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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Israel demographic issues: Census finds 3.76 Million Palestinians

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/israel-demographic-issues-census-finds.html

Preliminary results of the Palestinian census indicate that there are 3.76 million Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. 2.345 million live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and
1.416 million in Gaza. About 208,000 Palestinian Arabs live in east Jerusalem according to the census figures, though Palestinians claim that the numbers may be too low and that many houses were not visited. East Jerusalem Arabs are also counted in the Israeli census.
 
The census results certainly do not support the idea that Israel is committing "genocide" against the Palestinian Arabs, as is argued by anti-Zionists, nor do they provide evidence of any ongoing "humanitarian crisis." There are more Palestinian Arabs in the territories than there ever were in recorded history, and together with the 1.4 million Arab citizens of Israel, they number about five million. Palestinian Arabs have one of the highest population growth rates in the world. The previous census counted 2.89 million Palestinian Arabs a decode ago. This growth is hardly indicative of a serious "humanitarian crisis."
 
These results also do not support the thesis of the AIDRG group who argued that there were a million less Palestinian Arabs living in the West Bank than indicated by official figures (see Two State Solution). AIDRG had argued that the estimates and extrapolations were inaccurate and did not take into account substantial migration and lowered Arab Palestinian birthrates, as well as double counting of Jerusalem Arabs. 
 
The argument was used to claim that there is no demographic imperative for Israeli withdrawal from the territories held since the Six Day War.  Excluding East Jerusalem Arabs, there are 3.55 million Arab Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, rather than the less than 2.5 million that AIDRG estimated, and the figure of 2.345 million in the West Bank is much closer to the official estimate of 2.38 million than it is to the AIDRG estimate of 1.35 million. As there are now about 5 million Arabs and 5.5 million Jews in total between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, there is every indication that a single state would soon have an Arab majority. In any case, there is no realistic possibility of maintaining Israel as a national home of the Jewish people if even a very large minority object and insist that they have a different national allegiance.
 
 
Ami Isseroff

 


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Friday, February 8, 2008

Turkish Website: Every Muslim must kill an Infidel

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/turkish-website-every-muslim-must-kill.html

"An infidel away keeps the Great Satan away." Are we really sure Turkey should be admitted to the EU?
 

"Hey America, We Have An Account To Settle With You!"

"If you want Allah to grant you victory, every one of you must kill an infidel!"

"The virtueous Sheikh Khaled er-Rashid - May Allah Save Him From Captivity"

English: MEMRI

Source: Turkish Islamist website Takva.com


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Psychological warfare: PRC: Residents of southern Israel should evacuate

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/psychological-warfare-prc-residents-of.html

Obviously, the intent is to place the Olmert government in an impossible situation. No government can allow its people to be chased off the land, and no government can issue threats like that, creating an asymmetry. A terrorist group is "allowed" to do that. What if Israel were to announce that residents of Gaza should evacuate "for their safety and the safety of their children?"
 
The time when Israel will have almost no choice other than to annihilate the Hamas regime in Gaza is fast approaching. Everything the Hamas does points to that, as though they, not just their suicide bombers, have a death wish.
 
But no operation should be undertaken unless it is reasonably certain of achieving total success. As the Second Lebanon War demonstrated, anything less than total success will be labeled a failure and will strengthen the other side.
 
I have discussed that issue at length: Israel and Hamas: Half a loaf may be poisonous
 
And Fresno Zionism discusses the same problems here: The coming war with Hamas 
 
Ami Isseroff

 
PRC: Residents of southern Israel should evacuate

Published:  02.08.08, 11:29 / Israel News 
 
A senior Popular Resistance Committees official, Abu Abir, claimed responsibility for the rocket barrages against southern Israel earlier in the day on behalf of his organization. Abu Abir told Ynet he urges the residents of Sderot and other southern communities to evacuate from their homes.
 
"What was up until now is nothing compared to what will be. We call on them to evacuate for their safety and the safety of their children," he said. (Ali Waked)


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Is Israel going after the Hamas in Gaza?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/is-israel-going-after-hamas-in-gaza.html

A lot of people have been saying chances of massive Israeli intervention in Gaza are increasing  (see here and here as well). Given the lackadaisical attitude of the international community and the growing power of the Hamas, there may be no choice.
 
Tuesday, Feb. 05, 2008
A Coming Hamas-Israel War?
By Robert Baer
TIME
It's difficult to decide which will go over the edge first, Lebanon or Gaza. Maybe both at the same time, hand in hand, and — if you believe Israel — with a gentle shove from Iran.
 
Bets are on Gaza to explode first. Although Hamas claimed that Monday's suicide bomber in Dimona, the first in a year, came from the West Bank, the Israelis still are investigating whether he got into the country from Gaza via Egypt while the border fence at Rafah was breached. It's certainly possible. An estimated 750,000 Palestinians, half of Gaza's population, crossed into Egypt and back, primarily to shop for basic goods unavailable at home.
 
Israel also suspects that advanced long-range rockets, anti-tank rockets and anti-aircraft missiles were smuggled into Gaza during the breach. But more ominously, Israel claimed that, along with the weapons, Iranian-trained Hamas guerrillas came across at the same time — presumably to operate the new weapons. The Negev was hit by rockets on Tuesday, but they were an old model, Qassams.
 
At this point Israel has to be wondering if Hamas is planning a real war, something along the lines of the 34-day war in 2006 between Israel and Hizballah. A Hamas official didn't put that suspicion to rest when he said that next time Hamas might knock a hole in the fence that separates Gaza from Israel.
 
Israel knows too that Hamas would like to drag Egypt into it. And, who knows, it might work. At some level someone in Egypt is complicit in smuggling weapons into Gaza. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition party, still looks at Hamas as its Palestinian branch. Iran and Hizballah have been soliciting Egypt's cooperation in more help for Gaza. Will Egyptian President Mubarak be able to hold the line, keep a lid on Gaza, when Israel itself can't?
 
Count on it, Israel will do something to change the status quo in Gaza. One option is to build a bigger and higher wall around the country. Construction on a wall separating Israel and Egypt has already started. But little good it will do against the Hamas rockets Israel thinks are coming into Egypt.
 
Walls aside, what Israel sorely misses is the capacity to strike fear into its neighbors, deterrence. The Winograd Commission spelled it out in bleak terms in its report on Israel's failures during the 34-day war. "Israel cannot survive," the official statement said, unless it is able to deter its enemies — teach Hamas and Hizballah a lesson they won't forget.
 
Lebanon is second on the neighborhood triage list, but only because no one has been killed in the last 24 hours, at least at this writing. On the other hand, since the Lebanese army fired on demonstrators in the Shi'a southern suburbs on January 27 — killing seven, five of whom were connected to Iran's proxy, Hizballah — there have been 11 attacks on the army. The only reason Hizballah has not responded more forcefully is that the time is not right. But a war in nearby Gaza might just be the perfect time.


Robert Baer, a former CIA field officer assigned to the Middle East, is TIME.com's intelligence columnist and the author of See No Evil and, most recently, the novel Blow the House Down.
 


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NIE - Oops - we made a misteak about Iran Nukes after all

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/nie-oops-we-made-misteak-about-iran.html

The December NIE report absolving Iran of the intention to construct nuclear weapons was a bombshell, but it looked "fishy." Now the NIE, having ruined the effort to impose sanctions on Iran and granted a victory to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, admits that Iran probably is, or will be, building nuclear weapons fairly soon.
 
With an intelligence service like that, who needs a stupidity service?
 
Ami Isseroff

Iranian Nuclear Rewrite

Wall Street Journal

February 8, 2008; Page A16

Give Admiral Michael McConnell credit for trying to walk back the cat. Questioned this week by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Director of National Intelligence defended the "integrity and the professionalism" of the process that produced last December's stunning National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran's nuclear program. Yet his testimony amounts to a reversal of the previous judgment.

The December NIE made headlines the world over for its "key judgment" that in 2003 "Tehran halted its nuclear weapons programs" -- programs that previously had been conducted in secret and in violation of Iran's Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty obligations.

[Michael McConnell]

This was a "high confidence" judgment, though the intelligence community had only "moderate confidence" that the program hasn't since been restarted. The NIE also waded into speculative political and policy judgments, such as that "Tehran's decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic, and military costs."

So it was little wonder that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad quickly called the NIE a "declaration of victory" for Iran's nuclear programs. Diplomatic efforts to pass a third round of U.N. economic sanctions ground to a crawl, though another weak draft resolution is currently making the rounds. Russia decided to ship nuclear fuel to the reactor it has built for Iran at Bushehr, a move it had previously postponed for months and which has worrisome proliferation risks.

Elsewhere, the NIE complicated U.S. efforts to deploy an antiballistic-missile shield in Central Europe. The Israelis worried that the report signaled the death of American seriousness on Iran, possibly requiring them to act alone. At home, Democrats used the NIE to accuse the Administration of hyping intelligence. "It's absolutely clear and eerily similar to what we saw with Iraq," said John Edwards.

Now Admiral McConnell is clearly trying to repair the damage, even if he can't say so directly. "I think I would change the way that we described [the] nuclear program," he admitted to Evan Bayh (D., Ind.) during the hearing, adding that weapon design and weaponization were "the least significant portion" of a nuclear weapons program.

He expressed some regret that the authors of the NIE had left it to a footnote to explain that the NIE's definition of "nuclear weapons program" meant only its design and weaponization and excluded its uranium enrichment. And he agreed with Mr. Bayh's statement that it would be "very difficult" for the U.S. to know if Iran had recommenced weaponization work, and that "given their industrial and technological capabilities, they are likely to be successful" in building a bomb.

The Admiral went even further in his written statement. Gone is the NIE's palaver about the cost-benefit approach or the sticks-and-carrots by which the mullahs may be induced to behave. Instead, the new assessment stresses that Iran continues to press ahead on enrichment, "the most difficult challenge in nuclear production." It notes that "Iran's efforts to perfect ballistic missiles that can reach North Africa and Europe also continue" -- a key component of a nuclear weapons capability.

Then there is the other side of WMD: "We assess that Tehran maintains dual-use facilities intended to produce CW [Chemical Warfare] agent in times of need and conducts research that may have offensive applications." Ditto for biological weapons, where "Iran has previously conducted offensive BW agent research and development," and "continues to seek dual-use technologies that could be used for biological warfare."

All this merely confirms what has long been obvious about Iran's intentions. No less importantly, his testimony underscores the extent to which the first NIE was at best a PR fiasco, at worst a revolt by intelligence analysts seeking to undermine current U.S. policy. As we reported at the time, the NIE was largely the work of State Department alumni with track records as "hyperpartisan anti-Bush officials," according to an intelligence source. They did their job too well. As Senator Bayh pointed out at the hearing, the NIE "had unintended consequences that, in my own view, are damaging to the national security interests of our country." Mr. Bayh is not a neocon.

Admiral McConnell's belated damage repair ought to refocus world attention on Iran's very real nuclear threat. Too bad his NIE rewrite won't get anywhere near the media attention that the first draft did.

Source

 


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The Fall of the Gaza Wall

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/fall-of-gaza-wall.html

This paper makes the point that Israeli policy of limited  pressure on Hamas has no chance of success, because Hamas are given no attractive alternative: they can either disappear or stop being Hamas. As they are unlikely to choose to do either voluntarily, the only option for Israel seems to be either to surrender or to eliminate the Hamas.  
 

INSS Insights

February 8, 2008 No. 43

The Fall of the Gaza Wall

Shlomo Brom

When Hamas broke down the wall separating the Gaza Strip from Egypt on the night of January 22-23 and masses of Palestinians rushed to the Egyptian side to buy goods and enjoy the taste of freedom, the pictures and declarations in the international media created the impression that this was an event of far-reaching significance, similar to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Israeli reactions ranged from the opinion that this was a crushing Hamas victory over the Israeli government's siege policy through deep concerns about the security implications to hopes that this actually presented an opportunity for Israel to ride itself of any responsibility for the Gaza Strip. Still, the question remains whether this event actually does have serious ramifications for Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Does the breach in the wall mean that siege of Gaza has come to an end? Not at all. Gaza's distress basically stems from the fact that its sources of income have contracted because workers and goods cannot reach the Israeli market for labor or goods or use the port of Ashdod to get to other markets. Nor does Gaza receive its proportional share of international assistance as long as the sanctions on the Hamas government continue. For these reasons, unemployment in Gaza is extremely high and most of the population subsists on support from UNRWA and other humanitarian organizations. The breach in the wall provided some relief from specific exigencies resulting from the cutback in supplies of fuel and consumer goods from Israel following the escalating military confrontation with Hamas in the weeks leading up to the fall of the wall. But it could have been assumed that the relative easing of the security situation (i.e., the reduction in rocket fire) on the Gaza front would have led Israel to renew the supply of basic goods.

