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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Iranian Vicar: Dire Times For Iraq's Christians

June 29, 2008(CBS) This segment was originally broadcast on Dec. 2, 2007. It was updated on June 26, 2008.

From the time of Jesus, there have been Christians in what is now Iraq. The Christian community took root there after the Apostle Thomas headed east in the year 35.

But now, after nearly 2,000 years, Iraqi Christians are being hunted, murdered and forced to flee -- persecuted on a biblical scale in Iraq's religious civil war. You'd have to be mad to hold a Christian service in Iraq today, but if you must, then the vicar of Baghdad is your man. He's the Reverend Canon Andrew White, an Anglican chaplain who suffers from multiple sclerosis and from a fanatical determination to save the last Iraqi Christians from the purge.

White invited 60 Minutes cameras and correspondent Scott Pelley to an underground Baghdad church service for what's left of his congregation. White's parishioners are risking their lives to celebrate their faith.

"The room is full of children, it's full of women, but I don't see the men. Where are they?" Pelley remarked.

"They are mainly killed. Some are kidnapped. Some are killed. In the last six months things have got particularly bad for the Christians. Here in this church, all of my leadership were originally taken and killed," White explained. "All dead. But we never got their bodies back. This is one of the problems. I regularly do funerals here but it's not easy to get the bodies."

Many Iraqi Christians' churches are destroyed or abandoned. The congregation is smuggled in and out of this secret sanctuary. Even letting 60 Minutes come to the service was a terrible risk. White is among the last Christian ministers here, a savior with crosses to bear. Larger than life, stricken with MS, and by his own reckoning, driven a little bit mad.

He was first sent to Baghdad by the Archbishop of Canterbury nine years ago, well before the Christian persecution.

"You were here during Saddam's reign. And now after. Which was better? Which was worse?" Pelley asked.

"The situation now is clearly worse" than under Saddam, White replied.

"There's no comparison between Iraq now and then," he told Pelley. "Things are the most difficult they have ever been for Christians. Probably ever in history. They've never known it like now."

"Wait a minute, Christians have been here for 2,000 years," Pelley remarked.

"Yes," White said.

"And it's now the worst it has ever been," Pelley replied.

To understand the history of Iraqi Christianity, start with the Last Supper. One saint to the right of Jesus is the Apostle Thomas, who took the gospel and headed east after the death of Christ.

In modern times, under Saddam, Christians were treated much the same as Muslims; Saddam's right hand man, Tariq Aziz, was Christian.

Before the war, it's estimated there were about a million Christians in Iraq. They were a small minority, but free to worship, free to build churches, and free to speak the ancient language of Jesus, Aramaic. But, after the invasion, Muslim militants launched a war on each other and the cross.

On Sunday, Aug. 1, 2004, five churches were bombed. The Iraqi Christian community, which had survived invasions by Mongols and Turks, was driven out under American occupation. No one can be sure, but White estimates most of Iraq's Christians have fled or been killed. Those still here are too old, too ill or too poor to run.

"Why are you feeding them all?" Pelley asked.

"Because, this is the only decent meal they'll have in the week," White explained. "They can't afford food. So we're just moving from every other week to every week because they've got nothing."

Nothing for many, not even their families. The 60 Minutes team was confronted with one of many stories of depravity as the congregation left.

"Outside the church service this gentleman put these pictures in my hand. I can't show you the pictures. They're just too much. They're pictures of his children. His daughter who was 15 years old. And his son who was about four years old. They've both been shot in the head," Pelley said.

His children were killed, the father said, because he ran a liquor store. Liquor stores are typically Christian businesses here, legal, except under the Islamic street justice that rules since the invasion.

"So I hear stories of shootings, death, torturing, kidnapping, mutilation. I hear it all," White told Pelley.

The people with those stories once lived in a neighborhood called Dora, where Christians, Sunnis, and Shiites had lived together. 60 Minutes wanted to see what happened there so, we took a ride with U.S. Army Colonel Rick Gibbs. His men picked Pelley and the team up under a rusting relic of Saddam's tyranny, a parade archway made of two enormous swords, and from there they headed to ethnic cleansing's "ground zero."

"We have 13 churches. None of them are operational," Col. Gibbs said.

Asked if this was the worst neighborhood in town, Gibbs said, "It's the toughest neighborhood in town."

Gibbs commands the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kan. In Dora, he set up a combat outpost in an abandoned Catholic seminary.

"I was at a secret church service yesterday. A man came up to me and handed me some photographs of his children. They'd been shot to death. Somebody had come by their house and murdered his children because they were Christians. What are you seeing?" Pelley asked Gibbs.

"I don't see a lot of that anymore. But when we first arrived we saw lots of that. We have 500 a month. That's what we were tracking," the colonel replied. "It would not surprise my soldiers to walk down a street on a patrol and see three or four bodies laying in the street with a bullet behind their head."

U.S. forces do not protect the churches. There's a hands-off policy for all religious sites and Gibbs says there's another reason.

"The Christians do not what us to guard the churches openly," he said.

Why wouldn't the Christians want Gibbs and his soldiers to protect the churches?

"They feel that if we are overtly protecting the churches that someone underground covertly will come in and murder the Christians because they're collaborating with the U.S. forces," Gibbs explained.

There seems to be less violence now in part because of the surge of U.S. forces but also because the purge of Christians from Dora is largely complete. Gibbs says Islamic militants are on the run now.

"We hear that through our intelligence sources on the ground people telling us they're running that's how we knew to come down here with our next big fight to keep getting after them," Gibbs said, as shots could be heard in the background. "And that's what you hear over there is us in that fight trying to go get them."

60 Minutes wanted to see one church that had been destroyed but Gibbs couldn't take us there -- roadside bombs blocked the way. So he walked us over to a church next to his combat outpost. Because of the proximity, it hadn't been looted. In fact, it hadn't been touched by anyone for a very long time.

"This is one of the abandoned churches of Dora," Pelley remarked inside the church. "It looks like it was left suddenly and completely. There's a fine coat of dust over everything in the church. It was all left just as it was. One of the reasons these churches have been abandoned is in this letter, a letter that went out to the neighborhoods of Dora about a year ago. It reads like this: 'To the Christian, we would like to inform you of the decision of the legal court of the Secret Islamic Army to notify you that this is the last and final threat. If you do not leave your home, your blood will be spilled.' And in case there was any chance that anyone would not get the message, the letter ends like this: 'You and your family will be killed.'"

Pelley talked to a young man, a Baghdad Christian, whose name we cannot use. He told Pelley that after the invasion, posters appeared near his home.

"They were like telling us that Christians were against Islam, that we're infidels, that women shouldn't drive and a woman that doesn't wear a scarf would get her head cut off," the man told Pelley. "And I thought, 'What, are we going back to the Middle Ages?'"

He told us his family began going to Mass in shifts. Asked why, he told Pelley, "If like the church gets bombed on like one of the Masses, so like half of the family will be there and half will be safe."

Ultimately, the church was bombed.

Asked what has become of the people he used to worship with in that church, the young man told Pelley, "I simply don't know. A lot them are in Syria. I don't know any of 'em that stayed in Baghdad."

