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Saturday, August 9, 2008

9 Provinces of Iran Deprived of Even 3 Personal Bookshops

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/9-provinces-of-iran-deprived-of-even-3.html

Source: Khorasan (fundamentalist newspaper)  in Farsi

 

Thursday: 24 July 2008    Page: 6
 

9 Provinces of Iran Deprived of Even 3 Personal Bookshops

By: Aaref

" While book reading and study is one of the characteristics of cultural development in a region ( country), the president of Publishers and Booksellers Union of Tabriz, Mr. Saeed Jalali, says: The interference of the state in publishing has caused the decline of  booksellers` activities day after day in a manner that there are not more than 3 personal bookshops in 9 provinces of the country now.

 

There are 9 provinces which have less than one million residents and while approximately 8 millions people live in these provinces, all of them have less than 3 bookshops altogether.

 

He adds: The main reason for decline of bookshops is the state interference in this field. The stare administers the provincial book fairs in different cities and this greatly causes decreasing of business activities in publishing industry.

 

He continues: according to Iran Statistics Center, a schoolteacher with bachelor degree earned 4.40US$/month in 1956. (50 years ago) The Buying Power of people has declined 60% up to 2006.

 

He adds: There were 30 bookshops in Tabriz City in 1956 while this number modified to 28 in 2006. And  also, the population of this city was 289,000 in 1956 which increased to 1,400,000 in 2006. Tabriz University had 900 students in 1956 and it extended to 66,000 students in 2006."  


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Friday, August 8, 2008

A remarkable article about Palestinian democracy

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/remarkable-article-about-palestinian.html

Would you believe Nathan Sharansky and Bassam Eid as co-authors?
 
Here is a quote - something that is never said and needs saying:
 
When one of us [Bassem Eid] worked for Israel's Betselem cataloging Israel's human-rights violations, the international community embraced every report. But when intellectual honesty demanded that he monitor Palestinian human-rights violations according to the same standards, no one was interested. Those reports were dismissed as undermining the Palestinian leaders -- first Arafat and now Mr. Abbas -- who would make peace with Israel
 
 

There Won't Be 'Peace' Without Democracy

By NATAN SHARANSKY and BASSEM EID
August 8, 2008; Page A13

A tragic peace process turned to farce last weekend. After bloody clashes between Hamas and Fatah loyalists in the Gaza strip killed 11 Palestinians and injured 120 more, nearly 200 Palestinians associated with Fatah sought asylum in Israel. Some have been transferred to the West Bank cities of Jericho and Ramallah, where they are now under the jurisdiction of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Dozens more who were considered unwelcome by Mr. Abbas's office were anxiously awaiting possible deportation back to Gaza. The only thing that saved them from this fate was an appeal by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which petitioned the Supreme Court to prevent the government from sending the Fatah refugees back to Gaza.

The irony of the present situation boggles the mind. In 1993, then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin defended the Oslo accords he signed with Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Liberation Organization to a somewhat skeptical Israeli public by arguing that Arafat would fight Hamas much better than Israel, since he had "no Supreme Court and no Betselem" (an Israeli human-rights organization).

Oslo proponents believed a strong Arafat, unconstrained by the inherent checks of democratic rule, would be able to fight Hamas and forge a final peace with Israel. A weak Palestinian democracy, the logic went, actually served the interest of peace by creating a stronger peace partner.

Yet 15 years later, another Israeli human-rights organization successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to save the remnants of Israel's erstwhile peace partners from being deported back into the murderous hands of Hamas. In other words, a peace process that undermined Palestinian democracy created a "peace partner" so hated by its own people that the Israeli Army must now protect them.

Israel, America and the free world share much of the blame for this fiasco. As Arafat and his Fatah party were busy hollowing out Palestinian civil society and turning control of the Palestinian economy over to corrupt cronies, the world showered them with money and diplomatic support. Hundreds of millions of dollars were transferred to Arafat's private slush fund so that he could "strengthen" his standing among the Palestinians.

But the corrupt dictatorship he built would win him and his party only the lasting scorn of his people. The Hamas victory two years ago in the Palestinian legislative elections was as much about Fatah's misrule as it was about a resurgent Islamism, or Israel's short-sighted disengagement from Gaza. Rather than link this concession to a positive change on the Palestinian side -- such as, for example, dismantling refugee camps where a fourth generation of Palestinian still shamefully reside -- Israel's unilateral concession further empowered extremists.

Last November's Annapolis "peace" conference continued this misguided approach. Once again the focus is primarily on who is ruling and not on how they rule. Mr. Abbas has replaced Arafat as the recipient of international largess, but the emphasis remains on empowering a particular leader, rather than empowering Palestinian civil society and creating democratic institutions.

Palestinians have suffered greatly for this neglect of democracy. Since the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000, internecine violence has reached unprecedented heights. According to the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, the death toll includes: 122 killed in the streets (suspected collaborators), 41 by capital punishment, 34 honor killings, 48 stabbed to death, seven beaten to death, 258 killed under mysterious circumstances and 818 cases of gunfire. So far no one has been charged let alone tried for any of these unlawful killings.

Where is the money that was supposedly spent on reforming the judicial system? Where is the international outrage as Palestinian leaders drag their own society further into the abyss?

When one of us [Bassem Eid] worked for Israel's Betselem cataloging Israel's human-rights violations, the international community embraced every report. But when intellectual honesty demanded that he monitor Palestinian human-rights violations according to the same standards, no one was interested. Those reports were dismissed as undermining the Palestinian leaders -- first Arafat and now Mr. Abbas -- who would make peace with Israel.

If Israelis and Palestinians are to pave a path toward peace, they must pursue a radically different course. The peace process must be linked to building and strengthening Palestinian civil society. In June 2002, President Bush boldly declared a vision based on such a course and took some steps to implement it -- such as refusing to deal with corrupt leaders (Arafat), and meeting Palestinian democratic dissidents. But in the final analysis, his administration did not fundamentally change direction. It is now pursuing a course that essentially resuscitates the failed policies of the past.

It is high time that Palestinian civil society be fully recognized by the international community as a prerequisite to peace, not as an obstacle to it. If Palestinian civil society is not empowered, the Fatah-controlled West Bank may soon be ruled by Hamas, and Fatah leaders there may find themselves one day having to rely on Israel's Supreme Court to save them.

Mr. Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident and Israeli politician, is chairman of the Adelson Institute of Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. Mr. Eid is the founder of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, based in East Jerusalem, and has been its director since 1996.


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Pro-Israel editor Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury goes on trial in Bangladesh

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/pro-israel-editor-salah-uddin-shoaib.html

What the report neglects to day is that Salah Uddin has been active in fighting Islamist extremism in Bangladesh, earning the enmity of too many powerful folks. His trial should have become a cause celebre for all human rights groups. Unfortunately, "respectable" groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have studiously avoided mentioning it.
 
The Jerusalem Post
Pro-Israel editor goes on trial in Bangladesh
Aug. 8, 2008
by Michael Freund

After repeated delays, the trial of a Bangladeshi Muslim editor arrested for advocating ties with Israel began in Dhaka on Wednesday.

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, editor of the Weekly Blitz, an English-language newspaper published in the Bangladeshi capital, is facing a series of charges that include sedition.

If convicted, he could be sentenced to death.

In November 2003, Choudhury was arrested at Dhaka's international airport just prior to boarding a flight on his way to Israel, where he was scheduled to deliver an address on promoting understanding between Muslims and Jews. His visit to Israel would have been the first by a Bangladeshi journalist.

Bangladesh does not recognize Israel's existence.

Since his arrest, Choudhury has been subjected to various forms of intimidation and harassment. Two years ago, the offices of his newspaper were the target of an attempted bombing by unknown assailants.

In the first day of testimony this week, the prosecution called Abdul Hanif, the officer in charge at the airport when Choudhury was detained.

Hanif accused Choudhury of being anti-Islamic, and said that he had "praised Jews and Christians" and defamed Bangladesh. The hearings were then adjourned.

Contacted by The Jerusalem Post, a spokeswoman for the Bangladeshi Mission to the United Nations declined to comment on the case, saying she was not familiar with the details.

Dr. Richard Benkin, an American Jewish activist who has been leading the fight on Choudhury's behalf, told the Post that while he was clearly concerned about the trial, he nonetheless remains cautiously optimistic.

"The judge conducted himself in a judicially correct and professional manner today, something we never experienced under the previous government which initiated these charges," Benkin said.

In a message sent to his supporters abroad after the conclusion of the first day of hearings, Choudhury remained upbeat, declaring: "Now my luck hangs in the balance of being either acquitted from the charges by the court or accorded capital punishment."

"But let us remain strong. Pray for me, for God is with us and we shall win," he said.


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Media buy Physicians for Human Rights claims about Gaza without checking - despite their record

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/media-buy-physicians-for-human-rights.html

From Honest Reporting, we get the reprot below. What they failed to mention is that Physicians for Human Rights - Israel is the group that fell for the claim of the Palestinian who supposedly died because he was denied treatment. Subsequentily, he was "resurrected" - a "miracle" that is indicative of the reliability of PHR claims.
 
Many media outlets, including the BBC, Washington Post, Daily Telegraph, GuardianIndependent and AFP, have published allegations made by the NGO Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) that Israeli security services have pressured Palestinians seeking medical treatment outside of Gaza to become informants in violation of international law.

NGO Monitor's Gerald Steinberg takes up the issue:

Once again, unproven accusations against Israel and stripped of context made by obscure NGOs (the BBC, like other news groups, apparently did not know that PHR-I is an independent organization, and not part of the international PHR framework) were placed at the top of the news ladder. This is the power of the "halo effect", which protects NGOs that claim lofty goals (particularly if they condemn Israel) from any independent verification by journalists, diplomats and often, and academic researchers.

There are numerous problems with this report that should have given the BBC and other journalists pause, beginning with the questions of credibility and context. Human rights claims are a central part of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and have accompanied Palestinian terrorism and Israeli responses for many years....

... the "evidence" is entirely based on unverifiable claims, primarily from 11 interviewees from Gaza who allegedly asked Israel for permission to cross from the territory controlled by Hamas for medical care. Some of these Palestinians may have genuine medical needs, but others may be inventing stories that sell well in an environment that is inherently hostile to Israel.

PHR-I has issued press releases declaring a Palestinian to be dead after Israel refused to allow him to cross the border, but he turned out to be alive. And in NGO reports on Palestinian suffering, Gazans who claimed to have been denied permission to study at universities in the United States were exposed as imposters. Unless the evidence can be checked or independently verified, it should be treated with the same skepticism used by professional journalists regarding other self-serving stories.

In addition, neither the BBC nor most of the other media reports on this story stated that PHR-I is a radical political organization that uses medical and other human rights claims to promote this agenda. As detailed NGO Monitor analyses show, PHR-I, officials, who are funded by misguided European governments, frequently use the rhetoric of demonization, addressing conferences that refer to Israel as a "racist" and "apartheid" state.

Read the full article on NGO Monitor's blog. Please use this information and send your considered comments where appropriate to those media outlets that have covered this story:

BBC - http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

Washington Post - letters@washpost.com

Daily Telegraph - dtletters@telegraph.co.uk

The Guardian - letters@guardian.co.uk

The Independent - letters@independent.co.uk


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Do British media favor Hamas over Fatah?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/do-british-media-favor-hamas-over-fatah.html

Just Journalism reports on these examples of double standards in dealing with violence in Israel and the Palestinian areas. What is most interesting is that the British journals seem to be favoring Hamas over Fatah. Consider these examples:
Car bombing prompts Hamas crackdown – The Guardian
Hamas hits back after blast kills top officials – The Times
Blast triggers new Palestinian clashes – Financial Times
 
They are all careful to show that the Hamas had justification for its brutal crackdown.
 
Extensive coverage of Palestinian boy killed by IDF in contrast with noticeably less coverage of death of Palestinian girl killed in Palestinian bomb attack.

Last week, on Tuesday 29 July, a 10 year-old Palestinian boy, Ahmed Moussa, was killed by IDF gunfire at a West Bank protest in the village of Nilin. The incident made the headlines in four out of five of the following day's broadsheets:

Israeli bullets kill Palestinian boy – Front page, The Guardian
Palestinian boy, 10, dies as Israeli troops fire on demonstration  – The Guardian
Palestinian boy, 10, killed by Israelis at separation wall – The Independent
Palestinian boy killed in protest – The Times
Israelis kill boy, 10 – The Daily Telegraph

The Guardian coverage was extensive, including an eye-witness account, comment from Ahmed Moussa's aunt and a response from an Israeli military source. The article was accompanied by a large photograph showing the boy receiving emergency treatment from Palestinian medics.

Four days earlier, on the night of the Friday 25 July 2008, a Gaza bomb attack against Hamas, thought to have been carried out by Fatah supporters, killed four Hamas men and a four year-old Palestinian girl, Serena Sefady. It took place too late on Friday to be covered in the following day's newspapers. However the girl's death did not make it into the Sunday newspapers either. On Monday 28 July, following a Hamas crackdown on Fatah activists in response to the bombing, there were three brief and passing mentions of the death of an unnamed girl in the following articles:

Car bombing prompts Hamas crackdown – The Guardian
Hamas hits back after blast kills top officials – The Times
Blast triggers new Palestinian clashes – Financial Times

The mentions were all strictly in the context of the fighting which the bomb attack triggered. In The Independent's tiny article – Bombs lead to tit-for-tat arrests – Serena Sefady's death was completely omitted.

The only outlet which focused any attention on what happened to the girl was the BBC News website (Hamas and Fatah battle for power), which named Serena, quoted her bereaved mother and provided information about the circumstances of her death.

