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Saturday, November 8, 2008

European Parliamentarians in solidarity with genocidal Hamas

Last update - 10:19 08/11/2008       
Protest boat carrying European MPs arrives in Gaza Strip
By News Agencies
A boat carrying a group of European lawmakers has arrived in Gaza port as part of a protest against the blockade of the territory by Israel and Egypt.
It's the third such boat trip from Cyprus to Gaza since August. The boat carries a ton of medicine and some medical equipment.
Organizers say they hope such trips will generate momentum to end the blockade. Gaza has been virtually sealed off from the world since the Islamic militant Hamas seized the territory by force in June 2007.
Among those arriving in Gaza on Saturday were former British Cabinet member Clare Short and a Muslim member of Britain's House of Lords, Nazir Ahmad.
The boat set sail to Gaza from Cyprus on Friday after the politicians aboard said attempts to cross into the Palestinian territory via Egypt failed.
Members of parliament from Britain, Ireland, Switzerland and Italy left the Mediterranean island on a boat arranged by a pro-Palestinian group seeking to highlight the poor living conditions of 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strip.
"We were going to witness the living conditions in Gaza. We were not allowed through the Rafah crossing so we are going by boat because it is the only way to get in," said British MP Clare Short.
The parliamentarians said they expected to arrive in Gaza early on Saturday. It is the third time the U.S.-based Free Gaza Movement has sailed from Cyprus to Gaza since August, despite a blockade imposed by Israel on the Hamas-ruled territory.
Israel and the Hamas Islamist militant group agreed to a cease-fire brokered by Egypt in June. As part of that deal Israel has eased its blockade of Gaza, allowing in more humanitarian goods and medical equipment.
In August, defense officials expressed opposition to using force to stop the voyages to Gaza, reasoning that a well-publicized clash between the Israel Defense Forces and unarmed activists was exactly what the latter wanted.
The European politicians are taking a ton of medical supplies and three medical scanners used for spinal injuries, said Arafat Shoukri, 37, a doctor based in Britain.
"We are taking very basic medical supplies like paracetamol and painkillers. We were shocked when we got the list from the Health Ministry in Gaza, it means they don't have anything," Shoukri said.
International aid agencies, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, have said virtually no medical supplies were reaching Gaza.
The ICRC had blamed that on a lack of cooperation between Palestinian authorities in the West Bank, where Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction holds sway, and Hamas, which seized the Gaza Strip in a violent 2007 coup.
It also urged Israel, which tightened overland border restrictions after the Hamas takeover, to facilitate timely deliveries of medical supplies and equipment.
Israel pulled its troops and settlers out of Gaza in 2005.
Short, a former minister in Tony Blair's government, said: "We want to witness the living conditions of these people, challenge the siege, and challenge the failure of our governments to uphold the Geneva convention.
"The whole of the EU is colluding in what is taking place in Gaza to our shame."
Organizers of the boat shuttle said more activists would travel to Gaza in mid-December, and a boat of European musicians would travel there in January.
Meanwhile, Gaza militants pounded southern Israeli territory on Friday with nine Qassam rockets.
Two of the homemade rockets struck an open field south of Ashkelon, others struck areas in the western Negev. There were no injuries or damages reported in any of the Qassam attacks.

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Meshal: Hamas is harmless

Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Meshal told Sky News on Saturday that he is willing to hold talks with President-elect Barak Obama, and that he is challenging the newly elected leader to follow through on past statements indicating a willingness to sit down with America's chief adversaries on the world stage.
"[Obama] should know he has duties to the United States and in the whole world and in hotspots especially in the Middle East," Meshal told Sky. "Yes we are ready for dialogue with President Obama and with the new American administration with an open mind, on the basis that the American administration respects our rights and our options," Meshal said.
The Damascus-based Islamist leader told the British television network that unlike U.S. policy under George W. Bush, the Obama administration will have no choice but to engage Hamas if it seeks to adequately address the issues at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"The American administration, if they want to deal with the region, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict, they have no other option than deal with Hamas because we are a real force on the ground, effective," Meshal told Sky.
"And we are a movement that won a majority of votes in the election. Second of all, it's not right that Hamas poses any danger to anyone."
That's good to know, because someone might think those rockets falling in Ashqelon are dangeous.
Ami Isseroff

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Interfaith understanding yes, but a handshake is a sin

Last update - 10:08 08/11/2008       
Saudi king musn't shake Peres' hand at interfaith meet, pan-Arab newspaper editor says
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service
The editor in chief of the pan-Arab London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper is calling on Saudi King Abdullah to refrain from shaking hands with President Shimon Peres during next week's interfaith gathering at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Israel Radio reported on Saturday.
Peres and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni have been invited to take part in a United Nations interfaith conference initiated by Saudi King Abdullah next week.
In an article penned under his byline, the editor, Abd al-Bari Atwan, expresses bewilderment over the invitations extended to Peres and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni for an event purportedly devoted to religious issues, according to Israel Radio.
"As far as I know, Peres is not among the rabbinical scholars of Israel and Livni is not the head of the religious studies department at the Hebrew University," Israel Radio quoted Atwan as writing in the Saturday editorial.
Atwan says the organizers of the interfaith gathering have an ulterior motive - namely, to promote a normalization of ties between Riyadh and Jerusalem so as to more effectively confront challenges from Iran.
"Shimon Peres, the sly fox, will not pass up a chance to publicly shake the hand of the Saudi king," Atwan wrote. The editor called on the monarch to avoid doing so, Israel Radio reported on Saturday.
Livni is expected to accompany Peres to the conference, which will mark the first time Peres will participate in a panel alongside the Saudi ruler.
In addition to Peres and Abdullah, the panel will include Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, Jordanian King Abdullah, the king of Bahrain, the emir of Kuwait, the prime minister of Qatar, the prime minister of Yemen and the president of Pakistan.
The President's Residence issued a statement Tuesday saying "Peres and Livni plan to hold a round of political meetings with senior officials from the Arab world on the sidelines of the conference."
Peres was planning to invite a rabbi, a Muslim Kadi and a Christian priest to join his delegation to the conference, "to show that Israel is a country that allows freedom of worship to all believers."
The conference is part of Abdullah's initiative to promote interfaith dialogue, joined by religious representatives from the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths. A similar conference convened recently in Madrid.

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Who said this? "Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is unacceptable"

There will be a lot of sad folks in Tehran today. But Mr Obama needs to remember that he is no longer campaigning. He should be careful about issuing checks that may bounce.
Last update - 00:55 08/11/2008       
Obama: Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is unacceptable
By Haaretz Service and The Associated Press
In Barack Obama's first press conference as United States president-elect Friday, he declared his intention to foil Iran's pursuit of nuclear arms.
"Iran's development of a nuclear weapon, I believe, is unacceptable and we have to mount an international effort to prevent that from happening," said Obama, speaking in Chicago.
The president-elect made the comments on Iran in response to a journalist's question on what approach he might take with Tehran, given the drawn-out dispute between the United States and Iran over its nuclear program.
He also said Iran's support of terrorist organizations was "something that has to cease."
Obama confirmed that he had received a letter of congratulations from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He said that he would review the message and respond appropriately.
Declining to say what proposals he might pursue in connection with Iran, Obama said that, "We have only one president at a time."
He added that he will move deliberately on how to respond to Iran and what the response might be, but that he won't do it in a "knee-jerk fashion."
Obama said: "I am not the president and I won't be until January 20."
The president-elect's comments came shortly after Defense Minister Ehud Barak told visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday that Israel would not rule out any course of action to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons.
Most of Obama's press conference was devoted to his plans to deal with the financial crisis that is wreaking havoc on the U.S. economy.
Surrounded by a large group of economic advisers, he said the hardships many Americans were suffering economically were an urgent reminder that the nation's leaders must act swiftly to stabilize the financial industry.
Obama went on to say that he has asked his transition team, specifically, to work on some ideas to help the staggering auto industry.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Obama's newly chosen White House chief of staff, was among those who stood at his side, along with former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

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More rockets fell on Friday

Conspicuously missing from the article is a discussion of what "aggression" Israel might be continuing on Friday, but it is very likely that IDF is still in Gaza.
The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for a series of rocket attacks on Israel on Friday, on the third consecutive day of renewed rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
Gaza militants pounded southern Israeli territory on Friday with nine Qassam rockets.
Two of the homemade rockets struck an open field south of Ashkelon, others struck areas in the western Negev. There were no injuries or damages reported in any of the Qassam attacks.
An Islamic Jihad spokesman said the group would consider stopping launching rockets if Israel ceased its actions.
"It depends on Israel, if they stop their aggression and abide by the truce we are ready to consider stopping firing," Abu Ahmed of the Islamic Jihad armed wing said.
Islamic Jihad said its gunmen had launched 14 rockets against Israel during the day in response to Israel Defense Forces operations in the area.
The rocket fire began in response to a mid-week IDF raid on the Gaza Strip that killed six Palestinian militants.
The IDF said it carried out the operation after learning Hamas was digging a tunnel between Gaza and Israel and intending to abduct soldiers.
The renewed hostilities represent the worst fighting between the IDF and Gaza militants since a cease-fire in the coastal territory took effect in June.
On Thursday, Gaza militants fired four Qassams at southern Israel.
Late Wednesday, an Israel Air Force strike targeting a Qassam firing squad in the northern Gaza Strip killed at least one Palestinian gunman. The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad identified the casualty as a one of their own.
Islamic Jihad militants on Wednesday fired two rockets at the western Negev town of Sderot. One of its leaders, Khader Habib, declared the truce over.
Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers sought to contain the fallout from the fighting, but the continued flaring up of violence threatened to unravel it anew.
Neither side seems to have much to gain from a renewal of hostilities, and officials on both sides said they wanted to restore calm.
Hamas, which agreed to the Egyptian-mediated truce, said Israel was breaching it. The group also claimed responsibility for dozens of rockets fired at the western Negev on Wednesday.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Barak to Rice: Iran is building nukes

