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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Remembering the victims

"We stand at attention in memory of our fallen comrades."
Terror victims are often special people.
 'His face would glow with joy,' say friends of yeshiva attack victim
By Nadav Shragai, Yair Ettinger and Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondents
Friends and family of eight young men killed in a terrorist attack Thursday at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem spoke to Haaretz about the fallen victims.
Time and again, bereaved relatives and friends recounted young scholars passionate about their Torah studies and devoted to helping others.
"His face would glow with joy"
Doron Meherete, 26
Friends of Doron Meherete, the oldest of the eight students murdered Thursday at Mercaz Harav yeshiva, say that his face would glow with joy as he studied with them. Meherete, who came from Ethiopia in 1991 in Operation Solomon, studied for nine years at the yeshiva, where he was known for his trenchant mind and kind heart, challenging others intellectually and lending a helping hand whenever needed.
He was also a counselor at an after-school program for immigrant Ethiopian children. Three years ago he joined the army, under a special arrangement for advanced yeshiva students, served nine months in the armored corps, and fought as a reservist in the Second Lebanon War. He was preparing to become a rabbi, and had already taken some of his ordination exams. Hundreds attended his funeral in Ashdod on Friday. Meherete is survived by two parents and six siblings.
"Like an angel"
Avraham David Moses, 16
Avraham David Moses, 16, left behind parents and five brothers aged between two and 11. His parents divorced, remarried and live nearby each other in Efrat. At his funeral, Avraham David's father recounted that his son had visited him at home last Saturday. "I blessed you, put my hand on your head and suddenly grasped how much you had grown in spirit. You did not break. The murderers broke you. You were not a fighter but a loving person - you loved the Torah and studying the Torah. You ended your life studying the Torah."
Avraham David's stepfather, David Moria, said the boy was "like an angel. He had amazing integrity." His mother, Rivka, said thanks for "the 16 years we had the privilege of raising him, 16 years of purity of heart and honesty."
On Thursday night, when they heard of the attack, Avraham David's parents tried to find him but he had no mobile phone. They called all the hospitals in Jerusalem and when they couldn't find his name in any of the lists of the injured, they realized they'd lost their son.

"Everybody always wanted to be with him"
Neria Cohen, 15
Neria Cohen, who was laid to rest at the Mount of Olives cemetery Friday, grew up in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City, one of 12 children born to Ayala and Rabbi Yitzhak Cohen. His father is a rabbi at the Esh HaTorah hesder yeshiva in the Jewish Quarter, and was for many years among the heads of the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in the Muslim Quarter.
Many in Neria's extended family are active in programs that combine religious studies with community outreach and education in poor towns. "Neria's most striking quality was boundless joy. Everyone always wanted to be with him," said Eliezer Avni, a ninth-grade counselor at the Mercaz Harav affiliate where Neria studied. "He was a boy who lived all the ideals in the world, who enlisted for every mission, whether it was activity on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, or on behalf of communities, or the needy."

"A pure soul with a good heart"
Segev Pniel Avichail, 15
Neveh Daniel
Segev Pniel Avichail, who was buried Friday in Jerusalem's Har Hamenuhot Cemetery, was the grandson of two well-known rabbis: Rabbi Eliahu Avichail, who studied the Ten Lost Tribes and their disappearance; and Rabbi Yehoshua Zuckerman, the founder of the El Ami movement and teacher at Har Hamor Yeshiva. Segev Pniel's father, Rabbi Elishav Avichail, is the rabbi of Adora, in the south Hebron hills. His mother, Moriah, was head of a girls art school in the community. A few years ago, Segev Pniel and his father escaped injury in a shooting attack on the Telem road. Segev Pniel was the oldest of four children. An uncle, Yair, described him Friday as a "serious student, a pure soul with a good heart."
"A good soul with extraordinary ability"
Yohai Livshitz, 18
Yohai Livshitz was the second of six children born to Tuvia, a supervisor in Jerusalem's Kotel Yeshiva and Zofiya, a teacher. They live in the city's Jewish Quarter. "His most outstanding quality was his innocence," said Zvi Yehuda Herling, one of the Kotel Yeshiva's instructors, at the funeral. "He had a constant desire to search for his own truth, whether it was to rise before everyone and go to synagogue to study before morning prayer or practice for his army service."
"Thank you for everything you've done and given for 18 years," his father said at the funeral. Yohai's cousin, Jonathan Kelerman, said: "He was a good soul with an extraordinary ability to persist studying the Torah. Even up to his death he was studying Torah in the library."
"An admired guide"
Yehonadav Haim Hirshfeld, 19
Kochav Hashachar
Yehonadav Haim Hirshfeld was the fifth of 13 children born to one of the oldest families in Kochav Hashachar, a community in the Matte Binyamin regional council. His father, Zemah, serves as a mohel in the community and its surroundings. His mother, Elisheva, is a housewife.
Yehonadav went to a highschool yeshiva near Mercaz Harav and later continued to study at the yeshiva itself, where he was killed on Thursday evening. He was a "talented young man with broad horizons, intelligent, and an admired guide in the Ariel youth movement," Haya Meir, a neighbor, said.
When his parents heard of the terror attack on the yeshiva they couldn't get a hold of their son, because he had no mobile phone.
The yeshiva's emergency hotline also couldn't help them and they sent relatives to look for Yehonadav. Finally, after midnight, the community's rabbi arrived to inform them officially of his death.
"Full of joie de vivre"
Yonatan Yitzchak Eldar, 16
Yonatan Yitzchak Eldar was buried with his copy of the Nedarim Tractate of the Babylonian Talmud, soaked in his blood. Despite the celebration scheduled at the yeshiva later that evening for the start of the new month, Yonatan didn't want to miss learning his daily page of Talmud and had taken the book with him to the library. One friend says he saw Yonatan studying alone at 1 A.M. Wednesday.
"Usually you think of someone so young who is so deeply involved in Torah study as being square, but Yonatan wasn't at all like that," said Rabbi Uri Bayar, an educator in Shiloh and a friend of the Eldar family. "He was full of joie de vivre and had many interests," Bayar said.Yonatan Yitzchak was buried in Shiloh. After the funeral his friends gathered at the home of one of them and told stories about their friend. They recalled his love of hiking but also noted that he learned the rules of orienteering out of a book. Yonatan Yitzchak is survived by six brothers and one sister.
His father, Dror, works in high tech. His mother, Avital, is a teacher.
"He felt very close to God"
Roee Roth, 18
Roee Roth's friends described him as very spiritual. "He felt very
close to God, and about every problem he would say, 'That, too, is from God' and tried to understand what God wanted from him," Eyal, his roommate and friend from home, related. "He prayed long and loud and everyone in the beit midrash [study hall] could hear his 'Amen,'" another friend from Elkana and fellow student at Mercaz Harav, Menashe Zimmerman, said. "He came late to meals, after his prayers."
Roee's decision to study at Mercaz Harav, with its high demands, was part of a spiritual journey that began in high school. In 11th grade Roee stopped studying Jujitsu, in which he already had a brown belt, because he felt it was cutting into his study time. Roee was the son of Orly and Yaakov Roth. In addition to his parents, he is survived by four siblings

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Egyptian official: Syrians preventing truce in Gaza

Tehran and Damascus will fight Israel and the great satan to the last Palestinian, as I noted elsewhere.
Last update - 17:51 08/03/2008       
Cairo official: Gaza Strip conflict serves Syrian interests
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent
An unnamed senior Egyptian official on Saturday said that the possibility that Syria is influencing Palestinian factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad to reject Egyptian offers to mediate a cease-fire between them and Israel, the London-based Arabic language newspaper Al-Hayat reported.
According to the report, Egypt's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman offered the Palestinian factions an Israeli commitment to cease its operations against Palestinian militants in Gaza if the factions made a commitment to halt the rocket fire from the Strip into Israel. The offer, made at a meeting between Egyptian officials and Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders in Egypt on Thursday, was rejected.
According to Egyptian sources, the heads of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, currently based in Damascus, are the only ones authorized to make a decision regarding a cease-fire with Israel, and it is possible that the Syrian government is behind the failure of truce negotiations thus far. "All the evidence points to the fact that Syria wants to divert attention from Lebanon and point the spotlight on Gaza," the Egyptian official said.
"The current escalation [of violence] in the Palestinian arena serves the Syrian interests," they said, explaining that the embarrassment caused by continuing violence in Gaza to Arab Leaders may prompt the Arab nations to send high-level representation to the upcoming Arab summit hosted by Syria later this month, after having threatened that state leaders will not attend if Syria continues to interfere in the political crisis in Lebanon.
The Egyptian accusations against Syria are directly linked to rising tensions in the Arab world currently. The absence of Arab leaders from the Arab summit will cause great embarrassment to Damascus, as the host country, and likely prevent the success of the summit.
The Egyptian officials added that they had frozen efforts to mediate a truce between Israel and the Palestinians until after the Arab summit at the end of March. They said that Suleiman, who is responsible for the mediation efforts, will accompany Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak this week to Poland and Dakar, which will prevent him from advancing truce negotiations.
The officials also said that the terrorist attack in Jerusalem on Thursday, which left eight yeshiva boys dead and several others wounded, placed a "shadow" on the cease-fire negotiations.

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Behind the Jerusalem massacre

The Lebanese Canadian Coordinating Council (LCCC) strongly condemns the heinous and barbaric crime that was committed by the fundamentalist Hamas organization and Hezbollah militants against a religious school students' in Jerusalem. In this immoral act, we see a flagrant violation of all international Human Rights, laws and covenants which prohibit the killing of civilians, or attacking them under any given circumstance.  At the same time, we strongly denounce all the commemoration of glorifying, praising and sanctifying of this suicide and homicide atrocity that was publicly uttered and shamefully exhibited in Lebanon and other countries.

It is extremely shocking and disgusting to hear and watch numerous Arab and Iranian officials and well known religious figures praising this murder that targeted a religious school in the Holy City of Jerusalem that took the lives of eight students. It is inhuman and demeaning to see high-ranking religious clerics in Lebanon and other Middle East countries rejoice in the killings of the unarmed students and tag the crime as heroic and martyrdom.

This glorification and praising of terrorism is void of all human values, ethics, and is a bold infringement on the International covenant of Human Rights, and on all laws and regulations that safeguard the rights of civilians in situations of war.

It is worth mentioning that this kind of sickening mentality reflects clearly the current tragedy of Lebanon that can be summarized as an existential conflict between two cultures and educations: The culture and education of death, and suicide, that the Iranian-Syrian fundamentalist Hezbollah armed militia personify, and is trying by all terrorism means to force on the Lebanese people, and between the culture and education of life, civilization, coexistence, love , human rights, peace, democracy and law that are all honored by the majority of the Lebanese multicultural and multi ethnic peace-loving people who are longing for freedom, openness, sovereignty and independence.

The LCCC calls on all free and democratic counties, and in particular, the United States, the European Union and Russia to face the global terrorism challenge that is led by the axis of evil (Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaeda) and utilize immediately all their human, economic and military resources to eradicate all the roots and branches of fundamentalism and terrorist organizations wherever they exist, and at the same time punish all those countries that sponsor and finance them.

The entire world should know very well and without any doubt that the only language that terrorist groups, states, organizations and individuals, understand and respond to is the language of force, deterrence and decisiveness. Continued military confrontation with global terrorism is inevitable and will become increasingly more complex, more difficult, more costly and more dangerous for the whole world and all of humanity as long as it is postponed or falsely believed that it can be won or contained through diplomacy, persuasion and peaceful civilized means.

*Elias Bejjani
Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)
Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)

LCCC Web Site
CLHRF Website

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Retreat from Iraq? Another view

Lee Kuan Yew cannot be suspected of Zionist sympathies. He explains the reasons why US presence in Iraq is vital, and retreat is not realistic.
The Cost Of Retreat In Iraq
By Lee Kuan Yew
Saturday, March 8, 2008; A15
SINGAPORE -- On Valentine's Day 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt met with Saudi King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud on the USS Quincy at Egypt's Great Bitter Lake along the Suez Canal. Roosevelt was on his way home from Yalta, where he, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill had settled the contours of the post-World War II world.
The compact that Roosevelt and the king reached on the USS Quincy -- American friendship and support for secure access to oil -- was no less significant. It has been the foundation of stability in the Persian Gulf, a troubled but vital region, in the 63 years since.
The Quincy compact has survived three full Arab-Israeli wars and continuing low-intensity conflicts between Arabs and Israelis. Saudi Arabia has played a responsible and moderating role in OPEC and has contributed to stability in world oil prices and to global prosperity.
There is no viable alternative to fossil fuels in the immediate future. Thus the security and stability of the Gulf and its oil supplies are vital for the United States.
America has been fighting an insurgency in Iraq for five years. Taking out Saddam Hussein was the right decision. Mistakes were subsequently made, though, and the price has been high.
Iraq is a key issue in the U.S. presidential campaign. Whether to maintain the U.S. presence in Iraq is for Americans to decide. But the general assumption has been that the only question to be resolved is the timing and manner of the withdrawal of American forces.
The costs of leaving Iraq unstable would be high. Jihadists everywhere would be emboldened. I have met many Gulf leaders and know that their deep fear is that a precipitate U.S. withdrawal would gravely jeopardize their security.
A hurried withdrawal from Iraq would cause the leaders of many countries to conclude that the American people cannot tolerate the nearly 4,000 casualties they have suffered in Iraq and that in a protracted asymmetrical war the U.S. government will not have its people's support to bear the pain that is necessary to prevail. And this even after the surge of 30,000 additional troops under Gen. David Petraeus has resulted in an improved security situation.
Whatever candidates might say in the course of this presidential campaign, I cannot believe that any American president could afford to walk away from Iraq so lightly, damage American prestige and influence, and so undermine the credibility of American security guarantees.
An additional concern is that a hasty U.S. withdrawal would leave Iran to become more of a power in the Gulf.
Iran is Shiite, not Sunni. Shiites are the largest group in Iraq, too. The schism between Shiites and Sunnis goes back more than a millennium to the very earliest years of Islam. The divide between Arabs and Persians is even more ancient.
Every Gulf state has a significant Shiite minority but is ruled by Sunni leaders. A dominant Iran with no regional counterweight would shift the balance of power between Sunnis and Shiites in the Middle East, changing the internal and external politics of the region. To survive, Iran's neighbors would adjust their positions.
It also would become more difficult to work out a diplomatic compromise on the Iranian nuclear issue. Without a compromise, the issue will lead to a crisis at some point.
A few years ago, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein's Iraq were a check on Iran. The Taliban is again gathering strength, and a Taliban victory in Afghanistan or Pakistan would reverberate throughout the Muslim world. It would influence the grand debate among Muslims on the future of Islam. A severely retrograde form of Islam would be seen to have defeated modernity twice: first the Soviet Union, then the United States. There would be profound consequences, especially in the campaign against terrorism.
Singapore supported the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan and continues to do so. My country has deployed amphibious support ships in the Gulf as well as transport aircraft and refueling tankers to assist U.S. forces. We are also helping with reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. We have placed these symbolic chips on the table because we realize that the global stakes are extremely high.
The United States clearly cannot stay in Iraq alone. America needs a coalition. This will require a more multilateral approach, which in turn requires clarity and a close examination of the strategic stakes. The domestic American debate on Iraq affects world public opinion and thus the political viability and sustainability of any multinational coalition.
The writer, Singapore's minister mentor, was prime minister from 1959 to 1990.

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Friday, March 7, 2008

Radical islamists and some number crunching

Radical islamists and some number crunching

Abe Greenwald takes apart the optimistic conclusions some people made out of the latest Gallup survey of Muslim's attitude towards the radical Islam. The survey concluded that:

About 93 percent of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims are moderates and only seven percent are politically radical, according to the poll, based on more than 50,000 interviews.
Says Abe Greenwald:
Seven percent of 1.3 billion leaves us with . . . 91 million radical Islamists. And to think we were concerned! That piddling handful is nothing that can't be taken care of with a little dialogue, a few billion in American aid, and some proper education. I'm feeling audaciously hopeful.
Adding to this:
Dalia Mogahed, Esposito's co-author, says, "A billion Muslims should be the ones that we look to, to understand what they believe, rather than a vocal minority." How right she is. We need to find out from one billion rational human beings why they largely refuse to stand up for humanity and dignity instead of cowering in the face of fascist thugs. They're the only Westerners this study challenges.
Before the usual suspects jump in with the usual accusations of Islamophobia, let's look at the numbers.