(*Headlines which are not hyperlinked do not appear online)


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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Peres singled out for honor in Olympic opening ceremony

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/peres-singled-out-for-honor-in-olympic.html

Last update - 01:45 08/08/2008    
 Peres singled out for honor in Olympic opening ceremony 
By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent  
 
President Shimon Peres will meet today with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao. Although hundreds of world leaders have been invited to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, only eight have been afforded this honor, including the presidents of the United States, Russia and France.
 
Peres told Haaretz on Thursday during the flight to Beijing that he plans to discuss the Iranian nuclear program in the meeting. "The Chinese have a more advanced position than Russia. They are not enthusiastic about sanctions but have not prevented them."
 
Peres plans to tell his host that Iran constitutes a world danger but said "Israel should not make Tehran an Israeli problem but a global problem. It is important to reach an East-West understanding regarding Iran."
 
 
Peres also said he does not believe Sino-Israeli relations were damaged by Israeli consent to a U.S. request that Israel stop defense cooperation with China. "The Chinese are practical. They do not operate in anger. They realize there is a lot of room for cooperation with Israel and are interested in that."
 
The Chinese, Peres said, are particularly interested in cooperation in agriculture and medicine and consider Israel very advanced in both fields.
 
Peres' schedule during his three-day visit includes meetings with other world leaders.


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Gaza Popular Resistance Committees promise more kidnappings

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/gaza-popular-resistance-committees.html

 Last update - 00:40 08/08/2008       
PRC: Gaza truce may end in 3 weeks if no progress on crossings
By Reuters
 
The Popular Resistance Committees Palestinian militant group on Thursday warned Israel that the truce between Hamas and Israel in Gaza could end in three weeks time if no progress is made on the crossings and the release of prisoners.
 
The truce between Israel and Hamas went into effect on June 19.
 
"The Zionist occupation (Israel) has not yet agreed to the demand to release our prisoners so our fighters are preparing for the next round in which we will try to abduct more Israeli soldiers to swap them for our hero prisoners," Abu Attaya, spokesman of the PRC's armed wing, told Reuters.
 
On Thursday, the PRC allowed Reuters and other news organizations to film a live ammunition training exercise. Gunmen detonated bombs and opened fire while storming a mock Israeli army base built on the ruins of a former Jewish settlement in the southern Gaza Strip.
 
Abu Mujahed, one of the group's leaders, told dozens of guerillas undergoing military training that Hamas, the PRC and other factions were disappointed at Israel's slow progress in opening Gaza's border crossings and prisoner release talks.
 
"[Israel] has until the end of the tenth week [since the declaration of the ceasefire] and if they do not abide by the obligations of calm, politicians will stop talking and military men will act," Abu Mujahed said.
 
He said militant groups had agreed among themselves to give the truce a 10-week trial period, although he did not say whether Hamas was also involved in the deadline.
 
PRC gunmen together with Hamas militants and another armed faction abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a June 2006 cross-border raid.
 
The Egyptian-brokered truce calls on Gaza militants to halt rocket attacks in return for Israel gradually easing an embargo on the territory. The truce has largely held and rocket attacks from Gaza have declined.
 
On Wednesday, a rocket fired from Gaza landed in southern Israel, but caused no injuries or damage, Israel's military said.
 
Israel has responded to previous attacks by closing border crossings along the Gaze Strip.
 
Hamas, which currently controls the Gaza Strip, has also called on Israel to release hundreds of prisoners in exchange for Shalit.


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Lebanese Parliament Speaker: Hizbolla Resistance is our pride

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/lebanese-parliament-speaker-hizbolla.html

This statement, and others like it, must be remembered when the next war comes, and Lebanese officials insist that they have no control over Hezbollah or responsibility for it.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Thursday told the President of the European Parliament Hans-Gert Pottering Hizbullah's resistance is "our pride."
Berri made the remark in an address at a lunch banquet in honor of the visiting European chief legislator.
 
Berri expressed gratitude for the EU's support during the 2006 war between Hizbullah and Israel, stating that in the 34-day confrontation "we established Israel's failure in achieving any goal by force."
 
"Two years after the war came to a halt, Israel persists with violating international resolutions," Berri said.
 
Lebanon, the speaker told his EU guest, honors its commitments in line with UNSCR 1701.
 
"Resistance in Lebanon and Palestine is a reaction to the occupation," Berri stressed. 
 
Beirut, 07 Aug 08, 14:58
 


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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/irans-nuclear-weapons-program.html

ANALYSIS
 
IRAN'S NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM
 
By Yitzhak Santis
Director, JCRC  Middle East Project
 
In July the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (United States, Russia, China, France and England) plus Germany held a multi-lateral parley on Iran's nuclear program at which Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, was present.  An offer was made to Iran that if it halts its nuclear activity these powers would refrain from moving to impose more U.N. penalties.   Iran was given a two week deadline to respond.  When Iran's response came at the end of the deadline, Iran "again ignored calls to give a final answer to a package presented by world powers to end the nuclear standoff."[1]
 
Now, the permanent five Security Council members plus Germany have "agreed to seek new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program after the country failed to meet a weekend deadline to respond to an offer intended to defuse the dispute."[2]  
 
Background
The prospect of the Islamic Republic of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and obtaining the ability to launch missiles against countries throughout the Middle East and even Europe has alarmed the international community. [3] 
 
The fear is Iran wants to "develop either a nuclear bomb or the ability to make one, even if it has not decided to build one right now."  Therefore, a consensus has emerged in the international community calling for Iran to stop all enrichment because the "same technology used for producing fuel for nuclear power can be used to enrich the uranium to a much higher level for producing fuel for a nuclear explosion."[4]
 
According to this international consensus, if Iran succeeds in developing nuclear weapons, this will shift the balance of power in the Middle East, specifically in the oil-rich Gulf region, thereby dangerously destabilizing world oil markets.  Further, a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat to Middle Eastern stability that could provoke a perilous nuclear arms race throughout the region. 
 
Indeed, in response to Shi'ite Persian Iran's development of nuclear weapons predominantly Sunni Muslim Arab states - specifically Saudi Arabia, [5] Egypt,[6] and Jordan[7] - have already voiced grave concern and declared that they, too, may begin their own nuclear programs.
 
A nuclear-armed Iran will also negatively impact prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians given Iran's strong military, financial and political support for the radical Islamist groups Hezbollah and Hamas, which both reject making any kind of peace with Israel.  Iran-sponsored terrorist networks, particularly Hezbollah, have a long history of targeting Americans and U.S. interests.  In 1983, with Iranian support, Hezbollah killed 241 Marines as they slept in their barracks in Lebanon.
 
In the last several years, under the leadership of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran has manifested increasingly threatening behavior and rhetoric toward the United States, other Western powers, Israel and the Jewish people.  Not only has Ahmadinejad repeatedly called for Israel to be wiped off the map,[8] but his government, demonstrating its extremist character, convened in December 2006 an international Holocaust denial conference in Teheran, and staged a "Holocaust Cartoon Contest."[9]  
 
The National Intelligence Estimate
While there is consensus in the international community that Iran's intent is to acquire the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons, there is disagreement, however, among various nations' intelligence agencies regarding the pace of nuclear weapons development. 
 
For instance, American intelligence agencies issued their now famous National Intelligence Estimate of November 2007 which states "with high confidence" that in 2003 Iran "halted its nuclear weapons program," but also stated that Iran "at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons" and most importantly that, "Because of intelligence gaps DOE and the NIC assess with only moderate confidence that the halt to those activities represents a halt to Iran's entire nuclear weapons program."  The NIE also assesses that "Iran probably would use covert facilities- rather than its declared nuclear sites-for the production of highly enriched uranium for a weapon." [10]
 
Challenging the NIE: British and Israeli Intelligence
Other intelligence services, notably the British and Israeli, arrive at differing conclusions.  The Sunday Telegraph (UK), for instance, reports that:
 

A senior British official delivered a withering assessment of US intelligence-gathering abilities in the Middle East and revealed that British spies shared the concerns of Israeli defense chiefs that Iran was still pursuing nuclear weapons. "It's not as if the American intelligence agencies are regarded as brilliant performers in that region. They got badly burned over Iraq." [11]

 
More recently, the Daily Telegraph (UK), reported that
 
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 A. Q. 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 program, has set up several civilian companies to work on the program whose activities are being deliberately concealed from the United Nations nuclear inspection teams.[12] 
 
Specifically, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report of May 26, 2008 "shows continued non-compliance" with UN Security Council resolutions 1737, 1747[13], and 1803 and "includes two important findings. The first is that Iran is making significant progress on developing and operating its centrifuges. The second is Iran's lack of cooperation with inspectors in addressing its alleged nuclear weapons-related work, which the IAEA calls a 'matter of serious concern.'"[14]
 
Peter D. Zimmerman, a nuclear physicist and emeritus professor of science and security at King's College London, wrote in the Boston Globe[15] that the IAEA May 26, 2008 report states that Teheran refuses to answer specific questions.  Among these queries are:
  • Why is Iran using high explosives to implode a hemispherical shell of heavy metal? The only known use for such tests is to perfect a lightweight nuclear bomb.

  • Why is Iran developing the kinds of detonators needed in an atomic weapon?

  • Why is Iran designing, or redesigning, a ballistic missile warhead so that it can contain a nuclear weapon
Furthermore, Zimmerman notes that, 
Iran announced months ago that it is installing 6,000 centrifuges in its uranium enrichment plant, in addition to the 3,000 in operation. These activities increase Iran's near-term ability to make nuclear weapons, especially since the new ones have twice the capacity of the originals.
 
Local Action Taken by JCRC: The California Public Divest from Iran Act
JCRC was one of the principle parties involved in successfully lobbying the California Legislature on the
California Public Divest from Iran Act (AB 221), which unanimously passed the State Assembly on September 10th 2007 after already being unanimously passed by the State Senate the week before.  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law on October 14, 2007, making California the third state in the country to pass such legislation. 
 
Introduced by Assemblyman Joel Anderson, AB 221 prohibits the state's public pension funds from investing in companies with business ties to Iran's petroleum, natural gas, nuclear, or defense sectors.  Depriving Iran of investment in these sectors of their economy will send a clear message to Tehran that they must give up their nuclear weapons program.
 
To read JCRC's position on the Iranian nuclear issue, click here.  
 
_______________________________________________________
[1] AFP, "Iran again fails to give final nuclear reply," August 5, 2008 http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5guRaX9mDJxiqYhA_SHN--vJa4k4A
[2] Jerusalem Post, "Iran's response to incentives package sidesteps key issues," August 5, 2008 http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1215331199928&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
[3] "Q&A: Iran and the nuclear issue," BBC, http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/mpapps/pagetools/print/news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4031603.stm (Retrieved Sept. 17, 2007)
[4] Ibid.
[5] "Saudis consider nuclear bomb," The Guardian, September 18, 2003 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/sep/18/nuclear.saudiarabia (Retrieved July 18, 2008)
[6] "Egypt unveils nuclear power plan," BBC, September 25, 2006 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5376860.stm (Retrieved July 18, 2008)
[7] "King Abdullah to Haaretz: Jordan aims to develop nuclear power," Haaretz, January 20, 2008 http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/815304.html (Retrieved July 18, 2008)
[8] "'As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map,' said Ahmadinejad, referring to the late founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Khomeini." Quoted in "Ahmadinejad: Israel must be wiped off the map," Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Oct 26, 2005, http://www.iribnews.ir/Full_en.asp?news_id=200247
[9] "Iran displays Holocaust cartoons," BBC, August 15, 2007 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4795709.stm (Retrieved July 18, 2008)
[10] "National Intelligence Estimate: Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities," National Intelligence Council, November 2007
[11] "Iran 'hoodwinked' CIA over nuclear plans," Sunday Telegraph, December 10, 2007 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1572019/Iran-%27hoodwinked%27-CIA-over-nuclear-plans.html
[12] Daily Telegraph, "Iran has resumed A-bomb project, says West," July 7, 2008 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/2259578/Iran-has-resumed-A-bomb-project,-says-West.html (Retrieved August 5, 2008)
[13] UNSC Resolution 1747, for instance, "deploring that, as indicated therein, Iran has failed to comply" with previous resolutions call therefore calls for sanctions against Iran by all member states and international financial institutions by refusing to "enter into new commitments for grants, financial assistance, and concessional loans, to the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, except for humanitarian and developmental purposes."
[14] See "May 26, 2008 IAEA Safeguards Report on Iran: Centrifuge Operation Improving and Cooperation Lacking on Weaponization Issues," by David Albright, Jacqueline Shire, and Paul Brannan, Institute for Science and International Security, May 29, 2008
[15] "Time for Iran to face more sanctions," by Peter D. Zimmerman, professor of science and security at King's College London and the former chief scientist of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Boston Globe, July 6, 2007, http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/07/06/time_for_iran_to_face_more_sanctions/
 


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[resource] Iran's nuclear weapons program

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/resource-irans-nuclear-weapons-program.html

ANALYSIS
 
IRAN'S NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM
 
By Yitzhak Santis
Director, JCRC Middle East Project
 
In July the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (United States, Russia, China, France and England) plus Germany held a multi-lateral parley on Iran's nuclear program at which Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, was present.  An offer was made to Iran that if it halts its nuclear activity these powers would refrain from moving to impose more U.N. penalties.   Iran was given a two week deadline to respond.  When Iran's response came at the end of the deadline, Iran "again ignored calls to give a final answer to a package presented by world powers to end the nuclear standoff."[1]
 
Now, the permanent five Security Council members plus Germany have "agreed to seek new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program after the country failed to meet a weekend deadline to respond to an offer intended to defuse the dispute."[2]  
 
Background
The prospect of the Islamic Republic of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and obtaining the ability to launch missiles against countries throughout the Middle East and even Europe has alarmed the international community. [3] 
 
The fear is Iran wants to "develop either a nuclear bomb or the ability to make one, even if it has not decided to build one right now."  Therefore, a consensus has emerged in the international community calling for Iran to stop all enrichment because the "same technology used for producing fuel for nuclear power can be used to enrich the uranium to a much higher level for producing fuel for a nuclear explosion."[4]
 
According to this international consensus, if Iran succeeds in developing nuclear weapons, this will shift the balance of power in the Middle East, specifically in the oil-rich Gulf region, thereby dangerously destabilizing world oil markets.  Further, a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat to Middle Eastern stability that could provoke a perilous nuclear arms race throughout the region. 
 