Can Israel renounce any responsibility for Gaza given the opening of access to Egypt? For that to be possible, several conditions must be met. The first is that Egypt will agree to accept responsibility for Gaza. The second is that Egypt will be capable of playing that role. The third is that the international community will accept that entry to and from Egypt exempts Israel of responsibility for what happens in Gaza. It is doubtful that any of these conditions will actually materialize.

First of all, Egypt cannot allow a situation in which its border with Gaza will be open for any length of time. From its perspective, that would strengthen the direct contact with well-armed Islamic extremists in Gaza and the leakage of insecurity and disorder into Sinai, which is already an area where the Egyptian authorities find it difficult to maintain stable control. Thus, Egypt will do the minimum necessary to appear solicitous of its Palestinian brothers but it has already taken steps to close the border. That does not mean a hermetic seal; smuggling of weapons and other items will probably continue as it did before the wall was taken down.

Secondly, Egypt cannot be a substitute for Israel in many important respects. It can serve as a conduit for moving goods to Gaza but it cannot provide a market for Gaza goods or workers because the economies of Gaza and Egypt are competitive, not complementary. Moreover, it is more expensive for Gazans to exports via Egypt because Egyptian ports are further away and less efficient. Hamas has declared that its wants to cut its dependence on Israel and use Egypt as an alternative, and Egypt, which has no desire to appears as a collaborator in the Israeli siege, is discussing the Hamas request, but that does not mean that there is any economic logic in this. If there is no possibility of bringing goods from Israel because of Israeli policy and it is possible to import from Egypt, any government in Gaza will do that, but that cannot be the basis for building the Gaza economy.

Finally, it is highly doubtful that the international community will agree to accept Israel's total renunciation of responsibility for Gaza as long as Israel continues to occupy other Palestinian territories in the West Bank and continues to influence developments in Gaza through its control of Gaza air and maritime space and its refusal to allow the opening of air and seaports that would serve the Gaza Strip.

Has the Israeli policy of pressuring Hamas by besieging Gaza now failed? The more relevant question is whether it ever had any chance of succeeding. It might have been hoped that pressure would bear fruit if Hamas were simultaneously offered an acceptable alternative. In this instance, Hamas was offered two options. The first was to disappear and give up control in Gaza in favor of the government of Mahmoud Abbas. The second was to stop being Hamas, that is, to change completely its worldview and accept the three conditions of the Quartet. There was no chance that Hamas would agree to either of these choices, and it was therefore predictable that it would try to break the logjam either by escalating the violence or adopting some other dramatic action, such as breaking down the wall. If Israel intends to offer the Hamas government a more acceptable option, then Hamas has for come time suggested a deal based on a ceasefire, in order to stabilize the situation. The government of Israel needs to decide whether persisting with the pressure – in the unfounded hope that that will lead to the collapse of Hamas in Gaza – is more promising than a limited deal with Hamas.

Events in Gaza have again dramatized the split between Gaza and the West Bank and pointed out the total lack of influence that the Abbas and his government exercise in Gaza. Although they try to remain an actor and create conditions for the restoration of their authority through control of Gaza's external "envelope" (i.e., the border crossings with Israel and Egypt), Hamas has no intention of allowing that to happen, particularly after the success it registered in entrenching the fact that Hamas is Egypt's interlocutor in everything connected with the Egypt-Gaza border.

Developments on the Egyptian border may have created an opportunity to reexamine the role of the international community at the crossing points to Gaza. And a renewed and even reinforced international presence may be the optimal solution for the interested parties, but on this matter, too, it is doubtful that anything can be done without Hamas involvement and participation in any understandings on that sort of international activity.

 


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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Gazans paid for goods with forged dollars

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/gazans-paid-for-goods-with-forged.html

1 million forged US dollars from Gaza reportedly seized in Egypt
Date: 07 / 02 / 2008  Time:  15:53

Bethlehem - Ma'an - Egyptian authorities have seized more than a million dollars in forged US currency allegedly produced in the Gaza Strip since the Gaza-Egypt border was toppled by Palestinian fighters two weeks ago, Egyptian sources told Ma'an on Thursday.

The sources expect more counterfeit banknotes to be discovered, as hundreds of dollars are being found every day. Egyptian merchants in towns bordering Gaza, such as Al-Arish, Rafah and Sheikh Zwaid have helped investigators by saving counterfeit bills.

Most of the forged bills are not being reused, as merchants have been warned by the Egyptian government to double-check currency before accepting it.

The Egyptian security services refused to lay blame for the flood of forged money until investigations have completed.

However, Egyptian reiterated on Thursday that the border with the Gaza Strip will not again be violated again.
 


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Arrested terrorists escape from Palestinian jail

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/arrested-terrorists-escape-from.html

According to the Maan Palestinian news agency, two men wanted by Israel have escaped from the Palestinian Authority's (PA) Junaid Prison in Nablus, and three other hunger striking prisoners have been taken to the hospital, Palestinian security sources said on Thursday.
No details of the excape or explanation were given. This "escape" follows a pattern established during the rein of Arafat.


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Hamas steals humanitarian aid to Palestinian Red Crescent

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/hamas-steals-humanitarian-aid-to.html

How low can you get?
 
Hamas seizes aid meant for Red Crescent
Trucks filled with food, medicine meant for Red Crescent halted at Hamas checkpoint

Associated Press
Published: 02.07.08, 23:14 / Israel News

Hamas policemen seized a convoy of humanitarian aid bound for the Palestinian Red Crescent on Thursday evening, the second convoy it has taken from the aid agency, aid employees said.
 
Policemen from Hamas halted 14 trucks filled with food and medicine at a checkpoint after it crossed an Israeli checkpoint into Gaza on Thursday, said employees of the Palestinian Red Crescent, who declined to be named, fearing reprisals from ruling group Hamas. A Hamas official said the aid was seized because the organization was distributing aid to former Fatah fighters and not to impoverished Palestinians.
 
Employees from the Red Crescent said they were meant to distribute the aid to some 8,000 needy Gaza residents from lists of people the organization keeps. The aid came from the organization's regional headquarters in Jordan, an employee said.
 
Source


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Is a major IDF operation in Gaza near?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/is-major-idf-operation-in-gaza-near.html

Haaretz's Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff claim that a major IDF ground operation in Gaza may be on the agenda again following the breach in the Rafah border barrier, and it may be signalled by the increasing severity of Israeli attacks there. 
 
Actually, if Israel was planning a major operation, it would not make sense to waste efforts on smaller attacks. The plans discussed in the Ha'aretz article do not look like they would accomplish much either.
 
The rocket barrages against communities inside Israel and the Israel Defense Forces operations in the Gaza Strip that have left at least 16 Palestinians dead over the past three days all point in one direction: Following many weeks of being kept on ice, the likelihood of a major military operation in the Gaza Strip is once more at the forefront.
 
In recent months it seemed that the major IDF operation (which had been discussed sporadically for about a year and a half) had been dropped from the agenda. There were a number of reasons for this.
Firstly, the political leadership found it difficult to accept that the operational plans produced by the IDF were realistic. The concerns that a major ground operation would have limited gains against Hamas and would cost the IDF many casualties, in parallel with an inability to plan for a scenario that would restore relative calm in the Strip, raised many reservations in Jerusalem.
Playing a role in the background, meanwhile, was the paralysis that took hold of the political leadership as the release of the final Winograd Report loomed. So long as there was a question mark hanging over the Olmert government, there was a reluctance to make any decisions concerning an operation in the Strip.
 
However, the apparent change in recent weeks does not only stem from the fact that the prime minister has managed to survive the Winograd trial. It is mainly linked to developments along the border between the Strip and Egypt, which have added a new element of instability to the already complex situation. Egypt may have announced this week that it has resealed the Philadelphi Route at Rafah, but it is doubtful whether this is a hermetic closure.
The Hamas operation which brought down the wall greatly impressed the IDF. An officer who held a senior post in the past in Southern Command said Thursday that he had told his Palestinian Authority counterparts at the time, security officials loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, that the wall would stand for many years after the disengagement. His assessment, he admits, was mistaken. What Hamas managed to achieve is a fundamental change in the situation in the area.
 
Why would the breach in the wall expedite an Israeli operation? Because the absence of stability contributes to escalation and the loss of control. The action has bolstered the confidence of Hamas' military wing. This operational success may lead them to take more risks.
On Wednesday, the Hamas representative in Tehran threatened Israel with a wave of suicide bombings inside the country. To this must be added the situation in Rafah. While smuggling had previously been rampant, the absence of any border controls in recent weeks appears to have enabled Hamas to intensify its effort to bolster its arsenal. At the same time, terrorist organizations have managed to send a number of teams into Sinai, with the aim of carrying out attacks in Israel. Without a wall, Egypt's ability to seal the border against the terror cells is limited.
In light of these developments, it is once more possible to hear Defense Minister Ehud Barak talk about his desire to avoid a major operation, but at the same time that such a step may be inevitable. The current steps being taken - continuing the economic blockade, which has been broken by Hamas; limiting the amount of electricity being supplied; limited ground operations ¬ are all considered essential before a final decision on embarking on a massive operation.
What would a massive operation include? Israel faces three main challenges in the Strip, each of which is concentrated in a different geographic location: the Qassam attacks against Ashkelon and Sderot (northern Strip); the strengthening of the terrorist groups in Rafah  (where the smuggling takes place); and the Hamas regime (Gaza City).
It is fair to assume that for the latter, the IDF will opt to deal with the regime from a distance - relying on an air operation. A ground operation would include a combination of sorts for dealing with the first two problems. If it turns out that Philadelphi Route remains entirely breached, this may be an incentive for a ground operation toward Rafah. However that introduces a separate dilemma: An operation close to the border with Egypt may lead to friction with Cairo.
In cabinet discussions, senior IDF officers have made it clear that they need time in such an operation. They stressed that there is no point in carrying out a major initiative if they are not allowed to carry out the necessary search and destroy missions and arrests in the areas the army will bring under its control, following the initial offensive. Another critical element will be the weather, which is likely to delay a major operation for at least a month.
 
 
Ami Isseroff  
 
 Last update - 01:30 08/02/2008       
Major Gaza operation back on the agenda
By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
 
.
 
Meanwhile, the combative attitude adopted by Cairo recently in its statements against Hamas is further exacerbating relations between the two sides. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit warned yesterday that Egypt would "break the legs" of Palestinians who try to enter Sinai ¬ a statement that sounded almost like a declaration of war.


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Hamas is housing rockets in hardened silos

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/hamas-is-housing-rockets-in-hardened.html

IDF found Qassam rockets in hardened silos built into the ground. These are similar to the silos used by Hezbollah for launching rockets at Israel. Either they are imitating them, or more likely, the same experts who built the Hezbollah silos are building the Hamas ones or guiding them:
 
Pictures released by the IDF Spokesperson's Office showed two underground
Kassam rocket silos, a meter in diameter and two meters deep. The launchers,
the army said, were big enough to hold a Kassam or Grad-model Katyusha
rocket that could be launched by remote control.
 
 
Such silos are extremely difficult to detect from the air and are difficult to destroy, accounting for the ability of Hezbollah to fire rockets at Israel throughout the Second Lebanon War. The IDF believes that there are additional silos of this type throughout the Gaza Strip. The silos were discovered by the Golani Brigade's elite Egoz Unit during operations in Gaza. 

