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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Canard? Cossiga accusations of Italian involvement in Palestinian terror

In an article entitled The convenient war against the Jews, Caroline Glick cites the allegations made last August in Corriere De La Sera  by former Italian President Cossiga, that the Palestinian terrorists had made a deal with the Italian government that would allow them to operate against Israel. Additionally, Cossiga intimated to Yediot Ahronot reporter Menachem Ganz that Italian PM Berlusconi is an anti-Semite. This seems improbable, given that Berlusconi is known for his pro-Israel policies.
Some of Cossiga's allegations may be based on fact. However, he is the author of a 9-11 conspiracy theory and is himself evidently an "anti-Zionist." Previously Cossiga had told Correre Del la Serra regarding an Osama Bin Laden tape circulated by a Berlusconi media outlet that the 9-11 attacks were carried out by the Mossad and the CIA with the aid of world Zionism. Here is the original Italian and the translation:
.... «Da ambienti vicini a Palazzo Chigi, centro nevralgico di direzione dell'intelligence italiana, si fa notare che la non autenticità del video è testimoniata dal fatto che Osama Bin Laden in esso 'confessa' che Al Qaeda sarebbe stato l'autore dell'attentato dell'11 settembre alle due torri in New York, mentre tutti gli ambienti democratici d'America e d'Europa, con in prima linea quelli del centrosinistra italiano, sanno ormai bene che il disastroso attentato è stato pianificato e realizzato dalla Cia americana e dal Mossad con l'aiuto del mondo sionista per mettere sotto accusa i Paesi arabi e per indurre le potenze occidentali ad intervenire sia in Iraq sia in Afghanistan. Per questo - conclude Cossiga - nessuna parola di solidarietà è giunta a Silvio Berlusconi, che sarebbe l'ideatore della geniale falsificazione, né dal Quirinale, né da Palazzo Chigi né da esponenti del centrosinistra!».
... "From circles close to the Palazzo Chigi, nerve center of Italian intelligence direction, it is noted that the non-authenticity of the video is proven by the fact that Osama Bin Laden in it 'confessed' that Al Qaeda was responsible for the 11 September attacks on the twin towers in New York, while all democratic circles of America and Europe, along with those at the forefront of Italian center, now know well that the disastrous attack was planned and carried out by the CIA and the U.S. Mossad with the help of the Zionist world to put under accusation the Arab countries and to encourage Western powers to intervene in Iraq and in Afghanistan. For this - concludes Cossiga - no word of solidarity came to Silvio Berlusconi, who is the creator of the brilliant falsification, neither from the Quirinale, nor from Palazzo Chigi, nor from representatives of the center. "
Cossiga's accusations against the "Zionists" are grist for the mill of various anti-Semites. His accusations against Berlusconi and the Italian government, on the other hand, were found to be useful by Caroline Glick, Ted Belman, Israel National News and others. But we should not choose to believe that which is convenient only because it is convenient.
Our understanding of the Middle East is not enhanced by uncritical circulation of shady political rumors.
Ami Isseroff

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Hizbullah refuses to comply with UN Security Council resolutions

Actually, wasn't the report given by Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the UN, and not just by Terje Roed-Larsen?
Nasrallah's deputy slams report claiming Shiite group threatens regional security, says ' those trying to come between Lebanon and the resistance will lose'
Roee Nahmias
Published:  10.18.08, 14:03 / Israel News
Hizbullah Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem denounced on Saturday a report issued by UN Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen describing the Shiite group as a threat to Middle East security.
Speaking in Beirut's Dahiya quarter, a Hizbullah stronghold, Qassem said it was Israel that posed a threat to the region, adding "those who believe they can suppress our resistance by pressuring us are mistaken.

"We must address Terje Roed-Larsen's report, which claims that the resistance jeopardizes Lebanon's regime and security," he said.
The sheikh referred to Roed-Larsen's report as "incitement" and called the UN envoy "one of the last remnants of Israel's defeat", adding that "those trying to come between (Lebanon) and the resistance will lose.

"Roed-Larsen condemned Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace. Is Israel only violating (Lebanon's airspace), or is it attacking, destroying and kidnapping?" Qassem said.

He continued to say that "Israel, which annihilated the Palestinians in 1948 and killed (12-year-old) Muhammad al-Dura in front of the world's media outlets, is the real danger to our region.
"As long as Israel is the enemy situated along our border, we will prevent it from implementing its plans," the sheikh said.

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Iran denied non-permanent UN Security Council seat

While this has been lauded as a "victory" for Israel, it should be noted that Israel has never been a non-permanent member of the Security Council, and will not even be a candidate for many  more years.
Iranian bid to secure non-permanent Security Council seat denied by huge majority; Japan wins Asian seat with 158 votes, compared to Iran's 32. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni lauds UN's decision
Associated Press
Published:  10.17.08, 19:48 / Israel News
Iran and Iceland failed Friday to win non-permanent seats on the United Nations Security council.
Austria and Turkey beat Iceland in the battle for the two non-permanent European seats on the 15-member council in voting at a meeting of the UN General Assembly while Iran lost out to Japan for the council's Asian seat.
The other two seats went to Mexico, which will represent Latin America, and Uganda, which will represent Africa; both ran unopposed.
Kadima Chairman Tzipi Livni lauded the decision, congratulated Japan for being elected, and added that "Iran's very candidacy was unthinkable."

Livni added that the UN averted disgrace by preventing Iran from joining the Security Council, stressing that international activity vis-à-vis Iran and the threat it represents "must continue at all levels and with greater force."

Iran receives 32 votes
General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann said after the balloting that Austria received 133 votes, Turkey 151 votes, Japan 158 votes, Uganda 181 votes and Mexico 185.
Iran received only 32 votes from the U.N. members, Iceland, which had been considered by many to be a strong candidate until the recent economic crisis, received only 87 votes.
The five new non-permanent members of the council will serve two-year terms.
Ten of the council's 15 seats are filled by the regional groups for two-year stretches. The other five are occupied by its veto-wielding permanent members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.
 The five countries elected to the Council will take their seats on Jan. 1, 2009, replacing Belgium, Indonesia, Italy, Panama and South Africa. The five countries elected last year - Libya, Vietnam, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica and Croatia - will remain on the Council until Jan. 1, 2010.
Attila Somfalvi contributed to the story

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Allah be praised - hacking American and Zionist Web sites is "Hallal"

Hacking websites is not as certain to get you into heaven as blowing yourself up, but it's a poor man's Jihad I guess. Of course, you can hack websites and then blow yourself up.

Cairo, 16 Oct. (AKI) - Attacking American and Israeli websites by hacking and sabotage is allowed under Islamic law and is a form of 'Jihad' or holy war, top Muslim scholars have decreed.
The religious edict (fatwa) issued by a committee from the highest authority in Sunni Islam, Egypt's Al-Azhar University in Cairo, was published on the website of the Islamist Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood movement on Thursday.
"This is considered a type of lawful Jihad that helps Islam by paralysing the information systems used by our enemies for their evil aims," said the fatwa.
"This Jihad is not different from the armed one. In fact, it might be more important if you consider the global dimensions of the Internet.
"Whoever wins this war will become the strongest in the realm of information," the fatwa continued.
The Muslim Brotherhood praised the fatwa, which comes in response to dozens of questions from radicals asking to be allowed to destroy Israeli and United States websites.
Last week, the news website of Dubai-based Arabic TV network al-Arabiya was attacked by suspected Shia hackers, who posted a burning Israeli flag to the site.
Beneath the flag, a message in Arabic and English read: 'Serious Warning - if attacks on Shia websites continue, none of your websites will be safe.'

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Iran: Thanking God for small favors

And best wishes to you as well, dear Ayatollah. Don't confuse this fellow with Muhammad Khatami, reformist former president of Iran.
Ayatollah Khatami in Iran Friday Sermon: U.S. Lust for Power To Blame For 'Economic Tsunami' ; Crisis Is Result of Moral Fiasco of Liberal Democracy; "Thank God Economic Crisis Hit The U.S. Itself"

Delivering the Friday sermon at the TehranUniversity campus, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami focused on the global financial crisis, saying that the U.S.'s "lust for power" had set off an economic tsunami and calling the crisis the result of "liberal democracy." The sermon was covered by multiple Iranian news agencies, with IRIBnews headlining its report "Economic Crisis Result of Moral Fiasco of Liberal Democracy." In addition, Khatami said that the defeat of the U.S. is a moral defeat of liberal democracy, and advised Europe to distance itself from the U.S. He also discussed the upcoming 10th Iranian presidential elections.

The following are excerpts from his sermon. [1]

U.S. Power Lust Behind 'Economic Tsunami'; Crisis Marks Failure Of Liberal Democratic System

In his sermon, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said that Washington's lust for power was the main reason behind the "economic tsunami" in the U.S. economy. He added that the crisis, now hitting the globe, marks the failure of the liberal democratic system.

Khatami told worshipers, "Following the U.S. financial crisis, Europe and the U.S. allies too have been hit by an 'economic tsunami' and are shaken. Perhaps they had never experienced such a shock. Certain people used to name Americans' liberal democracy as their utopia at the end of the history of mankind, claiming that the U.S. is master of the said utopia; however, we are today witnessing defects in the utopia and its crushing failure."

He added, "The Bush administration's aggressive policies in Iraq and Afghanistan are the main cause of America's financial angst and distress."

Americans Themselves Say It's the Beginning of the End for U.S. Hegemony

"Americans have over the past eight years attacked anywhere on Earth they wished under the pretext of democracy, bringing nothing but death to the countries and poverty for their own people. Friends of (U.S. President George W.) Bush admit that the U.S. used to have a budget surplus eight years ago, but now it faces a budget deficit, as it has now spread to China too."

Khatami noted that the economic crisis is a big fiasco for the U.S. statesmen, as Bush's party colleagues announce their disavowal of him, and added that in their own analyses, the Americans are saying that they have come to the beginning of the end of American hegemony in the world.

Europe Should Distance Itself From The U.S.

Khatami said, "The Islamic Republic of Iran has time and again announced that Europe should distance [itself] from the U.S. because Europe practically collaborated with the U.S. and is now in the midst of crisis. Now, Arab states which used to link themselves with the U.S. are put in the trouble."

He said, "The U.S. had over recent months used all its efforts and the U.N. Security Council too, which served as a tool for the U.S. against Iran, issued a resolution against us so as to make us economically turbulent, but thank God, economic crisis hit the U.S. itself."

He continued, "They wished to fan economic crisis in Iran to raise public fury but Iranian people tolerated it with patience and officials too are kindly active in the field," he concluded.

Iranian Presidential Candidates Should Not Undermine Islamic Revolution's Values

Elsewhere in his sermon, Khatami urged hopefuls in Iran's 10th presidential elections not to run the race at the cost of undermining the Islamic Revolution's principles and values.

He said that the presidential elections candidates should avoid backbiting and bickering, distorting image of their rivals.

"Elections are in fact a kind of political celebration, especially in Iran, which had for long years been experiencing dictatorship and monarchical systems," Ayatollah Khatami said.

He said that the elections is an issue which cannot easily be overlooked by a Friday prayer leader either, and that free, legal, moral and popular elections are what the Islamic Republic establishment deserves, and that all should make efforts to guarantee its success.

[1] IRIBnews, IRNA, Press TV (Iran), October 17, 2008

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Zionist conspiracy forces Hamas Video Web site off the air (for now)

Progressives of the world will certainly miss this sort of thing:

"Oh suicide bombers' unit, oh heroes of the [terrorist] attacks... Our great hope is death for the sake of Allah."

Never fear O Stormfront progressives and David Duke liberals. No doubt another ISP will be found for the nice Hamas.

Ami Isseroff

French ISP takes incitive Hamas website offline

Oct. 16, 2008

Following a report in The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, the jihadist Web site AqsaTube, a video-sharing platform modeled on the popular YouTube, has been taken off-line by its French internet service provider OVH.

AqsaTube ( featured videos inciting against Israel, glorifying terrorism (the "resistance") and preaching the doctrines of radical Islam.

