Indeed, in Beg pardon, Norm 2, Snoopy insists there are no limits to stupidity, He gives the example of Richard Silverstein equating all of the following: Palestinian Poet Mahmoud Darwish, Israeli dovish leftist poet Yehuda Amichai, Robert Frost and Ezra Pound. Amichai and Pound??? Darwish or Amichai as great as Robert Frost? Give us a break.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Snoopy T. Goon at Simply Jews has a friendly dispute with Norman Geras of Normblog. The question at issue is whether there are limits to stupidity. Geras asserted that there are limits to stupidity. His own contribution however, was not encouraging for his theory. He found a stupid quote by George Bush, but promptly found an even stupider distortion of the quote by a Guardian writer. Presumably one could find a stupider (according to that definition of "stupid") discussion of the stupid distortion of the stupid Bush quote, and then someone would misunderstand the discussion and write up their misunderstanding and so on in infinite progression.
Indeed, in Beg pardon, Norm 2, Snoopy insists there are no limits to stupidity, He gives the example of Richard Silverstein equating all of the following: Palestinian Poet Mahmoud Darwish, Israeli dovish leftist poet Yehuda Amichai, Robert Frost and Ezra Pound. Amichai and Pound??? Darwish or Amichai as great as Robert Frost? Give us a break.
But I have the temerity to differ with both learned gentleman. The examples they give are not examples of stupidity, but of arrogance, perversity, hypocrisy, bad taste or intentional and malicious distortion. All of these are unlimited. Stupidity must be limited, at least in Web logs. If a person is sufficiently stupid they would be unable to write a Web log, so we are generally spared the worst examples of stupidity. Of course, one can alway argue about whether stupidiy exists independent of an observer, like the question of the tree that may nor may not exist if nobody is looking. If a stupid Web log is not written, is it still stupid? But that is a question for metaphysicians.
Likewise ignorance, an element whose natural abundance should never be underestimated, must be limited. A theoretically totally ignorant person would know nothing at all - there is a finite bound to this quality.
These are each different qualities. I will illustrate some of the differences.
1. Arrogance - In a private e-group, someone, an American, insisted that knew all about the The Balfour Declaration and proceeded to "explain" it to me. That was arrogance. I often get lectured by such persons on the history of my country and my people. I don't presume to lecture Chinese people on the history of the long march or the Ming Dynasty, but everyone seems to think they know more about Israeli history than I do, and they are always willing to impart their "knowledge." I have 'learned" some very strange things from such people.
2. Perversity - The first point made by our would-be instructor was that contrary to Zionist propaganda, the purpose of the Balfour declaration was equally to protect the rights of the Palestinian Arabs as well as to grant a state to the Jews in Palestine. Since the declaration was quite soon rejected by the Arabs and immediately hailed by the Jews, and since everyone including Balfour himself as well as the League of Nations understood it as granting a national home to the Jews, it is perverse to claim that the declaration had, as a major purpose, equal to the promise to grant the Jews a state, the defense of Palestinian Arab rights. If it was so wonderful for the Arabs, why did they oppose it?
3. Ignorance - At this point I asked our would-be mentor what he thought the Balfour declaration was. He averred that it was a letter from Lord Balfour to a British colonial officials in Palestine. When the Balfour declaration was issued as a letter to Lord Rothschild, head of the Zionist organization, there were no British colonial officials in Palestine. There wasn't even a Palestine. The Turks did not call it that. General Allenby would not reach Jerusalem until over a month later. Of course, had our lecturer known that the declaration was a letter granted as a favor to Lord Rothschild and the Zionists, he could hardly have believed that it was about protecting the rights of Arabs in Palestine.
4. Stupidity - After admitting that he had no idea what the Balfour declaration was, the man nonetheless continued to insist that he knew more about the Balfour declaration than the rest of us, me included, and that his interpretation had to be correct! This also illustrates the quality of Chutzpa, which is not lacking either.
5. Hypocrisy - This element is probably present is super-abundance, and in limitless quality as well. Consider that many of the very same people who insisted that Israel's reaction to the Hezbollah was "disproportionate" in the Second Lebanon War, now insist that Russia was perfectly justified in invading Georgia, inflicting massive casualities and commting war crimes because Georgia invaded South Ossetia. Where are all the shocking photos of dead Georgian civilians? Where are the protests and condemnations of rights groups? The silence is defining.
There is also a lot of bullshit of course. Intellectual bullshit has always been available in limitless quantities and in any desired quality.
Friday, August 15, 2008
August 15th, 2008 by ejournal
August 13, 2008 |Stratfor intelligence reports
If confirmed, al-Yazid's death came just 11 days after the July 28 missile strike in South Waziristan that resulted in the death of al Qaeda's lead chemical and biological weapons expert, Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, also known as Abu Khabab al-Masri. The strike against al-Sayid also killed three other Egyptian al Qaeda commanders. In an ironic twist, the official al Qaeda eulogy for al-Sayid and his companions was given by al-Yazid.
Unconfirmed rumors also have swirled since the July 28 attack that al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri was either killed or seriously wounded in the same operation. An audiotape in which al-Zawahiri speaks out against Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was recently released in an odd manner, in that it was given directly to a Pakistani news channel rather than via al Qaeda's usual release pattern of having As-Sahab Media upload it directly to the Internet. The tape, in which al-Zawahiri speaks in English for the first time in a public pronouncement, is not convincing proof that al-Zawahiri was not wounded or killed. Obviously, al-Zawahiri's loss would be another serious blow to the organization.
Al Qaeda's current problems are nothing new. In fact, the United States and its allies have been attacking al Qaeda's operational infrastructure consistently since 9/11. While the United States has not yet located and killed the al Qaeda apex leadership, it has done a very good job of eliminating senior operational commanders the men in the al Qaeda hierarchy who actually plan and direct the militant Islamist group's operations. The nature of their position means the operational commanders must have more contact with the outside world, and therefore become more vulnerable to being located and killed or captured.
Because of this campaign against al Qaeda's operational infrastructure, Stratfor has been saying for some time now that we do not believe the core al Qaeda group poses a strategic threat to the U.S. homeland. However, that does not mean that the United States is completely free of danger when it comes to the jihadist threat. While the core al Qaeda group has been damaged, it still poses a tactical threat and still can kill people. Furthermore, as the jihadist threat has devolved from one based primarily on al Qaeda the organization to one based on al Qaeda the movement, al Qaeda's regional franchises and a nebulous array of grassroots jihadists must also be accounted for.
With al Qaeda's operational structure under continued attack and the fact that there are no regional franchises in the Western Hemisphere, perhaps the most pressing jihadist threat to the U.S. homeland at the present time stems from grassroots jihadists.
Beyond the Cliches
There are many cliches used to describe grassroots jihadists. As we have long discussed, grassroots operatives tend to think globally and act locally meaning they tend to be inspired by events abroad and yet strike close to home. Additionally, these operatives tend to be a mile wide but an inch deep meaning that while there are many of them, they are often quite inept at terrorist tradecraft. These cliches are not just cute; they have a sound basis in reality, as a study of grassroots jihadists demonstrates.
There are two basic operational models that involve grassroots jihadists. The first operational model is one where an experienced operational commander is sent from the core al Qaeda group to assist the local grassroots cell. This is what we refer to as the "al Qaeda 1.0 operational model" since it literally is the first one we became familiar with. We saw this model used in many early jihadist operations, such as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa. It has also been employed in a number of thwarted plots, such as Operation Bojinka in 1995 and the millennium plots in 2000. This model also was used in the thwarted 2006 Heathrow airliner plot.
The second grassroots operational model involves operatives who launch attacks themselves without external funding or direct operational guidance. This is what we refer to as the "al Qaeda 3.0 operational model." Examples of attacks committed using this model include the November 1990 assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane in New York, the July 21, 2005, London bombings, the July 2002 armed assault of the El Al Airlines ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport and the botched June 2007 bombing attacks in London and Glasgow.
Something of a gray area exists around the borders of these two operational models, and at times it can be difficult to distinguish one from the other. For example, Mohammed Siddique Khan, the leader of the cell that carried out the July 7, 2005, London suicide bombings, had attended training camps in Pakistan with another member of the cell. While there, he had at least some contact with al Qaeda, since al Qaeda released a copy of the martyrdom videos the two made during their time in Pakistan.
Notably, these attacks show that most of these grassroots jihadists, whether as part of a 1.0 or a 3.0 structured cell, selected targets in close proximity to their place of residence. Even when such cells have established safe houses to store chemicals, to manufacture improvised explosive mixtures or to construct improvised explosive devices, those safe houses quite often have been close to the target and the attacker's residence. Grassroots jihadists really do think globally and act locally.
A second notable aspect of several of these attacks is that these operatives lack terrorist tradecraft such as operational security and surveillance techniques. Blunders in these areas have frequently led to the groups being identified and nabbed before they could launch their attacks. Plain old police traffic stops have exposed jihadist cells such as the Virginia Jihad Network and have helped to thwart several other terror plots.
Even when a grassroots group is able to execute its attack without detection, it often has been hampered by a lack of bomb-making skill. The failed July 21, 2005, London bombings and the June 2007 London and Glasgow attacks exemplify this flaw. Grassroots groups simply do not have the same level of training and operational experience as the professional operatives comprising the core al Qaeda group. Operationally, they are a mile wide and tend to be an inch deep.
Another consideration that comes to light while contemplating past grassroots cases is that lacking funding from al Qaeda core, grassroots operatives are likely to indulge in petty crimes such as credit card theft, cargo theft or armed robbery to fund their activities. For example, in July 2005, a grassroots cell in Torrance, Calif., was uncovered during an investigation into a string of armed robberies. After arresting one suspect, Levar Haney Washington, police who searched his apartment uncovered material indicating that Washington was part of a militant jihadist group planning to attack a number of targets in the Los Angeles area.
Truthfully, most grassroots operatives are far more likely to commit a criminal act such as document fraud or receiving stolen property than they are to have telephone conversations with Osama bin Laden. When they do commit such relatively minor crimes, it is local cops rather than some federal agency that will have the first interaction with them. This means that local police are an important piece of the counterterrorism defenses they are, in essence, grassroots defenders.
Beyond Grassroots Jihadists
A recent study led by Brent Smith of the Terrorism Research Center at the University of Arkansas' Fulbright College suggests that these trends extend beyond the grassroots jihadist threat. In a July article in the National Institute of Justice Journal, Smith noted that his research team studied 60 terrorist incidents in the United States over the past 25 years. The terrorist actors were from a cross-section of different ideological backgrounds, including domestic left-wing, domestic right-wing, domestic single-issue and international terrorists.
In the study, Smith and his colleagues identified the residences of 431 terrorist suspects and found that, overall, 44 percent of the attacks were conducted within 30 miles of the perpetrator's place of residence and 51 percent were conducted within 90 miles of the residence. When broken down by type, the numbers were actually highest for international terrorists, with 59 percent of the suspects living within 30 miles of their target and 76 percent of the suspects residing within 90 miles.
Smith's study also noted that many of the preparatory actions for the attacks occurred close to the attack site, with 65 percent of the environmental terrorists and 59 percent of the international terrorists studied conducting preparations for their attacks within 30 miles of their target sites. Of course, some preparatory actions, such as preoperational surveillance, by their very nature must be conducted within close proximity to the attack site. But still, the percentage of activity conducted near attack sites is noteworthy.
