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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Palestinian Authority: Hamas used Gaza hospitals as detention centers

Last update - 17:24 07/02/2009    
Palestinian Authority: Hamas used Gaza hospitals as detention centers
The Palestinian Authority's health ministry on Saturday accused the militant movement Hamas of turning some of its medical facilities in the Gaza Strip into detention centers.
After Israel stopped 23 days of aerial and ground attacks in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip last month, "Hamas unfortunately used several facilities, mainly a large number of hospitals, as stations for summons, interrogation, torture and detention," the Ramallah-based ministry said in a statement.
The ministry also claimed Hamas sacked tens of employees, loyal to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement, who broke their general strike and returned to their work after Israel launched it assault on December 27.
The Israel Air Force aerial bombardment, which preceded a large-scale ground invasion on January 3, destroyed most of the police stations and civil administration departments of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.
According to the statement, Hamas specifically seized some buildings in Shifa, the main hospital in the city, al-Nasser pediatric clinic and the psychiatric hospital.

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Hooray for Cyprus - enforcing sanctions against Iran

Remember that the US navy intercepted an Iranian ship (this one?) but let it go.
Last update - 18:17 07/02/2009       
UN: Cargo of Iranian ship seized en route to Gaza violates resolution 1747
By The Associated Press

The sanctions department of the United Nations Security Council on Saturday informed Cyprus that the cargo of the Iranian ship seized en route to Gaza in late January violates UNSC resolution 1747, which forbids the trafficking of weapons with Iran.
The ship will not be returned to Iran, Cypriot officials said Saturday, but they refused to say what exactly was found onboard the boat or whether the cargo contravened UN resolutions.
Cyprus inspected the Monchegorsk twice after it arrivedafter it arrived Jan. 29 under suspicion of ferrying weapons from Iran to Hamas fighters in Gaza. The U.S. military stopped the ship last month in the Red Sea, and said it found artillery shells and other arms aboard. But it could not legally detain the ship, which continued to Port Said, Egypt, and then to Cyprus.
Authorities will decide what to do with the cargo once they have finished searching the ship, Cyprus' President Dimitris Christofias said, without
saying how long that could take.
One option could be to confiscate the cargo, the president said. But Cyprus has ruled out sending the shipment back to Iran, Christofias' adviser George Iacovou said Saturday, according to state-run CyBC radio.
Christofias said Cyprus had received clear guidance from the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on whether the cargo breached sanctions barring Iran from sending arms abroad, but he refused to give any details or say what was advised.
The Cyprus-flagged ship is now anchored off the port of Limassol under tight security.
Cyprus is also consulting with the UN Security Council on the issue, government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said.
"The Cyprus Republic will do what it must do and will decide very soon," Stefanou told a news briefing.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

UN suspends aid to Gaza following Hamas theft

Press Release
East Jerusalem
06 Feb 2009




Jerusalem (UNRWA): The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, has suspended all imports of aid into the Gaza Strip following the confiscation of hundreds of tons of food aid.

During the night of 05 Feb 10 truckloads of flour and rice were taken from the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom Crossing into Gaza. They had been  imported from Egypt for collection by UNRWA today. The food was taken away by trucks contracted by the Ministry of Social Affairs. Two hundred metric tones of rice and one hundred metric tons of flour were taken.

UNRWA's suspension of imports will remain in effect until the aid is returned and the Agency is given credible assurances from the Hamas government in Gaza that there will be no repeat of these thefts.

This is the second incident in 3 days, on Tuesday 03 Feb, three thousand five hundred blankets and over four hundred food parcels were taken at gun point from a distribution store in Beach Camp, Gaza. UNRWA has demanded the return of this aid as well


For more information please contact:
Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: +972-(0)54-240-2659
Office: +972-(0)2-589-0267

Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972-(0)54-216-8295
Office: +972 (0)2-589-0724

Isabel de la Cruz
Public Information Officer
(m) 054 240 2630

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Hamas, Hezbollah & their Molochian Divine Victories

Hamas, Hezbollah & their Molochian Divine Victories
By: Elias Bejjani*
February 06/09
In Arabic contemporary history, there are four disastrous, pointless, destructive, and Don Quixote wars:
In 1967 President Jamal Abdel Nasser led the Egyptians to a suicide war with Israel.
In 2003 Iraq's president Saddam Hussein's delusions of grandiose and stubbornness provided the USA with the needed pretext to invade and Liberate his country.

In 2006 Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, General Secretary for the Terrorist Shiite militia provoked Israel after his men crossed the Lebanese-Israeli border to kill and kidnap a number of Israeli soldiers. Israel responded by a massive military assault on Lebanon lasted for 30 day.
In 2008 Khaled Meshaal, the overall leader of Hamas replicated Nasrallah's uncalculated provocations and instigated a catastrophic war with Israel, Its cost tothe Palestinians in the Gaza Strip was 1350 dead, more then 6000 injured and three billion dollars of loses.

The common denominators among these four wars were its precipitators (Nasser, Saddam, Nasrallah, Meshaal), fatal delusional over valued religious believes, faked self-inflated ego, dire military miscalculations, mere detachment from reality, failure in predicting the consequences, deadly demagoguism, recklessness in valuing their peoples' lives, generosity in providing innocent human sacrifice in self-inflicted massacres and holocausts one after the other and by the end of each war alleging divine victories.

It is worth mentioning that Nasser did not carry religious tags or claim divinity triumphs in any of his humiliating losing wars, although some of his over zealous followers saw in him a God. Meanwhile Saddam envisaged himself as a prophet with a holy mission to save his people, and Nasrallah with Meshaal have far excelled in their fantasies of holiness claiming against all odds, facts, loses and defeats, that their wars' outcome were all divine victories.

The leaders of Hamas, and Hezbollah, as well as Iran's Mullahs and Syria's Baathists rulers are all with no doubt divine in their sadism, cruelty, worship for power and influence, and deception, but only in accordance with the doctrine and rituals of "The Deity Moloch." Apparently this is the God they actually worship, affiliate to, and offer on his alters their own people as sacrifices.

Who is the "God Moloch"?
According to history books and religious references, "Moloch" was a well known notorious Phoenician Deity to whom child sacrifices were made throughout the ancient Middle East. Moloch's worship was the sacrifice of children, and the usual expression for describing that sacrifice was "to pass through the fire," a rite carried out after the victims had been put to death. This ritual was popular in ancient Phoenician Carthage.
Moloch was represented as a huge bronze statue with the head of a bull. The statue was hollow, and inside there burned a fire which colored the Moloch a glowing red. Children were placed on the hands of the statue. Through an ingenious system the hands were raised to the mouth (as if Moloch were eating) and the children fell into the fire where they were consumed by the flames. The people gathered before the Moloch were dancing on the sounds of flutes and tambourines to drown out the screams of the victims.

With the criteria of reason, reality, facts, logic, science, statistics, and actual loses that the above mentioned four so called divine wars caused, one can not, but attribute and link them with their precipitators to the God Moloch's atheist doctrine and rituals. While the Phoenician worshippers of Moloch in Sidon, Tyre, and Carthage obscured the screams of their burning children whom they offered to this Deity through dancing on loud sounds of flutes and tambourines, the four Arabic leaders and their supporters resorted to media facilities to cover up, camouflage and hide the miseries, sufferings and pains they inflicted on their own people in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza.

Ahmed Said, the disreputable head of the Egyptian "Saout Al Arab Radio Station" defeated and destroyed the Israeli troops in 1967 from behind his studio microphone through empty rhetoric fabrications and lies, while the Israelis were on the outskirts of Cairo. Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, Sadam Hussien's Minister of Information assured the Iraqis in 2003, that Saddam's mighty army will bury the Western occupiers, and Saddam will,withGod's blessings, be triumphant, while the American troops were entering Saddam's palace in Baghdad, and Saddam on the run hiding in a den 12 feet under ground.
Hezbollah's television, radio station, and owned newspapers, backed by all Syrian and Iranian media facilities played in the Hezbollah-Israeli 2006 thirty days war Ahmad Saied's and Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, role in deceiving and forging facts. The same scenario of camouflage was applied during the recent Israeli-Gaza war. Hezbollah claimed "Divine Victory" in 2006, while Lebanon and the Lebanese suffered horrible human and material loses. The whole country was devastated on all levels and in all domains.

Hamas with the same delusional and fundamentalism mentality and doctrine claimed also "Divine Victory" while reliable reports from Gaza confirmed the death of 1335, with more than 5000 injured, the destruction of 20 thousand homes and buildings, and damages that exceeds the amount of 3 billion dollars. Meanwhile the Israeli army's loses were only 13 dead and about 70 wounded.

Despite the heavy Palestinian losses, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran hailed the Hamas "Divine Victory". Nasrallah, Syria's president Bachar Assad and Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. all called Hama's leader Khaled Meshaal and congratulated him on the so called "Divine Victory."
One wonders what are the standards for winning and for losing in the eyes and minds of Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran?
No doubt, these are standards that fulfill God Moloch's doctrine and rituals. The Lebanese as well as the Palestinians were offered by Hamas and Hezbollah on Moloch's alter.
One wonders if these "Molochian" leaders, are actually connected to reality, sanity and the realization regardingthe magnitude of the devastating losses that they with cold blood and numbed conscience inflicted on their own people and countries?
By human standards of logic, facts, reasoning, consequences and sanity, the "Molochian" leaders in Lebanon, Gaza, Syria and Iran are detached from reality and hunted by the plague of grandiose delusions. (A delusion is a false psychotic idea or belief that does not match the reality, powers, influence or capabilities of the person. A delusion can't be corrected by reasoning, logic or proof. The deluded person detaches himself from reality and lives in castles of fantasies)
For those "Molochians" and in particular for Hamas and Hezbollah leaders, and as we have learned from the outcome of their two recent disastrous wars, the criteria for what is a victory, a divine one, and what is a defeat is very simple, but bizarre and completely derailed from the norms; For them they are divinely winners and victorious if they personally are not killed and remain in power, no matter how many thousands of their people are slaughtered, injured, and crippled, or what is the magnitude of the material loses or destruction.

To protect civilized communities all over the world from the dangers of such hazardous leaders, those of them who are psychotic ought to be certified and hospitalized against their will, and those others who are sane and committing such atrocities need to be arrested, charged and put on trial. Such lunatic leaders and politician must be contained.