I guess that our of the above mentioned 91 million "radicals" only about 10% or so will be ready to get actively involved with what is euphemistically called in the press "militancy", the others will definitely harbor, support and provide the necessary means. Which leaves us with "only" 9 million or so "activists". Not a piddling number, you will agree. It takes only one fanatic to blow apart a plane or a bus or...
Continued here.

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Proportionality & Gaza

There has been  a quick invocation of the undefined term **Proportionality** in regard to recent Israeli action in Gaza, including by the UN Secrstary-General, as also happened with the Hizb-ALLAH 34-day war in Southern Lebanon in 2006.
The nature and usage of this term, and the context of its curent invocation, both deserve some analysis.

There is no moral duty on any [ police or military ] defender to injure or kill fewer [or only as many ]  of their attackers as the attacker has already injured among their ranks. A police squad is expected to  capture or eliminate an entire gang of armed bank robbers or kidnappers or drug smugglers, not to capture or injure only as many as the number of police already  injured.

And also to pursue and apprehend any who escape, as well as identify and eliminate their bases, contacts, communications, and resources.

Nor is there anything indefensible in defenders using relevant weaponry or tactics although the risk of some unwanted civilian casualties can never be eliminated, be they hostages, neighbors, or those passing by, and whether such unwanted casualties are due to human error, incompetence, weather and visibility, equipment failure, or mistaken identity.

That so many are killed in operations by **friendly fire** shows how unavoidable that may be -  in the most technically advanced force in the world, 1 in 4 of US dead in 1991 in the First Gulf War to lberate Kuwait from Saddam's invaders, were killed by their own fire. And the experience in Northern Ireland was similar, and among both police and military forces, as is the case now in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

 The loss inflicted on the enemy aggressor by legitimate defenders should equal the total strength of that enemy -  that total loss should embrace their personnel, finances, equipment, bases, communications, etc -  the aim is to incapacitate that enemy aggressor,  deny them any of the sinews of their campaign of aggression, and prevent further aggression - not merely punish them, while still leaving them capable of either continuing or resuming their aggression.

 That decisive victory may take many operations or years, but that clear result is the only ultimate rational and reasonable goal. It matters little whether the enemy is vanquished by their [a] surrender, [b] capture, [c] desertion, [d] fatal or [e] non-fatal injuries, [f] succumbing to propaganda, [g] starvation of supplies [be that of weapons, ammunition, fuel, water, food ], or by whatever combinations of such desirable and legitimate outcomes,  or  [f] by such a saturation of their area, or overwhelming superiority in equipment, tactics, morale or intelligence, that they are compelled or induced to permanently abandon their aggression.

There are, from an  ethical perspective,  3 basic  types of conflict.

[a] There is  a legitimate conflict of interest as eg between employer and employees, or purchaser and supplier, where both parties are legitimate, both have a right to exist and function, but marginal disagreement exists on the details of their relationship. Then conflict-resolution is relevant, and a **win-win** outcome is appropriate, which may involve either re-framing goals, priorities, options, or simply crude compromise.

[b]  With [ as now in Limerick City or in Crumlin Garda Division in Dublin City  ] a struggle exists between 2 drug gangs where neither has any right to exist or operate,  the police must eliminate both gangs, and a **lose-lose** outcome is the only defensible one, with both gangs decisively vanquished. The conflict is suppressed by the defeat of both gangs by the police.

[c] The Law Enforcement versus Law Breaker conflict is a conflict where only one side has right on its side, and that side must win and do so decisively. And every time. That challenge must end in a decisive  **win-lose** outcome.

Further, in both cases b and c, as against case a above, the Judiciary are not  [and media and public opinion or UN or NGOs should not  be ] morally neutral as between right and wrong, as if both parties were equally legitimate, but rather impartial in assessing and weighing factual evidence. As regards the level of values and principles at stake, not the level of  factual data, there is no  scope for neutrality in b or c, be that in a domestic or  an international context. Thus the factual  [ jury ] question would be: who was guilty of the mass murder of  8 students at Mercaz Harav in West Jerusalem on Thursday, March 6, 2008, but the ethical and legal reality of that massacre as murder is not itself in dispute, nor is the ethical status of those who celebrate or incite such murder.
To be a responsible human is thus to be ethically commited, not neutral, but to remain  factually open and impartial.

Since multi-ethnic, multi-faith, bi-lingual democratic Israel is defending its right to exist, and the freedom, peace and lives of all its citizens, and since it  [ like every other such state ] unquestionably has  an absolute right to exist, then its forces are like the police squad confronting the armed gang, where decisive and permanent vanquishing of the aggressor is the duty and right of the defenders.

There is not now, and there never has been, any limited, legitimate conflict between Israel and the Arab world about the precise line of a frontier, or about the size or structure or institutions of the State of Israel, but the core issue has been, and remains, the existential one of Israel's very right to exist. And no compromise on that is reasonable.

Further, precisely because of the fundamental nature of this conflict, no temporary cease-fire [ Arabic **Hudna** ] has any ethical or strategic validity, as it will simply amount to the gradual and eventual, as against the immediate, destruction of Israel. Delayed genocide is still genocide.

Indeed in their unaltered 1988 Hamas Charter,  Hamas remains commited to their triple goal, of [a] an Islamic Republic, [b] from the River Jordan to the Med Sea, and [c] achieved by violence - as their 2007 violent coup in Gaza reminds us.

The entire ethical responsibility for the injuries or deaths or suffering of any hostages lies with the criminal who takes the hostage, not with the rescue squad, whether that squad wear military tan or police blue.

 If Hamas [no 10 on updated EU list of terror bodies of June 2007 ] hide behind their own civilians, firing and manufacturing rockets from densely-inhabited housing areas, then they alone are responsible for any civilian injury in such areas, and that double crime, of adding using hostages to their initial aggression, does not deprive the victim of the right to effective defence from both [a] ongoing aggression, and [b]  from the threat of such future aggression. Hamas are thus double war-criminals, and no level of support within Gaza can in any way alter that reality.


Tom  Carew.

Dublin 6,

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Times Square Bombing: End the Cycle of Violence

A blast destroyed a Times Square Marine recruiting station, following nation wide agitation agains the marines led by anti-war militants. The Washington Post alleges that authorities are investigating rambling letters and photographs mailed to several members of Congress, referring to a military recruiting station that was bombed by a hooded person.
Washington Post and others would be well advised to show even handedness in reporting about the militants who performed this act of desparation, and to seek the causes of the violence, as they advise us to do in the Middle East, rather than encouraging continuation of the cycle of violence. This bombing is clearly do to the US occupation of Iraq, or Puerto Rico or somewhere or other. US authorities should show restraint and try to engage the freedom fighters in peace talks.
Ami Isseroff

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Politics at a funeral: Rabbi accuses Israeli government for murder of Yeshiva students

""The time has come for all of us to understand that an external struggle is raging, and an internal struggle, and everyone believes the hour has come ... for us to have a good leadership, a stronger leadership, a more believing leadership," said Shapiro, weeping."
The time has come, for Jews to stop accusing Jews of murders caused by Arabs, and to stop playing politics with grief. Of course government policies caused the attack. The terror attack was probably payback for the accident that happened to terrorist Imad Moughnieh. Does the rabbi think Moughnieh did not need to be killed?
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 11:34 07/03/2008       
Thousands gather for funerals of slain yeshiva students
By Haaretz Service and News Agencies
Thousands gathered outside the bullet-scarred Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem on Friday to begin funeral processions for eight students killed by a Palestinian gunmen in a nighttime attack on the library where they were studying.
In his eulogy before the procession, yeshiva head Rabbi Ya'akov Shapira criticized the government over its willingness to cede territories to the Palestinians.
"The time has come for all of us to understand that an external struggle is raging, and an internal struggle, and everyone believes the hour has come ... for us to have a good leadership, a stronger leadership, a more believing leadership," said Shapiro, weeping.
A rabbi recited psalms line by line, the crowd repeating after him, in memory of the dead students, one of them 26 years old and the rest teenagers between ages 15 and 19.
People packed nearby balconies to observe the ceremony, after which the bodies were to be taken for burial.
The procession left the yeshiva at 10 A.M. and will continue on to the victims' communities for burial.
Nine other people were wounded when athe gunman entered the crowded library and opened fire.
The head of the Zaka emergency service described the scene after the shooting as "like a slaughterhouse."
The fatalities have been identified as Yochai Lipschitz, 18, of Jerusalem; Yonatan Yitzchak Eldar, 16, of Shiloh; Yonadav Chaim Hirschfeld, 19, of Kochav Hashahar; Neriah Cohen, 15, of Jerusalem; Roey Roth, 18, of Elkana; Segev Pniel Avihayil, 15, of Neveh Daniel; Avraham David Moses, 16, of Efrat; and Maharata Trunoch, 26, of Ashdod.
Three of the wounded in the attack at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood were serious condition, and taken to Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Karem.
The other six were lightly hurt and taken to Sha'arei Tzedek Medical Center.
The yeshiva, which enrolls close to 1,000 students, is widely recognized as the flagship institution of the Religious Zionist movement. The yeshiva was headed for many years by Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Hacohen Kook, the son of the noted rabbinic scholar Avraham Hacohen Kook.
The Jerusalem Police increased its forces in the city in the wake of the attack. On Friday, only Muslim men over the age of 45 with a valid blue identity card will be allowed to enter the Temple Mount for prayers. Female worshippers will not be limited from entering.
The seminary shooting was the first major attack by Palestinian militants in Jerusalem since a suicide bomber killed eight people on February 22, 2004.

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Hamas Refuses Arab League Request To Halt Rocket Fire

Hamas Refuses Arab League Request To Halt Rocket Fire
 The Hamas terrorist party has refused a request by the Arab League that it halt all rocket attacks against Israel, according to the London-based Arab daily Al-Hayat. The newspaper said the request for a unilateral ceasefire was made through Arab League secretary Amr Moussa.
He met with exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Damascus several days ago, but Mashaal turned down the proposal. The Hamas leader insisted that there must be an agreement "stopping Israeli aggression in return for stopping rocket fire."

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Report from Sderot: Out of Patience

Israel's patience is running out
Vic Alhadeff
March 7, 2008
The code red siren sounded within minutes of our arrival. Its chilling message was that Kassam rockets had been launched from Gaza and would explode near us within 15 seconds.
A father of four had been killed by a Kassam 24 hours earlier, and there can never be enough air-raid shelters to protect the town's entire population of 20,000. As the alert was sounded, we were being briefed by an Israel Defence Force explosives expert. He rushed us into the reinforced army headquarters and moments later raced off to where the Kassams had struck. His task: to ascertain whether they still posed a danger.
Two Kassams had landed a kilometre from where we stood. One had injured a guard of the Public Security Minister, Avi Dichter. We had been conversing with Dichter, with the guard in attendance, 10 minutes earlier.
Such is the lottery of life in Sderot, a working-class town in Israel's Negev Desert, battling to maintain a semblance of normality under conditions that no nation should be expected to endure.
The problem is that Sderot is located 1.5 kilometres from Gaza. This means its population has been under fire - every single day - for 2½ years. Kassams, mortars, Katyushas.
More than 1200 missiles have struck Sderot in the past nine weeks. Last week a boy, 10, died from shrapnel wounds sustained after a missile exploded 80 metres from where he stood. He had sought cover in a reinforced bus shelter, but a flying chunk of metal struck a part of his body that remained exposed.
The children of Sderot are traumatised - half are undergoing counselling - the fraught uncertainty of not knowing where or when the next missile will strike taking a toll.
Protective concrete coverings have been erected over school buildings, kindergartens are instructed not to allow children outdoors and improvised bomb shelters have been thrown up. And longer-range and more accurate Grad missiles are now targeting Ashkelon, a city of 120,000.
Most of the attacks are timed for when children are on their way to or from school, maximising the chance of mass casualties.
The context for all of this is that 2½ years ago, in August 2005, Israel withdrew every one of its soldiers and settlers from Gaza in the expectation that a responsible Palestinian administration would take control of the territory and coexist in peace alongside it. The departing Israelis left behind flourishing greenhouses, and millions of dollars in aid poured in.
But with Hamas in control of the territory, Gaza has emphatically declared war on Israel - which continues to supply it with power, electricity and commodities despite the daily attacks and despite Hamas's refusal even to recognise Israel's existence. The situation is heading towards breaking point. No nation can allow its sovereignty to be trampled on with impunity, nor can it sustain a situation in which its citizens come under fire from a neighbour up to 50 times a day.
Israel has stepped up commando raids on identified leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad who are responsible for most of the attacks, although the inability of this strategy to stop the missiles is acutely apparent. Furthermore, Hamas has acquired vast quantities of weapons through Egypt, while Iran and Hezbollah have been training and supplying Hamas fighters.
The grim reality is that a big Israeli military ground operation is looming ever closer as a distinct possibility.
The Israeli Government does not want it, and its army does not want it. It would mean significant casualties on both sides. The additional concern is that Hezbollah would use the opportunity to open a second front against Israel from its base in Lebanon, reprising its rocket barrages of 2006.
The key question is what the exit strategy would be. NATO troops on the Gaza-Israel border are an option, along the lines of the situation on the Lebanon-Israel border. Another is to wrest security control of Gaza from Hamas and hand it to any leaders who commit to peace.
The core issue is that Israel seeks peaceful coexistence with a Palestinian state, while Hamas seeks a region in which Israel no longer exists. Only those willing to work towards peaceful coexistence can have a place at the table. In the meantime, the situation on the ground has become untenable.
Vic Alhadeff is chief executive officer of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. He visited Sderot last week.

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Yeshiva student: 'I shot the terrorist in the head'

[Dr. Ami Isseroff Mewnews: Confusion surrounds reports from the scene. Police claim that the IDF officer shot the terrorist after the IDF officer did, whereas the Yeshiva student explains that he shot first. The terrorist was not wearing a suicide bomber vest, but rather an ammunition belt. The weapon was a Kalatchnikov]
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Yeshiva student who shot attacker recounts moments of horror; 'I was studying when shots rang out'

[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA: For some reason, Israel Radio is frequently not mentioning the role of Dadon in killing the terrorist and only mentions the IDF officer who lives near the yeshiva and joined Dadon.]

'I shot terrorist in head'
Yeshiva student who shot attacker recounts moments of horror; 'I was
studying when shots rang out'
Aviram Zino YNET Published: 03.06.08, 22:42 / Israel News

A yeshiva student who shot the Jerusalem terrorist says he was busy studying when suddenly shots rang out, prompting him to grab his gun and eventually kill the Palestinian attacker

"We realized something happened so I cocked my handgun," Yitzhak Dadon told Ynet Thursday evening.

"I went up on the roof and waited for the terrorist. Meanwhile, I saw blood and shattered glass," Dadon said. "The terrorist continue firing in the air, so I waited to see him again, and then I shot him twice in the head."

Dadon says the terrorist continued firing even after he was hurt.

"He kept on firing until an IDF officer arrived and shot him again," Dadon said.

The gunman infiltrated a rabbinical seminary at the entrance of Jerusalem and opened fire after nightfall Thursday, police said. The ZAKA emergency response service has confirmed at least eight people have been killed.

Paramedics said they treated several people for injuries - among them four in serious to critical condition.

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Terror attack update: One terrorist carried out combined suicide bombing and shooting

 [Dr. Ami Isseroff, Mewnews: Channel 1 now reports that the attack was carried out by 1 terrorist who brought a Kalatchnikov assault rifle in a box in addition to a suicide vest - a combined shooting and suicide bombing. It is also reported that the terrorist was a resident of East Jerusalem and the "Chofshiyey Hagalil" group claimed "credit." Note that Ha'aretz rarely uses the word "terrorist." An additional victim is in critical condition. A much larger number of victims are in shock or lightly wounded and are not counted in casualty figures as they have not reached hospitals as yet. ]

Last update - 22:29 06/03/2008

 Nine students hurt, three in serious condition
 Seven killed in terrorist attack at Jerusalem yeshiva 

By Jonathan Lis, Yair Ettinger and Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondents 
Seven students were killed and nine others were wounded Thursday evening when terrorists infiltrated the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem, police said.

One terrorist was also killed, according to police.

Three of the injured were listed as being in serious condition and taken to Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Karem, while the other six were lightly hurt and taken to Sha'arei Tzedek Medical Center. MDA declared the incident a "multiple casualty event."
At least one terrorist infiltrated the yeshiva, possibly armed with an explosive belt, and began firing in every direction.