One other interesting result of Smith's study was the timeline within which preparation for an attack was completed. For international groups, the preparation could take a year or more. But environmentalist and left-wing groups proved to be far more spontaneous, with a large portion of their preparation (88 and 91 percent, respectively) completed within two weeks of the attack. This means that prior to an attack, international terrorists are generally vulnerable to detection for far longer than are members of a domestic left-wing or environmentalist group.
While there are always exceptions to the percentages, with people like Timothy McVeigh and Mohammed Atta traveling long distances to conduct preparatory acts and execute attacks, most people conducting terrorist attacks tend to operate in areas they are familiar with and environments they are comfortable in.
When we examine the spectrum of potential terrorist actors from domestic people such as McVeigh and Eric Rudolph to international figures such as Mohammed Atta and Ahmed Ajaj it is clear that a large number of them have had no prior interaction with federal law enforcement or intelligence officials and therefore no prior record identifying them as potential terrorism suspects. That means that even if they were stopped by a local police officer (as Atta was for driving without a license), any national-level checks would turn up negative. Because of this, it is extremely important for police officers and investigators to trust their instincts and follow up on hunches if a subject just doesn't feel right. The Oklahoma state trooper who arrested McVeigh, the New Jersey state trooper who nabbed Yu Kikumura, or the rookie Murphy, N.C., officer who apprehended Eric Rudolph are all examples of cops who did this.
Of course, following your instincts is difficult to do when management is pressuring police officers and agents investigating cases such as document and financial fraud to close cases and not to drag them out by pursuing additional leads. Indeed, when Ahmed Ajaj was arrested in September 1992 for committing passport fraud, the case was quickly closed and authorities pretty much ignored that he had been transporting a large quantity of jihadist material, including bomb-making manuals and videos. Instead, he was sentenced to six months in jail for committing passport fraud and was then scheduled for deportation.
Had authorities taken the time to carefully review the materials in Ajaj's briefcase, they would have found two boarding passes and two passports with exit stamps from Pakistan. Because of that oversight, no one noticed that Ajaj was traveling with a companion a companion named Abdel Basit who entered the United States on a fraudulent Iraqi passport in the name Ramzi Yousef and who built the large truck-borne explosive device used in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
While many state and local departments have specialized intelligence or counterterrorism divisions, training on how to spot potential terrorist preparatory activity often does not go much further than those officers specifically assigned to the counterterrorism portfolio. In some jurisdictions, however, law enforcement managers not only give investigators the leeway to investigate potential terrorist activity, they also encourage their street officers to do so and even provide training on how to identify such behavior.
In many jurisdictions, serious problems in information sharing persist. Much has been written about "the wall" that separated the FBI's intelligence investigations from its criminal investigations and how that separation was detrimental to the U.S. government's counterterrorism efforts prior to 9/11. The FBI is not the only place such a wall exists, however. In many state and local law enforcement departments, there is still a wide gulf separating the intelligence or counterterrorism division officers and the rest of the department. This means that information regarding cases that general crimes investigators are looking into cases that very well could have a terrorism angle does not make it to the officers working terrorism cases.
As the shift toward grassroots operatives continues, information pertaining to preparatory crimes will become even more critical. Identifying this activity and flagging it for follow-on investigation could mean the difference between a thwarted and a successful attack. As the grassroots threat emerges, the need for grassroots defense has never been greater.
The point that Iranian nuclear development was an issue of world concern was made by Shimon Peres repeatedly. For some reason, U.S. politicians keep acting as though it is only an issue of Israeli security. This column by a Saudi, as well as similar sentiments by other Gulf Arabs, illustrates the real danger posed by Iran.
But nobody is willing to do the job themselves. They are only willing to give advice to others. This fellow writes:
Special Dispatch | No. 2026 | August 15, 2008
Saudi Columnist: Bomb Iran Now, Let Chips Fall Where They May
In his August 4, 2008 column in the liberal Arab e-journal Elaph, Saudi columnist Saleh Al-Rashed argued that the Gulf states should urge the West to attack Iran before it acquires nuclear weapons.
Following are excerpts from the column:(1)
A Nuclear Iran is Like a Nuclear Bin Laden
"'There's no avoiding what there's no avoiding' this adage came to mind when I read the pronouncement by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Mohammad 'Ali Ja'fari, who said: 'My country is easily capable of closing the Straits of Hormuz, the main passageway for oil freighters, if the country is attacked due to its nuclear program.'
"In my estimation, confronting this country, which is trying to gain the time necessary to acquire nuclear weapons, is unavoidable. The possession of nuclear weapons by a state like Iran, which is ideological to the core, is more or less like Osama bin Laden having a nuclear bomb. They are two of a kind. Despite the difference in their turbans and in their religious beliefs, the end result is the same.
"Perhaps it is our bad luck that we [i.e. Saudi Arabia] and the Gulf states would be the first to suffer from a military confrontation with Iran and from its response, and the problem would become even more grave if Iran succeeded in closing the Straits of Hormuz, as the IRGC commander threatened. But our situation with Iran is like that of the sick man who refuses to have his illness treated with cauterization. Yes, the pain of the burning is horrible, but this malady can only be treated through this military confrontation cauterization.
"History has taught us that ideological countries only pay heed to victory over their ideology They never accept any halfway situation, even when they find themselves on the brink of disaster."
"Confrontation Is The Solution"; "The Absolute Priority Must Be Our Strategic Security in the Gulf"
"Confrontation is the solution, and there is no solution but confrontation. The game of the carrot and the stick played by the U.S. and E.U. will be to no avail.
"At present, we are suffering from two things: Iran's attempts [to gain] regional hegemony, and its attempts to impose its influence via its sectarian allies the fifth column of Arab Shi'ite fundamentalists. Imagine what Iran's influence, hegemony, and fifth column would be like if Iran had a nuclear bomb.
"Perhaps it is a strange coincidence that, this time around, our strategic interests coincide with those of Israel. The regime of the mullahs in Iran is our enemy, and at the same time it is an enemy not just of Israel, but of world peace and security.
"I know that the Arab demagogues stand together indiscriminately with anyone who is against Israel and America. But we need to not be swept away by these demagogues as we were in the past. This time, the absolute priority must be our strategic security in the Gulf, which is threatened by Iran even if this comes at the expense of the Palestinian cause.
"In politics, nothing prevents you from allying with the devil for the sake of your interests. This is what confronting the Iranian danger which is close demands of us. This issue, in my estimation, cannot suffer delay or hesitation. Every passing day benefits Iran.
"Thus, we need to push the world powers, and especially the U.S. and the E.U., towards military confrontation to neutralize the Iranian enemy, whatever the cost, before the nuclear bomb makes it too late even if it is against the will of the Arabs of the north."
(1) www.elaph.com, August 4, 2008.
The poll below should be viewed with skepticism, since previous polls gave a somewhat different result. Nonetheless, it seems Tzippi Livni will be the Kadima nominee for Prime Minister. The question is whether the party will hold together after the primaries. It is peculiar that Afflalo took a poll of Kadima members before deciding whom to endorse. It would make more sense had he taken a poll of the entire Israeli electorate to see which candidate had the best chance to win.
'Livni will beat Mofaz 48%-38%'
Gil Hoffman , THE JERUSALEM POST Aug. 14, 2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will easily defeat her competitors in the September 17 Kadima leadership race without requiring a run-off contest a week later against her closest challenger, according to a poll obtained by The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
The Smith Research poll of more than 1,200 registered Kadima members found that among those who said they were 90 percent sure they would vote, 48% said they would support Livni, 38% Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, 10% Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and 5% Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit.
The poll was sponsored by Immigrant Absorption Minister Eli Aflalo, who used it as one of the factors in deciding to endorse Livni on Thursday and to volunteer to chair her campaign in the field. Aflalo also received assurances from Livni that she did not negotiate a division of the Old City of Jerusalem in the diplomatic talks she leads with the Palestinian Authority.
"Morally, I cannot go against the majority of Kadima members and voters who want Livni," Aflalo told 150 party activists loyal to him in Tel Aviv. "I see myself responsible for bringing enough people out to vote so that the advantage we have on paper will translate into results at the polls."
He said Labor chairman Ehud Barak's recent attacks on Livni also helped solidify his decision to support her, because they showed him that "Barak is afraid of her."
With Aflalo's endorsement, Livni obtained her 10th supporter among the 29 Kadima MKs, giving her a significant majority over Mofaz, who has six backers in the faction, and Sheetrit, who obtained his first endorsement from an MK on Thursday. Livni will convene her minyan [quorum of 10] of supporters at her Tel Aviv office on Friday afternoon.
Negev and Galilee Development Minister Ya'acov Edri said he decided to back Sheetrit because he was the most experienced candidate, despite his poor showing in the polls. Edri and Sheetrit were both successful mayors of development towns, Or Akiva and Yavne, respectively.
"Not everyone has to go according to the polls and wherever the wind blows," Edri said. "It's easy to go with a front-runner, but I decided to go with the most experienced candidate because of the challenges the country is facing. You have to go with what you believe in."
Edri said it was difficult breaking the news to Livni and Mofaz that he would not be backing them, but he said each was happy that he did not endorse the other. Sheetrit and Dichter vowed on Thursday to stay in the race until the end despite the polls.
The only remaining Kadima MKs who intend to make endorsements are Vice Premier Haim Ramon and MKs Shai Hermesh, Menahem Ben-Sasson, Michael Nudelman and Avraham Hirchson. But Ramon may end up not endorsing anyone.
The key remaining endorsement comes from Hermesh, who registered 5,342 Kadima members from the kibbutzim and moshavim sector, according to official party numbers. Hermesh said the leadership of the sector would decide whom to support next week after meeting with Livni, Mofaz and Dichter.
If neither Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik nor Ramon endorse a candidate, Hermesh will be the only ex-Labor Party member to make an endorsement, so his decision could impact many Kadima members who joined the party from Labor.
Barak faced criticism within his party on Thursday from MKs, including Ami Ayalon and Avishay Braverman, who said he went too far in his attacks on Livni this week in which he questioned her decision-making abilities and called her by her full name of Tzipora.
"To become relevant again, Labor must explain to the public who we are and how we will deal with the dilemmas Israel is facing, and not busy ourselves with the fights inside Kadima," Ayalon told Israel Radio.
"We support Barak, but we won't walk blindly behind any leader and we will say what has to be said."
INSS Insight No. 67, August 14, 2008
On August 1, 2008, Syrian general Mohammed Suleiman was gunned down on the beach near the Syrian city of Tartous. Only after five days of thunderous silence, Syrian officials, with typical reticence, reported that the general had indeed been assassinated and that an investigation was underway to find the culprits. Meantime, journalists and commentators have proposed different theories regarding the identity of the assassin and the reasons for the attack. The answers to these questions have many and contradictory implications: for the Syrian regime, for Israel, and for other regional elements.
Who was Mohammed Suleiman and what did he do? Who wanted him dead and why? Outside the very senior echelon, most Syrian personnel involved in internal politics not to mention those involved in the security services and the military tend to operate behind the scenes and not earn media coverage. The various sources that have provided details about Suleiman since his death have differing agendas and therefore perforce have offered varying accounts. Western intelligence sources have posited that he was involved in the Syrian nuclear project; American intelligence sources have tied Suleiman to transfers of chemical weapons from Iraq to Syria in 2003 on the eve of the US invasion of Iraq; the Israeli media has pointed to his involvement in arms transfers to Hizbollah; Lebanese sources have claimed that Suleiman was a key witness in the investigation of the assassination of Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri; and Syrian opposition sources have explained that the Syrian general was one of the people closest to Asad and was involved in both security matters and party politics. Therefore, the latter have postulated that "something is rotten" at the very top in Syria. Various commentators have even suggested the conspiracy theory, i.e., that the assassination was a Hizbollah initiative to settle open accounts since the assassination of Imad Mughniyah in Damascus in February.