According to the BBC, OVH initially denied hosting AqsaTube, but later confirmed that it had hosted the Web site and had now taken it off-line.

The disappearance of AqsaTube follows Google's removal of its AdSense program from the Web site following a query filed by the Post to Google Israel.

AqsaTube's format and design were strikingly similar to the American YouTube's. Its name and graphic logo were also similar to YouTube's, and without a doubt were inspired by them, although the format of the site has similarities to other video-sharing platforms on the net.

According to the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC), which tracked the site and alerted the Post to its existence, the Hamas version of YouTube was devoted entirely to propaganda and incitement. AqsaTube was listed under the name of Abu Nasser Skandar from Dubai, hosted by OVH. Reuven Ehrlich, head of the ITIC, welcomed the news that AqsaTube had been taken off-line. "Israel can't fight Jihadi Web sites themselves, but it can fight their service providers," he told the Post.

According to the ITIC, AqsaTube was only one of over 20 Web sites, in eight languages, managed and directed by Hamas.

According to Alexa Internet traffic statistics, most AqsaTube users were from Saudi Arabia, followed by Iraq and Germany. It had more users in Israel than in the Palestinian territories.

Noah Shachtman, an editor at the technology magazine Wired, reported Thursday that this incident was the second time in a little more than a month that an extremist video distribution network had been taken off-line. "The al-Ekhlaas network of sites had long been a primary distributor of videos from al-Sahab, al-Qaida's propaganda arm. Then, on September 11, was suddenly re-registered. All of its content vanished.

"As in the case of the al-Ekhlaas takedown, militant forums blamed Western intelligence agencies for the unplugging of AqsaTube. But it appears a little sunlight may have done the trick, instead," Shachtman wrote, referring to the recent media exposure.

The overwhelming majority of AqsaTube videos were supplied by Hamas, but it was possible to find those of other Palestinian terrorist organizations. The videos were divided into subcategories: the Hamas movement, Fatah, the children of Al-Aqsa (i.e., children motivated by Hamas ideology), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and others.

The site had many videos produced by the information office of the Izzadin Kassam Brigades, Hamas's military wing, documenting terrorist attacks and training. They included masked operatives firing rockets and training with weapons. One of them was devoted to one of the Izzadin Kassam Brigades's special units, and was accompanied by a song encouraging suicide attacks: "Oh suicide bombers' unit, oh heroes of the [terrorist] attacks... Our great hope is death for the sake of Allah."


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UN chief ban urges Israel & Hezbollah to de-escalate, criticizes Hezbollah arms

Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General, urged everyone to comply with UN resolutions except the UN. If the UN resolved to disarm the Hezbollah and did not do anything to implement all the resolutions, whose fault is that? He should get Truman's sign, "The buck stops here."
Last update - 09:00 17/10/2008       
UN Chief urges Hezbollah and Israel to halt mutual threats
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent
A report released Thursday by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described Hezbollah as a threat to Middle East security, and called for both the Lebanese militant group and Israel to stop threatening each other through the media.
The report, sent to the members of the UN Security Council, also criticized Syria for allowing weapons smuggling to Lebanese militias.
Ban's report deals with Security Council Resolution 1559 of September 2004, drafted by UN Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, which called for Syria's military withdrawal from Lebanon as well as Hezbollah's disarmament.
Following the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, rumored to have been carried out with Syrian involvement, Syrian forces withdrew from Lebanon after decades of occupation.
That resolution formed the foundation for Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah.
Ban's report indicates that Hezbollah continues to maintain a militia separate from the Lebanese government.
"Hezbollah's maintenance of a major armed component and a para-military infrastructure separate from the state, including a secure network of communication, which the group itself deems an integral part of its arsenal, is a direct challenge to the authority of the government of Lebanon and its security forces and prevents their exclusive control over the entire territory of Lebanon," said the report.
"I therefore reiterate my call on Hezbollah to comply with all relevant Security Council resolutions, and urge all parties which maintain close ties with Hezbollah and have the ability to influence it, in particular Syria and Iran, to support its transformation into a political party proper," it said.
The report also cited the "the urgency and importance of ensuring that the Government has the monopoly on the use of force in Lebanon."
Ban also leveled criticism at the remarks made by GOC Northern Command Gadi Eisenkot to the daily Yedioth Ahronoth several weeks ago regarding the Israel Defense Forces' plans to use "disproportionate force" should war again break out with Lebanon or Hezbollah.
In response, senior Hezbollah figures told the media the organization would respond forcefully to any Israeli attack.
"I am disturbed by the repeated exchanges of threats, through the media, between Israel and Hezbollah. I urge all parties to cease this public discourse, which creates anxiety among civilian populations on both sides," he said.
Regarding weapons smuggling from Syria to Lebanon, Ban said, "Preventing breaches of the arms embargo is a critical element for strengthening Lebanon's sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence. I remain concerned by the general porosity of the Syrian-Lebanese border."
The UN secretary general also criticized Israel for its continued overflights on Lebanese territory, which Jerusalem states are necessary for security reasons.
He also stated that in recent weeks the Lebanese army transferred a significant number of troops from the Israeli border to the north of the country due to the increasing activity of international Islamic extremist groups in the coastal city of Tripoli.
"I am gravely concerned by the emergence and apparent strengthening of extremist elements and foreign fighters based largely in and around Tripoli. This phenomenon is but another challenge to the consolidation of the government's authority," he said.

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Will pigs fly? Report: Bush offered to press Israel to quit Golan if Syria cuts Iran ties

Syria has already made it clear that it will not cut ties with Iran, and Israel for its part is evidently willing to return the Golan - if Syria cuts ties with Iran. So what is the deal here?
Last update - 12:14 17/10/2008       
Report: Bush offered to press Israel to quit Golan if Syria cuts Iran ties
By Jack Khoury, Haaretz Correspondent
U.S. President George W. Bush has apparently offered his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad, to press Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights if Damascus promises to cut its relations with Iran, the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jareida reported on Friday.
According to the report, Bush made the offer in a handwritten letter transferred to Assad by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
A Palestinian source close to Abbas told the newspaper that the U.S. had presented the offer in a meeting with Syrian officials day earlier.
If Assad agrees to the American proposal, he will carry out his end of the deal in the coming weeks, said the report.
Bush is keen on implementing the deal before the upcoming U.S. elections, said the newspaper, in order to significantly advance the peace process before the end of his term.
The Palestinian source said that Abbas and his entourage were unaware of the content of Bush's letter, as it was meant to remain covert and away from diplomatic eyes, according to the report.
Even the American envoy in Damascus was not privy to this information, said the newspaper.
Despite this, the Palestinian source said that Abbas' latest visit to Damascus was intended for the principle purpose of passing on this letter, said the newspaper. While on the visit, he scheduled no meetings with Palestinian officials or other diplomats in the area.

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Zionism's secret weapons revealed

Shimon Peres has unwittingly revealed the secret weapons of Israel,  Zionism and the international Jewish conspiracy. He said:
Israel should run ahead. We will overcome the Iranians and all other threats."
The secret weapon is optimism - often in the face of insuperable odds. That, coupled with keeping a cool head and hard work, can often do wonders. It is what makes for Brave Zionism.

Last update - 16:27 17/10/2008    
 Peres: Drop in global oil price serious blow to Iran
By Haaretz Service
President Shimon Peres on Friday said the global financial crisis will seriously damage the Iranian economy, saying "the recent drop in global oil prices is a serious blow for Iran."
Sitting under the sukkah of Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, the president further predicted that Tehran "won't be able to bear the increased spending in military and to continue its nuclear armament all at the same time."
If oil prices continue to fall, Peres said, Iran will not be able to fund terrorist activities.
  He added that Israel should become a central player in the field of alternative energy, saying "Israel should run ahead. We will overcome the Iranians and all other threats."

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A salute to Brave Zionists in Acco

This is Brave Zionism in action. It is what Zionism ought to be. what being a Zionist and an Israeli ought to mean and does mean to a lot of Israelis. It has nothing to do with settlements, or occupation or "racism."  The young men and women of Ayalim should be positive role models for Jewish Identity. When you think about Zionism, remember the youth of Ayalim who insist on making Israeli democracy work.
Ami Isseroff

In the eye of the storm

Oct. 16, 2008

When a handful of masked young Arab men threw gasoline-drenched pieces of burning cloth into an apartment used by the Ayalim organization in Acre's Old City last week, it was an Arab neighbor who chased them angrily away and put out the fire.

"We're not here to make Acre Jewish," says 27-year-old Guy Maoz, logistical coordinator for the Ayalim student village in the heart of Acre's Old City, an almost entirely Arab neighborhood. "We're simply here to develop the city to the level of a modern tourist town where people will want to live," he says.

Ayalim is a nationwide organization that has placed over 500 students in 11 "villages" in the country's North and South. There they spend a year working on social projects to develop the areas and help stem the flow of young, educated residents to Israel's center.

These are not peacenik idealists - "not that there's anything wrong with those types," insists Michal Heskelovich, manager of Ayalim's Acre branch - but busy students, the majority majoring in engineering and medicine, who want to be part of the very practical, dirty work of changing the country for the better.

Most of Ayalim's student villages are tiny settlements in the Negev or Galilee where the students live in temporary caravans and work on social projects in nearby villages and towns.

But another type of village developed after the Second Lebanon War, when an Ayalim group setting up near Kiryat Shmona was not permitted to live in temporary structures because they were deemed too dangerous in light of the rocket barrages that covered northern Israeli towns during the war.

So the group sought another housing solution and found apartments in one of the worst neighborhoods in the poor northern town. That was Ayalim's first "urban village." Acre is its second.

Whatever the world may think of ethnic relations in Acre, those living in the center of the storm are optimistic.

The Arab neighbors are "extremely curious about us," says Maoz. "In their culture they don't live inside the house, but outside, chatting in the streets," so the Jewish students and Arab residents meet several times each day, exchanging pleasantries and, more often than not, humor.

Walking through the narrow alleyways of Acre on Wednesday, 27-year-old Heskelovich, a cheerful blonde with a degree in education who seems exotic against the cobblestones of the old Mediterranean port, is greeted by an old Arab man who detains her for long minutes to discover why she was gone from the neighborhood for nearly two weeks during the holidays.

Barely extricated from his interrogation, she is forced to repeat the process with another half-dozen residents before reaching the organization's front door.

"The ones who live near us know what we're about and appreciate us," explains Maoz.

But not everyone accepted the group at first.

Ayalim's work of developing the periphery is similar to, and sometimes corresponds with efforts to "Judaize" Galilee regions by encouraging Jews to move to areas with large Arab populations.

The apartments and financial support in Acre are contributed by the Jewish Agency.

When Arab community leaders in Acre protested the entry of young Jews into their neighborhood, the tensions between the two groups forced the municipality to step in and arrange a meeting between the heads of Ayalim and the Islamic Movement in Acre.

At the meeting, the student group managed to convince the local Muslim leadership that the development of Acre was their primary goal, and its greatest beneficiaries would be the poor Arab community in the town.

"There's a lot of crime and drugs in this neighborhood," says Heskelovich, but a little marketing could go a long way to changing that. "If you can 'brand' the Old City as a socio-economically strong, young and fun place, a place next to the sea where young people do interesting things, then you can change the place in real terms. You'll get an influx of cafes, artists, an educated population."

To achieve that goal, Ayalim is tackling the Arab-Jewish divide head-on.

For Heskelovich and Maoz, this doesn't come from a specific commitment to coexistence, but simply because you cannot escape the problem if you want to do economic development work in mixed cities.

The first step in coexistence is to deal with the tensions within the group itself. Last year's group had both Arab and Jewish student participants, and the unresolved tensions between them "hurt the cooperation within the group," Heskelovich says. "It was hard to talk about Zionism or any other nationalism."

Three Arab students will be part of the 24-member group that begins the new academic year in Acre's Old City early next month. This year, "we're going to focus on creating a cooperative life together," insists Heskelovich.

Meanwhile, the group arriving in November will face a stiff challenge. Before deciding how they will spend thousands of hours of community work - each participant must give up to 500 hours over the year - the students will go door-to-door, introducing themselves to their neighbors and finding out from the residents what the community needs from them.

