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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Arab lobby at work in US, curtailing academic freedom

An ugly manifestation of the pernicious racist Arab lobby at work, muzzling any opposition, trying to extend their racist "shunning" policy to every corner of the globe and challenging academic freedom.
Middle East Task Force of Ann Arbor says any attempt by University Musical Society to develop ties with Israeli orchestra amounts to 'condoning Israeli apartheid', urges condemnation of Israel's 'racist and discriminatory practices'
Merav Yudilovitch
Published:  11.15.08, 09:03 / Israel Culture
A Pro-Palestinian group has called on the University of Michigan to cancel a scheduled performance by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra (JSO), saying it would constitute a "violation of the calls for broad boycotts against Israel until it recognizes the Palestinian people's inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with international law."

In a letter to University Musical Society President Ken Fischer, the Middle East Task Force (METF) of Ann Arbor said "since the JSO is one of the primary promoters and exporters of Israeli cultural life, one of its functions is to boost Israel's image on the world stage. In this way, the truth about the Israeli occupation of Palestine becomes suppressed, and its institutionalized attacks on Palestinian cultural heritage are ignored. Any attempt by the US hosts of the tour to develop ties with this Orchestra, therefore, amounts to condoning Israeli apartheid.

"As such, we call upon the JSO's scheduled hosts to be mindful of the appeal issued in 2006 by Palestinian filmmakers, artists and cultural workers … to end all cooperation with Israeli art, film and cultural organizations and institutions sponsored by the Israeli government," the letter read.

"We urge the hosts to condemn Israel for its racist and discriminatory practices, rather than condoning them. Finally, we call upon all American citizens of conscience to support the call by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee and to boycott all cultural institutions supported by the apartheid Israeli state."

METF said it would hold a non-violent protest outside the Hill Auditorium on the night of the performance, scheduled for November 16.

The group quoted JSO Conductor Leon Botstein as saying that the orchestra was "very international, with a very wide age range and a very wide political span - from extreme left to extreme right - and I admire the civility with which it handles itself", and added that "oddly enough for an orchestra that hails from Jerusalem, a city where Palestinians make up about one-third of the population, there are, apparently, no Palestinians in the orchestra."

In the letter METF also mentioned the Batsheva Dance Company, which is scheduled to perform in the US in February, 2009, calling it "an Israeli apartheid institution."

METF cited an article published by the London-based Independent, which said "Batsheva is hardly a political entity, but it's funded by Israel's government, its performers include none of Arab extraction, and it is proud to be considered Israel's leading ambassador."
JSO said in response that its management had met with Palestinian dignitaries from east Jerusalem about a year ago to discuss new ways to cooperate.

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Synagogue Bombing 101?

Isn't this carrying academic freedom a bit far?  

Last update - 08:15 14/11/2008    
Canadian professor held over deadly 1980 synagogue bombing in Paris
By News Agencies
Canadian police arrested a University of Ottawa sociology professor Thursday in connection with the 1980 bombing that killed four people and more than 20 wounded outside a Paris synagogue.
Hassan Diab, 54, was taken into custody by agents of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada's national police force, at his home in Gatineau, Quebec, Diab's lawyer, Rene Duval, told the Ottawa Citizen newspaper.
L'Express said Diab had dual Lebanese and Canadian citizenship and was a sociology lecturer at a university in Ottawa.
A team of French police, magistrates and intelligence officers were in Canada were reportedly working on the case and would try to arrange Diab's extradition to France.

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Sensation: Hamas offered peace in secret letter?

If Hamas was so interested in peace, why did not they never make this offer in public?
Last update - 09:12 14/11/2008       
In 2006 letter to Bush, Haniyeh offered compromise with Israel
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent
A few months after Hamas' 2006 election victory, leader Ismail Haniyeh tried to start a dialogue with U.S. President George W. Bush.
Haaretz has obtained a written message from Haniyeh sent to Bush via an American professor who met with Haniyeh in the Gaza Strip. Haniyeh asked Bush to lift the boycott of the Hamas government and pressure Israel to maintain stability in the region.
On June 6, 2006, Haniyeh met Dr. Jerome Segal of the University of Maryland in the Gaza Strip.
Segal had been involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process for many years and was one of the first Americans to meet Palestine Liberation Organization leaders in the late 1980s, even passing messages from senior PLO figures to then U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz. Segal's academic work brought him in contact with senior State Department and National Security Council officials throughout the Clinton administration. However, the relationship was severed during the Bush administration.
At the time of the meeting, Hamas was trying to establish its three-month-old government under an international boycott. The Quartet for Middle East peace had called on the organization to recognize Israel, disavow terror and honor existing agreements.
At the end of the meeting, Haniyeh dictated a short message he asked Segal to transmit to President Bush. Haniyeh spoke Arabic and Youssuf translated his words into English. Segal took down the letter in his notebook and Haniyeh and Youssuf both signed it.
Haniyeh wrote in the missive, "We are an elected government which came through a democratic process."
In the second paragraph, Haniyeh laid out the political platform he maintains to this day. "We are so concerned about stability and security in the area that we don't mind having a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders and offering a truce for many years," he wrote.
Haniyeh called on Bush to launch a dialogue with the Hamas government.
"We are not warmongers, we are peace makers and we call on the American government to have direct negotiations with the elected government," he wrote. Haniyeh also urged the American government to act to end the international boycott "because the continuation of this situation will encourage violence and chaos in the whole region."
Upon his return to the U.S. several days later, Segal gave State Department and NSC officials the original letter.
In his own letter, Segal emphasized that a state within the 1967 borders and a truce for many years could be considered Hamas' de facto recognition of Israel. He noted that in a separate meeting, Youssuf suggested that the Palestinian Authority and Israel might exchange ambassadors during that truce period. This was not the only covert message from Hamas to senior Bush administration officials. However, Washington did not reply to these messages and maintained its boycott of the Hamas government.

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What color were ancient Jews?

Ofri Ilani has this story in Ha'aretz:
Last update - 08:04 15/11/2008       
How white were the Israelites? Facial reconstruction may be surprising
By Ofri Ilani, Haaretz Correspondent
The research, conducted with scientists from the Russian Foundation of Fundamental Investigation, was published in the German journal Anthropoligischer Anzeiger. Ben Yair used the skull of a male from the Hellenistic Period and a female from the Roman Period that had been discovered in the Dead Sea region.
The researchers reconstructed gaps in the skulls and inserted false teeth. They measured the skulls and reconstructed the soft tissue based on earlier research. Using cutting-edge technology, they created two statues they say are quite accurate representations of early Hebrew man and woman.
Not surprisingly, the appearance of the man is very similar to that of today's Middle Eastern man. The researchers concluded that he belonged to the Mediterranean branch of the Caucasoid group, scientific terminology for what is known as "white."
However, the woman's appearance was quite surprising. She has a large mouth with a protruding upper lip and a full lower lip. The nose is also prominent with a low bridge. These and other findings led the researchers to determine that while the reconstructed woman was also Caucasoid, she had "equatorial (African)" characteristics.
The article notes her "high and prominent upper lip, and 'plump' lower lip." The researchers added: "The chin is prominent, high and narrow, protruding outward."
Note that while the article and the researchers said nothing about skin color, Ilani's headline does. Ilani is the same fellow who gave prominence to Shlomo Zand's ideas that there are no Jews. It is doubtful if absolute conclusions about skin color can be drawn from such reconstruction data, though DNA samples might provide a clue. Nor can we draw any conclusions about the entire population from two skeletons. Israel was always a meeting point of Africa and Asia and necessarily had mixed populations. And if Jews were pitch black, who cares? Maybe one of them was Barack Obama's ancestor.
Ami Isseroff  

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IDF Golani soldiers filmed humiliating bound Palestinian face court martial

The people who do these sort of things do more damage to Israel than suicide bombers. Let's hope that justice is exemplary and deterrent.
Last update - 07:31 14/11/2008       
IDF soldiers filmed humiliating bound Palestinian face court martial
By Haaretz Service
The Israel Defense Forces ruled on Thursday it will court-martial four infantrymen who were filmed verbally abusing a bound and blindfolded Palestinian at what is believed to be a checkpoint in the West Bank, Channel 10 reported.
According to the report, IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi ordered an investigation into the incident, tapping GOC Northern Command Gadi Eizencot to oversee the probe.
Last week, soldiers from the Golani infantry brigade posted a video on YouTube depicting a blindfolded Palestinian being forced to repeat phrases in Hebrew as the soldiers manning the checkpoint laugh in the background.
One of the lines is: "Golani will bring you a log to stick up your ass."
As the detainee repeats the words, the soldiers are heard laughing raucously in the background.
The clip has drawn the attention of both domestic and international media outlets, sparking public outrage at the soldiers' behavior.
Last week, the army issued a harsh condemnation of the troops' actions.
"The IDF views this incident gravely and condemns it. Behavior of this kind goes against IDF values and its soldiers' expected norms of behavior," the IDF Spokesman's Unit said in a statement it released.
The IDF said it was unaware of the incident until it received the clip from Channel 10, after which it immediately began an investigation.
"With the emergence of all of the details, it will be decided whether to take steps and which [to take]. The IDF denunciates this behavior," the statement said

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Olmert declares: Israel will not reconcile with Gaza rocket fire

At present, if you go to the URL, there is a 3 day old video there that shows hundreds of Israeli soldiers in Gaza and states "No one was injured by the rocket strikes." It was made on Thursday, before the latest strikes and is simply incorrect. The story is about later events.
Israel should probably not be making declarative statements of this sort, unless there is a real plan to deal with the problem. There have been too many declarations and not enough intelligent action or wise thought.
Last update - 08:54 15/11/2008       
Olmert: Israel will not reconcile with Gaza rocket fire
By Barak Ravid and Amira Hass, Haaretz Correspondents, and DPA
"Israel views missile fire and attempts to carry out terrorist attacks from the Gaza Strip as a fundamental, gross violation of the understandings that led to the truce," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said after consulting on Friday with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, and other senior officials in the defense establishment.
"Israel has no intention of reconciling with these events," Olmert said, adding that the government will not permit a segment of Israel's civilian population, particularly those living on the outskirts of the Gaza border, to return to a state of uncertainty that preceded the cease-fire.
Under the terms of the cease-fire, which went into effect in mid-June, Israel agreed to allow goods into the Gaza Strip through border crossings it controls, while Gaza militants were to refrain from firing rockets. A policy of closing border crossings in response to rocket fire has been employed by Israel.
Gaza militnats fired at least sixteen Qassam and Grad rockets into the western Negev since the early morning hours on Friday. One Israeli was lightly wounded in the attacks.
Vice Premier Haim Ramon said Friday that the latest flare-up of violence along the frontier with the Gaza Strip spells the death knell of the six-month truce.
"These last two days are the de facto conclusion of the lull, even if there are those who refuse to recognize this," Ramon said. "When the truce in Gaza was first decided upon, I cautioned that it was a tactical and strategic error by the State of Israel to recognize the state of Hamastan," he added, referring to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
During a visit to the beleaguered western Negev town of Sderot, the defense minister vowed that the government would move decisively to protect residents living within range of Palestinian projectiles.
"We will keep protecting our soldiers and people and keep acting against attempts to interrupt the cease-fire, but if the other side will want or wish to keep the cease-fire alive, we'll consider it seriously," Barak said.
The strikes began in the early hours of Friday when eight Qassams exploded in and around the southern city of Sderot. Another five rockets, claimed by Hamas to be of the Grad type, struck Ashkelon a few hours later.
One Israeli sustained shrapnel wounds and four others were treated for shock after the first eight rockets exploded in Sderot and in a kibbutz nearby. Two of the rockets that hit Sderot damaged local buildings.
Immediately after the initial barrage, an Israel Air Force aircraft fired a missile at a rocket-launching area in the northern Gaza Strip, wounding two gunmen.
The two gunmen named as members of the Islamic Jihad militant group. Hamas claimed responsibility for all of the rockets fired on Friday.
Meanwhile on Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the flare-up in fighting that violated the ceasefire in Gaza Strip has the potential to inflict more suffering and violence to the civilian population.
"Measures that increase the hardship and suffering of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip as a whole are unacceptable and should cease immediately," Ban said.
He urged Israel to allow the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestinian refugees and all humanitarian agencies to resume relief activities in Gaza.
On Thursday, Israel delivered a message to Hamas via Egyptian intermediaries indicating that while it has no interest in escalating tensions along the Gaza border, it would retaliate against any attempt by the Islamist group to carry out attacks.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Report: Hamas not to renew ceasefire

It stands to reason, that Hamas did not dig the tunnel and fire all those rockets and pull out of the unity talks in Egypt, if they had intended to renew the cease fire. However, meanwhile, remember thatt he following article is only a "report" from a source. Israel will be pressured to demant release of Gilad Shalit, Hamas will demand lifting of the "siege."  