Meanwhile those individuals who support the "Molochians," or keep a blind eye on their conduct of heresy, or are intimidated and do no stand for them, are all indirectly responsible and partners in all the damages they inflict on humanity. In Lebanon the proverb says: "He who do not witness for what is just is a silent devil".
Leaders can not continue to be so unless there are peoplewhom they can lead. Accordingly it is the duty of each and every one of us to see that such "Molochian" individuals are not supported and not given any chance to lead or have any role in any country's decision making process.

*Elias Bejjani
Canadian-Lebanese Human Rights activist, journalist and political commentator
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Europeans building the Iranian A-Bomb

The contribution of American and European companies to Saddam Hussein's WMD program in the 1980s (the real one) is well documented.
Reminiscent of the Great Dictator, one can picture German salesman running around Tehran, "Vee heff zee most vunderful gez. Eet veel keel efrybody."
How Europe's Companies Are Feeding Iran's Bomb 
From today's Wall Street Journal Europe.

While the U.S. has ratcheted up its efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear arms, the Islamic Republic is reaping a windfall from European companies. These firms' deals aid a regime that is bent on developing nuclear weapons and which financially supports the terror organizations Hamas and Hezbollah.
The Austrian oil giant OMV is itching to implement a €22 billion agreement signed in April 2007 to produce liquefied natural gas from Iran's South Pars gas field; at last May's annual shareholder meeting, Chief Executive Officer Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer said OMV was only waiting for "political change in the U.S.A." Raiffeisen Zentralbank, Austria's third-largest bank, is active in Iran and, according to a story by the Journal's Glenn Simpson last February, has absorbed the transactions of key European banks that shut down their operations in Iran. And in late January Paolo Scaroni, CEO of Italian energy corporation Eni SpA, told the Associated Press that his firm will continue to fulfill its contractual obligations in Iran and feels no external pressure to sever ties with Iran's energy sector.
Yet because of the sheer volume of its trade with Iran, Germany, the economic engine of Europe, is uniquely positioned to pressure Tehran. Still, the obvious danger of a nuclear-armed Iran has not stopped Germany from rewarding the country with a roughly €4 billion trade relationship in 2008, thereby remaining Iran's most important European trade partner. In the period of January to November 2008, German exports to Iran grew by 10.5% over the same period in 2007. That booming trade last year included 39 "dual-use" contracts with Iran, according to Germany's export-control office. Dual-use equipment and technology can be used for both military and civilian purposes.
One example of Germany's dysfunctional Iran policy is the energy and engineering giant Siemens. The company acknowledged last week at its annual stockholder meeting in Munich, which I attended, that it conducted €438 million in trade with Iran in 2008, and that its 290 Iran-based employees will remain active in the gas, oil, infrastructure and communications sectors.
Concerned stockholders and representatives from the political organization Stop the Bomb, a broad-based coalition in Germany and Austria seeking to prevent Iran from building a nuclear-weapons program, peppered Siemens CEO Peter Löscher with questions about the corporation's dealings with the Iranian regime. A Stop the Bomb spokesman questioned Siemens's willingness to conduct business with a country known for its human- and labor-rights violations, ranging from the violent oppression of women to the murder of gays to the repression of religious and ethnic minority groups. The spokesman referred to Siemens's Nazi-era history as an employer of forced labor from the Auschwitz extermination camp and asked how, in light of the corporation's Nazi history, the company could support an "anti-Semitic and terrorist regime" that threatens to wipe Israel off the map.
Mr. Löscher replied to the 9,500 stockholders in Olympic Hall that, "For Siemens, compliance and ethics have the highest priority, including where human-rights issues are involved." Yet, after further questions from the Stop the Bomb spokesman, he acknowledged that Siemens and its joint partner, Nokia, had delivered state-of-the-art communications surveillance technology to Iran last spring.
Information-technology experts say that the companies' "monitoring centers" are used to track mobile and land-line telephone conversations, and that their "intelligence platform" systems allow the Iranian secret service to track financial transactions and airplane movements. The technologies could also be used to monitor persecuted minority and dissident groups in Iran.
Siemens, the largest German trade partner of Iran, represents a window onto an opulent economic partnership between the two countries. German firms such as Mercedes-Benz, whose Web site lists an Iranian general distributor, and insurance giant Munich Re have also remained indifferent to the growing calls to isolate Iran economically. Yesterday, a Munich Re spokesman confirmed to me that the company insures goods in transit to Iran. This was the first such public disclosure by the firm.
And the deals just keep on coming. The Hannoversche Allgemeine newspaper, for example, reported in late January that the German engineering firm Aerzen secured a contract totaling €21 million to supply process gas blowers and screw-type compressors to a steel factory in Esfahan, Iran.
All of this is taking place while Iran is moving at an astonishing pace to process high-grade uranium for its atomic bomb. Iran's launch of its first domestically produced satellite on Tuesday prompted an alarmed French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier to underscore the link between Iran's military nuclear capability and its compatibility with the satellite technology.
Trade and security experts assert that Iran cannot easily replace high-tech German engineering technology with that from competitor nations such as China and Russia. The hollow pleas by Chancellor Angela Merkel, who favors a policy of moral pressure to convince corporations to be "sensitive" about cutting new deals with the regime in Tehran, did not prevent her administration from approving over 2,800 commercial deals with Iran in 2008.
Transparency is badly needed in this area. The German Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA) refuses to disclose the nature of these agreements. Economics Minister Michael Glos, who oversees BAFA and is considered an advocate of trade with Iran, should reveal the names of the firms commencing trade with a country that sponsors terror organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas. The German firms are hiding behind a wall of nondisclosure to avoid being blacklisted on the U.S market.
The Merkel administration heavily subsidizes investments in Iran by providing German firms with €250 million in credit guarantees. A day before the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27, the German business daily Handelsblatt reported that Berlin intended to discontinue all credit guarantees supporting trade with Iran. After the report was picked up by the major media, Mrs. Merkel's spokesman quietly denied that the government had canceled the credit guarantees. This suggests that Berlin cynically leaked the story to Handelsblatt to polish its international image and repair strained relations with Israel, a country whose security Chancellor Merkel has deemed "nonnegotiable" for Germany.
There are other signs that Germany's political elites consider Iran just another trading partner. Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is scheduled to visit Iran in late February, just after 10 days of celebrations in the country honoring Ayatollah Khomeini and the radical Islamic state he ushered in 30 years ago. Mr. Schröder, who plans to attend the dedication of a foundation for supporting scientific research and has opposed the imposition of sanctions on the Iranian regime, surely will not use the opportunity to criticize Germany's booming trade relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In short, while Berlin claims it wants to discourage Iran from building a nuclear bomb, it has so far done little to actually stop the bomb. German legislation prohibiting trade with Iran, coupled with an immediate cessation of credit guarantees, would decisively setback, if not stop, Iran's nuclear weapons program and set an invaluable example for other EU countries to adapt for their own companies.
Mr. Weinthal is the Jerusalem Post's correspondent in Berlin

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Norm Geras on Israel's "War Crimes": One-Eyed in Gaza

From Norm Geras (condensed version)

One-Eyed in Gaza

This is a post about war crimes in Gaza and the widespread public outrage over them directed at Israel... 
 Since it is a long post, I begin by providing a brief map of what is to follow.

In Part 1 I present a sample of the angry public reaction to Israel's alleged war crimes in Gaza, as gathered mostly from the British liberal press. In Part 2 I consider the source of this anger, pointing to what may be thought to be the most likely one - the great and visible suffering caused by Israel's recent military action. I argue that the hypothesis that this was the cause of outrage against Israel is not decisively rebutted by a standard argumentative move made by Israel's defenders: namely, that if Israel was guilty of war crimes, then so too was Hamas, for sending rockets against Sderot and other civilian centres. In Part 3 I go on to show that the claim that anger at Israel was due, or mainly due, to the suffering caused by its military action is open to question nonetheless. If we are examining this issue under the rubric of responsibility for war crimes, then public outrage about them is skewed when directed, as it widely has been, exclusively at Israel. In Part 4 I draw three conclusions from what has gone before. The first of these concerns the implication of the attitudes explored here for the future progress of international law. The second bears on the present condition of the Western liberal-left. And the third is about the alarming worldwide growth of anti-Semitism.

Part 1: Israel Accused.

I have waited till now to set out my thoughts on this subject, because when the air was thick with fury and denunciation, charge, counter-charge and denial, the chances of being calmly heard were small. Perhaps they still are. In any case, no one who was paying attention to the recent conflict in Gaza will have missed the fury and the denunciation.

Every day during that conflict the list of Israel's accusers lengthened. An international group of lawyers and jurists were to 'ask the International Criminal Court to probe alleged "war crimes" committed by Israel during its offensive in the Gaza Strip'. An editorial in the medical journal The Lancet held Israel responsible for 'large and indiscriminate human atrocities'. In the House of Commons an MP called Israel's leadership 'mass murderers and war criminals'.


Part 2: The suffering of the Palestinians.

That, then, gives an idea of the furious reaction to Israel's invasion of Gaza. And I think I may say without fear of contradiction that it would be easy to extend the above sample with many more such expressions of opinion. It is enough for my purpose, however. The most obvious answer to the question why there was such anger at Israel is that it was a natural response to so many Palestinian deaths, to the sight of so much suffering. One reaction here by defenders of Israel has been to say that the IDF's assault on Gaza was a response to the thousands of rockets targeted on Israeli population centres, and that the firing of these rockets is itself a war crime, without any question. To protest, selectively, at Israel's war crimes and not at those committed by Hamas betokens the influence of other impulses than concern about human suffering.

There is a short answer to this. It was exemplified in a post by another CiF blogger, who wrote (in the context of war crimes liability):

It is true that Israel has suffered from Hamas rocket attacks. Insofar as these attacks indiscriminately target civilian areas, Hamas would be guilty of war crimes under the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Yet, in the past eight years, Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza have killed around 20 people in southern Israel. Israel's response is neither necessary nor proportionate.

At the time of writing, after 23 days of bombardment, more than 1,300 Palestinians have been killed by Israel, including 410 children and 104 women, while 5,300 are seriously injured, of whom 1,855 are children and 795 women.

The same point was made a few days later by Martin Bell, though in his case not as part of a discussion of war crimes, but in criticizing the BBC for declining to broadcast the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal. He said:

There may be some who believe that the suffering of the people of Gaza was balanced, and even justified, by the damage and casualties caused by Hamas rockets in southern Israel. But when the ratio of dead between one side and the other stands at more than a hundred to one (excluding the IDF soldiers killed by friendly fire), the arithmetic tends to undermine the argument.

People might be outraged at Israel's war crimes (real or alleged), therefore, yet less exercised by those for which Hamas was responsible in targeting rockets on Israeli civilians, just because of the disparity of suffering in the two cases.