Some of the projects being offered: a beautician among the students hopes to offer cosmetics classes to local women, and Heskelovich hopes to establish a Salvation Army-style second-hand clothing store in the Old City.

The ethnic tensions that flared this month in the town will likely remain, Maoz and Heskelovich believe.

But "we don't need perfect harmony to do our work," insists Maoz, "as long as everyone knows where the boundaries are."


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Deniability: Jackson claims he is not for ending Zionist plot

And New York is NOT Hymie Town, right?  

Obama, Jackson disavow column about Israel

The Associated Press
October 15, 2008

Jackson himself denounced New York Post columnist Amir Taheri for "selectively imposing his own point of view and distorting mine" in the column that appeared Tuesday.

The column said Jackson predicted to a policy forum in France last week that "decades of putting Israel's interests first" would end and added in an interview that Zionists would lose a great deal of their clout if Obama is elected.

Obama's national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi said Jackson does not advise Obama and is "in no position to interpret or share Barack Obama's views on Israel and foreign policy."

"Barack Obama has a fundamental commitment to a strong U.S.-Israel relationship," Morigi said. "As president, he will ensure that Israel can defend itself from every threat it faces, stand with Israel in his quest for a secure peace with its neighbors, and use all elements of American power to end Iran's illicit nuclear program."

In a separate written statement, Jackson said the column was slanted "to incite fear and division."

"I stand forthrightly for the security and stability of Israel, its protection from any form of hostility and a peaceful, nonviolent resolution to coexisting with its Palestinian neighbors," Jackson said. The statement added that he "has never had a conversation with Sen. Obama about Israel or the Middle East."

In July, Jackson apologized for a crude off-air remark he made about Obama in what he thought was a private conversation during a break in taping for a Fox News show. Jackson was reported by Fox to have been saying the Obama appeared to be talking down to blacks in remarks about parental responsibility.

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The Gaza Tunnel industry

What it doesn't say: The tunnels are a source of income to the Hamas.
October 16, 2008

A UN report said the tunnels had become a lifeline for Gaza's Palestinians because of the Israeli blockade. Thousands work in the tunnels.

The tunnels are used to smuggle a wide variety of products into Gaza - including food and fuel.

But Israel says they are also used to import arms. It accuses Egypt of not doing enough to stop the smuggling.

Media reports estimate there are hundreds of tunnels in use along the border.

The UN report says that because of the inability of many businessmen to conduct trade through official Gaza crossings, such as Karni, Sufa and Kerem Shalom, the tunnels have become increasingly vital to Palestinians.

But they also pose a danger. About 40 people have been killed as a result of tunnel incidents since the start of the year.

Last month, the Hamas authorities which control Gaza introduced regulations to licence and control trade through the tunnels.

A list of conditions were announced, including a call for all tunnel operators to meet certain standards.

Numerous tents covering tunnel entrances are visible in the Rafah area, according to the UN report, and the industry is becoming increasingly open and controlled.

But the Israeli blockade is having an ever greater humanitarian impact on Gaza and the UN said the re-opening of the official crossings with Egypt remained a priority.

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Hebron tunnel destroyed by IDF, Palestinians full of exposives

Gaza comes to the West Bank?
Hebron tunnel was loaded with explosives, weaponry
Yaakov Katz , THE JERUSALEM POST Oct. 16, 2008

Several hundred kilograms of explosives and weaponry were found in a tunnel that the IDF blew up in Hebron on Tuesday, The Jerusalem Post learned on Thursday.

The 150-meter-long tunnel was discovered by Palestinian Authority security forces on Monday and was immediately reported to the IDF, which sent an Engineering Corps force to destroy the structure.

IDF sources and defense officials said Tuesday that the tunnel had been found empty and that it was unclear what its purpose was.

The Post learned on Thursday, however, that several hundred kilograms of explosives and arms were found in a branch of the tunnel and that the PA security forces confiscated it before informing the IDF of the discovery.

Despite several inquiries, it was unclear Thursday night why the IDF did not reveal this information.

While the army believes that dozens of tunnels have been dug under the border between Gaza and Egypt, the Hebron tunnel destroyed Tuesday - large enough for an average-sized person to stand fully erect inside - was the first of such size discovered in the West Bank.

On Tuesday, the IDF said the tunnel had not yet been completed. According to one source, it was far from both the city's Jewish enclave and the West Bank security barrier and therefore raised speculation regarding its purpose.

The tunnel was being dug in the general direction of Route 35 near Tarkumiya.

One possibility, a defense official said, was that Hamas had been digging the tunnel so its terrorists could move freely through the city without being detected by the IDF or Fatah.

Last year, the IDF uncovered tunnels in the Nablus marketplace, but none was so long or sophisticated.

Hebron Jewish community spokeswoman Orit Struck said Thursday she had heard about the weapons cache from the IDF earlier in the day.

They said "it was very worrisome," said Struck, adding that she was concerned but not surprised.

"We feel very threatened, and the danger from the Palestinians has not decreased. There are no peaceful intentions on the part of the Palestinians here," said Struck.

It is precisely because of discoveries such as this one that area settlers object so strenuously to the IDF plan to allow the deployment of a new battalion of some 700 Palestinian policemen in Hebron, Struck said.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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Warring monks threaten destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Warring monks threaten destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Times
October 15, 2008

A long-running row over the rights to a rooftop section of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre could bring the entire structure tumbling down, destroying Christendom's holiest site.

While renovations are needed across the church, the small Deir al-Sultan monastery on its roof has reached an "emergency state", according to engineers who completed an evaluation this month.

The Times has learnt that in 2004 the two chapels and twenty-six tiny rooms that comprise the monastery were pronounced in dire need of reinforcement. They have since deteriorated to the point where engineers now fear that they will crash through the roof and into the church, venerated by millions of Christians as the site of the Crucifixion and burial of Jesus.

Yigal Bergman, the engineer who led the investigation, reported that the church, situated in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, was in a dangerous state of construction. "The structures are full of serious engineering damage that creates safety hazards and endangers the lives of the monks and the visitors. This is an emergency".

Local officials are pressing the church to begin repairs before the heavy autumn rains begin but have stopped short of interfering directly in its notoriously acrimonious affairs.

The church has been vigilantly managed by six competing and often fractious Christian denominations — Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Coptic, Syrian Orthodox and Ethiopian — since an agreement reached under Ottoman law in 1757.

Rival denominations often battle for access or space and the congregation at the annual Easter service sometimes resembles the terraces of a boisterous football match. The keys to the main entrance of the church have been held by a Muslim family since the 12th century because the Christians do not trust one another.

The dispute over the Deir al-Sultan monastery is a more recent phenomenon dating back to Easter 1970. When the Coptic monks, who had controlled the area, went to pray in the main church and left the rooftop unattended, Ethiopian monks seized the opportunity to change the locks at the entrances before the Copts returned.

Relations between the two groups have remained tense ever since, with the Coptic Church refusing to relinquish its claim to the monastery and posting a single monk there at all times. In the midst of a blistering heatwave in the summer of 2002, the Coptic monk on duty moved his chair from its agreed spot to a shadier corner. The move was taken as a hostile manoeuvre by the Ethiopians and 11 monks needed hospital treatment after the ensuing fracas.

The rest of the church factions have been unable to mediate between the two groups, even in the case of minor repairs or renovations to the rooftop. Archbishop Matthias, head of the Ethiopian Church in Jerusalem, wrote a letter to the Israeli Interior Ministry and the Bureau of Jerusalem Affairs this month describing the dire state of the buildings.

The Archbishop stated in the letter that he did not recognise the right of the Coptic Church in any part of the disputed area. He said, according to the Haaretz Hebrew daily, that it was "inconceivable that the implementation of emergency repairs at the holy site would be conditioned on the consent of the Coptic Church". The Archbishop added that he was turning to the Israeli authorities, as a neutral party, to carry out the repairs.

Israel has offered to shoulder part of the cost of repairs but will do so only if the Christian factions first come to an agreement among themselves.

The Copts, who are mainly of Egyptian origin, received preferential treatment during Ottoman, British and Jordanian rule. That changed after Israel took control of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War, fought against a combined Arab force, including Egypt. The Copts accused Israel of using its position in Jerusalem to aid the Ethiopians in 1970 in their takeover of Deir al-Sultan.

Nine years later, when Israel and Egypt signed the Camp David peace accords, Coptic officials hoped that the rooftop monastery would be restored to them. Israel, however, is mindful of its sensitive relations with Ethiopia, where hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian Jews lived and were brought to the Jewish state in the 1980s and 1990s.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilus III said: "There is a greater issue here, something that has to be addressed sooner or later. To be honest, so far the [Israeli] Government has tried to keep out of the dispute. But now it seems that the Government is under pressure to demonstrate concern in helping resolve the issue."

Bible bashing

— In the 19th century a ladder was placed on a ledge above the main entrance to the church. A priest from another denomination accused the man of trespassing and a row began that has yet to be resolved. The ladder is still there

— In 1995 the church announced it had reached a decision on how to paint a part of the dome in the central part of the structure — but only after 17 years' debate

— In 2004 during Greek Orthodox celebrations of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, a door to the Franciscan chapel was left open. This was taken as a sign of disrespect by the Greek Orthodox faction and a fight broke out. There were several arrests

— Another fight broke out on Palm Sunday this year when a Greek monk was ejected from the building by a rival faction. Police were attacked by the feuding monks and several people were taken to hospital

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Russia suspected of secretly delivering arms to Hezbollah

Russia suspected of secretly delivering arms to Hezbollah
Liberation (france) 16 October 2008
[Translation - MidEastWeb - Middle East ] Outside local newspapers, the event went unnoticed: On July 4, the Angela, a cargo ship flying the flag of Gibraltar was the subject of a thorough search in the Bulgarian port of Varna where it stopped.

In two containers, police and customs officers discovered dual use, metal pipes - both civilian and military products in Russia. The grooves on both sides of the tubes suggest that these parts were for the assembly of missiles. These did not correspond to anyything mentioned in the cargo manifest.

Missiles. According to a source close to the investigation, contacted by phone, the papers indicate that the boat came from Ukraine and was destined to travel to Port Said (Egypt), via Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey. Questioned for seventeen hours, the captain, a Lithuanian, eventually confessed that the vessel was destined for Latakia, a major Syrian pors. The Angela eventually departed, the crew was not found responsible for its load. Eight of sixty containers have been retained  by Bulgarian customs.
Why such a clandestine delivery, while Moscow and Damascus are linked by  military cooperation agreements, and the Russian fleet even has a naval base in Tartus, the second largest Syrian port? Unless the final destination of the material seized in Varna is not Syria. According to Western military sources, if these missiles are assembled in
Syria, part of them is destined for
Hezbollah. Therefore, Damascus must hide these weapons purchases under penalty of being  in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which called for the disarming of Hezbollah.

Pressures.  The case of Angela complicated the affairs of Damascus. On 21 and 22 August, during the visit of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Moscow, his counterpart Dimitri Medvedev had made him party to concerns
that Washington and European countries were now exercising pressure on Moscow to prevent such secret .deliveries During the
Second Lebanon War, the "party of God" fired thousands of Soviet manufactured missiles on the cities of the Jewish state. Today, in its established strongholds north of the Litani River, Hezbollah has replenished its arsenal and has about 40,000 rockets and missiles.

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British sex on beach pair jailed in Dubai

Not so liberal and modern after all.
By Bassam Za'za, Senior Reporter
Published: October 16, 2008, 09:16
Dubai: Two Britons, who were accused of having sex on a Dubai beach, have been sentenced to three months in jail by the Dubai Court of Misdemeanours on Thursday.
V.A., A British man who was visiting the emirate at the time of the incident, and M.P., a British female resident of Dubai were also fined Dh1,000 and will be deported after serving their jail terms.
Hasan Mattar, defence lawyer for the pair, said they would be appealing against the ruling.
The pair were charged with engaging in sexual activity in public, committing an indecent gesture in public and consuming alcohol after they were caught on a public beach in Jumeirah, Dubai, on July 5, 2008.
During the trial Mattar said: "The Public Prosecution failed to produce corroborative evidence against my clients concerning having consensual sex and committing indecent gestures in public.