There is hardly anything new here. Just reminders...
 Last update - 14:25 07/11/2008
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent and News Agencies
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Friday that Israel was convinced Iran is working toward creating an atomic bomb while simultaneously deceiving the world by negotiating over supervision of its contentious nuclear program.
In a meeting with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Barak also said Israel maintained its stance that options were on the table for dealing with this threat, including military action.
"Israel is convinced Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb," Barak told Rice," adding that Jerusalem "is not taking any option off the table, and we don't recommend that others take any option off the table."
During their talks, Barak referred to U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's declaration that he would be prepared to engage in dialogue with Iran.
Foreign Minister and Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni said on Thursday that Obama's stated readiness to talk to Iran could be seen in the Middle East as a sign of weakness in efforts to persuade Tehran to curb its nuclear program.
"We live in a neighborhood in which sometimes dialogue - in a situation where you have brought sanctions, and you then shift to dialogue - is liable to be interpreted as weakness," Livni said when asked on Israel Radio about policy change toward Tehran in an Obama administration.
Her remarks sounded the first note of dissonance with Obama by a senior member of the Israeli government since the Democrat's sweeping victory over Republican candidate John McCain in the U.S. presidential election on Tuesday.
Asked if she supported any U.S. dialogue with Iran, Livni replied: "The answer is no."
Later in the day, Livni described Obama's election as a source of inspiration to millions around the world as she stood next to visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at a joint press conference in the home of the American ambassador to Israel.
"I would of course like to congratulate President-elect Barack Obama on his historic victory, a man who has impressed Israelis during his visits here and throughout the campaign by what he represents," she said. "I would like to also express our appreciation to Senator John McCain for his leadership and long-standing friendship."
Then she returned to the subject of Iran.
"We need to fight extremism, Livni said. We need to continue the pressure on Iran and I believe that the idea of continuing the pressure comes with more intense and effective sanctions on the Iranians."
Livni, leading the centrist Kadima party in the February 10 parliamentary election, also said "the bottom line" was that the United States, under Obama, "is also not willing to accept a nuclear Iran."
Obama has said he would harden sanctions on Iran but has also held out the possibility of direct talks with U.S. adversaries to resolve problems, including the dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
The West believes Iran's nuclear enrichment program is aimed at building atomic weapons, an allegation the Islamic Republic denies.
Israel, believed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, has repeatedly said Iran's nuclear program is a threat to its existence and that it was keeping all options on the table to stop it.

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Israel, PA to continue talks on core issues with Obama's help

Last update - 12:26 07/11/2008       
Israel, PA to continue talks on core issues with Obama's help
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent and Reuters
Israel and the Palestinian Authority are to announce on Sunday their commitment to continuing talks on the core issues in 2009 after president-elect Barack Obama takes office. The parties have agreed to negotiate based on the principles determined at last November's Annapolis conference.
Outgoing U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said Thursday during her visit to Israel that the United States would remain a true friend of Israel.
The statement on the continued negotiations is to be made to the members of the Quartet - the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union - during a meeting at Sharm el-Sheikh.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and her Palestinian counterpart, Ahmed Qureia, will brief the Quartet's foreign ministers on progress in talks over the past year since the Annapolis conference.
A statement at the end of Sunday's meeting is expected to outline the obligations of each party based on the principles of the Annapolis conference:
The obligation of the parties to the process and a two-state solution; bilateral negotiations only between Israel and the PA, which will be secret; commitment to the first stage of the Road Map - a cessation of settlement construction and evacuation of illegal outposts by Israel, and a war on terror by the Palestinians; Israel and the PA will continue working together to bolster Palestinian institutions, with an emphasis on security and judicial bodies; and the international community will continue to support and assist the process diplomatically and economically.
Rice, who arrived in Israel on Thursday, said at a press conference hosted by Livni that negotiations over the past year had been the most serious ever and ended seven years of intifada.
Livni, who read her remarks, reiterated the messages from her election campaign in which she differentiated between herself and Benjamin Netanyahu. "We are realistic enough to recognize the reality we face, but we are also determined enough to change it. I believe deeply that stagnation is not in Israel's interest and cannot be our policy," Livni said.
She added that the Israeli public did not need slogans, but solutions. Any such solution would require a response to Israel's needs, first and foremost security.
Rice and Linvi also discussed the Iranian issue and the administration's intention to open an American interests section in Tehran, which Livni said at the briefing that she opposed.
Obama, Olmert agree on need to advance Mideast peace talks
Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called Obama on Thursday, and the two discussed the need to press ahead with the peace process with the Palestinians, Olmert's office said.
The current peace talks, launched nearly a year ago at a conference sponsored by U.S. President George W. Bush, have been bogged down from the start by violence, and bitter disputes over Jewish settlement building and the future of Jerusalem.
The White House said on Thursday that an agreement was unlikely to be reached between the sides before Bush leaves office in January.
In a statement, Olmert's office said the prime minister and Obama "agreed on the need to continue to advance the peace process, and this, while safeguarding the security of Israel".
The statement said Obama and Olmert also "spoke about the long friendship between the United States and Israel and the need to preserve and strengthen this friendship."
The statement provided no other details about the conversation, the first between the two leaders since Obama's victory in the U.S. presidential election on Tuesday.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Child sex & porn scene: Bad times coming for Merv the Perv in Muslim countries?

Those concerned about the rights of child molesters have good reason for concern. Under Western pressure, Muslim countries are curbing child marriages. This misguided initiative of the Bush administration has caused a lot of resentment among America's Muslim allies. But have no fear Merv the Perv and Chester the Child Molester, the change will take many years.
And there are brave heroes fighting this Western aberration:
Sheikh Hamoud Hashim al-Tharihi is general secretary of the increasingly influential Vice and Virtue Committee and a member of the Islah Party. He cites the example of the Prophet Muhammad who married six-year-old Aisha...
"Because this happened to the Prophet, we cannot tell people that it is prohibited to marry at an early age," he argues. Moreover, he claims it would harm society by spreading vice.
Progressives around the world, and in particular those in Human Rights groups, will continue to protect Islamic society from the strange customs introduced by Western imperialist colonialism. The nerve of a 9 year old kid, asking for a divorce!

By Jenny Cuffe
BBC World Service, Assignment 

A narrow path leads up from the mountain town of Jibla, through century-old houses, and turns into a mud track before reaching the door of Arwa's home.

Arwa is making history by requesting a divorce aged just nine
The nine year old child lives with her parents and six brothers and sisters in a humble, two-roomed house overlooking the mosque built by her namesake, Queen Arwa, who ruled Yemen 900 years ago.
She knows nothing of wealth and power but, in her own way, she has helped make history.
Arwa is the youngest of three Yemeni girls who recently went to court complaining they were married against their will and asking for divorce - an astonishing display of defiance that has prompted the government to review its law on early marriage.
The child's dark eyes shine from a pale face framed by her black headscarf. Her expression is eloquent yet she struggles to find words for what she's suffered.
Earlier this year, her father announced she was to be married, ignoring her tears of protest. She claims to have forgotten her husband's name and all she will say about him is that he seemed tall and old.
Sold off
Coming in from the street where he's been digging drains, Abdul Mohammed Ali takes up the story. He describes how a stranger, a man in his mid forties, approached him in the market asking if he knew of any marriageable girls.

Jibla village has been in the news since Arwa's request
After visiting their home and seeing Arwa and her 15-year-old sister, he opted for the younger child. Abdul Ali says the man promised he would wait for the girl to reach puberty before calling her to his house but then changed his mind and came to live with them.
So why did he sell his daughter to a stranger?
"He gave me 30,000 rial ($150, £90) and promised another 400,000 ($2,000). I was really in need of money and thought it was a solution for the family," he explains.
For seven months, Arwa's husband shared the small room where the family eat, play and sleep.
When Arwa fought off his advances, she was beaten. The torment only came to an end when her husband and father quarrelled and Abdul Ali gave her permission to seek outside help.
At this point in the narrative, she finds her voice again, describing how she went looking for a neighbour who could lend her money for the journey to court where the judge took pity on her and granted her freedom.
A medical examination showed that she had been sexually molested but was still technically a virgin
Arwa's audacity in seeking a divorce was inspired by the example of Nujood, another young girl from the capital, Sanaa, who has become a national celebrity.
Prophet's example
A third girl, Reem is still waiting for the court's decision and says her two ambitions are to get a divorce and go to college.
Married at 12, she describes the moment when her 30-year-old husband insisted on sex. When she resisted, he choked and bit her and dragged her by the hair, overwhelming her with force.