It is possible to identify Suleiman's hand in three primary areas: internal Syrian issues connected to the regime and the party; sensitive military issues; and Lebanon-related issues, through which he was apparently connected both to Hizbollah and to others in the Lebanese political arena. Therefore, there may be different elements wanting to see Suleiman dead, and the implications of his assassination vary according to the respective theories.
The internal Syrian arena is the most intricate possibility. The fact that Suleiman was viewed as one of the people closest to Asad suggests a number of individuals, especially at the very top of the Syrian leadership, who might have benefited from the assassination, part of a power struggle at the highest levels of the regime. Since 2000, Bashar al-Asad's firm entrenchment of his rule has been accompanied by the removal of various senior officials deposing them from positions of power and replacing them with people from his inner circle. The most prominent examples of this were the 2004 retirement of Syrian defense minister Mustafa Talas and a year later, the dramatic escape of Vice President Abd-al-Khalim Khaddam to France. After Mughniyah's assassination, various reports were published regarding tensions between Asif Shawkat, the head of military intelligence, and Bashar al-Asad.
There seems to be another locus of tension, between Shawkat and Asad's brother Maher, who heads the elite Republican Guards. In this scenario, the assassination of one of the president's inner circle may have been intended as a message from opposition elements, either from within the regime itself or from outside. At the same time, it is clear that from the intra-Syrian perspective, the implication of Suleiman's assassination for the regime is worrisome, as it raises the possibility that there are individuals not loyal to Asad within his inner circle. Oustings, "disappearances," and banishments of senior Syrian officials in the coming months may turn out to be connected to Suleiman's assassination and to internal power struggles.
Regarding military issues and special projects: given the lack of available information, it is hard to point to a specific motive or individual who might have wanted Suleiman dead. If involved in this sphere, Suleiman would undoubtedly have been privy to sensitive technological information as well as other state secrets. Neither one of those represents a good enough reason to have him eliminated by someone on the inside. Asad's regime has ways of removing people from the nexus of power, and assassination is not one of the common ones unless Suleiman was intending to exploit the knowledge he had in a way detrimental to Syria, e.g., through defecting to the West, like former Iranian officer General Ali Reza Asgari did in 2007. In this light, the assassination might have served the Syrian regime both as a means of revenge and as a potent message to the inner circle.
Over the years, many people involved in the Lebanese quagmire have been badly burned and even lost their lives, and it is possible that Suleiman has joined their ranks. Several elements may be relevant in this scenario: first the Syrian regime. If the reports from Lebanon are true that Suleiman was a key witness in the Hariri investigation and he was about to be summoned to testify, then the Syrian president himself would be interested in Suleiman's disappearance. This is far from fantasy: suffice it to mention the October 2005 suicide/assassination of Ghazi Kanaan, the Syrian interior minister, who for years served as the Syrian "commissioner" in Lebanon.
A second element that may have wanted to see Suleiman dead is Israel if the reports were true that he was involved in arms transfers to Hizbollah, particularly anti-aircraft weapons (Sunday Times, August 10, 2008). This possibility is certainly intriguing and engages espionage buffs and those fascinated by secret intelligence services. Nonetheless, it is hard to know if Suleiman was a significant factor in the Hizbollah connection, and in any event cooperation between Syrian and Hizbollah is intense and does not depend on any particular individual. Therefore even Suleiman's removal would not be enough to impede this cooperation, and would at most cause a temporary setback. Moreover, from the Israeli perspective, it is possible that the risk inherent in such an operation would far outweigh its possible benefit; after the reported September attack on the Syrian reactor and the Mughniyah assassination both of which have been ascribed to Israel an assassination of one of the Syrian president's inner circle might prove to be the straw breaking the camel's back, and would push the two states towards a dangerous escalation.
Finally, the possibility that Suleiman was eliminated by internal Lebanese elements such as Hizbollah or another organization seems remote. Hizbollah is too close to the Syrian regime to want to jeopardize its relations with it by assassinating a senior Syrian official. A different Lebanese outfit may have wanted Suleiman dead, but the means of this assassination sniper fire from the direction of the sea and the need for precise intelligence to execute an operation like this make this possibility unlikely. Instead, a car bomb or a roadside explosion would have signaled an internal Lebanese element as responsible for the assassination.
In the coming months, more solid information about the circumstances of the assassination will likely emerge. Until then, there is no doubt that this assassination will represent a considerable source of worry for the Syrian regime and President Asad himself.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Main Source: Articles and reports from Khorasan Newspaper, August 13, 2008 Page: 16
The People of Israel; Friends or Enemies?
By: Reza Arad
Isfanyar Rahim Moshaee, the President Assistant and the Head of Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Iran called the people of Israel friends of Iranians in July 29,2008. His words had many reflections thereafter and made many fundamentalists angry.
He repeated his previous view in August 10 again:" I announce for the 1000th time and louder than before that we are friends with all peoples of the world including the people of Israel."
The State Public Prosecutor, Gorban Ali Dorri Najaf Abadi, said at a meeting with the members of Amal Movement in Tehran: "The nation of Iran recognizes neither Israel nor the people of Israel as a nation."
He added:" According to Imam Khomeini's views, there is no difference between the people of Israel, their protectors and the Israel government. The nation of Iran has always been the supporter of Palestinians for 30 years and they will be in the future. Undoubtedly, all Zionists` partners and protectors should be made to answer to God and history."
Hasan Ghashghavi, the speaker man of Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed this viewpoint in his lecture yesterday. (August 12)
Dr. Ali Larijani, the Head of Islamic Council Majles( Parliament) denounced Moshaee`s viewpoints and utterances violently. He believes his words caused anti-Iranian intellectuals to satirize Iran in recent days.
Mohammadi Iraqui, the member of High Council of Cultural Revolution said in an interview with Fars: " Many Islamic countries asked for an explanation of Moshaee`s expressions. He should apologize to the nation of Palestine and all Muslims of the world; especially the people of Iran for his words. Otherwise, he himself must be responsible for any reactions."
Javad Aryan Manesh, the head deputy of Cultural Commission of Majles (Parliament) told the Khorasan reporter: " Moshaee has been summoned to this commission today (August 13) to explain his recent words about the friendship of Iranians and the people of Israel."
Mehr Press reports:" A five member corps of deputies will have a meeting with the President regarding Moshaee's repeated lectures about the US and Israel."
It doesn't seem as though the Iranian governors tolerate any relationship between two nations. In fact, they cannot tolerate Judaism in any form and place. We should not forget that the deputies of the Majles (Parliament) in the first years after the Islamic Revolution didn't shake hands with the Jewish deputy because they thought he was ritually unclean!
International aid is the new Zionism, says an Israeli volunteer in Africa. Reality blows away all the philosophizing about incompatibility of Tikkun Olam (social justice and "fixing the world") versus nationalism and Zionism.
Israel's light shines in Uganda
A kindergarten in a Kampala slum started last year by Israeli volunteers and headed by a Muslim woman is a godsend for Uganda's needy and, staffers say, of a piece with 21st century Zionism.
KAMPALA, Uganda (JTA) -- Bleak and dusty, the Namuwongo slum stretches along the main rail line that runs through this capital city.
Shantytown dwellers who use the tracks as a pedestrian thoroughfare are killed or maimed regularly by passing trains.
Yards away, among the wooden shacks, stand the bamboo walls of a kindergarten for some of the slum's neediest children.
The Little Light Children's Centre, started last year by a Tel Aviv oncologist volunteering in Uganda with the Israel-based humanitarian aid organization Brit Olam, is filled with AIDS orphans and children who are disabled and disfigured.
''We decided to invest in young children with no place to go, nourish them and prepare them for school,'' says the physician, Shiri Tenenboim.
Children come to Little Light from as far away as neighboring Congo, where a savage war turned them and their families into refugees. One girl's face is scarred permanently by burns from a falling candle that set her bed alight as she slept. Fewer than 10 percent of Ugandans have electricity at home.
Five days a week, about 60 children aged 3 to 7 eat a nutritious breakfast and learn from teachers who are trained with funds raised in Israel. The money comes from donations made by Israeli companies and funds raised by the sale in Israel of bead necklaces made in Uganda.
Along with a steady stream of Israeli volunteers, the kindergarten is run by Tenenboim and Netta Beer, a doctoral student in public health.
But the woman in charge is Qasasa Ayeha, a resident of the slum, a devout Muslim and a diehard fan of Israel's Maccabi Haifa soccer club.
Not yet a formally qualified teacher, Qasasa is in the midst of two years of training -- paid for with Israeli donations. She says the experience has changed her view of Israelis.
''I had never met Israelis before,'' she says. ''I knew them as inflexible and sophisticated weapons makers. After seeing the film about the storming of Entebbe, I thought they had supernatural powers!''
For their part, the Israeli volunteers say that what impresses them about Qasasa is her ''innate wisdom'' and versatility. Qasasa even improvised a religion-neutral grace before meals that works for both the kindergarten's Christian and Muslim children. In Uganda, prayer is a fixture in most schools and in the workplace.
On a weekend outing to the Entebbe botanical garden some 20 miles from Kampala, Qasasa stands at the ready with her first-aid kit, nursing scrapes and mosquito bites almost before they happen. For some of the children, it is their first ride in a car. One toddler becomes motion sick, vomiting on her Sunday best. Qasasa rushes to provide clean-up.
Later, playing soccer with the children, Qasasa's flowing black abaya doesn't stop her from diving to the ground to make a save.
''The kids really change when they come to the school,'' she says. ''Some used to buy alcohol. Now it's sweets. I give them basic knowledge, and they take it higher.''
Until Little Light was established, many of the children who attend the kindergarten spent their days picking through the mountains of trash that litter the slum. Searching for scrap metal, bottles and other valuables, they'd sell their findings for a few cents to feed themselves and their families.
''They had nails like talons to scavenge,'' Qasasa says.
In the school's early days, heavy rains would turn its dirt floor into a muddy quagmire. Then an Israeli construction firm in Kampala poured a concrete floor here free of charge.
Mercy Annet, whose 3-year-old son Kinene Ramson attends the preschool, says the school has helped make Kinene healthy and strong.
''They care so much for the kids,'' Annet says. ''They give him milk, which we can't afford.''
Tenenboim says eventually the school will be part of a comprehensive, community-run center that will also host older children and evening parenting classes. It just may take a little time.
''t's the difficult things that we do quickly; the impossible takes a little longer,'' she says, quoting the late Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.
''Israel is now a flourishing country, an example to struggling ones like Uganda. I see international aid as the new Zionism,'' Tenenboim says. ''We did it ourselves with the help of the international community. Now it's time to give back.''
What is the relevance of this statement, concerning the agreement that Palestinians will never agree to, that says that in the agreement they will turn down, there will be no return of refugees?
It is apparently important to establish the basis of what is being refused, so it can get the backing of cabinet ministers and the US goverment.