Hamas to demand new conditions for any ceasefire talks, including prior opening of crossings; Islamic Jihad member warns of imminent suicide attacks
Ali Waked
Published:  11.14.08, 16:08 / Israel News 
Hamas will demand different conditions for any renewed ceasefire, regardless of whether the current six-month Hamas-Israel ceasefire will end as planned on December 19 or be terminated early as the result of rocket fire on Sderot, a source from the organization told Ynet Friday.
"If and when new discussions will commence regarding an extension of the ceasefire, we'll demand the opening of all crossings prior to or concurrent to a ceasefire," the source said. "We'll demand to put a stop to Israeli disruptions of the ceasefire via closings of the crossings or delay of goods, as well as demanding that the ceasefire apply to the West Bank." 
According to the source, it is unclear whether the ceasefire has officially ended. "It looks like it's about to end, but even if it won't collapse in the upcoming days as a result of Israeli violations, one thing is for sure: We won't accept the current conditions for a future ceasefire."
"We will demand guarantees. We will agree to an additional period of ceasefire only after crossings are opened and goods are delivered and after we receive guarantees that the ceasefire will include the West Bank," he said.
A senior Hamas official, Dr. Khalil al-Haya, called on members of Hamas' military wing to continue shooting rockets "at the Israeli settlements around Gaza."
Al-Haya spoke at a Hamas-organized rally against the arrest of organization operatives in the West Bank by associates of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.  
Suicide attacks to resume
The Palestinian organizations involved in a ceasefire with Israel consulted with members of an umbrella organization representing the Palestinian opposition and agreed that the ceasefire, in its current format, had failed and should not be renewed.
A member of the al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, told Ynet that, in his estimation, all Palestinian organizations understand that the ceasefire has ended and that a new round of hard fighting with Israel is about to take place.
"Israelis are not the only ones who can threaten and they are not the only ones who had the means to hurt Palestinians. We are ready to show the innovations we've been acquiring over the recent months, including more massive shooting of more precise and long-range missiles," he said.
He also threatened that the organization would renew suicide attacks. "The recent months caused Israelis to forget the suicide bombings. And if they think the fence in Gaza or the West Bank will prevent such attacks, we promise there are ways to remind them that attacks will return to the heart of Israel," he said.

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Yo-Ho-Ho and a bottle of Arak - Twenty-First Century Pirates threaten World Trade

Can you believe this is happening in 2008? Avast ye landlubbers!
13 Nov 2008 17:44:18 GMT
Source: Reuters

Nov 13 (Reuters) - Somali pirates are causing havoc in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, which connects Europe to Asia and the Middle East via the Suez Canal.
Piracy off the Horn of Africa has been a problem for years, but daily attacks are now forcing shippers to seek alternative routes. Pirates have been exacting big ransoms from ship owners, threatening humanitarian supplies, firing on laden oil and gas carriers and pushing insurance costs sky high.
Here are some facts about how the wave of attacks is threatening international seaborne trade.
-- Major operators of the world's merchant fleet -- carrying some 90 percent of the world's traded goods by volume -- are seriously considering by-passing the Gulf of Aden and Suez Canal altogether.
-- Industry experts say the alternative trade route, round South Africa's Cape of Good Hope, would add some three weeks or more to a typical journey, pushing up costs for goods.
-- Two well-known shipping firms, one that specializes in gas and the other the world's largest tug operator Svitzer, are already routing their vessels via the Cape of Good Hope.
-- Millions of tonnes of crude oil, petroleum products, gas and dry commodities like grains, iron ore and coal, as well as containerised goods from Hi-Fis to toys are ferried through the Gulf of Aden and Suez Canal every month.
-- The Gulf of Aden is located in the Middle East with Yemen to the north, Somalia to the south and the Arabian Sea to the east. It is connected to the Red Sea by the Bab el Mandab strait. Somalia has been stuck in civil conflict for 17 years.
-- Exports from the Gulf and Asia to the West must pass through Bab el-Mandab before entering the Suez Canal. Nearly 20,000 ships pass through the Gulf of Aden each year, heading to and from the Suez Canal.
-- The Bab el-Mandab passage handles around 3.3 million barrels per day of oil en route to the Canal and the Sumed Pipeline discharging in the Mediterranean for onward shipment to markets in Europe and the United States.
-- Seven percent of world oil consumption passed through the Gulf of Aden in 2007, according to Lloyd's Marine Intelligence Unit.
-- Around 30 percent of Europe's oil goes through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea.
-- Liquefied natural gas exports from Qatar and Algeria pass through the Gulf of Aden en route to consumers in the West and in Asia. The largest class of gas carrier transiting the area carries enough gas to heat 4.5 million British homes.
-- The Gulf of Aden and Suez Canal are the main trade routes for dry commodities and containerised cargo -- manufactured goods -- between Asia, Europe and the Americas.
-- The Suez Canal is the third major source of income for Egypt.
-- Intelligence sources say three suspicious trawlers are now in the Gulf of Aden and are believed to be pirate mother vessels looking to attack and hijack ships.
-- The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said a total of 199 incidents of piracy or attempted piracy were reported worldwide during January-September, of which 63 were in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast.
-- Recent attacks have brought the anti-terrorist Combined Task Force 150 into action. The multinational unit, part of Washington's Operation Enduring Freedom, is based in Djibouti and has come to the aid of many ships attacked by pirates.
-- In late August, it announced a string of waypoints marking a Maritime Security Patrol Area or safe corridor, which warships will patrol while coalition aircraft fly overhead.
-- While there is no formal agreement between the coalition and other navies, they have been communicating with each other and sharing information to more effectively patrol the area.
-- The British navy killed two pirates this week after the attempted hijacking of a Danish vessel. Britain's HMS Cumberland was joined in action by a Russian frigate. French ships have also engaged pirates in recent months, killing some, capturing others and freeing hostages.
Sources: Reuters/EIA, Lloyd's Marine Intelligence Unit, GlobalSecurity/Ministry of Defence/International Maritime Bureau.
(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: (Writing and reporting by David Cutler and Stefano Ambrogi; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)

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About ten Qassam rockets fall, Palestinian rockets wound 1 Israeli in Western Negev

This illustrates the value of the Hamas truce. Different articles claim that the attacks were done by Hamas and Islamic Jihad or Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committees.
Last update - 14:24 14/11/2008       
Israeli lightly wounded as rocket barrage hits Negev
By Barak Ravid and Amira Hass, Haaretz Correspondents
A barrage of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip exploded in the western Negev on Friday morning, leaving one Israeli lightly wounded.
The strikes began in the early hours of Friday when eight Qassams exploded in and around the southern city of Sderot. Another five rockets, claimed by Hamas to be of the Grad type, struck Ashkelon a few hours later.
One Israeli suffered shrapnel wounds and another four were treated for shock after the first eight rockets exploded in Sderot and in a kibbutz nearby. Two of the rockets that hit Sderot damaged local buildings.

Immediately after the initial barrage, an Israel Air Force air craft fired a missile at a rocket-launching area in the northern Gaza Strip, wounding two gunmen.
The two gunmen named as members of the Islamic Jihad militant group. Hamas claimed responsibility for all of the rockets fired on Friday.
Meanwhile, Israel on Thursday delivered a message to Hamas via Egyptian intermediaries indicating that while it has no interest in escalating tensions along the Gaza border, it would retaliate against any attempt by the Islamist group to carry out attacks.

Hanan Greenberg
Latest Update:  11.14.08, 12:56 / Israel News
As rocket barrages fell on southern Israel Friday, European Union Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner called for Gaza crossings to be opened and the delivery of fuel and good to be resumed.

"I am profoundly concerned about the consequences for the Gazan population of the complete closure of all Gaza crossings for deliveries of fuel and basic humanitarian assistance," Ferrero-Waldner said in a statement.
She called on Israel to re-open the crossings for humanitarian and commercial flows, in particular food and medicine, and said facilitation of fuel deliveries for the Gaza Power Plant should be resumed immediately.

The statement continued to say that International law requires the provision of access to essential services such as electricity and clean water to the civilian population.
 "Recent infringements of the calm agreed in June must not lead to a renewed cycle of violence. I call on all parties to exercise restraint," she said.

A Qassam rocket launched from the northern Gaza Strip hit an electric pole near a house in Sderot on Friday, and Magen David Adom sources reported an 80-year-old woman was lightly injured from shrapnel and seven people suffered from shock from the attack.
 Four more rockets hit the Ashkelon area later Friday. One landed inside the city, another fell just outside, and two more landed in nearby open fields shortly after an alarm was sounded. Defense establishment officials said at least two of the rockets were Grad missiles.Three people suffered from shock.
All victims were evacuated to Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon. A total of 14 rockets were fired on the Western Negev on Friday.
 A Sderot resident told Ynet, "We heard very loud screeching and blasts that we almost didn't recognize, my whole house was shaking, even though the fall wasn't anywhere in our area. It was very frightening, people are terrified."
Sdeort Mayor David Boskila has been dealing with the rocket attacks since Thursday and has not had the chance to celebrate his recent victory in municipal elections.
Visiting the rocket landing sites with defense establishment officials, Boskila said, "The government has to hit the Palestinian population hard for this attack and should do it in real time, immediately after the attack.
"I reiterate my demand that the Israeli government do everything possible to stop the shooting. As soon as I officially enter office I will have the authority and mandate to demand this. I really hope this attack will end the week of attacks and that we'll have a peaceful weekend, although, I very much doubt it."
One rocket landed between houses in a kibbutz in Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. The kibbutz does not have a bomb shelters for all the residents, and a number of homes were damaged.
One resident of the kibbutz said, "We heard a very loud explosion, the houses here trembled, and only by a miracle was nobody hurt, most of the residents weren't outside in the area, and unfortunately, we still do not have bomb shelters in the kibbutz just like a great part of the rest of the kibbutzim in the area."

IDF bombs terror cell
The IDF bombed a cell of Qassam rocket launchers in the Gaza Strip Friday morning. Palestinian sources reported that at least three of the ring's members were hit in the aerial attack.
 The ring that was hit is affiliated with the Islamic Jihad's Mujahideen Brigades. The incident occurred shortly after the ring stopped firing rockets at Israel. The same ring was responsible for firing rockets on Israel Thursday night.
 Sources in the strip said Hamas was not preventing the attacks, but its men were not involved.

A color red alarm was sounded just after 08:30 am in Sderot and Gaza vicinity communities, and no injuries were reported.