Reem wants a divorce and then a college education
She was imprisoned for 11 days in his house and tried to kill herself with a kitchen knife before being rescued by her mother.
Although Yemen has a law stating that 15 is the marriageable age, it is frequently flouted, particularly in poor rural areas where society is run along tribal lines.
Members of Parliament have recently been debating an amendment raising the age limit to 18, but progress has ground to a halt in the face of strong opposition from conservatives.
Sheikh Hamoud Hashim al-Tharihi is general secretary of the increasingly influential Vice and Virtue Committee and a member of the Islah Party. He cites the example of the Prophet Muhammad who married six-year-old Aisha but waited for consummation till she was a little older.
"Because this happened to the Prophet, we cannot tell people that it is prohibited to marry at an early age," he argues. Moreover, he claims it would harm society by spreading vice.
Bitter fight ahead
Yemen's Minister for Social Affairs, Professor Amat al-Razzak Hammed, recognises that the government needs to compromise and would personally opt for a legal age of 16.
Arwa hopes that money will not tempt her father to marry her off again
She emphasises the importance of a legal framework enabling courts to punish fathers who marry their children off early and officials who sign the marriage contracts, and says the government has consulted Islamic scholars to ensure that it can be done in accordance with Sharia.
With parliamentary elections next year, President Ali Abdullah Saleh's government may be reluctant to alienate the growing forces of Islamic fundamentalism, so women's rights campaigners are preparing for a bitter fight. They are concerned that, with the global economic down-turn, more families will be under pressure to sacrifice their young daughters.
At her home in Jibla, Arwa is putting the past behind her and returning to childish games of hide and seek in the narrow passageways near her home.
But, without a firm lead from government, her father Abdul Ali may be tempted a second time to take money for his daughter's hand in marriage, curtailing her childhood once and for all.


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Appalling Jewish Self Hate strikes again

The latest outrageous of anti-Zionist, anti-Israel propaganda by Jews, already spread throughout the pro-Palestinian media:

Every day there is another disturbing and embarrassing example of the work of self-hating Jews. The saddest part of the anti-Zionist and anti-Israel campaign are the degrading exhibitions put on by these self-hating anti-Israel and anti-Zionist traitors. The most hurtful and vile accusation made by these people is that Zionism = Nazism. But the accusation that may cause the most damage in terms of Israeli lives is the insistence that the Security Fence is an Apartheid separation wall and a land grab, that is not needed for Israeli defense against terror. The hallmark of recent anti-Zionist propaganda since about 2003 is the propaganda against the fence.
Don't miss the rest of this story - it will surely outrage you: Punishment for self hating anti-Israel Jewish traitors

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Who's your friend?

American Jews put their trust in Barack Obama. The myth of the neo-con Zionist lobby is exploded.
Let's hope President Obama proves worthy of the trust that was placed in him.
Last update - 15:02 05/11/2008       
Barack Obama wins 77 percent of Jewish vote, exit polls show
By Haaertz Service and News Agencies
Despite the tense rift between Republican and Democratic Jews over the course of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, exit polls on Tuesday showed that Barack Obama received about 77 percent of the Jewish vote.
These numbers were higher even than the 2004 election, when Democratic candidate John Kerry received 74 percent of the Jewish vote. Al Gore received the highest percentage of Jewish votes in 2000, with 79 percent.
Jeremy Ben-Ami, executive director of the J Street lobby group on Tuesday called Obama's victory a sign that the campaign waged against him by Republican Jews comprised "baseless smears."
"American Jews resoundingly rejected the two-year, multi-million dollar campaign of baseless smears and fear waged against him by the right wing of our community," he said. "Surrogates and right-wing political operatives in our community stopped at nothing in their efforts to sway Jewish voters against Obama."
"We can only hope that these results put to rest for good the myth that fear and smear campaigns - particularly around Israel - can be an effective political weapon in the Jewish communit," he added.
A Gallup poll released in late October showed Jewish voters favored Barack Obama over John McCain by more than 3 to 1, with 74% saying they would vote for Obama over 22% for McCain.
The poll, which interviewed over 650 Jewish registered voters each month since June, showed American Jews growing increasingly comfortable with Obama since July, when the Illinois Senator tied up the Democratic Party nomination.
The poll showed support for McCain among Jews stood at a high of 34% in June, before beginning its downward turn in July after Obama's nomination.

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We've got your back, Barack

ABC tells us that Barack Obama has offered the job of White House chief of staff to Rahm Emmanuel. According to ABC, "Obama likes the fact that Emanuel "knows policy, knows politics, knows Capitol Hill" and has told associates that Emanuel would "have his back." 
You betcha. Who better to have your back than a veteran of the IDF
Ami Isseroff

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Sad story of Human Rights at the UN - Sequel #320

Mission for President-elect Obama: Fix the UN so it becomes a defender of human rights instead of a way of covering up human wrongs.

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 5, 2008

Israel blasts UN Human Rights Council

Associated Press 

Israel denounced the Human Rights Council on Tuesday for targeting it "in an obsessive and discriminatory fashion," but Egypt said it was imperative that the UN body investigate violations of Palestinian rights.

The performance of the council, which replaced the discredited UN Human Rights Commission 2 1/2 years ago, was the subject of debate in the General Assembly which was considering the annual report of the Geneva-based council.

Israel's deputy UN ambassador, Daniel Carmon, told the 192-nation world body that since it considered last year's report, the council had adopted seven resolutions condemning Israel and held "a one-sided special session against Israel" - far more than any other member of the United Nations.

"We all witness a UN human rights body targeting Israel in an obsessive and discriminatory fashion," Carmon said. "We can only watch in disbelief as the council ignores human rights abuses around the world while offering silence at best, and praise at worst to some of the world's most ruthless, abusive dictators."

But Egypt's UN Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz told the assembly "it is imperative to maintain the sustainability of the engagement of the council in ensuring respect of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, and verifying Israel's full adherence to its international obligations."

Those obligations include Israel's commitment to full cooperation with the special UN investigator on human rights in the Palestinian territories and the fact-finding missions established by the council "to investigate the gross violations of human rights," he said.

Abdelaziz noted Israeli officials refused to cooperate with Archbishop Desmond Tutu's investigation into the 2006 shelling of the Gaza town of Beit Hanun and the simultaneous firing by Palestinian terrorists of Kassam rockets at Israeli civilians.

One aim in replacing the highly politicized Human Rights Commission with the Human Rights Council was to keep some of the world's worst human rights offenders from becoming members.

But the council has been widely criticized for failing to change many of the commission's practices, including putting much more emphasis on allegations of human rights abuses by Israel than on any other country.

Muslim countries form a strong bloc on the council and have used their votes to push through resolutions against Israel and block condemnation of their allies, including Sudan. The United States argued against the council and has not sought to join it because rights-abusing countries remain members.

Nigerian Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi, the Human Rights Council's president, appealed to UN members "for greater circumspection, objectivity and patience in assessing the work of the council."
"Two years is hardly enough time to be overly critical of an institution which we strongly believe holds great promise as a universal human rights body," he said.

Uhomoibhi did not mention the seven resolutions against Israel, but he said the council held special sessions on the human rights situation in Myanmar and the negative impact of the worsening world food crisis on the right to food as well as on Israeli attacks in Gaza.

France's UN Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert, speaking on behalf of the European Union, noted the three special sessions and reaffirmed the need for the council to debate rights violations in the Palestinian territories - but he said the EU would also urge members to come up with "balanced" solutions.

North Korea's deputy UN ambassador Pak Tok Hun also criticized the council for adopting a "stereotyped resolution" on his country in defiance of repeated calls to stop approving country-specific measures.

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12000 year old little Israeli unearthed

Last update - 19:57 04/11/2008    
 Israelis unearth skeleton of 'petite' priestess who died 12,000 years ago

  By Bradley Burston, Haaretz Correspondent  Tags: Galilee, archeology, shaman  Archeologists excavating a small cave in northern Israel have discovered the skeleton of a woman shaman or priestess-healer who lived some 12,000 years ago, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem announced on Tuesday.
It said that the Natufian or Middle Stone Age burial site at Hilazon Tachtit, near the Western Galilee city of Karmiel, also contained rare grave offerings including 50 complete tortoise shells, the pelvis of a leopard and a human foot. The Natufian culture existed in the area of present-day Israel, Lebanon, and Syria 11,500 to 15,000 years ago.
According to Hebrew University archeologist Leore Grosman, who headed the dig, the elaborate nature of the burial rituals and the method used to construct and seal the grave suggest that the woman had a very high standing within her community.

"Analysis of the bones show that the shaman was 45 years old, petite and had an unnatural, asymmetrical appearance due to a spinal disability that would have affected the woman's gait, causing her to limp or drag her foot," the university said in a statement.
It said that burials of shamans often reflected their role in life, incorporating healing kits and animals with whose spirits the shaman was seen to have a special connection.
"Clearly a great amount of time and energy was invested in the preparation, arrangement, and sealing of the grave," Grosman was quoted as saying, adding that the burial site was unlike any other found in the Natufian or the preceding pre-historic periods.
The grave contained body parts of several animals rarely seen in burials of the period, including the remains of tortoises apparently brought to the site and eaten as part of a feast, the near-compete pelvis of a leopard, the wing tip of a golden eagle, a tail of a cow, two marten skulls and the forearm of a wild boar which was directly aligned with a bone of the woman's left arm. A human foot belonging to an adult individual who was substantially larger than the interred woman was also found in the grave, the university said.
It noted that the body was also buried in an unusual position, lain on its side against the curved wall of the oval-shaped grave.
"Speculating why the body was held in place in such a way and covered with rocks, Dr. Grosman suggests it could have been to protect the body from being eaten by wild animals or because the community was trying to keep the shaman and her spirit inside the grave."