But wouldn't it make more sense to be generous, as long as the Palestinians aren't going to accept the agreement anyhow.
If you are sure the girl won't marry you, you can offer her a French Chateau, a private airplane and many other luxuries. For an actual wife as opposed to a theoretical one, the offer would have to be less generous.
Last update - 12:19 14/08/2008
By Shmuel Rosner and Aluf Benn
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that Israel will not allow the return of any Palestinian refugees as part of a future statehood deal, Olmert's office said on Thursday.
The rare official statement was issued in response to a Haaretz report that Olmert had proposed absorbing 20,000 refugees per year for 10 years as part of an agreement to establish a Palestinian state in most of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip.
"The prime minister never offered to absorb 20,000 refugees in Israel. The prime minister again reiterates that under any future agreement, there will not be any return of Palestinian refugees to Israel in any number," Olmert's office said.
There was no immediate comment from Palestinian officials.
According to the report, Olmert had proposed to Abbas that the "shelf agreement" the two sides are working on include an agreement for Israel to take in Palestinian refugees as part of "family unification."
Sources in Israel and the United States said that according to Olmert's offer, the absorption would be based on a humanitarian basis and according to a formula to be determined in advance.
The Prime Minister's Office responded to the report by saying: "The prime minister's stance is that the establishment of a Palestinian state is meant to provide an answer to the absorption of Palestinian refugees. Those refugees who are not returned to a Palestinian state will be dealt with by an international force."
"The American stance on this matter is identical to the Israeli stance, as expressed in [U.S.] President [George] Bush's April 2004 letter, in which he says Palestinian refugees will not be returned to the State of Israel but to a future Palestinian state," the PMO added.
According to Haaretz's report, the absorption of these refugees would depend on all the other issues being resolved first, and on the Palestinians agreeing that there would not be a "right of return" to Israel and that most refugees would be absorbed in the future Palestinian state.
Livni: Absorbing refugees would set dangerous precedent
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is conducting parallel talks with the Palestinians' chief negotiator, Ahmed Qureia, is opposed to Israel's taking in any Palestinian refugees, and also refuses accepting them on the basis of family reunification.
Livni told U.S. President George W. Bush during his visit to Israel last January that allowing any refugees into Israel would set a dangerous precedent.
"It's like in a thriller, where you see the heroine open the door a crack and you know that the man with the knife is going to come in and stab her," Livni told Bush.
In her opinion, Israel must not compromise on letting in refugees, because that would be interpreted as an opening to exercising the "right of return."
Livni made it clear to the American administration that if the cabinet is presented with a memorandum of understanding that includes allowing refugees into Israel, she might vote against it. In the current political situation, Livni's opposition could scuttle the agreement if brought to a government vote.
Washington's position is that the refugee issue is a matter for the Israelis and Palestinians to discuss, but Bush might have a problem if Olmert brings for his government's approval an agreement unacceptable to most ministers.
Bush would have to decide whether to bless the agreement before it has been approved - and thereby enable Olmert to pressure ministers to support the agreement - or refrain from a sympathetic public response. This would signal to the Israeli cabinet that Olmert does not have the automatic backing of the American administration.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is returning to the region next week, and wants an Israeli-Palestinian agreement - even a partial or watered-down one - before Bush's tenure ends. Olmert believes an agreement is still obtainable, and according to political sources close to the talks, the sides have shown more flexibility in recent weeks.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
The Liar of the Year: to Be or Not to Be a Ph.D.
By: Reza Arad
translated from articles in http://www.khorasannews.com/newssource/17053-870521/pdf/16.pdf and other sources.
Ali Kordan was elected as the new Minister of State by the Iranian Parliament after long discussions last week. The main reason for these discussions which have continued for so long is suspicion about his doctorial degree from Oxford University.
One of his main opponents, Dr. Ahmad Tavakkoli, the president of "The Center of Parliamentary Research" told the reporters: "He does not have a B.A degree and if he was paid based on the doctorial degree previously, it had not been lawful. It is possible that his degree would not be valid."
He added:" We will continue to investigate the validity of his degree even if it isn't valid. It is possible that it is valid but the issuer isn't valid. It is also possible that the issuer would not exist!"
"Due to his claim, we investigated the professor who signed his doctorial degree at Oxford University web site, but could find nothing" He said.
What if he is a liar? Dr. Tavakkoli answers:" We do not have laws so that the Parliament can revoke the votes, but we should clear major facts such as these. He does not have even the B.A. degree in his C.V. and claims that he is graduated from Islamic Open (Azad) University of Iran with M.A. degree without passing the course of B.A. degree. We haven't inquired about it this university yet."
Also the President Ahmadi Nejad in the welcome ceremony for this new minister said: "Does serving require that a person have these pieces of paper ? There are so many prominent people who have the highest degrees of honor so that they do not need these pieces of paper in this country."
ISNA Press reported that copies of his false degree weredistributed among reporters. In any case, the investigation continues
For this we gave up Sinai??
Mohammed Bassiouni gives lecture about tenure in Israel, says ambassadorship was cover, goes on to note both Livni, Mofaz 'unfit' for politics; calls Ariel Sharon 'sleeping corpse'
Published: 08.13.08, 14:47 / Israel News
"I was sent to Israel as an intelligence officer. I wasn't there to really be an ambassador," said former Egyptian Ambassador to Israel, Mohammed Bassiouni, in a lecture held in Egypt's National Library in Alexandria over the weekend.
Bassiouni went on to describe his memories of Israel as "bitter" and denied striking any friendships during his tenure term as envoy to the Jewish state. He did, however, mention Shas' Rabbi Ovadia Yosef as an acquaintance.
The former ambassador criticized Israel for its maltreatment of Israeli Arabs, saying "there is no such thing as 'Israeli society' they're immigrants from all over the world."
The mass immigration from the former Soviet Union to Israel, he continued, has resulted in Israel having some 40 new "very dangerous" nuclear scientists at its disposal; but Israel, he noted, has failed to make the transition easy form them.
Bassiouni's comments, which have also been published by several Arab newspapers, also addressed local politics, as he said a person of Middle Eastern descent cannot be elected as prime minister disregarding the high office held by former President Moshe Katsav and the current office held by Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz.
Reviewing the current political situation in Israel, Bassiouni said that both Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Mofaz who are both campaigning for the Kadima chairmanship are "unfit", adding "I don't care who gets elected, I just want to know who can revive the peace process."
As for the comatose former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Bassiouni said he was "a sleeping corpse alive only thanks to machines."
Bassiouni chose to end his lecture with a juicy tidbit, confirming the rumors suggesting former Egyptian President Gamal Abd al-Nasser's brother-in-law Ashraf Marwan was indeed on the Israeli intelligence's payroll.
BBC News says shirts reading 'Jews forbidden from entering the park' in German, Polish sold for $27 each
Published: 08.13.08, 11:22 / Israel Jewish Scene
French prosecutors have launched an investigation after T-shirts carrying anti-Semitic slogans were seen on sale in a shop in Paris, BBC News reported Wednesday.
According to the report, the shirts carried slogans in German and Polish that translate as "Jews forbidden from entering the park" and were reproduced from Nazi signs from 1940 that targeted the Jewish community in the Polish town of Lodz.
Nearly 200,000 Jewish residents of Lodz died in concentration camps during World War II.
BBC News quoted the sales assistant at the Parisian store, in the Belleville district, as saying that one person had bought five of the grey, sleeveless garments for about 18 euros ($27) each, but added that said she did not understand what the inscription meant.
The neighborhood of Belleville in eastern Paris has witnessed ongoing scuffles between groups of Jewish youths and youngsters of North African origin, the report said.
Why should Israel bother to have elections, if all the policy decisions are made in Washington?
Last update - 11:17 13/08/2008
U.S. puts brakes on Israeli plan for Iran strike
By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent
Tags: U.S., Iran, Israel
The American administration has rejected an Israeli request for military equipment and support that would improve Israel's ability to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.
A report published last week by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) states that military strikes are unlikely to destroy Iran's centrifuge program for enriching uranium.
The Americans viewed the request, which was transmitted (and rejected) at the highest level, as a sign that Israel is in the advanced stages of preparations to attack Iran. They therefore warned Israel against attacking, saying such a strike would undermine American interests. They also demanded that Israel give them prior notice if it nevertheless decided to strike Iran.
As compensation for the requests it rejected, Washington offered to improve Israel's defenses against surface-to-surface missiles.
Israel responded by saying it reserves the right to take whatever action it deems necessary if diplomatic efforts to halt Iran's nuclearization fail.
Senior Israeli officials had originally hoped that U.S. President George Bush would order an American strike on Iran's nuclear facilities before leaving office, as America's military is far better equipped to conduct such a strike successfully than is Israel's.
Jerusalem also fears that an Israeli strike, even if it succeeded well enough to delay Iran's nuclear development for a few years, would give Iran international legitimacy for its program, which it currently lacks. Israel, in contrast, would be portrayed as an aggressor, and would be forced to contend alone with Iran's retaliation, which would probably include thousands of missile strikes by Iranian allies Hezbollah, Hamas and perhaps even Syria.
Recently, however, Israel has concluded that Bush is unlikely to attack, and will focus instead on ratcheting up diplomatic pressure on Tehran. It prefers to wait until this process has been exhausted, though without conceding the military option. Israel's assumption is that Iran will continue to use delaying tactics, and may even agree to briefly suspend its uranium enrichment program in an effort to see out the rest of Bush's term in peace.
The American-Israeli dispute over a military strike against Iran erupted during Bush's visit to Jerusalem in May. At the time, Bush held a private meeting on the Iranian threat with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and the Israelis presented their request for certain specific items of military equipment, along with diplomatic and security backing.
Following Bush's return to Washington, the administration studied Israel's request, and this led it to suspect that Israel was planning to attack Iran within the next few months. The Americans therefore decided to send a strong message warning it not to do so.
U.S. National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen both visited here in June and, according to the Washington Post, told senior Israeli defense officials that Iran is still far from obtaining nuclear weapons, and that an attack on Iran would undermine American interests. Therefore, they said, the U.S. would not allow Israeli planes to overfly Iraq en route to Iran.
The Americans sent a similar message to Iraq, which had objected vociferously to the idea of its air space being used for an Israeli attack on Iran.
These private messages were accompanied by a series of leaks from the Pentagon that Israel interpreted as attempts to thwart any possibility of an attack on Iran. For instance, the Americans revealed details of a major Israel Air Force exercise in the Mediterranean; they also said they doubted Israel had adequate intelligence about Iran's nuclear facilities. In addition, Mullen spoke out publicly against an attack on Iran.
Two weeks ago, Barak visited Washington for talks with his American counterpart, Robert Gates, and Vice President Richard Cheney. Both conversations focused on Iran, but the two Americans presented conflicting views: Gates vehemently opposes an attack on Iran, while Cheney is the administration's leading hawk.
Barak presented Israel's assessments of the Iranian situation and warned that Iran was liable to advance its nuclear program under cover of the endless deliberations about sanctions - which have thus far produced little in the way of action. He also acknowledged that effective sanctions would require cooperation from Russia, China and India, all of which currently oppose sanctions with real teeth.
Russia, however, is considered key to efforts to isolate Iran, and Israeli officials have therefore urged their American counterparts in recent months to tone down Washington's other disputes with Moscow to focus all its efforts on obtaining Russia's backing against Iran. For instance, they suggested that Washington offer to drop its plan to station a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic - a proposal Russia views as a threat, though Washington insists the system is aimed solely at Iran - in exchange for Russia agreeing to stiffer sanctions against Iran. However, the administration rejected this idea.