His family, unharmed, fled to neighboring Jordan. But most Christians ran north to Syria where they've filled a Damascus neighborhood. Knock on any door and you'll find a story.

"They threatened this young girl," one woman told 60 Minutes. "They want her to become a Muslim. The boy is in danger of being kidnapped. My other boy is in danger of being kidnapped because we're Christians."

Another woman was on a bus outside Baghdad, when gunmen boarded and demanded to know her husband's faith. "They told him, 'How come you have not embraced Islam yet?' He said, 'To each his own religion,'" she recalled.

"He told him 'I am a Christian.' He told him to get off the bus," a child added.

And they never saw him again. Christian refugees are now swept up in an exodus of historic proportions. The U.N. estimates more than four and a half million Iraqis of all faiths are running from the war. The United States has promised to help, but so far about 2,000 Iraqis have been allowed into the U.S., less than one tenth of one percent of all the refugees.

Those who remain in Iraq are bound together by a particular kind of faith known only to those under siege.

Why is this happening?

"It's happening because religion has gone wrong," White told Pelley. "And when religion goes wrong, it kills others."

"The Muslim religion has gone wrong, is that what you're saying?" Pelley asks.

"It has. And in the past, Christianity has gone wrong," White says. "And what I say to people very clearly is that the history of Christianity is no better than the history of Islam."

"Some of your parishioners must ask you, 'Why is God allowing this to happen to us?'" Pelley asked.

"To them I say, 'God is with you and he is with me and I am with you and I'm not going away,'" White replied.

Since 60 Minutes first reported this story, the purge has continued. In February, gunman ambushed, kidnapped and eventually murdered Iraqi Archbishop Paul Faraj Rahho. Canon Andrew White is still ministering to what's left of his congregation

Continued (Permanent Link)

Friday, July 11, 2008

'Hizbullah is rearming at a dizzying pace'

'Hizbullah is rearming at a dizzying pace'

Jul. 9, 2008

There are some 2,500 non-uniformed Hizbullah fighters in southern Lebanon, and the organization has trebled its pre-war missile arsenal, government sources said Wednesday following a security cabinet meeting on Hizbullah's current strength and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

According to the sources, Hizbullah today has some 40,000 short and medium-range missiles inside Lebanon, and UN Security Council Resolution 1701 - the resolution that put an end to the Second Lebanon War and provided an expanded mandate for UNIFIL - has been completely ineffective in stopping arms from pouring in to Hizbullah from Syria.

The vast majority of the missiles are north of the Litani river, but can still "blanket" the northern part of Israel, the sources said.

The security cabinet meeting came as the government is apparently trying to place the implementation of 1701 back on the international agenda.

The ministers heard three hours of briefings from Military Intelligence, Mossad and General Security Services representatives, before the meeting was cut short to enable the ministers to attend debates in the Knesset. The security cabinet discussion, which had been planned for a number of weeks, is scheduled to continue in the coming weeks.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni raised the failure to implement 1701 on Tuesday with visiting Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, whose country currently commands the UNIFIL forces.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also joined the fray, and called French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner Tuesday night to discuss the issue. He said he plans to bring the matter up with other European foreign ministers before the upcoming Mediterranean Union meeting in Paris on Sunday, which Syrian President Bashar Assad, as well as the new Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, are scheduled to attend.

Barak, according to a statement put out by his office, told Kouchner that "Israel will not be able to accept the ongoing and growing undercutting of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which is not being implemented, and the continued smuggling of all types of weapons into Lebanon, upsetting the delicate balance along Israel's northern border."

Barak told Kouchner that Israel expected him to act to halt the transfer of arms from Syria to Hizbullah, adding that the UNIFIL force operating in Lebanon must increase its efforts against Hizbullah's growing armament and fortification.

Israeli diplomatic sources, however, said they doubted French President Nicolas Sarkozy would place much pressure on Assad over this matter at their scheduled meeting in Paris on Saturday, because Europe is presently "hugging Assad, not scolding him."

The sources denied, however, that the Israeli government's sudden public surge of attention on 1701 had to do with Saturday's second anniversary of the Second Lebanon War, and an interest in showing activity on the issue amid what is expected to be a wave of media reports over the weekend looking at the situation in Lebanon two years after the war.

"There is a serious objective problem," one official said. "The problem is real." Meanwhile, CIA Director Michael Hayden said in an interview with Bloomberg that Hizbullah may not be willing to attack American interests and provoke a global fight in retaliation for a US or Israeli strike aimed at disabling Iranian nuclear facilities.

If Iran were attacked and pressured Hizbullah to retaliate, the group may be especially reluctant to disrupt international oil supplies for fear of triggering a backlash, Hayden said.

A strike at oil would be "the terrorists' equivalent of the nuclear weapon" and also would impact many other nations besides the US, said Hayden, 63, a retired Air Force General.

Hayden said Hizbullah would need to weigh whether any action it took against the US would involve it in a war. "Is it in Hizbullah's interest to become involved in a global war against the United States of America? That's a question to be answered."

However, Hayden said, Hizbullah may be less reluctant to strike at Israeli targets. The costs of an attack on US interests, he said, "are different than Hizbullah operating against Israel."

Bloomberg contributed to this report.


Continued (Permanent Link)

PA to honor Dalal Mughrabi - terrorist who murdered civilians

Indeed, the following is very perceptive in a way:
The article criticized Hizbullah for agreeing to bury Mughrabi in Lebanon and not in the Palestinian territories. It said that someone like her deserved to be buried next to Yasser Arafat's grave in Ramallah.
PA wants 'festive' funeral for coastal road killer
Jul. 10, 2008  Khaled Abu Toameh , THE JERUSALEM POST

The Palestinian Authority has asked Israel to hand over the remains of Dalal Mughrabi, the Palestinian woman who led the March 11, 1978 coastal road attack in which 36 people were murdered and 71 wounded.

Israel is planning to deliver Mughrabi's remains, together with those of scores of Palestinians and Lebanese, to Hizbullah in the context of the new prisoner exchange between the two sides.

The PA said in its request that it wanted to "honor" Mughrabi by holding a big funeral for her in Ramallah.

Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official closely associated with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, described Mughrabi, whose family originally came from Jaffa, as a "the first Palestinian woman to carry out one of the most courageous operations in Israel." He claimed that in her will, Mughrabi, who belonged to Fatah, had asked her family to see to it that she was buried in "Palestine."

"We want to turn Dalal's funeral into a national wedding, a major celebration," the Fatah official said. "The operation she carried out off the shores of her hometown of Jaffa was heroic and exemplary. She will always be remembered as a symbol for the Palestinian women's struggle."

Even if Israel refuses to deliver her remains to the PA in Ramallah, Fatah officials said they were planning to hold big celebrations throughout the West Bank to coincide with her funeral in Lebanon.

Ahmed also praised Lebanese prisoner Samir Kuntar for carrying out another terror attack in Israel one year after the 1978 carnage. He described Kuntar as a "stubborn and firm fighter in the ranks of the Lebanese resistance who led a very courageous operation."