Yitzhak Danon, a student at the yeshiva, told Channel 2 television that one terrorist entered the seminary's library, and fired for several minutes at students with a Kalashnikov assault rifle.

Danon said he shot the terrorist twice in the head.

Michael, another student who only gave his first name, said he saw a terrorist enter the complex, and fire for some 10 minutes. "He fired 500-600 bullets," he said, adding that most of those hurt were high school age.

Witnesses said about 80 people were gathered in the library.

A large number of security and emergency medical personnel arrived on the scene, with some 50 ambulances summoned.

Police and Israel Defense Forces troops were searching the complex in order to determine whether one of the terrorists was still holed up inside the yeshiva, and were also going house to house in the immediate area in search of third terrorist who may have fled.

Police are having a difficult time keeping crowds of onlookers away from the scene, despite concerns there are still explosive belts at the scene that have yet to be neutralized.

Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski told Channel 2 television, "It's very sad tonight in Jerusalem - many people were killed in the heart of Jerusalem."

"There was a lot of gunfire and hysteria," a woman who lives across the street from the school told the radio. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

In Gaza, Hamas welcomed the terrorist attack. "We bless the [Jerusalem] operation. It will not be the last," Hamas said in a statement.

In Gaza City, residents went out into the streets and fired rifles in
celebration in the air after hearing news of the attack on the yeshiva.

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8 dead in terror attack in J'lem Merkaz Harav Yeshiva

[Israel News] - At least 8 people were killed in addition to two terrorists, and about 40 were wounded in West Jerusalem this evening. Palestinian gunmen apparently entered the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva without hindrance and perpetrated a massacre. The Yeshiva is the central educational establishment of the National Religious Party (Mafdal) and many of its former students serve in key positions in the IDF.
A third terrorist may have been taken out of the building alive by police. No organization has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The scene of the attack is bloody and police are having difficulty keeping crowds of the curious away. It is likely that the number of reported casualties will rise.
Source: Agencies, Haaretz, Jerusalem Post, Israel TV Channel 1 and Channel 2

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Proposal: International Jewish scholars program in Jerusalem

>A Big Idea To Foster Jewish Leadership
Professor Gil Troy 

Just outside McGill University's Montreal campus sits a grand mansion housing 13 over-achieving 20-somethings for the year.  Each of them gets a room with a bed, a desk, a television, and computer set-up. They prepare their meals in an open, modern kitchen with multiple cooking stations. This way, they either cook one meal together or cook smaller meals side-by-side, sometimes reflecting their native cuisines: Indian and Afghani, Canadian and Dutch, Israeli and Egyptian, among others. No, this is not the latest Canadian reality-TV show.  It is the headquarters of the remarkable Sauve Scholars — an international, interdisciplinary program for future leaders that could serve as a model for the kind of cutting-edge leadership hothouse the Jewish community desperately needs.
 The Sauve Scholars program, modeled on Harvard's Neiman Fellowship for mid-career journalists, exposes each participant to the best courses, professors, and informal seminars McGill University has to offer. But most importantly, the scholars get the gift of each other, learning how to work together, learn together, dream about a better world together — and take the first steps toward making it happen.
Imagine now a Jewish version set in some beautifully restored mansion in Jerusalem. Imagine 20 Jews from Israel and the diaspora, with the participants reflecting the demographic spread throughout the Jewish world. But take three twists on McGill's model.
For starters, the curriculum would offer high-level, hands-on grounding in Jewish learning and leadership — with each fellow also designing a particular project with a practical application shaping the Jewish future.  Add to it a give-back-to-the-community dimension, whereby the fellows promise to work in the Jewish community for the following five years — with support from each other, a growing alumni network, and regular contact from on-staff mentors. And finally, recognize that too many of these programs simply send rejection letters to the many talented people who apply and don't get accepted. Let the follow-up commitment to community activism be a condition for applying, and let everyone who then applies get a free leadership seminar in Israel.
As birthright israel has flourished, many in the Jewish world began seeking the next great idea, wondering how to follow up birthright with other, sustained, pathways toward Jewish engagement. The Jewish Agency has launched the ambitious Masa program encouraging young Jews to work or study in the Jewish people's homeland for an extended period during or just after university.
These programs have focused the Jewish world's attention on the critical "twenty-something" cohort. University students and recent graduates frequently experience the greatest distance from organized religion and traditional community life precisely when many are choosing lifetime partners and making other decisions that will shape their futures. The Jewish world is starting to recognize how important it is to tap the energy, creativity, and passion of our youth — both through mass-produced programs like birthright and through smaller, more targeted programs.
A yearlong learning and leadership fellowship in Jerusalem, if done correctly, could create a cadre of Jewish change agents, networkers, and leaders who could transform the Jewish world. This would especially be true if the ranks of these fellows were buttressed by the many others participating in the program through a shorter leadership training program but an equally intensive community commitment. 
The idea is not just to identify the "best and the brightest." The idea is to shape our community's future leaders while also listening to them. The program will succeed only if participants feel empowered during that year, subsequently able to dream boldly about an exciting Jewish future, and then ready to start taking substantive steps toward implementing some of their plans.
Jerusalem is the ideal venue for this program. Beyond the obvious spiritual, historical, and traditional resources, the combination of thinkers, activists, rabbis, politicians, and community leaders living or passing through the Jewish people's capital in a given year is overwhelming. A program like this could use Jerusalem as a classroom and, wherever possible, as a laboratory to test ideas. A program like this would succeed only if in addition to tapping the energies of the next generation, it could tap the skills and experiences of today's leaders, creating exciting, interactive forums — not passive lectures — for all to learn and grow together.
The Sauve Scholars' program was launched only in 2003, so it is hard to judge its impact on the world. A program like the Rhodes Scholarship, however, has had a transformative effect, shaping generations of leading politicians, intellectuals, and social activists. Surprisingly, in the United States, the Rhodes only selects 32 winners from all 50 states annually
The Sauve Scholars are named after Canada's first female governor-general, Jeanne Sauve. The Rhodes Scholarship honors the memory of the financier Cecil John Rhodes. This Jerusalem-based Jewish leadership fellowship awaits the name of a visionary, generous donor who wishes to elevate this — and future — generations of Jews.

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Gaza: Innovative combat ideas

No need to kill them
Non-lethal agitating measures that would disrupt life in Gaza may be the solution
Guy Bechor Published: 03.06.08, 10:41 / Israel Opinion

If Hamas prompts 250,000 Israelis to take cover in their bomb shelters, it feels it won. And if we fire at Hamas and children and civilians are killed, Hamas wins again. Finally, the commission of inquiry that will be established will be our third loss. Hizbullah understood this three-way approach, and now Hamas utilizes it.

So how can we overcome it? Through completely different kind of thinking that is supposed to address the three problems described above.

Who won past wars? Those who came up with new inventions and used them on the battlefield. The invention of the gunpowder, the tank, and the nuclear bomb, for example. In other words, the winner is the one that changes the existing situation and rearranges the cards; the side that introduces a new and unknown element into the war.

The IDF is capable of destroying the entire Gaza Strip, but it cannot do so because we simply cannot kill the civilian population. Hamas is of course taking advantage of this, and with cruel cynicism turned Gaza's population into its shield. The elderly, women, and children constitute the strategic depth of the terror leadership; without the Palestinian masses, terror could not continue to exist.

So here is an idea, which can be utilized alongside the current IDF operations: Every time a rocket is launched, Israel will respond against the civilian population – but using non-lethal means.

Tear gas cannons will fire it all across the Strip, with growing frequency. Giant speakers will make terrible sounds – sirens, screeches, and loud explosions – first it would last 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, and eventually hours. This could also include Israeli music, or chants of "Hamas is doing this to you," just like a brainwashing campaign, time and again, and everything at very high volume that does not allow for normal functioning.

Spray them with red paint
During large Palestinian gatherings, planes will spray thousands of Hamas supporters with red paint. The world will ask "why red paint?" and that would enable the "Color Red" rocket alert system, as well as Sderot's and Ashkelon's plight, to take front stage.

This should be supplemented, of course, by complete disengagement from Gaza – at the very least, we should cut off the supply of fuel to the Strip that we transfer through a private Israeli company, or the trucks filled with duty money that we transfer every month.

In my estimate, after 10 days like that, with Gaza citizens sleepless, their eyes burning from tear gas, their ears ringing, and covered in red paint, they would stop anyone firing rockets at Israel with their own hands. 

And this is what's special about the idea: Nobody would be able to blame Israel, because the one pushing the button every time and in fact turning on this series of bothersome measures would be Hamas itself, the moment it fires a rocket. And if the world complains – well, these Israeli means don't kill; those are well known crowd dispersal means.

Every rocket launched, and today there are dozens of those a day, will cause the Palestinian side endless disruptions. That way, Hamas' rockets will affect its own people as well.

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Jewish Reform movement promotes immigration to Israel

It is gratifying to see yet another report that reform Judaism is promoting Aliya (immigration). It was not so in the past. The problem is that we there are about 30 such articles for every actual immigrant. How do we turn vision into reality?
Ami Isseroff

 Reform Judaism puts immigration front and center
By Shlomo Shamir
NEW YORK - Tamar Slotzer, a 24-year-old resident of San Francisco, went to live in Israel on Tuesday. She left behind a loving family, a father who was born in Israel and a mother who was born in Malaysia and converted to Judaism. She also resigned from her place of work, in marketing.
"My parents are not enthusiastic about my decision to immigrate to Israel, but they support me," Slotzer said. "I have an interview for a job with an on-line gambling company in Tel Aviv."
Tamar has already visited Israel, where she lived for a few months in Karmiel and took care of Ethiopian children. She also studied in Jerusalem.
"I love Israel, and am aspiring to become part of Israeli society," she says.
Corey Mikami, 29, is planning to immigrate to Israel in April. He, too, is from San Francisco, where he works in a firm that markets camping equipment. Mikami is busy preparing for his immigration, and is considering whether to accept a proposal from a friend to work in a restaurant in Tel Aviv, or to continue his studies at the Institute for Desert Studies in Sde Boker.
He remembers the year he spent a few years ago at Kibbutz Ketura as "the best year of my life," the formative experience that led to his decision "to continue my life in Israel as a civilian and to participate in building up the country."
Apart from their decision to immigrate to Israel, the common denominator between Tamar and Corey is that both define themselves as "Reform Jews."
Born and raised in Reform Jewish families, they were influenced by the Reform environment in which they were raised, including the active presence of the Reform synagogue to which their families belonged.
Corey Mikami's grandfather, Rabbi Walter Rubin, moved from New York to San Francisco in the middle of the last century and founded Congregation Beth Am in the Los Altos Hills neighborhood.
The synagogue is considered one of the the largest synagogues of the Reform movement in North America.
Corey and Tamar stressed that their decision to immigrate to Israel was in no way influenced by religious considerations, but rather grew from Zionist beliefs.
"I am more Zionist than religious," said Tamar.
But both express a significant and fascinating change in their attitude, and the approach to Israeli immigration that has recently been felt in the order of priorities of the Refrom movement in the U.S. - a change which only a few years ago would have been considered totally unacceptable among Reform Jews.
The immigration emissary in San Francisco, Adi Farjoun, is currently dealing with the files of some 20 Jews who have begun the process of immigration, with 16 openly identifying themselves as Reform Jews.
Most are young people who have already visited Israel. In 2007, 76 new immigrants went to Israel from San Francisco, and 11 of them said they belonged to the Reform movement. The forecast for 2008 is more than 100 immigrants from the Bay area, Farjoun says, and in her opinion, the vast majority of them are Reform Jews.
"I do not paint them a picture of a land flowing with milk and honey," says Farjoun. "Anyone who lived here and was part of the Reform community has to hear from me that it won't be possible to get married in Israel according to the marriage ceremonies that are accepted in the United States, and that the conversion to Reform Judaism of a partner is not possible in Israel."
Come a long way
Nevertheless, she says, "as part of those who belong to the Reform movement, the discrimination against the movement in Israel has a negative effect on them. But at the individual level, they are not disturbed by the fact that in Israel the Reform movement is not recognized."
The Reform movement, which according to the latest studies encompasses 35 percent of affiliated American Jews, has come a long way from when it is was known for its declared alienation to Zionism and the state of Israel.
Now the subject of Zionism and immigration to Israel are at the top of the home page of the Internet site of the Union for Reform Judaism, which begins with a quote from Rabbi Eric Yoffe, president of the URJ: "Israel is the only place where a Jew can be a Jew in a completely unselfconscious manner."
In 1978 the movement set up The Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA), an organization which serves as the Zionist arm of the movement. It was Rabbi Eric Yoffe who formulated the nature of the organization, and he intensified his presence in the movement's activities.
Yoffe headed ARZA for more than a decade.
However, the first time in the history of the Reform movement that immigration to Israel was recognized as a specific target was in the document known as "the Miami platform," which was approved in 1997. It determined that immigration was the most important means of fulfillment of Jewish identity.
A year and a half ago, in the wake of a joint initiative on the part of ARZA and the Jewish Agency, a full-time immigration emissary was appointed whose duty was to promote Israeli immigration among Reform Jews.
The appointment of Liran Gazit - whose expenses are being paid jointly by the Jewish Agency and ARZA - was considered as the first step in cooperation between the agency and the Reform movement with the declared intention of promoting the issue of immigration among the Reform public.
Gazit said that the trend among Reform Jews to immigrate to Israel became clear a few years ago. But Gazit, who spends a great deal of time visiting synagogues and Reform Jewish centers, believes that "the movement is ready to expand its activities in the field of aliya." She says that she receives assistance and cooperation from the rabbis and senior members of the movement. "All the doors are open to me," says Gazit.
More Reform Jews are coming
Statistics since 2003 show that together with the annual growth in general of immigration from North America, there has been a persistent growth in the number of Reform Jews who have immigrated. Some 2,040 North American Jews immigrated in 2003, with 77 defining themselves as Reform.
Among the 3,202 who immigrated to Israel in 2006, a total of 151 were Reform Jews; and last year, 3,045 people immigrated from North America, with 178 calling themselves Reform Jews. The forecast for 2008 is 3,500 new immigrants, of whom 210 are expected to come from the Reform movement.
Parallel to the growth in the number of immigrants from the U.S. who identify as Reform Jews, the movement's branch in Israel, "Progressive Judaism," has adapted itself to the change in the sphere of immigration that is now gaining momentum. Absorption committees have been formed in some 25 Reform communities active in Israel, which assist the Reform immigrants with their first steps in Israel.
However, the first official recognition on the part of the Jewish Agency of the Reform movement as a significant reservoir of immigrants requiring special efforts and resources, was at a meeting that took place last week in New York, the first of its kind: Senior officials of the Reform movement and a group of immigration emissaries of the Jewish Agency from throughout the U.S. came together.
At the meeting, which lasted for two days and was described by the organizers as "historic" and the "occasion of the signing of a covenant" between the Jewish Agency and the Reform movement, problems and issues were discussed and clarified. According to the parties involved, the meeting will strengthen the interest in immigration among Reform Jews, and will bear fruit with an increase in the numbers of their members who immigrate to Israel.
"One should not expect masses of Reform Jews to immigrate to Israel," explains Rabbi Andrew Davids, the director of ARZA. "We must remember that we are talking about immigration from a wealthy country."
But, he says, "at this stage, more important than the numbers is that the message gets across inside the movement and filters down into the consciousness of the members."
As a result of the latest meeting, Davids says, a work plan has been formulated whose purpose is to assist the emissaries of the Jewish Agency in creating awareness of immigration, and to locate individuals and families that are ready to immigrate.
"In every city and community where an immigration emissary is active, we shall identify and conscript rabbis who will help that emissary," he says.