The outrage against Israel, then, is straightforwardly explained. It is due to the scale of death and suffering that Israel's war crimes in Gaza have brought about. There is no puzzle here.

But look again. In order to see why this explanation of public outrage at Israel is problematic and unbalanced, you must look, not at the war crimes committed by Hamas from Gaza, but at the war crimes committed by Hamas in Gaza. To this I now turn.

Part 3: The war crimes of Hamas.

If you look in the direction I have just suggested, what you see is that Hamas have been fighting in a way that endangers civilians - and I mean Palestinian, not Israeli, civilians. Those with a genuine concern for human rights have not failed to notice this. Thus, in calling for an 'impartial international investigation into allegations of serious violations of the laws of war' in the Gaza conflict, Human Rights Watch referred upfront to violations 'by Israel and Hamas'; it called - as none of the voices I have surveyed above, and the general chorus of which they are but a small sample, did - for an investigation into 'alleged violations by both sides'.

This is a matter of some importance. For it begins from a reality of the conflict which Israel's accusers have preferred to overlook, namely, that the commission of war crimes, so far from being incidental to the way Hamas fights, is integral to it; Hamas fights from within the civilian population it purports to, and to some degree does, politically represent. It fights so that its enemy, Israel, can only with maximum difficulty hit military targets - Hamas fighters or weapons or installations - without at the same time endangering Palestinian civilians. Israel is obliged, nonetheless, by the laws of war to take every step it reasonably can not to jeopardize these lives. My point is not to acquit it of that responsibility. It is, though, to emphasize that Hamas has exactly the same responsibility, one which it flouts by the very methods of self-defence it uses, methods putting 'its own' civilians at risk and leading to regular violations of the laws of war.

How could the angry chorus denouncing Israel, and only Israel, have missed this? It is unambiguous in the laws of war what Hamas's responsibilities are. Article 28 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states:

The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.

Article 51/7 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions (adopted in June 1977) specifies:

The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations.

Does Hamas respect these constraints? The evidence from press reports suggests that they do not. As in Part 1, I offer merely a sample of such evidence here. There are reports like this one (also here and here) of Hamas using houses occupied by civilians as cover from which to fire on Israeli troops:

Palestinian civilians have accused Hamas of forcing them to stay in homes from which gunmen shot at Israeli soldiers during the recent hostilities in Gaza, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported Thursday.

And there are reports of their using civilian facilities for the launching of rockets:

Every day, the Hamas rocket teams sneak through the fire and fury of Gaza to launching sites concealed in tunnels, trucks, rooftops and courtyards of schools and mosques.

In similar vein, there's this from the New York Times, quoting a 'man close to Hamas':

They have more experience and they have training from Syria and Iran. They helped them rethink their strategy. They fired rockets in between the houses and covered the alleys with sheets so they could set the rockets up in five minutes without the planes seeing them. The moment they fired, they escaped, and they are very quick.

Then there's the forcible use of farms as rocket launching sites:

Members of a Gaza family whose farm was turned into a "fortress" by Hamas fighters have reported that they were helpless to stop Hamas from using them as human shields.


[H]e went on to blame Hamas fighters for causing his predicament. Israeli soldiers had bulldozed his orchard of orange and olive trees, he said. "The Israelis destroyed my orchards because Hamas was using the cover to shoot rockets.

"I asked them to stop once and was told they would shoot me in the legs as an Israeli collaborator if I asked again."

And ambulances (also here):

Palestinian civilians living in Gaza during the three-week war with Israel have spoken of the challenge of being caught between Hamas and Israeli soldiers as the radical Islamic movement that controls the Gaza strip attempted to hijack ambulances.

And hospitals.

How, I repeat, could the angry chorus denouncing Israel, and only Israel, have missed this? It is not some arcane mystery but information available to anyone who wants it. Irwin Cotler, a former Canadian justice minister and professor of law at McGill University, calls the fighting tactics of Hamas a case study in the violation of international humanitarian law:

A second war crime is when Hamas attacks [from within] civilian areas and civilian structures, whether it be an apartment building, a mosque or a hospital, in order to be immune from a response from Israel... Civilians are protected persons, and civilian areas are protected areas. Any use of a civilian infrastructure to launch bombs is itself a war crime.

Colonel Richard Kemp, who has been a senior military adviser to the Cabinet Office, says:

Hamas deploys suicide attackers including women and children, and rigs up schools and houses with booby-trap explosives. Its leaders knew as a matter of certainty this would lead to civilian casualties if there was a ground battle. Virtually every aspect of its operations is illegal under international humanitarian law - 'war crimes' in the emotive language usually reserved for the Israelis.

But lost it well and truly has been on many of Israel's denouncers, all those who have been able to see only war crimes committed by Israel but, on the very same field of battle, none of the crimes of Hamas. That suggests a different hypothesis is needed as to what has been the cause of public outrage over Gaza. It is not so much human suffering as such but human suffering in so far as Israel was responsible for it. The identical human suffering in so far as Hamas has been responsible for it - to this the denouncers seem to have been rendered blind. For it is no longer now a matter of weighing numbers of deaths and magnitude of suffering caused by Hamas's rockets in Israel against the suffering caused by Israel in Gaza. No, what we are looking at is a quantity of suffering in Gaza for which Hamas as well as Israel is responsible. By its methods of fighting Hamas virtually ensures that any military reaction from Israel will incur civilian casualties. I have already said that under the laws of war this does not clear Israel of the obligation not to deliberately target civilians or to put them recklessly in jeopardy. However, that obligation, of which Israel's one-sided critics are so well aware, rests just as squarely on the heads of Hamas, who regularly disregard it; and yet those critics somehow fail to see the obligation on the other side of the conflict or else lose their voices when it comes to saying something about its consistent violation.

It might be said here in defence of the one-sided critics that their stand is motivated by a belief that Hamas's cause is a just one whereas Israel's is not. It's not a view I share, but I'll let that pass because it isn't relevant to the issue. The laws of war, and the requirements of ius in bello (governing how one fights), oblige not only those whose cause is, putatively, unjust but also those presumed to have justice on their side. The silence over the crimes of Hamas that have brought death and disaster on the Palestinians in Gaza - just as Israel's military campaign has - is the silence of rank prejudice. Twinned with a vocal outrage against Israel, it tells us that it is not only a concern for human suffering that has been at work; a plain political animus is also present, funnelling the outrage in one direction only.


In the outpouring of hatred towards Israel today, it scarcely matters what part of it is impelled by a pre-existing hostility towards Jews as such and what part by a groundless feeling that the Jewish state is especially vicious among the nations of the world and to be obsessed about accordingly. Both are forms of anti-Semitism. The old poison is once again among us.

Read the whole thing here: One-Eyed in Gaza


Continued (Permanent Link)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Springtime for Lieberman and Bibi

Israeli Election Watch: Who's afraid of Avigdor Lieberman, the Obama factor

By Marcy Oster · February 5, 2009

  • As Israel's election campaign nears the home stretch, much of the attention is focused on Yisrael Beiteinu's Avigdor Lieberman rand his rhetoric about Israeli Arabs. Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu told his close associates Wednesday evening that he will aim to bring both Lieberman and Ehud Barak's Labor Party into his government should he win the upcoming elections, Ynet  reports. The story, especially the Lieberman angle, is being picked up by newspapers around the world.
  • The Jerusalem Post reports that Likud is battling Ysrael Beiteinu for votes. And Netanyahu reached out to potential Yisrael Beiteinu voters at a massive rally at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds in which his speech was translated into Russian, reassuring them that a vote for the Likud would guarantee Lieberman a senior ministry. At the same time, Likud is warning rightist voters that if they chose to vote for Lieberman, then Kadima's Tzipi Livni could be tapped to form the next government. The national director of Likud Anglos tells undecided voters reading the Jerusalem Post why they should vote for Netanyahu's Likud and not a smaller party.
  • Lieberman and his party are a "clear and present danger," says Hebrew University psychology professor Leon Deouell in a piece published on Ynet: "Yisrael Beiteinu openly calls for undermining the most basic rights in a democratic society, including the right to express and promote one's views. Without these rights, there is no democracy. This is a clear and present danger that no voter must ignore." Along similar lines, Ha'aretz published an editorial Wednesday titled "Reject Lieberman," arguing that "the slogan 'Without loyalty there is no citizenship' is not illegal, but has its roots in a dark conceptual world and is contrary to the lifeblood of democracy, which never makes civil rights contingent on performing duties."
  • Don't like the idea of a strong LIeberman showing, then blame the main parties, says Ha'aretz columnist Israel Harel: "Those responsible will be the main casualties of his success -- the large parties, which ignored the distress and fears of the people who vote for him," says.
  • Lieberman's campaign "is a Russian thing," according to a colorful feature on the candidate and his party in the British newspaper The Guardian. "The first thing I notice is the nails. I'm in the campaign office of Yisrael Beiteinu, the ultranationalist party of Avigdor Lieberman, in the Mediterranean city of Ashdod. Most of the volunteers are women of a 'certain age'. And I'm fixated on their nails. There are nails in two colors. Built-up false nails. And long, pampered nails that curve to dull points like the unsheathed claws of cats. They tick-tick-tick on keyboards of the office's computers. Pick at stickers on the campaign board. Punch at keys on mobile phones. The nails are paired with big hairstyles: bleached blonde and permed, or tinted in two shades. The 'hair-nail thing', a friend explains, is a Russian thing. Not that there is any question about this being a Russian thing in every sense."
  • The Los Angeles Times reports that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's peace efforts have put Kadima Party head Tzipi Livni in a tight spot.
  • Israel's politicians are looking to cash in on some of Barack Obama's magic, says a contributor to Ha'aretz Op-Ed reports "Barack Hussein Obama may have been the 44th President of the U.S. for just two weeks, but for months now Israel's politicians have been on a quest to grab a dash of Obama in-a-bottle to enthrall the millions with a spirit of hope and change, even in an election where two of the front-runners are former prime ministers."
  • The Washington Post also reports on the reverberations of the Obama campaign being felt in Israel this week.
  • Netanyahu will have to decide between security and settlements, former defense ministry adviser Clinton Bailey tells him in an open letter printed in the Jerusalem Post.
  • Another Jerusalem Post op-ed analyzes the reasons why fewer Israeli Arabs are going to the polls. "If, as surveys predict, the participation rate of Arabs in the elections does indeed continue to drop, representation of Arabs in the Knesset will also shrink, and the public debate on alternatives to parliamentary politics can be expected to focus intensely on three potential levels: developing the concept of an all-Arab parliament, reinforcing civil society organizations and increasing support for the Islamist stream that advocates the establishment of independent institutions."