Indeed, in response to Shi'ite Persian Iran's development of nuclear weapons predominantly Sunni Muslim Arab states - specifically Saudi Arabia, [5] Egypt,[6] and Jordan[7] - have already voiced grave concern and declared that they, too, may begin their own nuclear programs.
 
A nuclear-armed Iran will also negatively impact prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians given Iran's strong military, financial and political support for the radical Islamist groups Hezbollah and Hamas, which both reject making any kind of peace with Israel.  Iran-sponsored terrorist networks, particularly Hezbollah, have a long history of targeting Americans and U.S. interests.  In 1983, with Iranian support, Hezbollah killed 241 Marines as they slept in their barracks in Lebanon.
 
In the last several years, under the leadership of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran has manifested increasingly threatening behavior and rhetoric toward the United States, other Western powers, Israel and the Jewish people.  Not only has Ahmadinejad repeatedly called for Israel to be wiped off the map,[8] but his government, demonstrating its extremist character, convened in December 2006 an international Holocaust denial conference in Teheran, and staged a "Holocaust Cartoon Contest."[9]  
 
The National Intelligence Estimate
While there is consensus in the international community that Iran's intent is to acquire the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons, there is disagreement, however, among various nations' intelligence agencies regarding the pace of nuclear weapons development. 
 
For instance, American intelligence agencies issued their now famous National Intelligence Estimate of November 2007 which states "with high confidence" that in 2003 Iran "halted its nuclear weapons program," but also stated that Iran "at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons" and most importantly that, "Because of intelligence gaps DOE and the NIC assess with only moderate confidence that the halt to those activities represents a halt to Iran's entire nuclear weapons program."  The NIE also assesses that "Iran probably would use covert facilities- rather than its declared nuclear sites-for the production of highly enriched uranium for a weapon." [10]
 
Challenging the NIE: British and Israeli Intelligence
Other intelligence services, notably the British and Israeli, arrive at differing conclusions.  The Sunday Telegraph (UK), for instance, reports that:
 

A senior British official delivered a withering assessment of US intelligence-gathering abilities in the Middle East and revealed that British spies shared the concerns of Israeli defense chiefs that Iran was still pursuing nuclear weapons. "It's not as if the American intelligence agencies are regarded as brilliant performers in that region. They got badly burned over Iraq." [11]

 
More recently, the Daily Telegraph (UK), reported that
 
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 A. Q. 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 program, has set up several civilian companies to work on the program whose activities are being deliberately concealed from the United Nations nuclear inspection teams.[12] 
 
Specifically, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report of May 26, 2008 "shows continued non-compliance" with UN Security Council resolutions 1737, 1747[13], and 1803 and "includes two important findings. The first is that Iran is making significant progress on developing and operating its centrifuges. The second is Iran's lack of cooperation with inspectors in addressing its alleged nuclear weapons-related work, which the IAEA calls a 'matter of serious concern.'"[14]
 
Peter D. Zimmerman, a nuclear physicist and emeritus professor of science and security at King's College London, wrote in the Boston Globe[15] that the IAEA May 26, 2008 report states that Teheran refuses to answer specific questions.  Among these queries are:
  • Why is Iran using high explosives to implode a hemispherical shell of heavy metal? The only known use for such tests is to perfect a lightweight nuclear bomb.

  • Why is Iran developing the kinds of detonators needed in an atomic weapon?

  • Why is Iran designing, or redesigning, a ballistic missile warhead so that it can contain a nuclear weapon
Furthermore, Zimmerman notes that, 
Iran announced months ago that it is installing 6,000 centrifuges in its uranium enrichment plant, in addition to the 3,000 in operation. These activities increase Iran's near-term ability to make nuclear weapons, especially since the new ones have twice the capacity of the originals.
 
Local Action Taken by JCRC: The California Public Divest from Iran Act
JCRC was one of the principle parties involved in successfully lobbying the California Legislature on the
California Public Divest from Iran Act (AB 221), which unanimously passed the State Assembly on September 10th 2007 after already being unanimously passed by the State Senate the week before.  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law on October 14, 2007, making California the third state in the country to pass such legislation. 
 
Introduced by Assemblyman Joel Anderson, AB 221 prohibits the state's public pension funds from investing in companies with business ties to Iran's petroleum, natural gas, nuclear, or defense sectors.  Depriving Iran of investment in these sectors of their economy will send a clear message to Tehran that they must give up their nuclear weapons program.
 
To read JCRC's position on the Iranian nuclear issue, click here.  
 
_______________________________________________________
[1] AFP, "Iran again fails to give final nuclear reply," August 5, 2008 http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5guRaX9mDJxiqYhA_SHN--vJa4k4A
[2] Jerusalem Post, "Iran's response to incentives package sidesteps key issues," August 5, 2008 http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1215331199928&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
[3] "Q&A: Iran and the nuclear issue," BBC, http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/mpapps/pagetools/print/news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4031603.stm (Retrieved Sept. 17, 2007)
[4] Ibid.
[5] "Saudis consider nuclear bomb," The Guardian, September 18, 2003 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/sep/18/nuclear.saudiarabia (Retrieved July 18, 2008)
[6] "Egypt unveils nuclear power plan," BBC, September 25, 2006 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5376860.stm (Retrieved July 18, 2008)
[7] "King Abdullah to Haaretz: Jordan aims to develop nuclear power," Haaretz, January 20, 2008 http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/815304.html (Retrieved July 18, 2008)
[8] "'As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map,' said Ahmadinejad, referring to the late founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Khomeini." Quoted in "Ahmadinejad: Israel must be wiped off the map," Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Oct 26, 2005, http://www.iribnews.ir/Full_en.asp?news_id=200247
[9] "Iran displays Holocaust cartoons," BBC, August 15, 2007 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4795709.stm (Retrieved July 18, 2008)
[10] "National Intelligence Estimate: Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities," National Intelligence Council, November 2007
[11] "Iran 'hoodwinked' CIA over nuclear plans," Sunday Telegraph, December 10, 2007 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1572019/Iran-%27hoodwinked%27-CIA-over-nuclear-plans.html
[12] Daily Telegraph, "Iran has resumed A-bomb project, says West," July 7, 2008 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/2259578/Iran-has-resumed-A-bomb-project,-says-West.html (Retrieved August 5, 2008)
[13] UNSC Resolution 1747, for instance, "deploring that, as indicated therein, Iran has failed to comply" with previous resolutions call therefore calls for sanctions against Iran by all member states and international financial institutions by refusing to "enter into new commitments for grants, financial assistance, and concessional loans, to the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, except for humanitarian and developmental purposes."
[14] See "May 26, 2008 IAEA Safeguards Report on Iran: Centrifuge Operation Improving and Cooperation Lacking on Weaponization Issues," by David Albright, Jacqueline Shire, and Paul Brannan, Institute for Science and International Security, May 29, 2008
[15] "Time for Iran to face more sanctions," by Peter D. Zimmerman, professor of science and security at King's College London and the former chief scientist of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Boston Globe, July 6, 2007, http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/07/06/time_for_iran_to_face_more_sanctions/
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

The real face of Hamas in Gaza

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/real-face-of-hamas-in-gaza.html

08/04/2008 12:00 AM
GAZA'S LIFELINES
Tunnels to Egypt Keep Hamas in Business
By Juliane von Mittelstaedt
DER SPIEGEL
 
One year after assuming total power over the Gaza Strip, Hamas is stronger then ever. Its weapons caches are overflowing and its control over daily life is secure. The Islamists can go about their business largely thanks to the supplies that get in via the tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt.
 

 DPA
A Palestinian working at a tunnel to receive goods from Egypt in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip.
The king of the tunnel builders had given a dazzling party, with roses from Egypt and dancing into the early morning hours. Thousands of people came to the event to celebrate his wedding to his 15-year-old bride. He had chosen the girl, and her family gave her up gladly, because no one contradicts the man they call Abu Ibrahim.
He is the richest man in Rafah and is believed to be worth millions. He drives a gold-colored Jeep and has built a multistory commercial building, the only structure of its kind far and wide. He already has one wife and 10 children, and now he has this second wife, for whom he had a wedding bed, a refrigerator and two television sets brought in from Egypt through the tunnels.
 
Abu Ibrahim, 38, has Hamas to thank for his wealth, and Hamas owes its power in the Gaza Strip to Abu Ibrahim. A quarter century ago he dug his first tunnel under the border to Egypt. He was 13 years old at the time and one of the first to venture into the underworld of Rafah. At first he smuggled gold, cheese and cigarettes, but after the beginning of the second Intifada in 2000 his business shifted mainly to weapons. It was Ibrahim who helped arm the Islamists and provided them with the Kalashnikovs, ammunition and explosives they have used since assuming power in June of last year.
 
Although Hamas won a military victory over its rival, Fatah, on June 14, 2007, a second, silent civil war for lasting control over the Gaza Strip continues today, a year later. It is a conflict over who will determine law and order in the future, over bureaucracy and militias, and over who will collect taxes and who will be permitted to fire rockets at Israel.
 
When five Hamas members were killed in a bomb attack in front of a beach café two Fridays ago, the Hamas leadership immediately blamed the attack on its rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement. But it is also possible that the bombing was committed by elements from within Hamas's own ranks or one of its militias. The radical Islamist organization has been splintered into various factions for some time.
 
Lifelines for Gaza
 
Hamas used the bombing as an excuse to conduct its biggest series of raids since assuming power, arresting 200 supposed activists with the rival Fatah movement, searching organizations affiliated with it and banning three newspapers. In response, the Fatah-led government in the West Bank arrested 150 Hamas members. Hundreds of Fatah members have since fled to Israel and earlier this week many of them were subsequently transferred to the West Bank.
 
The two unconnected parts of a future Palestine are drifting apart like separating continental plates. Meanwhile, the new masters of Gaza are continually expanding their control over the narrow Mediterranean coastal strip, and their most important helpers are the tunnel people of Rafah.
 

 DER SPIEGEL
Grafik Übersetzung S.105 Spiegel Nr 32/2008 Lebanon Mediterranean West Bank Jerusalem Sderot Rafah Ashdod Gaza Strip Israel Egypt Jordan
According to the Israeli domestic intelligence agency, 175 tons of explosives have been smuggled into the region since June 2007, along with 10 million rounds of ammunition, tens of thousands of machine guns, grenades, land mines and precision-guided missiles. The Islamists are now believed to have turned to smuggling weapons through their own cement-reinforced tunnels, which now include ventilation systems and a water supply. But more than weapons are passing through these tunnels.
Since Israel classified the Gaza Strip as "enemy territory" and sealed its borders, 95 percent of businesses have been forced to close and 70,000 workers and about 40,000 farmers have become unemployed. This has helped turn the tunnels into lifelines for Gaza's 1.5 million residents. From clothing to Coca-Cola to cement, almost all goods reach this coastal strip underground.
 
Five thousand people work in the tunnels, of which there are now believed to be about 150 -- up from 15 a year ago. By now, anyone who can afford a few shovels, a generator and an electric winch is digging new tunnels, and there are deaths almost weekly, because the tunnels are poorly reinforced or because the Egyptians have blown them up.
 
A Game of Cat and Mouse
 
The new gold diggers of Rafah have staked their claims directly in the sand on one side of the border, and land prices here are higher than anywhere else in the Gaza Strip. The tunnels begin in huts made of wooden slats, surrounded by plants barely masquerading as gardens. The shafts are 10 meters (33 feet) deep, and at the bottom of each shaft a passageway leads to the southwest. The tunnels are 60 centimeters (2 feet) wide and one meter (3.3 feet) tall, and extend for up to one kilometer (0.6 miles). Sometimes up to four tunnels are crowded into the same vertical space, separated only by planks.
 
Each tunnel has several exits on the Egyptian side, so that when one is discovered and destroyed, another one can be opened. It is a cat-and-mouse game, but one in which the Egyptians are reluctant to pursue the smugglers. The Israelis, for their part, claim that no one knows exactly where the tunnels are and that they are not keen on bombing civilians. But according to Abu Yakub, "it's fine with the Israelis for Hamas to remain strong in Gaza, because it means that no one forces them to seriously negotiate a peace plan."
 
Abu Yakub is the assistant of weapons smuggler Abu Ibrahim, who now fears for his life and prefers to remain hidden. The two men went into the underworld together as children, and although Abu Yakub never became as wealthy as his friend, he has managed to earn enough to afford an attractive villa. And what if the tunnels were closed tomorrow? Abu Yakub claps his hands, and says: "Well, then I'll just stop working."
 
But now he squats next to a new shaft, where his men are in the process of digging a new tunnel. They are only 200 meters (656 feet) from their goal. Using satellite images from Google Earth, they install power cables, oxygen tubes and intercom systems underground. It takes six months and costs $40,000 (€26,000) to build such a tunnel, and those who are discovered will lose everything. Those who succeed, on the other hand, can make a fortune.
 

