Israel News | Zionism Israel Center | Zionism History | Zionism Definitions | ZioNation | Forum | Zionism FAQ | Maps| Edit

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Israel Apartheid Week Message

A biker was riding by the zoo, when he saw a little girl leaning into the lion's cage. Suddenly, the lion grabbed her by the cuff of her jacket and tried to pull her inside to slaughter her, under the eyes of her screaming parents.

The biker jumped off his bike, ran to the cage and hit the lion square on the nose with a powerful punch. Whimpering from the pain the lion jumped back and let go of the girl. The biker then took her to her terrified parents, who thanked him endlessly.
A reporter saw the whole scene, and addressing the biker, said, 'Sir, this was the most gallant and brave thing I saw a man do in my whole life.'
'Why, it was nothing,' said the biker, really... The lion was behind bars. I just saw this little kid in danger, and acted as I felt right.'
'I noticed a patch on your jacket,' said the journalist.
'Yeah, I ride with a Israeli motorcycle club,' the biker replied.
'Well, I'll make sure this won't go unnoticed.. I'm a journalist with the Times, you know, and tomorrow's papers will have this on the front page.'
The following morning the biker bought the paper to see if it indeed brought out the news of his actions. On the front page was the headline: 'ISRAELI GANG MEMBER ASSAULTS AFRICAN IMMIGRANT AND STEALS HIS LUNCH.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Racial violence in Gaza Strip?

It is simply incredible that anyone would refer to the Gaza war as racial violence. It shows a dangeraous sort of dementia.  
By  • Marjorie Stamm Rosenfeld
 February 23, 2009
The University of California, San Diego, Ethnic Studies Department has brought shame to the greater San Diego community with its "Statement on the Racial Violence in the Gaza Strip"[1].
Israel has not caused "an astounding number of civilian deaths," as accused by UCSD's Ethnic Studies Department. It now appears that the civilian toll was probably exaggerated. The Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera has quoted a Shifa Hospital physician as stating that the number of dead in Gaza was only 500 to 600, most of them young people of 17-23 and Hamas fighters. ("Gazan Doctor Says Death Toll Inflated"[2]. C.A.M.E.R.A., too, has done a lengthy analysis calling into question the Palestinian claim about casualties in the article "Gaza Casualties, Civilian or Combatant?"[3] C.A.M.E.R.A. has pointed out, among other things, that Hamas called upon their fighters to take off their uniforms and put on civilian clothing. The IDF has now also documented some of the errors in earlier claims by the Palestinians and revised its figures on non-combatant casualties downward [4].

Continued (Permanent Link)

Obama administration pulls US out of Durban II conference

U.S. pulling out of 'Durban II' conference
By Ron Kampeas · February 27, 2009
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- The Obama administration has decided to boycott the so-called Durban II conference out of concerns for anti-Semitism.
Multiple sources on a conference call with the White House on Friday told JTA that the Obama administration had opted not to attend any further preparatory meetings ahead of the planned U.N. conference against racism in Geneva in April.
The conference reprises the 2001 conference in Durban, South Africa that devolved into an anti-Jewish free-for-all. Canada and Israel have opted not to attend the conference, and some U.S. Jewish groups had been pressing the United States to do the same.
Preparations for a draft document so far have seen Iran leading a coterie of nations blocking inclusion of anything that might guarantee Jewish protections – including mention of the Holocaust – while inserting draconian language guarding Islam against "insult."
The State Department sent a delegation, including a senior staffer from the American Jewish Committee, to this month's preparatory talks. The delegation's conclusions were that the anti-Israel and anti-Western tendencies were too deeply entrenched to excise.
Now that the United States is withdrawing from the conference, European nations are expected to follow.
Speaking for the White House on Friday's call were Samantha Power and James Warlick, who handle international organizations for, respectively, the national security council and the State Department; and Jennifer Simon, an adviser to Susan Rice, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Hampshire college says they did not divest from Israel!

A divestment hoax...


Boston, MA, February 24, 2009 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed a statement from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, that contrary to assertions by some members of the student body and faculty, the institution "did not divest from Israel."


A letter to Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director from Ralph J. Hexter, President of Hampshire College and Sigmund Roos, Chair of the Board of Trustees made clear that, "Hampshire College did not divest from Israel."  They also made clear that the college currently holds investments in hundreds of companies that do business in Israel, and in at least three actual Israeli companies.


"We welcome this unequivocal statement from Hampshire College that it did not divest from Israel, and that Israel in fact played no role in the college's recent decision to disinvest from a mutual fund," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  "This is an emphatic repudiation of the campaign of misinformation that has cast the college's investment decisions in a false and politically biased light.