Several rockets were fired on Israel from the Gaza Strip on Thursday, and Thursday afternoon a color red alarm was sounded in the southern city of Ashkelon shortly before a rocket landed south of the city, with no injuries.

The defense establishment will not allow crossings with Gaza to be opened on Friday, due to the continued rocket attacks.
On Thursday the IDF planned to allow the transfer of fuel and goods through Gaza crossings, in accordance with Defense Minister Ehud Barak's instructions. 
Following a defense establishment re-evaluation, and warnings of planned attacks at the crossings, it was decided to keep them closed.

On Thursday Israel did not transfer fuel to the Strip either, due to attack warnings.

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What does Hamas want?

There are two diametrically opposed views of the recent Hamas escalation, stated with equal confidence and authority.
Palestinian sources in Gaza say Hamas purposely provoking Israel to end ceasefire and influence upcoming general elections. 'Hamas wants right-wing gov't to end diplomatic process; group functions best during military clashes,' says source.
"They know his election will put an end to the diplomatic process. With right-wing leadership, the chance of military clashes grows, and Hamas functions best in such a situation, and support for the group grows, while support for those who seek negotiations weakens."
The source warned that "if there is no Egyptian intervention and renewed examination of the ceasefire in its current form that will lead to the opening of the crossings, Hamas will continue its policy that will lead to the ultimate collapse of the truce."
Hamas' military wing, Izz al-Din al-Qassam claimed responsibility for eight of the 10 rockets that were fired on Israel Friday. Salah al-Din Brigades, the Popular Resistance Committees' military wing claimed responsibility for the other two.
But on the other hand...
Ex-Shin Bet official: Most Hamas leaders want to maintain short-term truce
By Amos Harel, Barak Ravid and Amira Hass, Haaretz Correspondents
Most Hamas leaders are interested in maintaining a cease-fire with Israel in the short term, according to a former deputy chief of the Shin Bet security service.
In an article published on U.S. Web site regarding the escalation of violence that erupted more than a week ago between Israel the Gaza Strip, the official wrote that continuing the truce would allow Hamas to achieve its other political goals.
"Although certain Hamas officials (particularly in the military wing) want to abandon the ceasefire altogether, most of its leaders will most likely continue to emphasize the truce's benefits and maintain the agreement for the near term, since it allows Hamas to make progress on other goals," wrote the official."
"The organization is concerned that a large-scale incursion by the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] would prevent it from dealing with its complex set of challenges and also endanger its main achievement, the complete control of the Gaza Strip," the official wrote. "The truce promotes Hamas's interests by buying time to advance the movement's short- and long-term goals."
Meanwhile, violence between Israel and Gaza continued on Friday as Hamas militants fired over a dozen rockets at the western Negev, while the Israel Air Force responded by shooting missiles at a rocket-launching pad in the northern Strip.
Gaza Hamas leader Mahmoud Az-Zahar warned Israel in a Friday sermon, "If you want to leave the truce, we are ready. And if you want to continue it, then abide by it."

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The 'narrative' of Iraqi and Arab Jews

The rewritting of history by anti-Zionists still continues. An inadequate but veridical summary of the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Arab countries is presented by Benny Morris in his 2008 book, 1948. However, the true believers will continue to believe their "narrative" which blames the nakba of Jews from Arab countries on the Zionist. The people who try to turn this sad story into an anti-Zionist "narrative" have the same sort of ironical sense of "humor" as Joe Stalin. Iraqi Jews, among others were subject to periodic pogroms, including the Farhud that was organized as part of the pro-Nazi coup instigated by Grand Mufti Hajj Amin Al Husseini. Following World War II, the Arab League countries planned, and then carried out, the expulsion of Jews and seizure of their property. 
But the anti-Zionists blame it all on the Zionists for some reason. Two more books spinning this tale have appeared, and a fairly poisonous review takes up their cause. Here's the story in "Point of No Return" London Review of Books skews Iraqi Jews' story

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Palestinians remember Yasser

When an Israeli soldier dies, there is often a commemorative album published, with a name like "Friends remember Shmulick." The Palestinians are remembering Yasser Arafat. Arafat robbed the Palestinians blind. As if that wasn't enough, he orchestrated the outbreak of violence that began in September 2000, which was spun into an Israeli provocation - The Second Intifada that brought enormous suffering on the Palestinians and ruined their hopes for statehood and independence.
But an article in MaanNews praises "al Ra'is" as a wonderful man of the people, just as the satirical show, "The Producers" showed the human side of Adolph Hitler. The Egyptian Arafat is transformed into a Jerusalemite. The seducer of pages in Rumanian hotels becomes a paragon. The murderer of Palestinians and Israelis alike become a man of culture with a sweet tooth and a lover of the arts (Mickey Mouse and Umm Khoultoum): (source:  

The man embodied much of what it meant to be Palestinian. Somehow, at the same time he was a refugee, he was a Jerusalemite, a Gazan, a West Banker and an exiled Palestinian who had felt deeply all of his torments.

Al-Ra'is was a man that loved his people who died before he was able to achieve their dream.

Arafat knew he was dying when doctors diagnosed him first with the flu and then with a terminal immune-deficiency disease, said political writer and analyst Yahya Rabah.

"He never told anyone how he felt," said Rabah. Throughout his illness doctors piled him with advice which Arafat saw as a sort of lamentation, since he knew he was dying, Rabah, who was also a friend to Arafat, recalled.

Despite his determined and often stoic appearance Arafat was open about his affection for friends and comrades Abu Iyad (chief of the Palestinian Intelligence Agency) and Abu Jihad (founder of Fatah and military leader).

"When those two men were beside me I slept with comfort on my pillow, but since the day I lost them I felt explosives inside that pillow whenever I tried to sleep," he was said to have lamented.

Arafat was a man with a sweet tooth; he drank only tea and not coffee, and rather enjoyed Nabulsi Kanafeh. Friends remember him slicing the sticky sweets with his hands and passing squares out to those around him.

Arafat also loved the simple company of children. Some of his happiest times, recall friends, were drinking tea and playing with his daughter and the children of his close friends. He would watch Mickey Mouse cartoons with them and laugh from the bottom of his chest.

He also enjoyed the higher arts, would listen to the reverberating songs of Umm Kalthoum, and enjoyed deep friendships with Arab poets, writers and actors like Adel Imam, Yousef Sha'ban and Madiha Yousri.

On the day devoted to his memory, the celebration of his successes and the mourning of his failures, Palestinians gathered in groups to hear speeches, songs and stories bringing back into life the stories of the once great man.
If a Zionist had written that an old reprobate bisexual crook and murderer "embodied much of what it meant to be Palestinian" it would be considered incitement.

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Report: Iraq war ended; Bush indicted

This is a hoax of course, of course. Nobody would believe a hoax unless someone writes "Report" in front of the headline. But everyone believes the hoax if someone like Sy Hersh writes it up. Then it becomes "Report: Israel will invade Iran."
A hoax is a hoax of corx, of corx. Unless of coarse of course, the hoax is Mr. Sy.
Last update - 07:16 13/11/2008       
Hoax NY Times declares end of Iraq war, Bush charged with treason
By News Agencies
A group of pranksters handed out more than 1.2 million fake New York Times newspapers mainly in New York City and Los Angeles on Wednesday with a front page story declaring "Iraq War Ends" and President George W. Bush has been indicted for treason.
The elaborate 14-page edition, dated July 4, 2009, is said to be the work of a group called the Yes Men, whose previous hoaxes include masquerading as World Trade Organization officials announcing they were disbanding the body.
"It is fake and we are looking into it," said New York Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis.
A statement sent from a Web site set up for the fake edition,, said creating the newspaper took six months and that it was printed at six different presses and then given to thousands of volunteers to distribute.
"We've got to make sure Obama and all the other Democrats do what we elected them to do," Bertha Suttner, identified as one of the newspaper's writers, said in the statement. "After eight, or maybe twenty-eight years of hell, we need to start imagining heaven."
President-elect Barack Obama takes office on Jan. 20 after eight years of the Bush administration and 28 years after the inauguration of Ronald Reagan.
The newspaper includes a front page story saying that "Ex-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reassured soldiers that the Bush administration had known well before the invasion that Saddam Hussein lacked weapons of mass destruction."
The Bush administration has said it believed at the time of the March 2003invasion that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and was trying to develop a nuclear bomb.
Other headlines declared that the "Maximum Wage Law Succeeds," "Nationalized Oil to Fund Climate Change Efforts" and "Nation Sets Its Sights On Building Sane Economy."

Accompanying the replica of the print edition was a website, which again looked like the Times:
There is also a full page fake advertisement on page three from the world's largest publicly traded oil company Exxon Mobil saying the company applauded the end of the Iraq war and that peace is "an idea the world can profit from."
In a pamphlet handed out to volunteers when they picked up copies of the newspaper to distribute there was a "Frequently Asked Questions" section. In response to "who made this?" it said: "Who knows? Rumors are it's a group of writers from several mainstream dailies -- including The New York Times."
The Yes Men, who were the subject of a book and documentary in 2004, have pulled off pranks including posing as Exxon Mobil and National Petroleum Council representatives to deliver a speech at a Canadian oil conference.
They have also posed as federal housing officials at a New Orleans event with the city's mayor and the governor of Louisiana and promised to throw open closed public housing to thousands of poor former city residents.
But they are not the first to fake The New York Times.
According to the paper's "City Room" blog, the best-known spoof was during the 1978 newspaper strike and the prank included journalist Carl Bernstein, author Christopher Cerf, humorist Tony Hendra and Paris Review editor George Plimpton.
The pranksters interviewed several gullible commuters and posted the video on the internet. One said, "I can't believe it - the war is over. Wow!"
Another said: "I knew change was coming to America - I just didn't expect it so fast."

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Is Obama an Arab after all?

OK, I'm just kidding, but these people are not. Everyone is claiming Obama as their own, including the Jews and the Irish.
Last update - 09:29 13/11/2008       
Report: Galilee Bedouin claim Obama as lost member of tribe
By Haaretz Service
About 8,000 Bedouin living in the Galilee are claiming U.S. President-elect Barack Obama as a lost member of their tribe, The Times of London reported on Thursday.
The tribe, based in the northern village of Bir al-Maksour, has not yet produced evidence of the so-called family connection. Local council member Abdul Rahman Sheikh Abdullah told The Times they have withheld the claims until now so as not to intervene in the election campaign.
"We knew about it years ago but we were afraid to talk about it because we didn't want to influence the election," Abdullah told The Times. "We wrote a letter to him explaining the family connection."
Obama has not yet responded to the letter, The Times reported.
The claim has brought a slew of visitors to the small Bedouin village, where tribesman have celebrated the "Bedouin Obama's' victory, according to The Times.
Abdullah plans to hold a massive party next week including the slaughter of a dozen goats, The Times said, and has already been marking the occasion of Obama's win by handing out traditional sweets to guests and locals.
The claim originated with Abdullah's 95-year-old mother, who believes Obama bears resemblance to the African migrant workers once employed by the sheikhs in British Mandate Palestine in the 1930, The Times reported.
Abdullah's mother said that a relative Obama's Kenyan grandmother had once been employed in such capacity and married a lcoal Bedouin girl who he later returned home with.
Abdullah had documentary evidence to the family connection, but has promised his mother to reveal them until he has presented them to Obama, according to The Times.
"We want to send a delegation to congratulate him, and we know we'll get an answer soon," The Times quoted him as saying.
According to The Times, the clan is so certain of the connection that two of its newest members have already been named Obama.
Abdullah said the tribe is pinning its hopes on the president-elect to "end all wars and intervene here to solve our problems in Israel. The Beduin are the people who suffer the most here," he told The Times.

