentally challenged women who were detonated by remote control. Downs' syndrome victims are often trusting, docile and anxious to cooperate. We can understand how this happened.
Does the word "compassion" have any meaning in this context? Are any of the anti-War protestors going to get in the least bit perturbed about this?
On the other hand, these poor women did not commit a crime. They were just abused. What can we say about the mental acuity and reasoning of so-called "normal" suicide bombers? How about the intelligence of the people who support the Iraqi "resistance?"  
Ami Isseroff

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Black Humor in Iranian Statecraft

Consider the following quote, from a leader of one the most vicious and intolerant regimes of state terrorism in the world:
Also on Thursday, Iran's former President Mohammad Khatami said Iran is the most democratic state in the Middle East.

Addressing the 38th World Economic Forum in Davos, Khatami said, "Obviously, opposition against Iran is politically motivated. Extremists in any religion always consider everything in black and white and have no tool but violence."

Noting that love is at the core of Islam and Christianity, he said, "Extremists in both the religions want to turn love into hatred."
Note that Judaism was not included as a religion with a core of love.  Iran's "tolerance" for Bahai, homosexuals and other minorities is surely famous around the world. They love them to death  (see Iran's human rights record).
Some recent news from the "most democratic state in the Middle East" is below.
Ami Isseroff

Thousands of Iran election candidates face ban
Mon Jan 21, 2008 4:11pm ET147
International News
TEHRAN (Reuters) - About 40 percent of the 7,200 people who have registered to run in Iran's March parliament election "have a record" with the authorities, a senior official said Monday, an indication they would not be allowed to run.
Alireza Afshar, head of election headquarters, did not elaborate on what kind of record they had, but hopefuls in past votes in a similar position were barred.
A pro-reform politician said having a record meant being blocked from standing.

Iran has sentenced three members of the Bahai faith to four years in jail for security offences and 51 others to suspended prison terms.

They were convicted for propaganda against the system in the southern city of Shiraz, a judiciary spokesman said, without giving details.

Bahaism is a branch of Islam viewed as heresy by Iran's religious authorities.

The spokesman said the 51 suspended sentences were conditional on attending courses by state propaganda officials.

 Iranian government intensifies crackdown on left-wing opposition

SEP and ISSE demand immediate release of arrested students

By Joe Kay
28 January 2008

On January 15, as part of a brutal crackdown on domestic opposition, the Iranian government arrested another 10 members of the Students for Freedom and Equality in Iran (also known as the Radical Left). Two more students were arrested on January 24. More than 40 members of the group are now behind bars at Iran's notorious Evin prison or have been released on bail

On December 4, Iranian police forces arrested 33 students who were participating in demonstrations marking "Students Day." The day commemorates the deaths of three students who were killed by the government of the US-supported Shah of Iran on December 7, 1953, while they protested the visit of then-US Vice President Richard Nixon.


Ahwaz Human Rights Organization is appealing for international action to save the lives of three Ahwazi-Arab detainees after the execution of a fellow detainee today.

Below is an appeal by Ahwaz Human Rights Organization:

To: World Leaders, International Human Rights Organizations and Media

Despite our appeal of 1/14/2008 and the appeals of the international community and a large number of international human rights organizations, this morning at 4 AM, the Iranian regime executed  Mr. Zamel Bawi, , 29 years old, married with one child, resident of Ahwaz, a small business owner and the son  of Ahwazi Arab tribal leader Hajj Salem Bawi. This execution took place in Karoon prison in Ahwaz (Zamel's 4 brothers remain in jail).  This has come after the execution of four other Ahwazis on 12/30/2007: Ahmad Marmazi, Abdolhussein Harabii, Hussein Asakereh, and Mehdi Haidari.

In the 12 months, at least 19 Ahwazi-Arab activists have been publicly hanged (three were executed just days after UN Human Rights Commissioner, Ms. Arbour, visited Tehran in September 2007).

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Real reason for "breaking the siege" in Gaza?

Hamas worked for months to break open the Rafah border. Are we sure they did it for humanitarian reasons?

Egypt arrests 12 Hamas planning Sinai attack

Egyptian authorities arrested 12 Hamas terrorists planning an attack on Israelis in the Sinai Desert.

Israeli reports quoted Egyptian media as saying on Friday that the men, from two separate terrorist cells, were arrested with weapons and explosives near Egypt's breached border with the Gaza Strip.

They were planning attacks on Israelis who flock to the Sinai's Red Sea shore.

Hamas gunmen blew open the border last week to allow Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip to leave. Israel has blockaded Gaza in a bid to stop rocket attacks on Israel's south.

Soon after the breach, Israel issued its citizens a travel warning advising against Sinai travel.


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Ignored by the British press, Denis MacShane highlights ongoing anti-Semitism in Holocaust Memorial Day debate

The British press made a point of ignoring the wonderful British parliamentary debate on the Holocaust, in honor of Holocaust Memorial Day, January 31. We have to ask where all those anti-racists from the Guardian and the Independent were hiding, as they are always in evidence when there is an opportunity for Israel bashing. One members' point of order made this point. 

Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire) (LD): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I hope that it is in order for me to express my disappointment that, despite the quality of this debate, the Press Gallery has remained empty throughout, with the exception of the Press Association staff...
The BBC reporters presumably did not have to be there, as they themselves were responsible for disseminating some of the worst examples of anti-Semitism that were cited in the debate.
The highlight perhaps were remarks by Denis MacShane, who has been in the forefront of the fight against British anti-Semitism, and whose remarks are given in full below. Most pointedly, he said:
 It has been said that anti-Semitism is a light sleeper. As chairman of the all-party commission of inquiry into anti-Semitism in this country, let me report to the House the fact that this is a light sleeper that is reawakening. Anti-Semitism is one of the ideological driving forces for violence, hate and terror around the world. It is international and coherent; it involves theoreticians and practitioners; its involves men of huge violence while at its soft end it involves a joke around the dinner table, or perhaps a brick hurled through a synagogue window.

We have to place on record some apostles of contemporary anti-Semitism as the best way of giving witness to our concern about and horror at what happened in the holocaust.
Also noteworthy was discussion of the vicious hoax and stubborn that claims that British schools do not teach about the Holocaust.
Ami Isseroff

Remarks by Labor Member Denis MacShane on the occassion of Holocaust Memorial Day, January 31, 2008, in Parliamenary Debate
Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): We have only one hour for debate. Those on the Front Benches have been very generous in taking interventions. I will not take interventions, simply so that I can sit down as soon as I can. Please wave a yellow or a red card at me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I go over more than four or five minutes.

This is an important debate and I am glad that the Government have found time for it. Like other Members, I have visited Auschwitz. I was there on the 60th anniversary of the liberation, but I have taken my children on private visits to Poland—to Madjenek—to try to explain to them exactly what the holocaust was. It was unique; it was not another genocide, another extermination. History is littered with those. As the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. Goodman) said, we face them today, perhaps in Darfur. What is being unleashed in Kenya might also be going in that horrible direction. We hope not.
The holocaust was four years of calmly organised, purposeful integration of transport, science, engineering and construction work to put millions of Jews, Sinti and Gypsies to death. We are now finding that the death toll may be higher. I want to report to the House the remarkable work of Father Desbois, a Paris-based priest who has spent the past two or three years touring sites in Ukraine that are not recorded, discovering graves the remains of Jews put to death by SS and Wehrmacht Einsatzgruppen after the invasion of Ukraine.
The holocaust figures may have to be increased a little, which is why we have to say to ourselves that there is no comparison between the holocaust and other horrible moments of European, or indeed world, history—expulsions, ethnic cleansing, population transfers, massacres at the end of the Ottoman empire and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians leaving their homes in the wars of 1947 and 1948.

Nor can we class the holocaust as just a matter of history. As hon. Members have said, the holocaust was rooted in an ideology—not in hate, race or religious hate, much as those were part of it, but in an ideology called anti-Semitism. It has been said that anti-Semitism is a light sleeper. As chairman of the all-party commission of inquiry into anti-Semitism in this country, let me report to the House the fact that this is a light sleeper that is reawakening. Anti-Semitism is one of the ideological driving forces for violence, hate and terror around the world. It is international and coherent; it involves theoreticians and practitioners; its involves men of huge violence while at its soft end it involves a joke around the dinner table, or perhaps a brick hurled through a synagogue window.

We have to place on record some apostles of contemporary anti-Semitism as the best way of giving witness to our concern about and horror at what happened in the holocaust. Take, for example, Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who says:

"An Israeli woman is not like women in our societies, because she is a soldier."
He goes on:

"I consider this type of martyrdom operation"—

blowing up Jews in Israel—

"as an evidence of God's justice."

All this was said on the BBC, not hidden away on obscure websites. He also said:

"Allah Almighty is just; through his infinite wisdom he has given the weak a weapon the strong do not have and that is their ability to turn their bodies into bombs as Palestinians do".

This man is an open advocate of Jew killing and of holocaust activities as they have been modernised in contemporary world history.

A few years back, Mr. Abd al-Rahman al-Sudayyis, imam at the al-Haram mosque in Mecca, said:

"Read history and you will understand that the Jews of yesterday are the evil fathers of the Jews of today...the scum of the human race 'whom Allah turned into apes and pigs'".

In March 2003, a more senior state figure, President Bashar al-Assad, said:

"Even if the peace process succeeds, it is impossible that Israel should be a legitimate state".

Returning home, Mr. David Irving, talking late last year to The Guardian, said that the Jews were responsible for what happened to them in the second world war and that the "Jewish problem" was responsible for nearly all the wars of the past 100 years:

"The Jews are the architects of their own misfortune",

he declared.

At about the same time, Muhammad Cherif Abbas, Algeria's Minister of War Veterans, said of President Nicolas Sarkozy:

"You know the origins of the French president and those who put him into power. Do you know that the Israelis printed a stamp with Nicolas Sarkozy on it during the election campaign?...Why has Bernard Kouchner..."
—the French Foreign Minister, who is a non-believing Jew—

"decided to cross the floor? It's the result of a movement that reflects the views of the real architects of Sarkozy's arrival in power—the Jewish lobby."

There we have it again—references to the "Jewish lobby", the cabal. The Saudi Government are publishing translations of the protocols of the elders of Zion and circulating them as contemporary historical material.
My final remarks—I shall sit down soon, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and thank you for that glance—relate to material published by Policy Exchange in a report produced by Professor Denis MacEoin of Newcastle university at the end of last year. The information in question is in circulation in the King Fahad school in west London. It says that the Jews are responsible for trying to

"immerse nations in vice and the spread of fornication."

It also says that the Jews are

"spreading immoral pornographic literature...Cheating, bribing, stealing and conning."

It goes on to say:

"The Jews are a people who were moulded with treachery and backstabbing throughout the centuries and they do not keep their word nor honour their promise."

Finally, let me quote Nick Griffin of the British National party, who is currently obsessed with Polish workers. A few years ago it was Asian workers, but the man has always been obsessed with Jews. He wrote a book called
 "Who Are The Mindbenders?", which lists Jews who work in the media and do not use their real names. Mr. Griffin denounced the former Labour Member of Parliament for York, Alex Lyon, as

"this bloody Jew... whose only claim to fame is that two of his parents died in the Holocaust."

In a book published in 1988, Mr. Griffin wrote:
"the Jews... shifted the alleged sites of the mass gassings from the no-longer believable German camps such as Dachau and Belsen to the sites in Communist Poland such as Auschwitz and Treblinka."

I put those quotes on the record so that people who read the debate can understand that what we are dealing with is not history. What we are dealing with is not what happened in the past; it is alive, awake and organising. It involves British citizens. It involves many people from different countries and different faiths. We must combat anti-Semitism today with the dedication with which we so singularly failed to combat anti-Semitism and Nazism before 1939.

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Independent Jewish Voices: Anti-Zionist Tempest in a teapot?

The "Independent Jewish Voices" seems to contain the usual anti-Zionist British Jews, inevitably starting with Jacqueline Rose. It has apparently been bally-hooed far out of proportion to its importance, because any Jew who is opposed to Israel is automatically hailed as a great thinker, and because any such organization, no matter how small, can start a boycott initiative that will earn the attention of the media and alarmed pro-Israel groups.
This group of "liberals" has now degenerated into support for the genocidal reactionary Hamas group. With liberals like that, who needs fascists?
According to this article, Jacqueline Rose describes herself as a "critic of Zionism." In the same way, we might say that Hitler was a "critic of Judaism" and Nero was a "critic of Christianity."
Ami Isseroff

 Last update - 14:36 01/02/2008       
British Jewish group sparks new outrage with condemnation of Gaza blockade
By Saul Sadka
LONDON - A controversial coalition of prominent Jewish activists and academics has reignited controversy in the British Jewish community after taking out an paid advertisement in The Times this week calling for Israel to lift its economic blockade of the Gaza strip and accusing the state of breaching international law.
"Independent Jewish Voices" was formed a year ago and counts Nobel laureate Harold Pinter and actor Stephen Fry among its prominent signatories.
Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm is also a signatory though neither he nor Fry and Pinter - the groups most recognisable names - signed Wednesday's statement.
The group was formed to provide an alternative to the Board of Deputies of British Jews - a cross communal Jewish organisation dating back to 1760 - who the IJV felt were inauthentically presenting themselves as the exclusive voice of Judaism in Britain. IJV members say that the Board of Deputies refuses to allow criticism of Israel and this presents a unrepresentative picture of Jewish opinion in the U.K.
The statement which appeared on the inside pages of the paper was signed by 250 of the groups members. Entitled "End the siege of Gaza!", the statement condemned Israel's actions in blockading Gaza as a violation of international law, and also called for a halt to Palestinian rocket attacks.
"The collective punishment of the population of Gaza is illegal under international law. We condemn attacks on all civilians including the rocket attacks on the residents of Southern Israel," said the statement.
The statement also called for an end to the blockade and for "both sides to observe a ceasefire."
Feminist academic Jacqueline Rose who describes herself as a "critic of Zionism," is one of the groups principle advocates. She said that the motivation for the statement was in response to the current crisis in Gaza.
"IJV arose partly in response to our sense that bodies in the U.K. who claim to represent British Jewry make statements as though they were speaking for all British Jews. While many of us have a high profile - we are not claiming that we are excluded from the debate - we formed to make it clear that British Jews do not speak with one voice."
The group has views on everything from the right of Norman Finkelstein to speak at the Oxford Union which they support, to the proposed academic and economic boycotts of Israel which members disagree on. Rose says that while the group disagrees over the boycott they "support it being discussed openly, something which regrettably may be illegal in the UK." She argues that "the battle against antisemitism is weakened by its association with criticism of Israel."
Rose says that the network took out the advertisement in The Times rather that what might be seen as its more obvious political home The Guardian to get its message beyond the left wing readership who would generally approve of the group's credo, to a more mainstream audience.
She argues that "Israel must negotiate with the elected Hamas government for there to be any kind of a solution to the rocket fire on the south."
The group caused a media storm following its launch, with a full page advertisement in The Times, a week long discussion on The Guardian's Website and extensive media coverage. However, the group does not take a firm position on the proposed academic and economic boycott of Israel, with some of its members supportive while other are in opposition.
One of its signatories, Tony Greenstein is a trade unionist who has publicly called for a boycott of Israeli goods and is also a member of "Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods."
A critic of the group, lawyer and academic Anthony Julius, disputed the claim that Israel was in breach of international law.
"It is by no means unarguable that Israel is right to treat Gaza as an enemy territory. It is hard to see on what basis Israel's actions can be seen as a violation and only one or two of the signatories could grapple with issues involved."
Julius argues that the group is "fraying at the edges and has lost some of its membership. It is unable to speak with a coherent voice on any issue, such as the academic boycott of Israel."

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The way it should be: Shfaram to celebrate Israeli independence

Every Arab town that participates in Israeli independence day is a victory for Israel, but it is a much bigger victory for the Arabs of Israel. Shfar Am is a mixed Chritian and Arab town. Shfaram will be remembered as the place where a crazed Israeli opened fire on bus riders.
Kol Hakavod.
Ami Isseroff
Arab town plans big celebration for Israel's Independence Day
Shfaram mayor decides to include his town in festivities for Israel's 60th anniversary; says 'we feel we are a part of Israel, we don't want our children to hate country'
Sharon Roffe-Ofir YNET Published: 02.01.08, 09:03 / Israel News

Unlike most of the Arab sector, the Arab town of Shfaram has decided to take part in Israel's celebrations of its 60th anniversary this year, and hold ceremonies to mark the occasion.

The town's mayor Ursan Yassin and other local officials met with members of the state committee in charge of the celebrations Thursday to discuss the nature of the festivities to be held in town.

Yassin recently spoke with the committee chairman, Minister Ruhama Avraham-Balila, and stressed to her that while many in the Arab community felt unconnected to the historic date, Shfaram had no plans to be left out of the party.

Yassin told the committee that he objected to the incitement against the state among the Arab sector. "This is our country and we completely disapprove of the statements made by the Higher Monitoring Committee. I want to hold a central ceremony in Shfaram, raise all the flags and have a huge feast.

"The 40,000 residents of Shfaram feel that they are a part of the State of Israel," Yassin added. "The desire to participate in the festivities is shared by most of the residents."