Ceasefire Proves Bad for Business
 
At the height of the embargo, prices quadrupled and, for a time, cement in Gaza cost 10 times as much as it did in Egypt. But now the cease-fire of June 19 has thwarted the smugglers' plans. For the past few weeks, about 90 trucks have been allowed to pass through the Israeli border crossings every day. Though only a fraction of the 400 trucks that made it through daily before the embargo, it was enough to cause prices to go down immediately in Rafah. Two weeks ago, a few dealers fired a homemade rocket in the direction of the Israeli city of Sderot, hoping that it would prompt the government in Jerusalem to seal off the borders again. "The ceasefire may be good for the people of Gaza, but not for us," says Abu Yakub.
 

 AFP
Gaza's lifelines are the series of tunnels to Egypt.
The ceasefire has also been detrimental to Hamas, because the underground border traffic is one of its key revenue sources. The Islamists are believed to collect about $10,000 (€6,450) a day from the tunnel owners in the form of "usage fees," as well as "value-added taxes" -- all payable in cash to armed money collectors who wait at the tunnel exits. If a pack of cigarettes costs 74 cents in Egypt, it goes for €1.85 ($2.87) in Gaza, with half of the profits going to Hamas. And a lot of people smoke in the Gaza Strip.
The Islamists also control the distribution of gasoline. Anyone who wishes to buy gas must first buy an "insurance policy" from Hamas, for about €170 ($264), in return for a coupon that entitles its holder to buy 20 liters (5.3 gallons) once every two weeks -- even now, with Israel allowing 1 million liters (264,000 gallons) of fuel for cars into the Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, many residents still drive with a mixture of vegetable and used deep-frying grease. As a result, the Gaza Strip smells like a French-fry stand.
 
But for the Islamists, the issue is not just money, but justice and the question of whose justice. After the Hamas coup, Abbas called upon the judges in the Gaza Strip not to report to work. This prompted Hamas to take over the courts last November and appoint new judges amenable to their cause. Some people, however, would even like to see these courts abolished.
 
One of them, and perhaps the most influential, is Marwan Abu Ras, known as "Hamas' mufti." The organization's political leaders prefer not to be mentioned in the same breath with Abu Ras and describe him as "peculiar." But Gaza's top administrator, Ismail Haniya, and Mahmoud Zahar, one of the founders of Hamas, like to discuss religious matters with Abu Ras, who studied in Medina. The religious scholar wears a floor-length jalabiya robe, and his stomach is pressed against the edge of his desk, where a Koran rests on a mat made of red imitation crocodile leather. His bear and the Palestinian flags on his desk flutter in the breeze coming from his office fan. He looks more sleepy than dangerous, and yet it was no coincidence that a bomb also exploded in front of his house two Fridays ago. In his case, the attempted bombing was presumably an act of revenge by Fatah.
 
Disappointed by the Islamists
 
That's because it was a fatwah, or religious edict, issued by Abu Ras that cost about 100 Fatah members their lives during and after the four-day power struggle last year. "Anyone who has committed murder must also be punished with death," says the mufti. "Before Hamas came into power, there was a lot of crime here. Now we have restored order."
 
Order also means torture, even if this isn't exactly something Abu Ras is willing to admit. Palestinians who have fled to the West Bank report being nailed to the wall, confined in coffins or subjected to mock executions by Hamas. "We will take the best aspects of the Iranian and the Saudi Arabian system," says Abu Ras, stressing that women, of course, can continue to attend the university, go to the market and drive. "We aren't the Taliban, after all," he says.
 
The Islamists' influence is becoming more and more visible. Most men now wear full beards and many women are fully veiled. New minarets are being built throughout Gaza, alcohol is no longer available, and Hamas has restricted mixed dancing at weddings and extended religious study in schools. There have been arson attacks against Christian organizations and Internet cafés, and a few months ago radical Islamists even launched a grenade in front of the Hotel Deira, because it had been said that a waiter there had served whisky in espresso cups. The terrace at the Deira is a refuge for the bourgeoisie, and extended families spend their evenings playing rummy there.
 
Sharhabeel Zaeem comes to the Hotel Deira every day with his wife and their four children. He owns the largest law firm in Palestine, and until two years ago he advised international non-governmental organizations and Arab investors. But since the Hamas coup investment has stopped and lawsuits are no longer being filed. Now Zaeem, together with his wife, has completed the state examination in political science and is studying to earn a master's degree in law. "I have a lot of time now," he says.
 

  Together with like-minded Palestinians, Zaeem is building a new party, the "Palestine Forum," which is supported by Munib Masri, a multimillionaire from Nablus. "We need at least another five years before we can take on Hamas." But he is hopeful, noting that many are already disappointed by the Islamists.
Although people are venturing out into the streets again at night, because there is a police officer at every corner, says Zaeem, this is about the extent of Hamas's achievements. "Hamas is in power, but it still thinks like an opposition party," he says. It ignores the garbage piling up in the streets, does nothing about repairing traffic lights, roads and water pipes and pays no attention to the children begging at intersections.
 
Hamas has even reneged on its most important promise: to fight corruption. "You can buy your way out of prison, and it's even cheaper than under Fatah," says a man who prefers to remain anonymous. A traffic policeman recently asked the man for a "donation to buy breakfast." But the corruption is emanating from the top rather than the bottom of Gaza's power structure.
 
Gaza's de facto leader Ismail Haniya, has gained 28 kilos (62 lbs) and set up his office in the former government guesthouse -- with an ocean view, of course. In addition to Haniya, the men in charge include Tahir Nunu, the Hamas spokesman, who likes to hold court at the Hotel Deira and present visitors with his nonstop smile, framed by a carefully trimmed beard. Anyone who listens to Nunu discovers that Hamas is willing to release the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, to form a unity government with Fatah, even to make peace.
 
Nunu smokes his water pipe. He can lean back and relax, because things are going well for Hamas. It has marginalized Fatah to such an extent that the desperate Abbas is even said to have threatened last week to dissolve the Autonomous Authority if Israel were to exchange prominent Hamas prisoners for Shalit. This is significant, because the release of Palestinians had until now consistently been considered a shared objective of all parties.
 
Nunu is the public face of Hamas. The other face of Hamas doesn't smile. It belongs to Ayman, a 26-year-old with an unkempt beard who dreams of becoming a martyr. "I will die sooner or later," he says. "It would be best to die in an attack on Israel." He shows a video clip on his mobile phone of him firing a Kalashnikov, then a photo of his daughter, who is only a few months old.
 
Ayman joined the Al-Aksa Brigades as a fighter six years ago, later becoming of member of Fatah's presidential guard. He defected to Hamas after the coup. Today he is a police officer by day and a member of the Qassam Brigades at night. He doesn't even have to change clothes from one job to the next. It's the same uniform for both.
 
Before the ceasefire, he transported rockets to the northern Gaza Strip and fired them from there. But now there is a ceasefire, and yet he still isn't any less busy. "On the contrary," he says, "we are training for the next major attack." This means spying on Israeli positions and depositing explosives near the border. Explosions are often heard these days, as Qassam fighters train for guerilla warfare. At the same time, Hamas is trying to reshape the brigades into an effective army with a clear chain of command, an army that, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, would be capable of resisting an Israeli invasion.
 
"We are disappointed, because Israel isn't opening up the borders completely, as promised. That's why we will soon end the ceasefire," says Ayman. He hopes that this will finally give him the chance to make his dream come true.
 
Abu Ibrahim, the tunnel king of Rafah, will also be pleased.
 
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
 
 
 
URL:

 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Saudi Arabia: The bride can wear diapers

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/saudi-arabia-bride-can-wear-diapers.html

The headline below is incorrect. The text states:
 
For example, a father can marry off a 1-year-old girl as long as sex is delayed until she reaches puberty, said one marriage official, Ahmad al-Muabi.
The bride can wear white - diapers, that is.
 
 
 Last update - 11:48 06/08/2008       
10-year-olds aren't too young to be brides in Saudi Arabia
By The Associated Press
An 11-year-old Saudi Arabian boy gave out invitations to his classmates for a big event his family was planning this summer - and it wasn't his birthday party.
 
It was his wedding to a 10-year-old cousin.
 
Muhammad al-Rashidi's marriage was eventually put on hold, his father said, after pressure from the governor of the northern province of Hail, who considered the elementary school student too young to marry.
 
The case is among a recent spate of marriages involving the very young reported in the media and by Saudi human rights groups. They have been widely denounced by activists, clerics and others who say such unions are harmful to the children and trivialize the institution of marriage.
 
Saudi Arabia is already rocked by a high divorce rate that has jumped from 25 percent to 60 percent over the past 20 years, according to Noura al-Shamlan, head of the research department at the Center of University Studies for Girls.
 
We are studying this issue so we can put an end to this phenomenon, said Zuhair al-Harithi, board member of the Human Rights Commission, a Saudi government-run rights group. These marriages violate international agreements the kingdom has signed.
 
Al-Harithi's group recently succeeded in delaying the consummation of the
marriage of a 10-year-old girl after getting reports from medical centers in Hail that she and a man in his 60s had showed up for the mandatory prenuptial medical tests.
 
He said the commission wrote to the province's governor and head of Islamic courts urging them to stop the marriage.
 
But there are other marriages involving children that have gone ahead.
 
One involved a 15-year-old girl whose father, Muhammad Ali al-Zahrani, a
death-row inmate, married her off to a cell mate who also was sentenced to death. The father's sentence was carried out July 21, when he was beheaded for killing another man.
 
Pictures of the wedding, held in the prison in Taif for the men, appeared in several newspapers. Media reports said inmates recited poems and delivered speeches in the presence of prison officials. The teenage bride and other women, as is the custom here, held a separate reception outside the jail.
 
The groom, Awad al-Harbi, and his bride were allowed to spend two nights together in a special prison quarters after the wedding, according to Al-Watan. Al-Harbi told another newspaper, Al-Madina, recently that his wife was pregnant.
 
There are no laws in Saudi Arabia defining the minimum age for marriage. Though a woman's consent is legally required, some marriage officials do not seek it. For example, a father can marry off a 1-year-old girl as long as sex is delayed until she reaches puberty, said one marriage official, Ahmad al-Muabi.
 
Known as ma'thoons, these officials have legal authority to preside over
marriage contract ceremonies. They ask the groom and the woman's guardian if they approve of the marriage and then give them the marriage papers to sign.
 
There are no statistics to show how many marriages involving children are
performed every year. And it's also not clear whether these unions are on the rise or whether people are hearing about them more now because of the
prevalence of media outlets and easy access to the Internet.
 
But the phenomenon is not new, said Sheik Muhammad al-Nujaimi, a strong
opponent of the marriages. He and other clerics, activists and writers have urged the government to pass legislation setting the minimum age for marriage and to resolve differences among the kingdom's religious authorities over the issue.
 
There are different (religious) opinions regarding the marriages which is why we need the government to settle the issue through legislation, said
al-Nujaimi.
 
Such marriages occur not only in Saudi Arabia. In April, an 8-year-old Yemeni girl sought out a judge to file for divorce from a man nearly four times her age. Her lawyer said she was one of thousands of underaged girls who have been forced into marriages in Yemen, an impoverished tribal country at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.
 
Activists say the numbers in Saudi Arabia are not so high. They say the girls are given away in return for hefty dowries or as a result of long-standing custom in which a father promises his infant daughters and sons to cousins out of a belief that marriage will protect them from illicit relationships.
 
Denouncing the custom, Sheik Abdul-Aziz Al Sheik, the kingdom's grand mufti and top religious authority, said recently a guardian should not impose his will on his children or promise them to their cousins.
 
Islam has stipulated that both parties agree to the marriage contract, hesaid, according to Al-Madina newspaper. The woman must express real consent to the suitor, and a guardian must not impose his choice of husband on her ... or force his son to marry someone he doesn't want.
 
Al-Muabi, the marriage official, told Lebanese-run LBC TV that because marriage in Islam takes place in two stages - a marriage contract can be signed months or even years before a woman moves in with her husband - that means a 1-year-old girl can be married off.
 
A man can enter a marriage contract with a 1-year-old girl, not to mention 9 years, 7 years or 8 years, said al-Muabi. This is just a contract indicating consent, and the guardian in this case must be the father.
 
Al-Muabi maintained such unions make sense in some cases, such as when a man is the sole guardian of many daughters.
 
Isn't it better to marry his daughter to a man with whom she can stay and who can protect her and support her, and when she reaches the proper age, have sex with her? Who says all men are ferocious wolves? said al-Muabi.
 
However, Sheik Abdul-Mohsen al-Obeikan, a legal adviser at the Justice
Ministry, said a girl's consent is crucial.
 
A marriage official should not conclude a marriage contract without the
woman's agreement and without her signature, al-Obeikan, who is also a member of the appointed Consultative Council that acts like a Parliament, told Al-Madina. Officials who ignore such instructions expose themselves to punishment.
 
Until laws are put in place to protect children, Saudi human rights groups have been speaking out against the practice.
 
When girls are married off at a young age they will be deprived of education and of enjoying their childhood, said Suhaila Hammad of the National Society for Human Rights, a private Saudi group. Their bodies won't be able to tolerate pregnancy and delivering children.
 
But there's only so much the groups can do.
 
Muraiziq al-Rashidi, the 11-year-old boy's father, told The Associated Press he will delay his son's marriage only by a year.
 
God willing, we will hold the wedding next year, he said.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Nukes: Iran is buying time

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/nukes-iran-is-buying-time.html

 Last update - 06:25 06/08/2008       
ANALYSIS / Iran's real nuclear tactic is to keep buying time
By Yossi Melman
 
Israel's leadership views the European Union foreign policy chief as a latter-day Neville Chamberlain, spearheading a groveling appeasement approach to Iran.
 