"In their zeal to demonize Israel, some Hampshire students and others among Israel's detractors engaged in a deliberate campaign to mischaracterize Hampshire College's decision," Mr. Foxman said.


After reports that Hampshire had become the first institution of higher learning in the country to divest its holdings in Israeli companies, the League wrote to the college's president for clarification of its position on divestment.


In their response, President Hexter and Chairman Roos indicated that some students and faculty members had mischaracterized the college's investment decisions.   "No other college or university should use Hampshire as a precedent for divesting from Israel, since Hampshire has refused to divest from Israel.  We have stated this publicly."


President Hexter and Chairman Roos invited League officials to visit the campus, in order to work together to ensure that all students feel welcome and safe on campus.


"We look forward to an opportunity to meeting with officials at Hampshire College to discuss how we can work together to ensure that the campus remains a place of inclusiveness and respect for all students, said Robert O. Trestan, ADL Eastern States Civil Rights Counsel, who is based in Boston.  "Hampshire College should provide a safe learning environment where differences of opinion, including divergent views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, can be expressed in an atmosphere of respect."

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.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Zionism before Aliyah?

Should we postpone Aliya  in order to do Zionism, or put off teaching Hebrew in order to promote Aliya? That is the question Gil Troy asks below.
Once upon a time, there was a man who had two sons. One son was industrious, while the other was lazy. When it was time to plant the crops, the lazy son would say, "We cannot plant, for we did not plow." But when it had been time to plow, he had said, "We cannot plow, for the soil is too muddy. We must wait for the soil to drain.
Whereas the industrious son, when called to plant, came willingly, and if the land was lacking in plowing or fertilizer, he would remedy that defect as well.
The land is lacking in water and in fertilizer and in plowing and in seed, and so it is possible, whenever an initiative is raised to remedy one defect, to point out that others are more urgent.tasks. That is the way of the lazy son. But the industrious son, seeing all this work, will welcome any who come to help, whether it is in sowing seeds or plowing or spreading fertilizer or removing rocks.  
Poor Zion, if she has only lazy sons. Sons who will only spread "fertilizer" as an excus for doing nothing but talking.
Gil writes:
Pushing Aliyah usually alienates American Jews - and has distorted attitudes toward Israel and Zionism. Although when I speak about Zionism I neither push Aliyah nor negate the American Jewish community's validity, questioners frequently accuse me of both. So many speakers before me have pitched Aliyah so aggressively, that as soon as I mention "the Z word" the already alienated questioners become defensive. Actually, many American Jews reject Aliyah as a goal. For them, it is like trying to sell ham in a synagogue.
The "Z word" is Zionism of course, not Aliya. The Z word however, arouses opposition not only among Diaspora Jews, but in Israel as well.

Center Field:
Conservative Rabbis should foster Zionism before pushing Aliyah
Posted by Gil Troy