The mayor stated, "We will not raise our children to hate the country. This is our country and we want to live in coexistence with its Jewish residents."

The committee members praised Yassin's words and vowed to include the town in plans for the state-wide events, including a traveling exhibit featuring Israel's achievement in the 60 years since its inception.

Minister Avraham-Balila also lauded Yassin's "courageous statements, saying it was time for the leaders of Israel's Arab community "to express what a large part of their public feels." The 60th anniversary events "are an excellent opportunity to emphasize the unifying aspects shared by all sectors in the country," she added.

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Olmert Versus Netanyahu

Joel Mowbray's comments below are mostly true enough after a fashion, but we do not have to take every word Mowbray writes as gospel. Mowbray writes:
Yet despite Mr. Olmert's depressed popularity, there isn't a real clamor for new elections. In no small part, it is an indictment of the political skills of Mr. Olmert's chief rival, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli security was robust during his tenure, and he later helped kickstart a sagging economy as finance minister, yet he lacks enthusiastic support
Israelis are not enthusiastic about Bibiyahoo not because of his lack of political skills, but because of his record. Netanyahu was responsible for igniting the unneccessary and deadly "Tunnel Riots" as Prime Minister, and also succeeded in making almost every faction of Israeli society sore at him. His defense policies laid the basis for the decay of the IDF. As Finance Minister, he insisted on cutting the defense budget in order to "kick start" the economy, as Mowbray puts it, reducing procurement of needed weapons systems and training days for reservists. The payoff for Netanyahu's economies came in the disastrous Second Lebanon War
Partisans of Netanyahu have made it impossible to get rid of Olmert. Changing the government and correcting the problems revealed in the  war should be a bi-partisan effort - a national priority. But right-wing partisans have somehow linked the Lebanon war to the peace process, and insist that the only way to unseat Olmert is to replace him with Benjamin Netanyahu. Since half the people are not enthusiastic about that idea, Netanyahu's candidacy becomes the best guarantee of Olmert's continuing rule.
Mowbray wrote:
Outside of the politicians in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's governing coalition, in fact, it is hard to find any Israelis who feel that "peace" is even a possibility,
I wonder who Mowbray was talking to, or where he was looking for Israelis who feel that peace is a possibility. I can find a lot of them for him, if he is really interested. Of course, it won't be easy, and it may not in the end even be possible in the near term, but a sizeable part of the population believes peace is a possibility according to every poll. Including yours truly.
Ami Isseroff

The Washington Times

An impossible peace
By Joel Mowbray
Published January 30, 2008
JERUSALEM -- With yet another round of Middle East peace talks underway and on the heels of the first presidential visit by arguably the most pro-Israel American head of state ever, the natural assumption is that ordinary Israelis would be abuzz with discussion of politics and the "peace process." That was the scene almost a decade ago, when Bill Clinton came here. But that was a different era.
President Bush's visit obviously received significant local media coverage, but to most Jerusalem residents, it carried more meaning as a de facto holiday. Traffic was so chaotic due to increased security that many stayed home. And to people in western cities along the Mediterranean Sea, such as Tel Aviv and Haifa, Mr. Bush was the subject of little more than passing conversation.
No number of presidential promises could convince Israelis that there are legitimate prospects for a deal with Palestinians. Hope once abounded in the Jewish state, but reality has been sobering. It is not lost on Israelis that their Palestinian neighbors elected Hamas just two years ago and that most in the society treat suicide bombers as heroes.
Outside of the politicians in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's governing coalition, in fact, it is hard to find any Israelis who feel that "peace" is even a possibility, or that this latest round of talks will produce anything tangible. Even among those politicians who tout talks with the Palestinians, few likely believe their own words.
Israeli society today is not marked by despair, but the disillusionment is palpable. Nowhere is this more evident than with Israelis in their 20s and 30s.
In this tiny nation, most under 40 know someone who was involved in often-hellacious warfare against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. "For what reason?" many of them ask. Mr. Olmert waited until the final days — after the outlines of the cease-fire were already in place — to order a major ground offensive.
On a recent cover of Ma'ariv, Israel's second-largest newspaper, were family members of the 33 Israelis killed during the ill-fated ground offensive. Their anger is squarely directed at Mr. Olmert, and the Israeli public is deeply sympathetic.
Within the next week, the Winograd Commission will be releasing its final report on the handling of the war. Sharp criticism of Mr. Olmert's conduct and mounting pressure from the grieving families could finally bring about his political demise.
But don't bet on it.
On paper, Mr. Olmert long ago should have been finished. His poll numbers cratered by the end of the war with Hezbollah and have never recovered. Worse, he has become the face of what many Israelis see as a hopelessly corrupt system. In a recent poll, a solid majority of Israelis voted Mr. Olmert the most crooked member of a notoriously shady political class -- which is akin to being the drunkest patron in an Irish pub.
Yet despite Mr. Olmert's depressed popularity, there isn't a real clamor for new elections. In no small part, it is an indictment of the political skills of Mr. Olmert's chief rival, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli security was robust during his tenure, and he later helped kickstart a sagging economy as finance minister, yet he lacks enthusiastic support.
While young Israelis are largely disenchanted by politics, they are not ambivalent. In a recent poll conducted by Kevoon for B'nai Brith International, the age group most opposed to carving up Jerusalem is 18-24 year-olds, with 78 percent believing that the holy city must remain the undivided capital of Israel. This compares to 68 percent of Israeli Jews overall who oppose handing the eastern half of Jerusalem over to a future Palestinian state.
Nor do Israelis have much faith in Palestinians. Asked in the same poll about how international aid will be used by the Palestinian Authority, just seven percent believe that funds will be used for humanitarian purposes. Fully 80 percent believe that the money will go "mostly for terrorist attacks against Israel." Given that former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat pilfered billions in aid and funneled the rest into terrorism, Israeli skepticism is sadly warranted.
At least most Israelis no longer live in fear that a ride on the bus or a meal in a restaurant will end with a bombing. In the southern border town of Sderot, however, normality is a distant memory. Located less than a mile from Gaza, Sderot suffers from a constant barrage of Qassam rockets, with warning sirens going off throughout the day, every day.
Mr. Olmert paid a surprise visit to Sderot and surrounding communities almost two weeks ago, and three days later he told the legislature that he "heard fewer complaints" about his government.
To which an Israeli taxi driver remarked to me, "He obviously wasn't listening."

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Bloggers take on "image" of Israel presented by media

Here's a stunt you can try in your own home!
 Last update - 13:14 01/02/2008       
Bloggers try to counter anti-Israel media bias with bad news on other states
By Cnaan Liphshiz, Haaretz Correspondent
What began six months ago as a brazen attempt to counter a perceived anti-Israel slant in the Dutch media, has evolved into a network monitoring the media in eight countries across the world. The idea is simple: Beat press bias at its own game by advertising only bad news about one place.
Over the past months, seven activists from Israel and elsewhere have been exposing online readers to scandalous yet accurate reports from media in Britain (violent drunk teens), France (high homeless mortality), Norway (serial child molesters), Finland (sexual harassment in parliament), Sweden (soaring suicide rates), The Netherlands (menacing Muslim unrest), Mexico (rampaging flood victims) and Los Angeles (drive-by killings).
The seven bad-news activists visit one another's online blogs and have incorporated links referring the dozens of surfers who visit their pages every day to sister-sites. Though they all act out of a desire to counter what they see as media bias against Israel, they operate independently and have little communication with one another. Some of them rely on friends to send them interesting bits of bad news.
"This project demonstrates how media coverage can degrade any country's image by using selective news without context," explains media analyst Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld from Jerusalem. His seminar last summer, entitled "Bad News about the Netherlands," became the kernel of his blog.
Gerstenfeld told Anglo File at the time that by maligning Dutch society he was "merely employing the methods of some in the Dutch media." Those parties, he said, habitually report only about Israeli aggression while omitting any reference to Palestinian violence, among other tactics.
The Netherlands' former ambassador to Israel, Bob Hiensch, indicated he found the project "simplistic and naive" - which hasn't stopped Gerstenfeld from updating the site every day. His blog attracts up to 300 readers a day.
Dr. Genevieve Benezra cites a sense of deep frustration in explaining what made her launch her bilingual Bad News from France blog two months ago. "For years I'd fume over bias in French papers and television," she says. Benezra, a retired jurist from Kfar Hayam near Hadera and veteran French immigrant, heard about the initiative from Gerstenfeld last year at a conference for child survivors of the Holocaust.
It was around that period the British blogger, who preferred to remain anonymous, joined the Bad News club. John (not his real name), who immigrated to Israel from Britain 12 years ago, heard about Gerstenfeld's pet project at a lecture. "We agreed we could make a very good one on Britain," he recalls. "I realize this can be seen as unpatriotic, but the truth is British society never fully accepted me. I was always a Jew there," says the 69-year-old academic. "You could say I have a chip on my shoulder, even though I love British culture in general."
David Silon, a Los Angeles are Jew from birth, runs Bad News from L.A. He says defaming his hometown - which enjoys some degree of glitz in foreign media - is only a means to demonstrate how easily media reports can be manipulated.
Appearing patriotic seems to be of little concern to Kenneth Sikorski, a Finnish non-Jew who runs both Bad News from Finland and Bad News from Sweden. "Even harsh criticism does not generally register as unpatriotic in Scandinavia," says the 48-year-old retired paper industry machinist. Sikorski, who was born in the U.S. and immigrated to Finland 20 years ago, has been monitoring the media for years. "I observed egregious errors in the reports about Israel. One major newspaper said the Separation Fence was electric instead of electronic," he says.
"I have written countless letters to editors," says Leif Knutsen, 48, who runs Bad News from Norway. "I usually received no response and my letters weren't published." Knutsen, a management consultant who converted to Judaism and immigrated from Norway to New Jersey 15 years ago, says the Norwegian press is particularly hostile to Israel. Part of this, he says, draws from Norway's strong peacenik tradition of the 1960s, which Knutsen thinks has resulted in "a simplistic world view where Israel is seen as the one remaining imperialist client state of the U.S."
Gerstenfeld would most like to see a bad news blog covering Belgium. "If it faced Israel's difficult position, Belgium would have disappeared long ago," he says. Benezra would especially like to cover the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec. "I may include it, though I don't know how helpful my blog is," she says. "At least it relieves some of my frustration."

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Islamists(?) Hit Israeli embassy in Mauritania

This is the sort of attack that in the past has been carried out by Iran or Hezbollah. Look for the involvement of a Hezbollah man called Mornieh.  But it could be local Islamists as well.
Last update - 10:55 01/02/2008       
Three hurt in attack on Israeli embassy in Mauritania
By News Agencies and Haaretz Service
Gunmen opened fire on the Israeli embassy in the Mauritanian capital
Nouakchott early Friday, wounding at least three people, officials and witnesses said.
Israel's Ambassador to the northwest African nation, Boaz Bismuth, said no embassy staff were hurt in the shooting attack, speaking to Israel Radio in a telephone conversation.
A French woman outside a nightclub near the embassy was among those wounded by the gunmen, officials and witnesses said.
Emergency services initially reported that a number of people were wounded in the shooting, but Bismuth said he was only aware of one person who had been hurt outside the embassy, a Mauritanian who lived nearby.
Two witnesses told The Associated Press that the attack had been carried out by a group of men who shouted "God is Great!" in Arabic before opening fire on the embassy around 2 A.M.
Mauritanian officials issued no immediate comment.
Hamza Ould Bilal, a taxi driver who had been parked outside the VIP, a disco next to the embassy, said that six men gathered outside the club before pulling out weapons and attacking. Guards at the embassy traded fire with the gunmen, who fled on foot and jumped into a car, Bilal said.
Ali Fall, a club employee, said several men attacked the embassy with guns before fleeing in a car.
The neighborhood was cordoned off by the Mauritanian military, who prevented journalists and visitors from entering.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and her ministry's Director-General, Aharon Abramovich, spoke to Bismuth shoftly after the incident on Friday morning, Israel Radio reported.
Abramovich told Israel Radio that ties with Mauritania are important to Israel, and expressed the hope that they would be strengthened in the future, in the light of the peace process with the Palestinians.
Speaking to Reuters, Bismuth said: "I have received many phone calls from Mauritanian friends who are very concerned. That is the only positive thing in a very sad night."
"It only happened a few hours ago, but a shooting on a foreign embassy is a very serious incident."
An Israeli security source left for Mauritania on Friday morning to examine the security arrangements at the embassy, Israel Radio reported.
The attack followed recent public calls by political parties in Mauritania, an Islamic Republic which straddles black and Arab Africa, for the government to sever diplomatic ties with Israel. The country is one of the few Arab League states to have relations with Israel.
On Christmas Eve, four French tourists were killed by gunmen while picnicking on the side of a road in Mauritania, an act the government blamed on a terror sleeper cell affiliated with Al-Qaida. Their killing led the French organizers of the famous Dakar Rally to cancel the long-standing trans-Saharan race, which would have traversed this desert nation last month.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Michael Oren on the Second Lebanon War

This article seems to capture the essence of the malaise left by the Lebanon war. It is unfortunate that certain people are trying to make political capital out of the issue.

Wall Street Journal

Israel's Lebanon Disaster

January 30, 2008; Page A16

I had fought in war before but had never seen such intensive fire -- tracer bullets, rockets, artillery shells -- nor been assigned a more horrific detail. My unit was escorting the bodies of Israeli soldiers killed on the last night of the Second Lebanon War, a few hours before the U.N. cease-fire agreement took effect. None of us understood the purpose of this last-minute offensive or, indeed, many of the government's disastrous decisions during the war. We agreed that the burden of these failures would be borne by our leaders, military and civilians alike.

Now, a year and a half later, veterans of the war are demanding that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accept responsibility for its conduct -- or risk unraveling the consensus on which Israel's survival depends.

The war began on July 12, 2006, when Hezbollah gunmen ambushed an Israeli border patrol, killing eight and kidnapping two. Mr. Olmert's response, a large-scale campaign intended to crush Hezbollah and secure the soldiers' release, was supported by most Israelis until serious mismanagement of the war surfaced. While receiving inadequate or faulty equipment -- my rifle literally fell apart in my hands -- Israeli forces were denied permission to invade Southern Lebanon and neutralize the katyusha rockets that were pummeling Israeli cities. Instead, Israeli jets bombed the Lebanese routes through which Syria resupplied Hezbollah and destroyed the organization's Beirut headquarters.

These attacks obliterated much of Hezbollah's infrastructure and killed a fourth of its fighters, but they also laid waste to a large part of Lebanon, killing civilians and squandering Israel's initial international backing. Hundreds of rockets, meanwhile, continued to smash into northern Israel, displacing a half-million civilians. Only on Aug. 13, after a month of fighting and with a U.N. ceasefire already approved, did the government authorize a ground offensive into Lebanon. The operation achieved nothing, either militarily or diplomatically, and cost the lives of 33 Israeli troops.

In another country, perhaps, such blunders might result in the resignation of senior officers but not necessarily elected officials. In Israel, though, no one is above blame. Accountability for decision making is a tenet of the Zionist ethos on which the Jewish state is based and, unlike most nations, Israel has a citizens' army in which the great majority -- politicians included -- serve. Most uniquely, Israel confronts daily security dangers and long-term threats to its existence. Israelis can neither condone nor afford a prime minister who passes the buck to their army or shirks the onus of defense. The person who sends us into battle cannot escape responsibility for our fate.

No sooner had the war ended than Israelis began demanding an official inquiry into its handling. Why did the government set unrealistic goals for the operation? Why were no orders given for an invasion, and why were no measures taken to protect the home front from missile attack? Above all, Israelis insisted on knowing why Mr. Olmert authorized a final offensive with no apparent objective other than enhancing his image.

Mr. Olmert resisted these demands, but public pressure forced him to appoint an investigative panel headed by Supreme Court Justice Eliyahu Winograd. While not empowered to recommend resignations, the commission issued a preliminary report that compelled Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Chief of Staff Dan Halutz to step down. The second Winograd report, scheduled for publication tomorrow, will focus on the prime minister's performance during the war, but Mr. Olmert has sworn not to cede power, irrespective of its findings. At stake is not merely the government's future but rather the fabric of Israeli society.

Israel lacks a constitution but is bound by an unwritten social contract. Israelis defend their country with their lives and their leaders' pledge not to send them to war heedlessly. Prime Ministers Golda Meir and Menachem Begin resigned in the aftermath of disappointing wars, though both were exonerated of incompetence. By ignoring these precedents, Mr. Olmert, whose culpability began before the war, when he appointed a defense minister devoid of military experience, threatens to break the contract. Israelis will think twice before following his orders -- and perhaps those of future prime ministers -- into battle. The cohesiveness that enabled Israel to survive 60 years of conflict will unwind.

Thousands of Israelis are calling for Mr. Olmert's resignation. Rightists convinced that the prime minister cannot safeguard the country's security have joined with leftists who understand that leaders who fail at war will never succeed at peacemaking. All are united by a willingness to shoulder the burden of Israel's defense. This was the commitment that united us that last night in Lebanon, as we took up the stretchers bearing the remains of somebody's son, somebody's husband, and brought them home for burial.