Since its inception, the PA has honored Mughrabi by naming many schools and
various institutions after her.

An article published in Thursday's edition of the PA-funded Al-Hayat Al-Jadedda newspaper hailed Mughrabi as a "living legend and a wonderful example for all women."

The article criticized Hizbullah for agreeing to bury Mughrabi in Lebanon and not in the Palestinian territories. It said that someone like her deserved to be buried next to Yasser Arafat's grave in Ramallah.

Continued (Permanent Link)

British media bias: Israel at 60

British media bias: Israel at 60

Following is a summary of the main points of this important analysis (Israel at 60 in the UK media – an analysis). Not surprisingly, it shows that BBC and journals such as the Guardian and Independent were consistently biased against Israel, and included gratuitous conclusions that indicate an active anti- Israel slant rather than opinions based on fact: Israel doesn't want peace, Israel was created at the expense of the Palestinians... This is a good study, but we always want more. We would like to see (wouldn't we?):

1. An analysis of television broadcasts. Television and radio are more difficult to analyze for many reasons - images and tone are hard to quantify.

2. A comparison of the coverage of Israel at 60 to the coverage of Israel at 50. Is anti-Israel bias getting worse or is it receding?

3. A tabulation of specific factual errors and omissions in op-ed articles. Opinion pieces are "allowed" to get the facts wrong. When they are always wrong in a specific direction they point to bias.

4. Did accounts of 1948 mention that it was the Arabs that attacked Israel?

5. How much of this British coverage included criticism of Britain's own role in creating the conflict, in reneging on its role as the British mandatory, and in attempting itself to ignore or violate
UN Resolution 181, which called for partition? A mass of evidence indicates that the British wanted to ensure that the Negev would be part of Jordan. British failed to cooperate with UN officials and allowed Arab infiltrators to enter Palestine. It would be interesting to find out if any of this was mentioned in British commentary.

Ami Isseroff

Israel at 60 in the UK media – an analysis

Just Journalism


In May 2008, Israel celebrated 60 years of independence since its inception in 1948. Just Journalism carried out a thematic and statistical analysis of coverage of this event in the UK media, during April and May 2008.

Scope of coverage

Our monitoring covered nine national daily newspapers, eight Sunday newspapers, one London daily and three weekly current affairs magazines. We also monitored the BBC News Website and six BBC Radio 4 programmes as well as a BBC2 documentary. (See Appendix A for a complete list of outlets and programmes monitored.)


Our report has three objectives:

1 To summarise and evaluate the volume and depth of the coverage devoted to this event.

2 To identify the key messages that came through from the coverage as a whole.

3 To conclude at a macro level whether the coverage was broadly favourable, unfavourable or neutral.


Israel's 60th anniversary was an event which received wide coverage in the UK media.

Seventy articles appeared in the print media, BBC Radio 4 aired 12 segments in the programmes we monitored, while the BBC News website featured over 40 articles related to this event. The Guardian carried the most coverage, followed by The Independent.


A number of themes emerged from the coverage:

A key theme to emerge from the UK media coverage was that Israel does not seek peace. Eighty-three per cent of all press coverage which took a position on the issue contained the message that Israel does not seek peace.

Seventeen per cent of all press coverage which took a position on Israel's stance on peace contained the message that Israel seeks peace.

Only 16% of articles conveyed that Israel is a homeland for the Jews.

Just Journalism found that across all the coverage as a whole, the strongest theme to emerge was that Israel was created at the expense of the Palestinians. While Israel's anniversary celebrations received extensive coverage, this was generally offset by reporting on what the Palestinians call the "Nakba" or catastrophe.

A snapshot of the overall newspaper coverage indicates that 44 % of articles contained the message that Israel was created at the expense of the Palestinians, and this rises to 54% when looking at the broadsheets.

This message is particularly prominent in The Guardian and The Independent. Sixty-seven per cent of articles in The Guardian contained this message.

There was a noticeable lack of coverage of domestic issues in Israel, of concessions Israel has made for peace and of the existential threat to Israel posed by Iran.

Nevertheless, there were divergences in messages across media outlets:

Eighty per cent of the coverage in the Daily Telegraph, for instance, contained the message that Israel faces existential threats.

On BBC Radio 4, the strongest message was that Israel is a homeland for the Jews – a message appearing in 42% of items.

By contrast, the strongest message on the BBC News website was that Israel was created at the expense of the Palestinians – a message appearing in 45% of web articles


The purpose of extracting the key messages from each item of coverage was specifically to focus on the main

impression that was being conveyed to the reader or listener. We extracted the key messages from each individual

news item or article and then aggregated all the individual messages into common categories.

The messages we identified fall into eleven main categories, described below. Each article may contain one or more

of the following messages:

1. Israel was created at the expense of the Palestinians

This message came through from pieces that implied that Israel's 60th anniversary should necessarily be seen alongside Palestinian displacement and dispossession in 1948. These pieces usually refer to what is often described as the "Nakba" or "catastrophe".

2. Israel does not seek peace

Coverage in this category conveyed the sense that Israel is not seeking peace.

3. Israel is an entirely negative phenomenon

Coverage in this message category portrayed Israel in a fundamentally negative way, occasionally questioning the legitimacy of the Jewish State.

4. The Palestinian refugee problem is the fault of Israel

Coverage in this category referred exclusively to the events of 1948, but suggested that Israel is chiefly to blame for the Palestinian problem.

5. Israel has lost its ideals

This message was derived from coverage relating to an erosion of Israel's founding ideals and values.

6. Israel's future is uncertain

This message came through from pieces raising questions over Israel's future existence as a result of demographic trends, regional conditions or its policies.

7. Israel faces existential threats

Coverage in this message category highlighted the existential threats facing Israel, most commonly the threat from Iran.

8. Israel is a homeland for the Jews

This included pieces conveying the sense that Israel is a focal point for Jewish identity or that Israel is a haven for Jews around the world.

9. Israel is a successful country

Coverage containing this message conveyed admiration for Israel's accomplishments or recognised that Israel has excelled in key areas such as democracy, economy, social diversity and the high-tech industry.

10. Israel seeks peace

Coverage in this category conveyed the sense that Israel is seeking peace.

11. The Palestinian refugee problem is the fault of the Arab world

This covered pieces that referred exclusively to the events of 1948, and suggested that the Arab world is chiefly to blame for the Palestinian problem.


The section below summarises the key messages within the printed publications. A full discussion of the messaging in individual newspapers and magazines can be found in Part 5 – Analysis of Individual Media Outlets.

The broadsheets and tabloids are addressed separately.

Key messages across all newspapers

Eighty-three per cent of articles which took a position on Israel's stance on peace contained the message that

Israel did not seek peace.

Sixty-two per cent of articles which blamed one party for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem

blamed Israel.

Forty-four per cent of articles contained the message that Israel was created at the expense of the Palestinians.

Twenty-seven per cent of articles contained the message that Israel is a successful country.

Twenty-four per cent of articles contained the message that Israel faces existential threats.

Sixteen per cent of articles contained the message that Israel is a homeland for the Jews.