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Third Palestinian firebomber killed in three days.

Last update - 08:28 16/10/2008       
IDF troops kill third Palestinian fire-bomber within 3-day period
By Eli Ashkenazi, Haaretz Correspondent and News Agencies
Israel Defense Forces soldiers shot dead a Palestinian early Thursday as he was preparing to throw a fire bomb at them in the West Bank village of Kufr Malik.
The IDF said he was one of three men an army patrol spotted carrying firebombs under cover of darkness and he was shot when he ignored warning fire. The other two escaped.
Palestinian medics named the dead man as Aziz Yousef, 20, and said his body was handed over by Israeli officials before dawn.
During the night another fire bomber died in a Ramallah hospital after being shot Wednesday during what the military said was a mob attack on an army position in nearby Jelazoun refugee camp. Hospital staff named him as Mohammed Ramahi, 21.
The incident was began as a violent demonstration in protest at the killing of another man a day before, residents and hospital officials said.
They said the 21-year-old was shot in the chest as Palestinians burnt tires to block a road north of the hub city of Ramallah, 100 meters from the settlement of Beit El. He later died of his wounds.
An IDF spokesman said troops shot a protester who had been preparing to attack them with a fire-bomb.
Palestinian witnesses confirmed that the man who was shot was at the protest but did not say to what extent he had taken part.
The demonstration was called in memory of an 18-year-old from a Palestinian refugee camp near Ramallah who was shot dead Tuesday by IDF soldiers from the same unit, part of the Kfir infantry brigade's Lavi battalion. The army said that Palestinian, as well as two others who fled the scene, were suspected of preparing to attack Beit El with fire-bombs.
Soldiers found next to the teen's body a cache of ten other fire-bombs, which he apparently planned on hurling at the settlement.
An IDF spokeswoman said that in light of a number of recent attacks in and around the settlement, an army squad had set up an ambush after dark on Tuesday, which subsequently caught the Palestinian.
Palestinian officials identified the dead teen as Abdel Kader Zeit from Jalazoun.
Palestinian youths frequently throw stones and sometimes fire-bombs at settler cars or military vehicles in the West Bank.

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New IAF system will pinpoint Iranian missile targets in Israel

What use will this be against a nuclear attack?
Last update - 08:32 16/10/2008       
New IAF system will pinpoint Iranian missile targets in Israel
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent
The Israel Air Force is developing a computerized system to predict where a missile will land with considerable accuracy, very shortly after it is launched. That would enable the Home Front Command to order people into shelters only in a relatively small area, rather than in broad regions of the country.
Currently the country is divided into 10 large districts for the purpose of missile alerts, and at every missile launch, everyone in the relevant district is ordered into shelters. But when the new system is completed, in an estimated 18 months, the country will instead be divided into about 100 districts.
As an interim step, the army hopes to be able to divide the country into 27 districts by next year.
The idea behind the system is that if fewer people have to run for shelter every time a missile falls, the country will be better able to endure prolonged missile barrages, as most people will be able to continue with life as usual. In light of the army's assessment that any future war will include sustained missile attacks, bolstering Israelis' ability to live with such attacks was considered essential.
However, the system is designed mainly for use against medium- and long-range missiles, such as the Syrian Scud or the Iranian Shihab.
Until recently, Israel relied on a system that was developed during the 1991 Gulf War, which could predict a missile's landing site only in very general terms. A slightly more sophisticated system was improvised and put into use during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, but later, the IAF decided to develop a whole new system that would enable relatively precise predictions.
According to army sources, the new system will collect data from numerous sources, including both radar and electro-optic sensors. Inter alia, it will make use of the sophisticated American radar currently being installed in the Negev, which is slated to become operational next month. The data will then be analyzed to determine the missile's path and where it is likely to land, both in order to try to intercept it, and to warn those who will be in danger if the interception fails.
Meanwhile, the Home Front Command has also been working to upgrade its siren system, which warns of incoming missiles. It now says that almost 100 percent of the country is within audio range.

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Mossad plot to subvert America?

This rubbish is unfortunately going to be taken seriously.
Last update - 08:51 16/10/2008       
Is Israel's booming high-tech industry a branch of the Mossad?
By Yossi Melman
In 2006 the Check Point Software Technologies company, which specializes in protecting computer systems from hackers and data theft, wanted to acquire an American company called Sourcefire, which works in the same field. The great advantage of Sourcefire was that its clients include the American Defense Department and the National Security Agency. The U.S. administration, however, by means of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, did not approve the acquisition.
The committee made its decision based on an opinion by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and NSA security officers. The two organizations were afraid that Check Point, which was founded by Gil Shwed and fellow graduates of Unit 8200, the Israel Defense Forces' high-tech intelligence unit, would have access to top-secret information, which it could pass on to Israel's intelligence community.
The fear and suspicion currently is directed not only toward Check Point, but also other Israeli high-tech companies like Verint, Comverse, NICE Systems and PerSay Voice Biometrics, some of which work in data mining and engage in software development for tapping telephones, fax machines, e-mail and computer communications.
The above accusations come from journalist and writer James Bamford, whose new book, "The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America" (Doubleday), came out this week in the United States.
Bamford, a former producer for the ABC television network, has spent the last 30 years writing about the NSA - one of the most important and least-known intelligence agencies in the United States, but usually in the shadow of the Central Intelligence Agency. The NSA is responsible for eavesdropping on telephones, fax machines and computers; intercepting communications and electromagnetic signals from radar equipment, aircraft, missiles, ships and submarines; and decoding transmissions and cracking codes. It has contributed immeasurably to U.S. intelligence and national security.
In this respect, the United States resembles Israel: Successes attributed to the Mossad should often be credited to other intelligence units - first and foremost Unit 8200, the Israeli equivalent of the NSA.
This is Bamford's third book, and it affords a look into the mazes of the NSA. In 1982 the Justice department threatened to prosecute him for revealing agency secrets in his first book, "The Puzzle Palace: Inside the National Security Agency, America's Most Secret Intelligence Organization." In his second book, "Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency," he described the NSA with a great deal of enthusiasm, which made him the organization's hero of the day. The NSA even organized a party in his honor at headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. His new book, which is critical of the NSA, has sent him back to his starting point.
Bamford's main thesis is that before September 11, 2001, the agency failed along with other intelligence agencies in understanding the Al-Qaida threat, even though it had intercepted members' phone calls and e-mails. This stemmed in part from excessive caution for upholding laws and respecting citizens' privacy. In April 2000, then-NSA director general Michael Hayden (currently the director of the CIA), vividly described to a Congressional committee how, if at that very moment Osama bin Laden were to step onto the Peace Bridge at Niagara Falls and cross into the United States, "my people must respect his rights."
After the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the organization swung over to the other extreme. According to Bamford, since September 11 the NSA has had no compunctions about violating the Constitution and has been eavesdropping on American citizens.
One of the outstanding examples in the book, which has been well-covered in the American media, is the fact that the NSA has listened in on bedroom conversations of journalists, military officers and officials serving in Iraq. The NSA may eavesdrop on and intercept transmissions outside the United States, but cannot do so to American citizens without a court order.
Another of Bamford's important assertions, which also concerns Israel, is that the largest telephony and communications companies in the United States - in fact all of them except QWEST - have cooperated with the NSA, allowing it to tap their lines and optic fibers.
The above-mentioned Israeli companies and others are important software and technology suppliers for not only the American telephony companies, but for the NSA itself. Bamford claims that 80 percent of all American telephone transmissions are conducted by means of the Israeli companies' technology, know-how and accessibility. Thus, Bamford believes, the American intelligence community is exposing itself to the risk that the Israeli companies will access its most secret and sensitive digital information.
Bamford does not provide any backing for this thesis; he only points to a circumstantial relationship. The Israeli companies were largely established by graduates of 8200, and therefore he says they are connected by their umbilical cords to Israeli intelligence, and their CEOs and boards of directors include senior Shin Bet officials like Arik Nir or former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy (Nir is the CEO of Athlone Global Security, a hedge fund that has invested inter alia in PerSay Voice Biometrics, and Ephraim Halevy is a member of the Athlone Advisory Board).
To put it mildly, Bamford has no love lost for Israel. In his articles, he publishes claims by American Navy officials who believe Israel maliciously attacked the American spy ship Liberty during the 1967 Six-Day War. He holds that the September 11 attack did not stem from radical Islam's basic hatred of America, but rather from its anger at the United States' support for Israel. He calls the nineteen September 11 terrorists "soldiers" and describes them with a great deal of sympathy - Davids who "only" demolished four airplanes of the American Goliath.
In this context, and apparently because of his deep hostility, Bamford asserts that in light of the problematic record of Israel, which did not hesitate to spy against America on American soil, Israeli companies should not have been given the keys to the kingdom of America's secrets. His attitude toward Israel apparently pushes him over the psychological brink, as his book hardly mentions the close cooperation between the two countries' intelligence communities, mainly in the war against international jihad terror or in monitoring Iran.

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Obama camp refuses to rid US of Zionist control

An Obama campaign aide was sent to defuse Jesse Jackson's remarks about ridding the U.S. of Zionist control. Was that because Obama thought the issue wasn't important enough for him to respond directly, or because Obama wants to be able to deny his aide's remarks should the occasion arise? Wendy Morigi made a strong statement about Israel, but Morigi is not running for president. Neither is Jesse Jackson, of course.
Decide for yourself.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 19:32 15/10/2008       
Obama camp dismisses Jesse Jackson's Israel policy remarks
By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz U.S. Correspondent and Haaretz service
Barack Obama's campaign on Wednesday dismissed the Rev. Jesse Jackson's assertion that as president, the Democratic candidate would rid the United States of years of "Zionist" control.
The New York Post quoted the veteran civil rights leader on Tuesday as having said that although "Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades" remain strong, they will lose much of their clout when Obama enters the White House.
In response, Obama campaign national security spokesperson Wendy Morigi said: "Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. is not an adviser to the Obama campaign and is therefore in no position to interpret or share Barack Obama's views on Israel and foreign policy."
Morigi stressed Obama's commitment to a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. She also said that commitment was shared by the candidate's advisors, who she listed as Dennis Ross, Daniel Kurtzer, Rep. Robert Wexler, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Senator Joe Biden.
"As President, he will ensure that Israel can defend itself from every threat it faces, stand with Israel in its quest for a secure peace with its neighbors, and use all elements of American power to end Iran's illicit nuclear program," she added.
"No false charges can change Barack Obama's unshakeable commitment to Israel's security."
Speaking at the first World Policy Forum event in Evian, France, the daily quoted Jackson as promising "fundamental changes" in U.S. foreign policy. He said the most important change would occur in the Middle East, where "decades of putting Israel's interests first" would end.
Jackson said that Obama "wants an aggressive and dynamic diplomacy." He went on to criticize the Bush administration's handling of Middle East diplomacy, telling the Post, "Bush was so afraid of a snafu and of upsetting Israel that he gave the whole thing a miss. Barack will change that," because, as long as the Palestinians haven't seen justice, the Middle East will "remain a source of danger to us all."

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Obama will rid United States of 'Zionist' control

Isn't it great that someone is finally going to get  'Zionism' under control? Now if only someone would deal with those uppity colored folks, America will be safe for David Duke and his friends.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 12:26 15/10/2008       
Jesse Jackson: Obama will rid United States of 'Zionist' control
By Haaretz service
The New York Post reported Tuesday that the Rev. Jesse Jackson said the United States will rid itself of years of "Zionist" control under an administration headed by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
The daily quoted the veteran civil rights leader on Tuesday as having said that although "Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades" remain strong, they will lose a much of their clout when Obama enters the White House.
Speaking at the first World Policy Forum event in Evian, France, Jackson promised "fundamental changes" in U.S. foreign policy. He said the most important change would occur in the Middle East, where "decades of putting Israel's interests first" would end.
Jackson said that Obama "wants an aggressive and dynamic diplomacy." He went on to criticize the Bush administration's handling of Middle East diplomacy, telling the Post, "Bush was so afraid of a snafu and of upsetting Israel that he gave the whole thing a miss. Barack will change that," because, as long as the Palestinians haven't seen justice, the Middle East will "remain a source of danger to us all."
Jackson has not always been such a strong Obama supporter. In July, he apologized to the Illinois senator for "crude and hurtful" remarks he had made about him after an interview with a Fox News correspondent.
Speaking to a fellow interviewee without realizing his microphone was on, Jackson said, "See, Barack's been talking down to black people.... I want to cut his nuts off."
"It was very private," Jackson said, adding that if "any hurt or harm has been caused to [Obama's] campaign, I apologize."