Mr. Oren is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem and the author of "Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present" (Norton, 2008).


Continued (Permanent Link)

Reflections On Lessons from The Holocaust


January 31, 2008

Contact: Sr. Ruth Lautt, O.P., Esq.

(212) 870-2320

New York, New York

The following is based on a speech given by Sr. Ruth Lautt, O.P., Esq. at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, January 30, 2008

Reflections on Lessons from The Holocaust

There is a new book out devoted entirely to the biblical commandment, "Love Thy Neighbor." According to the author the commandment means that when you see something wrong going on you have to do something or you yourself become complicit in the wrong. I love that -- I think its wonderful. It makes clear how seriously God takes us and the extent of human responsibility in God's eyes. We are not to be passive observers, but active participants in salvation. It is easy to mourn past tragedies, and it is easy to make general statements about the need to end hatred and bias. What is required however, is the more difficult task of having the courage to confront the evil of the day.

Therefore, one first lesson from the Holocaust is that each generation must ask whether the kind of evil we saw during the Nazi Holocaust is resurfacing in some way. Christians for Fair Witness is concerned that anti-Semitism may be alive and well, albeit in a new and insidious form. What we see in the international community and in many religious circles is an unrelenting almost obsessive criticism and one-sided condemnation of the state of Israel. This strikes us as the same old sin of anti-Semitism wrapped up in a new politically correct wrapper.

A second lesson from the Holocaust is that there needs to be some special vigilance when it comes to the Jewish people and their state because of the long history of anti-Semitism and the attendant dire consequences. But the converse is also true. We should be equally vigilant of overreaching in the other direction and crying anti-Semitism in response to legitimate and balanced critique of Israel. Israel is not perfect and it does things wrong just like every other country does. But we must underscore legitimate and balanced.

Because when it is Israel that repeatedly gets put under the world's ethical microscope and when it is the Israeli sin of the day that invariably gets focused on, this is not balanced and often in no way legitimate.

Last year I visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem with a group of Protestant ministers. At one point I found myself standing in front of an exhibit about a massacre of Jews somewhere in Europe early in the Nazi period. The Nazis rounded up a group of Jews. Then they invited their non-Jewish neighbors to surround them and shout and yell at the Jews in an accusatory manner about every misdeed, no matter how small, they could recall each Jew ever committing.

And I had an "aha moment" of learning. A sudden and somewhat startling insight. I realized how effective a tool this could be for encouraging irrational hatred and violence against one particular group of people. By focusing intensely on the (ordinary, human) sins of one particular group of people, another group could feel justified in allowing or even abetting the severe punishment, even to slaughter, of those people. And I realized that you could do this to any people by simply applying a standard to them that you apply to no other.

I recently read a 222-page volume entitled "Israel-Palestine: A Mission Study." This Mission Study was written by two Ministers from the United Methodist Church and published in 2007 by the Women's Division, General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. It is nothing less than shocking. In addition to containing historical misrepresentation after historical misrepresentation, all aimed at portraying Israel as the sole villain in the Arab/Israeli conflict, the Mission Study characterizes Jews as belligerent, arrogant and aggressive, Israelis as "racist." It even suggests that religious racism may be inherent in the Jewish religion.

But perhaps the most shocking thing about this Mission Study is that it actually uses the Holocaust as a weapon against Israel by referring to what it calls a "Holocaust consciousness" that it says is a main characteristic of the Israeli temperament and which it says consists of "latent hysteria" and a "paranoiac sense of isolation" that prevents Israelis from making peace.

So, lessons from the Holocaust? I would say -- do not shed a tear for the victims of the Nazi genocide if you will not speak up now while this sort of malevolence is brewing in our own country, in our own churches.

In his second encyclical, Saved By Hope, Pope Benedict XVI refers to human freedom where he writes "we are not slaves of the universe and of its laws, we are free." I would suggest that we use that freedom to act responsibly and proactively to stop egregious acts before they occur.

On this day devoted to Holocaust Remembrance, let us take some moments to mourn the sins and losses of the past. But I suspect that that mourning will hold no real value in the eyes of God, unless we transform it into action to prevent something like that from ever happening again.

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Warning - Egyptian-Iranian Rapprochement

Rapprochement is not always good. It depends who is making up to whom. Americans have to be asking why their number 2 aid client in the Middle East - Egypt - has been moving closer and closer to Iran, while the US is seeking to isolate the terrorist regime of the Iranian Mullahs. Egyptians should be asking the same questions, since the aim of the Iranian government is to install an Islamist government in Cairo, as well as everywhere else.
Ami Isseroff

Iranian speaker hails historic meeting with Egyptian president as 'very good'
By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Thursday, January 31, 2008
CAIRO: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak held talks with Iranian Parliament Speaker Gholam Ali Hadad Adel on Wednesday, the first such high-level meeting since the two nations froze ties almost 30 years ago. Adel hailed his meeting with Mubarak as "very good." Mubarak, he said, had insisted on rejecting any pressure from the US aimed at stopping the resumption of diplomatic ties.
"The fact that I'm here is proof of the improvement in relations between the Islamic Republic and Egypt," Adel told journalists. "Maybe some people think the US is putting pressure to stop the return of relations between Egypt and Iran but President Mubarak has said he does not accept any pressure from the United States."
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Monday that Tehran was on the threshold of restoring diplomatic ties with Cairo but was awaiting a signal from Egypt.
Diplomatic ties were broken in 1980, a year after Iran's Islamic Revolution, in protest at Egypt's recognition of Israel, its hosting of the deposed shah and its support for Iraq during its 1980-1988 war with Iran.

In a rare visit to Egypt earlier this month, Iran's former nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani met, Egyptian officials and said relations between the two countries were improving.
Adel said during their meeting Mubarak "talked about his positive point of view on increasing cooperation and we also gave him our positive point of view and told him that the Iranian position is in favor of reinforcing the economic ties."
Asked when diplomatic ties might be resumed, Adel said that "the situation just needs time and this is the only obstacle. At the present time, despite the fact there are no diplomatic ties there are bilateral links on all levels," he said. - AFP

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

George Habash: Death of a terrorist

Dear Dr. George has died, OMYOMYOMY.
Imagine being in a hospital and hearing on the pager "Dr. Habash, Dr. George Habash." Habash had the sure cure for everything that ails you. His prescription would put an end to all your problems.
Here was one of those fellows who at last exercised his principle virtue - his mortality.
I have no compassion for this fellow or for the sick people who mourn him.
Ami Isseroff

Apologia for Habash


Continued (Permanent Link)

The Winograd report: a bigger failure than the Second Lebanon War

This is my take on the Winograd report at ZioNation Web log.
Ami Isseroff

The long awaited Winograd report on the Second Lebanon War (see text of press conference on Winograd findings) has finally arrived. The suspense, if there was any, has ended, not with a bang, but a whimper. The public part of the report noted strategic failures at the military and political levels, but the report is so vaguely worded that everyone can make any claim they wish.

We should put the failure of the
Second Lebanon war in context and understand its significance. Failures of individual operations are nothing new and plague every army. IDF has never been immune from such failures, from the Israel War of Independence and throughout each campaign, successful or otherwise.The political decisions made after every war have always likewise not been uniformly optimal, and the decision to go to war has sometimes been questionable. However, never before has Israel seen such a combination of failures at every level, inflated expectations, incompetent military strategy, failure to protect civilians, low morale, failure of national purpose, decisions that disregarded the value of the lives of soldiers and diplomatic and public relations bungling. The Israel government tried to match the most powerful army in the Middle East against an enemy whose main weapon is his mouth, and the mouth won.

The report itself is a continuation of the failures of the Lebanon war and the political reaction to the report is a further continuation of those failures. The report was obviously tailored to serve political interests and protect those in power, at least in the public version. The politicians are each interpreting the report in terms of their own interests. Hassan Nasrallah of the Hezbollah joined forces with Likud and other Israeli opposition leaders in claiming that the report indicates Olmert is a failure and has lost all credibility. Kadima party members insist that the report exonerates Ehud Olmert.

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Text of Winograd report press conference

Full text of Judge Eliyahu Winograd's press conference on inquiry into 2006 Lebanon war
Ynetnews Published:  01.30.08, 18:49 / Israel News 

This is the text of the press conference that Judge Winograd held following issuance of the report on the <a href="">Second Lebanon war</a>. For those who find it rather Delphic, look for commentary (real soon) at ZioNation Zionism-Israel Commentary.
Good Evening.
1. About an hour ago we submitted the Final Report of the Commission to Investigate the Lebanon Campaign in 2006 to the Prime minister, Mr. Ehud Olmert, and to the Minister of Defense, Mr. Ehud Barak.
2. The task given to us was difficult and complex. It involved the examination of events in 34 days of fighting, and the scrutiny of events before the war, since the IDF had left Lebanon in 2000. This covered extensive, charged and complex facts, unprecedented in any previous Commission of Inquiry.
3. The fact that the Government of Israel opted for such an examination, and that the army conducted a large number of inquires of a variety of military events, are a sign of strength, and an indication that the political and military leaders of Israel are willing to expose themselves to critical review and to painful but required mending.
4. We have included in the classified version of the Report all the relevant facts we have found concerning the 2nd Lebanon war, systematically and in a chronological order. This presentation of the factual basis was an important part of our work. It is reasonable to assume that no single decision maker had access to a similar factual basis. In this task we had a unique advantage over others who have written about this war, since we had access to a lot of primary and comprehensive material, and the opportunity to clarify the facts by questioning many witnesses, commanders and soldiers, including bereaved families.
5. For obvious reasons, the unclassified Report does not include the many facts that cannot be revealed for reasons of protecting the state's security and foreign affairs. We tried, nonetheless, to balance between the wish to present the public with a meaningful picture of the events and the needs of security. We should note that we did not take the mere fact that some data has already been published in the media as a reason for including it in our unclassified Report.
6. We, the members of the Commission, acted according to the main objectives for which the Commission was established – to respond to the bad feelings of the Israeli public of a crisis and disappointment caused by the results of the 2nd Lebanon war, and from the way it was managed by the political and military echelons; and the wish to draw lessons from the failings of the war and its flaws, and to repair what is required, quickly and resolutely. We regarded as most important to investigate deeply what had happened, as a key to drawing lessons for the future, and their implementation.
 7. This conception of our role was one of the main reasons for our decision not to include in the Final Report personal conclusions and recommendations. We believe that the primary need for improvements applies to the structural and systemic malfunctioning revealed in the war – on all levels.
Nonetheless, it should be stressed that the fact we refrained from imposing personal responsibility does not imply that no such responsibility exists. We also wish to repeat our statement from the Interim Report: We will not impose different standards of responsibility to the political and the military echelons, or to persons of different ranks within them.

8. Let us emphasize: when we imposed responsibility on a system, an echelon or a unit, we did not imply that the responsibility was only or mainly of those who headed it at the time of the war. Often, such responsibility stemmed from a variety of factors outside the control of those at the head. In addition, a significant part of the responsibility for the failures and flaws we have found lies with those who had been in charge of preparedness and readiness in the years before the war.
 9. The purpose of this press release is not to sum up the Final Report. Rather, it is to present its highlights. The Report itself includes discussions of many important issues, which are an inseparable part of the Report, its conclusions and recommendations.
10. In the Final Report we dealt mainly with the events of the period after the initial decision to go to war, which we had discussed in the Interim Report. Yet the events of the period covered by the Final Report took place under the shadow of the constraints created by the decision to go to war, with all its failings and flaws.
We want to stress that we stand behind everything we said in the Interim Report, and the two parts of the Report complement each other.
11. Overall, we regard the 2nd Lebanon war as a serious missed opportunity. Israel initiated a long war, which ended without its clear military victory. A semi-military organization of a few thousand men resisted, for a few weeks, the strongest army in the Middle East, which enjoyed full air superiority and size and technology advantages. The barrage of rockets aimed at Israel's civilian population lasted throughout the war, and the IDF did not provide an effective response to it. The fabric of life under fire was seriously disrupted, and many civilians either left their home temporarily or spent their time in shelters. After a long period of using only standoff fire power and limited ground activities, Israel initiated a large scale ground offensive, very close to the Security Council resolution imposing a cease fire. This offensive did not result in military gains and was not completed. These facts had far-reaching implications for us, as well as for our enemies, our neighbors, and our friends in the region and around the world.
12. In the period we examined in the Final Report - from July 18, 2006, to August 14, 2006- again troubling findings were revealed, some of which had already been mentioned in the Interim Report:

• We found serious failings and shortcomings in the decision-making processes and staff-work in the political and the military echelons and their interface.
 • We found serious failings and flaws in the quality of preparedness, decision-making and performance in the IDF high command, especially in the Army.
• We found serious failings and flaws in the lack of strategic thinking and planning, in both the political and the military echelons.
• We found severe failings and flaws in the defence of the civilian population and in coping with its being attacked by rockets.
• These weaknesses resulted in part from inadequacies of preparedness and strategic and operative planning which go back long before the 2nd Lebanon war.
13. The decision made in the night of July 12th – to react (to the kidnapping) with immediate and substantive military action, and to set for it ambitious goals - limited Israel's range of options. In fact, after the initial decision had been made, Israel had only two main options, each with its coherent internal logic, and its set of costs and disadvantages. The first was a short, painful, strong and unexpected blow on Hizbullah, primarily through standoff fire-power. The second option was to bring about a significant change of the reality in the South of Lebanon with a large ground operation, including a temporary occupation of the South of Lebanon and 'cleaning' it of Hezbollah military infrastructure.
14. The choice between these options was within the exclusive political discretion of the government; however, the way the original decision to go to war had been made; the fact Israel went to war before it decided which option to select, and without an exit strategy – all these constituted serious failures, which affected the whole war. Responsibility for these failures lay, as we had stressed in the Interim Report, on both the political and the military echelons.
15. After the initial decision to use military force, and to the very end of the war, this period of 'equivocation' continued, with both the political and the military echelon not deciding between the two options: amplifying the military achievement by a broad military ground offensive, or abstaining from such a move and seeking to end the war quickly. This 'equivocation' did hurt Israel. Despite awareness of this fact, long weeks passed without a serious discussion of these options, and without a decision – one way or the other – between them.
16. In addition to avoiding a decision about the trajectory of the military action, there was a very long delay in the deployment necessary for an extensive ground offensive, which was another factor limiting Israel's freedom of action and political flexibility: Till the first week of August, Israel did not prepare the military capacity to start a massive ground operation.
17. As a result, Israel did not stop after its early military achievements, and was 'dragged' into a ground operation only after the political and diplomatic timetable prevented its effective completion. The responsibility for this basic failure in conducting the war lies at the doorstep of both the political and the military echelons.
18. The overall image of the war was a result of a mixture of flawed conduct of the political and the military echelons and the interface between them, of flawed performance by the IDF, and especially the ground forces, and of deficient Israeli preparedness. Israel did not use its military force well and effectively, despite the fact that it was a limited war initiated by Israel itself. At the end of the day, Israel did not gain a political achievement because of military successes; rather, it relied on a political agreement, which included positive elements for Israel, which permitted it to stop a war which it had failed to win.
19. This outcome was primarily caused by the fact that, from the very beginning, the war has not been conducted on the basis of deep understanding of the theatre of operations, of the IDF's readiness and preparedness, and of basic principles of using military power to achieve a political and diplomatic goal.
20. All in all, the IDF failed, especially because of the conduct of the high command and the ground forces, to provide an effective military response to the challenge posed to it by the war in Lebanon, and thus failed to provide the political echelon with a military achievement that could have served as the basis for political and diplomatic action. Responsibility for this outcomes lies mainly with the IDF, but the misfit between the mode of action and the goals determined by the political echelon share responsibility.
21. We should note that, alongside the failures in the IDF performance, there were also important military achievements. Special mention should go to the great willingness of the soldiers, especially reserve soldiers, to serve and fight in the war, as well as the many instances of heroism, courage, self-sacrifice and devotion of many commanders and soldiers.
22. The air force should be congratulated on very impressive achievements in this war. However, there were those in the IDF high command, joined by some in the political echelon, who entertained a baseless hope that the capabilities of the air force could prove decisive in the war. In fact, the impressive achievements of the air force were necessarily limited, and were eroded by the weaknesses in the overall performance of the IDF.
23. The "Hannit" episode colored to a large extent the whole performance of the Navy, despite the fact that it made a critical contribution to the naval blockade, and provided the Northern Command with varied effective support of its fighting.
24. We should also note that the war had significant diplomatic achievements. SC resolution 1701, and the fact it was adopted unanimously, were an achievement for Israel. This conclusion stands even if it turns out that only a part of the stipulations of the resolution were implemented or will be implemented, and even if it could have been foreseen that some of them would not be implemented. This conclusion also does not depend on the intentions or goals of the powers that supported the resolution.
25. We note, however, that we have seen no serious staff work on Israeli positions in the negotiations. This situation improved in part when the team headed by the prime minister's head of staff was established. The team worked efficiently and with dedication, professionalism and coordination. This could not compensate, however, for the absence of preparatory staff work and discussions in the senior political echelon.
26. This fact may have much significance to the way Israel conducts negotiations, and to the actual content of the arrangements reached. In such negotiations, decisions are often made that may have far-reaching implications on Israel's interests, including the setting of precedents. 
27. The staff work done in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning the adoption of a favorable resolution in the Security Council was, in the main, quick, systematic and efficient. At the same time, for a variety of reasons, it did not reflect clear awareness of the essential need to maintain an effective relationship between military achievements and diplomatic activities.
28. We now turn to the political and military activity concerning the ground operation at the end of the war. This is one of the central foci of public debate.
 29. True, in hindsight, the large ground operation did not achieve its goals of limiting the rocket fire and changing the picture of the war. It is not clear what the ground operation contributed to speeding up the diplomatic achievement or improving it. It is also unclear to what extent starting the ground offensive affected the reactions of the government of Lebanon and Hezbollah to the ceasefire.
30. Nonetheless, it is important to stress that the evaluation of these decisions should not be made with hindsight. It cannot depend on the achievements or the costs these decisions in fact had. The evaluation must be based only on the reasons for the operation, and its risks and prospects as they were known - or as they should have been known - when it was decided upon. Moreover, it is impossible to evaluate the ground operation at the end of the war without recalling the developments that preceded it and the repeated delays in the adoption of the Security Council resolution; and as a part of the overall conduct of the war.
31. Against this background, we make the following findings on the main decisions:
• The cabinet decision of August 9th – to approve in principle the IDF plan, but to authorize the PM and the MOD to decide if and when it should be activated, according to the diplomatic timetable - was almost inevitable, giving the Israeli government necessary military and political flexibility.
• The decision to start in fact the ground operation was within the political and professional discretion of its makers, on the basis of the facts before them. The goals of the ground operation were legitimate, and were not exhausted by the wish to hasten or improve the diplomatic achievement. There was no failure in that decision in itself, despite its limited achievements and its painful costs.
• Both the position of the Prime minister – who had preferred to avoid the ground operation – and the position of the Minister of Defense – who had thought it would have served Israel's interest to go for it – had been taken on the merits and on the basis of evidence. Both enjoyed serious support among the members of the general staff of the IDF and others. Even if both statesmen took into account political and public concerns – a fact we cannot ascertain - we believe that they both acted out of a strong and sincere perception of what they thought at the time was Israel's interest.
32. We want to stress: The duty to make these difficult decisions was the political leaders'. The sole test of these decisions is public and political.
33. At the same time, we also note that:
• We have not found within either the political or the military echelons a serious consideration of the question whether it was reasonable to expect military achievements in 60 hours that could have contributed meaningfully to any of the goals of the operation;
• We have not found that the political echelon was aware of the details of the fighting in real time, and we have not seen a discussion, in either the political or the military echelons, of the issue of stopping the military operation after the Security Council resolution was adopted;
• We have not seen an explanation of the tension between the great effort to get additional time to conclude the first stage of the planned ground operation and the decisions not to go on fighting until the ceasefire itself.
34. A description of failures in the conduct of war may be regarded as harming Israel. There will be those who may use our findings to hurt Israel and its army. We nonetheless point out these failures and shortcomings because we are certain that only in this way Israel may come out of this ordeal strengthened. We are pleased that processes of repair have already started. We recommend a deep and systematic continuation of such processes. It is exclusively in the hands of Israeli leaders and public to determine whether, when facing challenges in the future, we will come to them more prepared and ready, and whether we shall cope with them in a more serious and responsible way than the way the decision-makers had acted – in the political and the military echelons -- in the 2nd Lebanon war.