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Hamas: Six Palestinians killed in first IDF raid since Gaza truce

Is i 5 or 6? Seems nobody can decide. Probably more will die.
Last update - 02:02 05/11/2008    
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent, and News Agencies  
An Israel Air Force air strike in the southern Gaza Strip killed at least five militants and wounded several others on Tuesday, Palestinians said.
Earlier, Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed a Hamas gunman and wounded two others on Tuesday in the first armed clash in the Gaza Strip since a ceasefire was declared in the territory in June, Palestinian medics said.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said troops had entered the territory to destroy a tunnel which Gaza militants had dug under the border to try to abduct soldiers.
According to Palestinian sources, the troops entered the area east of Deir el-Balah and carried out an operation at a house belonging to the Abu Hamam family.
An exchange of fire took place between the troops and Hamas gunmen.
Six mortar shells were also reportedly fired at Israel from Gaza.
"Qassam fighters are engaging in violent armed clashes with a Zionist (Israeli) force that raided east of central Gaza Strip," a Hamas statement said.
Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas' military wing, said in a text message to reporters that Hamas troops were engaged in a gunfight with Israeli forces in central Gaza.
Hamas quickly vowed revenge for its losses.
"Our response will be harsh, and the enemy will play a heavy price," Hamas said in a statement on its military wing's Web site.
Palestinian residents in the area of the al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip reported seeing Israeli soldiers about 300 meters inside Gaza.
They also reported hearing shots fired from Israeli military vehicles positioned on the Israeli side of the border fence and the buzz of unmanned drones overhead.
The residents said Hamas gunmen had responded by firing at the troops. Residents said that one of the Israeli drones fired a missile into the area where the firing had occurred.
Palestinian medical workers said three gunmen were wounded by shrapnel from the Israeli missile.
An Egypt-brokered cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Gaza Strip was signed earlier this year, and went into effect on June 19.
The IDF argued that the raid did not constitute a violation of the cease fire, but instead was a legitimate step to remove an immediate threat to Israel from Gaza, which is controlled by the Islamic militant group Hamas.
Gaza militants have occasionally launched makeshift rockets into southern Israel in violation of the ceasefire and this has prompted Israel to temporarily close its borders with Gaza in response.
Hamas had agreed to halt rocket attacks in return for the gradual lifting of a blockade Israel imposed on the Gaza Strip two years ago.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

IDF operations in Gaza to foil tunnel/kidnapping attempt

The enthusiasm for liberating Gilad Shalit and the high price Israel was willing to pay no doubt whetted the appetite of the Hamas and their allies for more Gilad Shalits. The Hezbollah swap deal is already paying its blood dividends.
This is the value of the "lull" with Hamas.
According to other reports, IDF found out about the tunnel by accident, after arresting a different Palestinian who was trying to carry out a suicide bombing in the framework of the "lull."

Last update - 23:28 04/11/2008       
IDF kills Hamas man in first raid since Gaza truce
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent, and News Agencies
Israeli troops killed a Hamas gunman and wounded two others on Tuesday in the first armed clash in the Gaza Strip since a ceasefire was declared in the territory in June, Palestinian medics said.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said troops had entered the territory to destroy a tunnel which Gaza militants had dug under the border to try to abduct soldiers.
According to Palestinian sources, the troops entered the area east of Deir el-Balah and carried out an operation at a house belonging to the Abu Hamam family.
An exchange of fire took place between the troops and Hamas gunmen.
Six mortar shells were also reportedly fired at Israel from Gaza.
"Qassam fighters are engaging in violent armed clashes with a Zionist (Israeli) force that raided east of central Gaza Strip," a Hamas statement said.
Palestinian residents in the area of the al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip reported seeing Israeli soldiers about 300 meters inside Gaza.
They also reported hearing shots fired from Israeli military vehicles positioned on the Israeli side of the border fence and the buzz of unmanned drones overhead.
The residents said Hamas gunmen had responded by firing at the troops. Residents said that one of the Israeli drones fired a missile into the area where the firing had occurred.
Palestinian medical workers said three gunmen were wounded by shrapnel from the Israeli missile.
An Egypt-brokered cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Gaza Strip was signed earlier this year, and went into effect on June 19.
Gaza militants have occasionally launched makeshift rockets into southern Israel in violation of the ceasefire and this has prompted Israel to temporarily close its borders with Gaza in response.
Hamas had agreed to halt rocket attacks in return for the gradual lifting of a blockade Israel imposed on the Gaza Strip two years ago.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Filastin: Al Rais al Jadida? (Palestine: the New President)

From Maan News -  a shopwindow in Ramallah shows a mug with a picture of Barack Obama above and next to mugs with pictures of former "Rais" Yasser Arafat.
If one picture is worth a thousand words, how many words are all these pictures worth? Earlier, Maan had announced that Barak Obama had promised East Jerusalem to the Palestinians. This rumor was quickly denied.
The text is in English about drinking coffee and evidently harmless commercialization intended perhaps for tourists, but the picture certainly illustrates the hopes that Palestinian Arabs have for the (probable) soon to be President of the US.
The text says something about the flavor of the U.S. presidential elections. Palestinian coffee is generally much better than that. If it has the flavor of the U.S. presidential elections, a lot of Palestinians will need emergency transport to Hadassah hospital to get their stomaches pumped in a rela hurry.
Barack Mubarack.
Ami Isseroff  

Continued (Permanent Link)

Hezbollah claims northern Israel for Lebanon

Obviously, there will be no end to Hezbollah's imaginative territorial demands. Since the blue line was the agreed border in 1949, and since the UN ratified both the 1949 armistice and the 2000 withdrawal, it is apparent that Arab states will use "international legitimacy" when it suits them, and ignore it when it doesn't suit them.

Last update - 09:49 04/11/2008    
 By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent
A senior Hezbollah official on Monday said the Lebanese militant organization believes that large swaths of northern Israel belong to Lebanon, far beyond the line Israel pulled back to in 2000.
"The Zionist terror organizations moved the border from that of 1920 to that of 1923, and Lebanon lost seven villages and twenty farms. One must be cautious before moving the border to the Blue Line, because then Lebanon will lose millions of square meters," said Nawaf Musawi, head of international relations for Hezbollah.
In referring to the Blue Line, Musawi was speaking of border demarcation the United Nations published in 2000 after the Israel Defense Forces withdrew from southern Lebanon.
Musawi, who is known as the group's "foreign minister," made the comments at the close of a meeting with the Norwegian ambassador to Lebanon.
He branded Blue Line, which runs very close to the 1949 Israel-Lebanon border known as the Green Line, as merely a "withdrawal line."
The official's comments mean that Hezbollah has territorial demands beyond the disputed Shaba Farms in the Golan Heights and the divided northern village of Ghajar. While various Lebanese Shi'ite figures have made these demands in the past, Hezbollah has abstained from doing so in recent years.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, November 3, 2008

More sense about Obama, McCain and Israel

Like Michael Oren's article, this seems like an honsest appraisal.

The advisers: Who has the ear of the candidates?

Nov. 3, 2008
Ron Kampeas / jta , THE JERUSALEM POST

When the question of recognizing Israel landed on President Harry Truman's desk in May 1948, he had to balance the advice of his old friend, Clark Clifford, against the general he deeply admired, George Marshall.

In the end Truman went with his friend, recognizing the new Jewish state.

It may be easy to read too much into who a candidate's advisers are during an election campaign, but it's also risky to avoid the tea leaves.

Obama's Advisers

In sizing up the candidates' advisers, most of the scrutiny in the Jewish community has been on Barack Obama - in part because of his inexperience on the national stage and in part because of Republican campaign tactics.

The Republican Jewish Coalition has issued a string of statements and advertisements portraying Obama as relying on advisers who are hostile either to Israel or the pro-Israel lobby. In the case of two veterans of past Democratic administrations - Carter-era national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and Clinton-era aide Robert Malley - the concerns seem overblown: Neither has played a meaningful roll in the Obama campaign or in forming Obama's policy agenda, contrary to conservative claims.

Obama has, however, reached out to several lawmakers and military figures who have demonstrated a willingness to buck or criticize the pro-Israel lobby. But, according to the Obama camp, the advisers most intimately involved in Israel-related policies are veterans of the Clinton administration and come out of a pro-Israel milieu.

Dennis Ross: Obama's campaign insists that the Democratic nominee's top adviser on Israel and Iran is Dennis Ross, who played a lead role in peace talks during the first Bush and Clinton presidencies. Ross is now at the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he is joined by a staff that has leaned more toward neo-conservatism - and Republicans - than he has. Ross' position at the institute is a testament to his ability to cross the aisle - an approach that jibes with Obama's insistence that he will be a bipartisan president.