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Ramon: fire on Qassam launchers in civilian areas

The question is, what is the limit? When do you say that the truce is broken, and face the fact that Israel needs to destroy Hamas? How many tunnels into Israel, rockets into Ashkelon or whatever tell us that the truce is finished?
Vice premier demands cabinet make decision on harsher Israeli response to Qassam attacks from Gaza, despite fear of breaking international law. 'Government's role is to take a chance, fulfill duty of defending citizens of Israel,' he says
Roni Sofer
Published:  11.13.08, 08:32 / Israel News
Vice Premier Haim Ramon warned of Israel's poor hand on Wednesday night, saying the State was not responding appropriately to the continued Qassam attacks from the Gaza Strip out of fear that ministers and Israel Defense Force officers will be accused of breaking international law when going abroad.

"The government's role is to take the chance that we might not be able to travel to Belgium and eat chocolate, but that we fulfill our duty and defend the citizens of this State," Ramon said.
The defense establishment is still waiting for legal backing from Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, and the approval of steps such as cutting off power to the Strip and returning fire to groups firing Qassam rockets and mortar shells at Israel from within densely populated areas in Gaza.

Ynet has learned that the defense establishment has been restricting its response to Gaza fire in the past week, out of fear that officials and officers may be charged with breaking international law.

Ramon demanded that the Cabinet make some decisions in the matter. "There government is hearing from all kinds of experts. Our job is to take disputed legal opinions, and certainly to take the chance that we might not be able to travel to Belgium," he said.

"We must remember that the legal opinions regarding cutting off electricity or responding to attacks with fire, are not unequivocal opinions. There are top experts on international law who think it's allowed.

"This is where the government's role comes in. It must make a decision that entails certain risks that may harm us. We cannot manage the war against Gaza with our hands tied. Today we are losing the war to Hamas, among other things, because we are not discussing it in the government and because we have not made a legal decision in the matter," he said.

'They fire at power station, we give them electricity'
Minister of Religious Affairs Yitzhak Cohen of Shas also called on the government to set an international acceptable "price tag" for the Qassam attacks.

"We should simply announce to the other side what sanctions we plan to impose, regarding cutting off electricity and water, and then the ball is in their court. It is unthinkable that they fire at the Ashkelon power station and we continue to provide them with electricity," he said.

Nonetheless, the cabinet did not make any decisions in the matter in Wednesday's meeting, and in the meantime, Israel's limited response policy will remain in effect. This includes the closing of all goods crossings to the Strip, and minimizing the supply of fuel and electricity.

Defense establishment sources stated that military operations would not be executed until legal backing is received.

This matter has been on the agenda for months now, without any solution. Last march Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and other justice officials discussed the defense establishment's demand for freedom to act in Gaza, but concluded that this "could lead to many casualties and condemnation from the whole world".

In the past, the IDF has fired shells to keep rocket launchers away, but following several incidents in which Gazan civilians were hurt, the use of artillery has been almost completely cut down.

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Claim: Israeli spy surveyed Mougniyah assassination site

If this is true, then Israel had a role in the accident that happened to Mr. Mougnieh. Everyone has been wondering about that. Of course, the "confession" could be a fabrication.  
Lebanese newspaper reports head of 'espionage ring' for Israel was also ordered to reconnoiter place where senior Syrian officer was killed
Roee Nahmias
Published:  11.13.08, 10:50 / Israel News
Lebanese officials believe that the "Israeli espionage network" uncovered recently was involved in the assassination of senior Hizbullah commander Imad Mugniyah.

Security sources told the As-Safir newspaper on Wednesday that the network's leader, Ali al-Jarah, had confessed to his investigators that he was ordered to survey the Kafr Sousa neighborhood in Damascus, where Mugniyah was killed by a car bomb in February.
According to the report, al-Jarah also admitted that he was later asked to reconnoiter the Syrian port city of Tartus, where senior officer Mohammed Suleiman was assassinated several months ago.

The Lebanese security sources estimated that al-Jarah and his brother Yusuf were recruited by the Israeli intelligence in 1982, and have since carried out many missions.

According to the report, Ali al-Jarah also operated in additional Arab capitals apart from Damascus and Beirut and used a "military vehicle" provided to him to ease his movements.
The investigators are now checking whether additional al-Jarah brothers are involved in the network and have also worked for Israel.

As-Safir was the paper which revealed that the two espionage suspects were arrested about two weeks ago. The Lebanese army confirmed some of the details the same day.

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Israel wants UAV that can discriminate good missiles from bad ones

This version can tell between fakes and real missiles. How about a device that can tell when Ahmadinejad is lying?

Israel Seeks Missile-Sensing UAV
Wants U.S. Support for Bluebird Infrared Decoy Sensor
Israel plans to develop a high-flying, long-endurance unmanned infrared sensor to assist in those white-knuckled minutes when it may be forced to spot incoming nuclear warheads amid dozens of decoys sent to confound national missile defenses.
A prototype of the long-range, high-resolution target-discrimination sensor has already been tested aboard a business jet under a closely held Israeli-German program called Bluebird. Officials from the Israeli and German ministries of defense acknowledged the existence of the nearly five-year-old program, but said details about the demonstrator remain classified.
"This program is classified, and I cannot discuss it," said Lutz Wagner of the German Ministry of Defense's armament division.
But with the escalating Iranian nuclear threat and the possibility that Tehran will one day equip ballistic missiles with decoys and maneuvering warheads, Israel is seeking U.S. help in moving the technology from demonstration to deployment.
"The Israelis want an additional sensor in the air, and since Bluebird is only a demonstrator, they want to replace it with an operational sensor on a UAV," a Pentagon source said.
According to U.S. and international government sources, Israel has proposed integrating the unmanned target discriminator into its future national missile defense network. Under the proposed Israeli program, known in Washington as Airborne Early Warning Sensor (ABEWS), the Bluebird follow-on would be part of Israel's planned Arrow-3 Upper Tier, providing critical data to decision-makers as they determine how many and what kind of interceptors to launch against incoming missiles.
In a presentation to international industry experts at a missile defense conference in Prague last July, an Israeli MoD representative displayed a viewgraph that illustrated the concept. In his slide, labeled "Airborne [Electro-Optical] Sensor," Guy Aviram of the Israel Missile Defense Organization's technical division showed a high-altitude UAV resembling the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) Heron-1 distributing information via satellite to elements of Israel's envisioned network.
Israel's Rafael and Germany's Diehl BGT Defence developed the IR Bluebird prototype under the bilateral program. Government and industry sources said Rafael will provide the sensor for an IAI-produced UAV under the follow-on initiative.
In a mid-October interview, Pentagon sources said the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is reviewing Israeli requests to include the follow-on to Bluebird in the jointly funded Israeli Upper Tier program. According to the sources, $50 million has been appropriated for the Israeli Upper Tier program in 2008 and 2009, and Israel's MoD may be able to use a portion of those funds for Bluebird follow-on activities.
"The Israelis want another airborne sensor," a Pentagon official said. "We have not yet said yes or no. We're reviewing their request."
Discriminating between warheads and sophisticated decoys is "if not the most challenging, one of the most challenging problems that missile defense people are working," said John Pike, director of
The task proved too much for the Pentagon's nascent Space-Based Infrared System Low program, he said.
Moreover, the problem is getting harder. The first decoys, little more than mylar balloons to be deployed after the missile left the atmosphere, were cooler than warheads and returned a different radar signature. But putting the warheads inside balloons makes weapons and decoys look similar on radar. Adding heaters reduces the temperature difference. Adding buzzers makes decoy balloons vibrate like those surrounding heavier warheads.
For the attacking force, "the trick is to either make all the balloons look exactly the same or make each of them look different," Pike said. For the defenders, "the trick is to hit all the balloons, which is the idea behind miniature kill vehicles. If you can't discriminate them, then kill them all with a kill vehicle small enough that one interceptor can carry a lot of them."
The tracking problem is difficult but solveable, said Pike. He pointed to the U.S. Navy's Cooperative Engagement Capability program, which overcame initial bugs and now allows Aegis cruisers to coordinate their radar tracks into an integrated picture of incoming missiles.
Poor Man's SBIRS
If implemented, the Israeli program will mark the first use of an unmanned platform for the nuclear warhead hunting/decoy discrimination mission, U.S. and international experts said.
"There's nothing comparable. Airborne versions have been used as research tools, but nothing has ever been integrated into an active national defense sensor network ... Certainly, there's never been anything like this mounted on a UAV," an international industry consultant said.
The U.S. military experimented with putting infrared sensors on a Boeing 767, an effort called the Airborne Optical Adjunct. It was quietly killed in the 1990s as the Pentagon sought to move all its missile defense sensors to space.
A European defense expert likened the Israeli-envisioned unmanned Bluebird system to "a poor man's SBIRS," referring to the planned U.S. Space Based Infrared System, which is designed in part to discriminate between ballistic missile warheads and other objects, such as decoy countermeasures and debris.
He speculated that Israel would mount the large IR sensor on Israel's newest and larger Heron-2 UAV rather than Heron-1, as depicted in Aviram's presentation. "It's bigger and can remain airborne a lot longer than anything else they've got," the European expert said of Heron-2, also known here as Eitan.
According to IAI and Israel Air Force data, Eitan weighs more than 4.5 tons, has a wingspan akin to a Boeing 737, and can carry up to a ton of specialized sensors in its bulbous forward section, as well as in its principal payload bay and on each of its twin tail booms.
An Israeli program official contacted in late October refused to discuss details of the Bluebird follow-on program. However, he said a final decision is pending.
IAI and Rafael declined all discussion on Bluebird and follow-on efforts. MoD spokesman Shlomo Dror was unable to comment by press time. ■
Barbara Opall-Rome contributed to this report from Tel Aviv, Vago Muradian and Gayle S. Putrich from Washington.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Barzani: Kurdistan Is a Model for Iraq

Actual Kurdistan is much larger than Iraqi Kurdistan. The Kurds are the forgotten people of the Middle East. By rights, they should have had their own state. They have been repeatedly abandoned and double crossed by a long list of powers, including and especially the United States. They have now been America's best partners in Iraq, and their "reword" is tacit US agreement for Turkey to bomb Kurdistan.
Kurdistan Is a Model for Iraq
Our path to a secular, federal democracy is inspired by the U.S.