In an attempt to compensate Israel for having rejected all its proposals, Washington then offered to bolster Israel's defenses against ballistic missiles. For instance, Gates proposed stationing an advanced radar system in Israel and linking Israel directly into America's early warning satellite network; he also offered increased American funding for the development of two Israeli missile defense systems - the Arrow-3, an upgrade of Israel's existing Arrow system for intercepting ballistic missiles, and Iron Dome, a system designed to intercept short-range rockets. In addition, Washington agreed to sell Israel nine Super Hercules long-range transport aircraft for $2 billion. However, it would not agree to supply Israel with any offensive systems.
Now, Israel is awaiting the outcome of the latest talks between the West and Iran, as well as a formal announcement of the opening of an American interests section in Tehran. Israel views the latter as sure proof that Washington is not planning a military strike.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
This just in from the old man himself, who was relaxing at his summer home:
"Reports that I am overjoyed by the Bikini Olympics are false. The original contestants were naked, and I didn't care all that much about that either. Actually, I get a big kick out of suicide bombers and hate mongers. Every day, I thank the perpetrators of the genocide in Darfur as well. A special place will be reserved for those who helped make it happen. I am also pretty happy with fanatics like Al Munajid, who are sure to spread hate and discord. Don't worry Munajid, there's no energy crisis in hell. Plenty of fire for you. "A source close to Satan who refused to be named added:
Actually, Satan and everyone else here is thoroughly disgusted with the show of brotherly love and constructive achievement in Beijing. Even worse for Hell is the fact that Chinese seem to have gained a measure of freedom and are enjoying themselves. Our department of government has been planning all sorts of Hell on Earth for Chinese ever since anyone can remember. Mao, the Opium war and the Japanese invasion of Manchuria were major achievements for us. The Olympics are a real defeat. Where are all those nice starving people we used to see? What the Hell is Hell coming to anyhow, if we are reduced to smirking about Bikinis?? Give us something we can dig our fangs into.
MEMRI - Special Dispatch Series - No. 2020 <--Document Date -->
August 12, 2008
Saudi Cleric Muhammad Al-Munajid Slams Beijing Olympics: Nothing Makes Satan Happier Than The 'Bikini' Olympics
Sheikh Muhammad Al-Munajid is a well-known Saudi Islamic lecturer and author. He frequently appears on Saudi TV channels and is known for issuing controversial fatwas. He previously worked in Washington, D.C. at the Saudi Embassy Islamic Affairs Department but was stripped of his diplomatic credentials. 
In an August 10, 2008 interview with Al-Majd TV, Al-Munajid was highly critical of the Beijing Olympics, which he called the "bikini Olympics," referring to them as "satanic."
Al-Munajid is known for his criticism of other sporting events. In a January 2005 interview, he said that soccer games "reveal nakedness," adding that women must not exercise in public because they wear "tight fitting, short" outfits to do so, and also that women are forbidden from participating in the Olympics.  Al-Munajid also discussed, in a July 2007 interview, how Western "beasts" use public toilets and wear colored underwear "to conceal all that filth." 
Following the December 2004 Southeast Asia earthquake and tsunami, in January 2005 Al-Munajid called the disaster "punishment" for sex tourism on New Year's Eve and for drunkenness on Christmas,  and said that Allah had "finished off the Richter scale" in vengeance against the infidel criminals. 
Before that, in April 2004, Al-Munajid discussed jihad, the U.S., and Iraq, calling America "Heretica" and assuring viewers that "the big explosion will come." 
To view this clip on MEMRI TV, visit http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1832.htm.
To visit the MEMRI TV page for Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-Munajid, go to http://www.memritv.org/subject/en/517.htm.
Muhammad Al-Munajid: "How come modern sports - especially women's sports - involve the exposure of private parts? It is well known that the Olympics - both in the past and the upcoming games... the world's worst display of women's clothing is the women's Olympics. No exposure of women's private parts on a global scale could make Satan happier than Olympic games that include women's sports."
Interviewer: "And in a scandalous manner..."
Muhammad Al-Munajid: "Yes. It is an enormous Satanic issue.
"One of these criminals compared a soccer team that made it to the top in Asia and traveled to Spain to the conquest of Andalusia! Allah be praised! The conquest of lands, the bringing of monotheism to these lands, where the name of Allah is uttered, where Islamic learning and scholars emerge, and where the banners of Islam are raised high - all these you compare to people chasing an inflated piece of leather?!
"Many people nowadays watch sports rather than participate in them."
Interviewer: "And this is a problem..."
Muhammad Al-Munajid: "If only they would run or move their bodies a little... All they do is sit and watch the sports channels. Some fathers come to me and ask if it is permitted to hook up just to the sports channels. It is for the kids, they say. There is pressure. Football leads to temptation. It is not an innocent sport. Take boxing, for example, or some types of so-called free[style] wrestling, which involve hitting the face, breaking bones, inflicting injuries and pain. They involve obvious bodily harm. The Prophet Muhammad said: If you beat someone, avoid the face. The Islamic jurisprudence authority banned boxing, because it involves beating in the face, which can lead to blindness, brain damage, broken bones, and even death. The beater is not held responsible, because they both consented to this, and the spectators are happy. When someone is beaten in the face and knocked down, they jump for joy.
"Wrestling involves the exposure of women's private parts. Even the promotion of the competitions is done by scantily clad women. This is done at the beginning of the match, in the middle, and at the end, or so I hear... the matches are promoted by half-naked women.
"The sport of yoga was originally a Hindu game used for divine worship. For them, practicing yoga is a means of divine worship. Whoever practices yoga today is emulating their form of worship.
"Beijing or not... I call it Bikini, anyway... because they are likely to display women in the worst possible way in these 'Bikini' Olympic games.
"What women wear in the Olympic games are among the worst clothes possible. The inventions of Satan, with regard to the exposure of the body in gymnastics, in swimming, in whatever, in tennis... Women have never gotten naked for sports like they do in the Olympics. It is aired to billions of people worldwide. The problem is not just with the spectators who are present. The whole thing is aired on TV..."
Interviewer: "And maybe the men's clothing is more modest than the women's..."
Muhammad Al-Munajid: "There's no 'maybe' about it. It is definite."
Washington DC - August 12, 2008/RPS Staff/ -- A YouTube video posted by a Syrian who managed to upload it without detection shows a clip of Numair al-Assad, one of many cousins to Baschar al-Assad, holding-up a Syrian bank near Tartous. The video has already been seen over 100,000 times on YouTube.
The lawlessness of the Assad regime is driving people in Syria to further seek Islamism as the only solution to extricate themselves politically and economically from the oppressive measures and the open corruption practiced by the Assads as exemplified by this video. The longer this regime stays in power, the more difficult it will be for Syrians to build a free and democratic nation as the Iraqis have successfully accomplished.
Last update - 11:12 12/08/2008
Barak in Golan: We're watching Hezbollah's strengthening closely
By Yuval Azoulay, Haaretz Correspondent
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Tuesday that Israel is following closely the strengthening of Lebanese guerilla group Hezbollah, speaking to Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the Golan Heights.
"We're following closely the violations of the balance by Hezbollah and Syria, and the strengthening beyond the fence," Barak told the troops, who were participating in a training exercise.
"It's not for nothing that we're training here," he added.
Barak went on to criticize an expected cut to the Defense Ministry budget, arguing that this is a luxury that Israel cannot allow itself.
"We live in a country in which security is made up not only of tanks and planes, but also of the fostering of excellence, education and welfare. In a country like ours, we do not have the luxury to harm the defense budget," Barak asserted.
Last update - 11:16 12/08/2008
Hamas says not interested in renewing Shalit negotiations
By Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel
Hamas is not interested in renewing talks to free abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, a senior Hamas official said Monday. The official said that as long as Israel fails to completely lift the siege on the Gaza Strip and to remove obstacles to the free transfer of goods between Israel and Gaza, Hamas would not enter into new talks.
Israeli defense sources Monday confirmed that Hamas was toughening its stance and had suspended talks on Shalit's release, infuriating Egypt and causing it tension with Hamas.
Chief Israeli negotiator Ofer Dekel has visited Cairo over the past two weeks. A Hamas delegation also visited the Egyptian capital recently and said it would not renew the talks. Hamas criticized the Egyptians, saying Cairo was unable to bring about the renewal of the negotiations at this stage. Egypt is linking the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Shalit's release, while Hamas refuses to agree to any such condition, said the Hamas official.
There are deep differences in opinion between Egypt and Hamas on Shalit's release, the London newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported. It said paper, senior Hamas officials blame the Egyptians for dragging out everything connected to the negotiations over Shalit, and some Hamas officials are even demanding that Germany replace Egypt as mediator in the talks.
Hamas is accusing the Egyptians of taking Fatah's side in the crisis between Hamas and Fatah, blaming only Hamas for the recent fighting between the two organizations' militant factions in Gaza.
Tensions between Egypt and Hamas escalated recently after the Egyptians prevented a Hamas parliamentary delegation from entering Egypt through the Rafah crossing on its way to Yemen. On Sunday Hamas organized a demonstration in which hundreds of Palestinians participated. They called on President Hosni Mubarak to open the crossing.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak Monday closed down the border crossings to the Gaza Strip in response to Qassam rocket fire from the strip. One rocket landed Monday afternoon in a residential neighborhood of Sderot, causing no injuries.
Barak did say, despite the border closure, that he would permit the transfer to Gaza of NIS 72 million that Israel owes the Palestinian Authority today, in response to a personal request from PA prime minister Salam Fayyad.
The Palestinians said they needed the money to pay PA employees' wages in the strip. Defense sources criticized the decision. They said it was doubtful whether the PA could control the money once it reached Gaza and raised fears that some of it would fall into Hamas hands.
Barak's people dismissed the criticism, saying that Israel had consented to requests from the international community and Quartet envoy Tony Blair to transfer the money and that the move was in the PA's interest.
Senior IDF officers yesterday visited the Muqata compound in Jenin, meeting the heads of the Palestinian defense branches in the West Bank. They discussed the introduction of Palestinian policing troops into Jenin in May and the PA's expanded security authorities in the region.
A defense establishment official commended the improvement in the PA's law and order enforcement, but said it is still not fighting the terror groups resolutely enough. He also said the PA is continuing to release Hamas prisoners shortly after their arrest.
Cabinet to okay prisoner criteria
The ministerial panel handling the release of Palestinian prisoners decided Monday to recommend releasing a number of prisoners with "blood on their hands."
The committee's recommendations will include the release of between three and five Palestinians who committed murder. The committee consists of Vice Premier Haim Ramon (Kadima), Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann (Kadima), Public Security Minister Avi Dichter (Kadima) and minister without portfolio Ami Ayalon (Labor).
The murderers to be released have all served over 25 years in Israeli prisons, and were jailed well before the Oslo Agreements.
In addition, the ministers asked the Shin Bet security service to prepare a list of 150 to 220 additional prisoners who are not considered to have blood on their hands, as well as a list of sick prisoners who were supposed to be released after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert decided to make a goodwill gesture toward Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The criteria for releasing the Palestinian prisoners is to be submitted to the cabinet for its approval on Sunday
Missing from the plan of course is the status of Jerusalem - and Palestinian recognition of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people. The fate of this plan depends in large part on the future of the Kadima party and on whether or not the next leader of Kadima will back the plan.