Sixteen per cent of articles contained the message that Israel has lost its ideals.

Fourteen per cent of articles carried the message that Israel's future is uncertain.

Ten per cent of coverage contained the message that Israel is an entirely negative phenomenon.


Key messages in broadsheets

Fifty-four per cent of articles contained the message that Israel was created at the expense of the Palestinians.

Eighty-eight per cent of articles which took a position on Israel's stance on peace contained the message that

Israel does not seek peace.

Ninety per cent of articles which blamed one party for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem

blamed Israel.

Twelve per cent of articles contained the message that Israel is an entirely negative phenomenon.

Twenty-two per cent of articles contained the message that Israel faces existential threats.

Twenty-six per cent of articles contained the message that Israel is a successful country.

Sixteen per cent of articles contained the message that Israel is a homeland for the Jews.


[Figure omitted]

.... For instance, out of 15 articles on Israel's 60th anniversary published in The Guardian, 10 (67%) contained the message that Israel was created at the expense of the Palestinians, whereas neither of the two articles in The Independent on Sunday contained that message.

Overall, 54% of articles in the broadsheets carried the message that Israel was created at the expense of the Palestinians.

All the daily broadsheets published at least one article containing the message.

Two out of four Sunday broadsheets published articles with the same message.

An example of this message:

"That is why today – the anniversary of the end of the British mandate in Palestine and the declaration of Israeli statehood – is also a day of mourning for 10 million Palestinians and their supporters: the commemoration of the nakba, or catastrophe, that led to the destruction of their society and expulsion from their homeland."

(Seamus Milne, Expulsion and dispossession can't be cause for celebration, The Guardian, May 15, 2008)


[Figure omitted - only the Guardian and the Independent carried this message]

Overall, 12% of articles in the broadsheets carried the message that Israel is an entirely negative phenomenon.

This message was only carried in The Guardian and The Independent.

An example of this message:

"Sixty years after the creation of Israel, there could not be a wider gap between the cruel reality of Israel today and Herzl's dream." (Jacqueline Rose, Israeli fiction – the nation's conscience, The Guardian, May 10, 2008)


[Figure omitted]

Forty per cent of articles carried the message that Israel does not seek peace. All the daily broadsheets published articles containing the message.

Of the Sunday broadsheets, only The Observer published an article with this message.

An example of this message is the following:

"there has always been a strain of Israeli society that preferred violently setting its own borders, on its own terms, to talk and compromise. This weekend, the elected Hamas government offered a six-month truce that could have led to talks. The Israeli government responded within hours by blowing up a senior Hamas leader and killing a 14-year-old girl." (Johann Hari, Israel is suppressing a secret it must face, The Independent, April 28, 2008).


[Figure omitted]

Overall, 14% of articles in the broadsheets carried the message that Israel has lost its ideals. Of the daily broadsheets, The Guardian, Financial Times and The Times carried the message. Of the Sunday broadsheets, only The Observer published an article with this message.

An example of this message is the following: "Today, with the 60th anniversary of independence fast approaching, there are a significant number of Israelis on both left and right asking whether in the intervening period the Israel declared by its founding fathers as a largely secular, communitarian project has not somehow lost the plot.." (Sam Kiley, Israel: 60 years of hope and despair,

The Observer, April 20, 2008)


[Figure omitted]

Overall, only 26% of articles in the broadsheets carried the message that Israel is a successful country. All the daily broadsheets published at least one article containing the message.

Three out of four of the Sunday broadsheets published articles with the same message.

An example of this message:

"…60 years after its creation the very existence of the state of Israel remains nothing short of a miracle: a miracle of human will, determination and ultimately of hope. In less than three generations and in spite of extremely difficult conditions, Israelis have managed not only to survive but also to create a rich and original culture; to achieve spectacular results in science and medicine; and to create a technological hub in the region." (Dominique Moisi,

Israel's Pride and Prejudice at 60, Financial Times, April 30, 2008)


Overall, 16% of articles in the broadsheets carried the message that Israel is a homeland for the Jews.All the daily broadsheets except The Times published at least one article containing this message. Three out of four of the Sunday broadsheets published articles with the same message.

An example of this message:

" …This Zionist anthem articulates something very deep in Israelis' sense of themselves: they are a nation formed by those who had no other place to live. The Holocaust, inevitably, looms large in this: the establishment of a Jewish state just three years after the liberation of Auschwitz was no coincidence. After 2,000 years, the world was finally persuaded that the Jews deserved what every other people regarded as a basic right: a place of their own." (Jonathan Freedland, As it turns 60, the fear is Israel has decided it can get by without peace,

The Guardian, May 7, 2008)


[Figure omitted]

Overall, only 6% of articles carried the message that Israel seeks peace. This message was only contained in three articles in The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Telegraph. An example of this message:

"Mr Rabin, who won the Nobel peace prize for negotiating the Oslo Accords with the Palestinian leader Yasser

Arafat in 1993, showed that the Jewish state could also make painful concessions in the interests of peaceful

coexistence with its Arab neighbours". (Con Coughlin, As Israel remembers horrors of the past, the future

looms dark, The Daily Telegraph, May 2, 2008)


[Figure omitted]

Overall, 18% of articles carried the message that Israel's future is uncertain.

The Guardian, The Independent, Financial Times and The Observer published articles carrying this message.

An example of this message:

"..Hopefully I will not live to see the day when it becomes possible that the State of Israel might no longer exist" (Daniel Barenboim, Israel and me, The Guardian, May 14, 2008)


[Figure omitted]

Overall, 22% of articles carried the message that Israel faces existential threats. This message featured particularly strongly in The Daily Telegraph. The message was not carried in The Guardian, The Observer, The Times, and The Sunday Times.

An example of this message:

"For a long time Israel has been accused of crying wolf over surrounding countries that want to "drive it into the sea". Now it has a neighbour whose president has not only made that threat explicit, but who intends to develop the capacity to do it." (Martin Bright, New Statesman, The Great Betrayal, May 19, 2008)


BBC Radio

Key messages in BBC Radio coverage

Forty-two per cent of coverage contained the message that Israel is a homeland for the Jews.

Thirty-three per cent of coverage contained the message that Israel was created at the expense of the Palestinians.

Twenty-five per cent of coverage contained the message that Israel faces existential threats.

Twenty-five per cent of coverage contained the message that Israel's future is uncertain.

BBC News Website

Key messages on BBC News website

Forty-five per cent of web coverage contained the message that Israel was created at the expense ofthe Palestinians.

Thirty-one per cent of coverage contained the message that Israel is a homeland for the Jews.

Twenty-six per cent of coverage contained the message that Israel is not seeking peace.

Twenty-one per cent of coverage contained the message that Israel is a successful country.


In addition to categorising key messages, we also observed how Israel was presented in broad terms, by noting whether each piece of coverage was positive, negative, or neutral, as defined below:


Israel was cast in a largely favourable light.


Israel was cast in a largely unfavourable light.


Israel was cast neither in a favourable nor unfavourable light.

Overall Statistics For All Newspapers

Just Journalism found 70 articles across all the newspapers with relevant coverage.