But Iran will not play by the West's rules, even the ones most softened. It believes that time is on its side.
 
It sees a United States readying for elections and consequently incapable of making a move. It sees a hesitant and divided EU, which does not want to rock the boat and impose harsh sanctions on Iran, and permits its corporations to keep their close ties to the ayatollahs' regime and even sign new contracts, as has been the case recently with Swiss, German, Austrian and Polish energy companies.
 
Hovering above this all are Russia and China, which are not playing the West's game, and are neutralizing every Security Council attempt to impose further sanctions on Iran.
 
Iran's game is transparent, and its entire purpose is to fend off and delay any move that smacks of international consensus. It wants to use the time to go on developing its nuclear program - to continue enriching uranium, manufacturing and installing more centrifuges - and approach the moment when it will possess enough fissionable material, equipment, expertise, and technology to build its first nuclear bomb, or come within shouting distance of that goal.
 
Iran evidently understands that the threat of the military option that the United States and Israel keep bandying about is actually not, at least in the present reality, implementable.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hoax watch: Israel's achievements in the first months of 2008

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/hoax-watch-israels-achievements-in.html

It is always great to read about Israel's achievements, but an e-mail that has been going around concerning "Israel's achievements in the first months of 2008" and showing ten supposed achievements, is really about achievements in the first month of 2007. 
 
The original post, with careful references for each item, is this web log article published at the beginning of 2007 at Planck's Constant: Israel Creates more in One Month than Islam in a Century, from which I quote:
...
What follows is a selection of Israel's achievements in the first month of 2007 alone:

1. Scientists in Israel [
Kibbutz Mashabbe Sade, 02 Jan 2007] found that the brackish water drilled from underground desert aquifers hundreds of feet deep could be used to raise warm-water fish. The geothermal water, less than one-tenth as saline as sea water, free of pollutants, and a toasty 98 degrees on average, proves an ideal environment.
 
2. Israeli-developed designer eyeglasses promise mobile phone and iPod users a personalized, high-tech video display. Available to US consumers next year, Lumus-Optical's lightweight and fashionable video eyeglasses feature a large transparent screen floating in front of the viewer's face that projects their choice of movie, TV show, or video game. [Story: 17 Dec 2006]
....
These texts are identical to those in the hoax letter, except that the hoax letter removed all the references, which would have made it obvious that it was a hoax.
 
Numerous Web sites and blogs fell for this hoax thus far. A partial list of "reliable sources" that fell for the hoax and posted it (without credit to the Planck's Constant article, which would have given the game away):
 
peepleofthebook.blogspot.com/2008/07/israels-achievements-in-first-months-of.html 
democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=124x215741 
winnipeg.indymedia.org/item.php?19056S
jobshuk.com/Zvi/blog/2008/05/25/israel-s-achievements-in-the-first-months-of-2008/
newsgroups.derkeiler.com/Archive/Soc/soc.culture.jewish.moderated/2008-05/msg01243.html
(which seems to attribute it to Naomi Ragen)
 
israelforum.com/blog_article.php?aid=1518923
joesettler.blogspot.com/2008/05/israels-achievements-in-first-months-of.html
rochester.indymedia.org/newswire/display/21550/index.php
jdlcanada.ca/israel2.html
paulasays.com/articles/on_israel/israeli_achievements_in_only_6_months.html
islamsnitemare.blogspot.com/2008/05/israels-achievements-in-first-months-of.html
Add this turkey to the ones about British not teaching about the Holocaust, the Germans boycotting Israel, Schwartzkpof, Robin Williams and the other fibs (see Hoax Watch: Mohammed Atta and 9-11 German arms embargo on Israel Hoax   Pernicious UK Holocaust Education Discontinuation Hoax continues Anti-Semitism in France - Reality and Hoax
 
People who post such inventions on the Web without checking for original provenance should know better.
 
Ami Isseroff
 


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Moustachioed Egyptians respect Hitler's moustache for "humiliating" Jews

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/moustachioed-egyptians-respect-hitlers.html

This is not supposed to be funny...
MEMRI
Special Dispatch Series - No. 2014
August 5, 2008  No. 2014
    Members of the Egyptian Unique Moustache Association: We Respect the Moustache of Hitler Because He Humiliated the World's Most Despicable Sect

Following are excerpts from an interview with members of the Egyptian Unique Moustache Association, which aired on Egyptian TV on July 11, 2008.
 
To view this clip, visit http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1829.htm.
 

Interviewer: "I'm sure many people have pressured you to shave off your moustache, saying, 'What is this? Enough of that.'"
 
Association head Fathi Ahmad Mahmoud "Moustache": "My personality forces people to treat me with respect."
 
Interviewer: "Didn't your friends, relatives, your wife, or your children say 'Enough is enough?'"
 
Fathi Ahmad Mahmoud "Moustache": "They are all proud of me. My youngest boy, Nader, calls himself 'Nader Moustache.' Get it? All his friends call him 'Nader Moustache.'"
 
[...]
 
Interviewer: "Do you respect all types of moustaches – regardless of their size, length, or width?"
 
Allam Muhammad Abdel Al-Halim: "Of course."
 
Interviewer: "Even Hitler's moustache?"
 
Captain Sayyed Shahada: "By the way, I respect the moustache of this Hitler, because he humiliated the most despicable sect in the world. He subdued the people who subdued the whole world – him with his '11' moustache. By the way, that kind of moustache is called '11.' The generation of this Hitler... When I was little, my father, may he rest in peace, grew that kind of moustache, and so did all his classmates. They all had this '11' moustache. That was in the days of Hitler... My father... "
 
Interviewer: "That was the fashion back then."
 
Captain Sayyed Shahada: "Exactly. I should know – my father was a barber."
 
[...]
 
Fathi Ahmad Mahmoud "Moustache": "We have different styles. One style is 'the Douglas.' Then there's 'the Pretzel,' which is rolled like this... The 'Two Swords' style stands up like that... The 'Mafroud' is flat like a ruler. Another style is the 'Carter,' which comes out from here and is very wide."
 
Interviewer: "What is it called?"
 
Fathi Ahmad Mahmoud "Moustache": "The 'Carter.' We have two special hair designers, Muhammad Salomon and Yasser Imam. They are the association's designers. They designed all these styles." [...]
 
Fathi Ahmad Mahmoud "Moustache": "In the days of King Farouq, anybody who grew a moustache would get a raise."
 
Interviewer: "Really?"
 
Fathi Ahmad Mahmoud "Moustache": "Yes, they would get a raise."


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Iranians claim Israel killed Syrian liaison to Hezbollah

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/iranians-claim-israel-killed-syrian.html

Every assassination is automatically blamed on Israel. In some cases, it might be true.
 
News number: 870515129118:04 | 2008-08-05World
Top Assad Aide Assassinated at Syrian Resort
source: farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8705151291

TEHRAN (FNA)- A top Syrian army officer and right-hand man to President Bashar al-Assad was assassinated on Saturday.

According to one report, the seaside murder of Brigadier General Muhammad Suleiman was perpetrated by a sniper firing from a yacht moored offshore.

Suleiman was described by Syrian officials as dealing with defense and security issues in Assad's private office.

Suleiman, 49, was killed on a beach near the Syrian resort of Tartous on Friday.

Assad was in Iran when his trusted aide was buried on Sunday. But senior figures, including Assad's brother Maher, the head of the presidential guard, were present at the funeral in the heartland of the Alawite.

Assassinations are very rare in Syria and Suleiman's murder was the first since the Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh was killed in February by a car bomb in Damascus. Hezbollah accused Israel's Mossad secret service of that assassination.

Informed sources said that the sniper was an Israeli. Israel declined to
confirm or deny any connection with the killing, but Israeli and Syrian opposition sources hated the man as they claimed he worked as "liaison" with the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah, Israel's sworn enemy
.
Syrian sources confirmed that Suleiman was shot by a silenced weapon in the head and neck on a beach at al-Rimal al-Zahabiyeh resort near Tartous, where he owned a chalet. He dealt with "sensitive stuff", said a source.


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What did you expect? Iran sidesteps nuclear freeze in answer on incentives

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/what-did-you-expect-iran-sidesteps.html

 Last update - 15:17 05/08/2008       
Iran sidesteps nuclear freeze in answer on incentives
By News Agencies
Iran's written reply to a proposal backed by six world powers aimed at defusing a row over Tehran's disputed nuclear program has been handed over to European Union officials, Iran's Fars News Agency said on Tuesday.
 
An Iranian official said that the letter did not mention the idea of freezing its nuclear work - a step the West demanded to avert more U.N. sanctions.
 
"Iran's written response to the six countries involved in the nuclear negotiations was handed to officials at the European Union by Iran's ambassador to Brussels," Fars News Agency reported, without giving any further details.
 
An EU source in Brussels could not confirm the report.
 
The six world powers had offered to refrain from steps to impose more sanctions if Iran freezes expansion of its nuclear work - an initial step in getting talks going on a broader resolution to the stand-off.
 
"The letter handed over is not an answer to the offered package (by world powers) ... The letter does not mention the freeze-for-freeze issue," the senior Iranian official told Reuters.
 
The freeze idea is aimed at getting preliminary discussions going before starting full negotiations on a package of nuclear, trade and other incentives. But those formal talks will not begin until Iran suspends uranium enrichment.
 
Enrichment is the part of Iran's program that most worries the West because it can have both civilian and military uses.
 
Iran, the world's fourth largest oil producer, insists it is only seeking to master technology to make electricity, and has repeatedly refused to halt its atomic work.
 
Washington and its Western allies said on Monday that, if Iran's response was not positive, the next step would be to expand UN sanctions. The U.N. Security Council has imposed three rounds of penalties on Iran since 2006.
 
Russia and China, two members of the sextet, have been reluctant to impose sanctions in the past but have, in the end, voted for all three sanctions resolutions after initial drafts were watered down.
 
The others in the sextet are the United States, Britain, France and Germany.
 


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Israel has never looked so good - Beirut Daily Star

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/israel-has-never-looked-so-good-beirut.html

Quote from the Beirut Daily Star (yes, that's in Lebanon):
Over the past few days the two Palestinian factions seem to be close to repeated the same disastrous mistakes. We have seen Palestinians denigrating the legitimacy of other Palestinians, Palestinians making war on other Palestinians, and Palestinians arresting other Palestinians, while the Jewish state has come to the rescue of those Palestinians who fear for their lives. Israel has never looked so good.
Now if only the editors of the Daily Star would make the small conceptual leap and understand that Hezbollah, Syria and Iran are a much bigger threat to Lebanon than Israel. Don't hold your breath. This is the Middle East. No matter how many Lebanese rot in Syrian jails, no Lebanese "resistance" group is ever going to kidnap Syrian soldiers to ransom their prisoners.
 
 
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
 
Editorial
 
 
It is a damning indication of just how bad things have become in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip when Fatah militants there must look to Israel for protection from their Palestinian rivals. The Jewish state announced on Monday that it would help a group of 150 Fatah fighters who had fled weekend clashes in Gaza relocate to the West Bank, after determining that they would face "imminent danger" if they were to return home. The scenes of Israel coming to the rescue of Palestinians after a bout of Arab fratricide were reminiscent of the events of Black September, during which scores of Palestinians sought asylum in Israel to escape King Hussein's crackdown on the Palestine Liberation Organization. The only difference this time around is that instead of seeking refuge from a heavy-handed Arab crackdown, Palestinians are fleeing from the murderous hands of their own Palestinian brothers.
 
Achievement of the Palestinian cause requires that all factions maintain a semblance of orderliness and keep their eyes on the price of independent statehood. In this both Fatah and Hamas have been miserable failures. Both have put partisan interests ahead of national ones and therefore have failed to maintain anything like a united Palestinian front. Even the mediation attempts of Egypt, Yemen and Saudi Arabia have not been enough to curb the political infighting and internecine bloodshed that have served to further threaten the Palestinians' very right to existence.
 
The humanitarian situation in Gaza has been deteriorating since the international community callously decided to punish an entire people for having exercised their democratic rights in the legislative elections of January 2006. But the Hamas movement is now exacerbating the situation by undermining the rule of law in the territory. After accusing its Fatah rivals of carrying out a deadly bombing late last week that killed five Hamas leaders and a little girl, the Islamist party launched what can be only be described as a witch-hunt, rounding up some 200 Fatah activists. Fatah provided an equally bad example of governance in the West Bank when it retaliated against the move by rounding up scores of people it branded "Hamas activists," including many judges, students and activists who have no known affiliation with the Islamist party. On both sides of divided Palestine, civilians must now add Fatah and Hamas to the long list of threats to their security and wellbeing.
 
The events of the last week are just the most recent example of how the situation in the Occupied Territories has gone from bad to worse under the watchful eyes of elected Palestinian "representatives." Hundreds of people were killed last year when the two groups allowed their rivalry to degenerate into street violence. Hundreds more were prevented from going about their normal activities such as attending school, going to work or expressing political views.
 
Over the past few days the two Palestinian factions seem to be close to repeated the same disastrous mistakes. We have seen Palestinians denigrating the legitimacy of other Palestinians, Palestinians making war on other Palestinians, and Palestinians arresting other Palestinians, while the Jewish state has come to the rescue of those Palestinians who fear for their lives. Israel has never looked so good.


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Gaza Fulbright Scholars - Israel's American Friends get it wrong again

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/gaza-fulbright-scholars-israels.html

Remember this? Condoleezza Rice created an international crisis to force Israel to grant exit permits to Palestinian Fulbright scholars. Israeli officials had no choice other than to meekly obey.
 
The Middle East is a complex place. The US just doesn't have the expertise to operate here, and should not be telling other countries what to do. U.S. mistakes have been very costly to Israel and other countries.
 