Last update - 09:47 12/08/2008
Olmert gives Abbas plan for Israeli pullout from 93% of West Bank
By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has presented Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with a detailed proposal for an agreement in principle on borders, refugees and security arrangements between Israel and a future Palestinian state.
Olmert, who met with Abbas this week, feels there is time to reach an agreement during his remaining time in office. He is now awaiting a decision from the Palestinians.
The centerpiece of Olmert's proposal is the suggested permanent border, which would be based on an Israeli withdrawal from most of the West Bank. In return for the land retained by Israel in the West Bank, the Palestinians would receive alternative land in the Negev, adjacent to the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians would also enjoy free passage between Gaza and the West Bank without any security checks, the proposal says.
A senior Israeli official said the Palestinians were given preliminary maps of the proposed borders.
Under Olmert's offer, Israel would keep 7 percent of the West Bank, while the Palestinians would receive territory equivalent to 5.5 percent of West Bank. Israel views the passage between Gaza and the West Bank as compensating for this difference: Though it would officially remain in Israeli hands, it would connect the two halves of the Palestinian state - a connection the Palestinians did not enjoy before 1967, when the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian control and the West Bank was part of Jordan.
The land to be annexed to Israel would include the large settlement blocs, and the border would be similar to the present route of the separation fence. Israel would keep Ma'aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, the settlements surrounding Jerusalem and some land in the northern West Bank adjacent to Israel.
Since Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently approved more construction in both Efrat and Ariel, two settlements relatively far from the 1949 armistice lines, it is reasonable to assume that Olmert wants to include these settlements in the territory annexed to Israel as well.
Olmert's proposal states that once a border is agreed upon, Israel would be able to build freely in the settlement blocs to be annexed.
The settlements outside the new border would be evacuated in two stages. First, after the agreement in principle is signed, the cabinet would initiate legislation to compensate settlers who voluntarily relocate within Israel or to settlement blocs slated to be annexed. Over the past few months, Olmert has approved construction of thousands of housing units in these settlement blocs, mostly around Jerusalem, and some are intended for the voluntary evacuees.
In the second stage, once the Palestinians complete a series of internal reforms and are capable of carrying out the entire agreement, Israel would remove any settlers remaining east of the new border.
Olmert will to try to sell the deal to the Israeli public based on a staged program of implementation. The present negotiations, which started with the Annapolis Summit in November 2007, are intended to reach a "shelf agreement" that would lay the foundations of a Palestinian state. However, implementation of the shelf agreement would be postponed until the Palestinian Authority is capable of carrying out its part of the deal.
Olmert's proposal for a land swap introduces a new stage in the arrangement: Israel would immediately receive the settlement blocs, but the land to be transferred to the Palestinians and the free passage between Gaza and the West Bank would only be delivered after the PA retakes control of the Gaza Strip. In this way, Olmert could tell the Israeli public that Israel is receiving 7 percent of the West Bank and an agreed-upon border, while the Israeli concessions will be postponed until Hamas rule in Gaza has ended.
Abbas, for his part, could tell his people that he has succeeded in obtaining 98 percent of the West Bank from Israel, along with a promise to remove all settlers over the border.
The Palestinians' proposal had talked about a much smaller land swap, of about 2 percent of the West Bank.
Compared to previous Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the Olmert proposal falls between the one then prime minister Barak presented to Yasser Arafat at Camp David in July 2000 and the one he offered at Taba in January 2001. The Palestinian proposal is similar to the ones offered during the Arafat years, which would have allowed Israel to annex only a few settlements, along with their access roads - a proposal nicknamed "balloons and strings." All these Palestinian proposals ruled out allowing Israel to retain the settlement blocs.
Since then, however, the separation fence has been built in the West Bank, and a new physical reality has been created in the areas where the fence has been completed.
Israel also presented the Palestinians with a detailed model of new security arrangements under the proposed agreement. The security proposal was drawn up by a team headed by Maj. Gen. Ido Nehoshtan, now commander of the Israel Air Force, but previously head of the army's Plans and Policy Directorate. The proposal has also been passed on to the Americans, in an effort to obtain their support for Israel's position during the negotiations.
The security proposal includes a demand that the Palestinian state be demilitarized and without an army. The Palestinians, in contrast, are demanding that their security forces be capable of defending against "outside threats," an Israeli official said.
On the refugee issue, Olmert's proposal rejects a Palestinian "right of return" and states that the refugees may only return to the Palestinian state, other than exceptional cases in which refugees would be allowed into Israel for family reunification. Nevertheless, the proposal includes a detailed and complex formula for solving the refugee problem.
Olmert has agreed with Abbas that the negotiations over Jerusalem will be postponed. In doing so, he gave in to the Shas Party's threats that it would leave the coalition if Jerusalem were put on the negotiating table.
Olmert views reaching an agreement with the Palestinians as extremely important. Such an agreement would entrench the two-state solution in the international community's consciousness, along with a detailed framework for achieving this solution. In Olmert's opinion, this is the only way Israel can rebuff challenges to its legitimacy and avoid calls for a "one-state solution." Such an agreement would show that Israel is not interested in controlling the territories, or the Palestinians, over the long run, but only until conditions arise that enable the establishment of a Palestinian state. This position has received strong support from the present U.S. administration.
Next week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit the region to continue her efforts to advance the negotiations. However, Olmert opposes her proposal to publish a joint U.S.-Palestinian-Israeli announcement detailing progress in the negotiations since Annapolis. Olmert objects to publishing partial positions; he only wants to announce a complete agreement - if one can be reached.
Howard Rotberg is finding out how Canadian justice works for Jews. He wrote a book about Israel and the Palestinians. He lectured about the subject and was heckled and insulted by Palestinians. Now his book is banned and he is on trial.
Simply Jews has the story of Howard Rothberg and the catastrophe of Canadian justice.
The Routenberg Electric works was one of the first symbols of Zionist enterprise in Palestine. Now it may become the heart of an innovative peace park.
Jordan River Peace Park
Proposed Peace Park, endorsed by the mayors and communities on both sides of the River
'The Jordan River Peace Park' is proposed to combine two adjacent areas; Al Bakoora / Naharayim, where a small island was created at the junction of the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers, and the Jeser Al Majama / Gesher site, known as the historical crossing point of the Jordan River Valley.
Al Bakoora / Naharayim: In 1927, Pinchas Rutenberg, a Russian immigrant and founder of the Palestine Electric Company (PEC), reached a unique agreement with HM King Abdullah I of Jordan to build the company's main hydroelectric power station. To this aim, canals and dams were built, creating a man made island, that harnessed the flow of the two rivers to produce electricity. By 1932 the hydroelectric power plant began supplying electricity on both sides of the river and continued to do so until it ceased operations as a result of the Israeli Arab hostilities of 1948. In 1994, with the signing of the Peace Treaty by Jordan and Israel, the island was returned to Jordan but was leased with special usage and crossing status to Israeli and international tourists. A tour is offered from the Israeli entrance at Naharayim, where one can cross to the island, catch a glimpse of the river beneath and see the remnants of the power station. Military personnel schedule and coordinate opening of the fences on both sides, allowing tens of thousands of visitors per year to enter the island without the need for a visa. This is an excellent example of a trans-boundary park that the municipalities propose to extend 2-3 kilometers down the meandering river to the Jeser Al Majama / Gesher site.
The Jeser Al Majama / Gesher site serves as a visual example of the Valley's historical crossing point and is of equal cultural importance to both countries. A Roman Bridge, built over 2000 years ago, was erected by Roman rulers connecting the cities of that period; Beit Shean (today in Israel), Pella and Um Quais (today in Jordan). An old Khan
(inn) from the Middle Ages stands at the site, and represents a place where merchants and travelers passing on their way from east and west used to cross the river, stopping for a place to rest and feed their animals. During the Ottoman Empire period a railway bridge was built, connecting the Mediterranean port of Akko (Acre) with Damascus. The Ottoman Turks also built a customs house and police station at the site. In the 1920s, the British Mandate authorities added a third bridge, for motor vehicles, linking the area with Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee and Damascus in Syria.
Plans for the Peace Park include the re-flooding of the present day dry lake bed and creating a bird sanctuary. The lake will serve to attract the more than 500 million migratory birds that cross the Jordan River Valley twice annually. Developing bird watching facilities has great potential to bring a share of the estimated 60 million people in Europe and North America who spend time and money on this hobby to the region. Moreover, the old workers' homes located adjacent to the power plant, which were abandoned with the closing of the plant in 1948 and afford a magnificent view of the Jordan River and the lake could be renovated as an eco-lodge and the old power station converted into a visitors' center. The potential to develop the area for eco-tourism is outstanding due to the natural beauty of the area, where nature trails could be developed discreetly hidden on a side of the river bank enabling hikers, bikers and bird watchers to explore the 3 kilometer path of the valley from the island to the Jesser/Gesher compound. It is proposed that the park be developed in stages with phase 1 of the park being wholly in Jordan.
The creation of a protected area on both sides of the river will provide greater opportunities for biodiversity protection, cooperative management, joint research programs, education and collaboration on nature-based tourism. Although a border zone is understandably necessary, both Jordan and Israel have already created the precedent of opening the border fence for controlled guided tourism at several locations.
The development of the park will occur in stages.
Roughly, Stage I, II and III will see development of separate Jordanian and Israeli sections in a parallel manner, (the Bakoora Island, reflooding of the Lake, Gesher site, developing the eco lodges and the power plant into a Visitor's Center), that will lastly, at Stage IV, combine all areas together into a cross border park.
The Mayors of the Jordan Valley Regional Council (Israel), Beit Shean Valley Regional Council (Israel) and Muaz Bin Jabal Municipality (Jordan) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create the Peace Park that would restore pride of place to the river valley and create new opportunities for the local populations.
Youc can view a Power Point presentation on FoEME's efforts regarding the proposed peace park here.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Tuesday: June 17 2008 Khorasan Newspaper
Page 5: http://www.khorasannews.com/newssource/17008-870328/pdf/n05.pdf
False Statistics; From Weak Managers` Concealment to Obtain a greater Share of the Budget
By: Seyyed Yahya Azimi
Translated by: Reza Arad
Many evidences show that statistics are necessary for efficient programming of daily affairs of countries and organizations. They are a very important factor in implementing any economical, cultural, social and political projects. The use of statistical data has increased greatly, so that the new world is called "The World of Statistics and Probabilities" by some thinkers.
Ismael Ahmadi Mogadam, the President Consultant in an interview with Jaam-e-Jam Newspaper says:" Some parts of false statistics presented by high managers of state organizations are intended to get a larger share of the budget, but the foreign press uses them against our country."
Researchers believe that people accept information, psychologically, more easily if they are in the form of figures and numbers. So, statistics are a powerful factor for satisfying and convincing public thought.
Dr. Amir Hooshang Mehryar, social psychologist and university professor, in an interview with Jaam-e-Jam online says: "While there is no trustee in charge of removing social injuries in this country, how do you expect that there would be administrators for statistics?"
Other researcher (M.A. of management) says: "When some senior managers intend to obtain more from the budget, in fact, they want to hide the deficiencies of their organizations so that no one notices the infirmities of these organizations. Undoubtedly, we should not expect them to respect clientele and do their work correctly and on time."