Iraq's Kurds have consistently been America's closest allies in Iraq. Our Peshmerga forces fought alongside the U.S. military to liberate the country, suffering more casualties than any other U.S. ally.
And while some Iraqi politicians have challenged the U.S.-Iraq security agreement, Iraq's Kurdish leaders have endorsed the pact as essential for U.S. combat troops to continue fighting terrorists in Iraq.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is committed to a federal, democratic Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors.
We have benefited enormously from the service and sacrifices of America's armed forces and their families, and we are deeply grateful. We are also proud to have shared in such sacrifices; my brother was among those severely wounded during the liberation of Iraq.
Last year, following a U.S. request, we deployed Kurdish troops to Baghdad. These troops played a decisive role in the success of the surge. Last month I once again visited Baghdad to meet with the leadership of the federal government. We stressed our commitment to developing an Iraqi state that abides by its constitution and that is based upon a federal model with clearly delineated powers for its regions.
In spite of all this, some commentators now suggest that the Kurds are causing problems by insisting on territorial demands and proceeding with the development of Kurdistan's oil resources. These allegations are troubling. We are proceeding entirely in accord with the Iraqi constitution, implementing provisions that were brokered by the U.S.
In the constitutional negotiations that took place in the summer of 2005, two issues were critical to us: first, that the Kurdistan Region has the right to develop the oil on its territory, and second, that there be a fair process to determine the administrative borders of Iraq's Kurdistan Region -- thus resolving once and for all the issue of "disputed" territories.
Unfortunately, ever since the discovery of oil in Iraq in the 1920s, successive Iraqi governments have sought to keep oil out of Kurdish hands, blocking exploration and development of fields in Kurdistan. Saddam Hussein's government went even further, using Iraqi oil revenues to finance the military campaigns that destroyed more than 4,500 Kurdish villages and to pay for the poison gas used to kill thousands of Kurdish civilians.
The Kurdish leadership agreed to a U.S.-sponsored compromise in 2005 in which the central government would have the authority to manage existing oil fields, but new fields would fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the regions. Since then, the KRG has taken the lead with Baghdad in negotiations on a hydrocarbon law that is faithful to Iraq's constitution and is conducive to modernizing Iraq's oil infrastructure and substantially increasing its oil production.
We have awarded contracts for foreign oil companies (including some American ones) to explore our territory. In so doing, Kurdistan is not threatening the unity of Iraq. It is simply implementing the constitution.
The "disputed territories" have a tragic history. Since the 1950s, Iraqi regimes encouraged Arabs to settle in Kirkuk and other predominantly Kurdish and Turkmen areas. Saddam Hussein accelerated this process by engaging in ethnic cleansing, expelling or killing Kurds and Turkmen, or by requiring nationality corrections (in which non-Arabs are forced to declare themselves to be Arabs) and by moving Arabs into Kurdish homes.
The dispute between Baghdad and the Kurds over Kirkuk has lasted more than 80 years and has often been violent. All sides have now agreed to a formula to resolve the problem, to bring justice to Kirkuk, and to correct the crimes against Kurds committed by Saddam Hussein's regime. Iraq's constitution requires that a referendum be held in disputed territories to determine if their populations want to join the Kurdistan Region. Conducting a plebiscite is not easy, but it is preferable to another 80 years of conflict.
If the pro-Kurdistan side should lose the referendum in Kirkuk, I promise that Kurdistan will respect that result. And if they win, I promise that we will do everything in our power to ensure outsized representation of Kirkuk's Turkmen, Arabs and Christians both on the local level and in the parliament and government of the Kurdistan Region.
Regional stability cannot come from resolving internal disputes alone. That is why expanding and deepening our ties with Turkey is my top priority.
My meeting last month in Baghdad with the Turkish special envoy to Iraq was a historic and positive development. There should be further direct contacts between the KRG and Turkey, as well as multilateral contacts that involve the U.S. We are eager to work with Turkey to seek increased peace and prosperity in the region.
I am proud that the Kurdistan Region is both a model and gateway for the rest of Iraq. Our difficult path to a secular, federal democracy is very much inspired by the U.S. And so we look forward to working with the Obama-Biden administration to support and defend our hard-fought successes in Iraq, and to remain proud of what the Kurdistan region is today: a thriving civil society in the heart of the Middle East. When we insist on strict compliance with our country's constitution, we are only following America's great example.
Mr. Barzani is the president of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

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Mortars from Gaza as Israel cabinet nixes protection for Sderot

No shelter when the bombs start falling? Compare these two bits of news. This:
Cabinet: No extra NIS 500m to reinforce Gaza-area homes
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent
The security cabinet on Wednesday rejected a request by the Defense Ministry for an extra NIS 500 million to reinforce Israeli communities within the range of Gaza rocket fire.
The treasury has argued that additional funds are not available for reinforcing homes. However, Defense Minister Ehud Barak says the extra money is needed to provide protection against rockets for an additional 4,700 housing units.
And this:
In the course of the event Palestinian launched mortar shells at the Kissufim crossing area.

IDF sources said this was a severe and unusual incident, and that the terror organizations have been trying to break the truce in any possible way.

So it is only a matter of time before the truce is broken, and Qassam and Grad rockets are falling in Sederot and Ashkelon. Soon, they will be needing money for shelters in Tel Aviv.
What is the reason? It is election time. Defene Minister Ehud Barak wants the shelters, but that would help his political fortunes and those of the Labor Party, rather than those of Zippy Tzipi Livni's Kadima Party. Politics and poker.

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US Prosecutors: Holy Land Foundation was Hamas in USA

The case against the USA Holy Land Foundation "charity" seems pretty clear. This group worked on behalf of Hamas. But they got off once before and shall probably do so again.
Last update - 11:05 12/11/2008
Defense attorneys and prosecutors battled over allegations that a U.S. Muslim charity broke the law by funneling money to Hamas institutions, speaking in closing arguments at the Holy Land Foundation's second trial for allegedly financing terrorism.

"Look at all those videos. It seems like every song was about support of Hamas, about martyrdom, about jihad, about killing Jews," said prosecutor Jim Jacks.
He was reminding jurors of videos from the 1980s and early 1990s of Palestinian festivals where speakers and musicians openly praised Hamas and Holy Land raised money. Jacks made the comments in the government rebuttal Tuesday - the final word before deliberations begin.

"Can there be any doubt that these men were the leaders of Hamas in the United States, and that they were the fundraising mechanism?"

Last year's trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development ended in no convictions and a mistrial on most charges in the government's biggest terror-financing trial since Sept. 11, 2001.

Prosecutors say Holy Land funneled more than $12 million to Palestinian schools and charities controlled by the militant group Hamas after the U.S. government declared Hamas a terrorist group in 1995, which made supporting it illegal.

Holy Land was the largest Muslim charity in the U.S. before it was shut down in December 2001.

Defense attorneys, for their part, argued that the charity did not break the law by casting politics aside and aiding Palestinians under brutal Israeli occupation.

Elashi and former Holy Land chief executive Shukri Abu Baker are each charged with conspiracy, supporting a foreign terrorist organization, money laundering and filing false tax returns.

Tightening their case from the initial trial, prosecutors dropped most of nearly 30 counts against Mufid Abdulqader and Abdulrahman Odeh. The men still face three conspiracy counts.

Mohammed El-Mezain, a former Holy Land chairman acquitted on most charges in the first trial, is charged with one conspiracy count.

Linda Moreno, attorney for former Holy Land co-founder Ghassan Elashi, stressed the former Richardson, Texas-based charity's humanitarian work Tuesday and lambasted government evidence as old and irrelevant.

"For those who have been impoverished by politics and history and failed leadership, for all those generations of refugees that he helped feed and clothe and educate, Ghassan Elashi does not apologize for serving them, she told jurors," The Dallas Morning News reported online. "He knew the work of the Holy Land Foundation attracted enemies."

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Water in Israel and Jordan - and what to do about it

Jordan is one of the 10 poorest countries in the world in terms of water per capita. Water runs there for just one day a week. The rest of the week,  residents must carefully ration the water they have stored in rooftop containers.
Israel has offered to desalinate water and pass it on, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Fifty percent of all water technology deals in Europe last year involved Israeli companies.
Jordan, Israel work to overcome regional water deficit
Ehud Zion Waldoks , THE JERUSALEM POST Nov. 10, 2008
The grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence. While Israel's water crisis is severe and much publicized, Jordan's is much worse.

Jordan is one of the 10 poorest countries in the world in terms of water per capita. Water runs there for just one day a week. The rest of the week,  residents must carefully ration the water they have stored in rooftop containers.

Israel has offered to desalinate water and pass it on, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

"There has been a deficit for the last 10 to 15 years," Friends of the Earth Middle East Jordan Director Munqeth Mehyar told the Post. "And with this past dry year, I fear the authorities are drawing on our strategic reserve of aquifers and that's scary."

The Jordanian Water Ministry has done a good job of meeting the needs of residents, industry and agriculture, he said, and has kept up a steady flow once a week.

That very reliability prompted Mehyar to worry about the danger of depleting the strategic reserves. Jordan relies mostly on groundwater and the Jordan River for its water because there aren't many other rivers or lakes.

Recently, Israel offered to desalinate water from the Mediterranean and pass it on, according to a source. Both another source and Mehyar confirmed that there had been rumors about utilizing Israeli desalination expertise.

Mehyar added that he believed that Israel siphoned off water from Lake Kinneret as well, when it could, for the Jordanians.

Israel and Jordan have been meeting regularly about water at the highest levels since signing the peace treaty in 1994. Under the treaty, Jordan is entitled to 50 million cubic meters per year from the Jordan River. Jordan's  water minister was here two weeks ago for consultations with National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer.

Another delegation of water experts from Jordan was here last week to learn about Israeli technology and techniques.

The group, six men and four women, was not here to discuss transferring water to Jordan. The experts came as part of a program organized by CINADCO - The Center for International Agricultural Development Cooperation.

Under the program, Israeli and Jordanian water experts are to share their expertise in four week-long workshops- two here, two there - over the course of the year. Last week's was the second of four. Last year, Israelis went to Jordan to learn from its experts.

CINADCO is the professional arm of MASHAV - The Center for International Cooperation in the Foreign Ministry.

A source close to the Jordanian delegation told the Post that the point of the workshops was to compare and find solutions to the water crisis.

"Both parties suffer from a shortage of water and search for solutions. We gained a lot of experience from the visit. We saw lots of practical lessons and projects. The impression is that these kinds of meetings and workshops should continue," he said.

Jordan was focused on two main projects to alleviate the crisis, the source said. The first was the Red-Dead Canal project. The second was the Aldisi project to bring 100 million cubic meters from the south to Amman. The project has been ongoing for a decade at a cost of 600 million.

From an Israeli perspective, the goal of the canal is to save the Dead Sea. The Jordanians, though, are much more interested in desalinating water from the Red Sea at the Dead Sea. If the project passes the World Bank's feasibility study, two-thirds of the roughly 1 billion cubic meters of water would go to Jordan and the other third to Israel and the Palestinians.

In the face of water scarcity, both Israel and Jordan have developed very marketable expertise. The source close to the delegation said Jordanian experts are routinely consulted by the Gulf countries and the Arab world to the east. Israel, meanwhile, has been exporting its know-how to Europe.

Fifty percent of all water technology deals in Europe last year involved Israeli companies.

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Hamas claims its officials met Obama aides before U.S. election

Last update - 15:58 11/11/2008       
Report: Hamas says its officials met Obama aides before U.S. election
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent
The Arab daily Al-Hayat on Tuesday quoted a senior Hamas official as saying that United States President-elect Barack Obama's advisors met with members of the Palestinian militant group before the U.S. presidential election.
Ahmed Yusuf, a political advisor to Hamas' Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh, reportedly told the London-based paper that, "The connection was made via email and after that we met with them in Gaza."
Al-Hayat reported that Yusuf also said the relations were maintained after Obama's electoral victory last Tuesday. He said the president-elect's advisors requested that the relations be kept secret so as not to aid his rival, Senator John McCain.
During Obama's campaign, he pledged that his administration would only hold talks with Hamas if it renounced terrorism, recognized Israel's right to exist, and abided by past agreements....

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Livni opposes rush to 67 borders

Last update - 10:09 11/11/2008       
Livni distances herself from Olmert comments on '67 borders
By Haaretz Service
Kadima Chairwoman and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni distanced herself Tuesday from outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's recent assertion that Israel needs to return to its pre-1967 borders.
"I as Kadima Chairwoman am not committed to the outgoing prime minister's comments - but to Kadima's platform, and this is what determines exactly how we will hold negotiations," said Livni, speaking in an interview with Army Radio.
Olmert called on Monday for withdrawing from the territories and "returning to the area that was Israel until 1967."
Livni continued: "Between myself and Olmert there have been differences. When I wrote the platform of Kadima, upon its establishment, Olmert spoke in terms of 'consolidation.'
"You can't just throw the key to the other side and hope for the best, especially not in Judea and Samaria."
She was referring to the plan for a pullout from the West Bank touted by Olmert when he headed Kadima's 2006 electoral bid. Livni herself will be seeking to bring the ruling Kadima party victory in the upcoming general elections in February.
However, Livni did affirm the importance of continuing peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, and of reaching a final agreement based on territorial compromise.
"We want to maintain a safe state in Israel and this cannot be done on all of it. We need to finish the conflict with the Palestinians and look out for the security of our citizens," she told Army Radio.