Secretary Rice is always getting infuriated about something. She needs anger management courses.
 
Ami Isseroff
 Last update - 05:57 05/08/2008       
U.S. revokes visas of 3 Palestinian Fulbright scholars
By The Associated Press
The United States has revoked the visas of three Palestinian Fulbright scholars whose cases were taken up personally by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice after Israel refused to let them leave Gaza for interviews, U.S. officials said Monday.
 
Visas for the three, along with a fourth Palestinian student from Gaza who had hoped to come to the U.S. under a different program, were approved after Rice intervened in June but were rescinded last week when new information about them was received, the officials said.
 
"There were four Palestinians who were issued visas about whom we then received additional information," State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said.
 
"We decided that we needed to take a closer and harder look at them in light of the additional information we received," said Gallegos.
 
He also said the visas were canceled under a prudential revocation clause in immigration rules that allows them to be rescinded based on information gleaned about the holders after they were issued.
 
"It does not preclude the applicants from reapplying for visas in the future," he said.
 
Gallegos declined to comment on the nature of the new information about the four Palestinians, one of whom had actually arrived at Dulles International Airport outside Washington before he was told his visa had been revoked and was forced to return to Jordan.
 
But another official familiar with the situation said the information related to security issues that were behind the refusal by Israeli authorities to allow them to leave Gaza to be interviewed for visas at the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem in May.
 
The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to privacy concerns about visa records.
 
The visa revocations were first reported by The New York Times.
 
Palestinian students cannot apply for U.S. visas in Gaza because Washington does not recognize the territory's Hamas government and has no diplomatic presence there. Israel bans all Gaza students from leaving for security reasons but has made exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
 
Rice had been infuriated when State Department officials canceled the Fulbright scholarships of seven Palestinian students whom Israel had refused to let leave Gaza for their visa interviews.
 
After she took their cases to senior Israeli officials, Israel allowed four of the seven to travel to Jerusalem for interviews in June. Although Israel opposed the move, U.S. diplomats then made a rare trip to the Gaza border in July to interview the remaining three.
 
One official said Rice, who had been outspoken about the negative signal the original cancellations sent to Palestinians and the broader Arab world, had ordered a top-to-bottom review of the entire Fulbright scholarship vetting process in the wake of the cancellations.


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A latter-day Dreyfus - In America!

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/latter-day-dreyfus-in-america.html

 Last update - 08:53 05/08/2008       
Pentagon: We thought engineer was Israeli spy because he's a Jew
By Ofra Edelman, Haaretz Correspondent, and The Associated Press
The Pentagon has admitted in an internal report that it wrongly accused an army engineer from Michigan of spying for Israel because he was a Jew.
 
David Tenenbaum of Southfield is an Orthodox Jew and fluent in Hebrew. The Defense Department put him on paid leave in 1997 while it and the FBI investigated his ties to Israel.
 
He eventually was cleared of leaking military secrets, but says he has been vindicated by the report.
 
Tenenbaum was hired as an engineer by the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) in Warren, Michigan. The Pentagon report said Tenenbaum's knowledge of Hebrew made him a more attractive candidate, since it would facilitate working with Israel on various joint military projects, the Free Press reported.
 
"It was well known that Mr. Tenenbaum was Jewish, lived his religious beliefs and by his actions appeared to have a close affinity for Israel," the Pentagon report, which was released three weeks ago, said. "We believe that Mr. Tenenbaum was subjected to unusual and unwelcome scrutiny because of his faith and ethnic background, a practice that would undoubtedly fit a definition of discrimination."
 
In 2000, Tenenbaum filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, accusing it of employing "Naziesque" surveillance methods against Jews, according to the Detroit Free Press. Tenenbaum, who had sought more than $20 million in damages, said he was the subject of a federal investigation that "literally terrorized" him and his family, according to the Free Press.
 
Tenenbaum's lawyer told the Free Press that the investigation led the Army to shelve his client's Humvee armor project in 1995, a move that he said cost the lives of ill-equipped American soldiers deployed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
Tenenbaum still works at the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command in Warren. He told the Detroit Free Press he wants an apology from the Army and his accusers punished.
 
Pollard sues State for non-support
 
Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard filed a lawsuit on Monday in the Tel Aviv District Court against the State of Israel, asking the court to declare that he and his wife, Esther, have not received any financial aid from the state from the day he was arrested.
 
Pollard, who has been jailed in the United States since 1985 for spying on Israel's behalf, claims that Israel falsely maintains it has helped the couple financially from the day of Pollard's arrest until now.
 
Pollard stresses that he does not want financial support from Israel, but rather for the state to work for his release.


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Monday, August 4, 2008

Walking With Angels At the National Catholic Reporter

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/walking-with-angels-at-national.html

This seems to be a rather moderate view of National Catholic Reporter, actually. For example, Van Zile didn't mention the poisonous demonification of Jews by Bill and Kathy Christison, a staple of NCR journalism.

NCR seems to think that Jesus said, "If a man does nothing at all you, smite him on one cheeck, and if he still does nothing, smash him over the head with a crow bar."

Walking With Angels At the National Catholic Reporter

 
Taken together, NCR's columnists and writers have engaged in a persistent campaign to delegitimize Israel. In his piece, Fr. Schroth describes Israel (a state founded by the UN and populated by large numbers of Jews from Arab lands) as a "Western colonial intrusion" inpassing while lionizing one of Israel's most unreasonable critics. Rosemary Radford Ruether uses an outdated anecdote about a confrontation between peace activists and Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip (from which Israel withdrew in 2005) to prove Israel uses the Holocaust to justify taking land. And Neve Gordon ignores the facts to push a narrative of Israel starving its neighbors. To make matters worse, the NCR has done little, aside from publishing letters to the editor, to offer its readers a contrary view of Israel.

 

This is not journalism, it is defamation wrapped in the mantle of religiously inspired journalism.

 

Such behavior should be familiar to readers of Ruether's 1974 classic Faith and Fratricide: The Theological Roots of Anti-Semitism. In this book, Ruether details how Christian writers and commentators used a distorted and inaccurate view characterization of Judaism as a negative backdrop to demonstrate the superiority and transcendence of the Christian church.

 

According to Ruether, the narrative offered by Christian writers and commentators portrays Judaism and its adherents as apostate from God, guilty of violating all the rules that had been handed down to them in their Torah, and then stubborn in their insistence on following these rules once they had been superseded by Jesus Christ, whom they murdered. Jews were portrayed as a carnal people while Christianity and its adherents are portrayed as "spiritual." Jews were portrayed as unable to understand their scriptures; Christians are portrayed as having the true understanding of how Jews should interpret their scriptures and ultimately how they should behave.

 

According to Ruether, Jewish scriptures which "contain a record of Jewish self-criticism" are transformed by Christian writers "into a remorseless denunciation of the Jews, while the Church, in turn is presented as totally perfect and loses the prophetic tradition of self-criticism."

 

On page 246 of her book, Ruether asks "Is it possible to say 'Jesus is Messiah' without, implicitly or explicitly, saying at the same time, 'and the Jews be damned'?" A similar question needs to be directed at the peace and justice activists that write for and read the NCR. Is it possible for them to assert "peace is possible" without implicitly, or explicitly, saying at the same time "and Israel be damned"?

 

Apparently not. Instead of using a distorted picture of Judaism and the Jewish people as Christianity's "left hand," writers for NCR, Ruether included, use a distorted picture of the modern state of Israel to affirm a "peacemaking" agenda which asserts that peace can be brought about through concessions and peace offers. It's a nice story, but so far it has not worked. In fact, Israel has been attacked from every bit of territory from which it has withdrawn since the Oslo Accords.

 

From 2000-2004, Israel was attacked by suicide bombers from the West Bank with many of the attacks originating from towns from which Israel withdrew its soldiers in the 1990s.

 

In 2006 Israel was attacked by Hamas from the Gaza Strip from which it withdrew in May 2005. Also that year, Israel was attacked from Lebanon from which it withdrew in 2000 by Hezbollah. The lesson most people would learn from this is that while Israel may have more military force and strength than the Palestinians, it does not have the power to unilaterally end the Arab-Israeli conflict. Peace and justice activists, however, remain inspired by their faith in Israel's evil influence on the Middle East.

 

Peace and justice are admirable goals, but after reading the pages of NCR, one starts to understand Anatole Broyard's comment when confronted with some of the ideologically driven and factually challenged books he reviewed while writing for the New York Times: "You reach a point where it no longer matters that the author's mistakes are well meant. You don't care that he or she is on the side of the angels: you just want them to tell the truth."

 

NCR's commentators may walk with angels, but they make no real effort to document the threats Israel faces and its effort to achieve peace. Just as the church fathers portrayed Jewish history as a trail of crimes, the proponents of peace and justice in National Catholic Reporter portray the modern state of Israeli history as a trail of blood, bereft of any efforts to make peace with its adversaries. And yes, in the process of offering this distorted narrative, NCR uses Jewish self-criticism as an important source for its remorseless denunciation of Israel.

 

What Ruether and the rest of the contributors at the NCR need to remember is that Faith and Fratricide was written as a critique, not a handbook.


 


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Demonstrating the real threat posed by Iran

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/demonstrating-real-threat-posed-by-iran.html

The real threat posed by Iran is not to Israel, but to its neighbors and the West in general: Control of gulf oil supplies.
 
Revolutionary Guards say they have tested Iranian-built missile that could destroy any vessel in range of 190 miles
 
Reuters
Published:  08.04.08, 10:39 / Israel News
 
Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Monday they had tested a naval weapon that could destroy any vessel in a range of 300 km (190 miles), Iranian media reported.
 

The comments are likely to stoke tensions over Iran's disputed nuclear program after Tehran failed to meet Saturday's informal deadline to respond to a package of nuclear incentives offered by six world powers to defuse the row.
 

The West accuses Iran of seeking to build an atomic bomb, a charge Tehran denies. The United States has not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to end the row, prompting Iran to warn it would target US bases if attacked.
 
 
 
"The Revolutionary Guards have recently tested a naval weapon with a 300 km range in which no vessel would be safe and would be sent to the depths," Guards Commander-in-Chief Mohammad Ali Jafari was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.
 
He said it was Iranian built but did not give details.
 
US forces are stationed in several countries around the Gulf, including Bahrain where the US Navy Fifth Fleet is based. Iran says US forces are in range of its weapons and has threatened to impose controls on shipping in the Gulf if pushed.
 

Around 40% of globally traded oil leaves the region through the Strait of Hormuz, a choke point at the southern end of the Gulf, flanked by the coastlines of Iran and Oman.
 
 
Western capitals had set an informal deadline of Saturday for Iran to freeze expansion of its nuclear work in return for a halt to measures to impose more UN sanctions.
 

The freeze was aimed at getting preliminary talks going, before formal negotiations on a package of nuclear, trade and other incentives start once Tehran suspends uranium enrichment, a process that can have both civilian and military uses.
 
 
Iran, the world's fourth largest oil producer, has dismissed the idea of a deadline and refused to suspend enrichment, saying it only wants to master the technology to generate electricity.
 
   
 
The United States said on Sunday that Iran had left the UN Security Council no choice but to increase sanctions on the Islamic Republic for failing to respond to the offer.
 
 
 
The incentives package was backed by the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia. Moscow opposed the idea of setting a deadline but also told Tehran not to drag its feet with any response.


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Bahai protest innocence of Iran arrestees

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/bahai-protest-innocence-of-iran.html

 
 
Following Iranian accusation that Bahai detainees plotted with Israel against Islamic republic, UN Bahai community delegate claims allegation 'a bald-faced lie'
 
Dudi Cohen
Published:  08.04.08, 14:53 / Israel News
"The argument for a ploy with Israel is a bald-faced lie and deceptive. The Iranian government is taking advantage of the fact that the Bahai community's governing council is based in Israel," Bani Dugal, principal representative of the Bahai International Community to the United Nations, said Monday.
 
In a statement posted on the community's website, the Bahai International Community denied the allegations that seven Bahai individuals "admitted" to having had set up an "illegal organization" with connections to a number of countries including Israel.
 
"We openly deny the allegations that Bahai believers in Iran are involved in such underground activity," Dugal said. "The Bahai community is not involved in political matters. Their only 'crime' is their belief in the (Bahai) faith."
 

The Iranian Resalat daily newspaper reported Sunday that an Iranian official had claimed seven Bahai individuals were detained and confessed to having had established an unlawful organization taking it orders from Israel and a number of other countries, in an attempt to undermine the Islamic republic.
 

Dugal added in her response to the news that "the severity of the accusations make us fear for the seven's (Bahais) lives," being that the Islamic republic sentences to death those guilty of espionage and treason.
 
 
 
Dugal claimed that the seven men arrested last May are the leaders of the Bahai community in Iran, who have been working as part of a committee for the benefit of the Iranian-based community of 300,000 members.
 
 
 
"It's no secret; the government was well informed of the committee's existence long before its members were arrested, and the government knows very well that those people are not involved in any clandestine activity," Dugal said.
 
According to her, the detentions are part of an on-going battle which has been documented for decades, to trample the Bahai community in Iran.
  
 
Meanwhile, human rights activists in Iran reported that the seven are held at the ward 209 of Avin prison in Tehran, operating under the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and National Security.
 
 
 
According to the report, the Bahai believers are to be held indefinitely and have only been allowed to contact their families twice since their arrest.
 
 


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Syrian expats: Syria in bad shape

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/syrian-expats-syria-in-bad-shape.html

Take it for what it might be worth.
 