Daryoosh Ganbari, the former deputy of the Parliament says: "Untrue statistics have become a serious problem in our country. Some statistics are so unbelievable that they are rejected by the managers themselves who presented them previously. The reasons for presenting false statistics by superintendents of the country are: First, the great weakness of statistical system of the country and second, propaganda and political aspects of the statistics. These both cause people's distrust and suspicions to increase."
Morteza Tamaddon, the former deputy and a former member of "Central Council of Fundamentalists" in Parliament says: "The only remedy for untrue statistics is comparing the governmental statistics with the data presented by Iran Statistics Center. This causes clarifying the facts for the public and if there is any mistake, it will be corrected."
A basic question is who is in charge of true statistics in the country and what the effect of false statistics is on psychological safety of the society?
A senior manager of the Iran Statistics Center says:" According to the law, only the statistics presented by this center are dependable because we use a clear and lawful process to produce them. This center does not have administrative power, although only its statistics are appropriate and usable based on the State law. Some organizations present their own statistics and no one investigates them and the State does not administer its sanction. If an organization feels that it will be questioned if it presents false statistics to justify its operations, it never does that."
Dr. Ahrari, psychologist, says:" False statistics cause a feeling of insecurity in some social categories. In fact, the most dangerous social injury for a society is that people confront untrue statistics. Social injuries are connected to each other like a chain which appears in the form of behavioral disorders and discords in a society. The cause of these injuries often is pessimism and any false statistics can cause pessimism and distrust. The injuries of untrue statistics sometimes are irrecoverable for a nation at the international level."
It sounds as though the governors must look for a remedy that will ensure people hear the true statistics from the press every day, not false statistics by news makers or managers who want to show everything as ideal and gracious.
A preview of the benefits of Muslim society for all Americans. Progressives take note.
By Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe
Sunday, August 10, 2008
No one knows just how many Muslim girls and women are murdered each year in the name of family "honor," since their deaths frequently go unreported and unpunished. The cases that do come to light are ghastly. "Women and young girls are set ablaze, strangled, shot at, clubbed, stabbed, tortured, axed, or stoned to death," a United Nations report noted in 2004. "Their bodies are found mutilated with their throat slit, or they are chopped into pieces and thrown in a ditch."
The report singled out as especially horrifying the honor killing in Pakistan of "a 16-year-old girl who was reportedly electrocuted to death after being drugged with sleeping pills and being tied to a wooden bed with iron chains." Her offense: marrying a boy from the wrong community. Countless others have lost their lives for refusing an arranged marriage, wearing Western-style clothing, having a boyfriend, or even being raped.
Recently, the Saudi human rights activist Wajeha al-Huwaidar wrote a scathing essay characterizing honor killings as a scourge peculiar to the "Greater Middle East," with its entrenched culture of misogyny and male supremacy. Her article, which appeared on the Arab reformist website AAfaq.org, was prompted by the lynching of 17-year-old Du'a al-Aswad, a Kurdish girl stoned to death by a mob of Iraqi men. (The essay has been translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, which also provides a link to a gruesome cellphone video of the lynching.) "From Pakistan and Afghanistan through Iran, the Middle East, and all the way to Morocco," Huwaidar wrote, "this entire part of the world [is full of] defeated and dejected men, whose only way to gain some sort of victory is by beating their women to death."
Sadly, evidence is not hard to come by. In the last few months, there have been news reports of a Jordanian man murdering his daughter "to cleanse the family's honor" after she kept leaving home without permission; another Jordanian, 22 years old, who gave the same reason -- "family honor" -- for killing his pregnant sister; a Saudi woman beaten and shot by her father after he discovered her having an online correspondence with a man on Facebook; and two Arab brothers in Israel, who strangled their sister after learning that she was involved in a romantic relationship.
But while honor killings may be more prevalent in the Middle East, no longer are they unknown in the West.
In the Atlanta suburb of Jonesboro last month, a Pakistani immigrant allegedly strangled his 25-year-old daughter with a bungee cord because she was determined to end her arranged marriage and had gotten involved with a new man. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Sandeela Kanwal's father, Chaudhry Rashid, "told police he is Muslim and that extramarital affairs and divorce are against his religion [and] that's why he killed her." In court last week, a detective quoted Rashid: "God will protect me. God is watching me. I strangled my daughter."
In upstate New York a few weeks earlier, Waheed Allah Mohammad, an immigrant from Afghanistan, was charged with attempted murder after repeatedly stabbing his 19-year-old sister. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported that Mohammad was "infuriated because his younger sister was going to clubs, wearing immodest clothing, and planning to leave her family for a new life in New York City" -- she was a "bad Muslim girl," he told sheriff's investigators.
On New Year's Day in Irving, Texas, the bullet-riddled bodies of the Said sisters -- Sarah, 17, and Amina, 18 -- were found in an abandoned taxi. Police issued an arrest warrant for their father, an Egyptian immigrant named Yaser Abdel Said, who had reportedly threatened to kill them upon learning that they had boyfriends. According to the Dallas Morning News, Yaser Said was given to "gun-waving rants about how Western culture was corrupting the chastity of his daughters."
While many authorities say that Islamic religious tradition does not sanction honor killing, it has long been accepted in many Muslim societies all the same. Perpetrators are typically punished lightly, if at all. In 2003, Jordan's parliament overwhelmingly defeated a proposal to impose harsher penalties for honor killings; Islamists objected on the grounds that more severe punishment would violate religious traditions and damage Jordanian society. "There must be violence against women," proclaimed the headline on a column in the Yemen Times earlier this year. The beating of wives and sisters, the columnist argued, is sometimes necessary "to preserve the morals and principles with which Islam has honored us."
It is appalling that such lethally barbaric attitudes could persist anywhere at this late date -- and all the more alarming, now that the shame of honor killing has made its way here.
(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe.)
The significance of this agreement between Israeli and Palestinian trade unions. should not be underestimated. From all the slogans about fraternity and dialogue and shared goals, you would no know that the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions was among the leaders of the vicious anti-Israel boycott movement and was the inspiration for boycott calls by European unions. The PGFTU can hardly call for boycotts of Israel after negotiating this agreement.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Israeli and Palestinian Trade Unions Reach Historic Agreement
from the ITUC-CSI-IGB - International Trade Union Confederation:
Brussels, 6 August 2008 (ITUC OnLine): The Israeli national trade union centre Histadrut and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), both of which are affiliated to the ITUC, have reached a landmark agreement to protect the rights of Palestinian workers employed by Israeli employers, and to base future relations on negotiations, dialogue and joint initiatives to advance "fraternity and coexistence between the two peoples." The current agreement draws on the terms of an initial 1995 agreement, which it had not been possible to fully implement in the intervening years.
The key features of the agreement include the reimbursement by Histadrut to the PGFTU of the outstanding balance of union and legal representation fees paid since 1993 by Palestinians working for Israeli employers. The reimbursement is based on a detailed year-by-year analysis of the fees paid by Palestinian workers, taking into account funds previously transferred to the PGFTU. The PGFTU will have sole discretion as to how the funds will be spent, in line with its Constitution.
In the future, at least 50% of the representation fees paid by Palestinians working for Israeli employers will be transferred to the PGFTU, to enable both organizations to provide representation, legal and other trade union services to the workers.
Implementation of the agreement, which was negotiated under the umbrella of the ITUC, will be overseen by a joint committee of the two organizations.
"This agreement is tremendously significant, at a time when the political authorities in Israel and Palestine and the international community are failing to find just and lasting solutions to the political impasse. It means that the PGFTU will be able to ensure much more effective representation for Palestinian workers, while those working for Israeli employers will also benefit," said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder. "The agreement calls upon the ITUC and its affiliates to continue to support future cooperation, and we are fully committed to do this," he added.
PGFTU General Secretary Shaher Sae'd said "This removes a key obstacleto future cooperation and the full respect of the rights of Palestinian Workers. Decent work is a foundation stone for political and economic justice, and we will now be in a position to devote even more attention to tackling the appalling state of the Palestinian economy and playing a fuller part in the quest for justice, fairness and democratic rights in the building of a Palestinian state."
"We are very pleased that this agreement has now been reached," said Histadrut Chairperson Ofer Eini. "Every worker, whether of Israeli, Palestinian or other origin, must have full rights to the protections offered by international labour standards. The outcome of our dialogue with the PGFTU can only help achieve this, and help lay the foundations for future cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian trade unions and progress in our shared quest for justice, peace and prosperity for all in the region," he added.
There seems to be only a small difference between right wing Zionist Benny Elon and Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei. They both want 1967 borders. There is only a difference of a few days. Qurei wants the borders of June 4, 1967, while Elon wants the borders of June 10, 1967. Why is there so much fuss over a few days?
Qurei is now "threatening" that if Israel doesn't accept the Palestinian diktat of 1967 borders (June 4 that is) the Palestinians may demand a one state or binational state "solution." Elon
Tony Klug seconds the motion, and revealingly, states in so many words that the two state solution was in any event only a stepping stone on the way to a "permanent" soluton. Only one thing is "permanent" in human affairs, and that is death. Palestinians and their supporters must make up their minds if they really want peace or if they are still continuing with their "plan" to destroy Israel.
Read all about it at Palestinians: Our way or the highway
Sunday, August 10, 2008
A press release by the free Gaza movement, that is attempting to send a ship (or is it two ships?) to support the rule of the genocidal Hamas in Gaza against the Israeli and international blockade, boasts of support from survivors of the USS Liberty. It quotes one of them as writing:
We can bet on support from American Free Press, formerly the spotlight. It is run by Willis Carto, a Holocaust revisionist, treasurer of the Liberty lobby and professional anti-Semite. Indeed, the "progressives" supporting this Gaza ship venture are in good company.
Meanwhile, the ship or ships were delayed owing to engine trouble...
Some can see a silver lining in any event:
A third possibility is that Israel can neither reach a stable understanding nor eliminate Hamas. In that case, Hamas control simply gives it more power to control the situation and makes it a tougher adversary. Somthing that Mr. Brom did not consider. How's that for an insight?
INSS Insight No. 66, August 10, 2008
The violent confrontation between Hamas and Fatah that occurred in the Gaza Strip after the July 25th explosion of a car carrying Hamas activists has brought about a significant strengthening of Hamas' control of the Gaza Strip and an almost total elimination of Fatah's presence there.
After Hamas' June 2007 takeover of
The assassination of five senior members of Hamas' military wing presented Hamas with the opportunity to wipe out Fatah's presence in the Strip. Even if the assassination was the immediate catalyst, it is safe to assume that Hamas decided on this objective long ago because all attempts at dialogue with Fatah had failed: the PA in the West Bank, under Abbas' leadership and in cooperation with Israel, is engaged in an ongoing effort to destroy the Hamas infrastructure there, and Fatah operatives in the Strip continued to challenge Hamas, in part through firing rockets into Israel in order to demonstrate that Hamas control of the Gaza Strip is weak.