About 20 Qassam rockets and mortar shells hit the western Negev on Thursday, February 7, mostly near Sderot according to Israel TV Channel 1 news. Jerusalem post notes that one of the rockets hit a garage adjacent to a house in Sderot, causing a fire and sending three people into shock.


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Fair Witness Asks Methodists Not To Vote for Divestment

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/fair-witness-asks-methodists-not-to.html

RELIGION PRESS RELEASE SERVICES
A Press Release Distribution Service from Religion News Service
Wednesday, February 6, 2008 
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
February 6, 2008
Contact: Sr. Ruth Lautt, O.P., Esq.
Christians For Fair Witness on the Middle East
(212) 870-2320
 

Fair Witness Asks Methodists Not To Vote for Divestment
 
 
The following letter was sent by Rev. Dr. L.T. Archer Summers, Senior Minister, First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto, California and Sr. Ruth Lautt, O.P., Esq., National Director, Fair Witness, to all voting delegates in the upcoming General Conference of the United Methodist Church.
 
Dear UMC General Conference Delegate:
 
        We are writing to you because you will be asked to consider Divestment from certain companies doing business with the State of Israel at the United Methodist Church ("UMC") General Conference this April.  We are very concerned that Divestment, which in other contexts has been a good and a powerful tool for social justice, is being used here as a weapon to unfairly target the Jewish state and greatly oversimplify the very complex Arab/Israeli conflict.
 
        During the session on Divestment at the Pre-General Conference briefing in Fort Worth Texas, there was extensive discussion of the Israeli occupation, settlements, Israeli appropriation of land, the "powerful Israel lobby," and Palestinian suffering.  On the other hand there was little or no discussion of Palestinian suicide bombing and other forms of terrorism aimed at Israeli civilians, the Palestinian refusal to accept the Clinton peace parameters which would have ended the occupation in 2000 and/or Israeli suffering resulting from years of Palestinian suicide bombing and four years of almost non-stop Qassam rockets terrorizing the town of Sderot. There was also misinformation given about an alleged "enormous gap" between the "Israeli rich" whom the speaker erroneously claimed were mostly "connected to the Military" and the rest of Israel which she claimed was "suffering." Although the session on Divestment was supposed to include the Sudan, the speakers focused almost entirely on the Middle East.  We are disturbed by the lack of balance and fairness manifest in this presentation and the misinformation that was conveyed.  We are disturbed by the underlying presumptions and attitudes it may be suggestive of.
 
        We do not believe that the UMC is prepared to make a decision on such an important issue at this time.  We base this belief also in part on the recent publication of   "Israel-Palestine: A 2007-2008 Mission Study," written by Revs. Stephen Goldstein and Sandra Olewine and published by the Women's Division, General Board of Global Ministries ("GBGM").
 
        As is the case in most situations of conflict, neither side is completely without blame here. The "Mission Study," however, makes no attempt to present the facts and the history of the conflict in an honest or balanced way.  It is replete with factual errors, misrepresentations, material omissions and distortions that serve to portray Israel as the sole villain in the Middle East.  Most disturbingly, we found blatant attempts in the "Mission Study" to portray Jews and Israelis in as damning a light as possible, even resorting to stereotypical racist caricatures.    
 
        We believe that this "Mission Study" may be symptomatic of a strong bias to the point of antipathy against Israel and perhaps even Jews on the part of the people responsible for its publication.  We are concerned that many good and well meaning people in the UMC have read this volume and other materials published by the GBGM and may have been unduly influenced by them.
 
        In 2007, the United Church of Christ Synod passed a resolution on Israel-Palestine which acknowledged that it "may have overlooked many aspects of an extraordinarily complicated situation . . ." and obligated the denomination to engage in "ongoing balanced study, commentary and critique related to the conflict in the region."
 
        In light of the "Mission Study," the presentations at the Pre-Conference briefing in Fort Worth and the lack of balance and even handed perspective they evidence, we entreat you not to vote on the issue of Divestment at this time.  This is too serious an issue, with too many significant and potentially far reaching consequences for the UMC to make a strong public statement without having a solid grasp of the facts.  We ask instead that the General Conference commit to taking a long and serious, but most of all balanced and unbiased look, at this conflict.  We ask you to make a serious effort to listen to all voices so that we can work cooperatively for peace, rather than merely condemning and attacking one side.
________________________________________________________________
--
Sr. Ruth Lautt, OP, Esq.
 
National Director
 
Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East
 
475 Riverside Drive, Ste 1960
New York, NY 10115
 
(212) 870-2320
 


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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Fighting the Israel-Bashers

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/fighting-israel-bashers.html

Taking on the Israel bashers
Wednesday, Feb 06, 2008 - By: Kay, Barbara
Both Judeophobes and Judeophiles agree that Jews are smart, but when it comes to thwarting anti-Semitism, Jews can be pretty dumb.
 
In 2004, Israeli Cabinet minister Natan Sharansky attempted to convene the heads of Israeli universities to devise counter-strategies to the then-temporarily subdued movement to boycott their scholars and campuses. Immured in their ivory towers, they were so oblivious to the gathering threat that it took Sharansky six months to facilitate the meeting, where they insouciantly dismissed his concerns: "When [the boycott movement] gets stronger again, we'll get organized."
 
By contrast, rabid enthusiasm always dominates the annual internationally co-ordinated Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), the fourth of which unfolds on six Canadian university campuses Feb. 3-10. Jubilant promotional material informs us that IAW 2008 will be "celebrated" for the first time at Palestinian universities. More ominously, IAW 2008 will include the founding conference of "High Schoolers Against Israeli Apartheid." Toronto's Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid pronounces itself "a proud participant in the global movement."
 
Tonight, I am speaking to the Jewish community of London, Ont., about academic bias against Israel. I will have with me my review copy of Academics Against Israel and the Jews, for which Sharansky wrote the foreword, including my column's opening anecdote. Holding it aloft, I will declare, "Everything you need to know about global campus anti-Zion-ism and how --and how not -- to fight it is contained in this book. If this Jewish community cares about Israel's survival, you will read it and act on it now."
 
A collection of essays by knowledgeable scholars and pro-Israel activists, Academics Against Israel and the Jews is an important new information resource, for it is the first comprehensive analysis of this subject extending beyond a single country.
 
Case by case, and with rigorously documented thoroughness, knowledgeable insiders offer their respective forensic analyses of the activism and the intellectually corrupt ideologues fueling it in various academic hotspots as familiar as Canada's York University and as unfamiliar as the Universities of Utrecht and the Australian National University in Canberra.
 
The essays are sobering but reader-friendly, and written with a view to education, not retaliation. Amongst other fascinating facts, we discover in these pages why only one university in Spain (Navarre) is friendly to Israel; why United Kingdom academics are particularly boycott-obsessed; and why Jewish students in North America are far better placed to combat anti-Zionism than those in Europe.


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Hamas rejects use of an international force to patrol the Gaza border

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/hamas-rejects-use-of-international.html

According to Hamas Spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas rejects use of an international force to patrol the Gaza border:
 
With regard to Israeli suggestions of bringing international forces to control the borders of the Gaza Strip, the spokesperson said, "the Palestinian people have responded to that idea, and any international force will be dealt with as an occupation force."
Obviously, Hamas is uninterested in resolving the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza strip, if there is one. We know how Hamas deals with "occupation" forces. They blow them up. Speaking of that, Abu Zuhri also stated:
 
Abu Zuhri also responed to high-ranking Israeli officials' calls to assassinate Hamas leaders in retaliation for Monday's bombing in the Israeli city of Dimona, for which Hamas has claimed responsibility. He said these threats "do not scare [Hamas]," and that the cost of such "follies" will be high.
 
Ami Isseroff


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Report: Egyptian radicals enter Gaza to aid Palestinian militants

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/report-egyptian-radicals-enter-gaza-to.html

According to Ynet:
 
Approximately 2,000 Egyptian activists in radical Islamic organizations have infiltrated into the Gaza Strip in order to assist militant Palestinian groups since the fence between Gaza and Egypt was pierced, according to a report in the Egyptian Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper on Wednesday.

The report is based on sources from the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing, who said that the 2,000 Islamic fundamentalists poured into the Palestinian enclave in order to join the struggle against Israel.

The sources claim the motivated jihadists met with Islamic Jihad and Hamas leaders and requested to join the al-Qassam Brigades and engage in "martyrdom operations". The leaders declined to accept, asking the men to return to Egypt, in order to avoid a confrontation between Egypt and Israel.

The sources added that the potential recruits visited Hamas gunmen stationed along the border with Israel and watched the military wings of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah carry out training maneuvers.

According to the report, Hamas officials simply asked the Egyptians to pray for them.

An Egyptian security source said on Wednesday that national forces have taken total control of the border, this despite clashes took place alongside the frontier Monday when an armed Palestinian group attempted to storm the border again.

The German News Agency reported that an Egyptian soldier died and another was injured in a mine explosion on the Gaza-Egypt border. However, a security source told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the soldier was injured during training and is currently being treated for his injuries.


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PA controlled media glorify Dimona terrorists

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/pa-controlled-media-glorify-dimona.html

Newspapers controlled by the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority glorified the perpetrators of the recent Dimona bombing as Shahid martyrs, a high Muslim honor. The papers included the official Al-Hayat al-Jadida which is directly controlled by PA, as well as the Palestinian dailies Al-Iyam and Al-Quds also defined the bombers as glorious martyrs, or shahids. The Palestinian Authority has an often repeated obligation to curb incitement.
 
According to Al-Hayat al-Jadida of February 5,  "The perpetrators of the operation died as shahids ... an Israeli was killed and eleven were wounded in the Dimona operation,"
The two Palestinian Arabs who attempted to murder Israelis in Kfar Etzyon's Makor Haim High School several weeks ago were also described as Shahids in various publications.
 


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UMC Mission Study exploits the history of the Jewish Holocaust to cast Jews and Israelis in a stereotypically negative light.

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/umc-mission-study-exploits-history-of.html

Treatment of the Nazi Holocaust in the GBGM's "Israel-Palestine: A Mission Study"  

The  United Methodist Church, General Board of Global Ministries, Women's Division's "Israel-Palestine: A Mission Study" exploits the history of the Jewish Holocaust to cast Jews and Israelis  in a stereotypically negative light. 
 

     The Mission Study first assumes an attitude of sympathy towards the Jewish victims of the Holocaust 

"More than sixty years have passed since the events of World War II and the nearly successful elimination of European Jewry." (p. 100)  "The depth of these scars and their impact on the Israeli or any Jewish psyche cannot be underestimated." (p. 101) 

     But then the Mission Study's sympathetic attitude turns into an attitude of contempt, as it portrays Jews and Israelis as psychically damaged and paranoid people 

"The early Zionists had intended Israel to be a safe haven for persecuted Jews, yet ironically Israel had come into existence without being able to save the dead millions. To this day there is a latent hysteria in Israeli life that springs directly from this source.  It explains the paranoiac sense of isolation that has been a main characteristic of the Israeli temper since 1948." (p. 101) 

     The Mission Study portrays Israelis as corrupt, unhealthy and distrustful of other people as a result of their experience in Nazi Germany 

"The attendant rage has infected Israeli society in terribly corrupting and unhealthy ways. . . . it has been the single most significant factor in Israel's unwillingness to trust their Arab neighbors" (p. 101)  "Standing behind each Arab or Palestinian, Israelis tend to see SS men determined to push them once again into gas chambers and crematoria." (p. 102)


 

    • The Mission Study casts Jews as disdainful even of other Jews 

"I was aware of a mild disdain my father felt for other Jews who had fled Hitler's Europe . . ." 

(p. 100)  " I heard his lack of charity for some of his Jewish colleagues . . . Hasidic Jews were viewed with disdain." (p. 102) 
 

     And accuses Israelis of being indifferent to human suffering and of seeking to victimize non-Jews as a result of their experience of the Holocaust 

"this conflict has turned history's most celebrated victims, the Jews (and in this case Israelis) into victimizers of the Palestinians." (p.102) 
 

    • The Mission Study then blames the violence in the Middle East on what it characterizes as a Holocaust scarred Israeli psyche 

"This Holocaust consciousness has detracted from and undermined the on-going search for peace in the Middle East . . . this dynamic  . . . is perpetuating suffering for the Palestinians."  (p. 101) 
 

This attempt to employ pseudo-psychology to subtly or not so subtly suggest that as a result of the Holocaust, Israelis have now turned into oppressors who victimize the Palestinians just like the Nazis once victimized Jews, has no place in any civil discourse -- much less a Christian Study Guide.   
 