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Progressive Zionists Condemn Call for Academic Boycott of Israel

Media Advisory: For Immediate Release
New York, NY, February 5, 2009 CONTACT: Hiam Simon (212) 366-1194,
Progressive Zionists Condemn Call for Academic Boycott of Israel
New York, NY: Ameinu, the progressive Zionist organization, condemns the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and the support for that boycott by such organizations as "Jewish Peace News.".
"This boycott models itself on the failed 2007 initiative of the British Academic Union," Bob said. "Ameinu has a long record of supporting an end to the occupation and a two-state solution that includes free intellectual exchange. This boycott initiative does the opposite. It uses the Gaza conflict as a pretext to stifle academic freedom and delegitimize Israel."
Bob added, "Scholars and artists are some of the strongest voices in the Israeli peace movement. Cutting these individuals out of the international dialogue hurts, rather than helps, the cause of Israeli- Palestinian peace."
Bob noted that the statement being circulated to enlist support for the boycott failed to mention the thousands of rockets and mortars fired into Israel since the Gaza withdrawal in 2005. "This boycott call," Bob added, "can in no way be described as supportive of peace.'"
Ameinu calls for universities to reiterate their 2007 opposition to the previous boycott. It also urges individual scholars to oppose the boycott by obtaining affiliation with one or more Israeli academic institutions. "The procedure is easy," said Bob, "They should simply send their CVs to the provost of the Israeli institution and ask to be listed as Affiliated Faculty."
About Ameinu Ameinu, the leading progressive Zionist organization in the United State, is dedicated to promoting a negotiated peace between Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states, and to social and economic justice for all in Israel and America. Ameinu reinforces Jewish continuity through support for Habonim Dror, the Labor Zionist youth movement, and the Union for Progressive Zionists national campus organization.
Hiam Simon
212 366-1194 

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Israelis aid Gazans

Israeli donors offer aid and hope to Gaza
 Who are the victims in Israel's recent war on terror with Gaza? Obviously it's not the people in high positions calling the shots, but the civilians, and the mothers and children -- from both sides -- who have lost loved ones during this conflict, which still has no clear resolution in sight.
(Communicated by Karin Kloosterman, Israel 21C)
Two young Israeli women, a student and a peace activist, got fed up with politics. On behalf of the people of Israel, they decided to take it upon themselves to organize aid for those in Gaza a couple of weeks ago. And the nation's response has been beyond anything they could have imagined.
 Since putting out a call for blankets, clothing and food for Gaza via email, Lee Ziv, 28, and her partner Hadas Balas, 25, have already delivered seven large trucks of supplies to the people in Gaza, with more to come. Confirmation has also been received that the relief is getting to those in need, and is not being held hostage by Hamas militants, as some Israelis feared.
 Long-term plans to provide ongoing aid are also in the works: "Thousands of people came to donate things from their homes," says Ziv. "And they gave money, asking what we could buy with it," she tells ISRAEL21c.
Parents of soldiers in Gaza donate to the appeal
 "I can say that there were a lot of mothers and fathers who had soldiers inside Gaza at the time who were donating stuff. A woman who had a missile land on her house in Sderot, donated food. There were young people and old, and they were mostly Israelis," she says.
 Ziv, a peace activist working with the Sulha Peace Project, and the United Religions Initiative, and Balas, a student, were able to appeal to the public because they represented the people, and not an agency with political goals. "We are working beyond the rules, with the common goal of ensuring the right to live to those who are alive," said their email plea.
 "It's between people to people, without politics inside it," says Ziv. As an example, one woman who gave aid to ship to Gaza, had a son who was sent by the Israeli army to fight there: "She felt terrible that something could happen to her boy. She felt the need to help another mother in Gaza, maybe one whose son has died," says Ziv who has seen "a lot of compassion" from the Israeli side.
 "It's not that we don't understand our need to protect ourselves," she says. "But we know something is terrible there [in Gaza] and a lot of people have died."
 Balas and her friend, a student at the Sapir College in Sderot, called Ziv, a couple of weeks ago and told her that they had to do something about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
 Since announcing their plans to collect aid via an email that went viral, the women have appeared on TV, radio shows, and in newspapers. Even the Arabic news channel Al Jazeera has expressed an interest in covering their story.
Messages of hope in peace, in Arabic, along with the aid
 After reaching other human rights organizations, the messages and the act of donating to Gaza spread across Israel like wildfire. "I thought we might get two truckloads," Balas says. "I wasn't expecting 10."
 The truckloads of aid have gone into Gaza, with handwritten messages of peace from the donors translated from Hebrew and English into Arabic.
 The messages were translated by Elad Vazana, a peace activist who has worked with the Sulhita Youth Project, to connect youth from Israel and the Palestinian Authority, who organized his contacts, and had the messages, translated to Arabic in a swift operation.
 He was at the Gaza-Israel border with Balas and Ziv last week seeing that the first shipment went through safely, along with the special notes he?d helped create.
 "They were messages of hope and faith," says Ziv. "They received them already and now they want to send us back messages."
 Among those organizations that helped in the collection were the Zionist youth movement?s organization, Hashomer Hatzair, and the Greek Catholic Church's Beit Hachesed in Haifa. Kibbutz Kfar Aza, which has been attacked by Qassam missiles from Gaza, offered its storage facilities before the shipments went out to Gaza.
 "It's about people," says Ziv. "We all want to share this country. The Jewish people will stay here. The Muslims and Christians will stay here. For me it's like planting seeds for peace."
 (Donations to their efforts can be coordinated with Lee Ziv:
 Article courtesy Israel 21C

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Karsenty on Israeli incompetence in the media wars

Philippe Karsenty expresses some of the frustrations felt by all of us in fighting the media wars. It should not be  a partisan issue within Israeli politics. Israel is dropping the ball. A proposal for an Israeli "Al-Jazeera" type TV station was dropped for lack of funds, and a government effort to enlist "bloggers" showed that the Israel foreign ministry has no idea what a blogger is and does not understand the Internet.

Israel Losing the Media War: Wonder Why?

During this last war against the Hamas, Israel lost the media battle in most of the world. In Europe, and needless to say in the Arab and Muslim world, most people believe Israeli soldiers are war criminals and that Jews abroad who support the "Zionist entity" are complicit in those crimes. More and more, people think it is acceptable to assault Jews and burn their synagogues.

During the coming months, Israeli diplomats and IDF officers are likely to be threatened with prosecution for their "war crimes" during the last operations in Gaza. Indeed the IDF now asks that soldiers' faces be covered up in photos lest they be the object of legal prosecution. You may think this is bad. However, based on my experience, this might be Israel's only chance to survive in the long run.

During the past seven years, I, with many others in Israel and around the world, have been fighting to expose the al Dura story, the first blood libel of the 21st century, as a hoax, promoted and defended by the French public TV, France 2, and its correspondent in Jerusalem, Charles Enderlin. Enderlin and France 2 sued me for defamation, a long and costly law suit that dragged on for years, and which I only won after many set-backs.

During all those years, I got the cold shoulder from Israeli officials. With the exception of a few mavericks like Danny Seaman (director of the Government Press Office), Raanan Gissin (Spokesman, Prime Minister's Office), Shlomi Amshalom, former deputy spokesperson for the IDF, or former ambassador Zvi Mazel, the vast majority of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs personnel treated me and others who pursued this case, as embarrassments - conspiracy nuts who they wished would just disappear.

So, when I listened on January 17th to the interview broadcast on Channel 1 of the Israeli TV, I was surprised to hear what Aviv Shir-On (deputy director at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs) remarked to Yaakov Achimeir that his ministry, the State of Israel and the IDF helped me during this battle.

Shir-On either has a sense of humor, or a bizarre notion of what help is.

In 2002, when it was still possible to do something immediate, Nissim Zvili was the Israeli ambassador to Paris. He listened courteously but explained to me that he was a friend of Charles Enderlin, the French journalist who narrated the al Dura hoax.

In 2006, Zvili was replaced by Daniel Shek, who refused to shake my hand, and later commented on a Jewish radio that I was defending "conspiracy theories." When I asked his colleague in charge of communication at the embassy in Paris, Daniel Halevy Goitschel, why he never returned my phone calls, he responded: "the phone doesn't work at the embassy". We are not even dealing with a lack of support here. On the contrary, I was being sabotaged.

When I won the case in May 2008, Yigal Palmor, the spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said: "Karsenty is a private individual and no one in the Israeli government asked him to take on his battle against France 2. Karsenty had no right to demand that Israel come to his aid. All calls on the Israeli government to come and 'save' him are out of place. He was summoned to court because of a complaint of the French television channel. I don't see where there is room for the Israeli government to get involved."

Last December, I went over the evidence with Aviv Shir-On, who now claims to have helped me, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). After two hours he repeated the old MFA refrain, "I'm not convinced". Let's say, for the sake of generosity, that Shir-On is just one more timid defender of Israel, so afraid of what "others" might say, that even the judgment of an independent (and hardly well-disposed) French court in favor of his own country, does not give him the courage to speak. So even though I won the case, and the new evidence from France 2 sharpens our argument, I could not count on Israeli officials to help move into a counter-attack. Enderlin, humiliated by the court decision, was allowed to bluff his way back to prominence, and recently, in the Gaza war, lead the journalists' attack on the Israeli government.

But this case is far more significant than the solitary career of one self-aggrandizing and dishonest journalist. The al Dura story was only the most devastating of a host of blood libels against Israel that have inflamed both Muslim and leftist hostility to Israel and any Jews who dare support her, in the diaspora. When I tried to explain to Shir-On how the passive attitude of the Israeli Foreign Ministry towards these libels - in many cases, like al Dura, fabricated by Palestinians and disseminated by the Western media -harmed the Jews in the Diaspora, he became agitated and curt.

"If there is anti-Semitism in Europe, you should come to Israel". When I explained that this anti-Semitism was fed by their lack of reaction, rather than attack the anti-Zionists and their enablers, he attacked me, his own ally.

On January 2009, I met Tsipi Livni, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and asked her about the al Dura story and the lack of reaction of the Israeli officials. Why didn't the State of Israel demand that France 2 admit their blood libel following the court decision? I was stunned by her answer: "Well, it happens that we kill kids sometimes. So, it's not good for Israel to raise the subject again".