Hamas has now forbidden Fatah activity in the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of Fatah members have been arrested, including the entire cadre of senior leaders there, and Hamas has taken control of all Fatah assets. The confrontation peaked with the clash between Hamas and the Hilles clan in the Seja'eya neighborhood. Ahmed Hilles, the senior figure in the clan, had served as Fatah's director-general in
An interesting aspect of Hamas' actions, though it did not attract much attention, was its use of the opportunity to consolidate its power by dealing with power centers of other rivals not necessarily connected to Fatah. Hamas successfully imposed its rule over clan-based and other loci of power in
This will presumably influence the stability of the ceasefire. As long as Hamas is interested in continuing the ceasefire, it will likely be upheld without significant violations. By the same token, Hamas will also be able to fulfill any understanding it might reach with
The sole challenge remaining to Hamas' uncontested control of the Gaza Strip is the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. There are two possible scenarios here: in one, the organization will learn the lessons of the recent events and not confront Hamas, which will thereby allow it to continue to operate in the Gaza Strip; in the other, the organization will sooner or later find itself clashing with Hamas, whereupon Hamas will force it to surrender. Secret Fatah cells that continue to operate in the Gaza Strip will be weak and not pose a significant challenge to Hamas.
These recent events all indicate that it will only be possible to bring down the Hamas government in
Will these developments affect the chances of reaching a deal to secure the release of Gilad Shalit? Hamas' increased self-confidence as a result of its recent success might make its negotiating posture even more rigid; on the other hand, it will also reduce
Hamas' nearly complete takeover of the Gaza Strip gives Israel better tools to manage the conflict with Hamas in the Strip because now the movement bears full responsibility for everything that happens there and has to account for every development. This new situation allows
Out with rubber bullets, tear gas, shock grenades; in with new, stinky means to scatter violent rioters. After using new tool during Naalin riot, officers report Palestinians ran to shower, changed clothes
Published: 08.10.08, 15:45 / Israel News
The Border Guard has begun using a new means of contending with riots coined "Skunk".
The police developed this new method for scattering violent demonstrations and tested its effectivity in the last demonstration which took place in the West Bank village of Naalin.
Use of the "Skunk" is by means of an especially foul-smelling liquid spraying machine.
Over the past few years, security forces have been compelled to deal with a large number of demonstrations against construction of the separation fence in the West Bank village of Bilin and lately, in Naalin.
Until now, forces used rubber bullets, tear gas and shock grenades in order to disperse crowds who burned tires and threw stones at soldiers.
The police searched for a solution in order to deal with riots and simultaneously reduce the number of injuries. Thus, it was decided to "enlist" the "Skunk" for dispersing riots.
On Friday, during a protest that took place near Naalin, Border Guard officers used the "skunk" for the first time in order to scatter the violent rioters in the area.
Use of the new apparatus began upon receipt of all necessary authorizations and after operational, health-related and legal instruction were given by the body which created this technology.
Border Guard Commander Yisrael Yitzhak, who is responsible for use of the "Skunk", also authorized its usage.
"Skunk" is operated by two manual systems and one water-spraying machine. However, instead of spraying water the foul-smelling material is sprayed.
The Border Guard reported that after the first usage of the "skunk" the Palestinians fled in order to shower and change clothes.
It should be noted that it is still unclear whether or not the new apparatus will permanently replace the previous crowd-dispersal means.
August 10, 2008
Recently assassinated Muhammed Suleiman had been supplying anti-aircraft missiles to Lebanese militant group Hezbollah
Uzi Mahnaimi, Tel Aviv
A KEY aide to the Syrian president who was assassinated last weekend in mysterious circumstances had been supplying Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, with advanced Syrian SA-8 anti-aircraft missiles, according to Middle Eastern sources.
Once operative, the mobile missiles will threaten the dominance of the Israeli air force over Lebanon.
The assassinated aide, Brigadier-General Muhammad Suleiman, 49, was "more important than anyone else", wrote the London-based Saudi paper Al-Sharq al-Awsat last week: "He was senior even to the defence minister. He knew everything."
He was killed by a single shot to the head as he sat in the garden of his summer house near the northern port city of Tartus.
Nobody heard the shot, which appears to have been fired from a speedboat by a sniper, possibly equipped with a silencer. The expertise required to execute such a long-distance sniper murder has led suspicion to fall upon the Israelis.
Suleiman had been President Bashar al-Assad's personal mentor since 1994, after the death of the president's brother Basel in a car accident. Assad later appointed Suleiman as his operations officer and made him responsible for protecting the regime.
If Syria has passed Russian-made SA-8 mobile launchers to Hezbollah, the Shi'ite militia that came close to defeating the Israeli army two years ago, it is in possession of a potent weapon to defy Israeli air power.
Ehud Barak, Israel's defence minister, recently warned that Hezbollah was straining his country's patience in Lebanon. Hezbollah announced last week its next military step would be "to stop Israeli fighter planes flying over our land".
Despite the risk of jeopardising peace negotiations between the two countries, the attack appears to have been intended as a warning to the Syrian regime.
According to Israeli sources, during Assad's visit to Paris last month Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, asked President Nicolas Sarkozy to tell Assad that he was "crossing a red line supplying arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon".
Last week the Israeli defence cabinet was presented with an intelligence report on Syria's arms supplies to Hezbollah.
Chinese do indeed have a special regard for Israel. The reasons for this are complex, but they feel that Chinese and Jews share many things such an ancient culture, respect for learning an industriousness, and they are interested in studying the Israeli miracle as the article states. Our little town of Rehovot has many visiting Chinese exchange students at the Weizmann institute and the Faculty of Agriculture.
At the same time, Israel represents an opportunity for Chinese construction firms to become competitive in developed countries:
By Adi Schwartz
Last update - 13:09 09/08/2008
'Israeli Miracle' is developing strong ties with Communist China By Adi Schwartz
Starting this afternoon and for the next 17 days, the gaze of the entire world will be set on the vast stadiums built by China during the past few years. Every TV screen will show the same image: The China of 2008 is a superpower, whose engineering projects and infrastructure are on a scale difficult for the modern world to grasp.
China has also managed to penetrate the Israeli market. The China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) is tasked with digging the Carmel Tunnel. It will also be responsible for the civil engineering aspect of the Red Line of Tel Aviv's light-rail project, which will connect Petah Tikva in the east with Bat Yam in the south. ZPMC, the Chinese manufacturer of cranes and metal equipment, this week won the tender to supply seven bridge cranes to the Haifa port.
The huge Chinese construction corporations are state-owned. This means that anyone who does business with them is in effect doing business with the state and with the Chinese Communist Party.
Prof. Marvin Samuels, who divides his time between Israel and China, and has been following relations between the two countries for many years, says that, "In the past year, Israel has received amazing positive spin in China." Samuels, an adviser to the Chinese Ministry of Communications and a lecturer at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, points out that this trend is reflected in news reports in both the governmental and semi-independent media, "and in tremendous interest on the part of senior politicians as well as corporate executives. If Chinese companies have begun to do business in Israel, it is very probable that senior officials in the Chinese politburo gave them the green light to do so."
Zhou Hui, the commercial attache at China's Embassy in Tel Aviv, confirms that his government encourages Chinese firms to come to Israel. He says that the amount of trade between the two countries has increased dramatically since diplomatic relations were established - from $50 million in 1992 to about $4.5 billion in 2007. The balance of trade remains highly uneven: China exports goods and services amounting to some $3.5 billion to Israel, whereas it imports only about $1 billion-worth from Israel.
"China's presence in Israel as an infrastructure builder is new," says Samuels. "In the past, China used to export mainly cheap labor to Israel. But in recent years Chinese companies have been realizing huge projects, including power stations, airports and railroads. A Chinese company built the subway in Tehran in the past decade. The CCECC is now building a 1,300-kilometer railroad along the entire length of Nigeria. Previously it won an $8-billion infrastructure tender in Algeria."
Zhou says that Chinese entry into the Israeli market has been relatively slow, since it requires adapting to a business environment that differs from that in the Third World. "We have very skilled workers," he says. "They can dig tunnels at a rate of 700 meters a month, as they are doing with the Carmel Tunnel. But Israel is the first developed country China is entering for infrastructure projects. For now this activity is limited to that of a subcontractor - but it is nevertheless a big challenge for Chinese firms, which are not accustomed to Western standards of regulation, for example, or workers' protection."
The Carmel Tunnel will connect the Check Post junction, at the city's northeastern entrance, with the fairgrounds area in the southwest. The tunnel, some 4.7 kilometers long, is scheduled to open in 2011, and will be the longest of its kind in Israel. The tender for the entire project was won by Carmelton, and it in turn chose the Chinese company as a subcontractor for the excavation work. The cost of digging the tunnel is estimated at $90 million. Ami Morag, the project's administrative director, says some 550 Chinese are currently residing in Haifa while they work on the project, including about 50 managers and 500 workers (both engineers and laborers).
"The Chinese company has rented buildings in the city to house the workers," Morag says. "These are pleasant residences, with a washing machine and electrical appliances. It's a far cry from Levinsky Street in Tel Aviv [where many foreign workers live in often rundown housing]."
In Tel Aviv's light-rail project, CCECC holds 25 percent of the shares in the consortium undertaking the work. Other members include the Lev Leviev's Africa-Israel Investments and the German company Siemens, which will be in charge of the electro-mechanical work and will supply the trains. (The Chinese company will be in charge of the project's civil engineering work.) The contract for the franchise, which was signed in May 2007, is for 32 years, including five years of construction and 27 years of operation.
Commercial attache Zhou notes that there are many more projects in the pipeline. One of them, for example, is a future tender for renovating existing rail lines. In addition, a huge Chinese home-appliance manufacturer is considering opening a research and development center in Israel, and representatives of the Chinese car manufacturer BYD visited Israel just this week in order to examine the possibility of cooperating in the field of electric vehicles and hybrids. "The present situation still does not reflect the full potential between the two countries," says Zhou.
To make money
China has very good relations with the Arab world and with Iran. However, Samuels says, Beijing wants to maintain good relations with the West, too. The investment in Israel is a clear signal that China does not lean in one direction only.
Amos Nadai, Israel's ambassador to China, has a somewhat different opinion. He attributes the Chinese interest in working in Israel to purely economic motives. Nadai says most of the investments and projects China is involved in in the developing world were designed to guarantee it a supply of minerals and energy sources. The country's annual growth rate of 10 percent in the past three decades has prompted a tremendous expansion of its middle class. Some 150 million people have abandoned the village for the city in the past decade, and estimates predict that at least another 50 million will join them by 2010. The energy consumption of a Chinese metropolis is on average 2.5 times higher than that of a village, meaning the Chinese economy needs whatever it can get: cement for building, oil, soybeans, wheat and many other basic commodities.
These goods can be found aplenty in African and Arab countries, says Nadai, and it is there that China is trying to establish its political status, with the hope of guaranteeing a regular flow of raw materials and quarries. Israel, however, has other attractions for the Chinese.
"I keep hearing compliments about the ancient culture of the Jewish people and the old tradition," says Nadai, who took up his post in China about a year ago, "and about the ability to build a modern country out of them in a span of 60 years. These comparisons make the Chinese feel close to us: They, too, have a glorious tradition and they, too, are trying to develop a modern country quickly. They feel that they have something to learn from us.
"Only recently a large team of Chinese state television employees visited Israel for a period of three weeks, to research the 'Israeli miracle.' Now they are visiting several places in the world that used to have large Jewish communities, in order to examine the Jewish community's influence on its surroundings. Their idea is to try to decipher the secret of the Jews' success."
Nadai says that, "as a diplomat who has served in other countries in the past, I can say that there are no parallels today to such an attitude toward Israel and the Jews."
This is the Israel News and Commentary Weblog of Zionism-Israel Center. Contact: info(at)Zionism-Israel.com
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