35. Our recommendations contain suggestions for systemic and deep changes in the modalities of thinking and acting of the political and military echelons and their interface, in both routine and emergency, including war. These are deep and critical processes. Their significance should not be obscured by current affairs, local successes or initial repairs. A persistent and prolonged effort, on many levels, will be needed in order to bring about the essential improvements in the ways of thinking and acting of the political-military systems.
36. For these reasons we would like to caution against dangers which might upset plans and delay required change processes, and thus produce dangerous results:
• Fear of criticism in case of failure may lead to defensive reactions, working by the book, and abstention from making resolute decisions and preferring non-action. Such behavior is undesirable and also dangerous.
• In a dynamic complex reality, one should not prepare better for the last war. It is also essential not to limit oneself to superficial action, designed to create an appearance that flaws had been corrected.
• It is also essential not to focus exclusively on coping with dangers, but to combine readiness for threat scenarios with an active seeking of opportunities.
• When speaking on learning, one should take into account that enemies, too, are learning their lessons.

37. The 2nd Lebanon War has brought again to the foreground for thought and discussion issues that some parts of Israeli society had preferred to suppress: Israel cannot survive in this region, and cannot live in it in peace or at least non-war, unless people in Israel itself and in its surroundings believe that Israel has the political and military leadership, military capabilities, and social robustness that will allow her to deter those of its neighbors who wish to harm her, and to prevent them - if necessary through the use of military force - from achieving their goal.
38. These truths do not depend on one's partisan or political views. Israel must - politically and morally - seek peace with its neighbors and make necessary compromises. At the same time, seeking peace or managing the conflict must come from a position of social, political and military strength, and through the ability and willingness to fight for the state, its values and the security of its population even in the absence of peace.

39. These truths have profound and far-reaching implications for many dimensions of life in Israel and the ways its challenges are managed. Beyond examining the way the Lebanon War was planned and conducted; beyond the examination of flaws in decision-making and performance that had been revealed in it - important as they may be; these are the central questions that the Lebanon war has raised. These are issues that lie at the very essence of our existence here as a Jewish and democratic state. These are the questions we need to concentrate on.
40. We hope that our findings and conclusions in the Interim and the Final Reports will bring about not only a redress of failings and flaws, but help Israeli society, its leaders and thinkers, to advance the long-term goals of Israel, and develop the appropriate ways to address the challenges and respond to them.
41. We are grateful for the trust put in us when this difficult task was given to us. If we succeed in facilitating rectification of the failings we have identified - this will be our best reward.
Thank you.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Poll - Fatah support still strong among Palestinians

This poll indicates that Hamas did not gain substantial popularity from its recent escapades in Gaza, which many termed a "victory." Every single poll in the last few months, regardless of which organization conducted the poll, has shown overwhelming Palestinian support for Fatah over Hamas, and this one is no exception. People who have been subjected to various extremist propaganda find this hard to believe, but it is a fact.
Some key results regarding this issue:
If presidential elections are held in the present time, to whom from among
the following do you give your vote?
1.0% An independent candidate
3.8% A candidate from the left
13.7% A candidate from Hamas
31.9% A candidate from Fateh

5.6% A national independent candidate
3.6% An Islamic independent candidate
19.1% I will not participate in the elections
12.3% I have not decided yet

If new PLC elections are conducted, whom do you vote for?
8.3% An independent ticket
3.6% A ticket from the left
14.3% A ticket from Hamas
33.8% A ticket from Fateh
5.3% A national independent ticket
3.8% An Islamic independent ticket
18.9% I will not participate in the elections
11.9% I have not decided yet

If new legislative elections were to be held today, which of the following would win?
3.0% Independent Islamists bloc
7.8% Independent Nationalist bloc
47.0% Fateh bloc
18.0% Hamas bloc

2.1% A bloc from leftist organizations
22.1% No opinion/I do not know

Regardless of its legitimacy or illegitimacy, do you support or reject the general policy of the Palestinian government led by Salam Fayyad?
46.5% I support
42.9% I reject
0.6% No opinion/I do not know

Regardless of its legitimacy or illegitimacy, do you support or reject the general policy of the dissolved government of Ismael Haniyeh?
29.3% I support
60.2% I reject
0.5% No opinion/I do not know

Do you think that the security conditions in the Gaza Strip after the dominance of Hamas are -----?
20.7% improving
61.9% deteriorating
13.8% the same
3.5% No opinion/I do not know

Do you think what Hamas did was a coup against the Palestinian legitimacy?
55.7% Yes
33.9% No
0.4% No opinion/I do not know

An-Najah National University
Center for Opinion Polls and Survey Studies
Tel: (972) (9) 2345113           Fax: (972)(9) 2345982
Nablus - Palestinian: P.O.Box 7, 707

Results of Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No. 32
26-28 January 2008

Following are the results of the Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No. 32 conducted by the Center for Opinion Polls and Survey Studies at An-Najah National University during the period from 26-28 January 2008. The University sponsors all polls conducted by its Center.

The sample included 1360 persons whose age group is 18 and above and who have the right to vote. The enclosed questionnaire was distributed on 860 persons from the West Bank and 500 persons from the Gaza Strip. The sample was drawn randomly and the margin of error is about +/-3%; still 2.7% of the members of the sample refused to answer the questionnaire.

The General Results of the Poll

There is a suggestion to hand in the responsibilities of the crossings in the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Presidency. Do you support or reject this suggestion?
73.9% I support
19.1% I reject
7.0% No opinion/I do not know

Do you support or reject firing rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israel
by Palestinian factions?
20.8% I strongly support
22.9% I support
38.5% I reject
14.2% I strongly reject
3.7% No opinion/I do not know

Do you think that firing rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israel will
serve or hurt the Palestinian cause?
33.9%  It will serve
43.4%  It will hurt
19.3%  It is useless
3.4%  No opinion/I do not know

Are you in favor of stopping rockets in return for lifting up the siege
imposed on the Gaza Strip?
69.9% Yes
25.4% No
4.8% No opinion/I do not know

Do you believe that the siege will end if Hamas backs up from its domination
over the Strip?
50.7% Yes
40.3% No
9.0% No opinion/I do not know

Do you support or reject the attempt by some members of Hamas to open Rafah
Crossing by force?
52.8% I support
42.7% I reject
4.5% No opinion/I do not know

Do you support or reject the tendency of the people of Gaza to shop in Rafah
and Al-Arish?
70.7%  I support
24.0% I reject
5.3% No opinion/I do not know

8 How do you assess the reactions of the following to the blockade imposed
on the Gaza Strip?

The Palestinian Authority
46.5% Good
46.5% Bad
7.1% No opinion

The Arab League
27.1% Good
59.5% Bad
13.5% No opinion

57.5% Good
36.0% Bad
6.5% No opinion

The Quartet
17.0% Good
61.6% Bad
21.4% No opinion

Do you think that it is possible in the present time to form a unity
43.9% Yes
48.3% No
7.8% No opinion/I do not know

 Do you support or reject dissolving the PLC?
52.4% I support
35.7% I reject
12.0% No opinion/I do not know

Do you support or reject conducting early Presidential elections?
65.1% I support
27.3% I reject
7.6% No opinion/I do not know

Are you content with the performance of President Mahmoud Abbas since his
election as President of the PA?
50.4% I am content
44.6% I am not content
4.9% No opinion/I do not know

If presidential elections are held in the present time, to whom from among
the following do you give your vote?
100.0% An independent candidate
3.8% A candidate from the left
13.7% A candidate from Hamas
31.9% A candidate from Fateh
5.6% A national independent candidate
3.6% An Islamic independent candidate
19.1% I will not participate in the elections
12.3% I have not decided yet

If new PLC elections are conducted, whom do you vote for?
8.3% An independent ticket
3.6% A ticket from the left
14.3% A ticket from Hamas
33.8% A ticket from Fateh
5.3% A national independent ticket
3.8% An Islamic independent ticket
18.9% I will not participate in the elections
11.9% I have not decided yet

If new legislative elections were to be held today, which of the following
would win?
3.0% Independent Islamists bloc
7.8% Independent Nationalist bloc
47.0% Fateh bloc
18.0% Hamas bloc
2.1% A bloc from leftist organizations
22.1% No opinion/I do not know

Regardless of its legitimacy or illegitimacy, do you support or reject the
general policy of the Palestinian government led by Salam Fayyad?
46.5% I support
42.9% I reject
0.6% No opinion/I do not know

Regardless of its legitimacy or illegitimacy, do you support or reject the
general policy of the dissolved government of Ismael Haniyeh?
29.3% I support
60.2% I reject
0.5% No opinion/I do not know

Do you think that the security conditions in the Gaza Strip after the
dominance of Hamas are -----?
20.7% improving
61.9% deteriorating
13.8% the same
3.5% No opinion/I do not know

Do you think what Hamas did was a coup against the Palestinian legitimacy?
55.7% Yes
33.9% No
0.4% No opinion/I do not know

 There are those who say that Hamas is endeavoring to create an entity for
itself in the Gaza Strip in isolation from the West Bank. What do you think?
35.7% TRUE
22.6% May be
34.5% Not true
7.1% No opinion/I do not know

 Do you think that Hamas is capable off managing the affairs of people in
the Gaza Strip?
28.3% Yes
63.5% No
8.2% No opinion/I do not know

What are your priorities at the present time? (State your opinion on a 0-
6.7081 Extending its control over the Strip
8.1559 Restraining the chaotic security situation in the West Bank
7.7801 Restoring dialogue between Fateh and Hamas
8.6566 Improving the economic conditions
8.5772 Securing funds for salaries

Do you support or reject the notion that Palestinian arms should be in the
hands of Palestinian security apparatuses, and that any other arms in the
hands of other Palestinian men will be considered arms for racketeering
71.5% I support
25.5% I reject
3.0% No opinion/I do not know

Are you worried about your life under the present circumstances?
56.9% Yes
40.7% No
2.4% No opinion/I do not know

Are you pessimistic or optimistic towards the general Palestinian situation
at this stage?
34.0% Optimistic
61.3% Pessimistic
4.7% No opinion/I do not know

 Under the present circumstances, do you feel that you, your family and your
properties are safe?
20.5% Yes
32.7% May be
45.4% No
1.3% No opinion/I do not know

Which of the following political affiliations do you support?
1.0% People's Party
2.1% Democratic Front
2.8% Islamic Jihad
37.9% Fateh
15.7% Hamas
0.4% Fida
3.5% Popular Front
0.7% Palestinian National Initiative
6.5% I am an independent nationalist
3.1% I am an independent Islamist
24.4% None of the above
1.9% Others

 In general and six months after the formation of Salam Fayyad's Government,
how do you assess the performance of the following Palestinian institutions?
 Palestinian Presidency
22.9% Very Good
39.0% Good
21.4% Bad
12.4% Very Bad
4.2% No opinion  /I do not know

Palestinian Government
18.3% Very Good
42.0% Good
22.4% Bad
13.4% Very Bad
4.0% No opinion  /I do not know

Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC)
11.3% Very Good
31.4% Good
33.5% Bad
14.3% Very Bad
9.5% No opinion  /I do not know

Judicial system
11.4% Very Good
36.8% Good
25.7% Bad
11.7% Very Bad
14.4% No opinion  /I do not know

Financial and Administrative Control Bureau
9.1% Very Good
28.1% Good
28.0% Bad
12.1% Very Bad
22.6% No opinion  /I do not know

Security apparatuses
18.1% Very Good
39.5% Good
24.2% Bad
13.5% Very Bad
4.8% No opinion  /I do not know

Palestinian factions
11.9% Very Good
36.0% Good
33.8% Bad
11.2% Very Bad
7.1% No opinion  /I do not know

Civil society organizations
14.6% Very Good
46.7% Good
20.4% Bad
5.6% Very Bad
12.7% No opinion  /I do not know

Palestinian universities
27.2% Very Good
49.7% Good
0.8% Bad
5.4% Very Bad
6.9% No opinion  /I do not know

Municipalities and village councils
16.2% Very Good
44.1% Good
22.7% Bad
0.6% Very Bad
6.4% No opinion  /I do not know

Ministry of Health
18.2% Very Good
47.9% Good
19.6% Bad
9.5% Very Bad
4.7% No opinion  /I do not know

Ministry of Social Affairs
18.1% Very Good
44.0% Good
19.7% Bad
7.5% Very Bad
0.7% No opinion  /I do not know

Ministry of Education and Higher Education
22.4% Very Good
49.6% Good
15.0% Bad
7.9% Very Bad
5.1% No opinion  /I do not know

 Ministry Finance
14.3% Very Good
36.3% Good
26.2% Bad
9.7% Very Bad
13.6% No opinion  /I do not know

Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs
16.5% Very Good
40.3% Good
20.4% Bad
8.3% Very Bad
14.5% No opinion  /I do not know

Ministry of Interior Affairs
14.0% Very Good
41.4% Good
22.0% Bad
9.1% Very Bad
13.5% No opinion  /I do not know

Ministry Foreign Affairs
0.1% Very Good
32.6% Good
23.7% Bad
0.2% Very Bad
23.5% No opinion  /I do not know

Employees Bureau
9.1% Very Good
32.7% Good
21.5% Bad
12.1% Very Bad
24.6% No opinion  /I do not know

Institutions of the Private Sector
13.3% Very Good
39.6% Good
19.8% Bad
7.4% Very Bad
19.9% No opinion  /I do not know

Palestinian Investment Fund
8.8% Very Good
25.7% Good
20.2% Bad
8.8% Very Bad
36.4% No opinion  /I do not know


Continued (Permanent Link)

Responsible journalism - The Daniel Pearl Standard

The Daniel Pearl Standard
Wall Street Journal
January 30, 2008; Page A17

This week marks the sixth anniversary of the murder of my son Daniel Pearl, a reporter for this newspaper. It is a fitting occasion to step back and reflect on what this tragedy has taught us.