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Report: IAEA finds traces of uranium at suspected Syrian nuclear site

A gun was found - but it is not smoking. The Syrians had so much time to clean up, that the investigation may be worse than worthless. If nothing definite is found, it will look like Israel carried out the raids for no reason, and the Syrians will wave around a "certificate" of "honesty."
That was the point of the exercise.

Last update - 00:42 11/11/2008       
Report: IAEA finds traces of uranium at suspected Syrian nuclear site
By The Associated Press
Samples taken from a Syrian site bombed by Israel on suspicion it was a covert nuclear reactor contained traces of uranium combined with other elements that merit further investigation, diplomats said Monday.
The diplomats - who demanded anonymity because their information was confidential - said the uranium was processed and not in raw form, suggesting some kind of nuclear link.
But one of the diplomats said the uranium finding itself was significant only in the context of other traces found in the oil or air samples taken by International Atomic Energy Agency experts during their visit to the site in June.
Syria has a rudimentary declared nuclear program revolving around research and the production of isotopes for medical and agricultural uses, using a small, 27-kilowatt reactor, and the uranium traces might have originated from there and inadvertently been carried to the bombed site. But taken together, the uranium and the other components found on the environmental swipes tell a story worth investigating, said the diplomat.
The second diplomat said the findings would figure in a report on Syria that will be presented to the IAEA's 35-nation board next week ahead of a scheduled two-day board meeting starting November 24.
Attempts to reach IAEA spokespeople after office hours for comment were
Diplomats already told The Associated Press late last month that air and soil samples taken at the site bombed last year by Israeli warplanes had turned up traces of elements that the agency felt needed to be followed up.
The findings are important after months of uncertainty about the status of the investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Preliminary results of the environmental samples collected from the site by an IAEA team were inconclusive, adding weight to Syrian assertions that no trips beyond the initial IAEA visit in June were necessary.
The U.S. says the facility hit by Israel Air Force warplanes more than a year ago was a nearly completed reactor that - when on line - could produce plutonium, a pathway to nuclear arms.
But Damascus denies running a covert program.
Ibrahim Othman, Syria's nuclear chief, has said his country would wait for final environmental results before deciding how to respond to repeated IAEA requests for follow-up visits to the one in June, when the samples were collected.
But a diplomat attending a closed IAEA meeting in September told the AP that Syrian Ambassador Mohammed Badi Khattab suggested his country would not allow further visits under any circumstances because it was still technically at war with Israel and was concerned any additional IAEA probe would expose some of its non-nuclear military secrets.
Beyond wanting to revisit the site bombed by Israel, IAEA experts also want to follow up on U.S, Israeli and other intelligence that North Korea was involved in building the alleged Syrian program.
Also, IAEA officials have been seeking permission to visit three other sites purportedly linked to the alleged reactor destroyed by the IAF - although Syria already has said that those locations are off limits because they are in restricted military areas.
Syria fears the IAEA probe could lead to a massive investigation similar to the probe Iran has been subjected to for more than five years - and to related fallout. Iran is under U.N. sanctions because of its refusal to heed Security Council demands to curb its nuclear activities.
IAEA experts came back June 25 from a four-day visit carrying air and soil samples from the Al Kibar site hit by Israel. But intelligence suggests that radioactive material had not yet been introduced into the alleged reactor before it was destroyed.
That left the inspectors looking for other components, including minute quantities of graphite, a cooling element in the type of North Korean prototype that allegedly was being built with help from Pyongyang. Such areactor contains hundreds of tons of graphite, and any major explosion would have sent dust over the immediate area.

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The Graduate - Palestinian style

This is from the pro-Palestinian BBC.
Just married and determined to die 
Umm Anas was at the centre of a highly-staged event, but she was far from a cipher

There is a ceasefire in Gaza, but the BBC has found evidence of militant groups preparing for a return to violence. One group, Islamic Jihad, is training female suicide bombers.
Middle East correspondent Paul Wood went to meet a Palestinian woman who has volunteered.
The young, veiled woman was sitting quiet and still as the room bustled around her.
The black flag of Islamic Jihad was pinned on the wall behind her and two Kalashnikovs were carefully placed in camera shot. Her husband, an Islamic Jihad fighter himself, tied on her "martyr's" headband.
Umm Anas - not her real name - had just graduated from a programme to train female suicide bombers in Gaza.
Our meeting was a highly-orchestrated propaganda event laid on by Islamic Jihad. It was almost theatre - and certainly Israel accuses the Palestinian leadership of manipulating young women like 18-year-old Umm Anas.
Yet, although she nervously twisted her wedding ring, Umm Anas did not appear to be a cipher.
She was articulate - more so than the men staging the event - and she knew her own mind.
Secret ambition
When she spoke of becoming a suicide bomber, Umm Anas's voice was strong and steady: "This is a gift from God.
"We were created to become martyrs for God," she continued, her eyes burning behind the full face veil.
 I take each step carefully because I know I am going to sacrifice myself
Umm Anas
"All the Palestinian people were created to fight in God's name. If we just throw stones at the Jews they get scared. Imagine what happens when body parts fly at them."
The bomb belt which she hopes will end her life - and kill many Israelis - rested on the table next to us.
Her main motivation in becoming a suicide bomber appears to be religious rather than nationalistic - the fulfilment of a long-held ambition. Even getting married recently hadn't changed her mind.
"When my husband married me, he knew my way of thinking. He knew exactly who I am and based on this he decided to marry me. Marriage doesn't give me a second's doubt."
I asked if that would alter if she became pregnant.
"I would wait until I delivered the baby," she said. "I would give him to my parents and ask them to look after him... Then I would leave them and the baby would remain behind as a piece of me."
Her parents, brothers and sisters did not know.
"Martyrs - male or female - have to work in secret. No one can know about it. We have to be careful not to give our parents any sign of what we are about to do.
"Sometimes, maybe, they can tell and see on your face the signs of martyrdom. They are suspicious but they don't know for certain."
Ready for death
Umm Anas thinks she knows the manner of her death, but she doesn't know the timing.
She is waiting for the collapse of the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic movement which rules Gaza.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Israeli search engine breakthrough?

 November 03, 2008
You're not your mom, or your dad, grandma, or great aunt. Your interests and experiences are different. Your world is different. What you're looking for in life - and on the Internet - is not the same as what they're looking for. Yet when you plug a term into a major Internet search engine, you get the same results your grandma does. And it's up to you to sort out the results, to find the information you really need.
Unless you use the new Israel-developed Delver search engine, says Delver CEO Liad Agmon. "Instead of giving you the general search results you get with Google, which you then have to ferret through, Delver gives you tailor-made search results that are much more likely to give you the information you're looking for," he tells ISRAEL21c.
It's not that Herzliya-based Delver has developed a mind-reading computer that can figure out what you're really after when conducting an Internet search. Instead, Delver leverages your web presence - using the information it gleans from your social networking accounts, like Facebook and MySpace - to get a picture of your online personality, the better to rank search results in a manner that makes sense to you.
One search doesn't fit all
It's certainly a different approach from the one-search-fits-all approach used by just about every other search engine. While Google does offer a number of tricks that lets you narrow down the results you get back for a query - such as structuring a search using specific syntax - most users aren't going to use search terms like "intitle" or "inurl" to narrow down their results. And without heavy use of modifiers, Google will often send back tens of thousands of results in basic and general searches.
To help you get the information you're after, Delver relies on a heretofore-untapped source to figure out what you're most interested in - your friends. When you sign up for Delver, you list the social networks you're a member of, and when you conduct a search, Delver returns the results based on what the people you associate online like and know.
This works great, says Agmon, when you're seeking information that contacts - or contacts of your contacts - have information about. "I recently had to take a business trip to a new city and was looking for a good hotel," Agmon says. "By using Delver, I was able to get details of the experiences of other travelers to this city, and much more easily make an intelligent decision on which hotel to stay at, with the best price." The more active you are in social networks (Delver supports all of the more popular ones), the more information you can mine from Delver.
Using other search engines, "an elderly person in Colorado and a teenager in Tel Aviv will get the exact same results when doing searching, for example, for 'London shows,'" says Agmon. "But it's probably safe to say that both users are not looking for the same kinds of shows." Using the social network profiles either or both of them may have, Delver can give users more precise results, he says. "Delver isn't just search - it's qualified search, with the results vetted by your social network, ensuring you can more easily and quickly find the information you're most interested in."
Using social networks to deliver
All the information returned by Delver is already "out there" on the open Web, says Agmon - gathered by search agents that scour the Internet and index information, just like Google, Yahoo, and all the others do (Delver does not rely on Google for its results, and has its own search system, says Agmon).
"The only thing we are doing is qualifying the results based on a profile we build using your social network," which you give Delver access to. "So no private information is ever given out or even searched by Delver." And Delver isn't just indexing information - it can help you more easily find media, including music and video, geared to your tastes. "Eventually, we hope to be the search engine of choice for users," says Agmon.
Delver began a private beta in February, and went public in July - and while Agmon says the company could not release specific information on the number of users, he does say: "We've been quite surprised at how quickly Delver has taken off and how many people use it on a regular basis." He adds that the service has garnered significantly more traffic than company executives had expected at this stage.
This past July was significant not just for the public emergence of Delver, but also for the fact that it was the start of one of the most severe credit crunches in recent years, seemingly a bad time for startups like Delver to be seeking out money.
But Agmon is optimistic. If you've got the goods, investors will take a risk, because they believe their investment will pay off. "While getting VC money when everyone believes a recession is imminent is tougher, there are positive aspects to a downturn - it's when the nonsense ideas get ferreted out, leaving the winner ideas an open field," says Agmon. "This is the right time for companies with better ideas. Delver is in it for the long haul, and we've got a great idea - one that billions of people around the world could significantly benefit from."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Forgetting Zion

I can't agree with everything in this article. It is futile to give lectures to anti-Zionists as they are not going to change their minds. Never mind what the anti-Zionists say. The important thing is what we do. If we are successful and act as a moral example, the camp of the anti-Zionists will shrink to nothing.

Ms Wisse also seems to confuse anti-Zionism with protests against the occupation. However, this is a good article that reminds us of the problem of Jewish anti-Zionism.

Ami Isseroff

Ruth R. Wisse
Commentary, October 2008

A Jewish child growing up as I did in Montreal during the 1940's absorbed Zionism as naturally as Canadian ground did the snow in springtime. Our island city was divided between Catholic French and Protestant English, their rights equally protected by the state. The division between these two populations along ethnic and religious lines increased the staying power of other minorities, our own included; most Jewish children attended Jewish schools, all but two of which were Zionist in orientation.

My school, for example, asked students in the upper grades to raise money annually for something called the "Histadrut." We were given booklets containing about twenty coupons arranged by color in denominations ranging from 25 cents to a dollar and we went door to door, inspecting the jambs for mezuzahs. I had no idea that the Histadrut was the labor union associated with the dominant Labor Zionist party, and I suspect that those who bought the coupons similarly assumed that they were supporting the Zionist project as a whole. My classmates and I very much enjoyed being foot soldiers in the national cause: our sense of the Jews as a cohesive and, on the whole, generous people was everywhere reinforced at home, at school, and on the street.