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Jewish religious wars

The Jewish people can be their own worst enemies. It is difficult to grasp how anyone could be so pig-headed, power hungry and selfish, but it is a fact. Fanatic and self-important rabbis are shaming the Jewish people and the Jewish religion, and preventing people from getting a Jewish education rather than bringing them closer to Judaism.
Ami Isseroff

 Last update - 11:00 06/03/2008       
U.K. Jewish school sued for barring pupil over conversion
By Anshel Pfeffer and Saul Sadka, Haaretz Correspondent
A British couple is suing the largest and oldest Jewish high school over the school's refusal to accept their son as a student because his mother did not convert in an Orthodox ceremony.
The case, now before the High Court in London, has attracted wide media attention in the U.K. and is a source of contention in the Jewish community.
Most of the 1,900 students in the Jewish Free School (JFS), founded in 1732, do not come from Orthodox homes. Nevertheless, the school is identified with the central stream of British Jewry, the United Synagogue, which accepts the authority of the London Beth Din, or rabbinic court. The London rabbinic court is considered more strict on matters of conversion than rabbinic courts in Israel.
The parents, who have remained anonymous, describe as racist and illegal the school's refusal to accept their son because his mother was converted to Judaism in a Conservative ceremony. They say this is racist and illegal because the school receives government funding.
Other couples whose children were refused entry by the JFS have also joined the suit.
One of the parents, David Lightman, father of 14-year-old Maya, said his wife underwent an Orthodox conversion in Israel 20 years ago, and although they keep a kosher home, go to synagogue every Saturday and are very active in the community, the London religious court said she had not been sincere in her conversion because he is a Cohen (descendant of a priest), and according to Jewish law should not marry a convert.
"Fundamentally it is running a racist admissions policy. You could eat bacon every day and have no problem but a religiously practicing Jew cannot attend," Lightman told Haaretz last month.
"There is a small cabal at the top that has Anglo-Jewry by the throat and holds the Chief Rabbi in the palm of their hands," he added.
"[Chief Rabbi] Jonathan Sacks won't speak to us, we are very much pawns in this situation," says Lightman. "I am an ex-pupil, my sisters attended the school, my wife is head of English yet they will not take my daughter," he says.
According to Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive of the Liberal Judaism movement in Britain, "the acceptance policy of the school is discriminatory and motivated by political considerations. They are trying to shore up the beth din and the United Synagogue establishment, while 35 percent of British Jews belong to Reform and Liberal streams. JFS is state-funded and should serve the entire Jewish community."
A spokesman for the school declined to respond during the hearing. But in a position paper the school released, it said no discriminatory policy existed and argued that according to British law, it was within its rights to prefer certain students in keeping with rules set for the school by Britain's chief rabbi.
The British Department of Education responded that "the ministry does not intervene in internal school policy."
What is really going on is a power struggle between the British Chief rabbinate and its Israeli counterpart," says Geoffrey Alderman, an academic involved in the case. "The Chief Rabbi wants the London Beit Din to be the only body competent to convert British people anywhere in the world. Mrs Lightman is merely a pawn in this dispute," he adds.

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Growing tired of fanaticism: 'People are being killed for nothing'

We should never be fooled by the self-assured cries of "wave of the future" and the defeatism of those who insist that democratic civilization is doomed because we face a determined enemy. The propaganda about 1.5 billion Muslim fanatics is propaganda, not truth. Most Muslims are just folks like us, or like Germans or Russians. They may be caught up for a moment or a year in the enthusiasm of some revolutionary project, but in the end they want to live their normal lives and do the normal things that people do. Women don't want to be put in Harems, and sane young people do not want to blow themselves to kingdom come in droves.
In Iran, the Islamist revolution succeeded, capitalizing on disaffection with a bad regime. Now its victims are trapped. In Iraq, wiser policies have fought back, and are apparently turning the tide:
"Atheer, a 19-year-old from a poor, heavily Shiite neighborhood in southern Baghdad, said: "The religion men are liars. Young people don't believe them. Guys my age are not interested in religion anymore."
A professor at Baghdad University's School of Law, who identified herself only as Bushra, said of her students: "They have changed their views about religion. They started to hate religious men. They make jokes about them because they feel disgusted by them."
"I used to love Osama bin Laden," proclaimed a 24-year-old Iraqi college student. She was referring to how she felt before the war took hold in her native Baghdad. The Sept. 11, 2001, strike at American supremacy was satisfying, and the deaths abstract.
Now, the student recites the familiar complaints: Her college has segregated the security checks; guards told her to stop wearing a revealing skirt; she covers her head for safety.
"Now I hate Islam," she said, sitting in her family's unadorned living room in central Baghdad. "Al Qaeda and the Mahdi Army are spreading hatred. People are being killed for nothing."
Given a chance, common sense prevails. Of course people are being killed for nothing. The demonization of Islam on the one hand, and the glorification of fanaticism on the other, are being foisted on us by ideologues and agitprops. Radical Islam is no more invincible, no more an inevitable wave of the future, than Communism or Nazism.
Khruschev told us "Your granchildren will live under communism." But Khruschev's grandchildren live under capitalism.
Eventually, if the democratic states and their allies persevere, the 'fashion' will pass. It will become obvious that not all Muslims are monsters who want to destroy the West, and that they aren't all fighitng a "holy war" to resist occupation either. The ideas of the ideological snake oil men, terrorist groupies, and neocons will be part of the detritus of intellectual history.
Ami Isseroff

March 4, 2008
Generation Faithful
Violence Leaves Young Iraqis Doubting Clerics
Correction Appended
New York Times
BAGHDAD — After almost five years of war, many young people in Iraq, exhausted by constant firsthand exposure to the violence of religious extremism, say they have grown disillusioned with religious leaders and skeptical of the faith that they preach.
In two months of interviews with 40 young people in five Iraqi cities, a pattern of disenchantment emerged, in which young Iraqis, both poor and middle class, blamed clerics for the violence and the restrictions that have narrowed their lives.
"I hate Islam and all the clerics because they limit our freedom every day and their instruction became heavy over us," said Sara, a high school student in Basra. "Most of the girls in my high school hate that Islamic people control the authority because they don't deserve to be rulers."
Atheer, a 19-year-old from a poor, heavily Shiite neighborhood in southern Baghdad, said: "The religion men are liars. Young people don't believe them. Guys my age are not interested in religion anymore."
The shift in Iraq runs counter to trends of rising religious practice among young people across much of the Middle East, where religion has replaced nationalism as a unifying ideology.
While religious extremists are admired by a number of young people in other parts of the Arab world, Iraq offers a test case of what could happen when extremist theories are applied. Fingers caught in the act of smoking were broken. Long hair was cut and force-fed to its wearer. In that laboratory, disillusionment with Islamic leaders took hold.
It is far from clear whether the shift means a wholesale turn away from religion. A tremendous piety still predominates in the private lives of young Iraqis, and religious leaders, despite the increased skepticism, still wield tremendous power. Measuring religious adherence, furthermore, is a tricky business in Iraq, where access to cities and towns far from Baghdad is limited.
But a shift seems to be registering, at least anecdotally, in the choices some young Iraqis are making.
Professors reported difficulty in recruiting graduate students for religion classes. Attendance at weekly prayers appears to be down, even in areas where the violence has largely subsided, according to worshipers and imams in Baghdad and Falluja. In two visits to the weekly prayer session in Baghdad of the followers of the militant Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr this fall, vastly smaller crowds attended than had in 2004 or 2005.
Such patterns, if lasting, could lead to a weakening of the political power of religious leaders in Iraq. In a nod to those changing tastes, political parties are dropping overt references to religion.
'You Cost Us This'
"In the beginning, they gave their eyes and minds to the clerics; they trusted them," said Abu Mahmoud, a moderate Sunni cleric in Baghdad, who now works deprogramming religious extremists in American detention. "It's painful to admit, but it's changed. People have lost too much. They say to the clerics and the parties: You cost us this."
"When they behead someone, they say 'Allahu akbar,' they read Koranic verse," said a moderate Shiite sheik from Baghdad, using the phrase for "God is great."
"The young people, they think that is Islam," he said. "So Islam is a failure, not only in the students' minds, but also in the community."
A professor at Baghdad University's School of Law, who identified herself only as Bushra, said of her students: "They have changed their views about religion. They started to hate religious men. They make jokes about them because they feel disgusted by them."
That was not always the case. Saddam Hussein encouraged religion in Iraqi society in his later years, building Sunni mosques and injecting more religion into the public school curriculum, but always made sure it served his authoritarian needs.
Shiites, considered to be an opposing political force and a threat to Mr. Hussein's power, were kept under close watch. Young Shiites who worshiped were seen as political subversives and risked attracting the attention of the police.
For that reason, the American liberation tasted sweetest to the Shiites, who for the first time were able to worship freely. They soon became a potent political force, as religious political leaders appealed to their shared and painful past and their respect for the Shiite religious hierarchy.
"After 2003, you couldn't put your foot into the husseiniya, it was so crowded with worshipers," said Sayeed Sabah, a Shiite religious leader from Baghdad, referring to a Shiite place of prayer.
Religion had moved abruptly into the Shiite public space, but often in ways that made educated, religious Iraqis uncomfortable. Militias were offering Koran courses. Titles came cheaply. In Mr. Mahmoud's neighborhood, a butcher with no knowledge of Islam became the leader of a mosque.
A moderate Shiite cleric, Sheik Qasim, recalled watching in amazement as a former student, who never earned more than mediocre marks, whizzed by stalled traffic in a long convoy of sport utility vehicles in central Baghdad. He had become a religious leader.
"I thought I would get out of the car, grab him and slap him!" said the sheik. "These people don't deserve their positions."
An official for the Ministry of Education in Baghdad, a secular Shiite, described the newfound faith like this: "It was like they wanted to put on a new, stylish outfit."
Religious Sunnis, for their part, also experienced a heady swell in mosque attendance, but soon became the hosts for groups of religious extremists, foreign and Iraqi, who were preparing to fight the United States.
Zane Mohammed, a gangly 19-year-old with an earnest face, watched with curiosity as the first Islamists in his Baghdad neighborhood came to barbershops, tea parlors and carpentry stores before taking over the mosques. They were neither uneducated nor poor, he said, though they focused on those who were.
Then, one morning while waiting for a bus to school, he watched a man walk up to a neighbor, a college professor whose sect Mr. Mohammed did not know, shoot the neighbor at point blank range three times, and walk back to his car as calmly "as if he was leaving a grocery store."
"Nobody is thinking," Mr. Mohammed said in an interview in October. "We use our minds just to know what to eat. This is something I am very sad about. We hear things and just believe them."
Weary of Bloodshed
By 2006, even those who had initially taken part in the violence were growing weary. Haidar, a grade-school dropout, was proud to tell his family he was following a Shiite cleric in a fight against American soldiers in the summer of 2004. Two years later, however, he found himself in the company of gangsters.
Young militia members were abusing drugs. Gift mopeds had become gift guns. In three years, Haidar saw five killings, mostly of Sunnis, including that of a Sunni cab driver shot for his car.
It was just as bad, if not worse, for young Sunnis. Rubbed raw by Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown Sunni insurgent group that American intelligence says is led by foreigners, they found themselves stranded in neighborhoods that were governed by seventh-century rules. During an interview with a dozen Sunni teenage boys in a Baghdad detention facility on several sticky days in September, several of them expressed relief at being in jail, so they could wear shorts, a form of dress they would have been punished for in their neighborhoods.
Some Iraqis argue that the religious-based politics was much more about identity than faith. When Shiites voted for religious parties in large numbers in an election in 2005, it was more an effort to show their numbers, than a victory of the religious over the secular.
"It was a fight to prove our existence," said a young Shiite journalist from Sadr City. "We were embracing our existence, not religion."
The war dragged on, and young people from both the Shiite and Sunni sects became more broadly involved. Criminals had begun using teenagers and younger boys to carry out killings. The number of Iraqi juveniles in American detention was up more than sevenfold in November from April last year, and Iraq's main prison for youth, situated in Baghdad, has triple the prewar population.
Different Motivations
But while younger people were taking a more active role in the violence, their motivation was less likely than that of the adults to be religion-driven. Of the 900 juvenile detainees in American custody in November, fewer than 10 percent claimed to be fighting a holy war, according to the American military. About one-third of adults said they were.
A worker in the American detention system said that by her estimate, only about a third of the adult detainee population, which is overwhelmingly Sunni, prayed.
"As a group, they are not religious," said Maj. Gen. Douglas Stone, the head of detainee operations for the American military. "When we ask if they are doing it for jihad, the answer is no."
Muath, a slender, 19-year-old Sunni with distant eyes and hollow cheeks, is typical. He was selling cellphone credits and plastic flowers, struggling to keep his mother and five young siblings afloat, when an insurgent recruiter in western Baghdad, a man in his 30s who is a regular customer, offered him cash last spring to be part of an insurgent group whose motivations were a mix of money and sect.
Muath, the only wage earner in his family, agreed. Suddenly his family could afford to eat meat again, he said in an interview last September.
Indeed, at least part of the religious violence in Baghdad had money at its heart. An officer at the Kadhimiya detention center, where Muath was being held last fall, said recordings of beheadings fetched much higher prices than those of shooting executions in the CD markets, which explains why even nonreligious kidnappers will behead hostages.
"The terrorist loves the money," said Capt. Omar, a prison worker who did not want to be identified by his full name. "The money has big magic. I give him $10,000 to do small thing. You think he refuse?"
When Muath was arrested last year, the police found two hostages, Shiite brothers, in a safe house that Muath told them about. Photographs showed the men looking wide-eyed into the camera; dark welts covered their bodies.
Violent struggle against the United States was easy to romanticize at a distance.
"I used to love Osama bin Laden," proclaimed a 24-year-old Iraqi college student. She was referring to how she felt before the war took hold in her native Baghdad. The Sept. 11, 2001, strike at American supremacy was satisfying, and the deaths abstract.
Now, the student recites the familiar complaints: Her college has segregated the security checks; guards told her to stop wearing a revealing skirt; she covers her head for safety.
"Now I hate Islam," she said, sitting in her family's unadorned living room in central Baghdad. "Al Qaeda and the Mahdi Army are spreading hatred. People are being killed for nothing."
Worried Parents
Parents have taken new precautions to keep their children out of trouble. Abu Tahsin, a Shiite from northern Baghdad, said that when his extended family had built a Shiite mosque, they did not register it with the religious authorities, even though it would have brought privileges, because they did not want to become entangled with any of the main religious Shiite groups that control Baghdad.
In Falluja, a Sunni city west of Baghdad that had been overrun by Al Qaeda, Sheik Khalid al-Mahamedie, a moderate cleric, said fathers now came with their sons to mosques to meet the instructors of Koran courses. Families used to worry most about their daughters in adolescence, but now, the sheik said, they worry more about their sons.
"Before, parents warned their sons not to smoke or drink," said Mohammed Ali al-Jumaili, a Falluja father with a 20-year-old son. "Now all their energy is concentrated on not letting them be involved with terrorism."
Recruiters are relentless, and, as it turns out, clever, peddling things their young targets need. General Stone compares it to as a sales pitch a pimp gives to a prospective prostitute. American military officers at the American detention center said it was the Qaeda detainees who were best prepared for group sessions and asked the most questions.
A Qaeda recruiter approached Mr. Mohammed, the 19-year-old, on a college campus with the offer of English lessons. Though lessons had been a personal ambition of Mr. Mohammed's for months, once he knew what the man was after, he politely avoided him.
"When you talk with them, you find them very modern, very smart," said Mr. Mohammed, a non-religious Shiite, who recalled feigning disdain for his own sect to avoid suspicion.
The population they focused on, however, was poor and uneducated. About 60 percent of the American adult detainee population is illiterate, and is unable to even read the Koran that religious recruiters are preaching.
That leads to strange twists. One young detainee, a client of Abu Mahmoud, the moderate Sunni cleric, was convinced that he had to kill his parents when he was released, because they were married in an insufficiently Islamic way. General Stone is trying to rectify the problem by offering religion classes taught by moderates.
There is a new favorite game in the lively household of the young Baghdad journalist. When they see a man with a turban on television, they yell and crack jokes. In one joke, people are warned not to give their cellphone numbers to a religious man.
"If he knows the number, he'll steal the phone's credit," the journalist said. "The sheiks are making a society of nonbelievers."
Kareem Hilmi, Ahmad Fadam, and Qais Mizher contributed reporting, and three other Iraqi employees of The Times interviewed residents in Basra, Falluja, Baquba and Mosul
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: March 6, 2008
A front-page article on Tuesday about the religious disillusionment among young people in Iraq carried an incomplete list of reporting credits. In addition to three Iraqi reporters who contributed from Baghdad, where the article was written, Iraqi employees of The Times interviewed residents in Basra, Falluja, Baquba and Mosul.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Launch of the Iranian Kavoshgar Rocket


March 5, 2008                                                                                                 No. 48


The Launch of the Iranian Kavoshgar Rocket


Yiftah Shapir


On February 4, Iran launched a sounding rocket into space.  The launch was part of the inauguration of the Iranian Space Center and received extensive coverage in the Iranian media, which focused on Iran's intention this summer to launch by its own means a satellite wholly developed by Iranian industry.