Given the depth of the pain Israelis and Jews feel with regard to the Holocaust, this raises significant questions about the Mission Study's intentions in bringing  references to Nazis into play in a discussion of the Arab Israeli conflict. 
 

It is clearly designed not to stimulate an informed, reasoned or problem solving discussion regarding the Arab/Israel conflict -- but rather to create hostility and inflame passions against one side -- the Jews. 
 
 

Since time immemorial, Jews have been characterized as inherently perverted souls and morally deficient people. To witness this ideology being used by the

United Methodist Church to describe the Jewish state is alarming at a time when worldwide anti-Semitism is on the rise



--
Sr. Ruth Lautt, OP, Esq.

National Director

Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East

475 Riverside Drive, Ste 1960
New York, NY 10115

(212) 870-2320

www.christianfairwitness.com


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Open Letter to UMC Delegates re: Divestment

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/open-letter-to-umc-delegates-re.html

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 6, 2008

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

(212) 870-2320

The following letter was sent by Rev. Dr. L.T. Archer Summers, Senior Minister, First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto, California and Sr. Ruth Lautt, O.P., Esq., National Director, Fair Witness to all voting delegates in the upcoming General Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Dear UMC General Conference Delegate:

We are writing to you because you will be asked to consider Divestment from certain companies doing business with the State of Israel at the United Methodist Church ("UMC") General Conference this April. We are very concerned that Divestment, which in other contexts has been a good and a powerful tool for social justice, is being used here as a weapon to unfairly target the Jewish state and greatly oversimplify the very complex Arab/Israeli conflict.

During the session on Divestment at the Pre-General Conference briefing in Fort Worth Texas, there was extensive discussion of the Israeli occupation, settlements, Israeli appropriation of land, the "powerful Israel lobby," and Palestinian suffering. On the other hand there was little or no discussion of Palestinian suicide bombing and other forms of terrorism aimed at Israeli civilians, the Palestinian refusal to accept the Clinton peace parameters which would have ended the occupation in 2000 and/or Israeli suffering resulting from years of Palestinian suicide bombing and four years of almost non-stop Qassam rockets terrorizing the town of Sderot. There was also misinformation given about an alleged "enormous gap" between the "Israeli rich" whom the speaker erroneously claimed were mostly "connected to the Military" and the rest of Israel which she claimed was "suffering." Although the session on Divestment was supposed to include the Sudan, the speakers focused almost entirely on the Middle East. We are disturbed by the lack of balance and fairness manifest in this presentation and the misinformation that was conveyed. We are disturbed by the underlying presumptions and attitudes it may be suggestive of.

We do not believe that the UMC is prepared to make a decision on such an important issue at this time. We base this belief also in part on the recent publication of "Israel-Palestine: A 2007-2008 Mission Study," written by Revs. Stephen Goldstein and Sandra Olewine and published by the Women's Division, General Board of Global Ministries ("GBGM").

As is the case in most situations of conflict, neither side is completely without blame here. The "Mission Study," however, makes no attempt to present the facts and the history of the conflict in an honest or balanced way. It is replete with factual errors, misrepresentations, material omissions and distortions that serve to portray Israel as the sole villain in the Middle East. Most disturbingly, we found blatant attempts in the "Mission Study" to portray Jews and Israelis in as damning a light as possible, even resorting to stereotypical racist caricatures. We believe that this "Mission Study" may be symptomatic of a strong bias to the point of antipathy against Israel and perhaps even Jews on the part of the people responsible for its publication. We are concerned that many good and well meaning people in the UMC have read this volume and other materials published by the GBGM and may have been unduly influenced by them.

In 2007, the United Church of Christ Synod passed a resolution on Israel-Palestine which acknowledged that it "may have overlooked many aspects of an extraordinarily complicated situation . . ." and obligated the denomination to engage in "ongoing balanced study, commentary and critique related to the conflict in the region."

In light of the "Mission Study," the presentations at the Pre-Conference briefing in Fort Worth and the lack of balance and even handed perspective they evidence, we entreat you not to vote on the issue of Divestment at this time. This is too serious an issue, with too many significant and potentially far reaching consequences for the UMC to make a strong public statement without having a solid grasp of the facts. We ask instead that the General Conference commit to taking a long and serious, but most of all balanced and unbiased look, at this conflict. We ask you to make a serious effort to listen to all voices so that we can work cooperatively for peace, rather than merely condemning and attacking one side.



--
Sr. Ruth Lautt, OP, Esq.

National Director

Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East

475 Riverside Drive, Ste 1960
New York, NY 10115

(212) 870-2320

www.christianfairwitness.com


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Fair Witness Is Deeply Concerned About UMC's "Israel-Palestine: Mission Study"

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/fair-witness-is-deeply-concerned-about.html

 

The GBGM's "Israel-Palestine:A Mission Study" Uses Group Stereotyping and Classic Anti-Semitic Themes To Cast Jews, Judaism and Israelis in a Hostile and Negative Light 
 

The Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church, has embarked on a yearlong study program focusing on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Part of this program is a 223 page volume entitled "Israel-Palestine: A Mission Study," co-authored by Revs. Stephen Goldstein and  Sandra Olewine.  The volume is replete with factual errors, misrepresentations, material omissions and distortions and does not present the facts of the Arab/Israeli conflict in a balanced or even handed manner.  Nor does it promote peace and justice.   Rather, it  is a somewhat blatant attempt  to portray Jews and Israelis in as damning a light as possible.  One telltale sign of the Mission Study's lack of evenhandedness is  its overt stereotyping of Jews as belligerent, inherently racist and vengeful. 
 

    1.  According to Rev. Goldstein, "I also recall hearing news the previous year of the Six-Day War in the Middle East . . . . I remember feeling some vengeful pride in hearing that the Jews had won a war. 'We' had beat somebody else, the 'Arabs.' Such chauvinism is a telling part of the story." (p.16) 

    Rev. Goldstein may well, as an individual, have felt "vengeful pride" after the Six-Day War.  But this projection of his  own negative emotions onto all Jews and suggestion that his own personal feelings are somehow "a telling part" of Israel's story has no validity and reveals an unsavory anti-Jewish and anti-Israel agenda that runs throughout this volume.  
     

    2. According to the Mission Study, "some scholars insist" that "religious racism . . . is inherent in some of the traditional writings and interpretations of Rabbinic Judaism regarding the non-Jew." (p. 96)


 

    3. According to the Mission Study, Israelis are guilty of harboring a "racism that considers Arabs less than human."  (p.30) 
     

    4. The Mission Study portrays the early Jewish immigrants to Israel/Palestine as people who "harbored  . . . contempt" for the Palestinian Arabs and who were "basically racist." (pp. 32 & 38) 
     

    5. The Mission Study accuses Israelis of "not see[ing] Palestinians as human beings like themselves." (p. 32) 
     

    6. The Mission Study contrasts Palestinian culture which it characterizes as "conservative and modest" with an impression of Jews as "arrogant and aggressive."  (p. 46) 
     

    7. According to the Mission Study, the Israelis "have seldom taken responsibility, at least publicly, for their belligerence, and their intentional undermining of attempts at resolutions to the conflict."  (p. 71) 
     

    8. After accusing Israelis of being "belligeren[t]," the Mission Study goes on to employ the classic anti-Semitic canard of Jewish conspiracy by stating  that "Israel's internal political dialogue has also created intentional ambiguity in its professed policies so as to confound potential agreements with Arab states and to manipulate its internal supporters."  (p. 71) 

    The Mission Study thus portrays  Israeli democracy as some cunning Jewish conspiracy designed not to encourage free thought and free expression but merely to "confound" and "manipulate" outsiders. 

    This is perhaps one of the most alarming aspects of the Mission Study.  It resurrects the libel of the world Jewish conspiracy, which was a defining anti-Semitic motif that most people of good-will thought had been put to rest after the Holocaust.   
     


    --
    Sr. Ruth Lautt, OP, Esq.

    National Director

    Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East

    475 Riverside Drive, Ste 1960
    New York, NY 10115

    (212) 870-2320

    www.christianfairwitness.com


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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Arab education 'falling behind'

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/arab-education-falling-behind.html

No doubt this is the fault of the Zionists.
 
Arab education 'falling behind'
By Dale Gavlak
BBC News, Amman 
 
The World Bank has said the quality of education in the Arab World is falling behind other regions and needs urgent reform if it is to tackle unemployment.
 
In a report, Bank officials said Arab states had to make improving education their top priority, because it went hand-in-hand with economic development.
 
The region had not seen the increasing literacy and school enrolment witnessed in Asia and Latin America, they said.
 
Djibouti, Yemen, Iraq and Morocco were ranked the worst educational reformers.
 
'Youthful region'
 
In its report, the World Bank issued a stark warning about the need for better education in the Arab World.
 
It said that although education was becoming more accessible and the gender gap was being reduced, the region had not witnessed the positive changes seen in Asia and Latin America, particularly in literacy rates and enrolments in secondary schools and universities.
 
A senior World Bank official, Marwan Muasher, told the BBC that educational reform had to take top priority if the region's youth were to be better equipped in a fast-changing world and high unemployment combated.
 
"The time has come for countries to focus their energies on the quality of education and making sure that students are equipped with what they need for the labour market needs now - the ability to solve problems, critical thinking, innovation, and teacher retraining," he said.
 
The report said unemployment in the Arab world averaged 14%, which is higher than other areas in the world, except Sub-Saharan Africa, with the Palestinian territories coming highest with nearly 26% percent.
 
Mr Muasher said educational reform went hand in hand with economic development, especially given the region's extremely high youth population.
 
"It's a very youthful region - 60% of the region's population is under 30 years of age, close to 100m new jobs will need to be created over the next 10 to 15 years in the Arab World," he explained.
 
"If we are to create such jobs, then we have to start with education."
 
The report concluded that Jordan and Kuwait were the top educational reformers in the region, while Djibouti, Yemen, Iraq and Morocco ranked lowest in terms of access, efficiency and quality of education.
 
Another study carried out in January by the Tunis-based Arab League Educational Cultural and Scientific Organisation found that 75% percent of the 100m people in the Arab World were illiterate.
 


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JS "intelligence" discovery: Unclear if Iran is developing nuclear weapons -

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/js-intelligence-discovery-unclear-if.html

Do people really get paid for this sort of thing:
 
" it is unclear whether Tehran has returned to its production of nuclear weapons" - I could've told you that. The job of an intelligence chief is to make it clear.  
 
"We..assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons," No kidding!
 
"We assess with high confidence that Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons". My dog knows that.
 
Ami Isseroff

 
 
 Last update - 22:15 05/02/2008       
In about turn, U.S. says Iran may be able to make nukes by 2009
The head of American intelligence said Tuesday that it is unclear whether Tehran has returned to its production of nuclear weapons in the past six months, and warned that Iran "would be technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon" by the end of next year.
 
Speaking two months after an American intelligence report cast doubt on Tehran's nuclear ambitions, National Intelligence Director John Michael McConnell made his remarks during an appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee to present an annual report on threats to the U.S.
 
A National Intelligence Estimate report released in December said that Iran halted its nuclear weapons development program in the fall of 2003.
 
"We remain concerned about Iran's intentions and assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons," the report said.
 
"We assess with high confidence that Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons," it said, adding that the only realistic way to prevent Iran from producing such weapons was "an Iranian political decision to abandon a nuclear weapons objective."
 
McConnell expressed skepticism at the ability of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement to deliver security for Israel and to overcome Hamas' efforts to stymie the political process.
 
He said that despite pressures on Hamas, "the group remains fairly unified, especially its military wing, and in charge in the Gaza Strip where itcontrols all PA facilities. Hamas continues to curtail freedoms and to harass Fatah members."
 