Thirty-six per cent of coverage was negative.

Forty-three per cent of coverage was neutral.

Twenty-one per cent was positive.

[Figure omitted]



Just Journalism found 50 articles across the broadsheets with relevant coverage.

Thirty-eight per cent of coverage was negative.

Forty-two per cent of coverage was neutral.

Twenty per cent of coverage was positive.

Therefore nearly twice as many broadsheet articles were negative than positive.

[Figure omitted]

... The Guardian and The Independent contained the most negative coverage while the

Telegraph titles carried the most positive coverage. None of the Sunday broadsheets carried negative articles.

BBC Radio

Just Journalism monitored 42 broadcasts on BBC Radio 4, including Sunday, Today and The World Tonight, finding 12 pieces of relevant coverage.

Seventeen per cent of the coverage was negative.

Sixty-six per cent of the coverage was neutral.

Seventeen per cent of the coverage was positive.

BBC News Website

Just Journalism found 42 web items on the BBC News website.

Forty-three per cent of the coverage was negative.

Fifty-two per cent of the coverage was neutral.

Five per cent of the coverage was positive.

Therefore negative coverage outweighed positive coverage by almost nine to one.

Of the 42 items published, 20 were authored pieces. Interestingly, a separate study of the authored pieces

revealed the following:

Sixty per cent of the coverage was negative.

Forty per cent of the coverage was neutral.

[The detailed analysis of journals is omitted]


The 60th anniversary of Israel's creation was an event that received extensive coverage in the UK media. This coverage varied across the media outlets, but the strongest theme overall was that Israel was created at the expense of the Palestinians. The focus on this theme suggests a shift in the British media towards the Palestinian narrative on 1948.

A second theme that emerged from the UK media was that Israel does not seek peace, characterised by the focus on the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and its policy towards Gaza. In contrast, there were few references to the concessions that Israeli governments have made over recent years in order to advance peace with the Palestinians– from Oslo in 1993 through to the Camp David talks in 2000 and the Disengagement from Gaza in 2005.

Arguably, the most noticeable omission in the coverage was the lack of focus on Israel's domestic issues, such as the hi-tech industry, the impact of immigration on Israeli society or relations between the religious and secular populations. Israel's 60th anniversary provided a rare opportunity for the UK media to explore and scrutinize the diverse challenges facing the Jewish State and its society. Yet, with a few exceptions, such as the Economist, the Financial Times and BBC Radio 4, the British media missed this opportunity.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Censored: A tourist's view of Israelis practicing the art of normalcy

Believe it or not, the writers of mighty Ha'aretz are reaching out to try to censor little old me. Here is one of two instances. I will report the other one elsewhere if time permits.

Brigitta Moll from Cologne Germany visited Israel as a tourist for a few weeks. Evidently that made her into an expert, as all such tourists are. So Haaretz published her article: First impressions of a European in Israel to tell people of the world what Israel is like. She seems to have come with the idea that she is entering a war zone, and so she diligently gathered material in support of her views. If Israelis act like almost anyone else, it must be because we are pretending and hiding the truth.

The truth is, that even in the worst days of the Intifada, Israelis were far more likely to die of traffic accidents (or coronary occlusion) than of suicide bombings or other terror attacks, as Brigitta notes. At the time, and during the Second Lebanon War, nobody pretended that things were "normal" here. But the truth is also that generally Israelis, like everyone else, go about their business most of the time and do not even think of the conflict. We are busy here with other things as well. The conflict is one aspect of life, but not an all-consuming one. If anything, the accusation of Palestinian Arabs is that for Israelis they are invisible. It is not entirely an unfair accusation.

Israelis have also developed, to some extent, a certain familiarity with and contempt for danger. The sight of soldiers in the streets has not been familiar in Europe for a long time. Israelis are used to seeing soldiers in the streets, in their own homes (our kids) and in the mirror for that matter. It has been that way for 60 years now. That is "normal" for us. It must strike visitors as odd. But objectively it is really not especially dangerous here. This normality is somewhat maddening to those who think we are all "bad guys" who should be suffering, though tourists will find it reassuring.

If Ha'aretz editors really think Israel is under such immediate danger, it is difficult to understand why they publish so many articles that are critical of Israel. When the guns are shooting, the pen of criticism is generally silent.

But the stereotype of Israel as a target of suicide bombers, as a country of fearful Jews anticipating a second Holocuast persists. It is exploited for different purposes by the right and the left in this country, and Brigitta's article must've filled the editorial bill for such articles.

Israel has many things to offer tourists - holy places for religious people, topless beaches for those who want sun and sex, bauhaus architecture in Tel Aviv, nightlife, quaint corners of life preserved from other periods of Middle Eastern history. But Brigitta came to write about the conflict it seems, so none of these attractions are evident in her article. But if she wanted to write about that, why didn't she come to Sderot when the Qassam rockets were falling, rather than writing about Tel Aviv? Isn't it strange to come to a peaceful city and write only about the conflict?

Air travel and fast boats have made the world a small place. It is very strange to read such a "travelogue" article, appropriate to the days of Richard Burton or perhaps Marco Polo, when today any interested European can come to Israel and see what is here for themselves, rather than seeing it through the peculiar lens of Brigitta Moll.

After telling her readers that Israel looks normal on the surface, Brigitta Moll felt the compulsion nonetheless to show that Israel is really only about the conflict. She wrote that the normal animation surprises her. She wonders how people can cope with conflict ridden reality.

Brigitta evidently interprets everything she hears and sees to support her view. A graffiti about a "Secret Nuke Cellar" must certainly be a sign of conflict tension according to her, since Europeans never joke about war, Brigitta tells us. Really? During the Cold War there were many jokes in USA about nuclear war, and I remember that Danish and Italian tourist guides joke about the activities of their neighbors in World War II. Everyone has war jokes. Perhaps it is tactless to tell Brigitta this, but the German war jokes are quite famous, though often not very funny to others.

Brigitta finds a soldier who took a trip to India. This too must be all about the conflict, because the soldier says that sometimes you just have to get out of here. What, European young people don't take trips around the world? We find them in Israel and Jordan and Egypt and America and India. Are all these backpackers escaping some conflict in Europe we do not know about? It doesn't occur to Brigitta that it might be possible that young people want to see the world before settling down, and not be confined to our little, wonderful country. The wanderlust of Israeli youth must be due to the conflict.

Imagine that someone from the Middle East visits the USA as a tourist. They are convinced that Americans must think only of the war in Iraq. But all they see around them are people going to work, shopping or relaxing. So they seek out someone who says they went for a trip abroad to get some "space," and present that as proof that all Americans are obsessed about the war in Iraq.

Of course, most people will see what they are prepared to see and use it to justify whatever they believe. Such people can never learn anything new. They know all about it already. It is their privilege to write what they want, and it is up to the reader to beware, to come and see with their own eyes when they can, and judge for themselves.