I am often asked why Danny's death has touched so many people and why he, of all victims of terror, is so often singled out as an icon of the troubled journey of the 21st century.

My first answer is that he was a journalist, and journalists, more than any other professionals, represent the strength, beauty and vulnerability of an open society. When an unarmed journalist is killed, we are reminded of both the freedoms that we treasure in our society, and how vulnerable we all are to forces that threaten those freedoms.

But this still does not explain the attention given to Danny's tragedy. After all, 30 other journalists were killed in 2002, and 118 journalists have been killed in Iraq alone since that war began.

The shocking element in Danny's murder was that he was killed, not for what he wrote or planned to write, but for what he represented -- America, modernity, openness, pluralism, curiosity, dialogue, fairness, objectivity, freedom of inquiry, truth and respect for all people. In short, each and every one of us was targeted in Karachi in January of 2002.

This new twist of killing journalists for what they represent has changed the course of journalism as well as the rest of society.

It was through Danny's face that people came to grasp the depth of cruelty and inhumanity into which this planet of ours has been allowed to sink in the past two decades. His murder proved that 9/11 was not an isolated event, and helped resurrect the age-old ideas of right and wrong, good and evil. Moral relativism died with Daniel Pearl in January 2002.

And unarmed journalists in regions of conflict became many times more vulnerable. They are no longer perceived as neutral, information-gathering agents, but rather as representing political or ideological entities. The press and media has indeed become more polarized and agenda-driven. Journalists today are pressured to serve the ideologies of those who pay their salaries or those who supply them with sources of information. CNN's admission, in 2003, that it concealed information about the Iraqi regime in order to keep its office in Baghdad is a perfect example of this pressure. In the recent Gaza chaos, Western news agencies have willingly reported Hamas propaganda stunts as truth.

One of the things that saddens me most is that the press and media have had an active, perhaps even major role in fermenting hate and inhumanity. It was not religious fanaticism alone.

This was first brought to my attention by the Pakistani Consul General who came to offer condolences at our home in California. When we spoke about the anti-Semitic element in Danny's murder she said: "What can you expect of these people who never saw a Jew in their lives and who have been exposed, day and night, to televised images of Israeli soldiers targeting and killing Palestinian children."

At the time, it was not clear whether she was trying to exonerate Pakistan from responsibility for Danny's murder, or to pass on the responsibility to European and Arab media for their persistent de-humanization of Jews, Americans and Israelis. The answer was unveiled in 2004, when a friend told me that photos of Muhammad Al Dura were used as background in the video tape of Danny's murder.

Al Dura, readers may recall, is the 12-year-old Palestinian boy who allegedly died from Israeli bullets in Gaza in September of 2001. As we now know, the whole scene is very likely to have been a fraud, choreographed by stringers and cameramen of France 2, the official news channel of France. France 2 aired the tape repeatedly and distributed it all over the world to anyone who needed an excuse to ratchet up anger or violence, among them Danny's killers.

The Pakistani Consul was right. The media cannot be totally exonerated from responsibility for Daniel's murder, as well as for the "tsunami of hate" that has swept the world and continues to rise.

Ironically, the increase of independent news channels in the Arab world, a process which is generally considered a positive step forward, has contributed significantly to this spread of hatred and violence. On the one hand, this process has led to the democratization of the media, for it allows viewers to examine alternative viewpoints, occasionally opposing the official party line. On the other hand, democratization has led to vulgarization. Competition has forced news channels to echo, rather than inform, viewers' sentiments -- to reinforce, rather than examine, long-held prejudices.

Eager to satisfy their customers' appetite for self-righteousness, these channels have not thought through the harmful, in fact lethal, long-term effects of choreographing victim-victimizer narratives as news coverage.

Surely they have an obligation to expose villainy and excess. This is what journalism is all about. But in a world infected with fanatics who run around with lit matches, journalists cannot simply pour gasoline into the street and pretend they bear no responsibility for the inevitable explosion.

In one memorial service for Danny, a Catholic priest made an interesting observation that, serving as a mediator of reality, the modern journalist can be likened to the Biblical prophet. My first reaction was that the comparison is too far-fetched. Yet on further reflection I came to understand his point. Who serves today as the moral compass of society, and, like the ancient prophets, risks his or her life by exposing corruption, institutional injustice, terrorism and fanaticism? The journalist.

But the Bible also offers us a foolproof test for discerning false prophets from true ones. The test is not based on the nature of the reported facts, but on the method and principles invoked in the message. Translated into secular, modern vocabulary, the true journalist will never compromise on universal principles of ethics and humanity, and will never allow us to forget that all people, including our adversaries, need be portrayed with dignity and respect as children of one God.

Accordingly, to distinguish true from false journalism, just choose any newspaper or TV channel and ask yourself when was the last time it ran a picture of a child, a grandmother or any empathy-evoking scene from the "other side" of a conflict.

I propose this simple test as the "Daniel Pearl standard of responsible journalism." Anyone who reads Danny's stories today, and examines the way he reported the human story behind the news, would agree that adopting the proposed standard for the profession would be a fitting tribute to his legacy.

Mr. Pearl is a professor at UCLA and president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation (, which is committed to the promotion of East-West understanding, tolerance and humanity.


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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Racist Arab leader indiced

Reactionary racist leader Ra'ad Salah was indicted for saying the following, among other things, during the riots he engendered in 2007:
"Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the [Jewish] holy bread." 
The riots he started featured the false accusation that Israeli construction on the temple mount endangered the al Aqsa mosque.
Ami Isseroff

Last update - 15:19 29/01/2008    
 Islamic Movement head charged with incitement to racism, violence 
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent 
The head of the Islamic Movement in Israel's Northern Branch, Ra'ad Salah, was charged Tuesday in Jerusalem Magistrate's Court with incitement to violence and racism, over a fiery speech he gave a year ago in which he invoked the blood libel.
During the speech at the February 16, 2007 protest in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz, Salah accused Jews of using children's blood to bake bread.
"We have never allowed ourselves to knead [the dough for] the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children's blood," he said. "Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the [Jewish] holy bread."
"Great God, is this a religion?" he asked. "Is this what God would want? God will deal with you yet for what you are doing."
The rally was called to protest the planned Mughrabi bridge construction in Jerusalem's Old City. Addressing the 1,000-strong crowd and assembled press, Salah accused Israel of attempting to rebuild the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount while drenched in Arab blood.
"Whoever wants to build a house of God should not do so while our blood is still on his clothes, on his doorposts, in his food, in his drink, being passed along from one terrorist general to the next terrorist general," he said.
"You are inciting against us, do not let the ranks on your shoulders tempt you," he continued. "These ranks and stars on your shoulders were made from the skulls of our martyrs. They are ranks of shame, not ranks of splendor. These are ranks of disgrace, not ranks of honor."
Following the speech and Friday prayers, the crowd began rioting and throwing stones at police. According to the prosecution, Salah's speech constituted a "call to commit acts of violence and encouragement of acts of violence, which given the content and context, there was a real possibility that it could lead to acts of violence."
The prosecution said Salah made the remarks "with the objective of inciting racism."
In an interview with Ashams radio, Salah said in response that, "I am willing to repeat before the court all the things I said at the Friday sermon in Wadi Joz or any other meeting with journalists."
"Our statements are the products of conviction, and I will not recant," he continued.
Salah said the decision to indict him, along with Sunday's decision to close the case against officers involved in the deaths of 13 Israeli Arabs in the October 2000 riots, was part of an attempt to pressure and threaten Israeli Arab society. "They want us to be good little boys," he said.
Salah was released from prison in 2005 after serving some two years for having contact with a foreign agent, as well as financial crimes related to the Islamic Movement.

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Sinai Multilateral force unaffected by Rafah Crisis

This story implicitly refutes a Debkafiles "exclusive" disinformation that claimed that US forces had abandones a multilateral forces base in Sinai.
Business continues as usual for Sinai monitors
Herb Keinon , THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 29, 2008
The recent events on the Gaza-Sinai border have not impacted on the duties or deployment of the some 1,800 members of the Multinational Force and Observers [MFO] team monitoring the 1979 Camp David accords, a senior member of the force said Monday.
Michael Sternberg, the MFO director-general's representative in Israel, said he did not anticipate "any changes in deployment of our operations. If there were to be a change it would have to decided by the two sides [Egypt and Israel]; they jointly decide the fate and destiny of the mission."
The MFO, comprised of personnel from 11 different countries, with the most coming from the US, was established in 1981 as an international peacekeeping force to oversee the Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt.
Under those accords, four security zones were established - three in the Sinai, and one in Israel along the international border - with limitations on military forces and equipment within each zone. The MFO's role is to monitor that these stipulations are honored.
Sternberg said that the MFO was not involved in the current "event" along the border.
"Our mission continues as before, and we have not been asked to do anything differently," he said. "The parties are our bosses and control our mission."
Sternberg said that the MFO's two priorities were performing its mission and protecting its soldiers.
Although there has been some speculation that force protection could become much more difficult with terrorists from Gaza now possibly hiding out in Sinai, Sternberg said he did not anticipate any changes in deployment.
The MFO is stationed at two large bases, one in the northern Sinai at El Gorah, about 27 kilometers southeast of El Arish, and another at Sharm e-Sheikh. There are also some 30 smaller outposts throughout the Sinai.
In April 2005, an MFO vehicle carrying two Canadian force members was badly damaged in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack, and the two force members slightly wounded. And a year later, in April 2006, a suicide bomber attacked an MFO vehicle driving from El Gorah to the Rafah border crossing.The car was damaged, but no one besides the suicide bomber was killed.
The MFO's director-general, James Larocco, is scheduled to arrive this week from his headquarters in Rome, but both Sternberg and Israeli officials said this was a routine visit that had been planned long before the recent events in Gaza.
One senior Israeli diplomatic official, who said he has not picked up any signals that the force was changing its deployment, said the MFO was "not involved in the Rafah story. The dangers are always there, but they [the MFO] can defend themselves."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Flour power claim: Each Palestinian eats half a ton of flour each day

No wonder those Palestinians were so anxious to buy flour in Egypt. It seems each and every Palestinian in Gaza consumes half a ton of flour every day!! At least, that is what the Boston Globe claims. Martin Kramer points this out. Apparently, their various activities result in a need to consume huge quantities of carbohydrates.

See also: Amazing fact about Gazans


Ami Isseroff

Gaza buried in flour

posted Monday, 28 January 2008
The Boston Globe has just run an op-ed under the headline "Ending the Stranglehold on Gaza." The authors are Eyad al-Sarraj, identified as founder of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, and Sara Roy, identified as senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. The bias of the op-ed speaks for itself, and I won't even dwell on it. But I do want to call attention to this sentence:
Although Gaza daily requires 680,000 tons of flour to feed its population, Israel had cut this to 90 tons per day by November 2007, a reduction of 99 percent.
You don't need to be a math genius to figure out that if Gaza has a population of 1.5 million, as the authors also note, then 680,000 tons of flour a day come out to almost half a ton of flour per Gazan, per day.

A typographical error at the Boston Globe? Hardly. The two authors used the same "statistic" in an
earlier piece. They copied it from an article published in the Ahram Weekly last November, which reported that "the price of a bag of flour has risen 80 per cent, because of the 680,000 tonnes the Gaza Strip needs daily, only 90 tonnes are permitted to enter." Sarraj and Roy added the bit about this being "a reduction of 99 percent."

Note how an absurd and impossible "statistic" has made its way up the media feeding chain. It begins in an Egyptian newspaper, is cycled through a Palestinian activist, is submitted under the shared byline of a Harvard "research scholar," and finally appears in the Boston Globe, whose editors apparently can't do basic math. Now, in a viral contagion, this spreads across the Internet, where that "reduction of 99 percent" becomes a well-attested fact.

What's the truth? I see from a 2007
UN document that Gaza consumes 450 tons of flour daily. The Palestinian Ministry of Economy, according to another source, puts daily consumption at 350 tons. So the figure for total consumption retailed by Sarraj and Roy is off by more than three orders of magnitude, i.e. a factor of 1,000. No doubt, there's less flour shipped from Israel into Gaza--maybe it's those rocket barrages from Gaza into Israel?--but even if it's only the 90 tons claimed by Sarraj and Roy, it isn't anything near a "reduction of 99 percent." Unfortunately, if readers are going to remember one dramatic "statistic" from this op-ed, this one is it--and it's a lie.

Sarraj is a psychiatrist, but his co-author, Sara Roy, bills herself in her
bio as a "political economist." Her research, the bio reports, is "primarily on the economic, social and political development of the Gaza Strip." You would think someone with this claim to expertise would know better than to copy some impossible pseudo-statistic on the consumption of the most basic foodstuff in Gaza. Indeed, in a piece she wrote a decade ago, she herself put Gaza's daily consumption of flour at 275 tons. Did she even read her own op-ed before she sent it off to Boston's leading paper? If she did, what we have here is a textbook example of the difference between a "political economist" and an economist.

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Pernicious UK Holocaust Education Discontinuation Hoax continues

Last spring someone started a vicious, cruel, tasteless and pointless hoax chain letter that claimed falsely that the UK had discontinued Holocaust Education. A misunderstanding was conceivable, because of a sensationalist journal article. But the hoaxer had attached the falsehood to a memorial letter about the Holocaust.

See: Holocaust Education in UK: Clarifying rumors and hoaxes

The Holocaust hoax died down, but now it has been revived. Today I got yet another of these e-mails, with an addition. The story about Eisenhower is apparently true, but the claim that the UK has stopped teaching about the Holocaust is groundless.

The first part of the e-mail is below. To my mind, there is an element of mental derangement evidenced in sending a fake message "in memoriam" for Holocaust victims. Note that the message claims that "this week" the UK removed Holocaust education from its curriculum. The report about Holocaust education that sparked the rumor was published in April 2007. It related to a study of curriculum changes done over a longer period. Nobody who actually read the report (see here ) could have understood that the changes had taken place "this week."

Please do not circulate these or any other hoax emails. Spreading lies is not "activism." Spreading lies does not help any cause - it hurts it. Do not forward any chain letters until you have checked, using a search engine, that the information is true. Just type a few words from the message in any search engine and add the word "hoax."

If you get any such chain letters, please inform the people who sent them that they are spreading falsehoods and discredited their own cause.

The person who added their own twist to the hoax (see "Modified by") has apologized. Therefore, I removed his name. He didn't know it was a hoax as he got it from someone he trusted, he said. Like AIDs and other "social diseases," hoax letters and viruses are spread by people you trust.

Ami Isseroff

Subject: MUST TAKE NOTE - UK removes Holocaust (Modified by XXXX)

Subject: UK removes Holocaust

UK removes Holocaust

It is a matter of history that when
Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General
Dwight Eisenhower, found the victims of the death
camps he ordered all possible photographs to be
taken, and for the German people from surrounding
villages to be ushered through the camps and even
made to bury the dead.

He did this because he said in words to
this effect: "Get it all on record now - get the
films - get the witnesses - because somewhere down
the track of history some bastard will get up and
say that this never happened"

"All that is necessary for the triumph
of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Edmund Burke

In Memorium

This week, the UK removed The Holocaust
from its school curriculum because it "offended" the
Muslim population which claims it never occurred.
This is a frightening portent of the fear that is
gripping the world and how easily each country is
giving in to it.

It is now more than 60 years after the
Second World War in Europe ended.

This e-mail is being sent as a memorial
chain, in memory of the 6 million Jews,

20 million Russians,

10 million Christians

and 1,900 Catholic priests

who were murdered, massacred, raped,
burned, starved and humiliated while the German and
Russian peoples looked the other way!

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Anti-Semitism rising or falling?

I can't understand if anti-Semitism is rising or falling from this "report," which gives no numbers, but tells us about incidents "perpetuated" by extreme right-wing and neo-Nazi groups.
At least, it provides employment for someone.
Ami Isseroff
Anti-Semitism forum report: Which Jewish communities are at risk?
Although 2007 sees sharp overall decline in attacks on Jews, Jewish institutions, US, Germany, Australia see rise in such attacks. What does future hold for Jewish communities
Yael Branovsky
Published:  01.27.08, 09:35 / Israel Jewish Scene

Sunday the 27th of January marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a world-wide memorial day officially instituted by a 2005 UN resolution. This hallowed day, marking the official liberation of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz in 1945, again raises latent questions about the dormant specter of Anti-Semitism, and the state of the world's Jewish communities.
An official report to be submitted Sunday to the cabinet by the Coordinating Forum for Countering anti-Semitism indicates that in spite of an overall decline in anti-Semitic attacks worldwide, renewed turmoil in the Middle East might very well rekindle global anti-Semitic sentiments.
 The forum's report also states that France and Britain have reported the greatest number of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe, and that anti-Semitism is also on the rise in the US, Australia and Germany. In the Ukraine, furthermore, anti-Semitic attacks have become far more organized and well planned.
In the United States, most Anti-Semitic attacks tend to be perpetuated by extreme right-wing and neo-Nazi groups, states the forum's study, which is based upon media accounts of anti-Semitic attacks worldwide.
The New York police department has reported a 30% increase in anti-Semitic attacks, which, for the for the most part, consist of desecration of Jewish cemeteries and anti-Semitic graffiti.
Among some of the latest anti-Semitic incidents worldwide was a December 1st attack on Esther Weiss and her son Sharon in Australia. The attackers hit 54-year-old Weiss and her son, punching them in the head while making repeated anti-Semitic slurs. They furthermore took the Kippah off the child's head and tossed it to the ground
The month of December also saw an attack in St. Petersburg, Russia, in which a Jewish man was stabbed by a group of Russian youths, as well as an attack on a group of Jewish friends coming home from a Hanukkah party in New York. The Jewish group was physically and verbally assaulted by a group of local youths.