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Al Aqsa brigades - "The war is over"

The once mighty Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are supposedly dissolved in the West Bank, though they have been transformed into something far worse in Gaza where they are apparently under the control of the Hezbollah.
Last update - 08:48 15/10/2008       
'The war is over,' jailed Fatah activists tell Haaretz journalists
By Avi Issacharoff
JUNAID PRISON, NABLUS - "For five years, I was a wanted man, but we had enough," says Sufian Qandil of the Tigers, an organization associated with Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. It's noon, and Qandil woke up only a few minutes ago in the prison cell where according to an agreement with Israel he must now spend his nights. "We keep our agreements, even those signed with the Jews," he says, placing his hand on his pillow with a Mickey Mouse pillowcase.
The Al-Aqsa brigades were dissolved. Some members joined the security forces of the Palestinian Authority after receiving amnesty from Israel, while others are being held in PA prisons. A rare look inside Junaid Prison reveals a new era in relations between Israel and Fatah activists. They were involved in dozens of terror attacks, but now they say the era of war is over. They want normal lives. There is another expression of the winds of change blowing through Israel-PA relations: The PA arrests men wanted by Israel on request.
Take Mahdi Abu Ghazale, 35, once considered the commander of the Night Riders, a rival to the Tigers. Like Qandil, Abu Ghazale received partial amnesty from Israel, with the same conditions. About a year ago, he met with a group from Haaretz in a safe house in the casbah of Nablus. He described his daily routine, and mentioned that he was still single. A few days ago he became engaged to a local woman. His fiancee's family made full amnesty from Israel a precondition for the marriage. Abu Ghazale, who fought against Israel for years, now finds himself having to prove his renunciation of terror in order to get married. "I'm being tested not only vis-a-vis Israel but also vis-a-vis my future wife," he explains.
The guard at the gate is unaccustomed to visitors to the prison, especially Israeli ones, and lets us in only after consulting with a superior. The prison was once used by Israeli security forces, and Ghassan, our escort, recalls being detained here by the Shin Bet security service. In addition to the Fatah detainees, divided into full-time wards and those who return to sleep here each night, are 54 Hamas members awaiting trial. The conditions they are held in are much worse. Abu Nidal, a PA military intelligence official who is in charge of the cellblocks, says that just a few days ago the partial-amnesty recipients signed their agreement with Israel renouncing arms and all anti-Israel activities. For three months they will be prohibited from leaving Nablus and from contact with other wanted men. "Their current status is 'not on the wanted list,'" Abu Nidal says.
The partially amnestied spend their nights mainly watching television. Abu Ghazale says they've already handed in their weapons and are no longer involved in terrorism. "There are no games, the situation has changed. We're no longer waiting only for amnesty, but rather for a comprehensive Israeli withdrawal. This group has met all the conditions placed on it. At night [we] are in prison and during the day all we do is see our families."
Night rider Omar Aqub has one leg in a cast, due to a motorcycle accident and not from his days of fighting the Israel Defense Forces. "The military activities are over, enough of that. We want a normal life, not trouble," Aqub says. He also expresses a desire to join one of the PA's security forces. "Either that or I'll go back to being an automotive mechanic," he says.
Qandil, the ex-Tiger, was nearly killed by the IDF last year. On October 10, 2007 an IDF force operating in the Nablus casbah fired at him and fellow Tiger Omar al-Inbusi. Inbusi was killed, Qandil was badly wounded in the leg and abdomen but nevertheless managed to escape. He has been incarcerated at Junaid for nearly 10 months, as a result of Israeli pressure on the PA. He escaped twice, but returned of his own free will.
The great escape
One of the escapes was in January, and it lasted a few hours. "I said I was going to the canteen and simply kept walking," Qandil says. "About three hours later I returned because the Israelis started operating in the city and I was afraid they'd hurt me."
Three months later, the whole group escaped, after a tussle with the guards. "We broke the exit door, which wasn't particularly reinforced," Abu Ghazale related. "You have to understand, our conditions were very tough then. We couldn't leave our cells even to go into the corridor and there was no progress in our talks with Israel regarding our situation. So we took advantage of the fact that the guards were putting down another confrontation in the next wing and approached the gate. Punches were thrown, the guards there fired into the air. We returned after receiving assurances that our conditions would be improved," Abu Ghazale said.
The Tigers and Night Riders sit in a cell and smile as they reminisce about the joint escape. In the past the two groups fought for control of the casbah, but now they're all good friends. "Once there were battles between our groups," Qandil recalls. During the first intifada, if the member of one group entered the other group's territory, even by mistake, his fate would be like that of an IDF soldier.
Abu Nidal says that various measures have since been taken to prevent future escapes. The door the prisoners broke is now bricked in, an additional fence was installed and the number of perimeter patrols has been doubled.
In Cellblock Four, the last of the Al-Aqsa brigades' men wanted by Israel, 13 in all, are being held in full-time detention. Ghanan Subuh, who has been imprisoned since April, says he received amnesty from Israel in November 2007 but four months later IDF soldiers went to his house to arrest him. He found refuge at Junaid. "During the day we can go into the prison yard, but at 8 P.M. the wing is locked up for the night. Family visits are permitted once a week," Subuh explains.
Mohammed Mansour, Mohammed Milhim and Saeb Mahmoud, all in their early twenties, have been cellmates for nine months. "It's a prison for all intents and purposes," one says. "Relations with the guards are good but at the end of the day it's still prison. There's television, bathrooms, even two cell phones in every cellblock." Qa'id al-Misri, 15, the youngest of the 13, makes coffee. He was also arrested on Israel's request. He has been here for 40 days, apparently on suspicion of aiding wanted activists.
Most of the men say Palestinian prison is preferable to Israeli prison. "Maybe the conditions in Israeli prisons are better, but here I'm with people from my own city," Subuh says. "The relations with the guards and the wardens is better." The 13 wanted men expect to receive partial, if not full, amnesty from Israel.
Abulafia ambitions
A few isolated members of the Al-Aqsa brigades continue their anti-Israel activities. Qandil, whose name was once known to every Shin Bet coordinator and every officer in the IDF special forces, says he is already dreaming of the moment he'll receive amnesty from the Shin Bet. "As soon as I can, I want to travel to Israel. I'll visit Jaffa. I have a lot of cousins on my mother's side who live there. They live really close to the Abulafia Bakery," Qandil says, referring to the legendary Arab bakery on Yefet Street that every Israeli from the center of the country, and most from beyond, knows for its fresh specialty pitas.

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IDF troops kill Palestinian fire-bomber near West Bank settlement

The violence is there all the time, but low key.
IDF troops kill Palestinian fire-bomber near West Bank settlement
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent and The Associated Press Last
update - 22:13 14/10/2008

Israel Defense Forces soldiers on Tuesday shot dead a Palestinian youth who tried to throw a fire bomb near the West Bank settlement of Beit El.

Troops found next to the youth's body a cache of ten other fire bombs, which he apparently planned on hurling at the settlement. According to the IDF, two other Palestinians fled the scene.

An IDF spokeswoman said that in light of a number of recent attacks in and around on the settlement an army squad had set up an ambush after dark on Tuesday, which subsequently caught the Palestinian.

Earlier Tuesday, IDF engineers blew up a tunnel dug by Palestinians in central Hebron. The tunnel, which was some 100 meters long, was discovered by Palestinian police in the West Bank city during the Jewish Holiday of

After the Palestinians police had informed the Civil Administration of their discovery, the IDF examined the tunnel. The army is still investigating whether it was meant to facilitate a terror attack.

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Iran conditions for US engagement: Abandon the Middle East and Israel

These two conditions are of course tantamount to US surrender:
    "If the United States does not move out of the middle east and the U.S. government does not give up its support for the Zionist regime, we do not think the talks between Iran and the United States would be advisable," Kalhor said.
Report: Iran has two conditions for talks with U.S.  
2008-10-11 22:40:46     
    TEHRAN, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- Iran's president media consultant Mehdi Kalhor said here Saturday that Iran has two conditions for talks with the United States, the official IRNA news agency reported.
    "If the United States does not move out of the middle east and the U.S. government does not give up its support for the Zionist regime, we do not think the talks between Iran and the United States would be advisable," Kalhor said.
    "Today, it is the United States that needs to have relations with Iran," Kalhor told IRNA, adding that "We believe that our religion accepts repentance."
    He also pointed out that the relations with the United States and the nuclear issue, which are beyond the president's responsibility, require the Iranian Supreme Leader's and Iranian people's opinion.
    While U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declined to confirm or deny these two conditions but said that Washington was eager to allow more Iranians to visit the States.
    Earlier at a news briefing Tuesday, U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey also reiterated that despite its differences with the Iranian government, the United States was looking for ways to reach out to Iran's citizens.
    The two countries severed diplomatic ties in 1979 when the Islamic revolution took place in Iran.
    Several media reported in June that the United States was considering setting an interest institution in Tehran to process Iranian visa applications and to serve as an American cultural center after almost 30 years of severed ties between the two countries.
    Currently, the Swiss embassy in Tehran houses a U.S. special interest section to communicate messages from Washington to Iran and to handle the affairs of U.S. citizens inside the Islamic Republic.
    Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said in July in New York that Tehran will consider the plan if the United States presents the proposal officially.
    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also said in July that he was ready to talk with U.S. President George W. Bush directly.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Kadima - Labor Coalition

Did Labor cave on major issues? Justice Minister Friedman's initiative could allow a Fascist-style "enabling act" - he is still in the government, it seems.
Labor signs draft guaranteeing primary spot in coalition, greater authority for Labor chairman; Livni commits to tuition freeze
Attila Somfalvi
Latest Update:  10.13.08, 20:38 / Israel News
Representatives from the Kadima and Labor parties finished drafting a coalition agreement between the two parties, Monday afternoon, based on which Labor will be Kadima's primary partner in a government headed by chairman Tzipi Livni.

The representatives - MK Tzachi Hanegbi of Kadima and Efi Oshaya of Labor - began signing off on the agreement after a 17-hour marathon of negotiations. Labor representatives consulted with the party chairman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, as well as with Histadrut Labor Federation chairman Ofer Eini.
Livni and Barak are expected to sign a formal version of the agreement at the end of the holiday season.
According to the draft agreement, Barak will have greater influence to issues regarding the cabinet and contact with Syria and the Palestinian Authority. "The summary draft, according to which cabinet decisions will not be made without the support and ratification of Barak, is dramatic," said one of the Labor chairman's associates.
The final hurdle, which led to the extended negotiations, involved a debate about government funding of higher education. Labor demanded a commitment not to increase university tuition, while the Finance Ministry requested alternate sources of funding.  Livni committed to finding alternate funds and, as such, tuition will not increase.
 Additionally, Kadima promised to increase the pension payments by 950 million NIS (approximately $260 million) over the next three years. Additionally, it was decided that a committee would be formed to examine the management of pension funds. 
Barak also pushed for a commitment to push for changing legislation such that the leader of the opposition would not necessarily need to be a member of Knesset.
The agreement does not meet Labor's demands for another ministerial post in the government or Kadima's demand that the post of chairman of the Knesset's financial committee would be saved for a member of United Torah Judaism.