Ross is widely respected in the Jewish community but has been criticized in more conservative circles for what critics say was his failure to hold Yasser Arafat accountable for failing to live up to Palestinian commitments.

In his 2004 book, Ross made it eminently clear that at times he found then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be untrustworthy. But Ross also has insisted that the United States and Israel should have done more to hold the Palestinians to their agreements - and has consistently blamed Arafat for the failure to reach a final settlement at the end of the Clinton administration.

Ross has criticized the Bush administration for not being engaged enough in peace talks - but also for announcing unrealistic goals for achieving a two-state solution.

By contrast, he told JTA, an Obama admnistration would play a more hands-on role in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking - but also steer clear of any "artificial" timelines. He says the creation of a Palestinian state is impossible so long as Hamas controls Gaza.

For these reasons, Ross has suggested, Obama's emphasis would be more on Iran. Ross is one of the principle architects of Obama's Iran policy: engagement induced through tough sanctions. His laundry list of possible new sanctions aimed at getting Iran to stand down from its suspected nuclear weapons program - the re-insurance industry, refined petrol exporters, central bank - echoes exactly those of Israel and the pro-Israel lobby.

Obama's other key advisers include:

* Anthony Lake , Clinton's first national security adviser and an early Obama backer, apparently hopes to return the post. A relatively recent convert to Judaism, Lake has said that rallying the international community to further isolate Iran would be Obama's first foreign policy priority.

* Mara Rudman, a deputy on the Clinton national security team, also could end up in an Obama administration. Since leaving government, she served as a deputy to Lawrence Eagleberger, the former secretary of state, during his chairmanship of the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims. Last year, she helped launch Middle East Progress, a group that puts out a thrice-weekly e-mail bulletin partly to counter the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization's influential Daily Bulletin, which has been accused of having a sharp neo-conservative tilt.

* Dan Shapiro and Eric Lynn are two Obama campaign officials who straddle the policy and politics arms of the campaign. Lynn is Shapiro's deputy. Both help shape policy - Shapiro is said to be the lead writer on Obama's Middle East speeches - and both spend a lot of time campaigning in the Jewish community. Both also have Florida connections and can boast of insider status in the pro-Israel community. Lynn was an intern at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 1998; Shapiro played a major role in drafting the 2003 Syria Accountability Act, that year's marquee victory for AIPAC.

* Daniel Kurtzer joined the Obama camp during the primaries. President Clinton made him the first Jewish US ambassador to Egypt, and the current President Bush went one better, making him the first Orthodox Jewish US ambassador to Israel. Kurtzer, who left the diplomatic corps in 2005 after his Israel stint for a teaching job at Princeton University, may have the most dovish views on the foreign policy team.

Prior to joining the campaign this year, Kurtzer co-authored a US Institute of Peace tract that advocated equal pressure on Israel and the Palestinians. While he was ambassador to Israel, the Zionist Organization of America pressed Bush to fire him. But Kurtzer's Jewish street cred has helped alleviate concern in many pro-Israel circles - in addition to his stint in Israel, Kurtzer is a product of Yeshiva University and trains kids for bar mitzvah.

* The word from Obama circles is that two Republican senators - Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, who is retiring and whose wife has endorsed Obama, and Richard Lugar of Indiana, the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - could end up in an Obama administration.

Both men have shared Obama's concerns about the conduct of the Iraq war. Of the two Republicans, Hagel is the more problematic for the pro-Israel community. He didn't make friends last year when he told an Arab American Institute dinner that his support for Israel was not "automatic." Lugar has not made such missteps, but his willingness to criticize Israeli policies in Senate hearings and his advocacy of direct dialogue with Iran have raised eyebrows.

McCain's Advisers

As a longtime veteran of Washington, John McCain has accumulated his own list of confidants that would worry many pro-Israel activists.

During the lead up to the 2000 presidential primaries, McCain was quoted as saying that he would turn to Brzezinski for advice. This time around, he voiced admiration for two veterans of the Bush administration, Brent Scowcroft and James Baker, who are associated with the realist camp that advocated for pressure on Israel. McCain also held a news conference with Baker touting the former secretary of state's endorsement.

That said, while McCain favors a two-state solution and support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, he has demonstrated no intention to pressure Israel on the Jerusalem issue. And he has diverged from the realist camp in supporting the Iraq war and taking a hard line on Iran. The foreign-policy advisers most associated with McCain's campaign hail from the neo-conservative camp.

* McCain has said his top foreign policy adviser would be his closest friend in the Senate, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). McCain is said to have sorely wanted Lieberman, an ardent supporter of the Iraq war, on the ticket as his vice president; now McCain's reportedly considering the self-described Independent Democrat for secretary of state. Lieberman's longstanding friendship with McCain and a shared commitment to a tough interventionist neo-conservative foreign policy led to an endorsement a year ago that helped McCain resuscitate his campaign in New Hampshire.

* James Woolsey, like Lieberman, is one of a small army of "Scoop" Jackson Democrats at the core of the McCain campaign: Like their late idol Sen. Henry Jackson (D-Wash.), who ran a couple of abortive presidential campaigns in the 1970s, they are domestic liberals who have set aside social differences to join conservatives in pressing what they consider the more urgent matter: American preeminence overseas.

Woolsey, a Clinton administration CIA director, is a tough-minded environmentalist: According to Mother Jones, a Web site devoted to investigative journalism, Woolsey drives a hybrid car plastered with the sticker "Bin Laden Hates This Car." Early on he pressed for the Iraq war, and he is notorious for being among the first to blame Iraq - erroneously - for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He also exemplifies how the McCain campaign talks tough about confronting Iran while emphasizing behind-the-scenes that the military option should be a last resort.

* Randy Scheunemann, like Shapiro in the Obama campaign, straddles policy and politics in the McCain campaign. A veteran of years on Capitol Hill who worked principally for former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), and an icon among neo-conservatives, Scheunemann has shaped some of the toughest campaign attacks on Obama, including those related to Obama's stated willingness to sit with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Scheunemann also led efforts to pitch the Iraq war to the American public prior to the invasion.

In recent years, Scheunemann has lobbied for a number of nations seeking membership in NATO. His expertise on Georgia helped McCain gain the upper hand over a flustered Obama during the crisis over the summer when Russia invaded Georgia.

Scheunemann is also close to the pro-Israel community. Working with Lott, he authored the 1995 legislation that would move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; a year later, Scheunemann's advice led Bob Dole - the Republican presidential candidate that year - to pledge to do so. This year, McCain has picked up that pledge.

* Max Boot is too young to have been an architect of neo-conservatism; at times he embraces the term and at times he chafes at it.

A historian who is probably the McCain adviser most steeped in theory and least steeped in policy-making, Boot wrote the definitive article arguing for the expansion of American power in the wake of 9/11. At a recent retreat organized by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Boot said a McCain administration would de-emphasize Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Syrian talks to an even greater degree than the Bush administration (though McCain and his running mate both have suggested that the Arab-Israeli peace process would be a top priority). Boot, currently a Council on Foreign Relations fellow, says the late push by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement is regrettable.

* Richard Williamson is President Bush's special envoy to Sudan. His work pressing the regime to end the genocide in its Darfur region have deepened his ties with the Jewish community, which date back to Williamson's time as a member of the Reagan administration's U.N. team.

Williamson's pre-campaign writings are very much in the realist camp. A veteran of disarmament talks, he wrote an article in 2003 for the Chicago Journal of International Law praising the efficacy of multilateral treaties, a bugbear of neo-conservatives. But Williamson's shift at the recent Washington Institute retreat to neo-conservative talking points could be a signal of how much McCain has invested in that camp. At the retreat, Williamson suggested that a McCain administration would not avidly pursue Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Syrian peace, and he touted McCain's proposal for a "league of democracies," a repudiation of conventional thinking on multilateral

Continued (Permanent Link)

The Second Intifada - a rueful restropective

The second Intifada is a big chunk of Israeli history and deserves in depth treatment. You need to have the facts at your fingertips about this subject if you want to understand or explain the Middle East. Here are some new resources, not necessarily with a Zionist or entirely pro-Israel perspective, but with an attempt at a pro-truth perspective:
  Second Intifada - an analyic account.
 Timeline: Second Intifada - A huge and detailed timeline with more facts than you probably want, and at least 10% of what you need to know in order to have a real idea of what happened. This part goes up to 2005. The second part is:  Timeline: Second Intifada 2005 to Present. The third part might be "Son of Second Intifada returns,"  as we are not done with the Intifada and these timelines are already huge.  And soon, in true Hollywood fashion, there will need to be a prequel about the First Intifada.
Ami Iserroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

What should be the "Zionist" stand on the US elections?