The Sounding Rocket

The rocket launched at the Space Research Center was dubbed Kavoshgar-1 ("Explorer") and carried scientific instrumentation.  About two weeks after the launch, it was reported that the rocket had two stages – one burned for 90-100 seconds and the other for 300 seconds.[1]  It reached an altitude of 200 km. and then returned to earth by parachute.  Its payload included instrumentation that signaled geographic location, wind conditions, air pressure, temperature, etc.  Iranian spokesmen explained that two more rockets would be launched in the coming months and that their dimensions would permit them to carry the Iranian "Omid" (Hope) satellite.


Pictures broadcast by Iranian media show that the launch vehicle was very similar to the well-known "Shehab-3B" missile.  It was even launched from a truck-towed launcher, similar to those shown in past Shehab-3 launches.  It was also clear from the rocket contrail that the missile was liquid-fuelled (like the various Shehab models).  Shehab-3 is a single-stage missile with a maximum burn-time of about 115 seconds (consistent with what was published for the Kavoshgar-1).  In all likelihood, the "second stage" to which spokesmen referred was therefore the unpowered nose-cone of the missile, which contains the instrumentation, and that is what reached the altitude of 200 km. in its ballistic trajectory.  That altitude is typical of the Shehab-3, which with full warhead in operational flight over maximum range has reached similar and even greater altitudes.  Nor was this launch Kavoshgar's first.  In February 2007, Iran spokesmen reported the launch of a similar sounding rocket to an altitude of 150 km.




The Space Research Center

The Iranian Space Research Center was built in an uninhabited desert area in Semnan Province, south-east of Tehran.  The Center has a remote satellite command-and-control facility and a satellite launch pad.  Pictures of the site show a launch pad and a launch tower (which was not used in the latest launch).


The "Omid" Satellite

Little has been published about the Omid satellite scheduled for launch this summer except that it is a sounding rocket developed and built by Iranian scientists and is intended to monitor natural disasters.  The satellite has been under development for a decade.  It will reportedly orbit at an altitude of 650 km. and will pass over Iran some 5-6 times per day.


The Satellite Program

Although Iran has for years declared its aspirations in the realm of satellites, it still lags behind many other states in the region.  Its first satellite, the "Sina-1," was basically constructed by a Russian company and launched by a Russian rocket in October 2005.  That was a research satellite weighing 170 kg., with no known military-grade photographic capabilities.  Another satellite, which was supposed to be launched even before the Sina-1, was the "Mesbah" research satellite but weighing only 65 kg.  It was built by an Italian company and, according to Iranian spokesmen, it was supposed to be launched by an Iranian rocket in 2003; it is still waiting to be launched, probably by a Russian launcher as well.  The "Zohreh" communications satellite went through many incarnations, even during the time of the Shah.  The latest version was supposed to be built by a Russian company and to carry western European broadcasting equipment.  This project, too, appears to be suffering numerous delays.  In the past, Iranian spokesmen mentioned two other satellites.  One was a joint project with several other countries (including Pakistan and China), named SMMS.  In recent years, there has been no information available about the fate of the SMMS.  The other was the "Safir" ("Ambassador") – a small satellite weighing 20 kg.  It is entirely possible that the Safir and Omid are one and the same.



Nothing is known about the launch vehicle that will carry the Omid into space.  About a decade ago, there were reports about an Iranian-developed satellite launcher named IRIS, which was based on the Shehab-3 missile.  A launcher based on Shehab technology (single-stage, powered by fuel based on kerosene and red fuming nitric acid) could carry into space a satellite weighing no more than 20 kg.  Anything heavier would have to rely on something similar to that used experimentally by North Korea a decade ago, i.e., a two- or three-stage rocket whose first stage is still based on outdated technology.  Thus far, there is information about such a development or any experiments by Iranian scientists to launch multi-stage missiles of any sort.  It is known that Iran has developed a missile, similar in size to the Shehab, which uses solid fuel.  That technology would allow the Iranians to build stronger launch vehicles, but here, too, there is no information about experiments with this technology (apart from reports of the Iranians themselves).



All Iranians who have spoken out since the inauguration of the new Space Center have stressed, not the strategic significance of the satellite project but rather its importance for national honor, i.e., as proof of the Islamic Revolution's scientific accomplishments.  Iran undoubtedly also aspires to advanced satellite capability for communications, scientific, economic and military reasons.  To achieve that, Iran is prepared to invest much in its missile and satellite programs.  However, at the present time, the projects still appear to be little more than first steps that hold out future hopes for national pride while lacking practical application.  The protracted delays both in indigenous projects and in procurement from abroad (e.g., the Mesbah and the Zohreh) reflect ongoing difficulties in managing and advancing such complicated undertakings.


[1]  In his speech at the ceremony, President Ahmadinejad spoke of three stages, of which the third would insert the satellite into space orbit.  This information apparently refers to a future rocket that will carry a satellite into orbit.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Next year's News: Hezbollah arming via Turkey

Yesterday's news is good for wrapping fish. Next year's news may be good for wrapping bodies if we do not heed the warning. Hezbollah is rearming. They aren't collecting these missiles for decoration.
The following should get an award for best comedy writing:
The UN report is also critical of Israel's intelligence-gathering overflights in Lebanon, and the UN chief expressed concern at the anger that these flights spark.
"The repeated violations, on the part of Israel, undermine the credibility of UNIFIL and of the Lebanese army in the eyes of the local population and is preventing them from carrying out their role," the report states.
If UNIFIL carried out its role, there would be no missiles. Trust me, Mr. Ban, the credibility of UNIFIL has no place to go but up.
Ami Isseroff

Last update - 03:42 05/03/2008    
 MI: Iran arming Hezbollah with missiles sent via Turkey 
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent 
Iran is arming Hezbollah with missiles sent via Turkey, according to intelligence received in Israel. Turkish authorities are unaware of the arms shipments, which are in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 that brought an end to the Second Lebanon War.
A senior Israeli government source said that Brigadier General Yossi Beiditz, head of the Israel Defense Forces research department, last week told European Union ambassadors in a briefing that Iran continues to transfer arms and equipment to Hezbollah, in spite of Tehran's denials.
Some of the weapons include long-range missiles that are being transfered through flights using Turkey's airspace, as well as overland though Turkey, under the guise of civilian cargo. From Turkey, the missiles are transfered to Syria and then Lebanon. Turkey has not permitted the use of its territory for such transfers.
 The same source said that according to Beiditz, some of the missiles Iran transfered to Hezbollah have a maximum range of 300 kilometers, "capable of reaching the Dimona area from Beirut." According to intelligence so far available to Israel, the maximum range of missiles in Hezbollah's arsenal had been 250 kilometers.
Beiditz said that the missiles currently in Hezbollah's possession are more accurate and capable of carrying larger warheads.
There was no comment from the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv concerning this information. However, a Turkish source noted that the embassy has not received any information or inquiries from official Israeli sources regarding the matter of weapons transfers to Hezbollah crossing through Turkish territory.
According to the source, Turkey has "adhered to all international decisions, with an emphasis on the arms embargo to Lebanon." He added, however, that Turkey and Israel share intelligence information on other levels, outside the embassy.
In May 2007, Turkey confiscated a load of weapons that included 300 rockets, transferred from Iran by train through Turkey. The cargo was registered as "cleaning materials."
During the Second Lebanon War, the Turkish media reported that Turkish authorities had forced two Iranian aircraft, on their way to Syria through Turkish airspace, to land because of suspicions that they were carrying unauthorized arms shipments. No weapons were found on board.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sent the periodic report on the implementation of Resolution 1701 to the Security Council on Tuesday. According to the report, Israel maintains that Hezbollah has replenished its missile arsenal and currently holds tens of thousands of long-range rockets along with 20,000 shorter-range ones.
During the Second Lebanon War, the radical Shi'ite organization fired about 4,000 rockets into Israel.
The report called on Syria and Iran to behave responsibly and in line with the embargo on exporting arms to Lebanon.
The UN report is also critical of Israel's intelligence-gathering overflights in Lebanon, and the UN chief expressed concern at the anger that these flights spark.
"The repeated violations, on the part of Israel, undermine the credibility of UNIFIL and of the Lebanese army in the eyes of the local population and is preventing them from carrying out their role," the report states.
According to the Israeli government source, during his briefing to EU ambassadors, Beiditz said that the official position of Israel is that the intelligence-gathering flights are of particular importance, and he showed videos filmed by various aircraft documenting the smuggling of missiles from Syria into Lebanon.
"Without the overflights it will be difficult for Israel to pinpoint the launchers, the Hezbollah arms depots and the smuggling," the source said.
During the briefing, Beiditz was asked about Israel's assessment of Hezbollah's response to last month's assassination of terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyah in Damascus. Beiditz said that it is difficult to tell, but noted that while the group's leaders are calling for revenge and blame Israel, there are many variables that are forcing Hezbollah to exhibit restraint.

Continued (Permanent Link)

The impossible Mr. Abbas and the Palestinian Israeli peace process

The attitude of Mahmoud Abbas creates an impossible situation:
"I call on the Israeli government to halt its aggression so the necessary environment can be created to make negotiations succeed, for us and for them, to reach the shores of peace in 2008," Abbas said, referring to the goal - stated at a U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace conference in November - of reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty by the end of the year.
Well OK, but you have to stop Palestinian aggression. If Abbas cannot control Palestinian aggression, then he is not the address for negotiations, because he has nothing to negotiate about.
Ami Isseroff

Last update - 12:07 05/03/2008    
 Rice meets PA officials, urges them to resume peace talks 
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent, and News Agencies 

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Palestinian peace negotiators on Wednesday, hoping to persuade them to resume talks despite a spike of violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.
The meeting cam a day after Rice held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah, saying she believes a peace agreement by the end of the year is still possible.
"What we are trying to achieve is not easy ... but I do believe it can be done," Rice said at a joint press conference with Abbas.

"We need very much for everybody to be focused on peace," he added.
For his part, Abbas said that "peace and negotiations are our strategic choice," but fell short of announcing a resumption of peace talks that his government cut off after the upsurge in fighting in Gaza.
"I call on the Israeli government to halt its aggression so the necessary environment can be created to make negotiations succeed, for us and for them, to reach the shores of peace in 2008," Abbas said, referring to the goal - stated at a U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace conference in November - of reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty by the end of the year.
Palestinian sources said Abbas' discussion with Rice centered around the idea of a comprehensive cease-fire in the West Bank and Gaza.
Abbas emphasized the need for a lull to allow the peace process to move forward, the sources said, adding that the PA has no problem with renewing negotiations however that an appropriate mechanism must be found to allow for unimpeded progress in the wake of the fighting.
Hamas said Rice's visit was unwanted and was intended to cover up "the crimes of the occupation."
Earlier, Rice visited Cairo and announced that she had waived the Congressional restrictions withholding $100 million in military aid to Egypt.
The funds were released in an effort to improve bilateral relations and encourage Egypt to take a more active part in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Terrorizing Dissent

The industrial democracies have a fragile and always threatened tradition of free speech and free expression that is vital to democracy. It is now being effectively stifled by threats of Muslim violence. "You can only show films that do not offend us. You can only express opinions that do not offend us." It began with the Fatwa against Salman Rushdie, continued with the Danish cartoons of Muhamad, and has now reached the point of self-censorship.


The same people who insist that it must be possible to publish Mein Kampf or show the mendacious film, "Jenin, Jenin," because of the need for "free speech," are quashing opinions that may be offensive to Islam. They managed to keep the film "Obsession" out of major movie houses, and now they are working on suppressing another film entirely. We may not like these opinions. If we think they are wrong, we should expose them and discuss them, not shut them up.


This trend cannot be allowed to continue.

Ami Isseroff

Islam and Its Critics
March 5, 2008


The latest clash between the West and the Muslim world is taking place in the Netherlands, where a yet-to-be-released film critical of Islam has already stirred protests in Afghanistan and caused a world-wide outage of YouTube when Pakistan tried to block a brief clip. No one wants a repeat of the Danish cartoon controversy, but suppressing the film, as some in Holland and the Muslim world are urging, amounts to political blackmail.

The film is by Geert Wilders, an anti-immigration Member of the Dutch Parliament who has warned about a "tsunami of Islamization" in the Netherlands, home to nearly one million Muslims. Mr. Wilders has also called the Quran a "fascist" book and Islam a "retarded culture," and his 15-minute movie is likely to contain more such distasteful commentary. He says he will post it on the Web this month if he can't find anyone willing to broadcast it.

[Geert Wilders]

Much as Salman Rushdie received death threats over a book few of his would-be assassins had read, Mr. Wilders has received death threats over a film no one has seen. He has been living under police protection since filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered four years ago by a Muslim radical for making a movie critical of Islam's treatment of women. The Dutch antiterror coordinator has told him that he may have to go into hiding abroad once his film is released.

The Dutch government has been holding crisis meetings since November about a possible Islamic backlash to Mr. Wilders's film. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende warned last week that the Netherlands risks economic sanctions and attacks on its citizens and businesses at home and abroad if the film is released. NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who is Dutch, said Sunday that he is worried about Dutch troops in Afghanistan.

Several Dutch business organizations have called on Mr. Wilders not to release the film, and some at The Hague also favor self-censorship. Dutch newspapers report that several Muslim countries are pressuring the Prime Minister to suppress the movie -- though how the leader of a democracy could accomplish that even if he wanted to is left unsaid.

In any case, Mr. Balkenende is already blaming Mr. Wilders for any possible violence. "When you see how the reactions have been at home and abroad, what the risks could be of this film, then there's one person who must answer for it and that is Mr. Wilders himself," he said last week. So much for the Dutch tradition of political tolerance.

The Netherlands is not the only European country facing an Islamic threat to civil liberties, and it would be nice to think the European Union would show some solidarity here. But, as during the Danish cartoon crisis, there's mostly silence from Brussels. An exception is a proposal last week by the EU's top justice official to provide security for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch parliamentarian threatened over her criticism of radical Islam, and other similarly threatened officials, presumably including Mr. Wilders.

Mr. Wilders says he has every right to broadcast his film, and he is correct. Freedom of speech is not without limits, but there is no indication that the movie crosses the line to illegal incitement. It's hard not to wonder whether those who want to silence Mr. Wilders would consider shouting "jihad" in a crowded mosque an incitement to violence.

In any case, banning a film no one has seen is hardly a way to defend liberty or explain Western values to those who are new to them. Muslim organizations have already filed complaints against Mr. Wilders for some of his previous statements. Fair enough. They are free to do so again over his film -- just as anyone, Muslim or not, is free to ignore it.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Kurd commander: Turkey may become like Iraq

Self determination and resistance are allowed to Palestinians, Iraqis and just about everyone else except Kurds.
PKK Military Wing Commander: Turkey May Become 'Exact Replica of Iraq'

In a January 31, 2008 interview with the reformist website, PKK military wing commander Dr. Bahoz Erdal warned about a possible escalation in PKK activity, which would include attacks on tourists in Turkey.

The following are excerpts from the interview: [1]

Until Now, the PKK Has Been Using Only 20% of Its Forces

Asked how the PKK would respond to continued Turkish attacks, Dr. Erdal replied that his movement was well prepared for such an eventuality, saying: "...The results will be no different from the results of previous attacks: We will counter these continued [attacks] with equal force. This means that the tension will mount and the clashes will intensify, and it is not inconceivable that the fighting will reach the centers of Turkey's cities. Continued attacks will not only cause economic, political, and social crises, but may adversely affect stability in Iraq, especially in southern Kurdistan [i.e. Iraqi Kurdistan]...

"We are not attacking anyone. We are not fighting without cause, but are defending our national values, and we show sensitivity - especially when it comes to civilians. We have never harmed civilians intentionally, and we will not do so in the future.

"However, if the Turkish state persists in its policy of denying [the rights of the Kurdish people], and continues its military attacks on us, the millions of Kurds living in Turkish cities will be provoked into responding harshly - as was the case in the aftermath of the recent aerial attacks [of December 15, 2007], when Kurdish youths torched government vehicles in Turkish cities.

"Incidents of this kind may proliferate, and eventually, this may lead to the outbreak of a popular uprising in all the Turkish and Kurdish cities that nobody will be able to suppress or control..."