If a travelogue still has any value today, it is to try to capture what a people really think about their country and their life, rather than perpetuating what others think about them. Brigitta did not have to come here at all to write her prejudiced opinions. All over the world there are such people, who think in terms of stereotypes: Spain is only about bull fights, Germans are only engaged in drinking beer, French people are always in bed and British have no sense of humor. These are OK for ethnic jokes, but they can't be the basis of reasonable journalism. Travel is supposed to broaden one's vistas and change the stereotypes, and travelogues should pass on realistic information, not more stereotypes.

That is hardly the end of the story. Brigitta has written to me that I must delete this Web log article because she does not agree with the way her text is being used in the blog. She protests that her article was intended to be "balanced." She came to a peaceful city and reported only conflict, and she thought that was "balanced." It does not not occur to her that I have the same license to see things through my eyes, as she has to see things through her eyes. Only Brigitta's opinion can be heard.

But Brigitta of course, did not ask the graffiti writer if that is how the graffiti was intended, and did not get permission to use it in the article. She did not ask me or anyone else if we agree with the way she portrayed our country, which she thinks is sensitive and balanced.

If I have somehow misinterpreted Brigitta's message, if she has not portrayed Israel as a place full of people obsessed with the conflict, then she failed to communicate very well in her article. If she has written about the theater and the concerts in the Mann auditorium and the beaches and the nightclubs, then maybe I have a reading deficiency because I couldn't find anything abut those things. It is not that Brigitta should not have been critical. There are bad things here. If she wrote about the nice or ill mannered people she met here, I missed that too. To visit Israel and not meet one rude person is really exceptional! If she noticed the disorder and regrettable uncleanliness of Tel Aviv streets, which must be striking to European eyes, I must've missed it. I could see only one thing in that article: conflict, conflict, conflict. It is not a problem of unfair criticism, but of a peculiar monomania.

I know that many people often misunderstand what I write as well. It is their privilege - the article has to stand on its own. It never occurred to me to try to silence them.

This is not the first time that Ha'aretz writers have attempted to censor my opinion of them. They have been given a great forum for their ideas, but they begrudge me this little one. More about that another time.

I have removed the text of the article, which you can find at Ha'aretz and judge for yourselves unless Ha'aretz has archived it.

I have not asked Brigitta to remove her article from Ha'aretz, on the grounds that I do not agree with the way she has used my country. But Brigitta should not be able to dictate to me what I can and cannot write. "Die Gedanken Sind Frei."

Ami Isseroff

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Kadima deal makes it unlkely Olmert will be Israeli PM after September

The key feature of the deal made by Kadima leaders is that whoever wins the primaries in September will also be the party leader and candidate for Prime Minister.  Even if PM Olmert competes in the primaries scheduled for September 14-18 (probably Sept. 17) it is unlikely he would win, which means that it is unlkey he would be PM.
Previously, it had looked as though Olmert had outsmarted the Labor party, when he made a deal pledging to hold primaries in September. It was pointed out that under the present Kadima charter, there was no obligation for Olmert to relinquish his candidacy for PM even if someone else was chosen to lead the party. The new agreement would amend the charter. The deal with Labor will also be submitted for Kadima party approval.

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Police fail to indictment settler attacks on Palestinians

 Last update - 06:28 09/07/2008       
Police fail to bring indictments in settler attacks on Palestinians
By Jonathan Lis
Only 10 percent of the instances in which Palestinians accused settlers of attacking them ended up in indictments being filed against the suspects, according to data presented today by the human rights group Yesh Din. The group examined 205 different cases of alleged assault by settlers that were reported over the years.
The data on the 205 cases also shows that 163 of the cases have been closed by police and prosecution officials. Only in 13 cases, 8 percent, were indictments filed, while 149 cases were closed without charges being brought against the suspects.
The group argues that police in the West Bank have failed in completing investigations on suspected attacks against Palestinians there.
'Weak arm of the law'
"The weak arm [of the law] avoids enforcing laws on Israelis living in the West Bank, causes the state of Israel to violate its ethical and international obligations vis a vis the population under our control," said Michael Sfard, the legal counsel for Yesh Din.
The group says that of the 149 police investigations that were closed, in 91 cases this was done because the "violator's identity was not known." Forty-three other cases were closed for lack of evidence, and the rest because there was no criminal violation, no public interest or for no obvious reason.
In response the police in the West Bank said Tuesday that during 2007 "a total of 550 cases were opened in cases of disturbing the peace, involving Israelis against Palestinians, left wing activists or the security forces. Of these only 195 cases were violations against Palestinians." The police also pointed out that "of the 69 indictments of disturbing the peace, 30 of the cases involved a Palestinian plaintiff."

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Of summits and handshakes

The real question is: Will Olmert talk to Livni?  
Last update - 08:51 09/07/2008       
Olmert, Assad to sit together at Med summit, handshake or not
By Yoav Stern and Barak Ravid
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni were set to leave Saturday night for Paris to take part in the inauguration Sunday of the Mediterranean Union summit, in which Olmert will sit across from Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Leaders from 40 countries are expected to attend the conference, an initiative of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, among them 10 from Arab countries, including Syria. As of now no meeting is expected between Olmert and Assad and no handshake has been predicted.
Sarkozy established the forum as an umbrella organization of technical and professional cooperation among the citizens of all the countries involved.
One proposal is to establish a highway linking all the countries along the Mediterranean. Israeli government officials said the intent was for the highway to begin in Egypt and continue through North Africa. Only later would it be extended to Israel.
But due to opposition by countries in the region to cooperation with Israel on this matter, it can be assumed that the project as now envisioned will not be initiated in the near future.
Also on the agenda...
In addition to collaboration on transportation, the French are proposing stronger regional cooperation for search-and-rescue operations, for example after natural disasters. Alternative energy and advanced technologies will also be discussed.
The summit will open Sunday morning with a preliminary meeting of foreign ministers, followed by the opening session at Paris' Grand Palais, attended by the heads of state.
Delegates from other Arab countries expected at the conference include Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, Moroccan King Mohammed VI and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who will also serve as the co-chairman of the conference along with Sarkozy. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will attend, along with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and Jordanian Prime Minister Nader al-Dahabi.
To avoid embarrassment, especially regarding unscheduled meetings between Olmert and some of the Arab leaders, seating will be alphabetic. Olmert will be flanked by Italian President Silvio Berlusconi and Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen. Assad is expected to be seated on the other side of the table, more or less opposite Olmert.
After the opening session, Sarkozy will host the heads of the delegations at a banquet. On Monday, the French president will host the leaders for the Bastille Day celebrations, which will feature a large military parade on the Champs Elysees. A dais has been built for the leaders to watch the parade, after which Sarkozy will host a luncheon.
Olmert will hold a working meeting during the conference with Abbas. At the beginning of the meeting Sarkozy will greet the two leaders at the Elysees Palace, remain with them for the first few minutes and then leave. Olmert's and Abbas' working teams will also be present for part of the meeting, expected to last about two hours.