McConnell said however, that the U.S. recognizes signs of Fatah's progress in the West Bank, praising "renewed security and law enforcement cooperation with Israeli forces in taking more effective action against Hamas."
 
There was no mention in the report of the Israel Air Force attack on Syria in September 2007, which foreign news sources have speculated was a strike on a nuclear facility built with North Korean assistance. He said, however, that North Korea, which has sold ballistic missiles to Iran and other Middle Eastern countries, could "proliferate nuclear weapons abroad."
 
The intelligence chief also estimated that Iran and Syria will boost their support for Hezbollah, Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations. He accused Syria and Hezbollah of interfering with the Lebanese presidential elections.
 
He warned that rising tensions in Lebanon could result in a fresh civil war, and the return to armed "militias" within the country.
 
"Many former militias in Lebanon are reconstituting, rearming, and retraining their fighters," he said. "The increased political and sectarian tension also raises the potential for civil war within the country."
 
In addition, McConnell raised the threat of Al-Qaida in Lebanon, maintaining it continues to threaten the country's internal security.
 


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Neturei Karteh: Chief Rabbi "a wicked emissary of evil"

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/neturei-karteh-chief-rabbi-wicked.html

Always good to hear from our anti-Zionist friends.
 
 Last update - 16:14 05/02/2008       
Haredi sect brands Chief Rabbi Metzger 'Zionist stooge,' wicked
By Saul Sadka
 
The strongly anti-Zionist Neturei Karta sect of ultra-Orthodox Jews
has attacked Ashkennazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger as a "very well paid Zionist stooge" and a "a wicked emissary of evil" who should be expelled from Israel, following Metzger's reported comments proposing that poor Gazans be moved to a Palestinian state established in the Sinai.
 
The statements, reported in Haaretz last week, spurred an angrily worded response from Neturei Karta, which has often taken vocally pro-Palestinian stances against Israel.
 
Denouncing Metzger's Sinai proposal, the group refered to him as the "so-called Chief Rabbi of the so-called State of Israel" and as a "very well paid Zionist stooge".
 
Referring to Zionism as an "idolatrous cult," Neturei Karta called for Metzger to "removed from the Holy Land," describing him as "a wicked emissary of evil".
 
Metzger had said that his plan would be to "take all the poor people from Gaza to move them to a wonderful new modern country with trains buses cars, like in Arizona - we are now in a generation where you can take a desert and build a city. This will be a solution for the poor people - they will have a nice county, and we shall have our country and we shall live in peace."
 
Interviewed by the British weekly The Jewish News, the chief rabbi also said that while peaceable Muslims should be allowed to pray in Jerusalem mosques, they should recognize that Jerusalem belongs to the Jews. Muslims have Mecca and Medina, he was quoted as saying, adding that "you don't need a third place."
 
Neturei Karta, an ultra orthodox fringe group whose name means "Guardians of the City", is a virulently anti-Zionist group known for its public displays of hostility towards Israel and Zionism.
 
Estimates of its size range from a few hundred to a few thousand members. Most of the group's members live in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, with smaller communities in London and New York.
 
In December 2006, some radical members of the group caused controversy by attending the Iranian Holocaust revisionism conference in Tehran alongside neo-Nazis and holocaust deniers.
 


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You don't say: Open Gaza border is not good for Israel

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/you-dont-say-open-gaza-border-is-not.html

Well OK, we knew this was bad news...

Jerusalem Issue Brief

Institute for Contemporary Affairs

founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation


Vol. 7, No. 30 5 February 2008


Strategic Implications for Israel of the Gaza-Egypt Border Opening

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror and Dan Diker

Some had hoped that pressuring Hamas in Gaza via sanctions, while helping to create a stable and prosperous Palestinian society in the West Bank under Mahmoud Abbas, would trigger support for Abbas' leadership in Gaza. However, Hamas, via Gaza's new-found access to Egyptian materials, goods, and services, can now ease Gaza's depressed condition and diminish the differences between Gaza and the more prosperous West Bank.
For the first time in the history of the modern Middle East, Hamas - the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and the ideological cousin of al-Qaeda - has gained full control over contiguous territory and population, and has now effectively become a state government without real opponents.
In sharp contrast to Fatah's yet unfulfilled promises, the Palestinian public sees Hamas' dramatic opening of the Gaza-Egypt border as the latest in a series of successful actions. Others include Hamas' surprise January 2006 electoral victory over Fatah, its kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the sustained rocketing of southern Israel, and Hamas' expulsion of Fatah forces from Gaza and the establishment of its control over the government there in June 2007.
Terrorist operatives and groups such as al-Qaeda, that have already used Egyptian Sinai as a rear base, can now reach Gaza without interference. Gaza has transformed from its prior status as part of the Palestinian Authority to its new role as a mini-state that is now an integral part of the Arab world. Hamas will now be able to obtain weapons, ammunition, explosives, and training more freely via Egyptian Sinai. Since the border opening, weapons have flowed unimpeded into Gaza, enabling the transfer of higher-grade weapons such as anti-aircraft missiles.
Al-Qaeda operatives already infiltrated the Gaza Strip from Egypt, Sudan, and Yemen back in 2006. After the breach of the Egyptian-Gaza border, many Palestinians trained in Syria and Iran easily returned to Gaza. With the open flow of Palestinians into Sinai, there are also increased prospects for attacks against Israeli targets by terrorists infiltrating across Israel's long border with Sinai. If Egypt is forced to take responsibility for Gaza, Israel will have to more carefully weigh its military responses to Hamas terror actions originating from the Strip.


The Recognized Government of the State of Gaza
Hamas' breaching of the 12-kilometer security fence separating Gaza from Egyptian Sinai on January 23, 2008, with the acquiescence of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, has triggered major shifts in the triangular relationship between Israel, Gaza, and Egypt.


Hamas' opening of Gaza's southern border to Egypt was a well-planned strategic move that has effectively knighted Hamas as the recognized government of a new state of Gaza. Previously, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and some Israelis had hoped that pressuring Hamas in Gaza via sanctions, while helping to create a stable and prosperous Palestinian society in the West Bank under Fatah leader and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, would trigger support for Abbas' leadership in Gaza.

However, recent events in Gaza have buried this possibility for the foreseeable future. Hamas, via Gaza's new-found access to Egyptian materials, goods, and services, can now ease Gaza's depressed economic condition, and thereby diminish the differences between Gaza and the more prosperous West Bank. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians flooded the northeastern corner of the Sinai Peninsula after January 23, spending approximately $130 million in local Egyptian markets.1

The opening of the state of Gaza to Egypt reinforces Hamas control that no external pressure will be able to reverse at this juncture. The prospects of Mahmoud Abbas regaining control in Gaza are remote at best. Despite reports of an agreement with Egypt to include Abbas' Palestinian Presidential Guard at Gaza's Rafah border crossing, Hamas will not give up its achievement and allow forces loyal to Abbas to control the border, despite Egypt's preference for such an arrangement.2

The radical Hamas government, which is financed, trained, and armed by Iran, has proven itself as an effective military and political force. Hamas has upgraded its strategic posture by opening its southern border and forcing its Egyptian neighbor to allow free and largely unimpeded access for nearly two weeks for hundreds of thousands of Gazans who crossed Egypt's sovereign borders and returned to Gaza at will. Hamas' success in forcing Egypt to negotiate over the crisis has established Hamas' upgraded status.3 Hamas has agreed to cooperate with Egypt to close the breached border. However, the gesture is temporary and must also be considered in the context of stated intention to disengage completely from Israel, abandon the Israeli shekel and adopt an Arab currency, and seek fuel, utilities, trade, and a new open border regime with Egypt.4


A Territory Under Islamist Control
This crisis may also be seen in a much broader and far-reaching political and ideological context. For the first time in the history of the modern Middle East (other than the limited case of Hassan Turabi's Sudan5), Hamas - the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and the ideological precursor to al-Qaeda6 - has gained full control over contiguous territory and population, and has now effectively become a state government without real opponents or internal challenges for power.


Gaza's new open border with Egypt represents the fulfillment of a long-held dream by the Muslim Brotherhood across the region, and suggests far-reaching ramifications for neighboring Arab countries including Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. In fact, on January 27, 2008, a senior Muslim Brotherhood delegation from the Egyptian parliament paid an official visit to Hamas' government compound in Gaza.7A senior Hamas delegation headed by its political leader, Khaled Mashal, has also been invited to Saudi Arabia to discuss "developments" since the border was opened.8


The Sunset of Fatah
In the Palestinian-Israeli context, Hamas' success enhances its political power among Palestinians and further weakens Mahmoud Abbas' image as the leader of the Palestinian people. While Abbas is eager to return Fatah control to Gaza, recent events have ratcheted up Hamas' control.


In sharp contrast to Fatah's failed and corrupt government, the Palestinian public sees Hamas' dramatic opening of the Gaza-Egypt border as the latest in a series of successful actions. Others include Hamas' surprise January 2006 electoral victory over Fatah, its kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the sustained rocketing of southern Israel, and Hamas' expulsion of Fatah forces from Gaza and the establishment of its control over the government there in June 2007. Hamas' border breach has also been a signal to Egypt of the Gaza government's strength.9

The events in Gaza may signal an historic change: the end of Fatah as the ruling political power in Palestinian society. Fatah's continued control in Palestinian areas of the West Bank today is the direct result of the Israel Defense Forces' control of the territory. Only the continuing IDF operations in the West Bank have prevented Hamas from staging a takeover similar to its military coup against Fatah in Gaza in 2007.


An Enemy State with an Open Door
Another strategic shift is reflected in Gaza's new status as an enemy state entity with open borders. Gaza has transformed from its prior status as part of the Palestinian Authority to its new role as a mini-state that is now an integral part of the Arab world. Hamas will now be able to more freely obtain weapons, ammunition, explosives, and training via Egyptian Sinai. Since the border opening, advanced weapons have flowed unimpeded into Gaza across the Egyptian border, enabling the transfer of higher-grade weapons than can be smuggled via underground tunnels.


The Israel Security Agency has confirmed that Hamas smuggled large amounts of long-range rockets, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles into Gaza since the border was breached.10 This new weaponry will enable the continued upgrade of Hamas' highly disciplined army that is largely financed and trained by Iran and is modeled after the Iranian-backed Hizbullah in Lebanon.

Terrorist operatives and groups such as al-Qaeda, that have already used Egyptian Sinai as a rear base, are now able to reach Gaza more easily. Several al-Qaeda-affiliated operatives, some of whom infiltrated from Egypt, Sudan, and Yemen, have been active in Gaza since 2006. Over time, al-Qaeda-affiliated organizations have also emerged in Gaza, including Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) that was responsible for the kidnapping of BBC journalist Alan Johnston. Other groups were also formed like Jaish al-Umma (Army of the Nation), Al-Qaeda in Palestine, and Mujahidin Beit al-Makdes (Holy Warriors of Jerusalem), which attacked the American International School in Gaza in January 2008.11

Global jihadi leaders, such as Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Ansari of the Lebanese-based Fatah al-Islam, called for jihadi fighters around the world to exploit the breached Rafah crossing and enter Gaza.12 With the open flow of Palestinians into Sinai, there are also increased prospects for attacks against Israeli targets by terrorists infiltrating across Israel's long border with Sinai.

It must be understood that Hamas is no longer merely a well-trained guerilla terror force. Rather, Hamas must be confronted as a state army that uses guerilla tactics and terrorism while, simultaneously, it prepares for all-out war against Israel. With each passing day that Israel does not mobilize for a major ground operation in Gaza, it will be more difficult for the IDF to enter Gaza and destroy Hamas, whose growing Katyusha rocket arsenal has already reached Ashkelon and can strike major Israeli urban centers 20 kilometers north of Gaza, like Kiryat Gat and Ashdod.