The New Year also began with several anti-Semitic incidents. On January 7th a US Jewish cemetery serving two communities was desecrated, its headstones smashed and defaced. A few days earlier, the walls of the Jewish Association for Services for the Aged in Brooklyn were spray-pained with a swastika.
 Anti-Semitism lurks around corner
The coordinating forum's report also indicates that this rise in anti-Semitic incidents coincides with the political ascent of Right-wing parties world-wide, whose anti-foreigner and anti-immigrant messages are gaining in public legitimacy in numerous countries.

The study furthermore indicates that many countries do not take effective, consistent action to combat anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, and that even in countries which enact legislation to counteract these phenomena, these measures are seldom consistently and strictly enforced.
"Let us not make the mistake of assuming that anti-Semitism is waning," said Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, also charged with liaising with Diaspora Jewry, Sunday.
"This vile phenomenon lurks just around the corner, waiting for the right time to rear its ugly head," he said.

Zeev Bielski, Chairman of the Jewish Agency, also noted that "we can clearly see how the words of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are used as weapons by hate mongers world-wide, leading to these brutal acts of violence. It is hard to believe that 60 years after the Holocaust Jews worldwide are still living in fear and dread in wake of such attacks."

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Better late than never: Israel apologizes to The Beatles

We love 'em yeah, yeah, yeah.
Israel apologizes to The Beatles
Foreign Ministry decides to rectify historic injustice, extend apology to British band over cancellation of its performance in Jewish state 43 years ago
Itamar Eichner
Published:  01.28.08, 09:48 / Israel Culture
After accomplishing the mission of rehabilitating Israel's problematic image in the world, the Foreign Ministry has now found the time to deal with the real important issue: Extending an official apology to The Beatles, 43 years after the British band was banned from performing in the Jewish state.
Israeli Ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor was expected to meet Monday morning with John Lennon's sister, Julia Baird, at The Beatles museum in Liverpool and to present her with an official letter of apology from the State of Israel for banning the band's members from performing in the country in 1965.
The Israeli Embassy in London was also expected to send similar letters to the two remaining Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, and to the relatives of George Harrison.
"We would like to take this opportunity," the letter says, "to rectify a historic missed opportunity which unfortunately took place in 1965 when you were invited to Israel. Unfortunately, the State of Israel cancelled your performance in the country due to lack of budget and because several politicians in the Knesset had believed at the time that your performance might corrupt the minds of the Israeli youth.
"There is no doubt that it was a great missed opportunity to prevent people like you, who shaped the minds of the generation, to come to Israel and perform before the young generation in Israel who admired you and continues to admire you."
Prosor was expected to take advantage of this opportunity and invite the two remaining band members to take part in Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations.
"We would like to see them sing at the State of Israel," the letter concludes.
So what really happened in 1965?
Opinions differ as to the actual events which took place 43 years ago. The band members were invited to perform in Israel, but the concert did not take place eventually due to the firm objection of politicians who believed that The Beatles were corrupting the Israeli youth.
Criticism over the cancellation was directed at former Education Ministry Director-General Yaakov Schneider, whose ministry was required to approve the performance of foreign bands in Israel.
"There is some kind of fable that my father prevented The Beatles from entering Israel," Schneider's son, former Knesset Member Yossi Sarid, said Sunday. "I tried to look into it and didn't find any evidence to support this. I decided, however, that it's a nice legend, so who am I to destroy it?
"I assume that they told my father, who wasn't a great Beatles expert, that the band members have long hair and take drugs, and will surely corrupt the Israeli youth."

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Report: Egypt arrests dozens of armed Palestinians in Sinai

Report states:
Egypt officials have arrested dozens of Palestinians armed with guns and rifles who crossed the breached Gaza border into Sinai the past few days, sources told Israel on Sunday.
The report does not clarify if those arrested were planning terrorist attacks or were armed for other reasons.
Maybe they were going hunting? Skeet shooting?
Last update - 09:41 28/01/2008    
 Report: Egypt arrests dozens of armed Palestinians in Sinai 
 By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent, and The Associated Press 
Egypt officials have arrested dozens of Palestinians armed with guns and rifles who crossed the breached Gaza border into Sinai the past few days, sources told Israel on Sunday.
The report does not clarify if those arrested were planning terrorist attacks or were armed for other reasons.
Meanwhile, specially deployed Egyptian police officers Sunday forced shopkeepers in the northern Sinai city of El-Arish to close their stores to prevent Palestinians from Gaza from shopping in the city, according to local reports.
 The Associated Press also reported that a handful of Hamas-affiliated forces had crossed into Egypt to join Egyptian security in urging Palestinians to start heading home to Gaza.
The Egyptians also prevented trucks loaded with merchandise from crossing the Suez Canal toward Rafah and El-Arish, apparently hoping to cut supplies to the markets and reduce their attraction to Gazans.
The border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip remained breached Sunday, as Hamas gunmen directed vehicular traffic and thousands of people continued unhindered to cross to the Egyptian side and back after making their purchases.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Sunday that his organization would not agree to a renewal of the siege on the Gaza Strip or to allow Israel to veto the passage of Palestinians through the Rafah crossing. Haniyeh hinted that Hamas was demanding a new arrangement for the crossing's operation.
Israel renews fuel supply
Meanwhile, Israel is to renew the supply of fuel to Gaza beginning next week, to meet at least minimum humanitarian requirements, the State Prosecutor's Office told the High Court of Justice on Sunday.
The state was responding to a petition by human rights groups against the decision to cut fuel and electricity supplies to the Strip.
The state also told the High Court it would formulate a new plan to limit direct electricity supply to the Strip after Attorney General Menachem Mazuz had vetoed a previous plan. The new plan would be implemented gradually to a level of a five percent reduction on each electricity line.

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Zionist manifesto: Lodz ghetto victim dreamed of Jewish State

Last update - 09:48 28/01/2008    
 Zionism in the Holocaust: Lodz Ghetto Jew dreams of statehood
 By Eli Ashkenazi, Haaretz Correspondent 
"A Jewish nation is something the world needs, and that is the reason it will be formed. If only one man thought so, one could call it an insane notion, but the idea of a Jewish state is certainly acceptable and feasible. It will become reality without special difficulty. In the Jewish state, the young generation will discover a future of light, freedom and dignity."
This passage appears in a previously unreleased document from the Lodz Ghetto in 1941 outlining the formation of a future Jewish state. The document, which predates Israel's Declaration of Independence by seven years, will soon be shown to the public at the Kibbutz Lohamei HaGetaot museum in the western Galilee.
The author is anonymous, but the Polish-language declaration is written on the official stationery of the Lodz Ghetto Judenrat, the Jewish administrative body. Signed at the bottom is Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, head of the Lodz Ghetto Judenrat. The document is dated May 18 and 19, 1941.
"We will form a single legion based on the example of the French Legion d'honneur and we will name it Jewish Honor. Its symbol will be a yellow ribbon, thus transforming the symbol of our shame to our new emblem of newfound pride," reads the ninth and final clause in the three-page document. The museum announced the document yesterday, International Holocaust Memorial Day.
According to the museum's director general, Simcha Stein, the handwritten document includes detailed plans for the formation of a Jewish state. Stein says it also lists the reasons such a state was needed and names the bodies responsible for its establishment. It also contains suggested sanctions for people who violate the state's basic laws.
The declaration was written on the back of papers that listed the people eligible to receive clothes and food, alongside people who were taken off that list. Being on the list could make all the difference between life and death at the Lodz Ghetto, which was the second largest ghetto after the Warsaw Ghetto for Jews and Roma in German-occupied Poland.
About 200,000 people vied for survival on the ghetto's area of four square kilometers. Some 43,500 of them died of starvation, hypothermia and disease. Anyone who approached the ghetto's walls risked being shot by the Nazi German guards.
Originally intended as a temporary gathering point for Jews, the ghetto became an industrial center of sorts, providing supplies for Nazi Germany. Its remarkable productivity allowed the ghetto to survive until August 1944.
The ghetto became the last ghetto in Poland to be liquidated when its remaining prisoners were transported to Auschwitz, along with Rumkowski and his family. They were eventually deported to Auschwitz, where they died on August 28, 1944.
"Even if we have long, aquiline noses in our promised land, even if we grow black or red beards and walk on crooked legs, we shall not be the object of ridicule and scorn," the document reads. "At last, we will live there as free men and women, and we would die in our homeland in peace. There we will receive recognition for our tremendous achievements."
The declaration, which the museum's archive manager Yossi Shavit says might have been a draft, goes on to say: "We will live there with the consent of the world at large. Our emancipation will in turn serve to emancipate the world. Our richness will enrich the world, and our
greatness will lend itself to the world. The word zyd [zhid] which was used as an insulting and humiliating term, will become a source of pride, as other people pride themselves in being called German, English or French."
Shavit says that any piece of paper in the Lodz Ghetto was a valuable possession, let alone the list that appeared on the other side of the "declaration of independence." Paper, he said, was valuable for heating, padding, insulation and shoes.
The writing style makes Shavit suspect that the author was Oskar Singer, who often wrote during his stay at the Lodz Ghetto. Some of his signed works can be found in the records of the museum, The Ghetto Fighters' House- Itzhak Katzenelson Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Heritage Museum.
Oskar Singer died after the ghetto was liquidated.
"This is a man of extraordinary stature and vision. I would call him a second Herzl," says Shavit. "He had to struggle to survive by then. Food was scarce, and everyone was trying to get their hands on a crumb of bread, or a piece of wood for fire to keep warm. And here this man was able to retain his humanity, create and think clearly."
Stein, the museum's director, says what impressed him most about the document was that as the Jewish people of Poland and Europe were being rounded up and murdered en masse, "there were still those who believed in the triumph of the Jewish people in their own land. Releasing this hopeful and optimistic document on the 60th year of Israel's existence carries a special significance."

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Anti-terorist investigator assasinated in Lebanon - what it means

Free World: Rescue Lebanon before it is too late
By: Elias Bejjani

A Lebanese top anti-terrorism investigator was murdered along with his escort and three other civilians in a powerful car bombing that ripped through a neighborhood of Beirut on Friday January 25/08. Maj. Wissam Eid and Aspirant Officer Ousama Mireeb, of the Internal Security Forces (ISF), were killed along with three civilians, and forty two other people were wounded. Eid was a key member of the ISF and was involved in many investigations related to terrorist bombings in Lebanon in recent years. He was involved in sensitive probes and this is a major loss for Lebanon. Eid was on his way back from a meeting of the UN commission investigating the 2005 assassination of former premier Rafiq Hariri when he was killed. Those who decided to murder Eid obviously feared that he had information linking them to one, if not all nine, other assassinations of members of the anti-Syrian movement. Eid had already provided the international enquiry into Hariri's murder with valuable information and this was not the first attempt on his life; two years ago a grenade was thrown at his house.

From The Lebanese Canadian Coordination Council (LCCC), we extend our warmest heartfelt condolences to the victims' families and friends who lost their
beloved ones in Lebanon on Friday, January 25/08, in the "Chevrolet heinous crime" that led to the death of Maj. Wissam Eid and Aspirant Officer Ousama Mireeb and three innocent civilians pedestrians: Joe Sarkis, Elie Fares and Alan Sandouk.

We ask Almighty God to grant all those bereaved families the needed faith, patience and solace.
We pray that the souls of all the new innocent victims rest in peace in heaven alongside with the saints and the righteous.

The identity of the perpetrators who executed this new crime against the Lebanese people, (the "Axis of Evil") is well known, as well as their destructive goals. Syrian and Iranian officials alongside with their Lebanese mercenaries, fundamentalists, militias, and Mafiosi rudely announce their venomous intentions and threats on a daily basis. Meanwhile the role of the local Lebanese tools spearheaded by "Hezbollah" in targeting Lebanese pro freedom leaders and supporters of the "Cedars Revolution", ministers, members of Parliament, clergymen, journalists and intellectuals, is exposed and extremely prominent.

Eid was targeted by the "Axis of Evil", because he played major roles in analyzing mobile telephone and e-mail contacts related to the assassinations of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri in 2005, the twin bus bombings of Ein Alaq in 2007, and the assassination of Gen. Francois Hajj, the army's chief of military operations, on Jan. 12, 2007. His work, according to ranking security officials, also managed to detect "established links" between Fatah al-Islam terrorists and Syria's intelligence apparatus. Such evidences compiled by the late Eid could help implicate Syria in the serial killings that have targeted Lebanon since Oct. 1, 2004, when Minister of Communications Marwan Hamadeh suffered serious wounds in a car bomb assassination attempt.

Many Lebanese citizens and dignitaries believe that Hezbollah is playing a major role in executing most of the assassination crimes. The Sunni Muslim Mufti of
Mount Lebanon, Sheikh Mohammed Ali Jouzou, on Saturday January 26/08, blamed the Hezbollah-led opposition for "every drop of blood that has been shed." in Lebanon. Jouzou said in a statement: "The opposition is considered responsible for every drop of blood shed on the land of Lebanon. The opposition is responsible for the victims of serial assassinations. The opposition is responsible for bombing crimes here and there." Since March 8 (2005) and the declaration of loyalty to the Syrian regime, the opposition indirectly said it approves the assassination of martyr ex-premier Rafik Hariri," Jouzou added. He noted that "March 14 leaders have been targeted, one after the other, and the threats were made from here and there by spokesmen for Hezbollah and the opposition, only to be followed by implementation, implementation of the death sentence by blowing off March 14 men. "Jouzou said attacks targeting the Army and Internal Security Forces are "sort of terror that accompanies efforts to foil all international, Arab and Lebanese initiatives and the opposition is considered responsible for them." Should we charge the opposition with high treason?" he asked. Addressing the opposition, Jouzou said: "You are conspiring against the homeland under the slogan of partnership, consensus and dialogue. You don't want partnership, you do not want consensus, you do not want dialogue." He added: "You want to kill Lebanon and you want to destroy Lebanon … for the sake of the Syrian Regime." (Naharnet/January 25/08)

The irony in Lebanon lies in the sad fact and in the bizarre status quo: Hezbollah has its mini-state and cantons inside the state of Lebanon, with its own army
which has thirty thousand missiles, its finances, jails, institutions, etc. Syria is still in control of three military bases under the Palestinian disguise, one near the capital Beirut and two others in the Bekaa Valley, adjacent to its border with Lebanon. In addition, there are 13 Palestinian refugee camps scattered all over Lebanon. These are 13 cantons and mini-states over which the Lebanese authorities have no control.

Below are two verbatim quotes from the testimony of ex Prime Minister General Michel Aoun before the US House Subcommittee on International Relations/September 18/2003. They describe exactly the ongoing Syrian destructive, criminal and terrorist role in Lebanon.

1-"Following a Syrian withdrawal (from Lebanon), it is quite conceivable that the Syrian regime will leave behind many of its instruments of terror and destruction as well as its paramilitary/intelligence apparatus. Therefore, it is imperative that a Syrian withdrawal be accompanied by a complete disarmament of all armed elements. Only the legitimate armed forces of Lebanon can be entrusted with providing security to the Lebanese people. They are certainly capable of doing so when provided with a strong political leadership duly elected by the Lebanese themselves, rather than appointed by an occupying power as is the case today. Equally important, Lebanon will need certified tribunals to investigate and bring to justice all criminals who committed war atrocities and crimes against humanity."

2-Under Syrian occupation the human rights of the Lebanese people have been systematically violated. An exhaustive description of the crimes committed by the
Syrian Regime and its goons in Lebanon would take thousands of pages and dozens of hearings. Two Lebanese presidents - both of whom can be accurately
described as unwilling to take their orders from the Syrian intimidators - were assassinated immediately upon their elections. Ambassadors, elite journalists, and political and religious figures from all denominations who dared to oppose Syria were kidnapped, tortured, imprisoned, and/or assassinated. And this is in addition to the tens of thousands of Lebanese who perished in countless massacres, in months upon months of random Syrian artillery shelling of civilian areas, and in countless booby-trapped and bombed cars.

N.B: It so sad to learn that Aoun, who is now an MP and after his return to Lebanon from exile in 2005, has negated all his patriotic and pro Lebanese stances, and joined the Syrian-Iranian, Hezbollah axis of Evil.

Who stands behind all the crimes that Lebanon has been encountering for the last three years? With no shred of doubt, and without any kind of hesitation, one can freely say: Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and their Lebanese-Palestinian local armed tools-instruments are fully accountable for each and every assassination crime that took place in Lebanon since 2005.