At its recent annual convention in Jerusalem, the Conservative Movement's Rabbinical Assembly launched a campaign to boost Aliyah - immigration to Israel. The slogan "A Call to Action - Putting Aliyah on the Map," illustrated that Aliyah barely ranks on American Jews' agenda. With 399 Conservative North American olim (immigrants) in 2008, this campaign has nowhere to go but up. But trying to boost Aliyah among American Jews is like trying to encourage virtuosity among music ignoramuses. The goal, while noble, is out of reach. Before pushing Aliyah, the Conservative Movement should stimulate a more pressing conversation about what Israel and Zionism can mean to American Jews.
Pushing Aliyah usually alienates American Jews - and has distorted attitudes toward Israel and Zionism. Although when I speak about Zionism I neither push Aliyah nor negate the American Jewish community's validity, questioners frequently accuse me of both. So many speakers before me have pitched Aliyah so aggressively, that as soon as I mention "the Z word" the already alienated questioners become defensive. Actually, many American Jews reject Aliyah as a goal. For them, it is like trying to sell ham in a synagogue.
Moreover, I have experienced particular hostility from some Conservative rabbinical students who bristle during their mandatory year studying in Jerusalem, because of the religious politics. Angry at Israel's parallel Masorti movement for rejecting gay rabbis, alienated by the fact that a woman cannot feel comfortable wearing a kippah or a tallit publicly in Jerusalem, they yearn for their promised land of Southern California or the Upper West Side. I often respond that many share their contempt for some not all Israelis' intolerance and oppose the Israeli rabbinate's authoritarianism. But just as no rabbi wants congregants judging Judaism by the parts that least speak to them, we should not judge Israel by the aspects that most bother us. Still, I worry about how some of these future leaders will teach Israel to their congregants, let alone respond to perceived "pressure" for Aliyah from their movement.
Too many heavy-handed Israelis make matters worse. Coming from a command-and-control culture, too many Israeli speakers have barked too many orders to too many American Jewish audiences, regarding how to think, where to live. Ham-handed American Jewish tour operators are also guilty. One student recalled A.B. Yehoshua haranguing her and her young peers on her first Israel trip. Yehoshua negates the Diaspora as a valid Jewish home - except when it comes to collecting lecture fees from there. American celebrity worship blinded the organizers to the damage Yehoshua's Israel-or-bust message might cause.
A healthy, constructive approach to Zionism would start by addressing some of the central contradictions between America's cosmopolitan dream of liberation from Old World traditions and the Jewish commitment to ritual, history, faith, tradition. American Jews also try reconciling love for two Promised Lands, Israel and America.
Zionist thinkers from the past can help. Ahad Ha'am conceived of Israel as a center for Jews without negating Diaspora Jewry. Judge Louis Brandeis was a great American and a great Zionist who explained that being American frequently means maintaining a different ethnic, religious and even national identity. Mordechai Kaplan posited Jewish peoplehood as a touchstone for Jewish unity, Jewish pride in Jewish civilization, and Jewish equilibrium between modern seductions and the call of the past.
We also must stop seeing Israel through the lens of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was Yasser Arafat's central conceit to make almost every conversation about Israel be about the Palestinians. Just as every conversation about America is not about race, so, too, we need a broader multi-dimensional relationship with Israel.
Even more important, we must stop treating Israel and Zionism as the Jewish people's central headaches and start seeing both as potentially redemptive forces. We need new Zionist thinkers relating to today's challenges, and today's Israel. A New American Zionism should begin by critiquing the American Jewish community - and the modern condition. Just as European Zionists in the 1890s built an ideologically-diverse, Israel-based response to their central challenges of anti-Semitism and the fallout from industrialization, modern American Zionists should explore how Zionism can solve today's problems.
Learning from Israel, building a communal, peoplehood-oriented, Israel-based identity to counterbalance assimilation, alienation, media-sated materialism, excessive individualism, post-modern cynicism, will establish a richer relationship with Israel.
Engaging Israel in many different ways will also revitalize American Jewish Zionism. The Conservative Movement would have much more impact if it dedicated itself to teaching Hebrew, opposing American Jews' drift away from the Jewish people's language. A Hebrew revival can open gateways to Israeli culture, professional exchanges, intellectual ties, more emotional and personal bonds. More Hebrew speakers would embrace the key formula for future American Jewish vitality: 2 DW = 1 il, meaning the cost of two Disney World trips for most could yield one Israel trip. Birthright Israel's happy experiences teach that more interactions with Israel and Israelis, especially in Israel, would not only orient more American Jews toward Israel, it would spark an American Jewish revival by importing more Israeli energy, creativity, chutzpah, and pride. And, of course, we need a spirit of true mutuality - a more robust friendship would benefit Israelis, Israeli Judaism, and Israeli Zionism.
All these approaches will advance American Jews up what the legendary educator Mel Reisfield calls "the ladder of Zionist achievement." Aliyah is most appealing when it bubbles up naturally, from powerful Israel trips, inspiring experiences with Israelis, and, alas, still in this world, the occasional Diaspora-based trauma, be it anti-Semitism or another alienating force. Once a Zionist revival makes Aliyah a possibility, then the practical help the Conservative Rabbis offered will prove beneficial. But, as with most ideological and educational initiatives, first lay the proper groundwork - and do whatever damage control is required - before rushing ahead.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Saudi Agent to Head to US National Intelligence Council?

Charles Freeman, Obama's reported pick for chairman of the National Intelligence Council, talked business with the Bin Laden family even after September 11. He is also president of the MEPC, an Arab lobby group, and accepted a donation of a million dollars from the king of Saudi Arabia, stating that he was glad the Saudis are doing public relations.

Amid the criticism that has already emerged about President Obama's reported pick for the powerful position of chairman of the National Intelligence Council, there is a yet unmentioned problem that is likely cause even bigger troubles: He had business ties to the bin Laden family after 9/11.

Charles "Chas" Freeman, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, had business connections with the bin Laden family and their Saudi Bin Ladin Group, a multi-billion dollar construction conglomerate founded by the father of Osama bin Laden. As chairman of Projects International, Inc., a company that develops international business deals, Mr. Freeman asserted in an interview with the Associated Press less than a month after September 11 that he was still "discussing proposals with the Bin Laden Group—and that won't change."