The official position of Zionism and Zionists on the US or any other foreign elections should be to support... Israel and the Jews. Jews must never be put into a position where they can be accused of "double loyalty" and no Zionists or anyone else should ask Jews to vote for a candidate who is not good for their own country - or for that matter, to vote for any candidate, except in the most extreme cases.
The efforts of Obama and McCain partisans who urged us to vote for their candidate because his is "good for Israel" were misdirected. The aim of Zionists should have been to get BOTH candidates to clarify their positions so people could make up their minds on the issues, and to convince both candidates that support for Israel is in the best interests of the United States.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Michael Oren analyzes McCain and Obama on Israel and the Middle East

This is a thoughtful and sophisticated analysis - albeit from the Israeli point of view -  that attempts to extract the actual positions and likely actions of the candidates in the Middle East, without the usual "good for the Jews" "bad for the Jews" "good for Arabs" "bad for Arabs" nonsense.  
Oren is not a fool or an extremist. As best I can tell, it is a correct assessment of the candidates' stands on the Middle East issues and the tradeoffs for Israel and Palestinians.
Of course, nobody knows what a candidate will REALLY do once in office.
It will probably be a useful guide to what is about to happen and why even after the elections - save it somewhere.
The U.S.-Israel Partnership: Forks in the Road

Michael Oren

Supporters of Israel are intensely interested in which of the two presidential candidates, John McCain or Barack Obama, is "best" for the Jewish state. Of course, "best" is a subjective concept, colored by whether one regards settlements as beneficial or disastrous for Israel, for example, or the creation of a Palestinian state as essential or deadly. The word also assumes a substantial degree of familiarity with the candidates' positions on issues that impact Israel either directly or collaterally. Attaining such clarity from politicians is difficult even in normal times. But during an election year, it is especially daunting. Speeches by presidential hopefuls geared to special constituencies, statements from commentators and aides, misquotes and gaffes—together these can cloud the contenders' platforms, particularly on matters as complex and controversial as the Middle East. Moreover, more than a little disinformation on Obama and McCain has been disseminated by opponents and interested parties, further obscuring their true views.

Nevertheless, by carefully combing the mass of speeches, interviews, and press releases, a picture of the candidates' policies can still be culled. A map of where Obama and McCain stand on the peace process and other issues crucial to Israel—the War on Terror, the Iraq War, Iranian nuclearization—may be drawn, and points of distinction flagged. And on the basis of these findings, it is possible to speculate how a McCain or an Obama presidency might interact with Israel, to its benefit as well as its detriment.

After Bush

By necessity, any analysis of the policies of the two candidates must begin with an assessment of the legacy that the president-elect will inherit. During his eight years in office, George W. Bush established new standards for the term "pro-Israel." He repeatedly affirmed Israel's right to defend itself against terror, and praised its value as America's primary Middle Eastern ally. He also expressed a deep ideological attachment to Israel as a democracy and, spiritually, to Israel as the biblical homeland. "You have raised a modern society in the Promised Land, a light unto the nations... [and] a mighty democracy," he told the Knesset during Israel's sixtieth anniversary celebrations, and "you can always count on the United States of America to be at your side."1 Less publicly, the president also authorized an unprecedented level of cooperation between the U.S. military and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), including intelligence sharing, anti-terror training, and the joint development of missile defense systems.

On the peace process, by comparison, Bush was less categorical. He became the first American president publicly to endorse the emergence of a Palestinian state and, to that end, he opposed the expansion of Israel's West Bank settlements. Yet Bush also rejected a large-scale repatriation of Palestinian refugees to Israel as well as a return to Israel's 1967 borders, insisting that any treaty take into account the "current realities" created by the settlements. He refused to deal with Hamas and Hezbollah, even obliquely, portraying them apocalyptically as the embodiments of "darkness" and "evil." More radically still, Bush reversed the formula, embedded in UN Resolution 242, of territory-for-peace. If previous presidents required Israel to relinquish territory first and only then receive peace from the Arabs, Bush demanded that the Arabs recognize Israel's existence and renounce violence in advance of retrieving captured land.

Bush's policies disappointed many on the Israeli left who longed for a more activist American role in peacemaking, and antagonized Israeli rightists who resented his support for Palestinian sovereignty and his demands for a settlement freeze. Still, Bush remained singularly popular in Israel—considerably more so, in fact, than in the United States. "You have been a true leader," Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud opposition, lauded the president in Knesset. "You have never hesitated from fighting tyranny and defending freedom."2

The pro-Israel paradigm established by Bush poses a hefty challenge for Obama and McCain. Neither candidate, though, has shied away from meeting it. Both visited Israel during their campaigns, meeting government and opposition leaders, and touring towns along the Gaza border that were regularly shelled by Hamas. In spite of some initial questions surrounding his affection for Israel, Obama has been unexceptionally Zionist, asserting that "the idea of a secure Jewish state is a fundamentally just idea," and that "Israel's security is sacrosanct."3 McCain, no less effusive, has praised Israel as a bastion of democracy and social justice.

McCain and Obama have pledged to maintain Israel's "qualitative" military edge by supporting Bush's proposal for increasing military aid to the Jewish state by $30 billion over the next decade. Both have called on the Arab states to recognize Israel in advance of Israeli territorial concessions and have vowed to take an active role in the search for peace. Nevertheless, in their approach to that process, and their conception of its outcome, the candidates evince some subtle—and potentially significant—differences.

Parsing the Palestinian question

Take, for example, the issues of Israeli settlements and the borders of any future Palestinian state. While McCain has avoided criticizing Israel's settlement policy and balked at delineating the contours of "Palestine," Obama has impugned the settlements and taken up Bush's call for a "contiguous" Palestinian state free of Israeli roadblocks and joined by West Bank-to-Gaza routes. McCain, who did not meet with Palestinian leaders during his Israel visit, has emphasized the Palestinian Authority's duty to clamp down on terror in accordance with the road map. "We must ensure that Israel's people can live in safety until there is a Palestinian leadership willing and able to deliver peace," he stated.4 Obama, by contrast, has refrained from mentioning the Palestinian Authority's responsibility in suppressing terror. During his stopover in Israel, Obama visited the Palestinian Authority's headquarters in Ramallah and met with President Mahmoud Abbas.

Obama and McCain have also differed over aspects of Israel's domestic politics and foreign relations. Though Obama met with Netanyahu during his Israel visit, previously he expressed reservations about the Israeli right, telling American Jewish leaders that "there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel then you're anti-Israel."5 He has also welcomed the renewal of peace talks between Israel and Syria, and has urged the White House to "support the parties' efforts to achieve their goal of a negotiated settlement."6 McCain, however, has not revealed a preference for any Israeli party and has withheld comment on the Syrian-Israeli discussions. Generally, though, he shares Bush's reservations about negotiating with Damascus "with no preconditions"—presumably preferring that Damascus eschew terror and forfeit all claims to Lebanon first.

Both candidates have deplored Hamas as a terrorist organization committed to Israel's destruction. McCain's position on Hamas has hardened considerably since 2006 when, shortly after the organization's electoral victory, he told a reporter, "They're the government [and] sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them."7 His campaign subsequently retracted the remark and characterized Hamas as a force dedicated not only to Israel's destruction but to the annihilation of the United States. McCain has endorsed the conditions set down by Bush for including Hamas in peace talks—renunciation of terror, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements—but so, too, has Obama. Yet the Democratic contender seems less adamant than his Republican rival in opposing all communications with Hamas. Obama waited five days before distancing himself from former President Jimmy Carter's meetings with Hamas officials; McCain condemned them instantly. And while McCain withheld comment on Israel's ceasefire with Hamas, Obama greeted it as an opportunity to "bring calm to the people of southern Israel, improve life for Palestinians in Gaza, and lead to the release of [captured Israeli corporal] Gilad Shalit."8

Obama and McCain also appear to diverge on the peace process's most divisive issue: Jerusalem. Though supportive of talks to demarcate the final borders of Jerusalem, McCain has been unambiguous in his willingness to recognize unqualified Israeli sovereignty over the city, even prior to negotiations. "Jerusalem is undivided," he declared. "Jerusalem is the capital and we should move the [U.S.] embassy to Jerusalem before anything happens."9 Obama similarly announced that, "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided," surprising many of his listeners at a convention of AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby.10 But he quickly qualified that assertion, explaining that the city's final status must be determined by Israelis and Palestinians alone and sealed by "an agreement that they both can live with." Obama has not mentioned moving the American embassy to Jerusalem.

The most fundamental distinction between McCain and Obama on the peace question stems from their perception of the Arab-Israeli conflict and its relationship to other Middle Eastern disputes. According to the Des Moines Register, Obama told Iowa voters that "nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people," but later claimed that he had been misquoted and had actually said that Palestinian suffering resulted from "the failure of the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel and renounce violence."11 In his AIPAC speech, Obama assailed "those who would lay all the problems of the Middle East at the doorstep of Israel." But in an interview with The Atlantic, he described the conflict as a "constant wound" and "constant sore" that "infect(s) all of our foreign policy" and "provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists."12 Later still, in an interview with Meet the Press, Obama explained that solving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute will help the United States garner Arab support in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, will weaken Hamas and Hezbollah and isolate Iran.13 Such statements seem to indicate that Obama subscribes to the concept, long held by the State Department and reified by the 2006 Iraq Study Group, of "linkage" between the Arab-Israeli and other Middle Eastern disputes. And though he has specifically ruled out the possibility of pressuring Israel to make concessions, his campaign has been associated with several former State Department officials and foreign policy experts known to favor intensified American efforts to achieve Palestinian statehood, necessitating the removal of checkpoints and many settlements.

McCain's position, in this critical case, is far less variable than that of Obama. "[I]f the Israeli-Palestinian issue were decided tomorrow," he has maintained, "we would still face the enormous threat of radical Islamic extremism."14 Defeating that fanaticism, McCain contends, is the prerequisite for—rather than the consequence of—Israeli-Palestinian peace. Neither he nor any of his advisors have indicated a readiness to apply greater pressure on Israel on the issues of settlements and checkpoints.