Were things different south of the Canadian border? It didn't seem so. Though Jews there were blending more quickly into the mainstream, the American students whom I met at regional youth conferences in the 1950's were no less passionately Jewish and Zionist than I. And why not? Zionism was both a natural and logical instance of the then-general phenomenon of emerging nation states and a keen expression of the human instinct for justice. Now that Palestinian Jewry, or the yishuv, had fought for and won its independence, and was on the road (so we thought) to gaining the acceptance of its Arab neighbors, Zionism as a revolutionary movement was quite properly morphing into a movement to support the country that it had helped bring into being.

To be sure, the emergence of Jewish Israel was not quite so unexceptional as the emergence of other postwar states. Not only had Jews been deprived of their political sovereignty for almost two millennia, they had just been subjected to genocide in Europe. Whatever forces had combined to set them apart in the past could not be overcome in a single day or year. But, on the other hand, Israel could also claim more "rights" to its existence than virtually any other nation.

There were, first of all, the Jews' ancestral rights to the Land of Israel, as laid down in the Hebrew Bible. Although the boundaries of the Promised Land were open to dispute, the promise itself had been registered in one of the most highly disseminated books in the world, the fount of three major religions. And Jews had always regarded the Land of Israel as their land, perpetually mourning its loss, observing its calendar and laws, praying in its direction, and frequently migrating to it over the centuries.

For another thing, Jewish rights to the Land of Israel had been recognized by the League of Nations in 1922 and ratified by the United Nations General Assembly in 1947. For still another, the Zionist movement had purchased large tracts of land in Palestine, and on those lands successive waves of Jewish immigrants had established new communities and repopulated existing towns and cities; many had laid down their lives to "drain the swamps and make the desert bloom." Finally, in its role as the national home and refuge of world Jewry, the new state of Israel, still reeling from the losses of the 1948-9 war of independence, opened its doors to the most damaged survivors of Hitler's Holocaust and to Jews fleeing persecution from Arab lands—in this way, too, fulfilling dramatically its claim to national legitimacy.

With the establishment of modern Israel, then, American Jews had joined every other immigrant group, including descendants of the Mayflower, in having somewhere out there a "native" homeland. Zionism transformed American Jews from a forever desperate immigrant community seeking refuge into an ethnic-religious minority with an "old-country home" like the Roman Catholic Italians or Irish. In 1964, the Israel Day parade in New York took its place alongside its Columbus and St. Patrick's Day counterparts. Leon Uris's novel Exodus (1958), extolling the rebirth of Israel, became the biggest American best-seller since Gone with the Wind.

Zionism's realization in the state of Israel left American Jews sitting pretty. Recognition of Judaism as one of America's major religions, acceptance of Jewish studies as a normal part of a college curriculum, and tolerance of Jews by a growing majority of the American public—all these followed, directly or indirectly, from the demonstration that Jews now had a land of their own. Israel inspired sectors of Christian America to recognize their own affinities with Jews. Not least, political support for Israel also grew, eventually becoming one of the most unifying issues in the United States Congress.

For Jews themselves, it sometimes even seemed that, thanks to Israel's emergence, the "great tasks that have united the Jewish people for the past hundred years and more are reaching their successful conclusion." So spoke the late political theorist Daniel Elazar on Israel's 50th anniversary in 1998, voicing the hope that Jews might now be free to devote themselves increasingly to "quality of life" issues rather than having to respond to crisis after national crisis. If that was indeed the case, then Zionism could be said to have well and truly completed its work.

But the truth, of course, is otherwise. From the very beginning, what set Zionism apart from other national-liberation movements was its nemesis: anti-Zionism. Unlike every other new member state of the United Nations, from Algeria to Zimbabwe, Israel, from birth, had been denied its national legitimacy. The front-line deniers were the seven founding states of the Arab League, later joined by fifteen additional members. Refusing to accept the partition of Palestine as originally envisaged by the UN, or, after 1948, to resettle those Palestinian Arabs who had fled their homes in the war of independence, Arab leaders created the idea of a nakba—a Palestinian catastrophe. This, in a transparent effort to turn attention away from their own aggressive misdeeds, they laid at the feet of the Jews.

In fact, the Palestinians formed a relatively small and fortunate group among the untold numbers of 20th-century refugees, having been displaced only several miles from their homes and to places where they shared the majority's culture and language. Nevertheless, in contrast to the 20 million refugees generated by the contemporaneous Pakistan-India conflict and Korean war, all of whom were resettled without being made to serve anyone else's political aims, they alone were consigned to permanent refugee status. Not content with the attempt to deny Jews their rightful land, Arab leaders compounded the aggression by accusing Jews of denying Palestinians theirs.

Thus did an otherwise normal process of national self-emancipation become arrested in its infancy by the abnormal hostility directed against it. Arab "rejectionism"—defined by Daniel Pipes as the intent to destroy Israel—made not just the Jewish state but Jews everywhere politically idiosyncratic once again. And among the varied branches of the Jewish people, American Jews, then in the midst of their own relatively effortless integration into a democratic, pluralistic society, may have been caught the most unprepared.

In its effects on political and psychological reality, the Arab war against Israel replicated the situation sketched by Jean-Paul Sartre in his 1946 study Réflexions sur la question juive (the title in English is Anti-Semite and Jew). According to Sartre's scheme, the archetypal modern "anti-Semite," to whom liberal democracy is nothing but a Jewish conspiracy, cannot be reached by way of reason-based evidence, because his convictions are not based on fact and are not subject to argument. Facing this wall of antipathy, the "Jew," therefore, is forced to react in one of two ways: "authentically," by affirming and living his Jewish identity, or "inauthentically," by trying to squirm out of it. Sartre's portrait also includes a third party. This is the enlightened "democrat," who, although opposed in principle to the anti-Semite, pretends that the problem of anti-Semitism does not exist.

The same three actors could be seen functioning in the post-1948 scenario, with the place of the anti-Semite taken by Arab and Muslim leaders whose opposition to Israel could not be mitigated or dislodged through reason, and the place of the democrat by Western leaders who did not want to antagonize the oil-rich Arabs by even so much as acknowledging the fact of their war against the Jews. As for the Jews, they too were in their place, confronted with the need either to defend Israel forthrightly or, implicitly or explicitly, to hold it responsible for causing the Arabs' aggression against it.

Ignorant of Judaism, Sartre was mistaken in thinking that anti-Semitism was what made Jews Jewish. But he was right to insist that, so long as the Jewish body politic was under attack, no individual Jew could hope to avoid being implicated in the drama set in motion by this new form of state-sponsored anti-Semitism.

Initially, Arab leaders threatening to drive the Jews of Israel into the sea borrowed freely from the racist rhetoric of Nazi Germany. By the early 70's, however, and mirroring the military alliance forged between the Arab and Soviet blocs, the terminology of anti-Zionism had begun to borrow much more from the Left than from the Right; its quintessential ideological expression was the 1975 UN resolution equating Zionism with racism. While this shift signified no essential change in the nature of Arab opposition to Israel, it made all the difference to the targeted Jews, who were vulnerable to it as they never were to charges from the Right.

How so? By an irony of history, Hitler's Final Solution had fixed its own archetypal image of modern-day anti-Semitism: the image, in short, of Nazi storm troopers. "Holocaust education," a growing fashion by the 1970's, had hardened this connection in the popular mind. But Holocaust-education curricula, like the one tacitly propounded by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, inevitably suggest a happy ending: Hitlerism, after all, was crushed. The museum event went so far as to expunge from its exhibits virtually any reference to other contemporaneous expressions of anti-Semitism, whether the role played by the Palestinian Arab leader Haj Amin al-Husseini in Hitler's program of genocide or Stalin's anti-Jewish campaigns before and after World War II. By focusing on the only variety of anti-Semitism that went down to defeat, Holocaust education made it that much harder to confront new forms of anti-Semitism. Today, in an era of steadily mounting aggression both verbal and physical, it still does.

The fixation on the Nazi model is not the only obstacle, however. Another has been the very success of America in encouraging full and equal participation of all in the country's national life. The movement of Jews into the middle and upper classes—an unalloyed blessing—exacted a price in communal solidarity and group cohesion. One consequence has been a diminished appetite among American Jews for fighting a hatred that does not seem to have them as its primary target. This is hardly to minimize the effectiveness of agencies like AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League, or the American Jewish Committee, or of media-monitoring and advocacy organizations, or of the commentators and intellectuals, many clustered around Commentary, who consistently rally support for Israel in America. Yet, as social scientists have long since observed, most American Jews continue to depart from the normal political pattern, habitually cleaving to a "universalist" agenda even when that agenda shows little or no concern for their proper concerns. Tellingly, George W. Bush's support for Israel garnered him no political payoff from American Jews.

If some Jews ignore the escalating aggression against their people, others minimize the danger or blame its persistence on the alleged recalcitrance or bellicosity of their fellow Jews. In this vein, a new Jewish organization, J Street, targets the strongest defenders of Israel, including AIPAC, precisely because they strongly defend Israel (and thus supposedly rob it of its freedom to make diplomatic concessions). Needless to say, no other American minority works this way, much less one whose homeland remains under enemy fire. Sartre's scenario explains how the extreme nature of such enmity can itself create so anomalous a pattern of internal defection.

A third impediment to the ongoing struggle for Israel is more specific: the legacy of anti-Zionism among Jews themselves. Opposition to Zionism at the beginning of the 20th century was common to several religious branches of Jewry, including the so-called ultra-Orthodox, who believed that only God could rightfully restore the Jews to Zion, and Reform, which in its own words considered Jews "no longer a nation, but a religious community." (The majority of both these groups eventually changed their views.) On the political front, revolutionary Marxists opposed Jewish nationalism in favor of the new internationalist order that was expected to form along class lines—in Lenin's view, anyone who directly or indirectly embraced the idea of a Jewish national culture was "an enemy of the proletariat, … an accomplice of the rabbis and the bourgeoisie." As for the Jewish Socialist Bund, it believed in furthering the cause of progressive politics in the communities where Diaspora Jews already lived.

The Arab assault on Israel's legitimacy has reawakened some of these long-ago antagonisms, encouraging their reemergence in modern form. Although the most shocking exemplars of the phenomenon are surely the rabbis of Neturei Karta, a delegation of whom embraced Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the 2006 "conference" in Iran denying the Holocaust, much greater damage is caused by leftist Jews who identify objectively with the Arab cause. A concatenation of political forces similar to the one that forged the Arab-Soviet alliance at the United Nations in the 1960's and 1970's can be seen nowadays on American campuses. There, a loose coalition between Arab or Muslim students and leftists, many of the latter of whom are Jews, acts out a campaign of hostility whose origins lie in the teachings of Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky.

In a recent essay, "Anti-Semitism and the Left that Doesn't Learn," Mitchell Cohen, the editor of the socialist quarterly Dissent, has warned his fellow leftists that their brand of anti-Zionism currently serves the same anti-liberal ends that it once did under Stalin. Cohen condemns the "fixation on Israel/Palestine within parts of the Left, often to the exclusion of all other suffering on the globe," and bemoans the extent to which leftist college students have been forced to choose between defending Israel and staying "progressive." Unfortunately, he seems not have noticed how some have resolved this difficulty—namely, by claiming to be supporting Israel while attacking it.*

An example from my own university. Last spring, the Progressive Jewish Alliance, a group at Harvard, announced that it was bringing to campus a traveling exhibit of political art called Breaking the Silence, based on the experience of 64 Israeli soldiers who had served in Hebron shortly after the end of the second intifada and subsequently compiled videos, photographs, and written testimony to convey the harm they believe they did while policing the Palestinian Arab population. The exhibition was co-sponsored by an array of adult organizations—Americans for Peace Now, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, the Foundation for Middle East Peace, Hashomer Hatzair,, Meretz USA, the Moriah Fund, the New Israel Fund, Open Society Institute, and the Union of Progressive Zionists—that use campus groups to promote their own political programs.