In an interview, Freeman contested the notion that international companies who had business with the bin Laden family should be "running for public relations cover", noting that bin Laden was still "a very honored name in the kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] despite its family tie to the Al-Qaeda leader." (Freeman wasn't immediately available for comment.)

Mr. Freeman frequently maintained that the larger bin Laden family was closely aligned with American interests. Contrary to the notion that the family was still supporting and even funding Osama bin Laden, the bin Laden family and its business conglomerate were part of the "establishment that Osama's trying to overthrow," as Mr. Freeman told The Wall Street Journal in a separate interview less than two weeks after September 11.

However, The Journal also noted that Freeman's connections with the bin Laden family went beyond business: Freeman's Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), a think tank dedicated to Mideast issues, was receiving "tens of thousand of dollars a year from the bin Laden family" at that time. Since the rumors of his appointment broke, Freeman has been criticized because the pro-Saudi MEPC also accepted donations in the millions of dollars from the Saudi royal family.

Subsequent investigation by U.S. intelligence agencies and journalists of bin Laden family ties to Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden raised questions about the authenticity of the family's claim of financial and emotional distance from the world's most wanted terror leader. A number of experts like Vincent Cannistro, a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist, assert that while some members of the bin Laden family have disowned Osama bin Laden in a complete sense, other factions have not. Carmen bin Laden, a sister-in-law of Osama, told Der Spiegel that " (the) Bin Ladens never disowned Osama; in this family, a brother remains a brother, no matter what he has done."

Freeman's appointment for the top intelligence post, which would task Freeman with creating and occasionally directly presenting President Obama with national intelligence estimates, has also sparked a firestorm among groups supportive of Israel who have accused him of bias. Freeman's MEPC was one of the loudest supporters of the Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy written by Stephen Walt and John Mearshimer, which was criticized by scholars for the paper's factual errors and shoddy scholarship.

Freeman has also spoken critically, and in unusually frank terms, about United States policy after September 11. In 2006, in a speech to the United States Information Agency Alumni Association, Freeman compared George W. Bush to Caligula and criticized America as a country that "stifles debate at home, that picks and chooses which laws it will ignore or respect, and whose opposition party whines but does not oppose."

A search of campaign finance records reveals that Freeman's Projects International, Inc. donated upward of $1,000 to Obama's presidential campaign, which might further complicate what's already a tangled appointment.

Partial Source

Continued (Permanent Link)

Another day, another Qassam

The fact is, that almost no day passes without at least one Qassam rocket. On the other hand, there are never more than a few, and they are mostly aimed at Sderot, unlike the Grad rocket fire that was aimed at Beersheva during Operation Cast Lead and the intensive rain of rockets and mortars that preceded it.
Qassam explodes in Sderot; no injuries
Rocket fired from Gaza causes minor damage to two homes; woman and her son treated for shock; another rocket lands in open area
Shmulik Hadad
Published:  02.26.09, 09:14 / Israel News
A Qassam rocket fired by Palestinians in north Gaza Thursday morning exploded in the yard of a home in the western Negev town of Sderot. No injuries were reported, but a woman and her son were treated for shock, and two adjoining homes sustained minor damage.

The Color Red siren, which warns residents of incoming projectiles, sounded in Sderot and surrounding communities at around 8:30 am; the rocket fired at Sderot landed shortly thereafter, and another Qassam fired by Palestinian gunmen landed near Sderot's industrial zone, causing no injuries or damage.
The owner of one of the damaged homes said "the rocket hit a tree situated between our two houses, but the other house sustained most of the damage.
"I thought that after Operation Cast Lead (in Gaza) we would have some peace, but it's not happening and I don't believe it will," he said.
Wednesday morning also saw two rockets fired towards the Negev region. No injuries were reported. The Israeli Air Force retaliated a few hours later by striking seven weapons smuggling tunnels in the southern Strip. No casualties were reported in the attack.

Despite the ceasefire declared following Israel's recent military offensive in Gaza, the Palestinians have been firing Qassams and mortar shells towards Israel on an almost daily basis. The IDF usually responds with attacks on Hamas targets in the Strip....

Continued (Permanent Link)

Decline and fall of Dubai?