In response to another question about the PKK's reaction to the attacks on it, Dr. Erdal added: "...We have been compelled to use our special forces and the fedayeen battalions in battle. So far, we have been using only about 20% of our forces. We might reassess our defense policy, and this will tip the scales, intensify the clashes, and broaden the scope of the fighting, causing Turkey to become an exact replica of Iraq. But we do not want to reach that point..."

Tourists Are Advised to Stay Out of Turkey

Regarding the potential danger to tourists in Turkey, Dr. Erdal said: "...So far, we have never directly targeted tourists, but now there is a war going on in Turkey. [The Turkish military deployed] more than 50 planes in a single attack [on the PKK], and hundreds of thousands of soldiers engage in daily searches [for PKK operatives]. [The army] also uses tanks, APCs, and cannon, and there are clashes everywhere. In other words, there is a war going on in Turkey, and it adversely affects all areas of life, including tourism.

"Turkey is not safe for tourists, and we advise them to stay away from it. Extremist Kurdish organizations like the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) have targeted tourists in the past, and continue to threaten them in Turkey [today]. We cannot predict what will happen in the future..."

Turkey and Iran Are Working Together to "Crush Kurdish Aspirations"

In response to a question about Iranian-Turkish cooperation against the PKK, Dr. Erdal stated that the two countries had a joint interest to "crush Kurdish aspirations."

As for the U.S. policy vis-à-vis the Kurdish problem, he said: "...[The U.S.] wants to go on playing the Kurdish card whenever it wants. It knows that our movement is the main obstacle [preventing it] from attaining its goals. Our movement... has its own independent approach and relies on its own forces. Its policy is to avoid relying on any side, and it refuses on principle to belong to any bloc.

"Know that the solution to all the region's problems - including the Kurdish problem - lies in freedom and in peaceful coexistence of all peoples in the region, without external intervention. Such intervention has only exacerbated the crises. America is troubled by the concept [of peaceful coexistence without external intervention], and therefore objects to the existence of an independent Kurdish force. This is the main reason it wants to [harm] us."

The PKK Wants to Resolve the Kurdish Problem through Negotiations

About past attempts at negotiations with the Turks, Dr. Erdal stated: "...Ever since the ceasefire expired, on June 1, 2004, we have tried to keep clashes [with the Turkish military] to a minimum. We have been careful not to intensify the clashes, in order to give the political negotiations a chance and in order to create a climate in which a peaceful resolution could be reached.

"Over the last four years, we twice initiated a unilateral ceasefire. We did not do so out of weakness, or because we were unable to face [the enemy], or because we had deteriorated as a military organization, as the Turks and others tried to claim. Not at all. Our [policy] was based on our historical responsibility not to drain [the strength of] our people.

"But the Turkish government did not heed our initiatives, and took advantage of the ceasefires to intensify its attacks and its military operations aimed at destroying us...

"We do not see our struggle as a strictly military struggle. Our cause is primarily a political one, and we believe that the real solution will [likewise] be political, and will be attained through peaceful negotiations..."

The PKK Is Committed to Kurdish-Arab Brotherhood

Dr. Erdal also referred to the relations between the Kurds and their Arab neighbors, saying: "...Some Arab intellectuals see the Kurdish problem from a narrow perspective based only on the situation in Iraq. This situation has given them a [false] impression and has prejudiced them against all Kurds.

"But not all of Kurdistan is in Iraq; most of the Kurds live in northern Kurdistan [i.e. in Turkey]. The PKK, which has been leading the just struggle of the Kurdish people for three decades, is a friend of the Arabs and is committed to Kurdish-Arab brotherhood and friendship. The Kurds and the Arabs are neighbors, and share a common history and destiny... Since its founding, our party has worked to cement this friendship, [to consolidate] our joint struggle, and to build strong bridges between the Kurdish and Arab peoples."

"The Simplistic and Over-General View that Sees the Kurds as 'Agents of America' Is Wrong"

"The Lebanese and the Palestinians are witness [to our solidarity with them]. The simplistic and over-general view that sees the Kurds as 'agents of America' is wrong. There is a group among the Arab intellectuals that has not yet relinquished Arab nationalism, and is still under its influence; they regard all non-Arabs as a threat to the Arabs and as imperialist agents...

"They [i.e. this group] must remember that any deepening of the rift between our peoples serves only our enemies."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Young American Jews may not really be alienated from Israel.

The study finds that as Jews grow older they are more attached to Israel. This tends to refute previous claims that young people are becoming increasingly disaffected. "It's just a phase they go through."
However, because of the methodology, it is equally possible that as people grow older, the young people who were not attached to Israel drift away from the Jewish community, so that older Jews are self-selected for attachment to Judaism and to Israel.
Ami Isseroff

 Study: Young American Jews are not alienated from Israel
By Shmuel Rosner, Haaretz Correspondent

Scholars reject 'prevailing pessimism regarding the future relationship of American Jews to Israel.'

WASHINGTON - Despite being on the road, I heard about this new study that just came out today and did not want to wait with the good news. So, I will share some of the highlights here and maybe write more about it later. For those really interested in the topic - I recommend reading the study in full. I, for one, found it to be very interesting.

So let's dive into it, starting with the most surprising conclusion: "Jewish attachment to Israel has largely held steady for the period 1994-2007". There is no decline. Those of you who bothered to read any of my previous posts on this matter
(Another study, more proof: Younger American Jews are alienated from Israel), can calm down.

The new study was released by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University. I spoke with two of the three scholars responsible for this study (Len Saxe and Ted Sasson. Charles Kadushin was also on the team) and they feel pretty confident about its findings. Prof.
Saxe of Brandeis told me that he is more than ready to debate those who will not agree with the conclusions of this study if need arises. There are "strong reasons for rejecting the prevailing pessimism regarding the future relationship of American Jews to Israel", the study declares.

With such conclusions, there is no doubt that the need will arise.


So why did we think young Americans don't care for Israel as much as the older generation?

"Differences in attachment to Israel are likely related to life-cycle rather than the diverse experiences of successive generations. As American Jews grow older, they tend to become more emotionally attached to Israel".


And how do we know that?

Using the
Annual AJC Survey in which there are two questions "related to attachment to Israel almost every year".

One asks respondents whether "Caring about Israel is a very important part of my being a Jew." On this question, "the proportion of respondents agreeing that Israel is a 'very important' aspect of their Jewish identity holds stable throughout the entire time period" (19994-2007).

The second asks "How close do you feel to Israel?" and here is the analysis of the response: "Between 1994 and 2005, the proportion feeling close to Israel increased by 11 percents, from 66 to 77 percent of the sample; between 2006 and 2007, it declined by 7 percent. For the period as a whole, the spread between those indicating 'close' and 'distant' increased by a modest eight percent. Given the reported margin of error in these surveys, this is close to being a flat response".

And by the way, "Stability in the proportion of respondents indicating closeness to Israel is evident across the denominations."


That's all about American Jews in general, but what about the younger generation?

"If the younger generation's attachment was in decline, we would expect the proportion of respondents in the older two age categories indicating strong support of Israel to decline over time as younger respondents replaced older respondents within each category". This hasn't happened: respondents in the two older categories "either grew more attached" or their "level of attachment remained unchanged".

The authors site studies from the seventies and the eighties in which there was also a gap between young and old on the question of attachment. What does it prove? That as people get older (and wiser) the also grow more attached to Israel.


But Jewish liberals do grow more distant from Israel, don't they?

Well, not exactly. This might astonish (and probably upset) some of my conservative friends, but according to this study "general political orientation on a continuum from 'extremely liberal' to 'extremely conservative' is not related to attachment to Israel" (of course, one can argue about the meaning of attachment for the different groups, but that's another story).


So how come we thought the attachment to Israel was declining?

This is a long story. But to make it short I will quote this: "In a series of reports, articles, and books" Prof. Steven Cohen and colleagues "discern evidence that erosion in support is underway". So, again, it is the old story of Cohen the alarmist (my description, no one said such thing to me).

Alarmist - assuming that this study is right and he was wrong.


I asked Ted Sasson what Cohen will say about his conclusion. He told me that Cohen read some of the drafts and that one argument will probably be that the AJC surveys are not accurate enough when it comes to reflecting the growing segment of the community that is intermarried.

However, Sasson points out that their study does in fact control for the influence of intermarriage.


Any other good news in this study?

Yes. The more American Jews travel to Israel, the more they become attached to it. And in recent years, the number of travelers has been growing, and will grow even more thanks to the Taglit-Birthright program (young Jews go to Israel for free). This "implies the likelihood that such upward pressure on Israel attachment will continue in the future".

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Disproportionate in Gaza

Disproportionate in Gaza

It has started all over again. Israel fights back against Hamas aggression, and everybody cries 'disproportionate'. There's a body count, and it turns out that the Israelis have killed far more Palestinians than the Palestinians have killed Israelis. Apparently this means Israel has been disproportionate.

But war isn't about exact body counts. Most of the dead Palestinians have been Hamas fighters. If more soldiers on one side die than on the other, isn't that what is supposed to happen in war? As for the genuinely unfortunate Palestinian civilians who have been killed, won't anyone own up to the fact that their lives were put at risk by Hamas fighters hiding within the civilian population? That's illegal under international law, so let's be brutally honest and say that Hamas, not Israel, is guilty of war crimes here. Not so many Israelis get killed, because IDF troops are based away from civilian centres. And don't pretend Hamas are mere 'militants': when they fire rockets or send in suicide bombers, they target the civilian population. Another war crime.

Some sort of madness seems to grip people at a time like this. Israel pulls out of Gaza, apparently something the people of Gaza wanted. What does Hamas do? It takes control of Gaza by brute force, then it uses proxies to fire barrage after barrage of rockets into southern Israel. The pro-Palestinian brigade sneer that these 'home-made' rockets are of little consequence. I notice that none of these people have ever volunteered to live in Sderot (or Ashkelon) in order to drive that point home. If the Scots were firing similar rockets into Berwick, do you honestly believe the UK government would sit back for years and do almost nothing, as the Israeli government has done?

The real disproportion here lies with Hamas, Fatah, and their allies, in their complete refusal to abide by any of the norms of modern international law or the principles of the United Nations. Here's an early passage from the 1988 Hamas Charter:

'The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day. This being so, who could claim to have the right to represent Moslem generations till Judgement Day?

'This is the law governing the land of Palestine in the Islamic Sharia (law) and the same goes for any land the Moslems have conquered by force, because during the times of (Islamic) conquests, the Moslems consecrated these lands to Moslem generations till the Day of Judgement.'

The Day of Judgement? How on earth does that fit into the concept of the Westphalian state and the rule of international law? In 1948, when Israel was established by a majority vote of the UN, the Arabs simply defied that vote and sent armies against the new country with the intent of obliterating it. These countries wanted all the advantages that came from membership in the UN, but the moment that body voted democratically to create Israel, they turned their backs and have continued to turn their backs to the present day. Proportionate? Far from it.

The consequence for the Palestinians has been horrific. Instead of enjoying the state they were given in 1948, instead of cooperating with Israel to create mutual prosperity, they and their allies fought yet more wars, while they launched wave after wave of terrorism against the Jewish state. Some people call them resistance fighters, but that's an unforgivable response to such actions. There's nothing to resist, in that Israel is always willing to make peace the moment the violence against it stops. It has been saying so for 60 years and, to be honest, it's bloody obvious. Why would anyone prefer war. Some people don't believe that; but the Palestinians haven't once put it to the test. Why not? Because they think religious motives ('the Day of Judgement') are a valid excuse for killing innocent civilians in the 21st century?

When Israeli children are killed by rockets or suicide bombers, the people of Gaza and the West Bank hand out sweets to passers by and rejoice. When Palestinian children die in the course of an attack, no-one in Israel celebrates. When Palestinian children are wounded, they are taken to Israel and treated in Israeli hospitals. While rockets have been raining on Sderot, Israel has been providing Gaza with 90% of its electricity, with food, medicine, fuel and other necessities. What other country has shown so much compassion to an enemy plotting to destroy it? There is no proportion in any of these things, yet they build a very different picture to that given in the media, of Israel as a marauding tyrant, taking disproportionate revenge.

We all want a real future for an independent Palestine. But that will not come so long as Hamas struggle for the unrealizable and for the coming of Judgement Day.

Denis MacEoin

 Liberal Defense of Israel

Cross posted:

Continued (Permanent Link)

To the people of Sderot and Ashkelon: Grim Restraint and Fierce determination

In these days, it is important to remember: Arab terror attacks are not new, and casualties are not new. We have seen much worse times in this country. This personal account of the Ben Yehuda Street Bombing of1948 reminds us of the essentials. In the bombing, over fifty people were buried in the wreckage and destruction wreaked by Arab terror.

The letter was not written by a spinmaster, a blowhard politico or a Zionist "Hasbara" master. It was written by an American young lady, a student in Jerusalem in 1948, who had joined the Haganah. She arrived on the scene of the bombing and set up a first aid station.

Zipporah Porath wrote:

I am becoming like the Jews who live here: every shock and sorrow nurtures you to grim restraint and fierce dedication.

That is something to think about for the frenzied op-ed writers, who tell us every day that the sky is falling. A 60 year old lesson in being an Israeli, 101, from a young student and new immigrant. This is what we do when the sky really does fall!

Ami Isseroff

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Nine immoral solutions for Gaza - a guide