In other words, my victory in court meant nothing to the Israeli establishment. They are still stuck in the same passive, defensive mindset that allowed the al Dura libel - Israeli soldiers intentionally killed an innocent child - to spread the world over, unopposed. As the first French court, which ruled against me, put it, "Why should we believe Karsenty when the Israelis, who are the ones accused of the murder, say nothing?"

Let's return to the Gaza war. Israelis did much better in the media than they did in earlier crises. They were less quick to apologize; much faster to challenge… but only the Palestinians. Heaven forbid, they should challenge a news media that consistently attacked Israeli representatives even as they allowed Palestinian spokesmen to claim anything they wanted, and then repeated those claims to their audiences.

What further tragedies need to occur before they wake up to the necessity of fighting back? More disasters? Another Durban Conference (arriving in April) in which they have no response, no strategy, no counter-attack?

It certainly will not happen as long as these diplomats are concerned above all with currying favor with the media and foreign diplomats, and reserving their moral indignation and hostility for those of us who, fighting the hatred against Israel, merely embarrass them.

PS: Knowing the courage and good faith of some of the people I mentioned here, I'm sure you will soon read some vigorous denials. Knowing how they fight for their good name (but not for the good name of Israel), their words will be strong and assertive. Ask them, then, why they didn't use their strong words to confront France 2 and other media outlets with their criminal negligence.

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See how a strong Muslim strikes

Legitimate criticism of Israel?
The [Jews] say: We are the second most powerful force on the face of the Earth. And America keeps supporting them – may Allah blow up all of them. The EU supports them with all its might – may Allah annihilate its leaders.
See how a strong Muslim strikes:
Then, Hamza landed a blow, which cut his hand and shoulder, and split his chest down to the navel, until his lung was exposed. See what bravery. See how a strong Muslim strikes. He landed a blow that cut his hand and his shoulder, and all the way to his navel, exposing his lung. A single blow of the sword, and he went straight to Hell.
Following are excerpts from an address by Egyptian cleric Muhammad Al-Zughbi, which aired on Al-Rahma TV on January 12, 2009:
Muhammad Al-Zughbi: The accursed Europe stood by the accused Jews, as is its custom. The pulverized United States – I pray that Allah destroys it and saves the Muslims from it – stood by these [Jews]. Today, it sent them over 40,000 tons of weapons, bullets, mortars, and missile launchers. Yes, they sent them crushing weapons. They sent them bombs.
[In the Battle of Uhud,] Abu Shaiba challenged [the Muslims] to a duel. He was such a champion that even the Muslims nicknamed him "the Ram of the Battalion." The Ram of the Battalion – he was strong. He was one of the Qureish horsemen. He cried: Who dares to fight me? Hamza stepped up against him. See what self-confidence! He placed his trust in Allah. They exchanged two blows. Then, Hamza landed a blow, which cut his hand and shoulder, and split his chest down to the navel, until his lung was exposed. See what bravery. See how a strong Muslim strikes. He landed a blow that cut his hand and his shoulder, and all the way to his navel, exposing his lung. A single blow of the sword, and he went straight to Hell. .
There was a strong man from among the polytheists, who was finishing off any wounded Muslims he saw. He would look for the wounded, cut off their heads, and mutilate their bodies. Whenever he found a wounded man, he would kill him. He would kill him! Not only that, but he would mutilate their bodies. Abu Dujana approached him. The polytheist was like a mule. A big jackass – like that accursed, shoe-stricken, big jackass from the White House, the one with the two big ears. A Jackass. A big jackass. Or like that lowlife [Olmert], who slaughters the Palestinians, who faces 13 corruption charges, including one for sexual harassment. May Allah curse him and all his supporters.
The big jackass came up to him. Al-Zubeir says: [Al-Dujana] was small, but the other one was a real mule. He was like all those Jewish and American mules. Zubeir said: I followed them to see what they were doing. They exchanged two blows. Abu Dujana deflected the blow with his shield. Then Abu Dujana jumped on him and finished him off. He killed him on the spot.
Zubeir said: I kept following him. I saw him turn towards a horseman, who was tearing Muslims to pieces. He crept up behind him, but as he was about to bring his sword down on his neck, he suddenly heard loud wailing of women. You know how it goes... He was surprised, so he lifted his sword rather than bring it down on the man's neck. It turned out it was a woman – Hind bint Utbah, the wife of Abu Sufyan. She was slaughtering Muslims, sowing death among them. Hamza said: No, the sword of the Prophet is too lofty to be used to kill a woman. By Allah, I will never do it. I will never strike a woman with the sword of the Prophet.
The Jewish dogs should learn moral values from us. He defeated this woman, who slaughtered Muslims and mutilated their bodies, but he refused to kill a woman with the sword of the Prophet – not a woman or a child. Have these dogs learnt this lesson? They slaughter women and children, and the other dogs keep sending them weapons. May Allah finish all of them off. May Allah destroy them completely.
The [Jews] say: We are the second most powerful force on the face of the Earth. And America keeps supporting them – may Allah blow up all of them. The EU supports them with all its might – may Allah annihilate its leaders.

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Wife beating in Islam explained

December 24, 2008 Clip No. 2006

Egyptian cleric Galal Al-Khatib Explains Wife-Beating in Islam

Following are excerpts from a sermon by Egyptian cleric Galal Al-Khatib, which aired on Al-Rahma TV on December 24, 2008.

Galal Al-Khatib: One of the husband's rights is to discipline his wife if she is disobedient. What does the word "disobedience" mean? Disobedience is to leave the house without the husband's permission, to refuse to obey the husband in bed, to speak to the husband impolitely, or to do the opposite of what he likes. All these are forms of disobedience. Religious law has instated several measures of disciplining a disobedient wife. These measures must be followed consecutively. You cannot jump to the third measure before despairing of the second, and you cannot jump to the second before despairing of the first. The order must be followed. The first measure for reforming a disobedient wife is to admonish her. The husband should talk to her gently, reminding her of God, and reminding her that if she wants to enter Paradise, she must obey him. He must tell her that by pleasing her husband, she pleases God, and that his rights supersede the rights of her parents.


Okay, if admonishing doesn't work, the next measure is "banishment." Some say that the wife should be banished from his bed, while others say he should refrain from having sex with her, although I do not agree with the latter view, because having sex is one of the rights of the husband, so how can he discipline her by depriving himself of sex? It's enough if he refrains from smiling and saying nice things to her, and instead, he gives her the cold shoulder, but he has the right to have sex with her, even during banishment.

Okay, he's tried admonishing, he's tried banishment – but nothing. Her emotions are numb, and she says: Good riddance. So what is the next measure? "...and beat them." Beating. The Prophet Muhammad said that the beatings should be light, and that one should avoid the face, or the sensitive areas, which might lead to broken bones, or might leave a mark that would spoil her beauty, whether on her face or anywhere on her body. Beatings that draw blood, or break bones, or leave a scar, a black mark on the skin, or any obvious mark, which would make people know that she was harshly beaten – this is forbidden.

How should the beatings go? Maybe a light slap on her shoulder, or maybe a not-so-light pinch, or a kind of gentle shove. He should make her feel that he wants to reform her, and let her know that he is displeased with her. It is like saying: None of the measures that work with sensitive people work with you. A word would be enough for any wife with lofty morals, but with you, words do not help. Then he attempts a new direction, appealing to her femininity and emotions, by making her feel that he doesn't want her or love her. When this doesn't work, he says to her: With you, I have reached a stage which is only appropriate for inhumane people – the stage of beating.

Beating is one of the punishments of religious law. What kind of people are beaten? Virgin adulterers, both men and women, are beaten as a means of discipline. Who else is beaten? A person who committed an offense and was sentenced by the judge to beatings. Who else is beaten? Someone who committed a crime. By beating his wife, the husband is saying: You've committed a grave sin that merits beatings.

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Palestinians in Lebanon - Exploited and unwelcome guests