We all watch with dismay the possible descent of Dubai into religion and barbarism.
Dubai's Dramatic Drop
by Daniel Pipes
February 25, 2009
As the Muslim world settled into ever-deeper decline over the past decade, mired in political extremism, religious sickness, economic irrelevance, WMD, anarchy, dictatorship, and civil wars, Dubai stood out as a happy anomaly.
Burj Al Arab claims to be the world's only 7-star hotel.
Under the leadership of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai (one of seven polities within the United Arab Emirates) invited peoples from around the world to come make money and they did; about 83 percent of its population of 1.4 million is foreign. The emirate intelligently exploited the energy boom surrounding it and had the ambition not just to globalize but to become a leader at globalization. Dubai became renowned for the world's only tropical desert ski slope, the world's only 7-star hotel, and the world's very highest building, all done with a new-agey twist. (Publicity for the skyscraper, for example, presents it as "an unprecedented example of international cooperation" and "a beacon of progress for the entire world.")
But if Dubai seemed to be an exception to the general Muslim trajectory, it was only temporary.
In three distinct arenas – economics, culture, and sports – very recent developments show how much the statelet has in common with the impoverishing and separating Muslim world.
Burj Dubai is the world's highest building; but will it be inhabited?
Dubai was the froth of the early 2000s, the purest example of a bubble economy based on rising prices and boosterism, a Ponzi scheme among the nations. Already in 2006, financial writer Youssef Ibrahim dissected its trompe d'oeil economy:
The huge oil revenues that have been pouring in for two years have nowhere else to go but into more and more real estate speculation. It makes for great business for the developers and their Western and Asian contractors, as well as for the owners - the sheiks, kings, emirs, and their big businessmen friends who own the deserts on which these mirage-like projects are being erected.
The formula from their perspective is straightforward: Sell desert land to investors at a premium. Then double the profits by financing the construction of artificial islands, lakes, and massive air-conditioned shopping malls, alongside pie-in-the-sky projects like the largest ski slope in the desert, a Jurassic Park complete with mechanical dinosaurs right out of the movie, and millions of housing units. Then get the hell out and let them eat cake.
Dubai's leadership, Ibrahim notes, invested its profits "from selling Disneyland desert fantasies in enduring assets outside the Gulf," such as port facilities and hotel properties.
When the music stopped last fall, with a world-wide recession and the price of oil tumbling over two-thirds, no one got harder hit than the Dubai dream machine. Just as it ascended with panache, so it now sinks con brio. One example, as reported by Robert F. Worth in the New York Times:
With Dubai's economy in free fall, newspapers have reported that more than 3,000 cars sit abandoned in the parking lot at the Dubai Airport, left by fleeing, debt-ridden foreigners (who could in fact be imprisoned if they failed to pay their bills). Some are said to have maxed-out credit cards inside and notes of apology taped to the windshield.
This unique abandoned-car syndrome results in part from the emirate's stringent work rules. As Worth explains, "jobless people here lose their work visas and then must leave the country within a month. That in turn reduces spending, creates housing vacancies and lowers real estate prices, in a downward spiral that has left parts of Dubai — once hailed as the economic superpower of the Middle East — looking like a ghost town."
Signs of the new penury abound:
real estate prices, which rose dramatically during Dubai's six-year boom, have dropped 30 percent or more over the past two or three months in some parts of the city. … So many used luxury cars are for sale, they are sometimes sold for 40 percent less than the asking price two months ago, car dealers say. Dubai's roads, usually thick with traffic at this time of year, are now mostly clear.
Expatriates in Dubai are now so down on the country, Worth explains, some see it "as though it were a con game all along."
There is every reason to think that the economic descent has just begun and has a long way to go. As this happens, foreigners are fleeing. Christopher Davidson, a specialist on the UAE at Durham University, notes that "When Dubai was rich and successful, everyone wanted to be its friend. Now that it has no money in the pocket, nobody wants to be pals anymore."
When it comes to cultural extravagance, Dubai cedes first place to its neighbor, Abu Dhabi, which in early 2007, announced the "Cultural District of Saadiyat Island" to include satellites of the Guggenheim (costing US$400 million) and Louvre ($1.3 billion) museums, plus about two dozen other museums, performing arts centers, and pavilions.
Still, Dubai has ambitions, if more modest ones and the first Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature, opening on Feb. 26, is to serve as its literary coming-out party. A welcoming message from the director of the festival, Isobel Abulhoul, explains:
EAIFL is the first true literary Festival in the Middle East celebrating the world of books in all its infinite variety, with over 50 events featuring authors whose books range from some of the finest contemporary literary fiction to inspirational lifestyle titles, via the magical worlds of children's, fantasy and science fiction writing. We invite you to share and enjoy their company in a relaxed Festival atmosphere, made even richer by our vibrant fringe which showcases the wonderful and diverse talents from our very special city, Dubai.
British author Geraldine Bedell was disinvited from Dubai because her novel The Gulf Between Us tells about a gay sheikh.
The festival boasts authors from twenty countries, including such big names as Frank McCourt and Louis de Bernières.
All good, but the EAIFL hit a bump before it even opened, one that threatens to overshadow the event itself. Never mind "the world of books in all its infinite variety"; the festival banned British author Geraldine Bedell because Sheik Rashid, one of the minor characters in her novel The Gulf Between Us (Penguin), is a homosexual Arab with an English boyfriend; to make matters worse, the plot is set against the background of the Kuwait War.
As Abulhoul wrote to Bedell, disinviting her. "I do not want our festival remembered for the launch of a controversial book. If we launched the book and a journalist happened to read it, then you could imagine the political fallout that would follow." As for the Kuwait War, that "could be a minefield for us."
Bedell responded that her novel "is incredibly affectionate towards the Gulf. I feel very warmly towards it, except when things like this happen. It calls into question the whole notion of whether the Emirates and other Gulf states really want to be part of the contemporary cultural world ... You can't ban books and expect your literary festival to be taken seriously."
Indeed, the biggest name of the Dubai event, Canadian author Margaret Atwood, stayed away in protest at Bedell's exclusion ("I cannot be part of the festival this year."), eventually agreeing to appear via video link-up in a debate on censorship to be staged by International PEN at the festival.