Sunday, Barak announced that Labor's agreement to join the coalition would be conditional upon restraining the Justice Minister, who currently supports an agenda of limiting judicial review, and demanded "an agreement that would put an end to the irresponsible attacks on the rule of law in Israel.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Palestinians humiliated at checkpoint by Zionist soldier; terror attack averted

Female soldier prevents attack; 3 Palestinians nabbed
Three Palestinians carrying nine pipe bombs apprehended at roadblock near
YNET Published: 10.12.08, 22:59 / Israel News

Female soldier prevents attack: The IDF nabbed three Palestinians carrying nine pipe bombs at a roadblock west of Nablus Sunday evening, apparently averting a planned terror attack in Israel.

The attack was foiled as a result of the alertness and insistence of a female soldier at the checkpoint. No injuries were reported in the incident.

The three Palestinians arrived at the roadblock from the direction of Nablus. The female soldier asked one of them for an identification card, but remained suspicious even after he showed her his ID.

At that point, the soldier asked the suspect to open his bag, yet he refused. The soldier insisted, prompting the Palestinian to remove a shirt and pants from the bag before closing it again. However, the soldier was not satisfied, opened the bag herself, and found three pipe bombs inside it.

At that point, troops at the checkpoint activated a special emergency procedure. The Palestinians suspect's two friends were also searched and were found to carry three pipe bombs in each of their bags.

Sappers dispatched to the scene blew up the explosive devices in a controlled detonation. Meanwhile, the three detainees were taken in for interrogation.

A similar attack was thwarted at a different roadblock near Nablus last week. A Palestinian who arrived at the checkpoint with a plastic bag aroused the suspicions of Golani troops and members of the IDF's crossings' unit. The soldiers dispatched a sapper, who discovered two small pipe bombs in the bag and blew them up.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Intermarriage - Nice Jewish girl can't find Nice Jewish boy?

It is not clear from the below if:
- Jewish women can't find Jewish men to marry because Jewish men don't want to be Jewish.
- Jewish women can't find Jewish men to marry because Jewish men don't like Jewish women.
- Jewish women can't find Jewish men to marry because they don't like Jewish men.
You can actually support each of those contentions from what people say. And yet, it seems that many of the "undesirable" and "uncommitted" and d"neurotic" Jewish men and many of the "overbearing" and "chunky" Jewish women get married. Someone finds them desirable - only that someone is not a Jew.
The Missing Piece
by Sarah Bronson
Meet Daniel: he's 31 years old, grew up in a Conservative home and now considers himself "Reconstructionist, if I have to affiliate myself at all." Living in a small college town, highly educated and extremely social, Daniel (who declined to provide his last name) dates almost constantly, but says that only about 15 to 20 percent of the women he dates are Jewish. A woman's Jewishness "is not that important," he says.
"For my parents, it's important that I marry someone Jewish. But for me, being Jewish is a plus, but I'd be happy to marry someone not Jewish if we have other things in common," he explains. "I feel there is a much bigger division between those who are observant of any religion [and] those who are non-observant than there is between religions." He would therefore rather that his children be "unobservant Christians" than very religious Jews.
Now meet "Jacqueline" (who wished to remain anonymous): she is 32, also grew up in a Conservative home, lives in New York City and works in the non-profit sector. She is funny and smart and wants to get married - specifically to a Jewish man. "I want my children to grow up with Jewish values and be part of the Jewish community," she says. "It's important for a married couple to have those common values and a similar heritage."
Yet Jacqueline has had a hard time finding a suitable Jewish mate. "My friends and I talk about it all the time," she says. "It's a major problem. You have fantastic women who are beautiful, intelligent, warm, great to be around, who have senses of humor and want to be wives and mothers, to be part of a couple - and we are not able to do that because the men are not in the same place."
Jacqueline and Daniel are both indicative of a phenomenon well-known among Jewish communal leaders and dating experts. What is commonly referred to as the Jewish "singles crisis," and in Orthodox communities as the "shidduch crisis," appears to affect women more drastically than men, both practically and emotionally. Both statistical and anecdotal evidence provided by sociologists, matchmakers, lay leaders and singles themselves paints a picture of a dating scene in which many more women than men attend Jewish singles events; more women actively use Jewish dating sites; matchmakers are flooded with applications from women; and single Jewish women in their late 20's and 30's are panicking.
As well they should be, sociologists say. As difficult as the "dating scene" can be for many men, it is often more challenging for the fairer sex, especially in the Jewish community. Jewish women, particularly Orthodox ones, are even more likely than non-Jewish women to be caught in the "age squeeze," the phenomenon of women in their 20's who think they have plenty of time to get married, only to discover in their 30's that men their age prefer to date younger women. What's more, highly educated and professionally accomplished Jewish women have a harder time finding mates because their achievements and success can be intimidating to potential partners.
Perhaps most painful, especially for those in the Reform and Conservative movements, is that Jewish men are increasingly alienated from synagogue and communal life - and some hold active antipathy toward Jewish women. A monograph to be released this spring by Dr. Sylvia Barack Fishman, a professor of Contemporary Jewish Life at Brandeis University, and Daniel Parmer, a Brandeis University graduate student who works with her, shows for the first time that as women have become more active in Jewish ritual life and culture, men have increasingly disappeared, rejecting both the trappings of communal affiliation and Jewish women. Seen in this light, the "singles crisis" is not an isolated problem, but rather a symptom of a more radical one: a pervasive identity crisis that profoundly affects Jewish men.
The Numbers
Ever since the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) stunned American Jewry with its high intermarriage rates, American Jews have become acutely aware of the number of Jews who choose either to in-marry or inter-marry.
The most recent NJPS of 2001 reported an intermarriage rate of 47 percent. Among the denominations, of all Jewish marriages that occurred between 1991-2001, 3 percent of Orthodox intermarried, 20 percent of Conservative, 45 percent of Reform and 56 percent of those who identified themselves as "just Jewish." The NJPS also found that young Jews enter into marriage of any kind at rates significantly lower than that of the general U.S. population.
Broken down by age, in the 35-54 year age range, 37 percent of Jewish men and women intermarried. Among those under age 34, intermarriages accounted for 47 percent of weddings among Jewish men and 37 percent of marriages among Jewish women.
Significantly, the study also found that, among Jews over the age of 30, only 20 percent date "mostly or only" Jews, and 71 percent date both Jews and non-Jews.
A key to understanding the dating tribulations of Reform and Conservative women (Orthodox singles behave somewhat differently) is in an often-overlooked statistic about intermarriage. According to Fishman's monograph, "Matrilineal Ascent/Patrilineal Descent," women who intermarry get married, on average, three years later than women who marry Jewish men. This three-year gap, which is much smaller for men, is statistically significant, she says, and reflects women's initial desire to marry a Jew. The intermarriage comes about, she and other sociologists explain, after a woman gives up on finding a Jewish husband and decides to marry a gentile rather than stay single.