At the same time, Hamas and other terror groups continue to fire shorter-range Kassam rockets at Sderot and other Israeli localities. Since January 1, 2008, alone, more than 420 rockets have been fired into southern Israel from Gaza.13


Completing Israel's Disengagement from Gaza

Following the opening of the Gaza-Sinai border, Israel can now complete the disengagement it undertook in September 2005 and seal its border with Gaza, prohibiting the entry or exit of persons and commercial goods, or, as has occurred recently, explosives disguised as commercial materials.14

Israel and Egypt had negotiated the administration of Gaza in the framework of the 1978 Camp David Accords. However, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat refused to take responsibility for the Strip. Instead, Sadat insisted only on establishing an Egyptian liaison office in Gaza. However, Prime Minister Menachem Begin rejected the Egyptian demand.15

Today, however, a newly-sealed Israel-Gaza border would force Egypt into the role of state custodian for the Gaza Strip. The opening of the Egypt-Gaza border has demonstrated that Egypt can play a key role as a supplier of goods and services to Gazans. Egypt can also supply utilities such as gas, electricity, and water, and raw materials such as cement.

Egypt sees itself as the Arab world's leading power, and will not stand idly by and allow Palestinians in Gaza to suffer shortages if Israel closes its border with Gaza. Egypt's humanitarian role has been the basis of Mubarak's justification for allowing the border to remain open and it is unlikely that Egypt will suddenly reverse this policy in the future.

While certain benefits may accrue to Israel as a result of a shift in Egypt-Gaza relations, there are also possible dangers for Israel-Egypt relations, which are a vital strategic asset for both Jerusalem and Cairo. If Egypt is forced to take responsibility for Gaza, Israel will have to more carefully weigh its military responses to Hamas terror actions originating from the Strip. Israel's strategic flexibility could be reduced due to any direct Egyptian role in Gaza. Israel may benefit if it is no longer the responsible party for the welfare of Gaza's citizens. But at the same time, Israel loses its ability to monitor what enters and exits over Gaza's border with Egypt.




The Iranian Role

The Iranian role is another troubling aspect of the new situation in Gaza. Iran's direct and robust backing of its Hamas proxy, via Khaled Mashal and the Damascus-based Hamas leadership, has essentially created a reinforced Gaza base to export Iranian terror and expand Iranian political control in the region. It is no small irony that now, Egyptian-assisted Gaza has become a second Iranian gateway to the Arab world, in addition to Syria, from which to subvert and assert control over Arab countries and territories, as part of Iran's grand strategy to achieve regional hegemony under a nuclear umbrella.


* * *
Notes



1. Ehud Yaari, "Egypt Working to Contain Gaza," Policy Watch #1337, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, February 1, 2008.
2. "Egypt Agrees to Abbas Control over Gaza Border, Palestinian Officials Say," Ynet News, January 27, 2008.
3. Khaled Abu Toameh, "Cairo Invites Hamas Representatives for Talks on Rafah Border Situation, Jerusalem Post, January 28, 2008.
4. "Egypt to Close Rafah Sunday; Hamas Says It Will Cooperate," Jerusalem Post, February 2, 2008. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya was quoted as saying, "We have said from the days of our election campaign that we want to move toward economic disengagement from the Israeli occupation. Egypt has a greater ability to meet the needs of Gaza." Haniya's senior advisor, Ahmad Youssef, added that "Hamas has already generated plans and proposals to unite economically with Egypt instead of Israel." According to Hamas, Egypt can serve as "Gaza's gateway" to the Arab and Muslim world and as its in-depth strategic partner. Roee Nahmias, "
Hamas Considering Economic Disengagement from Israel," YNET News, February 2, 2008,

5. Lt.-Col. (res.) Jonathan Dahoah-Halevi, "The Muslim Brotherhood: A Moderate Islamic Alternative to al-Qaeda or a Partner in Global Jihad?" Jerusalem Viewpoints #558, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, November 1, 2007. "The links between the Muslim Brotherhood and global terrorism were also made evident by the reception Hassan al-Turabi, a high-ranking Muslim Brother and at that time one of the heads of Sudan, provided for al-Qaeda in the early 1990s. In 1991, accepting al-Turabi's personal invitation, Osama bin Laden moved from Saudi Arabia to Sudan and established a terrorist network there. In addition, al-Turabi founded the Popular Arab and Islamic Conference, some of whose members were the PLO, Hamas, Hizbullah, al-Qaeda, and the Egyptian Jihad. The Conference met in April 1991, December 1993, and March 1995. In August 1993, in the wake of the attack on the World Tra de Center, the United States included Sudan in its designated list of terrorism-sponsoring states." -Qaeda_or_a_Partner_in_Global_Jihad?
6. Dore Gold, "
Ties between al-Qaeda and Hamas in Mideast Are Long and Frequent," San Francisco Chronicle, March 5, 2006,
7. Israeli Channel Two television news, January 27, 2008.
8. Avi Issacharoff and Barak Ravid, "Officials: Israel Won't Let Gaza Border Breach Threaten Security," Ha'aretz, January 28, 2008.
9.
Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, January 29, 2008,
10. See terrorism Center brief here. See also "Diskin: Gaza Breach Allowed Influx of Advanced Armament," Jerusalem Post, February 3, 2008.
11. Lt.-Col. (res.) Jonathan Dahoah-Halevi, "The Growing Hamas/Al-Qaeda Connection, Jerusalem Issue Brief, v. 7, no. 1, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, May 17, 2007. See also "Leaflets of Al-Qaeda-Affiliate Found in Looted American School in Gaza," Ha'aretz, January 15, 2008.
12. See
here
13. "Gaza: Why and What to Do About It," Jewish Institute for National Security Studies, Report #740, January 24, 2008.
14. An IDF force checking a truck carrying humanitarian aid (flour, sugar, etc.) about to go through the Kerem Shalom crossing into the Gaza Strip found two tons of dual-purpose fertilizer, also used in the manufacture of explosives for rockets and bombs. It was not the first time that the terrorist organizations had tried to smuggle explosives into the Gaza Strip by disguising them as humanitarian aid. See "
News of the Israeli-Palestinian Confrontation," January 9-15, 2008, Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center,
15. According to Dr. Meir Rosenne, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, who was part of the Israeli negotiating team at the 1978 Camp David Accords, in a phone interview, February 4, 2008.
* * *


Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, Chairman of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs, is former commander of the IDF's National Defense College and the IDF Staff and Command College. He is also former head of the IDF's Research and Assessment Division, with special responsibility for preparing the National Intelligence Assessment. Dan Diker is Director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs and foreign policy analyst of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.



This Jerusalem Issue Brief is available online at:

http://www.jcpa.org



Dore Gold, Publisher; Yaacov Amidror, ICA Chairman; Dan Diker, ICA Director; Mark Ami-El, Managing Editor. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (Registered Amuta), 13 Tel-Hai St., Jerusalem, Israel; Tel. 972-2-561-9281, Fax. 972-2-561-9112, Email: jcpa@netvision.net.il. In U.S.A.: Center for Jewish Community Studies, 5800 Park Heights Ave., Baltimore, MD 21215; Tel. 410-664-5222; Fax 410-664-1228. Website: www.jcpa.org. © Copyright. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.



The Institute for Contemporary Affairs (ICA) is dedicated

to providing a forum for Israeli policy discussion and debate.

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Who wants to free Barghouti?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/who-wants-to-free-barghouti.html

It is no wonder that Fatah officials are uninterested in freeing Barghouti, as he is the architect of the National and Islamic Front, and would move to legitimize Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. He is also the instigator of the Tanzim and Al-Aqsa factions that Palestinian Authority is trying to disarm. Letting him out of jail is asking for trouble.

Ami Isseroff

Hamas, Fatah, And Freeing Barghouti

Senior Hamas official Muhammad Nazal has told the London daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi that senior Fatah officials have asked a European country that is mediating between Israel and Hamas in the matter of prisoner exchange not to include Marwan Barghouti in the list of Palestinian prisoners to be freed by Hamas.

While sources in the European country said that Fatah's request came because it feared that freeing Barghouti will be to Hamas's credit, Hamas is stating that it was aimed at preventing an upset in the Fatah leadership's internal balance.

Source: Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, February 5, 2008

MEMRI
Posted at: 2008-02-05


Continued (Permanent Link)

Morocco's forgotten Amazigh and the Jews

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/moroccos-forgotten-amazigh-and-jews.html

This is welcome news.
 
Second Berber-Jewish Friendship Association In Morocco
 
Amazigh (Berber) activists in the Rif region in northern Morocco are planning to announce the formation of a new Amazigh-Jewish friendship association next week, on February 14.
 
Opponents to the idea say it is a move for normalization with Israel.
 
Responding to critics, Amazigh Democratic Party president Ahmed Adghrini said that Morocco already has many contacts with Israel, but that some think that such contacts should be a government monopoly, adding, "We have broken through this blockade."
 
The association will be the second of its king; last year, a simlar body was formed in the Souss region in the south of the country.
 
Source: www.alarabiya.net, February 5, 2008
 
 
Posted at: 2008-02-05


Continued (Permanent Link)

The real reason Islamism expert Coughlin was fired

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/real-reason-islamism-expert-coughlin.html

Turns out Pentagon Islamism expert Coughlin was possibly not fired for anti-Islam views, despite what you may have read:
 
Also, Coughlin was let go in part because his contract was up, and at $440,000, it was too steep to justify renewing, the insider says. And though he had written a 329-page thesis on the subject, he was not effective at briefing the J-2 intelligence staff of the Joint Chiefs.
 
"He's brilliant, and he knows his stuff, but he couldn't teach it," the source said. "It went over everybody's head."
 
No wonder the value of the dollar is declining...
 
But that doesn't mean there are NOT Islamists in the Pentagon.
 
Ami Isseroff

 
 
Islamist 'Trojan horse' in Pentagon, say experts
FBI: Top defense advisers linked
to radical Muslim Brotherhood
 

Posted: February 1, 2008
 

 
© 2008 WorldNetDaily.com
 
Federal authorities say a high-level Muslim Pentagon aide, who led a campaign to silence a Pentagon intelligence analyst for taking a hard line against Islam, is running an "influence operation" on behalf of U.S. Muslim groups fronting for the radical Muslim Brotherhood.
 

Hesham H. Islam (left), Muslim aide to the deputy secretary of defense, with Muslim military chaplain Abuhena M. Saifulislam (right)
 
Hesham H. Islam, a special assistant to deputy Defense secretary Gordon England, recently criticized Maj. Stephen Coughlin, one of the military's leading authorities on Islamic war doctrine, for making the connection between the religion of Islam and terrorism.
 
After Islam lodged complaints, Coughlin's contract with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon was not renewed.
 
Islam also was upset with briefings Coughlin recently prepared for the U.S. military warning that major U.S. Muslim groups were fronting for the Muslim Brotherhood, a worldwide jihadist movement based in Egypt.
 
Islam, who was born and raised in Egypt, is heavily involved with one of the groups – the Islamic Society of North America, which U.S. prosecutors last year named as a member of the U.S. branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and an unindicted co-conspirator in a major terror-funding case.
 
Islam has persuaded his boss, England, to conduct various outreach with ISNA, including hosting the group's leaders in the Pentagon and speaking at its annual convention.
 
Speaking during ISNA's 2006 opening ceremonies, England proclaimed, "There is no contradiction between the peaceful religion of Islam and America's values and principles."
 
Coughlin reached the opposite conclusion in a 329-page report submitted to the National Defense Intelligence College, in which he warns that Islamic law sanctions violence. That finding, among others, has put him at odds with Islam, whom England describes as "my personal close confidante."
 
"I take his advice," England said, "and I listen to him all the time."
 
WND has learned that Islam is closely associated with a Muslim military chaplain trained at a radical Islamic school that federal agents raided after 9/11 in connection with terror-financing.
 
As WND reported, the chaplain, Abuhena M. Saifulislam, studied Islam at the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences in Virginia.
 
Recently declassified FBI documents reveal its sister organization, an Islamist think tank known as the International Institute of Islamic Thought, or IIIT, is involved in a Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy to wage a cultural and political jihad to eventually take over America from within – most notably, through infiltration of government agencies.
 
Islam works closely with Saifulislam (Arabic for "sword of Islam") on Pentagon outreach projects involving Middle Eastern embassies and the so-called Wahhabi lobby in Washington.
 
"He's a Muslim brother," an FBI official said of Islam. "He's a bad actor. He's well-positioned to be where he is, and that doesn't do us any good."
 