On the basis of this comparison, it is reasonable to expect a McCain administration to maintain and perhaps accelerate the Annapolis process initiated by Bush last November, insisting that both Israelis and Palestinians live up to the road map's requisites. But McCain will be reluctant to pressure Israel, to oppose Israeli claims to Jerusalem, or to link the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with any of the region's manifold struggles. He would probably not deal with Hamas, even in context of a national unity government with the Palestinian Authority. An Obama presidency can also be expected to continue Annapolis, but with less tolerance for Israeli settlement-building and checkpoints, and greater inclination to see the road to Baghdad and Tehran running through Bethlehem and Nablus. Obama might be expected to show deeper sympathy for the Palestinian demand for a capital in Jerusalem and greater flexibility in including Hamas in negotiations, if only indirectly, through the national unity coalition with Abbas. Obama will probably seek a broader accord, including Syria as well as other Arab countries, while McCain would focus on the Israeli-Palestinian dimension. McCain's priorities are unlikely to ruffle the U.S.-Israel relationship; Obama's are liable to strain the alliance, especially if, as recent polls predict, Netanyahu and the Likud return to power.

How they will fight

In addition to the peace process, Israel has a cardinal interest in the candidates' attitudes toward other Middle East-related issues, beginning with the War on Terror. Here, too, President Bush established a new paradigm based on preemptive action against suspected terrorists and their backers. This aspect of the Bush Doctrine accorded well with Israel, which, since its establishment, has reserved the option to strike its enemies preemptively. Obama and McCain, however, are markedly divided over the policy and the means for battling terror in the future.

Though both have reiterated their readiness to meet terrorist threats with force, McCain has never abjured preemption, stressing his commitment "to uncover [terrorist] plots before they take root."15 But Obama's recent comments suggest that, rather than embark on preventative military incursions, he prefers to treat terror as a criminal act to be prosecuted post facto by the courts. "[I]n previous terrorist attacks, for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center (in 1993), we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial," he explained to ABC News. "I have confidence that our system of justice is strong enough to deal with terrorists."16

Further insight into the candidates' divergent approaches to combating terror can be gleaned from their reaction to the Supreme Court's June 12, 2008, decision granting security suspects the right to petition civilian courts. The ruling, Obama said, was "an important step toward reestablishing our credibility as a nation" and "rejecting a false choice between fighting terrorism and respecting habeas corpus."17 McCain, on the other hand, called it "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country."18

The War on Terror, for both candidates, is inextricably linked to the conflict in Iraq. McCain sees the latter as a natural extension of the former; Obama views the second as a dangerous diversion from the first. Unlike the candidates' stances on the peace process and the fight against terrorism, which are often open to interpretation, their statements on Iraq leave little latitude for debate.

Obama asserts that the Iraqi war has drained America's resources and inhibited it from effectively fighting terror. He denies that the surge has sufficiently reduced violence in Iraq, compelled the Iraqi government to fulfill its sovereign responsibilities, or helped bridge the country's ethnic differences. In keeping with the recommendation of the Iraq Study Group, he has called for a sixteen-month phasing out of the American military involvement. Apart from a "residual force" which will stay behind to guard the embassy, train Iraqi troops, and hunt down al-Qaeda, there will be no permanent American bases. Though he has acknowledged the need to make "tactical adjustments" as the withdrawal proceeds, Obama has determined that "it's time to end this war" and focus on Afghanistan.19

McCain insists that America "is winning and will win" in Iraq, which he regards as the central theater in the struggle against Islamist terror.20 An ardent defender of the Bush administration's "surge" strategy, which he wants to apply to Afghanistan, McCain believes that withdrawal from Iraq at this time will endanger Americans at home and bolster Iran and al-Qaeda. McCain has repeatedly cited 2013 as a target date for withdrawal, though he once said that U.S. forces might remain in Iraq for as long as a century, following the Korean model.

These disparities are rife with ramifications for Israel. Long time advocates of preemption, Israelis may be disappointed by an Obama administration that abandons the tactic and recoils from further preventative action against terrorists. They will have to grapple with the fallout of an American evacuation from Iraq, which is almost certain to be perceived in the region as an Islamist triumph. Still, Israel could benefit from a United States that is less inclined to pursue polices unilaterally and more in line with international opinion.

The situation might be reversed under McCain. The U.S. would continue to press its anti-terror campaign in the Middle East and stay the course in Iraq but remain to a large extent isolated globally. The Israeli ideal of an America that is engaged militarily in the Middle East and in sync with the international community may well prove elusive.

Addressing the Iranian challenge

Yet the ultimate crucible of the candidates' positions affecting Israel lies not in the peace process, in the War on Terror, or even in Iraq, but rather in the burgeoning crisis with Iran. The master of Hamas and Hezbollah, the dominant partner of Syria, and the rising regional hegemon, Iran poses multiple threats to Israel's security—and, through its nuclear program, a danger to Israel's existence. The Islamic regime that routinely pledges to "wipe Israel off the map" could easily transfer nuclear weapons to one of its terrorist proxies while prompting other Middle East states to develop similar armaments. Israel could soon find itself in the epicenter of an unstable nuclear neighborhood. On no other issue are the Jewish state's interests in the platforms of McCain and Obama so paramount and, potentially, existential.

As McCain's stance on Hamas once hardened, so too has Obama's on Iran. After initially ranking Iran with Cuba and Venezuela, states that "do not pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us,"21 Obama subsequently assured AIPAC members that "the danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat." Later still, in Israel, he described a nuclear-armed Iran as "a game-changing situation" that would result in a new Middle East arms race and undercut America's non-proliferation efforts worldwide. Consequently, Obama swore to employ "all elements of American power," including military force, to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.22 At the same time, though, Obama has emphasized the need for discussions with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "without self-defeating preconditions, but with a clear-eyed understanding of our interests," to locate points of common interest and possibly diminish tensions. Such talks, Obama stresses, will be necessary to galvanize international support for more forceful action against Iran, should it become necessary.23

More consistently than Obama, McCain has characterized Iran as a threat to the free world, "hell-bent on the destruction of Israel, hell-bent on driving us out of Iraq, [and] hell-bent on supporting terrorist organizations."24 To deter Tehran, he has recommended a multi-tiered strategy of escalated sanctions and divestment campaigns, without ruling out an eventual use of force. "The military option has to be there," he insisted. But contrary to Obama, McCain rejects the very notion of dialogue with Ahmadinejad. This, he argues, would weaken Iranian moderates and reinforce the radicals. "It's hard to see what such a summit would actually gain," McCain observed, "except an earful of anti-Semitic rants and a worldwide audience for a man who denies one Holocaust and talks... about starting another."25

The McCain-Obama split over Iran was poignantly reflected in their reactions to the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment passed in September 2007 and the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) issued three months later. Endorsed by three-quarters of the Senate, the amendment recognized Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group and authorized the use of "all instruments of United States national power" to protect Iraq from Iran and its proxies. Though neither senator participated in the vote, McCain hailed the bill for sending "exactly the right message to Iran, to the region and to the world."26 Obama had previously sponsored a bill designating the Revolutionary Guards as terrorists, but he objected to the linkage between Iran and Iraq in Kyl-Lieberman. He described the bill as "saber-rattling" and a "reckless" attempt to perpetuate the American intervention in Iraq and possibly justify attacking Iran.27 In a similar vein, Obama embraced the NIE as "a compelling case for less saber-rattling and more direct diplomacy," while McCain rebuffed it. "We don't want the intelligence agencies to make the policies," he said.28

The Obama-McCain split over Iran presents Israel with life-and-death dilemmas. Israel would certainly gain from a president who built up international legitimacy by exhausting all possible options with Iran, including offers to communicate, before resorting to violence. But if diplomacy fails to modify Iranian behavior and instead furnishes Tehran with time to complete its nuclear weapons program, the outcome for Israel could be catastrophic. Compounding the stakes for Israel is the fact that—according to current Israeli Defense Forces estimates—Iran will possess an operational nuclear weapon by 2009, rendering either Obama's dialogue plan or McCain's sanction strategy moot.29

Alliance in the balance

The presidential election of 2008 is arguably the most pivotal for Israel in its 60 years of existence. The next occupant of the White House can immensely influence the course of Israel's relations with the Palestinians, the Syrians, and a range of Arab regimes. He can alter or maintain American policies on Jerusalem, the settlements, and negotiations with Hamas, and influence the shape and nature of any future Palestinian state. By upholding or disavowing preemption or by reducing or augmenting American troop strength in Iraq, he can radically sway the Middle East's balance of power. Most fatefully, in his determination to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weaponry, he can fortify Israel's security, if not ensure its survival.