Shahar Peer is the Israeli tennis star excluded from a tournament in Dubai because of her nationality.
Nor can you ban one of the game's finest players and expect your tennis tournament to be taken seriously. But Dubai did that earlier this month when it banned Shahar Peer, 21, ranked 45th among female players globally, from its $2 million women's Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships.
Why? Well, she is Israeli. Organizers of the event cited security fears as their reason to bar Peer.
In consultation with Peer, the Women's Tennis Association decided to continue with the Dubai tournament. "She didn't want to see her fellow players harmed the same way she was being harmed," said Larry Scott, CEO of the WTA.
Still, Peer's exclusion had immediate repercussions for Dubai. The Tennis Channel canceled coverage of the event; The Wall Street Journal Europe revoked its sponsorship; event organizers were fined US$300,000 ($44,250 of which will go to Peer); and American star Andy Roddick said he would boycott the male championship in Dubai. During the trophy ceremony, tournament winner Venus Williams discomfited the hosts by mentioning Peer's exclusion.
Not only was Scott bombarded with messages from upset fans ("It's an issue that obviously touches a nerve") but he reported "a real snowballing effect": "I've been contacted by representatives of other businesses, academic institutions, cultural institutions that equally would only have invested in being in the UAE if they had the same assurances we had that Israelis could participate in the activities."
As a result of the Peer fiasco, Andy Ram, an Israeli ranked 11th among male tennis players was granted a "special permit" to enter Dubai and will play this week in the male Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships. To stay on the tour schedule in 2010, the Dubai organizers must guarantee Peer a wild-card entry, so she gets to play there even if she fails to qualify, and must grant qualifying Israeli players visas eight weeks in advance.
In other words, Dubai must accept international rules or it excludes itself from championship play. That is no small matter in a statelet that has gone into top-tier sports in a big way as a way to attract tourism; the Associated Press notes that it "hosts the world's richest golf tournament and horse race, is home to the world governing body for cricket and is building a $4 billion Dubai Sports City to house stadiums, sports academies and one of several lush golf courses."
Through a heady mix of speed and affluence, Dubai tried to vault over tough economic, religious, and political decisions. The establishment hoped that building big would substitute for a sound base. It hoped to finesse troublesome issues, that glitz would overwhelm substance. For example, it expected that patronizing prestigious events would permit it to change the rules; Dubai says no minor homosexual literary characters or no Israeli tennis players? So be it! Dubai rules, the globe follows.
But that will not happen. The sharp drop in oil prices exposed the country's inescapable weakness, while Dubai's literary and tennis debacles confirmed the point. Instead, an entirely different model now tempts it – what I call the separation of civilizations. Unable to impose their way, Persian Gulf Arabs are retreating into a Muslim ghetto with its own economics (including Shar'i compliant tools), consumer goods, media, transportation, fast foods, sports competitions, search engines, and even systems of keeping time.
This course is doomed to failure. At a certain point, the issues at the center of Muslim life for the past two centuries – the tension between tradition and modernity, the opposition of Muslim identity to universal values, the strains of economic development – will have to be faced. Hucksterism and fast talk will not solve these problems. As Dubai's vacation from history abruptly ends, its hard work begins.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Iraqi professor asks Israel for shipment of Hebrew books