He also said Saifulislam is "definitely Muslim Brotherhood," while noting that Islam "is a lot smoother than Saifulislam," who as a chaplain at Gitmo lobbied for special meals and other privileges for al-Qaida detainees.
 
The official hastened to add that, at this point, belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood is not criminal, and neither Defense Department employee is the subject of a formal counterterrorism or counterespionage investigation. Both men have refused interviews, and the Pentagon had no comment.
 
However, the FBI official warned that the Muslim aides are part of a conspiracy by Muslim Brotherhood fronts to run "influence operations" against the U.S. government.
 
"Their M.O. is to make nice for the very purpose of penetrating us," he said, "and we just roll over for them, at least at the top levels."
 
He says England, who also recently dedicated an Islamic prayer center at Quantico on the advice of Saifulislam, is blind to the threat.
 
"England doesn't know it's an influence operation that's been laid at his door," he said. "His lack of awareness is irresponsible."
 
A senior U.S. official who has met with England says he was not even aware that a convicted terrorist and al-Qaida fund-raiser created the Pentagon's Muslim chaplains corps.
 
Adurahman Alamoudi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader and founder of the American Muslim Council, placed Muslim chaplains throughout the military. He is now in jail on charges of terrorism. However, most of the chaplains he trained and sponsored are still in their current positions.
 
"The Islamic chaplains who serve were trained by a known terrorist," said terrorism expert Steve Emerson.
 
Emerson says Islam, like Alamoudi, has invited "subversive" elements into U.S. military headquarters.
 
"Hesham Islam is an Islamist with a pro-Muslim Brotherhood bent who has brought in groups to the Pentagon who have been unindicted co-conspirators," he said.
 
Emerson said a "Trojan horse" of subversives and potential spies have penetrated deep inside the Pentagon, and they are now bearing fruit with the ouster of Coughlin. Sources say Islam has high security clearance.
 
A former Pentagon colleague of Coughlin described Islam as a "gatekeeper," who at a minimum, is blocking candid discussion of the religious nature of the threat posed by Muslim terrorists. Such action, William Gawthrop says, thwarts the U.S. war effort, because it denies military brass and rank-and-file the information they need to effectively fight the Islamist enemy.
 
"We still do not have an in-depth understanding of the war-fighting doctrine laid down by (the Muslim prophet) Muhammad, how it might be applied today by an increasing number of Islamic groups, or how it might be countered," Gawthrop told WND.
 
He says Coughlin was trying to bridge that gap before being pushed out.
 
Supporters of the respected contractor say Islam had a direct hand in his firing. They say that on Jan. 3 Coughlin was told his contract, which ends in March, would not be renewed because his message had become too "politically hot."
 
They say that in a meeting late last year between Coughlin and a member of England's staff, which Islam unexpectedly attended, Islam asked Coughlin to "soften his message" regarding Islamic war doctrine. Coughlin refused.
 
Islam was heard referring to Coughlin as a "Christian zealot with a poison pen." The conflict resulted in his contract being terminated.
 
A well-placed Pentagon insider described it differently, however. Islam and Coughlin were present at the briefing, but there was no direct confrontation between the two. It was not until Hesham returned to England's office suite that he remarked that Coughlin had a "poison pen."
 
"He clearly doesn't like him," the source told WND.
 
Also, Coughlin was let go in part because his contract was up, and at $440,000, it was too steep to justify renewing, the insider says. And though he had written a 329-page thesis on the subject, he was not effective at briefing the J-2 intelligence staff of the Joint Chiefs.
 
"He's brilliant, and he knows his stuff, but he couldn't teach it," the source said. "It went over everybody's head."
 
Still, England has not properly vetted his long-time aide, Islam. "Gordon is so trusting of this guy because he's worked for him for so long," the same official said. "But he's got questionable contacts, and he (England) needs to have his antennae up."


Continued (Permanent Link)

Black like you, Jewish like me

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/black-like-you-jewish-like-me.html

A very interesting development...
 
New Jews, New Hope
In a Depressed Illinois Town, African Americans Are Finding Purpose and Faith in Judaism
 
By Tim Townsend
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Saturday, February 2, 2008; B09
 
 
 
CAIRO, Ill.
 
For a block or two in every direction from Arbell Matthews's home, 50 or so African Americans could be heard belting out the Shema, an ancient Hebrew prayer, gospel-style.
 
They had spent a year and a half traveling almost weekly to Rabbi Lynn Goldstein's home in Maryland Heights, Mo., a journey that would bring them back to this cramped white house in this dying city and to their new lives as Jews.
 
Former drug dealers, infants, factory workers, old ladies, former gang leaders, lawyers, gunshot victims, high school football players, barge workers, crack addicts, nurses and musicians -- a reflection of the diverse, decaying place they call home -- had packed into two vans and eight cars for each 350-mile trip.
 
They all were raised as Christians, most of them Baptists. One day recently, each was immersed in a ritual bath, or mikvah, in Memphis. When the last of them emerged from the water, almost 3 percent of Cairo's black population had converted to Judaism. Nationally, just one-tenth of 1 percent of black Americans are Jewish, according to the most recent data from the General Social Survey done by the National Opinion Research Center.
 
Today, fewer than 3,000 people -- 65 percent of them black -- call themselves residents of this spit of land at the confluence of the two largest rivers in North America. Once home to 15,000, Cairo has seen its population sink by 80 percent since its heyday in 1920.
 
Every block here seems to boast its own church, though many of them are as empty as the lives of some residents. Pastors at several of the 30 or so active churches in town struggle to put together a congregation of a dozen souls. Skyrocketing utility bills often force congregations to meet in their churches' basements.
 
The Rev. Donald Topp, pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church of 12th Street, said he exerts a lot of pastoral muscle trying to persuade people to hope again.
 
"They don't seem like they have anything to look forward to, especially the young people," he said. "They've seen so much gloom, doom and despair, they look around and that's what's familiar, and it becomes comfortable."
 
So a crowded, sweaty, joyful gathering of Cairo worshipers -- even on a Saturday -- is something of a novelty here. And people are beginning to take notice of the gleam of hope Cairo's new Jews are bringing to their town.
 
"I welcome them," Topp said. "If they can come in and make a difference or give somebody hope, I welcome them."
 
Phillip Matthews, Arbell Matthews's 39-year-old son, is a former Cairo policeman and agent for the Southern Illinois Drug Task Force. Today, the stocky, bespectacled computer technician is the spiritual leader of Cairo's new Jewish community. Weekends when the group can't make it to Congregation Beth Jacob in Carbondale, Matthews leads a two-hour Torah study session Friday nights and a three-hour worship service Saturday afternoons.
 
On the first Saturday of last month, Matthews manned a keyboard that straddled his mother's kitchen and living room. His congregation squeezed snugly into every corner of the house, wherever they could fit. When the music subsided, he preached from the book of Exodus, in which God's chosen people follow Moses out of bondage in Egypt, through the parted waters of the Red Sea, to the Promised Land.
 
"We remember the day we came out of Egypt, and we are never going to forget," said Matthews, whose fellow converts call him moreh, which means teacher.
 
"God parted the Red Sea, and it took us 18 months to get to the other side. But we converted to make a difference, and we will make a difference -- not just in the lives of our families and friends, but in the life of this city as well."
 
Matthews sees purpose in his group's conversions. He sees a local version of the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, which is Hebrew for "repairing the world."
 
"When you look at our city, you see a battle raging all around us," Matthews said. "But God is incapable of failure. Remember the day you came out of Egypt so you can teach your children how to walk out, too. Perhaps you are that light that shines real bright in this dark place."
 
Matthews left law enforcement in the mid-1990s, about the same time he left the Baptist Church. Corruption, dishonesty and hypocrisy left him disillusioned with both institutions, he said. In 1997, he began studying the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament. The books of Moses.
 
Soon, Matthews's sister (he's one of 18 children) began studying with him. More siblings, cousins and friends joined them through the years. For nearly a decade, they met and talked about ancient Scripture.
 
From time to time, someone would poke his head in Arbell Matthews's front door to see why all the cars were parked outside. Often that person would stay. By the next week, he was part of the congregation.
 
There is evidence of Jews living in Cairo in the 1870s, but the last synagogue anyone remembers closed years ago. Today, the little brick synagogue with stained-glass windows is part of the public health department. It has a clear view of the Bunge North America soybean processing plant that, with 83 jobs, is the city's largest employer.
 
The Rev. Larry Potts, pastor of Cairo Baptist Church, said he could think of only two Jews in Cairo before the conversions.
 
When Phillip Matthews's group began talking about converting, Matthews decided that without any rabbis in town and close to 60 members, he needed help.
 
Looking for help outside of Cairo is a time-honored tradition. Escape is a natural desire in a place Charles Dickens famously described, in 1842, as "a breeding-place of fever, ague, and death."
 
In spring 2006, Matthews went in search of a rabbi. He found Goldstein, a Reform rabbi from St. Louis who is affiliated with Congregation Beth Jacob in Carbondale.
 
"Phillip called and asked about conversion classes," Goldstein said. "Then he asked if there was such a thing as African American Jews."
 
She assured him there were.
 
The 2001 National Jewish Population Survey found 37,000 African American Jews age 18 or older. That's just less than 1 percent of 4 million Jewish American adults.
 
For the next 18 months, the group made the three-hour trek each way from Cairo to Goldstein's house. The rabbi taught them about Jewish history, philosophy and theology, holidays, liturgy and life-cycle events. Group members had textbooks and homework each week. Goldstein took them on field trips to a kosher butcher, to hear a cantor and to the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center.
 
Along the way, Goldstein introduced the group to the congregation at Beth Jacob, a synagogue of about 48 families. The congregation has since welcomed the group as members and has asked Matthews to be on its board.
 
The new Jews of Cairo had been official for less than a month when Alpha Gordon, 24, stepped out of Arbell Matthews's home on a bleak Saturday. Gordon said he felt different than he had a month earlier.
 
"I do feel Jewish," he said. "And that feels good."
 

Staff writer Michelle Boorstein contributed to this report.
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Palestinian "narrative" in Wikipedia

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/palestinian-narrative-in-wikipedia.html

It seems that the "Palestinian narrative" - the false reconstruction of the history of the Israeli-Arab conflict, has impinged on the accuracy of a major Web knowledge resource.
 

Wikipedia, the encyclopedia created by volunteers, has quickly become a modern institution. It is one of the cornerstones of the Internet information revolution. It is fast becoming the number one source of information or disinformation on the Web for many topics. Whatever you search for that is related to reference materials, you will probably find that the Wikipedia article is probably listed at or near the top of the pages retrieved by the search engine. Wikipedia articles visited by myriads of young people. This is a huge and impressionable audience that needs to see the truth.

Wikipedia articles have authority, even though they may be created by anonymous amateurs of dubious ability and objectivity. Wikipedia is respected as "objective" because of the widely publicized editorial criteria, but the criteria are not always enforced. Wikipedia articles about subjects related to Israel and the Middle East are sometimes biased and ignore many of Wikipedia's own criteria for accuracy, objectivity and scholarship. In addition to studied omissions and dubious assertions, articles may include external links that are "link spam" for anti-Zionist Web sites and hate sites. Link spam is harmful because it promotes the search engine ranking of the linked Web sites, bringing them more visitors. Wikipedia pages are given a great deal of weight by search engines. Listings in Wikipedia are a big help to relatively unknown Web sites.

The problems are not necessarily the fault of Wikipedia's volunteer editorial staff. The task of documenting just about everything and everyone in the world and ensuring the information is correct is never ending.

Wikipedia is under constant assault by an army of spammers and wreckers of various persuasions. The partisans of the Palestinian cause have targeted all the articles about Israel and related topics.
An alert reader pointed out:

the site wikiscanner.virgil.gr allows one to see who is editing Wikipedia and where they are from. If you type in Jerusalem, you get interesting results. For example:

An edit from Amman, Jordan, as well as a separate edit from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia changed the line "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel" to "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine."...

Several edits from Amman removed the Hebrew translation from the infobox on the city, while leaving the Arabic...