Maintaining Ties
Fishman and Parmer found that, in interviews, "Jewish women who married non-Jewish men overwhelmingly say that their original preference was to marry a Jewish man, but that with the passage of time other factors gained consideration.
"I never got that narrative from a guy," Fishman says. "The guys are not thinking about children and the implications of being married to a non-Jew."
In the 2000-2001 NJPS, both affiliated and unaffiliated Jewish men were less likely than their female counterparts to rate religion as "very important" to them. Says Dr. Steven Bayme, director of the Contemporary Jewish Life department at the American Jewish Committee, which monitors Jewish life in America, "if one doesn't care whether they marry a Jew or not, marriage to a Jew probably will not happen."
Jewish women more actively seek husbands who share their backgrounds for several reasons, Fishman says. First, among Americans generally, women are more likely than men to describe themselves as "religious" and to believe that religion is important for raising ethical children; Jewish women are no exception. Similarly, American women, including Jewish women, are more likely than men to keep close family ties - and are therefore, Fishman says, more likely to want to marry someone who will please their parents.
Jewish men, however, may not feel as strongly about maintaining family ties. According to Fishman and others, non- Orthodox men are increasingly feeling disenfranchised from communal Jewish life as women take on primary leadership roles.
"Feminism has done lots of wonderful things to bring women to the center of Jewish life," Fishman says. "But we didn't notice that in the meantime, a lot of men were alienated from Jewish life." In her monograph, she writes: "Just as Jewish women were marginalized from the centers of Jewish life for much of Jewish history, for complicated social psychological reasons, American Jewish men now feel displaced from Judaism."
According to studies cited in the monograph, American Jewish girls are more likely than boys to receive a Jewish education, especially after their bar or bat mitzvah. They are also more likely to join Jewish youth groups, participate in college Hillel activities, take Jewish studies classes, describe themselves as affiliated with a wing of Judaism, attend weekly worship services (except in Orthodox congregations), partake in adult Jewish education, visit Israel, attend secular Jewish events and engage in volunteer Jewish leadership. In liberal synagogues, women constitute many of the rabbis, cantors, presidents and the majority of participants.
"The growing gender imbalance among American Jews is a critical, and painful, challenge in Jewish life today," Fishman and Parmer write. Due to efforts to eschew patriarchal norms, they say, "in the liberal Reform, Reconstructionist and Renewal Jewish worlds the balance has already tipped in the opposite direction...Liberal Jewish religious and communal leaders are increasingly women facing client groups composed primarily of women. Young Jewish males in the non-Orthodox world report they are alienated from the 'maternal vibes' - as one young man put it - of religious institutions."
Alienation and Antipathy
But it's not simply a matter of many men disappearing from Jewish life or not caring whether their wives are Jewish or not. Disproportionately, compared to non-Jewish men, American Jewish males harbor active antipathy toward Jewish women. They complain, Fishman and Parmer write, that dating Jewish women is more work than fun and that Jewish women are "demanding, overbearing, and best escaped."
Fishman conducted studies in the late 1990's in which groups of Jewish men, non-Jewish men, Jewish women and non- Jewish women in and around Los Angeles were asked to choose, from among many photos of anonymous females, a "typical Jewish woman" and to describe her. They were then asked to describe the "ideal Jewish woman."
The last three groups - male and female gentiles, as well as Jewish women - overwhelmingly described Jewish women in neutral or positive terms such as "smart," "able to talk about anything," "beautiful," "voluptuous" and "well-read." In describing the ideal Jewish woman, they used the same terms.
The responses of Jewish men were markedly different. They were likely to describe the typical Jewish woman as "talking too much," "having to have an opinion about everything," "obsessed with food," "overweight" and "materialistic." And when they described the "ideal" Jewish woman, they chose different photos - of supermodels - and described them in opposite terms, such as "quiet," "not saying much" and "likes to listen."
So, at a singles mixer, if a Jewish woman asks a man what he does for a living, "a Jewish man will interpret that question as hostile," Fishman says. "They say 'all Jewish woman care about is how much money I make,' as if there is no other reason for a person to ask you what you do when they are getting to know you. If a non-Jewish woman asks the same question, it does not get interpreted that way."
"These are self-image issues," Fishman continues. "Men are ambivalent about their Jewishness, and they project that onto the women. They feel that if they are attached to a non-Jewish woman, it will break the curse."
Evan Marc Katz, a Jewish dating coach who calls himself "America's Leading Dating Expert," sympathizes with Jews who have difficulty connecting with other Jews.
"If Jewish men find Jewish women to be difficult, then perhaps the answer for the women is to date men who are themselves easier," Katz says. "We're a bright people, a questioning people, but a neurotic, complaining and negative people. Would you want to be around that? We'd be wellserved to at least get aware of that [quality] and be responsible for it, and not be too surprised if others aren't responding well to it. We have a lot of mishegas. It's no wonder we don't want to marry each other. We're very lucky when we find someone who loves us."
Late Marriage, No Marriage
Of course, the phenomenon of panicking single women is not unique to the Jewish community. Indeed, thanks to the hit HBO comedy series Sex and the City, the desperate 30-something female is now a cliché.
A primary social force contributing to the increase in singles is delayed marriage, the trend in the last few decades to get married at more advanced ages. While in the 1950's and 60's men and women typically got married in their early or mid-20's, few singles become seriously interested in marriage today until their mid-to-late 20's.
Especially Jewish ones. By the time they have reached the age of 34, only 48 percent of Jewish men and 64 percent of Jewish women have married, compared to 59 percent of the general American male population and 70 percent of the female.
Delayed marriage decreases the chances for marriage, Bayme says, just as delayed pregnancy decreases the chances of childbearing. It also changes singles' expectations, both of themselves and of their dates. "Marriage has become something you do when you've done everything else," Jacqueline says. "When did it happen that you had to be complete before you got married, instead of planning to grow together?"
But there is another implication of delayed marriage for the Jewish community: Jews who get married immediately after college are more likely to marry other Jews than those who marry later. So the fact that few students expect to marry when they graduate means that they are losing chances to in-marry.
"There is a pool of Jewish women and men of the same age in college together," Fishman says. "That is the highest density of potential Jewish partners they will ever see again, since Jews go to college in proportions much higher than other ethnic or religious groups in the U.S."
She adds that men who are most keen to commit to a long-term relationship are most likely to get married young. Thus, as women get older, the men they date are increasingly likely to be what Fishman calls "resistant to commitment."
"In the Orthodox world, especially," she says, "when a guy who is not resistant to commitments meets a girl he likes, he marries her."
Additionally, women's dating pools become quantitatively smaller as they get older, due to what several experts called the "age squeeze." In general, women prefer to marry men around their age, perhaps a few years older or a few years younger. Men, meanwhile, almost unilaterally prefer to date younger women - often, much younger women.
"You have a Jewish man and a Jewish woman who are both 28," Fishman says. "They are both in graduate school or pursuing careers. The women see that not all the Jewish men are married yet. They are not panicking. What they don't realize is that in their mid-30's, when the men decide to settle down, the men will not be looking at Jewish women their own age. Instead, they will be looking at two different populations: Jewish women who are 10 years younger than they are or non- Jewish women."
Sara Brownstein, a matchmaker who worked with hundreds of Los Angeles Jewish singles until she moved to Israel four years ago, puts the age squeeze slightly later, saying that "When a man in his 40's wants to get married, if he does not have children, he will look for a woman under 40 because he wants children. They do not understand that if a woman is 35, 36, she does not want to marry a man who is older than 41, maybe 42. If he is in his 50's, if he has children he does not want new babies. He could marry a woman in her 40's, but those women still want children. They feel the men are too old."
Graduate School Paradox
To be sure, many Jewish women have their own negative, undeserved stereotypes about Jewish men. And it is possible that Jewish women are indeed more "demanding" than non-Jewish women, for documented reasons.
Jews are among the most highly educated minorities in America. More than half of all Jewish adults (61 percent of men and 50 percent of women) have received a college degree, and a quarter (29 percent of men and 21 percent of women) have earned a graduate degree. Jews are almost twice as likely to hold a college degree than Americans generally and four times as likely to hold a graduate degree.
Unfortunately, their academic and professional success decreases their dating pool since, as Cohen says, "men want to 'marry down' and women want to 'marry up.'"
Although no one is advocating that women avoid graduate school, Dr. Michael J. Salamon, a psychologist and the author of The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures, says "the problem [in the Jewish dating scene] is that women are overeducated and find the men boring. The men are intimidated. And the women are not getting what they want."
He also notes that this phenomenon makes "in-marrying" a difficult proposition for Jewish men with low levels of education. Fishman goes a step further and says that many Jewish men are attracted to gentile women because non-Jewish women and their parents are perceived as easier to impress.
The Orthodox Community
The problem is just as big, albeit different, in the Orthodox community. While intermarriage is extremely low and marriage is not delayed as much, community leaders note the seemingly disproportionate number of "fabulous girls" (including this reporter, I feel obligated to divulge) who would very much like to get married, yet reach their 30's or 40's with no luck.
Sociologists and matchmakers have various explanations. First, they say, it is true that Orthodox Jews tend to marry young - in their early 20's, often, or even in their late teens if they are ultra-Orthodox - but this means that those men who are still unmarried in their 30's are even more likely to be "resistant to commitment," as Fishman calls it.
Perhaps more important, the "age squeeze" is more pronounced among Orthodox Jews than in other groups. Danielle Jacobs, the chief operating officer of (a dating Web site with over 25,000 Orthodox members) and the founder of JRetro- (a site with almost 10,000 non-Orthodox Jewish members) says "age is a sensitive issue in the Orthodox community, more so than in the secular world. Men are not as open to dating women their own age, never mind a woman who is older. A man is less inclined to date a 30 year old if he can date a 23 year old."
Several of those interviewed spoke of the "very strict criteria" that singles set for their dates, across the American social scene but especially among Orthodox Jews, who may demand that their dates not only be educated, good-looking, within a certain age range and nice to be with but also adhere to a long and specific list of religious criteria. This hurts singles of both sexes when they insist on maintaining a long "list" and cannot find a partner who meets their standards, and when they themselves fail to meet the exacting criteria of others.
"The community sets it up that way," says "Chaya," who has been searching for a husband since shortly after she became Orthodox more than 10 years ago. Now in her early 30's, Chaya (who requested anonymity) explains "the idea is to screen people before being set up on blind dates so you only date people who are appropriate [for you to marry]. But as time passes and things don't work, you set up more criteria because you don't want to keep being disappointed. You say 'I need X, and I'll only date X,' and that limits you. When you vary from it, and it's confirmed that [someone different from your criteria] doesn't work for you, it's even harder to be openminded."
In his book, Salamon documents the high incidence of Orthodox singles - or, more typically, their parents - who inquire about qualities that are "completely irrelevant" to marriage, such as the age at which a boy was toilet trained and the dress size of the girl's grandmother.
"I call this the commoditization of human relationships," Fishman says. "It becomes almost like you are purchasing a car and are looking in Consumer Reports to make sure you don't get ripped off. This is true in all Jewish communities, but in the Orthodox world the list is longer because you also have the religious qualifications."

The Good News
True, something like half of all Jewish people marry out of faith, but half do make the decision to in-marry, hurdling all the obstacles facing them. That's why, despite all the social forces contributing to the Jewish "singles crisis," experts emphasize that there is reason for optimism, both for individuals and for the community.
In terms of Jewish communal policy, they offer several suggestions.
First is the need to create experiences that will help more non-Orthodox Jews, particularly boys and men, feel good about being Jewish. "What is necessary," says Bayme, "is to build a value system in which people say 'I value Jewish life so much that I can envision sharing my life only with another Jew.'"
This endeavor would require finding new ways to involve boys in ritual life: to provide, Fishman and Parmer write, strong Jewish male role models and - as much as it may pain feminists - programs exclusively for boys. The Jewish community should also invest in research on boys and men to better understand their needs and to identify activities that would attract them to Jewish communal life.
Second, Bayme says, "adolescent Jewish education needs to become a universal norm in the Jewish community. If you agree that adolescence is the critical age when people form ideas about who they want to marry, then the idea that Jewish education stops at bar mitzvah is really hurting us. It's almost criminal that just when young people are ready to discuss dating, that's when we lose them from the educational system."
He also suggested that Jewish communities more actively encourage young people to choose colleges and graduate schools not only on the basis of academic strength, location and size but also density of Jewish life. "If you are living in an environment surrounded by other Jews, the chances are that much greater that you will date a Jew," he says.
Salamon suggested that Orthodox communities dispense with highly orchestrated shidduch dates and the pressure to make quick decisions about marriage, and instead "go back to the old technique of allowing boys and girls to interact in a social way, so they can understand what it means to have a relationship, to get along with each other and what to look for in a committed relationship."
For individuals, especially women, who seek to get married, Fishman says that the single most effective way to increase one's chances is to become willing to marry outside of one's preconceived age criteria; that is, for a woman to open herself to the possibility of marrying a man 10 years older than she is.
Singles who have found love offered similar advice: to be flexible, but not just about age. Chaya is dating someone seriously and says, "He's not a liberal arts type of guy and doesn't have as much yeshiva education as I would have preferred, but we have a lot of the same values, and he is fun to be around." His sense of humor wasn't on her "list," but now she realizes it's a characteristic she admires.
"Rebecca" (who also wished to remain anonymous), 31, has carefully cultivated her image as a "high-powered career woman" and recently got married after actively seeking a husband for 10 years. Her new partner "is not someone I would have given a chance to 10 years ago," she says. "In terms of academics and career, I'm more accomplished. But he's a good person who treats me well. And he's very cute. This is a guy who wants nothing more than to make me happy. I'm not settling; I'm happy. I love him. What makes a person a good person isn't necessarily the same qualities that make them super-accomplished in their career. But it's a lot harder to teach someone to be a good person than it is to help them be a little more accomplished."
Rabbi Asher Lopatin of Congregation Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel in Chicago says that his Orthodox congregation of 400 members celebrates approximately 15 weddings per year. "Half of them meet at the Shabbat tables of other members," the rabbi says, "and the other half met online.
"We have women who get married in their late 30's and 40's and are having kids," he continues. "It's really nice to see."
And finally, Brownstein says, keep the faith. By the age of 44, an American Jewish woman is more likely to be married to a Jewish man than to still be single. And despite all the complaints that singles expressed about online introductions, Jewish dating Web sites, including JDate, Frumster and SawYouAtSinai, have helped thousands of couples get engaged. Moreover, in the time it took to research and write this article, this reporter attended two weddings of friends in their 30's and learned of the engagement of a third.
"We see people getting married all the time," Brownstein says. "You never know what awaits. Statistics are not as important as faith."
Sarah Bronson is a contributing writer to World Jewish Digest. She can be reached through her blog at
© 2008 World Jewish Digest

Continued (Permanent Link)

Christians flee Mosul

Neither the UN nor American presence in Iraq can save the Christians!
Attacks in the Iraqi city of Mosul have forced nearly 1,000 Christians, including 500 families, from their homes in just the past week, the governor of the northern Ninawa province says.
Duraid Mohammed Kashmoula on Saturday said most have taken shelter over the past 24 hours in schools, churches, monasteries and the homes of relatives in the northern and eastern fringes of Ninawa. [That's Nineveh, isn't it?]  
The flight came as Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako said Iraq's Christians were facing a campaign of "liquidation" and called on the US military to do more to protect them.
A wave of attacks religiously targeted killings have left at least 11 Christians dead since September 28.
Major displacement
In a telephone interview with The Associated Press news agency, Kashmoula described the last seven days as a period of "major displacement".
He said provincial security officials were meeting with Christian leaders to protect the community "from the terrorists, the killers".
The violence in Mosul is occurring despite US-Iraqi operations launched over the summer aimed at routing al-Qaeda in Iraq and other fighters from remaining strongholds north of the capital.
A convoy carrying an official from Iraq's largest Sunni political party was targeted on Saturday while travelling through Mosul, but no one was hurt, police said.
Mosul killings
A civilian and an armed man were killed in random gunfire in a Mosul market, a policeman said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to media.
Iraqi police in the city located 360km northwest of Baghdad have reported finding the bullet-riddled bodies of seven Christians in separate attacks so far this month, the latest a day labourer found on Wednesday.
The Christian community has been estimated at three per cent of Iraq's 26 million people, or about 800,000 Christians, and has a significant presence in the northern Ninawa.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Syrian blogger: "I'm leaving and I'm not coming back"

Someone should be paying more attention to human rights in the Middle East  - not just Israel.

Alexandra Sandels (Apn)  

Two years ago, Mohammad Al-Abdallah's brother Omar was sentenced to five years in prison by the Syrian authorities for criticizing the policies of his national government on an Internet forumblog. In December last year, Mohammad's father Ali Abdallah was arrested when he called for political reform in Syria as a member of the 'Damascus Declaration', a Syrian activist group urging 'democratic and radical change'. He is still in detainment in Syria's Adra prison and suffers from poor health. Now Mohammad speaks out about human rights abuses, censorship, and political corruption in his home country on his newly started blog "I'm leaving and I'm not coming back". APN met with Mohammed in Beirut.

APN: Why do you blog?
: The idea of starting a blog came when I was asked to give a talk on Internet practices in Syria at a conference in Beirut organized by the Samir Kassir Foundation earlier this year. I've had my blog for approximately four months now. I first set up a blog on blogspot but I recently changed it to wordpress since blogspot is blocked in Syria. It's very important for me to reach out to readers inside Syria. I see it as a continuation of what my brother did before he was arrested and imprisoned. Just like him, I mainly write about political and human rights issues in Syria. Also, sometimes you receive important information that you want to share with the world, but you don't have anywhere to publish it. Perhaps you are the first to find out that an activist or a writer has been arrested in Syria, for example. Writing about it on your blog is an excellent way of sharing it with the world.