Of course, Hebrew could be taught for espionage purposes. But the Iraq Supreme Court has recently ruled that it is not against the law to travel to Israel, and there have been several visits of Iraqis to Israel. An Iraqi Member of parliament who was barred from parliament after visiting Israel was reinstated and won reelection by a wide margin.
The Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that an Iraqi college professor has
asked it for a shipment of Hebrew books.
Ofir Gendelman of the ministry's Arab press section says the professor sent an e-mail three weeks ago via the ministry's Arabic-language Web site.
The professor said he planned to teach Hebrew and requested Hebrew literature and books about Israel.
Gendelman said the ministry would be happy to oblige and is awaiting the
professor's mailing address. He refused to divulge the professor's identity or that of his college because of concerns for his safety.
"There is tremendous ignorance in the Arab world about what Israel is, and they simply want to know more," Gendelman said Wednesday.
Sadiq Abdul-Matalib deputy dean of the college of languages at Baghdad University said that it has a flourishing Hebrew department with about 150 students.
Iraq sent troops to three Arab wars against Israel, and fired Scud missiles at it in the 1991 Gulf War. It remains technically at war with Israel, and the two countries have no diplomatic ties.
Iraq's once-thriving Jewish community has shriveled to just a few people, most having fled after Israel was founded in 1948.
An Iraqi lawmaker who attended a a counterterrorism conference in Israel last year, traveling on a German passport, was accused by colleagues at home of humiliating the Iraqi nation with a trip to the enemy state.
Iraqi diplomats discussed the possibility of improved relations between Israel and Iraq after Saddam Hussein was ousted in the 2003 U.S.-led war, but in 2004, then Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi vowed that Iraq would not break Arab ranks and sign a separate peace deal with Israel.
Only two Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan, have peace treaties with Israel

Continued (Permanent Link)

IAF bombs Gaza tunnels after rockets hit Negev

Last update - 15:51 25/02/2009       
IAF bombs Gaza tunnels after rockets hit Negev
By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent and Agencies
Israel Air Force aircraft bombed smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border on Wednesday after two rockets hit southern Israel, the army said.
"We attacked seven tunnels near the [southern Gaza town of] Rafah. There were secondary explosions, showing they contained weapons material," the spokeswoman said.
"It was a response to two Qassam rocket attacks today and continued rocket fire."
The Qassam rockets struck the Sha'ar Hanegev region in the western Negev on Wednesday. There were no reports of casualties in either incident.
Egypt has been trying to broker a long-term ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of a 22-day offensive that the Israel Defense Forces launched in the territory on Dec. 27.

Since the end of the operation, Palestinians have been rebuilding a network of tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt frontier used for smuggling in goods and weapons.
Israel tightened its blockade of the Gaza Strip after Hamas Islamists took control in 2007. Egypt also limits movement through its border crossing with the territory.
On Monday, an Israel Air Force helicopter on Monday attacked a group of Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip as they attempted to flee the border area where they had been planting explosives aimed against Israel Defense Forces troops.
The Israeli soldiers stationed near the Kissufim border crossing opened fire on the militants laying the explosives, and the IAF subsequently bombed the militants' car as they tried to escape.
Neither the soldiers nor the militants sustained any casualties.
Shortly after the incident, a Qassam rocket fired from Gaza exploded in an open field in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. Later Monday afternoon, another rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into the same area. There were no casualties or damages reported in either incident.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ken Coates: Standing with the Jews

There is a grave and serious sadness among Jewish people in Canada and abroad.  The mounting criticism of Israel, much of unjustified and often leaning toward anti-Semitic attacks, focuses on Gaza and the bitter conflict between Israel and Hamas. While this struggle certainly warrants careful consideration, it masks a broader and very worrisome development. Far too little attention is being paid to the disquieting growth of anti-Semitic comments and attacks around the world.  There is even less awareness of the increasing sense of vulnerability among the Jews.

Over thirty years ago, as an undergraduate at the University of British Columbia, I stumbled into a course on Nazi Germany. Expecting a class on military tactics and warfare, I got instead an eye-opening introduction to European anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. A follow-up class on the founding of Israel and the roots of the Palestinian crisis connected the history of anti-Jewish feeling to struggles in the Middle East. One cannot study the history of the Jewish people without developing a strong understanding of their nervousness about the world, their passion for the state of Israel and the uncertainty of support from their neighbours.

Non-Jewish people, like and including me, have left it up to Jews to defend Israel and themselves.  I see this happening again.  Full page newspaper ads, signed largely but not exclusively by Jewish Canadians, recently declared support for Israel.  Media commentaries on current events routinely turn to commentators from Jewish organizations and the Jewish community to explain Israel's action and to respond to growing signs of anti-Semitism in Canada and around the world.  Hardly surprisingly, support for Israel runs very strongly in the Canadian Jewish community.