Palestinian Arabs in Lebanon have a status slightly worse than that of dogs. Nonetheless, no UN resolutions are ever passed regarding the violation of Palestinian rights by the evil Lebanese, and the Palestinians are exploited to aid the Lebanese economy. Theoretically, they are not allowed to work. In fact, they do work - without social benefits and without any protection against exploitation, a convenient situation for some.
Palestinians pump up Lebanese economy - study
Despite employment obstacles, refugee community doesn't burden state's social safety net
By Dalila Mahdawi
Daily Star staff
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Palestinians pump up Lebanese economy - study
BEIRUT: Despite facing severe work restrictions, most Palestinian refugee households have at least one family member who is employed, constitute 10 per cent of all private consumption in Lebanon, and do not burden the Lebanese welfare system, a recent report has found.
The Najdeh (Welfare) Association, a Palestinian nongovernmental organization (NGO), published the report examining the contributions of Palestinian refugees to the Lebanese economy in January with funding from aid agencies Diakonia and Christian Aid, as part of its "right to work" campaign.
The study is the result of a survey of 1,500 households in eight refugee camps across Lebanon and a number of focus group discussions, and assesses the income of Palestinian refugees, challenges to and perceptions of work, and their contribution to the Lebanese economy. According to Najdeh, the study "constitutes a paradigm shift in research on Palestinian refugees in Lebanon from examining employability to examining the contribution to the economy of the host country Lebanon."
Under Lebanese law, Palestinian refugees are barred from all but the most menial occupations. Nonetheless, the report found one third of the individuals sampled worked, 91.1 of households had a member who worked, and roughly 40 per cent were searching for work. Only 1.7 per cent of those surveyed had work permits, a fact the report said "renders the Palestinian refugee labor force invisible in official statistics" and exacerbates their socioeconomic marginalization.
Najdeh also found there was "disequilibrium in the contribution to the workforce among men and women typical to the region: women constitute only 20 per cent of those who work between ages 15 to 64 years." No change to this disequilibrium had occurred since a similar report was published a decade ago, the report said.
Some 31.1 per cent of men of working age (defined as 15-64 years old) were not currently in employment, compared to 83.2 per cent of women in the same age group. More women were found to work between the ages of 40-44 and 55-65, the report found, because "women go to work after their children grow up" in line with their traditional gender role as homemakers, or because elder women "have already been involved in the workforce since their youth."
Most men, meanwhile, worked when they were younger, between the ages of 25 and 29, and 35-39, in keeping with their time-honored gender role as breadwinner. However, significantly more men of working age were illiterate compared to their women counterparts. "This phenomenon may be considered a crude indicator of school dropouts," Najdeh said.
Most Palestinian men and women worked in the private service sector, with men working predominantly in construction, industry, transport and agriculture. More women, meanwhile, were employed in the NGO sector or by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Because of "limited work opportunities for Palestinian refugees outside" their camps, most of the men and women surveyed were found to work within or on the peripheries of the camps.
Perhaps surprisingly, the report found that a greater proportion (67 per cent) of employed women worked full-time, compared to 62 per cent of men, who more often engaged "in seasonal, occasional and other work patterns." Furthermore, more employed women (48.6 per cent) were employed by an establishment, whereas 49.6 per cent of men worked for an "individual employer." Men were also more likely to stop working due to health problems.
Most men (59.6 per cent) and women (55.1 per cent) said they were "somewhat satisfied" with their current work environment, but "twice the proportion of women express being 'very satisfied' with health and safety conditions at work" compared to men (21.7 and 10.8 per cent respectively). This may be because more men engage in occupations with greater safety hazards, stated the report.
The majority of both men and women expressed dissatisfaction with their low income levels, the report added. Median monthly wages were $260-266 for men and $188-200 for women. An overwhelming majority (84 per cent) of Palestinian households furthermore believed there were no work prospects for their children in Lebanon, a perspective perhaps compounded by the fact the median monthly household income of Palestinian refugees had declined from $260-266.7 in 2007 to $108-112 "during the first half of 2008." In addition, 54.9 per cent of households said they were supported financially by remittances from emigrant family members.
Individuals living with chronic illness constituted 16 per cent of the sample population in the report, 6.5 per cent of whom attributed their illness to occupation; 4.3 per cent of those with disabilities likewise attributed their disability to occupation. The report emphasized the difficulties these individuals faced, as because they are not legally supposed to work, they cannot claim insurance from UNRWA for occupational injuries. Consequently, "patients suffering from occupational injuries and their aftermath are vulnerable to financial as well as health-related catastrophes."
Although Palestinian refugees cannot legally contribute much to the Lebanese economy through employment, the sheer amount of them living in the country (more than 400,000) means they count for 10 per cent ($352 million) of all private consumption in Lebanon. Food, healthcare and rent constitute their top spending priorities.
The report also found that despite a 60-year presence in Lebanon and extreme vulnerability as a group, Palestinian refugees "do not appear to have constituted a burden on the safety net system provided by the Lebanese welfare system." The report stated UNRWA, NGOs and faith-based organizations represented the primary safety net for the Palestinian refugee community.
Palestinians also contributed to "invigorating" the areas surrounding their camps by creating low-cost markets for low-income and other marginalized communities in Lebanon. The "Sabra, Ein el-Hilweh and Nahr al-Bared camp markets are recognized as major informal economic hubs for the poor," said the report, adding that the destruction of Nahr al-Bared during the battles of 2007 had "resulted in a gap in the Akkar" region in northern Lebanon for such communities.
Concluding the report, Najdeh spoke of the importance of granting Palestinian refugees the right to work and called for "implementing a formal economic strategic partnership between the Lebanese economic community and the Palestinian refugee economic community." Najdeh also recommended allowing highly trained professionals to work in the Lebanese market "when needed," and forming a dialogue committee between the Lebanese and Palestinian economic communities. "This would enable Palestinian refugees to work more effectively toward their own welfare and the development of the country hosting them," said the report.

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Daily Star on Iran's Paranoia

The editorials of the Beirut Daily Star are not generally known for their Zionist sympathies, and they don't usually dare to speak out against Iran - that can be hazardous to your health in their neighborhood. Iranian behavior is of course predictable by anyone who understands what the Iranian regime is all about.
Thursday, February 05, 2009

Iran is currently celebrating its 30th birthday, with the passing of three decades since the nation's people succeeded in bringing down the monarchy of the US-backed shah and creating a government of their own. Yet despite having survived several external attempts to reverse the revolution, the Islamic Republic still behaves less like a confident, functional 30-year-old nation and more like a nervous teenage rebel fending off the authority figures in the United States and the United Nations Security Council.
Part of Iran's paranoid stance can be explained as the natural result of having been the openly declared target of a US campaign for regime change. But Iran's own delusions of persecution must also be counted among the reasons that the country has not yet assumed its rightful, respected place within the community of nations. While most Iranian leaders are typically experts in Islamic jurisprudence, few have demonstrated a solid understanding of the political workings of foreign states, and many appear to have been operating under the assumption that much of the outside world is waging a covert war against them. Most senior officials seem not to have noticed that the world around them - especially the United States - is rapidly changing course.
Many Iranians have reacted skeptically to US President Barack Hussein Obama's call to turn the page on the last three decades of sour relations between Washington and Tehran. But Obama's new stance was reinforced on Wednesday by Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany, who issued a joint statement voicing common commitment to seeking a diplomatic solution to the row over Iran's nuclear program. This softer tone marks a dramatic shift in style away from George W. Bush's "axis of evil" rhetoric, and could herald a significant change in substance as well.

The Iranians will need to adjust their own positions in order to adapt to a world with an America that is being reinvented each day that Obama is at the helm. The US president is widely popular around the world, and failing to respond to his challenges would risk allowing the Islamic Republic to be portrayed as the villain who seeks to thwart a sincere peacemaking mission. The best strategy for the Iranians would be to focus on the two arenas in which their country has most noticeably failed: public relations and diplomacy. Iran has never been able to successfully defend its controversial policies in the global arena, even though the country has arguably operated in accordance with international law. And although Iran is the most populous country in the Middle East, the country has so far been outfoxed by smaller, PR savvy nations that seek to demonize the Islamic Republic as a result of their own paranoia. The only way to change the current score is to join the PR and diplomacy game.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Obama is a what?

President Barack Obama has been billed as all sorts of evil things. Here's the latest.
Barack Obama is a  Communist    Muslim   Zionist.
Last update - 13:29 04/02/2009       
Top Iranian official: Zionists brought Obama to power
By Reuters
A representative of Iran's supreme leader said Barack Obama taking office as U.S. president did not mean Tehran's ties with Washington would change, a news agency reported on Wednesday.
"The Zionists brought Obama to power to help America pass through its current challenges," said the representative to the Revolutionary Guards in northwestern Zanjan province, cleric Hojjatoleslam Ali Maboudi.
"Any government has 'red lines' and our 'red lines' are rejecting the arrogant policies of America and the Zionist regime," he said.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has ultimate authority over policy in the Islamic Republic, has yet to comment on Obama's presidency or his offer to extend a hand of peace if Iran "unclenched its fist."
The leader has representatives to many institutions and regions. Though not a perfect guide, their comments can give an indication of views prevalent among Iran's leadership.
"Opposing the Zionist regime and defending oppressed people are among the pillars of the Islamic revolution and Iran and America's relationship will not change because of Obama taking office," Maboudi said, Fars News Agency reported.
Iran does not recognize Israel's right to exist and officials often refer to the country as the "Zionist regime". Officials reflect the view that U.S. ties with Israel as so close that their policies are indistinguishable.
Other Iranian officials have set tough conditions for opening dialogue with Washington after 30 years of hostility. But analysts say such terms could be more of a gambit to buy time for the leadership to determine how to proceed.
The United States has long accused Iran of undermining peace in the Middle East by backing what Washington calls "terrorist" groups like Palestinian Hamas and Lebanon's Hezbollah. Tehran says the groups aim to free Palestinians from Israeli occupation.
Khamenei may have the final say in policy, but analysts say he tends to reach decisions by seeking a consensus among influential politicians, clerics and powerful state bodies.
The president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is only one among those voices. He has said the United States must withdraw its troops from bases around the world and must also apologize for decades of "crimes" against Iran. Neither is likely to [be] met soon if at all.
Obama's administration has offered direct talks but warned of more pressure if Iran does not halt work the West says is to build nuclear bombs. Tehran denies any such ambitions.

The Guards are an ideologically driven force set up after the 1979 Islamic revolution to defend the system of clerical rule, with a separate command structure to the regular military.
While fiercely loyal to the system, analysts say political views in force are not always homogenous but mostly reflect hardliners passionately opposed to Washington and the U.S. influence ejected in 1979 when the U.S.-backed shah was ousted.

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Hamas confiscates Gaza aid - UN Protests

Who is depriving Gaza Palestinians of aid?
Press Release
East Jerusalem                            04 Feb 2009



At 1430 on 3 February over 3,500 blankets and 406 food parcels were confiscated from a distribution store at Beach Camp in Gaza by police personnel. This took place after UNRWA staff had earlier refused to hand over the aid supplies to the Hamas-run Ministry of Social Affairs. The police subsequently broke into the warehouse and seized the aid by force. The aid was due to be distributed to five hundred families in the area.

UNRWA condemns in the strongest terms the confiscation of its aid supplies and has demanded that it is returned immediately. UNRWA has a strict system of monitoring aid delivery and ensuring that its assistance reaches only the intended beneficiaries. Our officials were on the ground overseeing the delivery of our aid and taking all possible steps to avoid its diversion.

For more information please contact:
Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: +972-(0)54-240-2659
Office: +972-(0)2-589-0267
Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972-(0)54-216-8295
Office: +972 (0)2-589-0724


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Israeli Election Polls - Likud has comfortable lead

3 Polls: Likud ahead of Kadima 3-8 seats Yisrael Beteinu 17 seats
Dr. Aaron Lerner Date 4 February 2009

Current Knesset seats in [brackets].

#1  #2  #3***
21.0 23 23 [29] Kadima headed by Livni
17.0 17 12 [19] Labor
24.5 27 31 [12] Likud
11.0 10 11 [12] Shas
17.0 17 17 [11] Yisrael Beteinu
02.0 03 03 [03] "Jewish Home" (previously NRP)
05.0 05 06 [06] Yahadut Hatorah
08.5 06 04 [05] Meretz
00.0 00 01 [00] Green Party
02.0 00 00 [07] Retirees Party
06.0 08 10 [10] Arab parties
00.0 00 00 [00] Meimad
00.0 00 00 [00] Strong Israel (Efraim Sneh)
06.0 04 02 [06] National Union (reconstituted)
00.0 00 00 [00] Green Leaf (legalize marijuana)
*  1 seat is not enough to get into the Knesset as 2% of valid votes are required.
** 24.5 = 24-25, 8.5 = 8-9
*** Poll #1 Telephone poll of a representative sample of 600 adult Israelis (including Israeli Arabs)  carried out by Geocartography  2 February for Globes and published on 4 February.

Poll #2 Telephone poll of a representative sample of 700 adult Israelis (including Israeli Arabs)  carried out by TNS Teleseker 2 February for Maariv and published on 4 February.