Though the anonymous authors of this exhibition prided themselves on their "meticulous research, including fact-checking and cross-checking with other witnesses," they conspicuously omitted from their show any hint of the circumstances that led to the presence of these Israeli soldiers in Hebron in the first place, or indeed any historical context establishing Israel's need to defend itself against Arab terror. Thus, the exhibit and accompanying text fail to mention the Oslo Accords of 1993, whereby Israel agreed to a transfer of power and responsibilities to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza in return for PLO recognition of the right of the state of Israel to exist in peace and security and the PLO's renunciation of the use of terrorism and other acts of violence, with both parties stipulating that until a permanent agreement was reached, Israel would remain responsible for security. The historically unprecedented risk Israel took in signing this document was rewarded in short order by the PLO's incitement of a terror campaign that, in the two years between 2002 and 2004 alone, would claim more than 600 Israeli dead and 4,000 wounded.

The omission of any mention of this worst period of violence in Israel's history makes it possible for Breaking the Silence to portray Israeli officers and soldiers policing a terrorist-ridden area as so many brutes and random sadists. And what, meanwhile, about the Jewish connection to Hebron, the place where Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah lie buried? The exhibit notes only that the city is "sacred to both Jews and Muslims," but otherwise takes it for granted that while Arabs have a perfect right to live there, Jewish "settlers" have none. More than one anonymous soldier is quoted voicing his alienation from the local Jews he is charged with protecting and his affinity for the Palestinians "who were supposedly threatening them" (emphasis added).

And so it went. Alarmed by the likely effect of the show's appearance on campus, Harvard Students for Israel, a group that had been formed a few years earlier in response to growing anti-Israel propaganda at the university, tried to dissuade the sponsors of Breaking the Silence from bringing it to Cambridge. Having failed in this effort, it then suggested that the exhibit be moved to Hillel House, the meeting-place for Jewish students at Harvard—the idea being that this was better than letting it be shown, as scheduled, at the more heavily trafficked Kennedy School of Government. Hillel House obliged, on the grounds that as an inclusive organization it had to accommodate the full range of Jewish views.

As it happens, I toured the exhibit with Hillel Halkin, the well-known critic and Commentary contributor, who was then visiting Harvard from Israel. Halkin felt that, notwithstanding the risk of wider exposure elsewhere, the show should not have been mounted under Jewish auspices. A similar view was aired by the Zionist Organization of America, which fired off an emphatic public letter to the Jewish press; this duly elicited protests from the Hillel director and the chair of Harvard Students for Israel, both of whom were now placed in the position of defending an exhibit they did not endorse.

Of the students I spoke with who abhorred the exhibit, most also defended its right to be shown at Hillel, and on the same "free speech" grounds that are routinely invoked to justify the appearance of anti-Israel speakers and events everywhere. In this way, leftist Jewish organizations get to flaunt their moral progressivism by taking up the cause of the "oppressed Palestinian Arabs," in the process supplying Jewish ammunition for the anti-Zionist assault and deterring others from pursuing the worthier and morally sounder objective of defending the Jewish state.

This brings us to the last and most serious obstacle to a full-throated Zionism, which is the influence on American Jewish opinion exercised by sectors of Israel's own Left and liberal Left. Its embodiment is David Landau, until recently the editor-in-chief of Israel's daily Haaretz, who believes that Israel should be "squeezed" by the United States into making concessions to the Arabs that it might otherwise regard as contrary to its defensive needs. At a gathering of Israeli leaders with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this past year, Landau invited Washington to "rape Israel into resolving the problem" of the disputed territories.

"'Rape' is a word in the English language," Landau later explained without apology, averring that he had been urging U.S. pressure against Israel ever since the 1970's. According to this view, heavily promoted by the English-language edition of Haaretz, Israel bears primary responsibility for the aggression against it and, whatever the democratic will of its electorate or the considered judgment of its political and military leaders, must be forced to make amends. Israeli proponents of this view often compare themselves with American protesters of the Vietnam war in the 1960's and 70's. They fail to consider that, if so, Israel is not playing the role of the U.S. in the analogy but rather that of South Vietnam.

No doubt the Israeli ex-soldiers who gathered the material for Breaking the Silence had experienced severe emotional distress of the kind that scars every sensitive person who goes into combat. Their private scruples deserve the compassion of a Jewish public that survives thanks to their soldiering, but also the firm guidance of a public that needs their soldiering in order to live. There has never been anything like the Jewish conscience, forged over three millennia by a culture of self-accountability under the aegis of an exacting Judge. But neither has there ever been a war as protean and lop-sided as the Arab war against Israel.

One may excuse demobilized soldiers for wishing to ignore the political context of the struggle in which they were conscripted. Unfortunately, what is merely vulgar within Israel proper serves a far more corrupting function when it goes on the road. American university campuses, while not necessarily hostile to Israel, have become an intellectual war zone. The battlefield features ever more Muslim students for whom opposition to Israel is a matter of religious faith, anti-Israel exhibits like Breaking the Silence purveying wild accusations of Jewish brutality, a cadre of uninformed or biased professors who accept or disseminate the Palestinian "narrative," and Jewish student enablers of the kind we have met.

These days, alas, those who are truly breaking the consensus on American campuses are the minority of pro-Israel students who strive to provide the political and historical correctives to anti-Zionist propaganda. "What's the matter with those Israeli soldiers?" one of my students asked me, mulling in anguish over the recent exhibit. "Don't they feel the disconnect between their protestations of peace and the hateful effect they've created on campus?" Others are less gentle. "It would be the end of Harvard Students for Israel if it ever fell into the hands of Israelis," said one. The moral confidence that Israel once exported to American Jews, these students feel they must now export to Israel.

I began by recalling the contribution of Zionism and the state of Israel to the confidence of North American Jewry. Were the story told in full, it would include many more instances: Israel's mobilization of the movement for Soviet Jewry that helped open the gates of the world's longest-lasting totalitarian regime; Israel's successful intervention on behalf of Ethiopian Jews, which rescued a whole lost segment of the Jewish people; Israel's supply of Jewish scholars, teachers, and cultural ambassadors to an American Jewry in dire cultural straits. Nor, taking in more than the Jewish community alone, can one ignore Israel's 1982 strike on Iraq's nuclear reactor, yielding benefits to humankind beyond calculation, and not least, Israel's absorption of the brunt of Islamist and Arab anti-Western aggression.

Exodus, the novel that so thrilled Americans and sparked the refusenik movement of Soviet Jewry, tells the story of how a prototypical American, Kitty Freeman, overcomes her dislike of Jews by falling in love with a heroic Israeli. Hokey or not, this fictional romance projected the truism that Israeli Jewish grit had earned America's affection. Can we today be facing a situation when the opposite may prove equally true? Will the growing success of anti-Zionism turn Israel into a liability?

There is no shortage of signs. One of them is the readiness of some academics and foreign-policy professionals to hold Israel accountable for the war in Iraq and other putative recent failures of American foreign policy. Another is the hijacking of human-rights organizations and forums by anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist ideologues. Then there is the leftward drift of the Democratic party, propelled in part by the energies of liberal Jews: might this end by weakening America's tie to Israel and its vigilance against the common enemies of both countries?

The persistence and resurgence of anti-Zionism have undeniably sapped some of the self-confidence that Zionism instilled in the Jewish people. Arab belligerence has hammered away at Jewish optimism, including in Israel. How long can a society of builders withstand legions of destroyers? How long can Jews elsewhere be expected to rally to its side, especially at moments when Israel's desperate hunger for peace leads it to seem weak or even pathetic?

Yet here is where, oddly, American Jews could actually make a difference, and could do so by flexing their American muscles no less than their Jewish ones. American leaders, after all, still take open pride in the commonalities between the two countries. President Bush spoke thus to the Israeli Knesset on May 13:

Our two nations both faced great challenges when they were founded, and our two nations have both relied on the same principles to help us succeed. We've built strong democracies to protect the freedoms given to us by an Almighty God. We've welcomed immigrants, who have helped us thrive. We've built prosperous economies by rewarding innovation and risk-taking and trade.

Bush went on to invoke the enduring alliance of the two countries in confronting terrorists and tyrants.

Though such morale-boosting sentiments do not always translate into action, they greatly reinforce the sense of the legitimacy of the Jewish national project. Indeed, America expects its citizens to root for their homeland as passionately as Bostonians and Angelenos cheer the Celtics and the Lakers. This expectation is especially appropriate in the case of Jews, who bear the scars of the most evil forces in history and whose enemies, like America's, are a roster of the world's autocrats, dictators, despots, tyrants, and terrorists.

Anti-Zionism in its most naked form is the mark of Arab and Muslim inhospitality, intolerance, and cruelty, and it will stain Arab and Muslim honor for as long as it endures—or longer, depending on how much damage it wreaks. But opposing it does not require defaming Islam, or returning malice for malice. What it requires is a sustained and relentless campaign to clear away the accretions of lies and disinformation and to make room for clarity and truth. One could begin such a campaign by asking why Arabs, who already have 640 times more land than Israel occupies in its entirety, believe that they have too little, and the Jews too much.

Distance from the battlefield, and well-protected freedoms, allow American Jews to make the case for Israel more forcefully than Israelis can make it for themselves. We (I include myself) are blessed with advantages greater than any Diaspora community has ever enjoyed, hence charged with greater responsibility than any Diaspora community has ever borne. History will ask only one question of our generation, and of the next one and the one after that: did you secure the state of Israel? Woe to an American Jewry that does not ensure a rousing reply in the affirmative.

(Ruth R. Wisse, the Martin Peretz professor of Yiddish and professor
of comparative literature at Harvard, gave a version of this essay at a conference in May
at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.)

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Obama: Silly Season continues

Optimist that I am, I thought that with the end of the USA election campaign, the flood of silly season emails would dry up. (See Get with it: Obama hopes and fears. It has not dried up. It has in fact, gotten sillier if anything.

Mr. Obama is not yet president. He has done nothing at all about the Middle East. There is no real evidence on which to base any opinion of his Middle East policies, and yet these "Zionists" are going full speed ahead, pillorying Obama and his administration as allies of the Hamas.

Over the past few days I am sorry to say that the level of accusations made against Barack Obama has deteriorated. I have gotten mail claiming that Obama uses hypnosis to convince people, and there is a "story" out there in "Zionist" publications claiming that Obama is the son of Malcolm X.

Barack Obama has announced one appointment. It was not Louis Farakhan or Robert Malley or Rashid Khalidi or Jesse Jackson. It was a Palestinian though, just as the doomsayers have been predicting. A Jewish Palestinian, though. He appointed Rahm Emanuel to be the White House Chief of Staff. This is not a policy position, but as the presidential gatekeeper Emanuel will have a certain amount of power. In some administrations, this post is more important than others. Emanuel's family has an interesting history. Their uncle, Emanuel Auerbach, was killed by Arabs in Jerusalem in 1933, and the family took the name "Emanuel" in his honor. Emanuel's father was a messenger for the Irgun. As can be expected, this was not pleasing to Electronic Intifada editor and supposed Obama friend Ali Abunimah.
Continued here:

Obama and Israel - first signs

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Continued (Permanent Link)

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