We strongly believe that the Lebanese Government, Lebanon's security bodies, judicial authorities and all its other institutions are currently unable to either deter or abort the Axis of Evil's serial organized and systematic killings of Lebanese patriotic leaders, nor to put an end to its destructive scheme targeting the country's
institutions, freedoms, democracy, stability and peace.

The government's failure lies in the fact that Hezbollah and the other Lebanese-Palestinian armed mercenaries of Iran and Syria are hindering all local, regional and international peaceful initiatives, endeavors and civilized plans.

In the face of this organized and intentional evil deadlock that Lebanon and its people are facing alone, we call on the Free World democratic countries, the moderate Arab countries, the United Nations and the Arab League to step in militarily under a UN Security Council Chapter Seven mandate and take over Lebanon for a rehabilitation interval as was the situation in Afghanistan, East Timor, Kosovo and some African countries. It will be even more effective and deterrent if NATO forces can assume this mission and not the UN.

Meanwhile an international probe and court needs to be set as soon as possible to put on trial all countries, especially Syria and Iran, as well as Lebanese individuals and groups that are hindering through crime and murder the Lebanese government and the Lebanese people from reclaiming their peace, independence, security and sovereignty.

The whole world ought to be cautioned that letting Lebanon be an easy prey for the "Axis of Evil" and its armed tools to devour, simply means an astounding
defeat for all principles of freedom, democracy, human rights, peace and stability, not only in the Middle East, but all over the globe. We call on the
Free World to step in and rescue Lebanon and the Lebanese before it is too late.

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Egypt closing Gaza border

Other sources indicated that Hamas fighters had ensconced themselves in Sinai:
Overnight Saturday, Egyptian security forces caught 20 Palestinians in Sinai
in possession of explosives and electronic devices which would have enabled
them to listen in to the Egyptian forces' communications networks.
That may be the reason for the decision to close the border.
Is a Palestinian charge into Israel in the offing? Could be.
Palestinians stream back to Gaza as Egypt chokes off supplies
By News Agencies
Last update - 23:51 27/01/2008

Palestinians streamed home through the breaches in Gaza's border with Egypt on Sunday as Egyptian authorities choked off supplies to the area and moved to restore control.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Youssef, a Hamas official whose statements are not always supported by the leadership, was quoted by the Palestinian Maan news agency warning that Gazans could next try to force open the main foot crossing into Israel, the Erez Terminal, continuing a "third Intifada", or uprising, that they had begun at Rafah.

Egyptian forces moved to close their breached border with the Gaza Strip by stopping vehicle traffic Sunday and further tightening their security cordon around the small frontier town of Rafah in effort to contain Palestinians crossing freely into Egypt for the fifth day in a row.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Sunday Egypt would take steps to control its border with the Gaza Strip as soon as possible. A Foreign Ministry statement provided no further details.

A Reuters reporter on the Egyptian side of the border town of Rafah saw hundreds of Palestinians leaving Egypt and only a handful of people crossing in from the Gaza Strip on Sunday.

"We wanted to buy food. It was very difficult. We could not find anything," said 17-year-old Khalil Hamdan. "We won't come back because all the products are finished."

Hundreds of trucks were held up at a bridge that leads from mainland Egypt to the Sinai peninsula and Gaza. Merchants in the border town of Rafah said they were struggling to get supplies of food and cigarettes. Fuel was also running short.

Egyptian forces blocked one of the gaps carved into the border wall with piles of sand and border police carrying electric cattle prods at other openings stopped cars with Palestinian plates from entering Egypt and Egyptians cars from crossing into Gaza. Pedestrians, however, continued to move back and forth freely.

Egyptian border guards were now authorized to return fire if attacked, said a security official speaking on customary condition of anonymity on the Egyptian side of Rafah.

Over the past two days, 38 Egyptian security forces have been wounded - some seriously - after Palestinians hurled stones and shot at them at the border, according to Aboul Gheit.

There was little left to buy in the muddy streets of the divided border town of Rafah, however, and a chill drizzle kept people huddled under the awnings of the handful of open stores.

Gasoline vendors, however, were still filling jerry cans to be taken back to the fuel-starved Gaza Strip.

"I can afford to get wet, but I can't afford to go hungry," said Gazan Adel Abdullah Moussa, dripping wet in the rain and carrying a yellow gas can in one hand and his year-old baby in the other.

Outside Rafah, police tightened their cordon and increased their checkpoints to stop Palestinians from entering the rest of Egypt and in the nearby town of El-Arish, security forces approached Palestinians on the streets and ordered them home.

Palestinians who had managed to sneak into El-Arish said that after a four-day purchasing spree, people would now no longer sell them anything or give them a place to stay the night, apparently under orders from security.

Leaders in the region are scrabbling to decide what to do about last Wednesday's dramatic opening of the border between Egypt and Gaza and subsequent flood of Palestinians out of their besieged territory to buy food, fuel and consumer products.

Arab foreign ministers are set to meet in Cairo Sunday to discuss the matter, while it will be the centerpiece of talks between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as well.

Israel, meanwhile, has expressed growing concern about the possible influx of Palestinian militants into areas of Egypt that border Israel. The Israel Defense Forces announced Saturday that its troops were on heightened alert along the border with Egypt, and that an Israeli road and tourism sites in the area are temporarily closed.

Abbas will meet Wednesday in Cairo with Mubarak to discuss the crisis on the Gaza-Egypt border, an aide for the Fatah-aligned Palestinian president said Saturday.

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Jordanian demonstrators call for suicide bombings

Spurred on by the fake photos of Gaza power outages like the ones that Reuters has been publishing, Jordanians call for suicide bombings, and Reuters reports on the hysteria it helped to create.
Jordanians rally in support of Hamas in Gaza

Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:12pm EST
By Suleiman al-Khalidi
AMMAN (Reuters) - Chanting slogans urging Islamist Hamas militants to resume suicide bombings against Israel, thousands of Jordanians marched in the capital on Friday to protest against Israel's blockade of Gaza.
About 8,000 activists from Jordan's mainstream Muslim Brotherhood took to the streets to support their ideological allies, the Palestinian Hamas group, and hail militants' success in breaching the Gaza border in defiance of an Israeli blockade.
"The people of Jordan are with Hamas," chanted the crowds who called on the Islamist group to resume a campaign of suicide bombings and intensify rocket attacks against Israel.
""Oh Hamas hit them with al-Qassam rockets ... bring the suicide bombers to Tel Aviv ," they chanted, waving the green flags of Jordan's opposition Muslim Brotherhood.
Israel said it had tightened its Gaza blockade last week to counter cross-border rocket fire, but after an international outcry, fuel and aid supplies were partially restored.
Passions prompted by the blockade have run high among Jordanians, many of whom are of Palestinian origin.
Defying tough government curbs on street demonstrations, thousands of mostly pro-Hamas loyalists have in the last few days taken to the streets inside many of the country's squalid camps and poor districts of the capital under the watchful eyes of the authorities to show solidarity with their brethren.
Jordanian officials have been alarmed by Israel's military escalation in recent days and privately worry it would only weaken efforts to advance Arab-Israeli peace talks.
They fear it broadens the popularity of the Islamist movement among a majority of poor Jordanians, many of them living in refugee camps and disenchanted with the U.S.-led Middle East peace process.
"Hamas is winning more supporters every day because it represents the conscience of the nation," Sheikh Hamza Mansour, a leading Islamist deputy said.
Many Jordanians whose families originally come from towns and cities in what is now Israel support Hamas.
The demonstrators lambasted Arab rulers, without naming them, accusing them of standing idly by as ordinary Gazans suffer and called on Egypt to allow freedom of movement for Palestinians.
"Oh rulers ... we want deeds not words ... Gaza is in darkness and you are asleep!," chanted the crowds. "We will not recognize Israel. Israel must be demolished."
Hamas says it will not formally recognize Israel and its 1988 founding charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.
Hamas leaders have offered a long-term truce with Israel in return for a viable Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
(Reporting by Suleiman al-Khalidi; Editing by Charles Dick)
((Reuters Messaging;; Amman Newsroom +9626 4623776)

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Gaza: One fake Reuters photo can be worth a lot of lives

Can a picture be worth a thousand lives?

Reuters Fauxtography Alert: Spreading Hamas Propaganda With Fake Power Outage Photos

Photo of Warner Todd Huston.
By Warner Todd Huston | January 26, 2008 - 13:53 ET

Photos Posted Below the Fold

The Jerusalem Post caught another fauxtography scam out of the mideast this week. It appears that Hamas legislators have staged fake power outages to illustrate how oppressed they are for the benefit of journalists. The Journalists were treated to a photo op of the Hamas legislators sitting in their halls of power surrounded by burning candles in rooms with curtains drawn. The scene was set to show how they have had their power cut by the eeeevil Jews. Only problem is, midday sunlight can clearly be seen against the curtains. So, the candles were unnecessary. All they had to do was open the curtains and they would be able to see just fine. Obviously Reuters (and others) allowed Hamas to manipulate the facts. But that didn't seem to bother any of these so-called journalists who were quite happy to go along.

The Jerusalem Post says of the fauxtography incident:

On at least two occasions this week, Hamas staged scenes of darkness as part of its campaign to end the political and economic sanctions against the Gaza Strip, Palestinian journalists said Wednesday.

In the first case, journalists who were invited to cover the Hamas government meeting were surprised to see Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and his ministers sitting around a table with burning candles.

In the second case on Tuesday, journalists noticed that Hamas legislators who were meeting in Gaza City also sat in front of burning candles.

Oh, the humanities. But wait, Hamas was only pretending they needed candles...

But some of the journalists noticed that there was actually no need for the candles because both meetings were being held in daylight.

Like I said, Reuters went on ahead and published these photos as if there was nothing at all amiss.

And as NRO says of the incident:

And more fun with Big Media propagandists: During a soi-disant Israeli "power cut", Palestinians are forced to hold a parliamentary session by candlelight. Alas, even with the curtains drawn, the blazing sunlight keeps peeping through.

These photographs were taken by Mohammed Salem of Reuters and Hatem Moussa of the Associated Press. If neither of these organizations wish to comment, perhaps some of the ethics panjandrums at America's journalism schools would like to weigh in.

Here are the photos along with the misleading tag lines that Reuters tagged onto them. You can clearly see the sunlight behind the curtains:

Palestinian lawmakers attend a parliament session in candlelight during a power cut in Gaza January 22, 2008. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Palestinian lawmakers attend a parliament session in candlelight during a power cut in Gaza January 22, 2008. Israel agreed to allow some fuel, medicine and food into the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Tuesday, at least temporarily easing a blockade that has plunged much of the territory into darkness and sparked international protests. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (GAZA)

Palestinian lawmakers attend a parliament session in candlelight during a power cut in Gaza January 22, 2008. Israel agreed to allow some fuel, medicine and food into the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Tuesday, at least temporarily easing a blockade that has plunged much of the territory into darkness and sparked international protests. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (GAZA)

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Americanism vs. Islamism: A Personal Perspective

If you think "Islamist Fascism" is an empty slogan of "racist islamophobic Zionist neocons, think again." This article by a Muslim was posted at Arab Electronic Mail Journal. Please note that this is not the work of a Zionist neocon or a "Christian Zionist."
The article explains how Jihadist radicals abuse "freedom of religion" to spread the blight of hate and violence. The author writes:
Until Muslims understand that their faith is not threatened by the Enlightenment and respect for the individual, we cannot win this war.

Hold some litmus tests and standards for the Muslims you engage with organizationally. They need to recognize Israel as a state, to stand against radical Islamist groups by name, not by theory, tactic, or condemning terrorism, but by name—Hamas, Al Qaeda and other groups. If they don't have the moral courage to name the Saudis, the Syrian government, as an oppressive dictatorship, then you have to wonder where their allegiances are. These types of litmus tests are not being done enough even by our own government and the people they attach themselves to.

We need help in what I would call a counter-jihad that is still in its earliest, mitotic cell divisions. There are so many factors affecting the ability of Muslims to really contribute and get involved. One is because of fear—moderates are actually the first to be attacked; because of tribalism, because of the lack of knowledge. There are probably more people in this room who understand sharia than in most of the Muslim groups I've spoken to. That's sad. It's because the reins of understanding intellectual theology in Islam are just given up by most Muslims.

Moderate Muslims need help in their counter-Jihad. Freedom of religion doesn't include imposing your religion on others. Jihadism is NOT a "progressive cause." Freedom of religion must not be confused with freedom to terrorize, educate fanatics and spread terror.
Please spread the word.
Ami Isseroff

By Zuhdi Jasser  /  US Foreign Policy Research Institute/ January 2008

Dr. Jasser is founder and board chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD). A former U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander, he served in the U.S. Navy as a medical officer from 1988–99. He finished his military service as a Lieutenant Commander with an Honorable Discharge in 1999 and is now in the private practice of internal medicine and nuclear cardiology in Phoenix, Arizona. This enote is based on his September 26 talk as the 12th Annual Templeton Lecture on Religion and World Affairs.

My venturing into public discussions on the intersection between religion and politics is not something that I chose, but rather something I felt obliged to do after 9/11. Prior to then, I'd been dealing with many of the pathologies within the Muslim community, but as I began to see who was emerging as "spokespersons" for my faith after 9/11, I had to do something; hence the formation of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

More than six years after 9/11, we're starting to figure out that terrorism is just a tactic. The tactic has a goal, a mission, and a dream. Terrorism is simply a means to an end. The only way to defeat a tactic is either to defeat the source completely or to take away the dreams of the enablers. Those dreams, when they are wedded to religion, become the biggest liability for those of us who are embarrassed even talking about religion and politics. What greater incendiary mechanism could there be to manipulate Western society than to cover a fascistic dream in a faith that is a spiritual path for over a billion people? And what better way to insulate itself from criticism than to cover itself in a spiritual guise?

Non-Muslim and Muslim alike, Americans, guided by the Constitution and First Amendment, have always been protective of our faith. One of my heroes growing up was Thomas Jefferson. The Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, engrained in our society a respect for the free practice of religion. Jefferson said, "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." This idea that a person's relationship with God is his or her own and not the role of government to impose upon citizens is one of the main quarrels that the Islamists and those who ideologically feed the terrorists have with the West.

Unfortunately, many Americans have forgotten that America was founded by people who were escaping religious persecution. America is not just a flag, it's not just our media, MTV, rock and roll, or blue jeans. It's an idea of religious and political freedom and the freedom to be and achieve what you want, with equal access to everyone. That access is not dictated by wealth, religion, or any other immutable characteristic. That is what the Islamists fear the most.

"Islamist" does not necessarily mean only terrorists, and the simple condemnation of terror does not make someone necessarily compatible with American and Western ideals. Condemning terror—the targeting of women, children, noncombatants and non-uniformed people for the achievement of political ends—simply brings one to the table of humanity.

The root cause of terrorism is the dreams of the political Islamic state, and we need to understand what that state is. It can be either the fascistic state that believes in the totalitarian or authoritarian imposition of Islamic law throughout society or the democratic Islamic state, which believes in parliaments, elections, and discourse and debate. These two different types of government share the identification of being an Islamic state because the source of law is the same: the Quran and the tradition, or sunnah, of the Prophet.

The sunnah guide my personal life—my last will and testament, my marriage, our marital contract. But that's something we chose in our own home. To transfer that into government gives clerics exclusive access to law, legislation, and public and legal discourse. If non-clerics want to gain access, they have to become schooled in sharia law. As important as the West's initiative to democratize the Middle East is, we're missing the boat if we think we're going to solve the problems in the Middle East by simply getting those countries to have elections and parliaments. We need to bring forth the ideas of freedom, liberty, and respect for individuals, sometimes over the community. That last principle is one that came in the West's Enlightenment.

Until Muslims understand that their faith is not threatened by the Enlightenment and respect for the individual, we cannot win this war.

Sometimes when we present these ideas, we present them behind the American flag. But being patriotic doesn't necessarily mean that someone is looking out for the best interests of freedom and liberty in America. Islamic organizations that purport to represent Muslims may have a vision for America that simply takes our flag and adds a little crescent, turning it into an Islamic state. Some in the Muslim community may call this fear-mongering or exaggeration, but that Islamist community should not be allowed to circle the wagons and rally themselves behind victimization. Rather, they should be engaged on these ideas of the role of religious law in public life. For while the vast majority of Muslims have assimilated and reformed their own practices, by virtue of the way that they live in America, ideologically they have often been given the freedom but not the means, the task, and the challenge to understand what it is that they are living day to day.

As a result, most of the texts on Islamic bookshelves are pre-14th century. Most of the Islamic texts on law, penal codes, civil codes, etc., are based on 14th century law at best—it could be 11th or 12th century. Hence the corporal punishment, the severing of hands for theft, the stoning of women for violation of marital laws, that is still part of Saudi law. This to Westerners is barbaric, but the religious law hasn't been reformed or advanced to bring it into the 21st century.

One of the primary problems with Islamic reformation issues is the clerical leadership and the imams. Most Muslim families would be dismayed if their son or daughter wanted to study to become a cleric or imam, which is not of the same value to a family as studying medicine, law, or engineering. So the hold upon religious, theological discussion of jurisprudence in faith has been given over to less than the intellectuals in society.