Poll #3 Telephone poll of a representative sample of 671 adult Israelis(including Israeli Arabs)  carried out by Maagar Mohot Survey Institute(headed by Professor Yitzchak Katz 30 January through 2 February. 28% did not say what party they would vote for.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

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UN deliberately lied about school shelling

The UN has now admitted that the school was not fired upon.

Maxwell Gaylord, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Jerusalem, said Monday that the
IDF mortar shells fell in the street near the compound, and not on the
compound itself.

Gaylord said that the UN "would like to clarify that the shelling and all of
the fatalities took place outside and not inside the school."

UNRWA, an agency whose sole purpose is to work with Palestinian refugees,
said in response Tuesday that it had maintained from the day of attack that
the wounded were outside of the school compound.

But the latter claim seems to be a new lie, as explained below.

UN disseminates lies and a willing media swallows them

Jason Koutsoukis reports in The Sydney Morning Herald on January 8 on an Israeli war crime that once again wasn't.

SEVENTEEN hours after the attack on one of his schools killed 40 Palestinians seeking shelter from Israel's war on Hamas, the UN's director of operations in Gaza, John Ging, was certain of at least one thing.

"We have established beyond any doubt that the school was not being used by any militants," Ging told the Herald last night. "They were innocent people."

Speaking from the UN's Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, Ging struggled to contain his anger at the attack that has also left more than 50 people with serious injuries, 10 of whom remain critical.

When the attack came on the Prep C Girls school in the Jabaliya camp at 3.45pm on Tuesday, Gaza time, there were about 350 Palestinians inside using the school as a shelter, Ging said.

"The reason they were in the school is because the Israelis had told them to go there. They were doing exactly as they had been told," he said.

To ensure there was no confusion about the school's location, the UN had given specific GPS co-ordinates to Israeli commanders.

"As you can imagine, this was a very distressing attack. It has killed 40 people, and some of those who were injured may yet die," Ging said. "Now we need to know how this happened. A full, transparent and independent inquiry has to be held to determine exactly how this occurred."

In fact, as Patrick Martin reports in Canada's The Globe and Mail on January 29, 2009, Ging of UNRWA knew all along there was no attack on the school but didn't set the record straight:

MOST people remember the headlines: "Massacre of Innocents as UN School is Shelled; Israeli Strike Kills Dozens at UN School."

They heralded the tragic news of Jan 6, when mortar shells fired by advancing Israeli forces killed 43 civilians in the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. The victims, it was reported, had taken refuge inside the Ibn Rushd Preparatory School for Boys, a facility run by the UN Relief and Works Agency. There was just one problem:

The teacher (who witnessed the shelling and), who refused to give his name because he said UNRWA had told the staff not to talk to the news media, was adamant: "Inside (the compound) there were 12 injured, but there were no dead."

John Ging, UNRWA's operations director in Gaza, acknowledged in an interview this week that all three Israeli mortar shells landed outside the school and that "no one was killed in the school".

"Look at my statements," he said. "I never said anyone was killed in the school. Our officials never made any such allegation."

The UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs got the location right, for a short while. Its daily bulletin cited "early reports" that "three artillery shells landed outside the UNRWA Jabalia Prep C Girls School... "However, its more comprehensive weekly report, published three days later, stated that "Israeli shelling directly hit two UNRWA schools ..." including the one at issue.

"I know no one was killed in the school," Ging said.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Gaza: The mountain produced...

Repeated Israeli threats to respond to retaliate against Hamas produced this.... The response was disproportionate to the threats.
IDF Spokesperson February 3rd, 2009

IDF Response to Rockets Fired at Israel in Recent Days

In response to the barrage of Qassam rockets, mortar shells, and Grad missiles fired at Israel in recent days, the Israel Air Force attacked a number of targets throughout the Gaza Strip approximately an hour ago.

A Grad type missile was launched at the city of Ashkelon this morning. Over thirty Qassam rockets, mortar shells, and Grad missiles were fired at Israel since the holding of fire.

The targets included five smuggling tunnels, a rocket launching site and a Hamas outpost.

As the sole authority in the Gaza Strip, Hamas bears full responsibility for all terror originating within its area of control.

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Report: Avigdor Lieberman was a Kahana follower

Elections 2009 / Haaretz exclusive: Avigdor Lieberman said to be ex-member of banned radical Kach movement
By Lily Galili, Haaretz Correspondent
Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman was once a member of the outlawed far-right party Kach, the movement's former secretary general revealed on Tuesday.
Yossi Dayan said he issued Lieberman, a prime ministerial candidate whose current electoral campaign against Israeli Arabs has provoked outrage, with a party membership card when he was still a new immigrant to Israel.
"I don't recall to what extent he was active in the movement, but if he denies [this], I am ready to testify in any forum that Lieberman was indeed a member for a short amount of time," said Dayan.
Kach was banned from running for the Knesset in 1988 for inciting to racism.
Ultra-nationalist activist Avigdor Eskin, meanwhile, remembers meeting Lieberman at Kahane's office on Ussishkin Street in Jerusalem. "I remember this very well, because I arrived there one day after I immigrated to Israel in 1979," he said.
Eskin came to public attention for having boasted of holding a pulsa dinura ceremony prior to 1995 assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. The ceremony, believed to be of kabbalistic origin, is aimed at conferring a death curse on the subject.
"Kahane saw him as a good guy. I also thought back then that he was not a Kach man ideologically, unless the only measure of this is the question of whether you like Arabs. According to what I remember, he handed out the movements' publications among its small student group in the Hebrew University," Eskin said.
He added that he met Lieberman in Kahane's office a number of times, but to the best of his knowledge the Yisrael Beiteinu chairman was only involved in Kach for a number of months.
Yisrael Beiteinu relayed in response to the Haaretz report that, "We are not dealing with this orchestrated provocation. The success of Yisrael Beiteinu has created among its opponents a great quantity of lies and fabrications, which the political and media establishment knew beforehand."
The revelation came one day after Israel's most recognizable television anchor, Haim Yavin, branded Lieberman as "Kahane's successor," a reference to the murdered extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane, who headed Kach movement.
Former Kach members, for their part, actually reject the Kahane comparison. "He is a poor imitation of Kahane," one said. Dayan, who was close to Kahane for over a decade, is disgusted by it.
"Not everyone who speaks against Arabs is a Kahane," he said. "[Lieberman] can take a few elements, but to be Kahane is a whole doctrine. Nevertheless, I'm happy that he's saying what he's saying, because without a radical solution to the problem of Arabs in Israel it can't be good here."

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IDF Warning to Gaza Grad Students

IDF warns south Gaza residents of impending response to Ashkelon rocket strike
By Yanir Yagana, Haaretz Correspondent, and The Associated Press
Residents of the southern Gaza town of Rafah said on Tuesday that they received telephone messages from the Israel Defense Forces warning them to leave their homes ahead of an impending airstrike. The town, on the frontier with Egypt, is a center for smuggling goods and weapons into the strip through tunnels under the border.
The recorded messages, in Arabic, said "people who work in tunnels, live near them or are giving logistical help to terrorists should evacuate the area immediately," residents said.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have instructed the IDF to launch reprisal attacks against Hamas targets following Tuesday morning's Grad rocket attack in Ashkelon.
Israel warned on Tuesday that Hamas was "playing with fire" shortly after Gaza militants fired a Grad rocket into the coastal city of Ashkelon.
The Grad that struck Ashkelon was the first such rocket to be fired at the city since a cease-fire ended Israel's 22-day offensive in Gaza last month.
Three people were treated for shock after the attack, which also caused damage to property.

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ADL: American Jews Overwhelmingly Supported Israel's Gaza Action

Israel policy forum and J-Street take note please of attitudes regarding Hamas. ZOA: please note attitudes concerning the peace process and a Palestinian state. 63% of American Jews support formation of a Palestinian state.  
New York, NY, January 29, 2009 … American Jews overwhelmingly supported Israel in its actions against Hamas in Gaza, according to a national survey conducted for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).  The findings strongly contradict the notion that surfaced during the war in Gaza that American Jews were divided in their attitudes, with suggestions that many were critical of Israel.
The telephone survey of 400 American Jewish adults was conducted between January 13-19, 2009 (with a hiatus Friday evening-Saturday for the Jewish Sabbath) for ADL by The Marttila Communications Group, and has a margin of error of +/-4.9%.
Survey Highlights
• 94% expressed sympathy for Israel over Hamas; only 1% for Hamas (graph). By denomination breakdown: Orthodox - 98% expressed sympathy for Israel; Conservative - 96%; Reform - 91%.
•  81% expressed the belief that Hamas was responsible for the escalation of the violence; only 14% held Israel responsible.  By denomination breakdown: Orthodox - 84% held Hamas responsible, Conservative - 88%, Reform - 77%; non-practicing 77%.
• Asked whether Israel's response to Hamas rockets was appropriate or excessive, probably the major theme that has appeared in international critiques of Israel, 79% said it was appropriate, 17% excessive. By denomination breakdown: Orthodox -  88%, appropriate, Conservative - 80%, Reform - 80% and non-practicing - 71%
• When asked about Israel's right to self-defense versus the need to win the "hearts and minds" of the Arab world, 79% said that Israel's responsibility to protect its citizens takes precedence/
 "The survey findings strongly contradict those who disagreed with Israel's actions against Hamas and claimed there was a sharp division in the American Jewish community," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.
"The vast majority of the Jewish community clearly understands and overwhelmingly supports Israel's effort to stop Hamas' constant rocket attacks and cripple its terrorism infrastructure. The Jewish community is an open community where different views are welcome.  It was unfortunate that some seem to have an interest in exaggerating the level of disagreement on this issue."
ADL also explored American Jewish views of some of the key political issues facing Israel:
• Two-thirds of those interviewed indicated that they supported Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and the same number continues to support that position today.
• 63% support the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza while 32% oppose.  On the question of who is doing more to bring peace to the region, Israel or the Palestinians, 91% said Israel and 4% said the Palestinians.
"The findings on the political issues speak of a continuing strong center in the American Jewish community that wants a secure Israel but also strongly supports efforts toward peace," Mr. Foxman said.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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Palestinians fire Grod rocket into Ashqelon: First since truce

Obviously, whatever Israel has been doing is not working.
Gaza militants fire Grad into Ashkelon for first time since Gaza op
By Haaretz Service and The Associated Press
A Grad hit Ashkelon on Tuesday morning, the first such rocket to be fired at the city from Gaza since a cease-fire ended Israel's 22-day offensive in the coastal strip last month.
Three people in Ashkelon were treated for shock after the attack. Damage to property was also reported.
The rocket strike came after a Hamas delegation met with senior Egyptian officials in Cairo on Monday in an effort to reach agreement on a truce with Israel.
Ashkelon was hit by nearly 100 rockets during the Gaza fighting. Following Tuesday's rocket attack, a local parents union called for classes to be called off. But city hall announced that school would be open as usual.
On Monday evening, a Qassam rocket struck an open area in Sha'ar Hanegev, causing neither casualties nor damage. Three mortar shells also hit the Eshkol region earlier Monday, also causing no injuries or damage.
In response to the mortar attack, the Israel Air Force bombed a car in the southern Gaza Strip. Palestinian medical workers reported that one person had been killed in the bombing, and three others were wounded.
The Israel Defense Forces said it targeted gunmen who had fired the mortars.
Witnesses said the air-strike hit the men while they were traveling in a car in the town. Their identities were not immediately known.
On Sunday Israel suffered the heaviest barrage of rocket and mortar attacks since the cease-fire took effect.