Damascus official tells London-based newspaper 'mystery man' assassinated over weekend was in charge of all of country's sensitive security issues
 
Roee Nahmias
Published:  08.04.08, 12:49 / Israel News
 
Mohammed Suleiman was stronger than Syria's defense minister, a Syrian source said Monday of the assassinated officer who was considered President Bashar Assad's right hand.
 

The source told the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat that "there is no doubt the Syrian regime in a bad and complicated condition."
 
 According to the source, before becoming the president's "mystery man", Suleiman was very close to Bashar Assad's brother, Bassel, who was slated to become Syria's president but was killed in a road accident in 1994.
 

Suleiman, a member of the Alawites sect, was responsible for all of Syria's sensitive security issues, and every such issue would be run through him before reaching Assad's bureau.
 

The Syrian source ruled out the possibility that Suleiman was assassinated on the backdrop of political aspirations, due to the fact that he had more strength than any other politician.
 

According to the source, Suleiman was responsible for more issues than the Syrian defense minister and army chief. Various reports have claimed that Suleiman was in charge of the Syrian nuclear program.
 

'He knew everything'
 
"There is no doubt that the Syrian regime is in a bad and complex situation. There is no doubt that Muhammed Suleiman was one of the closest people to President Bashar Assad and his right hand in the armed forces.
 

"He knew everything, and all issues were open to him, including the security, economic and armament issues," the source stated.
 

"Suleiman's status exceeded his military rank, and therefore he had no political aspirations. His status was even more important than that of the defense minister.
 

"In the meantime, however, it is hard to determine the reasons behind the assassination. We must wait three or four more days for things to become clear, particularly when we are talking about an accurate assassination which was carried out by a sniper firing from the sea."
 
  
The Syrian source did not say whether Suleiman, who was in his 40s, had direct ties to Hizbullah.
 

"He was responsible for all the issues related to the armed forces and the Baath party (the Syrian ruling party). All the reports regarding the Baath party released by the Syrian army went through his office and were presented to Assad by him," the source noted.
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Israeli Rights group petition: Don't send fleeing Fatah back to Gaza

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/israeli-rights-group-petition-dont-send.html

Nobody can make sense of the return of these people to face certain torture and imprisonment, in the best case.

Rights group: Don't send fleeing Palestinians back to Gaza

Israeli civil rights group petitions High Court to prevent State from sending Hilles-more clan members back to Hamas-controlled Strip, saying act ' breach of Israeli law and human morality'
 
Aviad Glickman

Published:  08.03.08, 20:05 / Israel News

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) filed a petition with the High Court of Justice Sunday demanding that it prevent the State from sending dozens of Palestinians who fled Gaza following fierce clashes with Hamas back to the Strip
 
On Saturday 188 Palestinians were allowed entry into Israel after Hamas took over a stronghold of the Fatah-affiliated Hilles clan in Gaza City's Sajaiyeh neighborhood. At least 11 people were killed and dozens more were injured during the infighting. 
 
 Thirty-two of the Palestinians who had requested political asylum in Israel have already been sent back to Gaza, while the rest are expected to return within the next 24 hours. 
 
In the petition, ACRI Attorney Oded Peler said the lives of those who are being sent back to Gaza is at risk, adding that sending back people who request political asylum to the place they had escaped from constitutes "one of the most severe human rights violations and is a breach of Israeli law and human morality". 
 
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refused to grant asylum to the Hilles clan members. According to Hamas, of the 32 Palestinians sent back to Gaza only five remain in custody. The Palestinian Authority said only three people, including clan head Ahmed Hilles, will be granted asylum in the West Bank. Hilles was injured in the clashes with Hamas and is currently being treated at an Israeli hospital.

 



Continued (Permanent Link)

Gaza Ceasefire breached: 3 mortars land in western Negev

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/gaza-ceasefire-breached-3-mortars-land.html

Ceasefire breached: 3 mortars land in western Negev
Military forces, emergency unit from Kibbutz Nahal Oz dispatched to security
fence area following Hamas-Fatah clashes
Hanan Greenberg YNET Published: 08.02.08, 23:15 / Israel News

Three mortar shells fired by Hamas gunmen in Gaza late Saturday landed in the western Negev, causing no injuries or damage. The IDF was concerned that the concentration of Fatah members attempting to flee the Strip near the
security fence may lead to a Hamas rocket attack in the area.

Earlier Saturday, fire was opened at an IDF patrol operating in the area. The force fired back, and no injuries were reported amid the troops.

Since Saturday afternoon, heavy military forces have been securing the area and overseeing the Palestinians' entrance into Israel.

A total of nine mortar shells were fired by Hamas during the evening hours towards the Nahal Oz area, three of them landing in Israeli territory and the rest in the Gaza Strip. In doing so, Hamas was attempting to stop the flow of Palestinians into Israel.

Following the firing, the emergency unit at Kibbutz Nahal Oz was summoned to the area. Yoav Peled, security officer for the Shaar Hanegev regional council said that the incident did not require any further measures.

"There was no need to send the residents into their homes or into the sheltered areas, but we are following the developments in the (Gaza) Strip."

The infighting between Hamas and members of the Hilles clan in Gaza City took place in very close proximity to the security fence and Kibbutz Nahal Oz, whose residents were able to hear the explosions and gunfire.

Shmulik Hadad contributed to this report


Continued (Permanent Link)

Despite education funding cuts, more money for religious high schools

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/despite-education-funding-cuts-more.html

Regrettably, this article speaks for itself.
 
 Last update - 08:42 03/08/2008       
Despite education funding cuts, more money for religious high schools
By Zvi Zrahiya
 
Funding for yeshiva high schools, religious girls secondary schools, National Service and pre-army preparatory programs will be increased by NIS 121 million. The additional funding is the product of secret negotiations between MK Nissan Slomiansky (National Union-National Religious Party), a member of the Knesset Finance Committee, and the Education and Finance Ministries, as well as the Prime Minister's Office.
 
Sources for the new funds for the religious schools and programs were found even though the Education Ministry is cutting NIS 85 million this September from local authorities' education budgets. These cuts are likely to lead to the firing of up to 4,500 custodians and administrative employees in schools, as well as cuts for educational psychologists and truant officers.
 
The NIS 121 million increase, which was determined two weeks ago, comprises NIS 64 million in new funds and NIS 57 million from schedules budget cuts approved by the cabinet for the 2008 budget that will now be canceled.
 
Only after the agreement was reached did the Finance Committee approve a NIS 100 million transfer for increased teaching hours, a request that had been held up by the committee since the start of the year.
 
The National Service program, mostly for religious girls who choose this route instead of army service, has 3,160 women who mostly serve as teachers aides or teach "Heritage" coursework in schools. The budget for national service this year will be NIS 82 million, of which NIS 20 million comes from this additional funding and NIS 22 million was returned from the canceled cuts. This works out to NIS 2,162 per young woman per month.
 
The pre-army preparatory programs will receive NIS 30 million this year, NIS 17 million from the deal with Slomiansky. This works out to NIS 1,785 per student per month.
 
Slomiansky can now present an impressive list of achievements in preparation for the upcoming primaries in the NRP, and he has a history of cooperating with the treasury and the PMO over the past two years.
 
Slomiansky has kept quiet about the various investigations against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert over the past three years, compared to the NRP's chairman, Zevulun Orlev, who has harshly attacked Olmert. Slomiansky has very warm relations with Olmert and his senior officials, and has refused to comment in the press on the investigations.
 
He confirmed the amounts to be budgeted, and said the decision to transfer the funds came after an examination of the needs of the various institutions and the effects of the cuts on them.
 
Education Minister Yuli Tamir responded to the cuts in the local authorities educational budgets: "This is a change in priorities in the framework of the education budget, which is intended to narrow the gaps between well-off [local] authorities and weak ones in social and economic terms." She said her ministry's budget had been cut across the board in a way that affected the religious schools and programs. According to Tamir, in a joint effort that included Slomiansky, money was found, some of which was transfered from the treasury and defense budget; and there is no connection between the additional budgets for the religious programs and the cuts in the local authority budgets.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Aliyah - to China?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/aliyah-to-china.html

These funny looking Gwei - Lo will live everywhere except Israel.
 
 Last update - 08:37 03/08/2008       
Amid Beijing's boom, a Jewish community blooms
By Dan Levin, The Forward
Beijing - The Chabad House here sits at the end of a quiet street in an upscale gated community just inside this city's Fourth Ring road and down the block from the Israeli Embassy. A caged duck and a stroller guard the entrance, as does a small army of young Chinese men who patrol the neighborhood of gaudy McMansions.
 
Ask a local to describe Shimon Freundlich, Beijing's Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi, and that person probably will raise hand to chin and stroke an invisible huzi, or beard.
 
"Sometimes they call me Bin Laden as a joke," Freundlich told the Forward. "They used to call me Santa before September 11. Then it changed."
 
Change defines much of Jewish life in Beijing. For nearly 30 years, ever since China opened its doors to the West, the world's Jews have been coming to take part in the rapid transformation and surging economic development of its most populous country. Where a handful of Jewish communists landed decades ago, a growing number of secular and then Orthodox Jews have settled, and they have brought their families and traditions with them. Today, roughly 2,000 Jews call this city of 17 million home. Yet, building a thriving Jewish community in Beijing takes patience, humor and flexibility, especially as the capital has been gearing up for the Olympic Games.
 
"We try to fly below the radar," Freundlich said.
 
As preparations for the Olympics have made clear, China is still a very centralized state - and one that has not historically had an easy relationship with religion of any color. Jewish locals take great care to work within the system, given that Chinese authorities are on constant alert against proselytizing and Western spiritual practices. Chabad allows only holders of foreign passports to attend prayer services and cultural activities, and refrains from public advertising. The synagogue is technically in Freundlich's home, since free-standing religious buildings are forbidden. Even bringing in Hebrew prayer books requires government permission.
 
Some Chinese have, in fact, expressed interest in conversion, according to Freundlich, who firmly discourages such inquiries.
 
"When you come to live in a country that has vastly different rules and regulations, you have to pay close attention to the government to make sure everything you do is respectful," Freundlich said. But "at the end of the day, they're not worried about us. We're not Mormons."
 
For many Chinese, the fascination with Jewish tradition and history is not driven by religious belief, according to Xu Xin, a Nanjing university professor who founded the Center of Jewish Studies there.
 
"In China everyone wants to get rich now," he said. "Many Chinese have heard that Jews have money, and this they respect. They think Jews know the secrets of success."
 
The success of Beijing's Jews, as a religious community, has come from many years of toil. Much of the groundwork was laid by a small group of liberal North American Jews who first came to Beijing in the late 1970s.
 
"When I first got here there was nothing but a few Jews living in hotels," said Roberta Lipson, one of the founders of the Kehillat Beijing congregation, which is affiliated with the Reform movement.
 
Lipson arrived in 1979 with the first handful of Western entrepreneurs, students and journalists. Along with some friends, Lipson, CEO of the medical technology company Chindex, organized the first Passover Seder in 1980 in a member's home and then High Holy Day services in a hotel conference room, starting Friday night Sabbath open houses shortly thereafter.
 
Over the next decade, they were joined by Jews from Europe and the Soviet Union, and in 1992, when China and Israel established diplomatic relations, Kehillat Beijing held a joint Seder with the Israeli Embassy. In 1995, the community began holding regular Friday night services in a local activities center, followed by the first brit milah in 1997, the same year that Kehillat Beijing established a Sunday school. Today that school, Ahavat Yitzchak, teaches 40 children. Despite never employing a permanent rabbi, Kehillat Beijing now has around 50 families.
 
Yet because Kehillat Beijing was a progressive community that held egalitarian religious services and lacked kosher food, Beijing (and China) remained a major headache for halachically observant Jews, who were coming in increasing numbers as China was becoming a major source for kosher-ingredient manufacturing and Jewish-owned businesses.
 
"When we were the only outlet for Jewish religious practice in Beijing, we felt a lot of pressure to be all things to all people," Lipson said. "We knew we weren't fulfilling more traditional religious needs."
 
Indeed, Orthodox Jews were forced to schlep suitcases of kosher food with them from abroad and to live and travel amid a society that was by and large ignorant of Judaism. To address these pressing issues, Chabad's Freundlich arrived in Beijing in 2001.
 
"My goal was to build a Jewish infrastructure starting from almost scratch," he said.
 
Freundlich's presence has provided a place for Jewish children of all stripes. In 2002 his wife, Dini, opened Ganeinu International School an accredited Montessori school that today educates 50 children, up to age 12, from a diverse range of Jewish backgrounds and various levels of observance. This openness is a major theme that connects Chabad and Kehillat Beijing.
 
"We focus on what unites us, not what divides us," Freundlich said. "I'm God's agent, not his policeman. I need to be able to balance a Satmar in a shtreimel with a guy who brings his non-Jewish girlfriend to Shabbat dinner."
 
Chabad provides teachers for Kehillat Beijing's Sunday school, which shares both Ganeinu's building and the financial responsibility for it, Lipson said. The two also come together for religious holidays and coordinate their Seders to avoid schedule conflicts.
 
"I'm sure some visitors will look askance at our close ties," Lipson said, "but we realize Jews come in all colors, shapes and sizes, and we are very grateful to Chabad for helping us make a community where all Jews can feel at home."
 
In the past seven years, the Jewish community has grown to 1,500 people from 700, Freundlich said, and Chabad has established a downtown location in the city's central business district as well as a community center, in addition to the Chabad House, that holds a synagogue. Satmar Hasids donated the funds for Mei Torah, a women's-only mikveh and spa complete with massage, showers and manicure and pedicures.
 
Just as vital for the observant community is a readily available supply of kosher food. A ritual slaughterer flies in from South Africa every three months to shecht beef and chicken for the Jewish community, including those who are customers at Dini's, Beijing's only kosher restaurant, which opened in March 2007.
 