In summary - the situation will continue to continue
 Nine immoral solutions for Gaza - a guide
By Bradley Burston
For a moral compass, Gaza is the North Pole. The needle spins so continually, and at such speed, that no reading is possible.
For Israelis, the quandary of Gaza is a powerful Rorshach of the role and the burdens of Israel, of mood and injury, of personal tragedy and official befuddlement, of social conscience, ethical outlook, and sense of history.
The Gaza Strip, unwanted by the world, unwanted by Israel, unwanted by the Arabs and even by many Palestinians, forlorn, violent, seething, unlivable, has become the great moral test for the Jewish people.
All it took was rockets.
Seven years of rockets. Rockets launched toward civilian populations, schools, a college, rockets that slammed through private homes, children's bedrooms in the blue collar Israeli town of Sderot. More than a thousand rockets a year for seven years, directed at kibbutzim which for decades had supported an end to occupation and the rise of a Palestinian state. Eight thousand rockets, fired when Israel had 25 settlements and 20,000 troops in the Gaza Strip, and when Israel expelled the settlers and withdrew its troops, rockets fired from the ruins of the settlements and former emplacements of the IDF.
For Palestinians, Gaza was a prison before the disengagement, and a maximum security lockup thereafter. For Palestinians, the end of Israeli rule and the subsequent rise of Hamas were a human rights tragedy turned human rights catastrophe. For Palestinians, there is no more work in Israel, no more work in Gaza, no more hope anywhere.
When Israel ended its operation in the Strip on Monday, a Hamas radio announcer declared victory, saying that despite all of the destruction and death, Hamas gunners were still hitting Sderot and Ashkelon and even Netivot. Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar addressed a rally to mark what he called Hamas' success in the Five Day War. Taking the trouble to thank the news media in general for its coverage of Palestinian casualties, Al Jazeera and Hamas' own Al Aqsa TV in particular, he told a cheering, chanting crowd, in effect: We showed them. The Israelis?ll think twice before invading ever again.
He's right. Israelis will think twice, and many times again. This is why: Hamas, with the direct or inadvertent cooperation of Hezbollah, Iran, the Islamic Jihad, Fatah fatcats, Fatah rebels, the Bush administration, and, of course, Israel itself, has created a situation in which every one of Israel's moral and strategic options is a bad one.
This is the test for Israel: There is no way to ace it, and there are countless ways to fail. Here are a few.
Choose your poison:
1. A massive IDF ground offensive.
Arguments in favor: There is no alternative but to use overwhelming if tactically directed force to root out terror groups which fire the rockets, and to break the back of the Hamas government and remove it from power.
Marshalled example: Operation Defensive Shield, 2002
Arguments against: The risk-benefit equation suggests that large numbers of Gaza non-combatants as well as Israeli forces would be killed and wounded, without truly material success in curbing Qassam and Katyusha attacks.
International outrage could cause Israel great political, economic, even strategic harm.
2. Reoccupy the Gaza Strip
Arguments in favor: Israel cannot abide a terrorist state less than an hour's drive from Tel Aviv. Hamas, if allowed to rule, will eventually take over the West Bank and, effectively, East Jerusalem as well. Even a large-scale IDF offensive, if only temporary, will leave the field open to rearmament and continued attacks.
Arguments against: Israel militarily occupied the Gaza Strip for nearly forty years, but was unable to prevent the manufacture and firing of Qassams. Qassam firing continued under Israeli occupation for more than three years until the disengagement in 2005. Finally, Israel lacks the will and the forces to occupy Gaza indefinitely.
3. Shell sources of rocket fire
Arguments in favor: Use of long-range artillery will save the lives of soldiers who would be out at risk in a ground offensive. If Israel puts Gazans on notice that artillery will immediately and consistently shell any area from which rockets are fired, they will either prevent Hamas gunners from using their homes and yards, or will flee before the firing begins.
Arguments against: Artillery has proven markedly inaccurate as retaliatory fire against small crews of armed men, often with disastrous consequences. Cases of innocent civilians killed in error, tragic in themselves, have in many cases also made it impossible for the IDF to continue to pursue its military targets.
4. Assassinate Hamas leaders
Arguments in favor: Assassinations of commanders and political leaders can paralyze the organization, sending leading figures underground, cutting lines of communication, interrupting chains of command, while at the same time causing less danger to Palestinian civilians and to IDF soldiers. When Israel assassinated Hamas founders Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abed Aziz Rantisi in 2004, threats os monumental retaliation never materialized, and the organization subsequently offered a limited truce.
Arguments against: Civilians are often killed by mistake in assassination attempts. Assassination is also a dangerous policy, as it invites counter-attempts, such as the murder of then-cabinet minister Rehavam Ze'evi in Jerusalem in 2001. Finally, it fails to address core concerns, and may cause deadly reprisals, as in the suicide bombings that killed 60 people in Israel after the 1996 assassination of Hamas bomb mastermind Yihye Ayyash.
5. Negotiate with Hamas
Arguments for: Hamas is not only the democratically elected ruler of Gaza, it also still enjoys broad, if somewhat dimished, popular support in the Strip. Because it trades on an ideology of martyrdom and steadfastness in the face of attack, it will be defeated neither by economic sanctions nor military confrontation. There is no alternative to talks toward a cease-fire, which Hamas has been proposing for years, holding out the offer of the return of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in an exchange for jailed Hamas men.
Arguments against: Negotiations would constitute a major victory for Hamas, and tacit Israeli recognition of the organization, further undermining the standing of Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority and perhaps paving way for future Hamas control of the West Bank.
The Hamas charter continues to call explicitly for the violent destruction of the state of Israel, and any expansion of Hamas hegemony to the West Bank could put large swathes of central Israel, the bulk of Israel's population, in range of Katyusha-Grad rockets.
6. Tighten the economic siege over Gaza
Arguments for: How can a nation at war justify supplying its enemy with fuel, electricity, water, and even supplies which may be used for producing rockets and other armaments?
Arguments against: The people of Gaza as a whole should not be punished for the actions of a small number of armed men. Collective punishment, moreover, increases hatred toward Israel and will, in the end, persuade more youths to become terrorists.
7. Lift the economic siege over Gaza
Arguments in favor: Such a step could, if carried out in cooperation with Abbas and the PA, strengthen Abbas' hand. (Also see arguments against, numbers 6 and, if carried out in cooperation with Hamas, 5 above)
Arguments against: Such a step could bolster Hamas, whioch could list it as a strategic victory and an indication that its policies were correct all along.
8. Increase IDF operations in the West Bank
Arguments in favor: Israel must do everything it can to confront and contain Hamas in the West Bank, to keep it from taking over.
Arguments against: Such operations sap the limited sovereignty of Abbas and the PA, which has taken action of its own against Hamas in the West Bank. Such operations also cast Abbas in the role of collaborator with Israel, cutting his support among Palestinians.
9. Do nothing
Arguments for: This stance, which, while it may have adherents in practice, has no proponents.
Arguments against. Israel does not have the option of doing nothing. To do nothing is, in effect, a violation of the human rights of the people of Sderot and the western Megev, who are the targets of Hamas war crimes.

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Hamas is trying to wreck the peace process

This is really what it is all about - Hamas is trying to wreck the peace process and unseat the Palestinian Authority.
Last update - 12:05 04/03/2008       
Rice, in Egypt: Hamas trying to wreck peace process
By Barak Ravid and News Agencies
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday she would work toward resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations as soon as possible, saying Hamas is trying to wreck chances for the peace process.
Rice made the comments after talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo on a stopover before heading to Israel, trying to rescue peace talks after a recent upsurge in fighting left more than one hundred Palestinians and one Isralei dead.
Israel launched an offensive into the Gaza Strip to stop rocket attacks by Hamas and other militant groups on nearby Israeli cities, but the assault prompted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to suspend negotiations.
"There has to be an active peace process that can withstand the efforts of rejectionists to keep peace from being made, the people who are firing rockets do not want peace," Rice told reporters in Cairo. "They sow instability, that is what Hamas is doing."

"Hamas is doing what might be expected, which is using rocket attacks on Israel to arrest a peace process in which they have nothing to gain," Rice said.
"Negotiations ought to resume as soon as possible," she said, adding that any lengthy suspension of talks handed victory to Hamas, which seized control of Gaza last June and whose stepped up rocket attacks into Israel preceded the latest offensive.
Rice's first meeting in Cairo was with Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, followed by talks with President Hosni Mubarak.
Experts say Rice faces an uphill battle to revive the peace talks -launched to much fanfare last November, in Annapolis, Maryland with the goal of getting a Palestinian statehood deal before the Bush administration's term ends in January 2009.
"I continue to believe that they can get to a deal by the end of the year if everybody has got the will to do it," said Rice, adding implementation of a deal would take a lot longer.
She dismissed sceptics who have predicted the Annapolis process will fail without including Hamas and that U.S. attempts to isolate Gaza will ultimately backfire.
"It is going to have its ups and downs. There will be good days and bad days and even good weeks and bad weeks. I am going to talk to the parties about staying focused on what needs to be done here," she said.
Rice added the stop in Egypt to her itinerary only in the past few days. Government sources said Rice would be discussing the border during her visits to Egypt, Israel and the PA.
In her talks with Israeli leaders, Rice is expected once again to raise Egypt's request to increase the number of its soldiers on the border by 750.
Rice is also expected to seek Israel's response to the plan to reopen the Rafah crossing into Egypt, and to Fayyad's plan to transfer control of the crossings between Gaza and Israel to the PA.
Olmert to tell Rice: Israel wants to renew talks
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was set to tell Rice on Tuesday that Israel wants to renew talks with the PA quickly.
Rice, who is due to arrive in Israel on Tuesday afternoon, will head directly for Ramallah for talks with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. She will later dine in Jerusalem with Olmert. Rice will meet with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Tuesday.
Rice's visit had been planned to gauge progress on the peace process after President George W. Bush's recent visit to the region. But in light of events in the Gaza Strip, Rice is expected to work toward getting the talks back on track.
Olmert, who is said to have been disappointed in the PA announcement on the suspension of negotiations, will reportedly ask Rice to urge the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who visited Israel Monday, proposed that the Israelis open a dialogue with Egypt and the PA as soon as possible toward clinching a "package deal" on Gaza.
He said an overall agreement of this type could include new security arrangements on the Philadelphi route, the reopening of the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, a solution to the matter of the Israel-Gaza crossings and an attempt to reach a cease-fire with Hamas through Egyptian mediation.
Solana also said that such a dialogue should not be conducted in a way that would be "an achievement for Hamas."
In light of recent calls by some European countries to immediately open the Gaza Strip crossings, Livni told Solana that Europe should not take any action that could be construed as a victory for Hamas. Livni gave a briefing to foreign ambassadors on Monday, telling them that when talking about "collective punishment" it should be remembered that Sderot and Ashkelon are also experiencing collective punishment.

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AP says Ban says Israel says Hezbollah has 30,000 rockets in Lebanon

 Last update - 11:48 04/03/2008       
UN's Ban: Israel says Hezbollah has 30,000 rockets in S. Lebanon
By The Associated Press
Israel says Hezbollah is rearming and has an arsenal including 10,000 long-range rockets and 20,000 short-range rockets in southern Lebanon, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council in a new report Tuesday.
While Ban's report did not confirm Israel's claim, the UN chief reiterated his concern about Hezbollah's public statements and persistent reports pointing to breaches of a UN arms embargo, which bans weapons transfers to the militant Shiite Islamic militia.
Ban also expressed concern at the threats of open war against Israel by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Nasrallah accused Israel of trying to start a new war by assassinating a top Hezbollah commander and warned it would be a battle Israel would lose.
Israel has denied involvement in the February 12 car bombing in Damascus, Syria that killed Imad Mughniyeh.
The secretary-general's report focused on implementation of the UN cease-fire resolution that ended the 34-day Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah in August 2006. The resolution reiterates a call for the disarming of all militias and bans arms transfers to them.
"Reports of Hezbollah rearming are a cause of great concern, posing serious challenges to the sovereignty, stability and independence of Lebanon," Ban said.
He told the council he continues to believe that the disarmament of Hezbollah and other militias must be part of a Lebanese-led political process that would fully restore the government's authority throughout the country.
He expressed regret that the persistent deterioration of the political climate and the prolonged deadlock over the election of a new Lebanese president have made it impossible to deal with the disarmament issue.
In his last report to the council in late October, Ban alleged that Hezbollah had rearmed with new long-range rockets capable of hitting Tel Aviv and tripled its arsenal of C-802 land-to-sea missiles since the 2006 war. He also drew attention to alleged breaches of the arms embargo and the transfer of sophisticated weapons from Iran and Syria - both strong backers of Hezbollah - across the Lebanon-Syria border.
Syria disputed the claim and countered that the allegations of weapons smuggling are motivated by political rather than security considerations, Ban said, but Hezbollah's leaders have admitted on several occasions that their military capacity had been replenished after the war with Israel.
"I, therefore, remain concerned that this border remains vulnerable to such breaches, which would represent serious violations of the resolution and constitute a significant threat to the stability and security of Lebanon," he said.
"All member states in the region, in particular the Syrian Arab Republic and the Islamic Republic of Iran, have a key responsibility in this regard," the secretary-general said. "Such violations risk further destabilizing Lebanon and the whole region."
After the 2006 war, a beefed-up UN force was stationed in south Lebanon, south of the Litani River, partially to keep Hezbollah from smuggling weapons into the area.
In Monday's report, Ban said, Israel maintains that Hezbollah is significantly rebuilding its military presence inside the UN's area of operations, and on occasion has provided the UN with information.
But he said UN and Lebanese forces have found no evidence so far of new infrastructure though their operational activities are occasionally closely monitored by unarmed civilians.
Israel also contends that Hezbollah has continued to construct new facilities and carry out training north of the Litani River and in the Bekaa Valley, where the government of Lebanon has exclusive responsibility for security, Ban said.
Hezbollah has not challenged allegations regarding the development of military facilities north of the Litani River and has publicly announced that it will use its arsenal against Israel if provoked, he said.
Israel claims Hezbollah has also adapted its tactics to the UN presence south of the Litani River and can fire rockets at Israel, Ban said.
"In addition to information provided in previous reports, the government of Israel states that Hezbollah's arsenal includes some 10,000 long-range rockets, in addition to some 20,000 short-range rockets, deployed both north and south of the Litani River," the secretary-general said.
He said Hezbollah denies transferring weapons south of the Litani River in violation of the 2006 resolution.
Before the war, Israel estimates that Hezbollah had 13,000 rockets deployed. During the war, Hezbollah bombarded Israel with nearly 4,000 rockets. The rockets struck as far south as Hadera, 45 kilometers north of Tel Aviv.
Since the war, Nasrallah has boasted his group possesses an arsenal of rockets that can reach all of Israel, including the main metropolis of Tel Aviv.
Shortly after the war, he said the guerrillas had 33,000 rockets.
In the report, Ban also expressed concern that "Israeli air violations continue unabated without any regard for the levels of tension and anger that these actions trigger on the ground."
Ban reiterated his urgent call for Israel to provide detailed information on the cluster munitions it fired during the war, saying the information provided last month is of very limited value.
Ban also urged the parties to redouble their efforts to resolve the issue of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, whose kidnapping sparked the war, as well as Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel.

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Olmert: All military options for Gaza are on the table

Last update - 04:15 04/03/2008    
Olmert: All military options for Gaza are on the table
By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz Correspondent

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared Monday that the operation in the Gaza Strip is not a singular event. "The operation is not a one-time event: neither in us going in, or us pulling out."
Speaking before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday, Olmert said that "everything is on the table - ground operations, air [strikes] and special operations."
He described the government's goals in the operation that ended early Monday morning, and in others to come as "significantly decreasing the launch of indirect fire, and the weakening of Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip, in a way that will check its ability to control life in the Gaza Strip."
Olmert also stressed that negotiations with the Palestinians will continue. He said that without negotiations, Israel would be condemned by the international community, even if it behaved in a restrained and balanced manner.
"That which enables us to manifest our basic right to self defense is the political horizon. There is no way to prevent the 'Gazafication' process and the rise of Hamas in the West Bank without offering a political horizon. Whoever cannot recognize this is simply lying to himself," the Prime Minister said.
Olmert also argued that a military operation in the Strip had become necessary even without Ashkelon being targeted by Hamas.
"From the ethical point of view, shots fired against Netivot are no different from those fired on Ashkelon. The lives of those living in the communities bordering the Gaza Strip are just as important and precious as those of any Israeli."
The Prime Minister said he rejects the "lectures on morals" coming from outside Israel.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Hamas won't allow Fatah man to attend funeral of his children

The question that is not asked, is why and how these children were killed. Were they fighting for the illegal genocidal Hamas regime? Or were they "collateral damage"?
Last update - 09:36 04/03/2008    
 Fatah man loses children in IDF raid, but Hamas won't let him bury them
By Avi Issacharoff , Haaretz Correspondent 

"I wanted to see their bodies, to say good-bye to them for the last time," says Mohammed Abu Shabak, whose children Jacqueline and Iyad were killed Sunday during the Israel Defense Forces' operation in Jabalya.
But Hamas told Abu Shabak, a Fatah activist in exile in Ramallah, that if he tried to come to the Gaza Strip funeral, he would be killed. Hamas militants also fired at his relatives' car, while they were announcing his children's death in Jabalya.
"I don't know whom I'm more angry with - Hamas, who won't let me go to my children's funeral, or Israel, who killed them and stopped their mother from coming to see them in the hospital," he says.
Unlike most mourning huts, Mohammed's is some 100 kilometers away from the family's house in Gaza. Mohammed is the nephew and former associate of Rashid Abu Shabak, Fatah's counter-intelligence commander in the Gaza Strip and a Hamas foe. Mohammed fled the strip in June 2007, at the beginning of the Fatah-Hamas civil war.
"I didn't say a word to the kids when I left the house. Only when I made it through the Erez crossing did I call and tell Jacqueline I was moving to Ramallah and promised to see her again soon. I never saw her again," he says.
His house in Ramallah is filled with guests who came to console him, almost all of them, like himself, refugees who have been sentenced to death in Gaza. Some of them escaped assassination attempts. All Fatah's senior officials and former Palestinian Authority officers in Gaza arrived. Many had left their families behind in Gaza, because Israel refused to let the families join their fathers and husbands in the West Bank.
Mohammed sits grieving in a small room. He used to talk to his children and especially to his eldest, 17-year-old Jacqueline, every day. "Every day she told me she missed me. In May, after she and her brother Iyad passed their exams, I planned to bring them to Ramallah. She was an outstanding student, dreamed of studying engineering at university. She was afraid of being teased because of her foreign name. She was always angry with me for choosing that name."
"On Saturday I spoke to her at about 10 P.M. Jacqueline was sick and so was Iyad, who had back problems. I told my wife that I wanted her to take the children and move to her family's house in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, where it's quieter. Her leg is broken, so she said she'd go the next day. At midnight Jacqueline called. The military operation had begun, and I heard the shelling and bombing. She told me that my little son, Mohammed Ali, kept running to the window every time he heard shooting and asked me to speak to him. I did. He promised not to make problems. An hour later I called her again and asked everyone to gather in the living room. At 2:15 A.M. we had our last conversation. She told me she missed me."
He bursts into tears again.
"I told her not to be afraid. I promised her that tomorrow we'd talk on instant messenger and she asked me to talk to Iyad, but I said I was tired and would talk to them later. At about 2:30 A.M. they were killed."
Mohammed's friends say that Iyad had left the living room to go to the bathroom when a shell hit the house and he was seriously injured. He called for help and his sister Jacqueline rushed to his side. As she approached him, soldiers shot her. Rescue teams took the two, still breathing, to the hospital, but they died soon after arrival. Their mother remained in the shelled house with a broken leg and three small children. The phone lines were cut off and nobody could approach the house, which was in the center of the IDF's operation site, to tell her of their death.
Meanwhile, one of the neighbors called Mohammed's friend Nashet, who also lives in Ramallah, and told him what had happened. Nashet went to Mohammed's house. "He woke me up. I asked him what are you doing here, what happened? He told me Jacqueline was killed. Only after I collapsed and was taken to the hospital did my friends tell me the whole truth," says Mohammed.
Asked if he would still try to move his family to Ramallah, Mohammed says, "No, someone must take care of Jacqueline and Iyad's graves, and my wife won't leave them behind."