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Jewish Money and South Africa

"Legitimate Criticism of Israel" - right?
Last update - 00:49 01/01/2009       
South Africa Jews slam deputy FM's anti-Semitic comments
By Cnaan Liphshiz
South Africa's Jewish community on Wednesday lodged a complaint of hate speech against the country's deputy foreign minister, who earlier this month said that "Jewish money controls America and most Western countries."
Stressing that the South African Jewish Board of Deputies "usually prefers dialogue," the Board's national director, Wendy Kahn, told Haaretz: "Deputy Minister Fatima Hajaig had crossed all limits."
Kahn, who is in Israel to attend the World Jewish Congress in Jerusalem, called Hajaig's comments "a demonstration of anti-Semitism of the oldest and most classical kind."
The Board filed the complaint against Hajaig to the country's Human Rights Commission - a national institution with some investigative and executive powers, which derives its powers from the post-apartheid constitution.
In the complaint, the Board quotes what Hajaig said at a pro-Palestinian rally in Lenasia on January 14. "They in fact control [America], no matter which government comes in to power, whether Republican or Democratic, whether Barack Obama or George Bush," Hajaig was heard saying.
She also said: "The control of America, just like the control of most Western countries, is in the hands of Jewish money and if Jewish money controls their country then you cannot expect anything else."
The minister, who is out of the country, has so far not commented on the complaint, nor has the government clarified its position on the controversial comments. However, Kahn noted the administration has been "overall more evenhanded toward Israel during the Gaza operation' than during the 2006 Lebanon War." Hajaig's comments, Kahn said, were the exception.
In the Board's announcement about the complaint, chairman Zev Krengel said that although the decision "had not been taken lightly," it was necessary because "not since the era of pro-Nazi Nationalist MPs more than half a century ago had such statements been made against Jews by a senior government official."
The Democratic Alliance of the opposition has called for Hajaig to be sacked if she did not offer an immediate public apology. Party spokeswoman Lindiwe Mazibuko said: "It is incumbent upon Hajaig to immediately apologize to the people of South Africa in general, the Jewish community in particular, and to US President Barack Obama.?
The Israeli Foreign Ministry also recently complained to the South African government about Hajaig, after she used harsh and "undiplomatic" language in speaking with Israel?s ambassador to South Africa, Dov Segev-Steinberg, during the Gaza operation.
According to various sources, Hajaig accused the ambassador of bringing a diplomat of Ethiopian descent to the embassy "only because he was black," presumably in order to counter the often-heard accusation in South Africa alleging that Israel is an apartheid state.

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Barak vs Rivals on Gaza Operations

Barak's reply to "directed leaks" - misdated by Ha'aretz.
Last update - 00:48 01/01/2009       
Barak lays into rivals over inaction against Gaza rocket fire
By Haaretz Service and Reuters
Defense Minister and Labor chairman Ehud Barak laid into rival prime ministerial hopefuls Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday over years of inaction in the face of Gaza rocket fire.
"All of these critics were in decision-making positions and Hamas never received such a blow as this. After eight years of [rocket] fire from the Strip, I arrived and gave the IDF an order to batter Hamas, with deeds and not words," said Barak, referring to Israel's recent offensive against Hamas in Gaza.
Livni, the foreign minister and Kadima party chairwoman, has been a senior cabinet member for much of the period mentioned by Barak. Netanyahu, the Likud chairman and current opposition leader, also held senior a senior position under former prime minister Ariel Sharon during the years of cross-border attacks.
Barak continued: "It's understood that we're in a period of elections, and every morning at the start of the cabinet meeting ministers wander around in front of the media, lashing out, rejoicing and announcing - [and] Hamas hears this as well."
His comments clashed with statements on Sunday by Livni who said that, if necessary, Israel would mount a new offensive in the Gaza Strip to choke off cross-border rocket fire.
"Those who need to plan the operations are the best people in the country, who understand better than a large number of the ministers - the members of the defense establishment and the IDF General Staff," the defense minister added.

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Synagogue torched in Turkey

Can there be anti-Semitism without Jews?
Last update - 00:09 01/01/2009       
Jewish sources: Vandals set north Turkey synagogue ablaze
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent
Vandals set a synagogue in northwest Turkey ablaze on Sunday, sources within the Turkish Jewish community have reported.
No one was apparently wounded in the attack, which took place in the city of Bursa. The extent of property damage has yet to be fully assessed.
The incident came amid a rift between Israel and Turkey that was sparked by fierce Turkish censure of Israel's offensive against Hamas in Gaza.
The synagogue is not currently in use for daily prayer, since it was shut after the city's Jewish community shrank over the past few decades.
Sunday's attack was the first such incident to take place in Turkey following Israel's campaign in Gaza, which ended about two weeks ago.
The operation triggered a spate of anti-Semitic attacks across the world, most recently the vandalizing of a synagogue in Venezuela's capital late on Friday night.
Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, meanwhile, on Sunday warned the cabinet against deepening the schism with Turkey, a key ally of Israel.
"[I'm] very concerned by the behavior in public on the subject of Turkey," Olmert said. "Our relations with Turkey are important, and I recommend that we don't intensify our statements on the subject."
But Olmert added, despite his warning, that Turkey was "not exempt from domestic considerations... being a Muslim state on the eve of elections."

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

American Jews versus Israel

Although American Jews and Israelis share a strong and mutual feeling of solidarity, U.S. coreligionists have a very low willingness to strengthen the relationship, according to a new study on the subject.
The Jewish Peoplehood research, whose findings will be presented on Tuesday at the Herzliya Conference, relies on questionnaires by some 3,000 Israelis and American Jews. Asked about the degree to which they feel connected to a Jewish brotherhood, both groups gave a similar answer which yielded an average score of 68 out of 100.
But the research also shows that Americans possess a drastically lower level of willingness than the Israelis' when it comes to strengthening the bond. While Israelis ranked 66, the Americans' average score was 32. "The emotional attachment that U.S. Jews have to Israel does not translate itself into willingness to act to strengthen this bond," the research states.
Asked to rank the level of familiarity between the two groups, responders from both continents gave a score of 39. They also said the two groups have scarce direct contact. In contrast with past research projects, the Jewish Peoplehood survey showed most Israelis perceive themselves as Jewish first, and only then as Israeli.
Surprisingly, perhaps, Israelis ranked even higher than Americans in this department. When ranking the "significance of Jewish identity," Israelis returned a score of 85, compared to the Americans' 81.
Both Jewish communities said they had a very positive attitude toward one another. They nonetheless gave different answers when asked whether non-Jews married to Jews should be seen as members of the Jewish People. U.S. participants voted with a resounding yes, giving a score of 69, compared to the Israelis' more ambivalent 59 points.
As for the current state of the transatlantic relationship, both populations report substantial ties of family, friendship, and communication with Jews in the other country. Israelis, in fact, report more such ties.
"Perhaps this reflect the significant number of Israelis who have taken up residence in the U.S.," propose Professors Yoav Shoham of Stanford University, Uzi Arad of the IDC Herzliya and IDC's Nimrod Gur, who conducted the research.
The Herzliya Conference session presenting the full results of the survey will be headed by Russian-Jewish businessman Leonid Nevzlin, chairman of the Nadav Foundation that funded the research. "The results surprised me," he said. Instead of trying to foster an already-existent sense of solidarity, "the critical challenge is to capitalize on the communities' mutual positive feelings, and turn it into a more meaningful relationship," he concluded.

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Olmert threatens retaliation as four rockets hit Israel

Too much talk and not enough action?
Last update - 00:36 01/01/2009    
 By Barak Ravid and Yuval Azoulay, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and The Associated Press
Israel will not agree to return to the old rules of engagement in Gaza, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday.
"We will act according to new rules that ensure we will not be dragged into an unceasing shootout that prevents us from living life as normal in the south," Olmert said.
Olmert warned that there would be a "fierce and disproportionate" Israeli response in the event that rockets continue to be fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel or directed Israel Defense Forces soldiers.
The prime minister said that the rocket fire has intensified in the last few days that leaves Israel with no choice but to react in a manner that makes its stance on the rocket fire clear.
"I asked the Defense Minister to instruct the IDF to prepare for the Israeli response that is required under these circumstances. The response will be given at the time, place and avenue that we choose."
Palestinian militants fired at least four Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip into the western Negev on Sunday, with one landing in between two kindergartens.
Three rockets struck the Eshkol region, two of them landing in open fields and the third close to the kindergartens. A fourth rocket struck an open field in the Sdot Negev Regional Council area. No casualties or damage were reported in any of the strikes.
Later on Sunday morning, Israel Defense Forces soldiers exchanged fire with militants near the Kissufim crossing on the border with the Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported in the incident.
On Saturday morning one Grad rocket struck south of Ashkelon after a Color Red alert sounded in the city.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said there is no need to wait for a response.
"The reaction must be strong and immediate as that is the only way that Hamas will understand the equation has changed," she said.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the security establishment had been instructed to formulate a response.
"Hamas received a heavy blow and if needed will receive another one," he said.
The rockets have demonstrated the fragility of a cease-fire that ended Israel's devastating Gaza offensive on January 18.
Israel halted the operation after saying its goals had been achieved. But Hamas declared victory and militants have kept up sporadic attacks.
Since the cease-fire, militants have fired rockets into Israel and killed one soldier in a border attack. Israel has conducted retaliatory strikes and pounded tunnels Hamas uses to smuggle in weapons from Egypt. Israeli forces have also killed three men Palestinians identified as farmers in violence along the Gaza-Israel border.

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