Before the Olympics, it appeared that kosher food for participants and athletes could be a problem. But Freundlich dismissed such claims, saying that there has never been a shortage of kosher food in China under his watch and that Chabad has 7.5 tons of beef and 9 tons of chicken waiting for kosher visitors.
 
The restaurant, Dini's, will be open 24 hours, six days a week, during the Olympics and will provide kosher food for athletes in the Olympic village, as well as snack baskets for spectators. And just to be sure, five student rabbis are flying in for the games to help with kosher certification.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Top IDF officer: No Gaza Humanitarian Crisis; Hamas ready to take over West Bank

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/top-idf-officer-no-gaza-humanitarian.html

Nothing here we didn't know, is there? But as this is the Middle East, nobody will believe it, and Israel will still be blamed.
 
 Last update - 08:45 03/08/2008       
Top IDF officer: Gaza was never close to a humanitarian crisis
By Amos Harel
The economic pressure Israel placed on the Gaza Strip is what led Hamas to agree to the cease-fire, Col. Nir Press, outgoing head of the District Coordination Office in the Gaza Strip, told Haaretz.
 
However Press insists that at no time did a humanitarian crisis prevail in the Strip.
 
Press, who today ends three years as head of the coordination office said that when he began his term, right after disengagement, "there were still quite a few expectations." According to Press, a change took place not after Hamas ousted Fatah from the Gaza Strip in June 2007, but after Gilad Shalit was kidnapped in June 2006.
 
Press, who will be retiring from the army after a 26-year career, will be succeeded by Col. Moshe Levy.
 
Press said the directive he received was clear: "No humanitarian crisis and no direct talks with Hamas." Press also said: "The starting point has to be that the Palestinians will stay here, two minutes from Netiv Ha'asara," referring to an Israeli Jewish community on the northern border of the Gaza Strip, "and 45 minutes from Tel Aviv. Therefore, we continued our meetings with residents from the Strip during Hamas' period."
 
With regard to the six-week-old cease-fire, Press says Israel's economic pressure led Hamas to understand that continued rocket fire hurt Hamas. "There was a period when they thought that everything was win-win for them. They attacked the crossings and assumed that we'd close them, and they could blame us for shortages. We managed to make it clear through the Arab press that Gaza had to choose: merchandise or Qassams and mortars." Press said the Gaza Strip was never in danger of becoming a humanitarian crisis.
 
"The claims of electricity shortages and hunger were part of Hamas' campaign of lies." Press says he sees increased Iranian involvement in the Gaza Strip since disengagement. "It expresses itself not only by sending people for training in camps in Iran, but also in giving money to the unemployed.
 
Press says Iran's next goal is the West Bank. Today there is no real alternative to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. "Last month, Hamas forces took over the PA presidential complex in Gaza. The message to Fatah is 'you have no place here any more.'"


Continued (Permanent Link)

Syria and Iran - Cozy as ever

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/syria-and-iran-cozy-as-ever.html

The Middle East becomes a much more interesting place, as Syria and Israel discuss peace, while Syria and Iran remain as close as ever. This from the "horse's mouth" - Syrian government news agency.
 
Presidents al-Assad and Ahmadinejad Discuss Boosting, Developing Bilateral,
Distinguished Syrian-Iranian Relations
Saturday, August 02, 2008 - 08:00 PM
sana.sy/eng/22/2008/08/02/186812.htm

Tehran, (SANA - Official Syrian news agency) - President Bashar al-Assad and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of the Islamic Republic of Iran held on Saturday afternoon an official round of talks during which they discussed ways of boosting and developing the bilateral, distinguished relations between the two countries.

The current regional situations were also reviewed. Points of view of the two sides agreed on the importance of establishing security and stability in Iraq, supporting the political process to establish the national reconciliation among all walks of life in Iraq and the withdrawal of all the foreign troops from Iraq to guarantee the country's unity in people and land and sovereignty.

The talks also focused on the positive developments being witnessed by Lebanon since Doha Agreement. The two Presidents expressed support to the Lebanese national reconciliation process in Lebanon.

Presidents al-Assad and Ahmadinejad discussed the situation on the Palestinian stage, stressing importance of continuing the efforts to establish the Palestinian national reconciliation as the guarantor of the Palestinian people's rights.

The two sides discussed the Iranian nuclear dossier, stressing importance of finding a political solution through dialogue to ensure Iran's right in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

The talks were attended from the Syrian side by Vice President Farouk al-Shara, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, Political and Information Consultant at the Presidency Dr. Buthaina Sha'aban, Assistant Vice President Mohammad Nassif, Assistant Foreign Minister Ahmad Arnous and Syria's Ambassador in Tehran Dr. Hamed Hassan.  Attending from the Iranian side were: vice President Parviz Davoodi, Minister of Housing and Urban Development Mahmoud Saeedi-Kia, Deputy Foreign Minister Alireza Sheikh Attar and Iranian Ambassador in Damascus Ahmad Mussavi.

For her part, Dr. Sha'aban stressed that the visit of President al-Assad to Tehran comes as part of cooperation between the two countries and discussion of the bilateral relations and the situation in the region.

Dr. Sha'aban, in a meeting with journalists in Damascus on Saturday, described the relations between Syria and Iran as strategic, adding that these relations proved importance in establishing stability in the region.She pointed out that the Syrian policy is based on the Syrian and Arab interests.

Dr. Sha'aban added that President al-Assad's talks with the Iranian officials will cover all the issues of interest for Syria and Iran, pointing out that the timing of the visit has nothing to do with the expiry of the deadline given to Iran to respond to the Western proposals on the Iranian nuclear dossier.

Dr. Sha'aban said that Syria and Iran agree on the unity of Iraq, keeping its territorial integrity, the withdrawal of the foreign troops form it and establishing the national reconciliation.

The Presidential Consultant pointed out that the French approach over the Middle East issues have changed in general through Paris conviction that the relations with the countries of the region serve the European and French interests as well as the peace and stability.

Dr. Sha'aban indicated that the indirect talks between Syria and Israel have no effect on the historical Syrian-Iranian relations, stressing that no circle in the world can dictate anything to Syria against her own firm policies.She said that Syria has been able to change French and European convictions, pointing out to the emergence of different way of American reading of the situations in the region.

She stressed that the American administration's policy had been a catastrophe for the world over the past few years.

Dr. Sha'aban added that the issues of nuclear enriching is guaranteed in the international laws, adding that Iran is committed to the international agreements while Israel is the party which stirs the crisis and it's the only party not committed to these agreements.

Later, President Ahmadinejad held a dinner banquet in honor of President al-Assad. The banquet was attended by members of the two official Syrian and Iranian delegations and senior Iranian officials.

Ahmad Fathi ZAHRA


Continued (Permanent Link)

Abbas, Israel, reverse policy on Fatah escapees from Gaza

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/abbas-israel-reverse-policy-on-fatah.html

Mahmoud Abbas first asked that the Fatah members fleeing Gaza be allowed to enter the West Bank, and then changed his mind it seems. Israel complied. It doesn't have to make sense. This is the Middle East.
 
 
 Last update - 12:09 03/08/2008       
Israel sends back Fatah men who fled Gaza clashes with Hamas
By Avi Issacharoff, Yuval Azoulay and Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondents and Reuters
Israel on Sunday returned to Gaza 32 members of a group of over 150 Fatah-linked men who had fled clashes with Hamas on Saturday, and was also planning to send the remaining men back to the coastal strip.
 
A Hamas official said the men returned were immediately detained by the Palestinian militant group's security forces.
 
Israel sent the group back on Sunday after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad withdrew an earlier request for Defense Minister Ehud Barak to allow the Gazans entry to Israel and then to transfer them to the West Bank.
 
The infighting with Hamas left at least nine people dead and more than 80 wounded.
 
Egypt was also a party to the PA's request on Saturday for Israel to allow entry to the men, who belong to the Hilles clan which is affiliated with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction.
 
A spokesman for Barak said the wounded would remain in Israel for treatment and the rest would be returned to the Hamas-held territory.
 
Fatah leader Hussein Al-Shaikh, the senior civil affairs official in the Palestinian Authority, said: "We are discussing with the Israelis how to allow the people to return to Gaza."
 
Defense sources said it was likely that Fayyad and Abbas' backtracking is connected to power struggles within Fatah. The security establishment was examining on Sunday morning ways to ensure the safe return of the remaining men who fled Gaza.
 
"After the occupation refused to receive most of those who fled Gaza, dozens have returned and the Palestinian police have taken them into custody," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
 
Saturday's fighting erupted when Hamas forces surrounded the Shejaia district of Gaza City to arrest 11 people suspected of a role in bombings that killed seven people, including five Hamas militants, on July 25.
 
Hamas security forces and members of the Hilles clan then exchanged mortar shell and machine gun fire all day Saturday in what was the most violent round yet of Hamas' weeklong crackdown of political rival Fatah.
 
Twelve of the wounded were children, hospital officials said, and eight people were in critical condition.
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Report: Sniper kills Assad's Hezbollah liaison officer

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/report-sniper-kills-assads-hezbollah.html

No doubt the assassination will be blamed on the nefarious forces of International Zionism. It is unlikely, however, that Israel had a hand in this. Plenty of Lebanese would be willing to do the job.  
Last update - 12:00 03/08/2008       
Report: Sniper kills Assad's Hezbollah liaison
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correpsondent, and Haaretz Service
Various reports in the Arab press on Sunday quoted senior sources in Damascus as saying that Syrian President Bashar Assad's liaison officer with the Hezbollah guerilla group was assassinated on Friday.
 
The sources said that General Mohammed Suleiman was shot dead by a sniper in the Syrian port city of Tartous.
 
According to the Syrian newspaper Albawaba, the sources told another Arabic-language newspaper, the London-based Al-Hayat, that Syrian authorities have been trying to prevent the publication of the news regarding Suleiman's assassination.
 
The Syrian Web site "Free Syria", affiliated with Syrian opposition leader Abd al-Halim Khaddam, also dealt extensively with the assassination, and described Suleiman as Assad's right-hand man on military matters. According to the Web site, Suleiman was also a member of Syria's Baath Party, and held the government's Lebanon portfolio.
 
Albawaba stated that no organization has claimed responsibility for the killing as of yet and the reports did not say who was behind it.
 
The reports did, however, refer to the assassination of Hezbollah's senior commander Imad Mughniyah in February, and suggested that Israel was involved in the killing.
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Syria - USA academic cooperation

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/syria-usa-academic-cooperation.html

Is this bit of news good for Lebanon, or Israel? The source is the Syrian news agency. Note that the visit was unofficial and that the sides only 'discussed' means of activating relations.
 
Syria , America to Boost Scientific Cooperation
Saturday, August 02, 2008 - 01:30 PM
sana.sy/eng/22/2008/08/02/186745.htm


DAMASCUS, (SANA - Syrian news agency)- Rector of Damascus University Dr. Wael Moalla on Saturday discussed with an American Academic Delegation representing a number of American Universities and Institutions means of activating relations of the scientific and academic cooperation between the two sides.

Dr. Moalla made brief review on Damascus University , its activities, educational programs and strategy, asserting the university's care for expanding the scientific cooperation with various universities in the world.

The two sides also discussed the available solutions for activating relations of academic and scientific cooperation between them, and the need for overcoming obstacles to oppose process of the scientific rapprochement between the two sides in the future.

Nawal / Idelbi


Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel rescues Fatah members from Hamas

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/israel-rescues-fatah-members-from-hamas.html

Is this "Black September" all over again? Latest reports indicate that Fatah people are being sent back to Gaza
 
IDF: Soldiers rescued Fatah men under fire
Gaza brigade commander says forces waited till dark to complete rescue of fleeing Fatah members following surrender to Hamas; operation authorized by Barak at Abbas' request
Hanan Greenberg YNET Published: 08.03.08, 00:47 / Israel News


IDF forces rescued dozens of Fatah members who were fleeing Gaza City under heavy machine gun, sniper and mortar fire, Northern Gaza Brigade Commander Colonel Ron Ashrov told Ynet Saturday night.Gaza-Israel Border

At around 5 pm, following the surrender of the Fatah-affiliated Hilles clan to Hamas security forces in Gaza City, dozens of fleeing clan members began making their way toward the Gaza-Israel border, where they were rescued by IDF forces and taken into Israel.

A total of 188 Palestinians were allowed entry into the country following the fierce clashes with Hamas, which left nine people dead and more than 80 wounded.

The rescue was authorized by Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the request Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and senior Egyptian officials.

The security establishment hopes to complete the transfer of the Palestinians to the West Bank as soon as possible. Military sources estimated that the current round of Palestinian infighting has come to an end.

'We waited until it was dark'

Most of the Palestinians who entered Israel are temporarily being held in IDF bases near Gaza. They will be interrogated overnight and then transferred to the West Bank.

"At the onset of the operation the Palestinians and IDF soldiers were targeted by machine gun, sniper and mortar fire from all directions," Colonel Ashrov said, "we returned fire, and then decided to wait until it was dark to complete the rescue. When evening came we resumed the operation and transferred the entire group of Palestinians into Israel."

The IDF estimated as early as Saturday morning that Fatah members may attempt to escape Gaza in light of the renewed violence in the Strip. "Each Palestinian (who entered Israel) was searched, and those who were armed left their weapons on the Palestinian side of the security fence," the officer said.

Twenty-two of the Palestinians who entered Israel were injured during the clashes. Five of them were taken to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba for treatment. One of the Palestinians was reportedly in serious condition, while the other two sustained moderate and light wounds.

Ten more Palestinians were taken to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon; one of them was listed in serious condition, and the rest suffered moderate and light wounds.


Continued (Permanent Link)


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