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Is Iran planning to attack Israel? Iran test fires missiles capable of hitting Israel

Sy Hersh and Uzi Mahnaimi where are you now? Where are all the panicky reports about an upcoming Iranian strike on Israel? They are clearly preparing for it - much more clearly than Israel's routine exercises in the Mediterranean might be indicative of an attack, yet nobody cares.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 14:23 09/07/2008    
 Iran test fires missiles said to be capable of hitting Israel  By News Agencies
Iran's Revolutionary Guard test-fired nine long and medium range missiles Wednesday during war games that officials say are in response to U.S. and Israeli threats, state television reported.
General Hossein Salami, the air force commander of the elite Guards, was quoted as saying the exercise aimed to "demonstrate our resolve and might against enemies who in recent weeks have threatened Iran with a harsh language."
Wednesday's war games were being conducted at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway where about 40 percent of the world's oil passes through.

The report showed footage of at least three missiles firing simultaneously, and said the barrage included a new version of the Shahab-3 missile, which officials have said has a range of 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) and is armed with a 1-ton conventional warhead.
That would put Israel, Turkey, the Arabian peninsula, Afghanistan and Pakistan within striking distance.
"Our hands are always on the trigger and our missiles are ready for launch," the official IRNA news agency quoted Salami as saying Wednesday.
The report comes less than a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed fears that Israel and the United States could be preparing to attack his country, calling the possibility a "funny joke."
"I assure you that there won't be any war in the future," Ahmadinejad told a news conference Tuesday during a visit to Malaysia for a summit of developing Muslim nations.
Iranian officials have been issuing a mix of conciliatory and bellicose statements in recent weeks about the possibility of a clash with the U.S. and Israel.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Wednesday's tests evidence that the missile threat is not an imaginary one.
"Those who say that there is no Iranian missile threat against which we should build a missile defense system perhaps ought to talk to the Iranians about their claims," Rice said while traveling in Sofia, Bulgaria.
A White House spokesman called the tests completely inconsistent with Iran's obligations to the world.
"The Iranian regime only furthers the isolation of the Iranian people from the international community when it engages in this sort of activity," said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the American National Security Council.
"They should also refrain from further missile tests if they truly seek to gain the trust of the world," he added, speaking from Japan where U.S. President Bush is attending the Group of Eight summit.
Israel's military sent warplanes over the eastern Mediterranean for a large military exercise in June, which U.S. officials described as a possible rehearsal for a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Iran says its nuclear program is geared only toward generating electricity, not weapons.
For months, Ahmadinejad and other Iranian officials have said they don't believe the U.S. will attack because of its difficulties in Iraq, domestic worries and concerns over the fallout in the region. At the same time, Tehran has stepped up its warnings of retaliation if the Americans - or Israelis - do attack it, including threats to hit Israel and U.S. Gulf bases with missiles and stop oil traffic through the vital Gulf region.
In late June, then commander of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet said any attempt by Iran to seal off the Strait of Hormuz would be viewed as an act of war. The U.S. 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain, across the Gulf from Iran.
The Israeli exercise was widely interpreted as a show of force as well as a practice on skills needed to execute a long-range strike mission.
Transportation Minister and former IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz set off an international uproar last month by saying in a published interview that Israel would have no choice but to attack Iran if it doesn't halt its nuclear program. Mofaz is a former military chief and defense minister, and has been Israel's representative in a strategic dialogue on Iran with U.S. officials.
On Wednesday, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said Israel does not desire hostility and conflict with Iran.
"But it is clear that the Iranian nuclear program and the Iranian ballistic missile program is a matter of grave concern," Regev said.
The Guards and Iran's regular army routinely hold exercises two or three times a year.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hamas using cease-fire to rearm

Hamas caught using cease-fire to rearm
'This period will make that our capacities will be stronger than before truce'
Posted: July 08, 2008
2:35 pm Eastern
By Aaron Klein
© 2008 WorldNetDaily
TEL AVIV – A mysterious explosion at a Hamas training facility in the Gaza Strip today occurred while terrorists were attempting to produce rockets that can hit further inside Israel, Hamas sources told WND.
The explosion underscores the Gaza-based terrorists' utilization of a cease-fire agreed to with Israel last month to rearm, train and produce advance weaponry for use against Israel.
"It is not really a period of rest. We have been training, receiving religious courses ... we've been producing weapons, working on smuggling everything that can reinforce us," said a senior terrorist in Gaza, speaking on condition his name be withheld.
"This period will make that our capacities will be much stronger than before the truce," the senior terrorist said.
(Story continues below)

Two militants reportedly were killed in a Hamas training camp in the Gaza city of Khan Yunis when an explosion caused a building to collapse.
Hamas sources told WND the explosion occurred while Hamas experts were testing a new Qassam rocket they were trying to fit with two engines. Current Qassams run on one engine.
The Hamas sources said the goal during the truce is to produce a rocket that can travel 24 kilometers, which will put the strategic Israeli port city of Ashdod within range.
Since Israel agreed to the truce last month with the Hamas terrorist organization, at least seven rockets and a handful of mortars have been fired from the territory aimed at nearby Jewish communities.
Members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization, which is at odds with Hamas, took credit for most of the rocket fire.
To interview Aaron Klein, contact M. Sliwa Public Relations by e-mail, or call 973-272-2861 or 212-202-4453.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Ahmadinejad: Iran will not renounce nuclear rights

Ahmadinejad: Iran will not renounce nuclear rights

Iran's president insists his country unwilling to waive nuclear rights. Iranian IRNA news agency quotes Ahmadinejad as saying, 'Even if some countries like Israel, United States join forces they will not dare to attack Iran and they know it very well'
Published:  07.07.08, 14:38 / Israel News
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted on Monday that Iran would not give up its nuclear rights, dismissing calls for Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment, the official IRNA news agency reported.
"It is a repetitive scenario," IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying in an interview with Malaysian television from Kuala Lumpur where he is to attend the summit of the D8 group of developing nations.
"On one side they (world powers) ask to negotiate and on the other they threaten and say that we must give in to their illegal demands and renounce our rights," he added. Ahmadinejad's latest defiant comments came days after Iran gave an undisclosed response to an offer from six world powers aiming to break the deadlock in the nuclear standoff.
The proposal from the world powers offers Iran technological incentives in exchange for suspending uranium enrichment, which the West fears could be used to make a nuclear weapon.
"We are in favor of dialogue but we will negotiate in a just atmosphere and on common subjects because negotiations in an unbalanced climate will have no result," Ahmadinejad added.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said earlier that he did not think that Iran's response to the package, "Provides great hope. But it gives a little bit of hope." EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana, who has been leading talks with Iran, also said on Monday he hoped to meet later this month with Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.
Solana refused to give details of the Iranian response, which was delivered in Brussels on Friday.
The United States has never ruled out military action to end the Iranian defiance and concerns a strike could be imminent mounted after it emerged Iran's arch enemy Israel had carried out dry runs for an attack.
Hitting out at the "satanic desires" of US President George W. Bush, Ahmadinejad shrugged off the idea that the United States could attack Iran.
"Even if some countries like Israel and the United States join forces they will not dare to attack Iran and they know it very well," Ahmadinejad said."They know that they cannot use the language of force against Iran and must bend in the face of the will of the Iranian people," he added.