Continued (Permanent Link)

IAF strike kills two Gaza militants; Qassam rocket damages Sderot home

 Last update - 11:10 04/03/2008       
IAF strike kills two Gaza militants; Qassam rocket damages Sderot home
By Yuval Azoulay, Mijal Grinberg and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondents
Two Palestinian militants were killed Tuesday in two separate Israel Air Force strikes on the Gaza Strip, shortly after a Qassam rocket scored a direct hit on a house in the western Negev town of Sderot.
The Israel Defense Forces said the strikes, which were carried out north of Jabalya and east of Gaza City, targeted militants who were engaged in firing Qassam rockets at Israel.
One of the militants was identified as Ayman Cahouji, a member of Hamas.
No injuries were reported in the rocket attack on Sderot, but the building, which was empty at the time, suffered severe damage.
Also Tuesday, official censorship was lifted on the fact that a Katyusha rocket fired in recent days from the Gaza Strip struck near the home of Public Security Minister Avi Dichter in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon.
Late Monday, the IAF fired a missile at a group of Palestinian militants firing rockets from the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanun, killing one man, Palestinian officials said.
A second strike in the same area caused no casualties, they said.
The IDF confirmed both strikes, saying the first hit a rocket squad and the second struck a donkey cart loaded with rockets.
Earlier Monday, an Egyptian helicopter on Monday accidentally violated the airspace of the Gaza Strip, and was escorted by IAF aircraft back into Egypt's airspace.
Also on Monday, the IDF pulled its ground troops out of the Gaza Strip, and Hamas seized the pullout to declare "victory" in the intensive fighting that has killed more than 100 people in recent days.
The pullback followed days of sequential fighting that drew an appeal from Washington to end violence and rescue peace talks with the Palestinians.
The withdrawal came after the IDF senior command on Sunday recommended keeping up intensive military pressure on Hamas.
Medics and Hamas have said about half of those killed in recent days have been civilians, including women and children, but IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said that of the 100 fatalities, 90 were armed militants.

Continued (Permanent Link)

In Gaza, Hamas at fault says US

Certain hysterical Israelis who insist that the US is against Israel should read this carefully. It is good to have allies who stand by us, and it is silly to alienate them for no reason.
The point is not how many people were killed. More Germans were killed in World War II than Americans. The point is that Hamas is a racist, genocidal organization of terrorist war criminals that has been terrorizing Israeli civilians after it took power illegally.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 22:31 03/03/2008       
White House blames Hamas for sparking violence in south Israel
By News Agencies
The White House on Monday blamed the Palestinian militant group Hamas for sparking recent fighting between Israel and the Palestinians that has killed dozens and posed an obstacle to peace talks.
"The number one thing that has to happen is that Hamas has got to stop targeting Israeli citizens with rockets. It must stop," Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for President George W. Bush's National Security Council, told reporters traveling with the president back to Washington.
Johndroe added: "The Palestinians have a choice to make... It's a choice between terrorism or a choice between a political solution that leads to a Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel."
The days of fighting has killed dozens and led Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to call off peace talks, just as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice headed to the region for a week-long trip aimed at boosting the efforts for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
With U.S. credibility at stake, Rice faces an uphill battle to revive peace talks suspended over the weekend by Abbas. Washington wants those talks to result in a peace treaty by the end of the year but that hope seems increasingly unrealistic.
U.S. officials said Rice would press Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to get back to talks despite the violence in Gaza, which Hamas seized from Abbas' Fatah movement in June, but conceded the timing of her long-arranged trip made it difficult.
"The most important thing is to keep moving the talks along," said a U.S. official who asked not to be identified.
The IDF operation has drawn a chorus of international condemnation, with the EU, Turkey and UN chief Ban Ki-Moon accusing Israel of using excessive force. But Johndroe said it is Hamas that is to blame, by inciting the developments when it fired rockets into Israeli cities.
Johndroe would not say whether the United States thought Israel was using excessive force. "We obviously don't want innocent civilians to lose their life," he said. "But I think that started with these rockets that have been fired from Gaza into Israel recently killing and injuring Israeli citizens in some of their bigger cities."
He said Rice would talk to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas about his decision to suspend talks because of the violence.
The official stated that despite the fighting the U.S. would continue to pursue its objective of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians by the end of the year. "We are going to keep after it... Keep on pursing it," he said.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Latest sanctions against Iran ineffective

Last update - 03:02 04/03/2008    
 Israel: Latest sanctions against Iran not enough 
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent 
Jerusalem is disappointed with the latest round of sanctions against Iran passed late Monday night by the United Nations Security Council, a government source said Monday. Israel sees them as soft, especially with regard to the list of individuals and institutions on which the sanctions would be imposed.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Monday that the Security Council's resolution was another essential step expressing the understanding that the international community must not give up and stand idly by in light of Iran's nuclear efforts.
"Any additional decision by any country, member or group, adds more weight to create the mass of sanctions needed to stop Iran, Livni said.
 The resolution, passed Monday, authorizes cargo inspections to and from Iran for prohibited materials, additional monitoring of Iranian financial institutions and the freezing of assets of those involved in its nuclear program.
"If the majority supported it, it only shows it doesn't have enough meat," the source said.
The Foreign Ministry's official response stated that the resolution was passed in recognition of the fact that the international community justifiably has no faith in Iran's declarations that its nuclear program is peaceful.
After the resolution was approved, Iran dismissed the current and previous sanctions resolutions as violations of international law and said they only harmed the 15-nation Security Council's credibility.
"The credibility of the Security Council... is readily downgraded to a mere tool of the national foreign policy of just a few countries," Iran's UN ambassador, Mohammed Khazaee, told the council.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Reuters converts to Islamist cause

"I will fight all men until they say, there is no God but Allah" - thus said the prophet Muhamad on his deathbed. And thus says Reuters news service in this homage to the Hamas terrorist militant group.
Hamas and Reuters tell it like it is:
"We have the right to all of Palestine," he said in his three-room, one-storey house in Gaza City.

"If we are dead before we can liberate our land, then we did not give up. We have to set an example to our children that weakness is not an excuse for not putting up a fight."
What peace and what negotiations can there be with this group? What kind of example should Israelis set to their children and the rest of the world regarding Hamas?
If you can stomach the rest of it, read it here: Inspired by God, Hamas fighters battle on
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Anne Frank: The musical

What rhymes with Bergen-Belsen? Gas Chamber? Einzatsgruppenfuhrer?
And this year's academy award for execrable bad taste and cynical exploitation goes to...

Last update - 01:02 03/03/2008

 Anne Frank's Diary takes to the stage in a new Spanish musical  By Haaretz Staff and Channel 10 10 daily feature for March 2, 2008. 
Joining the ranks of Les Miserables and the Phantom of the Opera, The Diary of Anne Frank has officially been immortalized on the musical stage.

A Spanish musical interpreting the story of the adolescent girl hiding with her family from the Nazis during World War II opened in Madrid over the weekend, to both fanfare and controversy.

It took more than four million euros to put to song the story of Anne Frank, who was captured with her family by the Nazis and died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945.

But aggressive promotion and concern the musical would cheapen Anne's memory have led many to condemn the project.

Among the critics is Buddy Elias, Anne's cousin and last living relative, who heads the Anne Frank Fund in Switzerland and refused to attend the opening performace.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Israeli-Americans return to fight

To every Israeli living abroad:
"Mekomcha Itanu"
Your place is with us.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 17:41 02/03/2008    
 Expats' kids in IDF: 'If I don't help defend my home then who will?' 
By Yuval Azoulay 

Private Asaf Harris left Israel at the age of 2 and moved with his parents to Michigan, in the United States. On visits to relatives in Israel he would see soldiers standing at hitchhiking posts, and made up his mind to emulate them.
Now he is part of an encouraging trend presented by the Defense Ministry: The number of children of expatriate Israelis who return to Israel to serve in the Israel Defense Forces is rising constantly. Moreover, 70 percent of these young people choose to remain in Israel after their discharge, and 30 percent of their parents return in their children's wake.
Defense Ministry data also show that 90 percent of the children of expatriate Israelis volunteer for service in combat units, and that the latest pilot's course includes a man and a woman who immigrated from the U.S.
 Harris recently completed Paratrooper Brigade boot camp and is headed for advanced training with the brigade's Battalion 890.
"Despite growing up in the U.S. I always felt that my real home is here, in Israel, and if I don't help defend my home then who will," he asks.
Despite his parents
Harris's parents were fiercely opposed to his moving to Israel "Life is quiet there; they don't have the crazy news we get here in Israel," so he went to college, where he majored in economics.
"Once I graduated, I was already 21 and I presented my parents with a fait accompli," he said.
Today he lives on Kibbutz Maoz Haim, along with several of his comrades from the brigade who moved to Israel as part of a Scouts Movement program.
"Their preparation for service in the IDF starts while still overseas, as part of activity intensified in recent years by the Jewish Agency, the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, the Kibbutz Movement and the Scouts. Afterward they come to Israel and study Hebrew at an ulpan, and every soldier is adopted by a kibbutz family for the duration of service," says Udi Dror, aide to the head of the Defense Ministry's recruitment department.
American-born Tomer Regev, a soldier with Battalion 202 of the Paratroopers, says he always wanted to serve in the IDF.
He heard about the Israeli army from his father and other relatives who reminisced at family events.
Regev says his parents, who live in Los Angeles, are pleased with his decision.
He has not decided whether to stay in Israel after the army or return to L.A. to realize a new dream: playing professional football.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Gaza Linguistics, Who is threatening a Holocaust?

Gaza: Holocaust or The Hashoah?


There is no doubt that the recent Israeli escalation in Gaza is unwise. It will not end the Qassam rocket fire on Sderot or the Grad rocket fire on Ashkelon. It will not bring peace. It will not end the rule of the Hamas in Gaza. On the contrary, it might help to legitimize and entrench the Hamas.

Israel has a right to defend itself. It is not always wise to exercise your rights. It is never wise to carry out military operations that cannot achieve any political goal or provide any military advantage. The Israel government must know by now that the rules are different for Israel. According to the BBC the Lebanese army killed about 260 people in Nahar el Bared camp. Over 40 were civilians, while the rest were terrorists militants of the Fatah al-Islam Al-Qaeda group. But nobody batted an eyelash. Nobody said there was any Holocaust. In Gaza, about 40 terrorists militants were killed by Israel, and about 10 civilians in a day. It was immediately condemned as "disproportionate use of force" and "a Holocaust." Fifty dead Palestinians make a Holocaust, but as many dead Pakistanis or Iraqis rate 2 column inches on the third page, and nobody even remembers if six times as many Lebanese are killed. That's the way the world works.

A linguistic note is in order. Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said the following last week:

"As the Qassam rocket fire [on Israeli civilians] intensifies and increases its range, the Palestinians will bring upon themselves a greater catastrophe because we will use all our might to defend ourselves."

. The phrase he used in Hebrew was

yamitu al atsmam shoah gdolah yoter.

Reuters news service mistranslated "shoah" as Holocaust, and trumpeted the "news" that Vilnai was threatening a "Holocaust." They published a correct version later on, but the story of the "Holocaust" threat has spread far and wide. The original was either a deliberate error or a very gross mistranslation. Those who are spreading it now are lying deliberately. I have check three authoritative dictionaries (Alcalay, Even Shushan, Shweika). The word "Shoah" in correct Hebrew does not mean genocide, or burnt offering or the massacre of European Jews by the Nazis. That is not one of the meanings listed. "Hashoah" - with a definite article, refers to "The Holocaust" - the massacre of European Jewry. It is not the same thing. I have also searched for "Yamitu Shoah" in Google. This is a sort of cliched phrase that means "will bring on disaster." It is used for ecological disasters, environmental disasters and so on. For those who read Hebrew - here are two examples here and here. The first discusses whether or not child subsidies will cause a "shoah" and the second discussed where or not computers will cause a "shoah." Moreover, in the context in which Vilnai said it, the meaning is unmistakable. Nobody sane, and no Israeli minister, would argue that the Holocaust or a holocaust had already taken place in Gaza. So what could it mean if he "threatened" a "greater holocaust?" The Holocaust, HaShoah, is understood as an absolute term in Israel - the annihilation of European Jewry. How could anyone threaten to make someone "more annihilated?"

Continued at Gaza: Holocaust or The Hashoah?

Continued (Permanent Link)

Palestinian Ray Hanania: Hamas, Palestinians share blame for Gaza


Hamas is a terrorist organization that is as dedicated to the destruction of Israel as it is to the destruction of the secular Palestinian society and the elimination of Christian Palestinians and secular Muslims. The organization has never advocated rights for secular or Christian Arabs in Palestine and have always embraced violence as a means of creating an environment in which they hope to one day achieve their fascist goals. You cannot blame Israel for the deaths without speaking out even more forcefully against the terrorist policies of Hamas.
In the Gaza Strip, Israel's rightwing forces have exploited the events caused by the Hamas terrorists, using excessive force to respond to Hamas provocations, the firing of Qassem rockets into Israeli civilian areas.
The Israeli response has been excessive, killing scores of Palestinian civilians in their sweeping and indiscriminate military responses killing both Hamas terrorists and innocent Palestinian civilians.
But while many Palestinians and Arabs have forcefully spoken out against Israel's excessive response, they have been hypocritically silent on the terrorism of Hamas.
The failure of Palestinians to speak out against Hamas makes them complicit in the Israeli killings of innocent Palestinian civilians. That failure to condemn Hamas terrorism is as wrong as is Israel's excessive military response.
Israel is guilty of using "collective punishment," a policy that violates international law. Israel has used "collective punishment" consistently since the day of its founding in 1948.
The policy is founded on the principle that punishing the guilty is not enough; Israel must also punish the innocent, too, in order to pressure Palestinian society to crack down and control terrorism, such as from the militant Islamicist organization Hamas. It is a terrible and immoral strategy.
Yet Palestinians are also guilty of using "collective punishment," too. For example, the Hamas strategy of firing rockets into civilian areas of Israel is also based on the same illegal principle that punishing innocent Israeli civilians will pressure Israel's government to change its policies. Targeting Israeli civilians in terrorist attacks is also a form of "collective punishment."
Worse, though, is the extremism of the Hamas strategy. Hamas is a religiously-driven terrorist organization. It claims to champion the rights of Palestinians, but it only cares about those Palestinians who are Muslim and who have embraced its own racist, religiously extremist philosophies.
Although Hamas did win seats in the Palestinian government during its first ever election campaigns, the control it won was based not on majority support from Palestinians but rather a plurality of support representing a minority of Palestinian extremists who won control over a larger majority of secular Palestinians who split their vote.
Those people who cite that former government control argue that Hamas should be given a voice in any future Palestinian government. But Hamas has never represented the free choice of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and it uses violence not only against Israelis and Jews, but also against secular Palestinian Muslims and Christian Palestinians.
Hamas has no right to claim to represent the Palestinian national aspirations for statehood. They have no right to implement national policies. They have no right to engage in military attacks against Israel, which are generally unprovoked and intended to kill Israeli civilians, using the most extreme form of collective punishment.
Until Palestinians denounce Hamas terrorism, they have no moral right to denounce Israel's excessive response to Hamas terrorism.
You cannot close your eyes to one form of terrorism and then claim to be a victim of another form of terrorism. Israel's policies are excessive and should be denounced.
But Palestinians have allowed themselves to surrender the moral high ground by remaining shamefully silent on the terrorist actions of Hamas and by refusing to condemn the Hamas policy of firing Qassem rockets into Israel at Israeli civilian targets.
Hamas, more than Israel, is undermining the rights of Palestinians to achieve national statehood and until Palestinians apply one principle to this conflict, that principle can never be used as their defensive outcry against excessive Israeli policies.
Distributed by: The Arab Writers Group

Continued (Permanent Link)

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