My own family escaped Syria to come to America for ideological, not economic, reasons. After the French pulled out in 1946, my grandfather had tried to be part of the democratization of Syria, which did have democracy for a few years. Then unfortunately, as we saw in many Middle Eastern countries, coup after coup occurred from the early 1950s until finally the last military coup led by the Baathists which ultimately brought Hafez al-Assad to power around 1970. The secular dictatorships are deeply wedded to radical Islam and the Islamist threat in the world. They may seem to be diametrically opposed entities, but the evolution and history of radical Islamist or theocratic movements has been an equal and opposite reaction to the dictatorships in the Middle East—- whether they are the monarchy in Saudi Arabia and the Wahhabis who came out of them, or the dictatorships in Egypt and Syria, for the Muslim Brotherhood, which also fed Hamas in Israel. This is what happened in Iran, with the Shah initially in power, which empowered the radical Islamist movement. All of this is very symmetrical, and that's why we will not be able to bring Islam into modernity without the removal of many of these governments.

We do not have to do this militarily. We changed Eastern Europe without invading any of those countries and defeated communism without invading Russia. But we need to turn our attention to the dissidents, to those who believe in freedom and liberty, not only democracy. If we align ourselves only with democratic movements, we may end up ushering in parliaments based on Quranic law and facilitating the establishment of Islamic states that may in the short term be more peaceful to us from a strategic standpoint, but in the long term could end up dividing the world into a triangular fashion of China, Islamic states, and the secular Western states.

The conflict is over the correct source of law—Is it the Constitution and natural law or sharia; the lay individual or the clerics, or the individual vs. tribalism or Muslim collectivism?

I've tried to go to prayer every Friday, I attend the Ramadan holiday prayers and have probably 70-80 percent of the time found mosques that were not solely about spirituality or about teaching children morality and character, integrity, service, and humility, but rather about politics—domestic and foreign policy, issues that I believe have nothing to do with my relationship with God but rather concern things on this earth. My response in many of the debates I've tried to no avail to have with imams is to tell them that if God wanted us to discuss these things, the Quran would have been filled with injunctions about how to run government. But there's nothing in the Quran about how we should run government. Yet they will take passages that do talk about war, for example, and transpose them out of context, which I believe is about history far more than it is about religion.

Back to my story. Once in the early 1990s, on leave from the military, I went to an Islamic medical association meeting. One of the only other Muslim medical officers was the head of endocrinology at Bethesda. He and I were going to present a paper on hormonal regulation and some endocrine issues at the Islamic Medical Association, which was being held in conjunction with the Islamic Society of North America annual conference. I had never been to a meeting of ISNA, the largest Muslim organization in America. Its annual meetings are attended by 15,000-30,000 Muslim activists. The keynote address was given by Siraj Wahhaj, Imam of Al-Taqwa Mosque in Brooklyn, New York, who was originally with the Nation of Islam and then converted to Sunni Islam. I was pulled into listening to this magnetic speaker, until he began talking about the constitution. He picked up the Quran and said "You know, I was on an airplane and imagine, a Jewish passenger sitting next to me asked me about the Quran I was reading—if Muslims became a majority in America, would we replace the U.S. constitution with the Quran." He laughed and said, "Can you imagine someone wondering if a document made by humans would be superior to a document made by God?"

I got lightheaded, I sat down, and after he was done I went to the Q-and-A microphone and said, "I'm not sure if you understand American law, but you have just violated the Sedition Act as I understand it. You're free to disagree with foreign and domestic policy, but you cannot talk about the overthrow of the U.S. constitution and its replacement by another document." I encouraged other military personnel in the audience to leave, because they were violating their oath to this country. It was in some ways traumatic for me. I had just joined the Navy. But yet they felt that I was overreacting. I feel that it is not overreaction. There are certain things we have to know as a community and as a nation that take priority over other things.

A German judge recently gave a man the right to beat his wife because the husband maintained that it was out of his religious law that he is allowed to practice domestic abuse on his wife. That's not the Islam I was taught, but if we become a society where once someone raises the flag of religion we stop critiquing it and stop holding him accountable to values that we share as a community, that is the day we begin down the slope of defeat.

As much as some Muslims could say I am mischaracterizing Islam or am too harsh, I think it is important to have the debate. Five years after the ISNA meeting, I met my wife and her family in Cleveland and told them that story. They said "We were there! We heard you say that." Yet nobody did anything. Nobody stood up and agreed with me, nobody said "We may have a problem." That same imam then became an alleged unindicted coconspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and later, in 1995, testified in defense of Omar Abdel-Rahman.

There's a tribal mentality; somehow individuals want to create and advance the ideas of the tribal leaders. The Islamic community has reverted back to pre-Islamic Arabia, to a tribalism that has lost its values. Any time you take an idea in which the ends justify the means, it is basically corruption. Alija Izetbegovic, the president of Bosnia-Herzegovina, said that he was never more Muslim than when he was in solitary confinement under Marshal Tito for 15 years. A Muslim can hear that and think "My rights and freedoms in society are not related to my being Muslim. I have more time to sit and talk to God and be closer to God when I have absolutely no rights and I'm sitting in solitary confinement. Therefore my religion and my piety are unrelated to this earth."

Actually, the idea that we should be selling—not on the U.S. station Al Hurrah, which actually gets very low ratings in Iraq, but on Al Jazeera, on Syrian TV—is that the way for individuals to be closest to God is to live in freedom. When you live in an environment where people around you are not fasting in Ramadan, where they are not praying five times a day, where I choose to separate from the group and go pray on my own, not in the middle of a gate at the airport demanding for everyone to see me but actually on my own, that actually is more of a demonstration to the God of Abraham, that I'm choosing to do that of my own free will. Thus, the day of judgment, if you believe in a day of reckoning, has more meaning to God. That is to me the message of our founding fathers. The most pious nations and individuals are those who can freely decide whether to act or to practice their faith without coercion from government.

Muslims will say, this is ridiculous, you don't want religion to inspire what we do? There's this equivalency where they then give me ten other religious lobbies in America that supposedly mix religion and politics. I'll say that there's absolutely no comparison, there's no moral equivalency between religiously inspired political groups and Islamist groups that have a constructive law as a goal— the nucleus of which is completely different from one based on a human document. The key is that we hold Muslims accountable to what they view the concept of law would be if they became a majority. One finds few or no Christian, Buddhist or Hindu groups who want to bring, e.g., canon law or religious jurisprudence into American jurisprudence. Yet they may be inspired and empowered by their faith, which is very different.

I would then remember de Tocqueville, who said that military dictatorships do not need God, but democracies and lands based on freedom do. Because as you know, in the Middle East, and we see this in Iraq, when countries have lost their values after decades of dictatorship and become corrupt, there's such a loss of values that corruption has guided and taken over that society making freedom difficult to take hold.

As a result, you have wanton destruction and lawlessness. The only thing that would control that society is some form of martial law. So you need to transition states from oppression to freedom, but that transition needs to be inculcated with values.

At the end of the day, if we believe that those values they're going to use to drive their ideas are going to be based on morality, that morality has to come from somewhere. If it's not going to come from Islam, then we're going to have to convert over 1 billion people to another faith, and that's not going to work. So that source of values is going to have to be their faith of Islam, which we as Muslims believe is a message from the God of Abraham to Muslims. But that message has to be put in a way that's consistent with modernity and pluralism.

What can we do as a Western society within our community and what can we do, especially for non-Muslims and other organizations, to help this process along and move it along faster than the five hundred years of stagnancy that we've been under?

First, in our own societies, we need to be cautious about permitting parallel societies, parallel courts such as sharia courts where Muslims are given the "freedom" to set up their own legal court system. They would become an incubator for radical Islamism. Canada tried this, and the most vocal voice against sharia courts were Muslim women, even though they were told by the non-Muslims in Canada that "You don't have to, it's voluntary." Once you get swept into this, it's like fighting domestic violence in our own country. We must prevent the establishment of institutions that cater to that and allow the incubation.

Second, we see many examples like the taxicab drivers in Minneapolis who wanted to be separate from the society, not to carry people who were carrying alcohol, to impose their values on the passengers they picked up. Some may say that making a lot out of these issues is an exaggeration—"you need to lighten up." But every opportunity I have to highlight examples, of what in medicine we would call pathegnemonic symptoms, of the pathology of Islamism, I will exploit that. Because they are doing the same thing. They are exploiting victimization issues and politics to use what we have now been calling law-fare to get us distracted, to sue individuals who are the biggest threat to their ideas. So that we're all so busy fighting lawsuits such as the flying imams case (the six imams who filed suit against U.S. Airways in March 2007 for having been removed from a flight in November 2006 after behavior that many have called provocative) to distract us, to continue to divide society between Muslim and non-Muslim and to allow the continued inculcation of this Islamist ideology via Muslim collectivism.

A good example is Carver Elementary School in San Diego, which because of the third of its students who are Muslim wanted to move the lunchtime from 12:30 to 1:30 pm so that they could have their prayers. I wrote a column and on CNN talked about the fact that many of us grew up in public elementary schools praying and doing our own practices of faith without asking for the entire school to change its time schedule. You can step away during a break and practice your faith. Certainly I would not want schools to prevent Muslims from praying, they should be given the space to pray if they need it. Because that's a personal faith practice. But once that personal faith practice crosses the line into society and starts changing the schedule of the general society or changing the cost to general society to the taxpayers, as we saw with the footbath incidents where the University of Michigan was paying $30,000 to install footbaths, that crosses the line of the founding principles of America. I don't have a problem with private funding for that if they need it, fine. But not from the taxpayers. For once it comes from the taxpayers, then they should have allotted $30,000 for every other faith group in that university at the same time.

When I was growing up in the 1970s, I don't remember Muslims asking for any of these things. It has almost become a tool of self-segregation and separating Muslims from non-Muslims so that they can continue this issue of minority politics. It's becoming very potent and we have allowed it to take over the debate. It soaks up the bandwidth of American attention instead of allowing us to fight for freedom.

Islamic organizations today have only come to notoriety because of America's fear of terrorism. If terrorism disappeared tomorrow, nobody would care about footbaths, schedules in schools, etc. Focusing on those issues would be the same as if a patient came into my office with lung cancer and I spent my whole time focusing on their cholesterol, headaches, and every other issue except the cancer. The Muslim community for credibility needs to start focusing most of its resources on the root cause of terrorism as a tactic, which is political Islam.

The methods of reform are manifold. First, engage the Muslim community on these issues, get informed about the difference between sharia law and constitutional law, and start to have discussion panels, not the interfaith, "kumbiyah" discussions that legitimize most Muslim communities' leaders.

I have Frank Gaffney, executive producer of the documentary Islam vs. Islamists, to thank for connecting me with Dr. John Templeton and others. After his film, originally scheduled as part of PBS' "America at a Crossroads," was pulled from that series, it was shown on Fox News a couple of weeks ago. Ahmed Shqeirat, the imam who's one of my main Islamist adversaries in Phoenix, in that documentary alluded to me (though not by name), claiming that I'm a "liberal extremist". He went on to say that "people like me think we can somehow separate religion and politics and don't want to acknowledge that every Muslim wants to live in an Islamic state, under sharia law."

After the showing of the film locally, one interfaith celebration I knew of was cancelled in Phoenix. So people are starting to understand that there is a veneer of moderation from the Islamists. They know how to play the game outside the mosque, but these organizations are lacking on civil rights within their community. It's a corruption that needs to be exposed. Ultimately, these institutions will disappear quickly once they start to be exposed to the regular American community that pays attention to hypocrisy.

So second, the Muslim community needs to be held accountable to its concept of umma. Umma is a word that is very prevalent in the Quran. It means "nation" or "community." When an imam talks about umma, in Arabic and in his sermons, it is a threatening concept, because you then wonder at what point does an American Muslim follow the needs of the Muslim nation vs. the needs of the American nation to which he or she is a citizen. The Muslim community needs to "de-ummatize" itself, to really restrict the mechanism by which the umma is invoked. I would personally limit it to our study of theology and learning about the Quran and scripture; to charity that obviously all of our faiths seek to give; to socialization, obviously marriage within the faith is something all of our faiths try to do; and then last facilitating our hajj, our pilgrimage, and other aspects of practice and spirituality including mosques and community worship.

Third, we need to change the dreams. The dreams of most Muslims today are still wedded, because they have come from oppression and dictatorships, to religion, because the mosque was the last institution where they had a little freedom of speech, as long as they didn't speak against their own government. That's why the Muslim Brotherhood took over the mosques in Syria, and why the Wahhabis were able to spread texts into most of the mosques in the world, at a cost of $80 billion that they spent on spreading the radical word of Wahhabism. They were able to inculcate this literature into a lot of mosques, under the guise of most of these dictatorships.

We need to change those dreams from dreams of the utopian caliphate or Islamic states that bring them supposedly Islamic freedom to dreams of Western, individual freedom, where access to government and society is open to all. Much of the leadership on this must come from Muslim business leaders, who can argue for the kind of education that is needed.

Next, help us establish institutions. The Western enlightenment happened with the establishment of enlightenment institutions, classically liberal institutions that queried the church and government and began to question authority.

Hold some litmus tests and standards for the Muslims you engage with organizationally. They need to recognize Israel as a state, to stand against radical Islamist groups by name, not by theory, tactic, or condemning terrorism, but by name—Hamas, Al Qaeda and other groups. If they don't have the moral courage to name the Saudis, the Syrian government, as an oppressive dictatorship, then you have to wonder where their allegiances are. These types of litmus tests are not being done enough even by our own government and the people they attach themselves to.

We need help in what I would call a counter-jihad that is still in its earliest, mitotic cell divisions. There are so many factors affecting the ability of Muslims to really contribute and get involved. One is because of fear—moderates are actually the first to be attacked; because of tribalism, because of the lack of knowledge. There are probably more people in this room who understand sharia than in most of the Muslim groups I've spoken to. That's sad. It's because the reins of understanding intellectual theology in Islam are just given up by most Muslims.

I will conclude with another Jefferson quotation that talks about the patience with which revolutions happen. "The generation which commences a revolution rarely complete it. Habituated from their infancy to passive submission of body and mind to their kings and priests, they are not qualified when called on to think and provide for themselves; and their inexperience, their ignorance and bigotry make them instruments often in the hands of the Bonapartes and Iturbides to defeat their own rights and purposes." (Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1823)

****Jefferson was talking about our country's founding. He didn't end slavery, but Lincoln, who did decades later, probably said it best: "America is the world's last greatest hope for mankind." We have to remember the ideas America stands for, that there are millions of Muslims who came here because of those ideas, and if we tell them that Islam is the problem, we will not win the war.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Gaza update - Fuel deliveries renewed; Rumor : PA will take over crossing

Reuters (canard?) quoted Egyptian and Palestinian sources who claim the Palestinian authority will take over the Rafa crossing in Gaza. From Jerusalem Post:
Egypt has agreed to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's plan whereby PA security forces would assume responsibility for the Gaza-Egypt border crossing, Reuters quoted Palestinian and Egyptian officials as saying Sunday.
The reported deal would denote that Egypt has rejected Hamas proposal to control the crossing.
PA Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki was quoted as saying that "it has been agreed with Egypt that the border crisis will be solved through the agreement signed in 2005, whereby PA security forces will control the Rafah border crossing."
Nevertheless, Israel denied that any such deal had been reached.
Following a meeting with PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, Aboul Gheit merely  said that "Egypt will take necessary actions and measures to control the border in Gaza soon," without elaborating.
Overnight Saturday, Egyptian security forces caught 20 Palestinians in Sinai in possession of explosives and electronic devices which would have enabled them to listen in to the Egyptian forces' communications networks.
The discovery came the night after Egypt's attempts to reseal its border with the Gaza Strip failed, as tens of thousands of Palestinians continued to pour into Sinai for the fourth consecutive day.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Claim: dramatic breakthrough on Gaza in the coming days.

Claim: dramatic breakthrough on Gaza in the coming days.

Maariv NRG 26.01.08

Transalation: Israel News

The head the of political security branch of the Israel Ministry of Defence, Amos Gilad, tonight held intensive talks with senior Egyptian officials, in order to try to solve the crisis of the open border [in Gaza]. General Omar Suleiman, head of Egyptian security, wants to conclude the matter as soon as possible, and demands that Israel open the border passages in order to allow the flow of goods to the Gaza strip.
In the the framework of the talks between Israel and Egypt, Israeli security officals demanded that Egypt act to stop the launching of Qassam rockets at Israel as a condition. The Security establishment emphasized that there is no intention of opening the passages, except for urgent humanitarian cases, until the Qassam rocket fire on Israel is stopped.
Egyptian security sources claim they cannot keep the Palestinian citizens away from the border since they are forbidden to use life fire on the demonstrators. Additionally, they claim that firing on the Palestinians will ignite riots in the streets of Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood group, and the rage will be turned against Mubarak.
in Israel it is expected that in the coming days a dramatic development will take place regarding
the continuation of Kassam rocket fire against Israel as well as the
issue  of the opening of the passages."

First published 21.1.2008 23:45

Hebrew Source

Continued (Permanent Link)

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