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IDF to target Hamas' West Bank civilian network

 Last update - 09:51 07/07/2008    
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent 
The Israel Defense Forces will soon be stepping up its campaign against Hamas' civilian infrastructure in the West Bank, shutting down a large number of Hamas-affiliated charities, confiscating their property, and searching computers and documents that detail their activity.
The IDF has been carrying out similar raids in the Hebron, Qalqilyah and Ramallah areas since the beginning of the year, but the campaign will now be expanded to additional parts of the West Bank, in the wake of approval from Israel's legal authorities.
After receiving permission to seize property that provides Hamas-affiliated associations with income, even if they are not directly linked to terrorism, the IDF has shut down a mall in Hebron, confiscated buses and prohibited the opening of a new school in Hebron due to ties with Hamas-linked Islamic associations. Offices and storehouses have also been shut down.

 The IDF argues that closing Hamas-affiliated institutions cuts off a crucial source of funding earmarked for terror activities. The move is also aimed at making it difficult for Hamas to increase its influence in the West Bank, in a bid to stem Hamas' rising popularity and keep it from wresting control from the Palestinian Authority.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin have approved the plan to target Hamas' civilian infrastructure.
Over the last few years, Hamas has built an "organizational system that, if necessary, could serve as the basis for a state," a senior IDF official told Haaretz. "It's simply a 'state of associations.' They accumulate a lot of popular support and rely on an enormous infusion of funds from abroad, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year, from bodies in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Muslim communities in Europe, the United States and South America."
A senior IDF officer said the IDF, which is curbing Hamas' military capability and preventing it from challenging the Palestinian Authority more directly, is the primary obstacle to a Hamas takeover of the West Bank.
"They have knowledge, funds and skilled people, much more so than Fatah," the officer said. "They won the elections in many towns and local authorities, and they are gradually gaining control of more education, health, welfare and religious institutions."
But the officer said the IDF was fighting what he called a "rearguard battle."
"We're talking about strengthening the moderate elements  that is, the Palestinian Authority  but actually the PA has little control over the area. Hamas has taken over all the associations  not just blatantly Islamic bodies, but also those that used to be under PA control. The Palestinian public prefers Hamas, because they are less corrupt and more efficient."
But although the IDF is targeting Hamas-affiliated institutions, the IDF officer notes that "we have not yet declared war on Hamas." He said such a move would need to be undertaken by the state as a whole, rather than "local work" carried out by the IDF and Shin Bet.
Hamas-affiliated institutions that were targeted so far include schools, health centers, charities, and even soup kitchens and orphanages. Dozens of associations were shut down and the food confiscated.
Several dozen indictments have been issued thus far, and some operatives have been convicted and sentenced to jail terms. Police have also begun investigating suspected money-laundering and the transfer of terror funds. Unlike in the past, when seized intelligence information was left in storage for years because there weren't enough experts to translate and analyze it, this time a team of translators was set up to deal with the seized material.
"This campaign is what most disturbs Hamas in the West Bank," said a senior official. "But this is only the beginning of the effort, and we need more activities and more resources. When it comes to these matters, you can't compare the efficiency of the security forces to the level of effectiveness developed by the army and the Shin Bet over the last few years, in everything related to stopping the terror of suicide bombers from the West Bank."

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Western intelligence claims Iran has renewed nuclear weapons bid

The news that Iran is building P2 centrifuges in concealed factories is certainly not good. On the one hand, more efficient centrifuges are not necessarily going to be used to make an A-bomb. It is not quite a "smoking gun" signal in the way that work on detonator mechanisms or warheads might be. 
On the other hand, the fact that the work is concealed and is undertaken by the Iranian Republican Guard Corps is fairly damning. Iranian Republic guards do not engage in academic research or in atoms for peace projects.
If they are working on P2 centrifuges, they may be working on "smoking gun" projects as well. The fact that that is not known in the West might simply indicate the inadequacy of the intelligence networks. The ambiguous project might have looser security with the intent that the news will get out.
Ami Isseroff

Iran has resumed A-bomb project, says West

Last updated: 8:13 AM BST 07/07/2008

Iran has resumed work on constructing highly sophisticated equipment that nuclear experts say is primarily used for building atomic weapons, according to the latest intelligence reports received by Western diplomats.

The work is aimed at developing the blueprint provided by Dr AQ Khan, the "father" of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, who sold Iran details of how to build atom bombs in the early 1990s.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard, which has overall responsibility for the country's nuclear programme, has set up several civilian companies to work on the programme whose activities are being deliberately concealed from the United Nations nuclear inspection teams.

The companies, based on the outskirts of Tehran, are working on constructing components for the advanced P2 gas centrifuge, which can enrich uranium to weapons grade two to three times faster than conventional P1 centrifuges.

Iran's controversial nuclear enrichment programme at Natanz, which Tehran insists is designed to produce fuel for nuclear power, runs on P1 centrifuges. But Iranian nuclear scientists recently conducted successful tests on a prototype P2 centrifuge at Natanz, and the Revolutionary Guard has now set up a network of companies to build components for the advanced centrifuges.

This has raised concerns among Western experts that Iran is continuing work on its nuclear weapons programme, despite Tehran's protestations that its intentions are peaceful.

"If Iran's nuclear intentions were peaceful there would be no need for it to undertake this work in secret," said an official familiar with the intelligence reports.

A previous clandestine attempt by Iran to develop P2 centrifuges was halted in 2004 after the existence of a civilian company set up by the Revolutionary Guard was exposed. UN nuclear inspectors found traces of weapons-grade uranium at the company when they inspected the premises.

Reports that Iran has resumed work on sophisticated uranium enrichment technology follow Tehran's announcement at the weekend that it has no intention of halting its uranium enrichment programme at Natanz.

Iranian officials were speaking the day after they had formally submitted their response to a package put together by the world's leading powers – including Britain – offering a number of incentives in return for halting enrichment.

While European officials yesterday refused to disclose details of the Iranian response, one said that "it was not something that made us jump up and down for joy".

An Iranian government spokesman said: "Iran's stand regarding its peaceful nuclear programme has not changed."

According to recent intelligence reports, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President, personally ordered the Revolutionary Guard to set up companies for the secret manufacture of components for P2 centrifuges this year.

One of the companies is in a residential building in Amir Abad, western Tehran, where its work is unlikely to be detected by UN nuclear inspectors. One of the facilities is said to be run by a company owned by the Revolutionary Guard.

The operation is a direct copy of the Revolutionary Guard's previous attempt to develop P2 centrifuges, when research work was undertaken by the Kalaye Electric Company, which claimed it was manufacturing watches.

When its true activity was revealed to UN nuclear inspectors in 2004, they found the company had succeeded in building the centrifuges and enriching small quantities of uranium to weapons grade.

Senior officials from Iran's Atomic Energy Agency are supervising the current clandestine programme, which is based on the atomic weapons blueprint sold to Iran by Dr Khan in 1994.

Reports that Iran is actively working on Dr Khan's blueprint will deepen suspicions that Tehran has resumed work on its nuclear weapons programme.

Story from Telegraph News:

Continued (Permanent Link)

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