APN: Do you think blogging can change the world and the situation in your country?
: No one can say with certainty that blogging can or cannot change the situation in a country. I don't know if what we bloggers are doing is "big" or "small" so to say. But I do think that we are having an affect considering the fact that the authorities are doing their best to their keep Internet activists at bay. When a Syrian activist recently was arrested no was talking about his ordeal except the bloggers. They were the ones who first noticed it and the story rose from the blogs.

APN: What do you see as the difference between a blogger and a journalist in your country?
: For me, the biggest difference between bloggers and journalists is that there are no rules or censorship in blogging. You don't have to worry about the word count of your article and editors hanging over your shoulder telling you what's good and bad. Most importantly, you publish exactly what you want. No one picks your words except yourself. Your writings are not subject to censorship before publication which is the case with newspapers. In Syria, journalists are subject to extensive censorship. There are no independent newspapers in Syria. They are all governmental in one way or another.

APN: Do you practice self-censorship?
: I don't practice self-censorship because I don't blog from within Syria. But if I were there, I wouldn't be able to write the way I do. I remember when I was still living in Syria how I used to rewrite some of my pieces, making sure I use the correct titles for high-level politicians when mentioning them in my writings. If you are unlucky, you can actually get persecuted for not doing so. So yes, self-censorship, even among bloggers, is widespread in Syria. At times, I notice how people who are blogging from inside Syria remove comments I've left on their blogs out of fear.

APN: What topics are considered taboo to write about in Syria then?
: The biggest taboo-labeled subjects are, of course, the President and his family, the Syrian security services, the political opposition, and anything that concerns Syria's relations with Hezbollah.

APN: That's a whole lot. How do the Syrian people find out what is ACTUALLY happening in their country?
: The whole concept of 'right to information' does simply not exist in Syria. You will never find out the truth about what is really happening on a governmental level. Blogs are helpful sources of information though.

APN: What topics inspire you?
: My background as a human rights activist inspire me to write about human rights and politics in Syria. I also write extensively on the situation of bloggers in the Arab world.

APN: Have you ever been subject to harassment or intimidation for your activism?
: Not personally since I'm not blogging from inside Syria. My brother, however, is currently serving a five-year prison sentence along with six other Syrian students for criticizing the Syrian authorities on their blog. He has been held in a military prison for two and a half years now. I haven't been able to talk to him since March 2006. Am I scared of being persecuted for my work? That's something you should ask the bloggers in Syria, not me. I'm sure they are scared.

APN: Is there a difference between blogging in English and Arabic in Syria?
: If you're a blogger in Syria and write in English, no one from the authorities will give you a problem. What they don't want is the Syrians reading your criticism of the government, they don't care that much about the outside world. So writing in Arabic, which most of Syrian bloggers do, is what gets you into trouble.

APN: What are your future plans? Do you see yourself continue to blog?
: I will definitely continue blogging. I have no plans to stop. In terms of future plans, I hope to improve my writing skills in English and actually start blogging more in English so that I can reach out to people in Europe and the US. My goal is to continue blogging in both Arabic and English.

Alexandra Sandels is a Beirut-based Swedish journalist
This article comes from the Arab Press Network:

Continued (Permanent Link)

Saving the war in Afghanistan

While conditions worsen, the "conventional wisdom" insists on sending in more troops. We can bet however, that more troops won't help. If 30,000 soldiers are not enough, by the time another 5,000 or 10,000 are sent, the enemy will be that much stronger. The real challenge is to get the Afghani people fighting on the side of their government, get the government to be worthy of support by the Afghan people, and to change tactics and improve intelligence.
Ami Isseroff
Afghanistan situation rapidly worsening
Barbara Ferguson | Arab News
WASHINGTON: US intelligence agencies believe the war in Afghanistan is in "a downward spiral" and cast serious doubts on the ability of the Afghan government to stem the rise in the Taleban's influence there, sparking an urgent strategy rethink by the Bush administration as it enters its last three months in office.
The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Afghanistan, a joint report by America's 16 spy agencies, is not due to be published until after next month's presidential election, but appears destined to become an election issue in the final weeks of the contest between presidential contenders Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain.
The solutions offered by the presidential nominees have largely called for sending more US troops to Afghanistan. Obama has said he would send at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan. McCain has called for sending at least three more brigades to the country.
An army brigade ranges from 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers. There are currently about 30,000 US troops in Afghanistan.
Gen. David McKiernan, the top US commander in Afghanistan, has asked for four more combat brigades and support forces. But so far, the Bush administration, citing constraints imposed by the Iraq conflict, has promised only one combat brigade by February.
The White House has ordered a review of its policy and sent a team to Kabul led by Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, the president's military adviser on Afghanistan, to assess the situation.
A draft version leaked to a few US newspapers this week called into question the coherence of US and NATO policy.
The Washington Post said the NIE describes a Pakistan-based extremist network with three elements — Pakistani extremists allied with Kashmiri fighters, Afghan Taleban, and traditional tribal groups in western Pakistan that assist the other groups.
"Al-Qaeda, composed largely of Arabs, and increasingly, Uzbeks, Chechens and other Central Asians, is described as sitting atop the structure, providing money and training to the others in exchange for sanctuary," it reported.
The document places considerable blame on Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, for failing to control corruption in his government.
It also points to the destabilizing impact of the booming opium trade, which now accounts for at least half the national economy and cites an increase in violence by militants who have launched increasingly sophisticated attacks from havens in Pakistan.
The Afghan government has been reported to be holding talks with the Taleban, but it is unclear whether those contacts would lead to comprehensive peace talks.
The report concluded that reconstituted elements of Al-Qaeda and the resurgent Taleban are collaborating with an expanding network of terrorist groups, making the counterinsurgency war infinitely more complicated.
NATO defense ministers agreed to allow alliance troops in Afghanistan to combat narcotics traffickers funding an increasingly deadly Taleban insurgency.
Robert Gates, the US defense secretary, argued that NATO troops must confront Afghanistan's drug traffickers directly. The job has been left to Afghanistan's poorly trained and under-equipped police force. "Part of the problem that we face is that the Taleban make somewhere between $60 million and $80 million or more a year from drug trafficking," Gates said at a NATO meeting in Budapest on Thursday.
The draft NIE on Afghanistan illustrates a darkening mood in Western capitals. It follows a leaked French diplomatic dispatch quoting the British ambassador to Kabul, Sherard Cowper-Coles, as saying US strategy there had failed. The foreign secretary, David Miliband, said the report had "garbled" the British position.
"There has been very, very tough fighting this year, and it will be tougher next year unless we adjust," Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Thursday.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Confessions of an Arab Middle East Commentator

A rare and very welcome confession on the part of a political commentator:  
...  I discovered that the views I hold so dearly, both as an academic and political analyst, do not always match what I say or write. The gap between the two is disconcerting for someone who values integrity as much as I do, and it may lead to dire conclusions. Perhaps I am not the only one among Arab scholars who has experienced this dilemma. We all aspire to offer the best analysis we can, but it is hard sometimes to challenge the basic premises of an entire people.
I also noticed that I tend all too often to play to the audience, rather than say the right -- and perhaps offensive -- things. You go on television or sit down to write an article with the best of intentions. Then, somewhere along the line, you tone your words down, and thus dilute your own argument.
How many commentators will admit that they aren't writing and saying what they think? The issues he examines are very important and the approach is a breath of fresh air. Hamzawi has taken a bold step away from the America bashing and mindless recitation of slogans that often characterize Middle East commentary and give it that "authentic Middle Eastern aroma" (or stench).
Ami Isseroff
Mea culpa
It is too easy to demonise the West, writes Amr Hamzawi*
Al-Ahram 9 - 15 October 2008
In the course of a personal crisis I grappled with over the past few weeks, I found myself re-examining my career as a public commentator and researcher. The soul-searching brought some pertinent results which, unpleasant as they are, I deem worthy of public discussion.
For starters, I discovered that the views I hold so dearly, both as an academic and political analyst, do not always match what I say or write. The gap between the two is disconcerting for someone who values integrity as much as I do, and it may lead to dire conclusions. Perhaps I am not the only one among Arab scholars who has experienced this dilemma. We all aspire to offer the best analysis we can, but it is hard sometimes to challenge the basic premises of an entire people.
Although the questions of democracy, pluralism, political freedom, and human rights in Arab societies have taken the best part of my intellectual and academic effort, I found my analysis was too focussed on a single question; namely, how non-violent opposition movements can generate enough pressure on governing elites to bring about democracy, the rotation of power, competitive elections, citizen participation, and all the rest.
One thing I failed to examine adequately was the nature of the opposition. Be they Islamic, liberal or leftist, our opposition groups have a disturbing block when it comes to introducing democracy in their own organisations. However loud they may denounce the repression of the ruling elites in public, they have little or no respect for democracy in their own backyard.
I had assumed, perhaps mistakenly, that the mere existence of non-violent opposition movements is a plus. I had assumed that having an opposition that is willing to speak out is a step towards democracy. I am starting to have second thoughts about that now. Something tells me that undemocratic opposition movements may not be exactly the best vessel for democratisation. Something tells me that opposition movements who pursue policies of exclusion can be a hindrance, however loudly they may speak for pluralism and the freedom of speech.
While focussing on opposition movements and their activism, I neglected other factors, especially the prevalence of tribal and clan affiliations in our part of the world. We have countries where national identity pales against ethnic, clan or sectarian loyalties. We have legislative and judiciary institutions that have a poor record of protecting citizen rights. With all these institutional shortcomings, perhaps my optimism about democratisation was unwarranted.
I also noticed that I tend all too often to play to the audience, rather than say the right -- and perhaps offensive -- things. You go on television or sit down to write an article with the best of intentions. Then, somewhere along the line, you tone your words down, and thus dilute your own argument.
I could never get myself to stress the importance of secularism as much as I wished to. I couldn't get myself to state flatly that it is a necessary condition for democratisation, pluralism and citizen equality. Instead, I used euphemisms, talked instead about the separation of state and church, and elaborated on civic responsibility, etc.
A commentator worth his salt would have spoken out for prisoners of conscience in our midst; I didn't. I had ample opportunity to speak of the many innocent people languishing to this day in Arab prisons, but I passed. Nor did I speak forcefully enough for the disempowered in our midst -- the women, the religious and ethnic minorities, or those whose personal life conflicts with tradition. I am pained by my silence on imprisoned Syrian intellectuals and activists and on the case of my friend Saadeddin Ibrahim, a man who has suffered much and unjustly.
My commitment to democratisation, however unshakable, didn't stop me from playing to the audience. It takes some courage to speak out against the powers that be. It takes even more courage to speak out against the commonly held views of the public. This is why I straddled the fence on secularism. In the process, my analysis became muddled.
I often said things on television that I knew played to the demagogic views of the Arab public. Even when I had my doubts, I found it comforting -- or safer -- to go with the flow. It was easy to denounce the West, malign US and European involvement, even to the point of reducing their entire policy to being one narrow-minded ambition. I did so even when I knew better. I have talked extensively with decision-makers in Western capitals. And I have seen certain willingness for fair debate on Arab matters and democracy, and yet it is easier to speak in terms of black and white.
I also discounted the willingness of some Arab elites to improve economic, social and political conditions in their countries. Even when some elites were sincere in their gradual quest to modernise Arab institutions, I failed to give them credit.
It is prudent to question the sincerity of democratisation in countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen. But Morocco, Iraq and Kuwait may be on to something, and one should keep an open mind about them for now.
I am not offering this as an exercise in professional self-flagellation. I simply believe that certain errors that come with the job of being a commentator or researchers are only too easy to make. So I only hope that an admission of guilt would bring a breath of fresh air into what could otherwise be a vacuum of ill- advised commentary.
* The writer is senior associate at the Carnegie Endownment for International Peace

Continued (Permanent Link)

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