The candidates offer a distinct set of policy choices to voters concerned with Israel, irrespective of what they think is "best" for it. In casting their ballots, though, Americans should be mindful of the fact that a President's ability to pursue any course of action in the Middle East is greatly limited by events and circumstances in the region. Political upheaval in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, the recrudescence of large-scale civil strife in Iraq or Lebanon, the acceleration of Iran's uranium enrichment program—all would mitigate the chances for an American peace initiative, for troop withdrawals, and non-violent action against Iran. In such cases, presidential platforms will be overshadowed by the need for crisis-mode decision-making, for projecting power and exercising prudence. Ultimately, Israel is best served by a President capable of grappling with rapid and often turbulent change. Pro-Israel voters, then, should be less concerned with which candidate, John McCain or Barack Obama, favors or opposes settlements or is open or opposed to dialogue with Iran, but which is the ablest leader.


Michael Oren is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem and a professor in the Foreign Service School and the Program for Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University. His most recent book is Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present (Norton, 2007).

  1. President George W. Bush, Address to the Knesset, May 14, 2008,
  2. Benjamin Netanyahu, Greeting to President George W. Bush in the Knesset, May 14, 2008,
  3. Jeffrey Goldberg, "Obama on Zionism and Hamas,", May 12, 2008,
  4. Senator John McCain, Speech to the AIPAC Policy Conference, June 2, 2008,
  5. As cited in Hilary Leila Kreiger, "Obama: Pro-Israel Needn't Be Pro-Likud," Jerusalem Post, February 26, 2008,
  6. Yitzhak Benhorin, "Obama to Bush: Hamas Must Recognize Israel," Yediot Ahronot (Tel Aviv), June 25, 2008,,7340,L-3560118,00.html. The actual letter sent by Senator Obama can be found in PDF form atÊSee also Yitzhak Benhorin, "Obama: We'll Make Sure Palestinians Have a State," Yediot Ahronot (Tel Aviv), July 27, 2008,,7340,L-3573954,00.html.
  7. As cited in James P. Rubin, "Hypocrisy on Hamas," Washington Post, May 16, 2008,
  8. Benhorin, "Obama to Bush: Hamas Must Recognize Israel."
  9. "McCain Calls for Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem," Ha'aretz (Tel Aviv), June 7, 2008,
  10. Senator Barack Obama, Speech to the AIPAC Policy Conference, June 4, 2008,
  11. As cited in "Democratic Presidential Debate,", April 27, 2007,
  12. Jeffrey Goldberg, "Obama on Zionism and Hamas,", May 12 2008,
  13. Benhorin, "Obama: We'll Make Sure Palestinians Have a State."
  14. Jeffrey Goldberg, "McCain on Israel, Iran and the Holocaust,", May 30, 2008,
  15. "National Security: A Strong Military in a Dangerous World,", n.d.,
  16. As cited in "Obama's Sept. 10th Mindset,", June 20, 2008,
  17. As cited in Jack Tapper, "McCain Camp Hits Obama for Terrorism Remarks,", June 17, 2008
  18. "McCain: Guantánamo Ruling One of the 'Worst Decisions' in History,", June 13, 2008,
  19. Barack Obama, "My Plan for Iraq," New York Times, July 14, 2008,
  20. "McCain Predicts Iraq War Over by 2013," CNN, May 15, 2008:
  21. "McCain, Obama Trade Jabs Over Iran Policy," CNN, May 19, 2008,
  22. Obama, Speech to the AIPAC Policy Conference.
  23. Ibid.
  24. Goldberg, "McCain on Israel, Iran and the Holocaust."
  25. McCain, Speech to the AIPAC Policy Conference.
  26. Ibid.
  27. Matthew Yglesias, "Kyl-Lieberman Postgame,", September 27, 2007:
  28. As cited in Seth Gitell, "In a Rare Move, Kissinger Endorses McCain," New York Sun, December 20, 2007,
  29. Ron Ben-Yishai, "Exclusive: Annual Israeli Intelligence Estimate," Yediot Ahronot (Tel Aviv), December 16, 2007,,7340,L-3483116,00.html.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Middle East Business chiefs think economic crisis is not their problem.

Last update - 06:22 02/11/2008       
Mideast business leaders see U.S. influence declining in region
By Eytan Avriel
ISTANBUL - Ministers, bankers, and businessmen from Turkey, Eastern Europe and the Middle East met over the past three days for a regional meeting of the World Economic Forum in Turkey for the first time.
The tone at the meeting was worrying, as the various leaders sounded just like Israeli officials: "We do not have financial problems .... Our banks are stable and have adequate capital reserves ... Our public did not overextend in taking credit ...." and "We have no need for government intervention." These are only some of the statements heard at the conference from senior officials throughout the region - despite the fact that many of their countries are liable to be among the first to collapse as a result of the economic crisis.
The explanation? A surprising combination of schadenfreude, a different world-view and a very large dose of denial. The schadenfreude came mostly from Middle Eastern countries, seemingly the result of years of feelings of inferiority to the West and its financial institutions. Of course the Iranian representative hurried to reap the political windfall, saying that the American hegemony over the region had ended and calling for regional cooperation and the creation of new power centers.
It seems that in Turkey, as well as in other countries in the region, the atmosphere is the exact opposite of that in the U.S., Europe and Israel's high tech industry. There is no sense of depression or a feeling that the end of the world is nigh here. Businessmen from the region are maintaining a business-as-ususal attitude, and in some cases they even talk about real opportunities. Turkey's businessmen are a good example of this.
Despite all these feelings, there is certainly a lot of denial going around. The main unknown is connected the public's level of confidence. Underneath the surface there are lots of doubts. Due to the cheap money available, many of the countries in the region saw their economies grow quickly, but their leaders forgot the need to develop basic infrastructures such as efficient capital markets at the same time. The minute the money stopped flowing from the West - and in some the flow even changed direction - their economies immediately ground to a halt.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Begin is back

A new Begin-ing
Last update - 11:20 02/11/2008       
Ex-cabinet minister Benny Begin announces return to Likud
By Yossi Verter, Haaretz Correspondent
Former cabinet minister and Likud MK Benny Begin will soon announce his return to politics and to the Likud Party, and his intention to run in the party primary for the next Knesset list.
Begin, who dropped out of politics and public life in 1999, agreed in talks with Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu over recent weeks to return to the party, after having apparently been promised a ministerial appointment if Netanyahu should win the upcoming elections.
The decisive meeting between the two was held late Saturday at the home of close Netanyahu associate Reuven Rivlin, also a Likud MK, in Jerusalem. During the meeting, Netanyahu and Begin ironed out the details surrounding the latter's return to the party.
As required by law, Begin tendered his resignation from the Geological Survey of Israel to Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer on Sunday, as it is forbidden by law for an employee of a government institution to contend in political races.
Likud faction chairman MK Gideon Sa'ar said of the announcement that Begin's addition will serve as a tremendous power boost for the party.
Begin, a scientist by profession, is the son of Israel's sixth prime minister Menachem Begin, who died in 1992.
Begin served as science minister in Netanyahu's government in 1996, when Likud returned to power, until 1997 when he resigned to protest against the Hebron Agreement, which called for redeployment of Israel Defense Forces troops in the West Bank city of Hebron. In 1999 he ran for prime minister at the helm of the right-wing party Herut - The National Movement, but resigned from politics after the party failed to win more than four seats.
Netanyahu has been reportedly also trying to recruit to the Likud former minister Dan Meridor, who also resigned from politics, and the son of former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, Yair Shamir.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Terrorist candidate in Israel

"If elected, I promise to blow up everyone."
Terrorist running for city council
Arab-Israeli woman jailed over Jerusalem market attack to compete in Sakhnin elections
Ronny Shaked YNET Published: 10.31.08, 16:17 / Israel News

Terrorist becomes a politician: Tagrid Saadi, a 28-year-old Arab-Israeli woman convicted of failing to prevent a terror attack in Jerusalem, is vying for a city council spot in the northern town of Sakhnin.

Saadi was detained immediately after a female suicide bomber detonated herself at Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market on April 12, 2002. The bombing killed six Israelis and wounded 60. Saadi was in contact with the cell commander, via the Internet, and was informed about the date of the attack. The cell leader also asked her for information about crowded locations that would be suitable for attacks.

Saadi was sentenced to six years in prison, where she affiliated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners. She was released less than a year ago, and has now decided to enter politics.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Should Rabin murderer Yigal Amir be interviewed?

Should Yitzhak Rabin murderer Yigal Amir be interviewed?
Larry Butchins says, "No!"
Yigal Amir and the Media

There is a media feeding frenzy going about Yigal Amir's telephone interview with two TV channels. And now two leading (left-leaning) journalists have published conflicting views about whether the channels were right about pulling the interviews from their broadcast schedule after having widely publicized that they were going to be aired. Did the channels just cave in to public opinion and the dictates of higher authority, discarding journalistic integrity?

Right or Wrong: - IMHO - both. BUT...and it's a ginormous "BUT"...

Let's look at the interviews from a purely journalistic point of view first:

in my days as a reporter, would I have given my eye teeth to have an interview with a murderer - especially such a high profile murderer as this one? You betcha!!!!

But back in those days, we had what we used to call journalistic ethics (!!!???- what?) The first question that my editors would have asked - and which I would have had to ask myself - was: "Is it in the public interest?" If the potential story failed this acid test, then it was canned right at the outset - BEFORE the interview even took place.

Then there are other questions that would have supported the final decision: Why was the individual in question granting the interview - or seeking the interview - in the first place? For self-aggrandisement? For publicity for his spurious cause? A positive answer to any of these questions would have caused it to be spiked there and then.


Continued (Permanent Link)

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