An edit from Damascus, Syria changed the line "Jerusalem is Israel's capital" to "Jerusalem is historically Palestine's capital, but is Israel's capital now"

An edit from Abu Dhabi changed the lines "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. All the branches of its government are located in Jerusalem." to "Jerusalem is occupied by a cancer called Israel. All branches of this disease government are located in Jerusalem."

An edit from Kuwait City changed "... Jerusalem is Israel's largest city" to "...Jerusalem is Occupied Palestine's largest city (temporarily that is, until it is returned to the Palestinians once the State of Israel ceases to exist."

Most of these obvious propaganda efforts are removed by editors in their unending battle with vandals. However, there is nonetheless a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle bias in various articles, waiting for editing. This is more damaging than blatant propaganda, because the bias is subtle and harder to recognize. It is harder to see what it is not there and should be, or to detect shadings and imbalance.

Here are a few examples of questionable materials. Please note that Wikipedia articles change all the time as people edit them - these examples are true as of February 1, 2008. They were not due to momentary changes, and Wikipedia has a complete record of revisions:

Continued here: Wikipedia, Israel and the Middle East


Continued (Permanent Link)

Mullahs in space: Iran launches satellite

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/mullahs-in-space-iran-launches.html

"We need to have an active and influential presence in space," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a televised ceremony before the launch.
 
 
Last update - 10:40 04/02/2008    
 
By News Agencies and Haaretz Service 
 
Iran launched a rocket on Monday designed to send its first homemade research satellite into orbit in the next year, state television said, a move likely to add to Israeli and Western concerns about Tehran's nuclear plans.
 
The ability to put satellites into orbit could indicate an advance in the Islamic Republic's missile technology, though official media gave few details.
 
"We need to have an active and influential presence in space," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a televised ceremony before the launch.
 
"Iran took its first step [to establish a presence in space] very strongly, precisely and wisely," he said. "Building and launching a satellite is a very important achievement."
 
State television reported the rocket had blasted off but did not show the launch. It had earlier broadcast footage of a rocket on a launch pad in desert terrain.
 
It said the satellite, called Omid (Hope), would be launched in the next Iranian year, which ends in March 2009.
 
The reported Iranian test comes in the wake of Israel's succesful launch, some three weeks ago, of a new sophisticated satellite, the TECSAR, which could boost its intelligence gathering capabilities regarding Iran.
 
Footage from the TESCAR was later transmitted for the first time a week after its launch.
 
Ahmadinejad and other senior Iranian officials were shown in an auditorium at Monday's launch, but state television did not say where it was.
 
Iran often announces advances in its missile technology. In November it said it had built a new missile with a range of 2,000 km, adding to the scope of its conventional arsenal.
 
Western experts say Iran rarely gives enough details to determine how significant its technology advances are. They say much Iranian technology is based on modifications to equipment supplied by others, including China and North Korea.
 
Israel and some Western powers fear Iran is covertly attempting to develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists its plans are peaceful and that it wants to generate electricity from nuclear power plants.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Suicide bombing in Dimona

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/suicide-bombing-in-dimona.html

Now everyone can understand why Hamas had to break the "siege" of Gaza:
 
A suicide bomber blew himself up in the southern town of Dimona on Monday, killing at least one person, rescue services said, in the first terror attack of the kind since January 2007.
 
Eight other people were moderately wounded in the explosion, medics said.
 
A police spokesman said the attack was the result of a suicide bombing.
"As far as we are concerned, this is a terrorist incident," a police spokesman said.
 
Police officials told Army Radio that there appeared to be two attackers, although only one managed to detonate his explosives belt. The other was shot dead by authorities before detonating his belt, police said.
 
Authorities had been on high alert after Palestinian militants blew open Gaza's border with Egypt on January 23, raising fears that militants might sneak into Israel from Egypt.
 
There was no indication that the bombers had entered Israel from the Gaza Strip.
 
"We heard a big explosion, and people began running," a shopowner who gave her name as Ravital told Army Radio. "I saw pieces of bodies flying in the air."
 
Witnesses described the explosion as "massive."
 
A large number of rescue services and police crews rushed to the shopping center. Magen David Adom said at least 20 ambulances had arrived on the scene and were evacuating people to hospital.
 
The Zaka emergency service said the body of a "terrorist" and an explosives belt were found at the scene in the desert town.
 
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which occurred several weeks after Israel and the Palestinians resumed peace talks opposed by Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
 
Dimona is the site of Israel's nuclear reactor. The explosion took place about 10 kilometers from the reactor site.
 
The last suicide attack in Israel was on January 29, 2007, when a bomber killed three people on a commercial street in Eilat.
 
 
 
If more people were not killed, it was not for want of trying.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Anti-Zionism and anti-Semism

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/anti-zionism-and-anti-semism.html

Added by Mira Vogel on January 31, 2008 09:38:20 AM.
Anti-zionism and antisemitism: responses to David Hirsh's paper. An account.I went to hear responses to David Hirsh's paper on Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism: Cosmopolitan Reflections and the four respondents were highly provoking, highly entertaining and generally excellent. The paper is available on the website of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism, here.

Jon Pike spoke at length on the Livingstone Formulation (aka the Livingstone Manoeuvre). He talked about the credibility deficit attributed to people who articulate concerns about antisemitism which is expressed as a charge of stifling criticism of Israel. The credibility deficit arises from prejudice and its result is in injustice - an instant attribution of the concerns about antisemitism to bad faith which entirely skips the good faith explanations which should be the initial avenues. It can be counteracted by naming it, analysing it, showing it to be a baseless and hackneyed dodge. Some veterans grasped what he was saying about two minutes into his 15 minute presentation. I thought it was a well-judged length - a length for people who aren't initiated into the crazy world of anti-Zionists v. anti-racists and/or people who value a thorough dissection of an argument.

Robert Fine introduced the the extremes of theories about antisemitism - on the one hand the idea of post-antisemitism, that Europe is a post-nationalist entity which has learnt the lessons of the Holocaust (in fact recognition has been slow and incomplete) and a repeat is inconceivable, and on the other hand the idea of the 'new antisemitism' that considers antisemitism as inevitable, the many-headed hydra. He talked about the necessity of resisted the calls of these analytical sirens, and the hope that cosmopolitanism can equip us for this. He talked about a constant current in Western thought which believes in silver bullets - that the ills of society can be attributed to an alien entity and that it it is possible to fix society if we can identify and eliminate this.

Les Back talked about the importance of listening. He talked about how accessing people's intentions when they are effectively (rather than intentionally) antisemitic is extremely difficult, and that the only people who can even come close to this are ourselves in reflection. We should not be compacent that we aren't racist. He also talked about dialogue and the need to resist a glass ear. I wondered how this related to David's point about the Guardian's Comment is Free hosting a debate between antisemites and anti-racists - the idea that some debates, such as those which normalise and legitimise racism, shouldn't be given a platform - and Howard Jacobson's argument that if we, in the circumstances of a boycott, stop listening to Israeli academics, it is ourselves we primarily damage, and the idea that denial of a platform is closer to censorship than boycotters want to admit. The tension between these points of view is the dilemma for anybody who has been banned from participating in an online community and is trying to get included again.

Anthony Julius' examination of the British variety of antisemitism was extremely funny. He made a barrowload of excellent jokes the general thrust of which was that it's a shame to dignify antisemitism with credibility - rather, a good analogy for antisemitism is rubbish. We sweep rubbish out of our front gardens in a perfunctory way - we don't get in the bin and examine it. But at the same time he is in the bin writing a book on antisemitism, and it is David Hirsh's research area. He concluded that rubbish is rubbish but the study of rubbish, scholarship.

David Hirsh spoke briefly. He said that it's hard to recognise the type of antisemitism which does not parade around in jackboots and nazi insignia, and is not ignorant and socially excluded. Now its carriers assume anti-racist credentials and even say they oppose antisemitism. They are without intent to be antisemitic, and so escape analysis. This is how arch-racist David Duke and erstwhile Leftist George Galloway can appear on the same Islamist platform arguing the same corner. He predicts that the variety of antisemitism we should be prepared for is the conspiracy theory.

It would have been good if there'd been more time for questions. Some people had good ones which weren't answered. As usual there was a strong yearning for a primer or manual about how to cope with the onslaught - "Tell us how to recognise and respond to the antisemitism in anti-Zionism" (reminds me of a couple of weeks ago a repeated question to David from would-be critics of Israel: "Tell us how to criticise Israel with immunity from the charge of antisemitism". The answer is the same: read, know and think hard). What to do in the face of - when professing that one is not using antisemitism to stifle debate about Israel - the Mandy Rice Davies Formulation of "You would say that, wouldn't you". Another good question was about the onus of proof in the circumstances of the Livingstone Formulation. And another noting that there are some universities where Jewish students don't want to go, and asking how we can address this when the definition of antisemitism continues to be contested in supra-national bodies like the UN and EU.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Double standard: Analysis of HRW 2008 report on Israel and the Palestinians

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/double-standard-analysis-of-hrw-2008.html

February 3, 2008

NGO Monitor's Analysis of the Israel and Palestinian chapter of HRW's 2008 World Report
www.ngo-monitor.org

(Human Rights Watch World Report 2008 - 'Democracy Charade Undermines Rights -- Human Rights Watch Highlights Abuses in Pakistan, Kenya, China, Somalia' (Jan. 31, 2008)

In keeping with NGO Monitor's mandate, we have reviewed the section headed 'Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT)' (pp.484-91). This chapter includes of a sketchy review of the main events of 2007, including the violent Hamas' takeover of Gaza, and acknowledging that "In 2007, for the first time since Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, more Palestinians died as a result of internal Palestinian fighting than from Israeli attacks." This is an important change in HRW's approach, which had generally ignored internal Palestinian violence, and focused primarily on allegations against Israel.

Nevertheless, much of this chapter (and the brief statement on the summary page) consists of a repetition of HRW's exaggerated blame for the "intensified humanitarian crisis in Gaza", and a "blockade" that constitutes "collective punishment" and "violates international law". The use of such terms in this context is inconsistent with customary usage and common sense.[1] (The same terms are used in HRW's January 26, 2008 statement on Gaza and in statements on this issue by many other NGOs.)   Subsections headlined "Palestinian Deaths and Israeli Impunity", "The Wall and Settlements", and "Discriminatory Legislation" adopt the Palestinian narrative and vocabulary. The various claims are not supported by evidence or sources, and are not reliable - as in the case of the "670 Palestinian university students trapped in Gaza, unable to continue their higher education" - a claim copied from another NGO report which has been shown to include fabricated evidence.

This chapter also continues HRW's pattern of failing to hold Palestinian leaders responsible for the terrorist and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. In the period between the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June and December 2007, 475 missiles and 631 mortar bombs were launched -- each one a clear violation of international law and human rights. However, HRW simply refers to unnamed "Palestinian armed groups" and "militants" who are involved in these "indiscriminate rocket attacks on populated areas of Israel in violation of international law."  HRW's litany also alleges that "heightened Israeli restrictions on freedom of movement in the West Bank contributed to a serious human rights and humanitarian crisis", while failing to connect the link between these policies and the continued attacks against Israelis. This chapter briefly mentions Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped in June 2006, "Palestinian armed groups" are blamed, although Hamas officials head the negotiations for the release of Palestinian terrorists in exchange for Shalit.

In contrast, in the section on the "Palestinian Authority and Hamas (pp.488-91), HRW explicitly condemns Hamas for "reportedly engaged in torture and inhumane and degrading treatment of detainees during interrogation". If there is a reason for this inconsistency in holding Hamas responsible for internal violence but not for attacks against Israelis, it is not provided in this chapter.
===============
[1] Article 33 of the IV Geneva Convention of 1949 states that "collective penalties and likewise all other measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited [by the Convention]". Drafted following World War II, the provision was designed to outlaw killing of civilians by an occupying power as a retaliatory response to acts of sabotage or resistance. Such acts included Nazi atrocities including the 1944 massacre of thousands of Polish civilians in Warsaw. The exploitation of this term to condemn Israel's policy in response to terror attacks reflects the politicized agenda of the NGO community


Continued (Permanent Link)


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