Jews are good at defending Jews.  Jews in Canada have done it in the past and they will do it in the future. Political and philanthropic support, targeted at Israel and Jews in other countries, is truly impressive, as is their support for general and non-Jewish causes. Their organizations move decisively to correct public misapprehensions and to provide a Jewish perspective on contemporary events. In this regard, the Jewish community in Canada is among the best organized, assertive and self-protective of any ethnic or religious group.

Jewish activism, however, masks another reality of our times – the relative silence of non-Jewish people on matters related to Israel and the Jewish community.  Far too often Jews and Jewish Canadians stand alone.  Most of the rest of us remain silent, perhaps nodding in quiet assent when a Jewish leader or organization speaks out, maybe disagreeing with Israel's specific actions but worrying about the general situation facing Jews in the Middle East and elsewhere.  The Canadian government has been consistent and forthright in defending Jewish and Israeli interests, and for that they are to be applauded. But this is more than an issue for states, national governments and special interest groups.

Even the most cursory review of the history of the Jewish people reveals periods of acceptance and integration followed by bursts of hostility.  We are starting to see some of this now, with conspiratorial anti-Jewish nonsense rearing its ugly head, with Israel being held to a different standard than other countries, and with a growing number of attacks on synagogues, anti-Semitic commentary and the like.  It is easy to stand beside one's Jewish friends, colleagues and fellow citizens when times are good and conflicts are few.  It is harder, but more important, to do so when the tide appears to be turning.

Jewish religion and culture are historically rich, both rooted in a deep understanding for and concern about the past. Jewish communities around the world have long lived warily, not knowing when circumstances will change, not sure when and if anti-Semitic outbursts will again become commonplace, not sure who, if anyone, will stand up with them.  They live, it seems, scanning the world in three directions: to history for lessons, to the present for immediate threats, and to the future for signs of opportunity and peace.

Standing with the Jewish people of Canada does not assume unquestioning support for Israel or the actions of the current government.  Standing with the Jewish people in this country means something much more basic.  It means that we respect and embrace them as Canadians, that we reject the gathering rumble of anti-Semitism, that we recognize and celebrate their presence among us and that we appreciate their contributions to Canada and the world.  Jews alone cannot and should not be expected to answer for the rise of anti-Jewish feeling and anti-Israeli sentiment.  

The world needs to know that, in Canada and elsewhere, there are many thousands of others who stand with the Jewish people.  We must make it clear, before hostile words turn into aggressive actions, that the Jews will never again stand alone.

— Ken Coates is professor of history, University of Waterloo.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Anti-Semitism watch

Bulletin of Jew Hatred February 24, 2009

Facts without comments-- We Collect the Dots; You Connect Them

Please spread this bulletin and send us events that you find.

In Brooklyn, New York, the Park Slope Food Co-op is considering banning all produce and foods from Israel in spite of a large local Jewish community opposing the move. 2/23/09.

In Cedarhurst, New York, a swastika was spraypainted on the sidewalk near the Cedarhurst Sephardic Temple.  2/16/09.

In Portland, Maine, someone painted a swastika on the message board of the Noyes Street Synagogue. 1/31/09.

In Canada, member of the Canadian Parliament, Minister Jason Kenney, speaks out about the growing anti-Semitism and vows to fight against it.  2/19/09.

In Montreal, Canada, a man who firebombed both a Jewish School in 2006 and a Jewish Community Center in 2007, in the name of Islamic Jihad, received a sentence of seven years in prison.  2/12 09.

In Toronto, Canada, Jewish and non-Jewish students were forced to barricade themselves in a classroom in fear for their safety when over 100 students yelled threatening anti-Jewish and racial slurs while banging on the doors.  When police were called, the Jewish students were led to safety, but the mob was not charged nor reprimanded. Additional information here. 2/16/09.

In Windsor, Canada, The Canadian Union of Public Employees have voted to boycott all Israeli university, in a move the Jewish Defence League labels as anti-Semitic. When the boycott was first announced, the president of the Union also called for a boycott of all Israeli professors from Canadian Universities, as well.  2/22/09.

In Europe, evidence proves a rise in anti-Semitism.  Graffiti such as "Kill the Jews" or "Jihad 4 Israel" appear close to synagogues.  Jewish students are harassed at schools.  There are four times as many anti-Jewish incidents as anti-Islamic incidents.  "In Germany, radio phone-ins are full of accusations that the bankers accused of being responsible for the current economic crisis are Jews. In anti-Israel demonstrations in Berlin, placards stating 'It was a good idea to use gas' or 'I'm anti-Semitic' were carried."  2/16/09.

In Europe, Britian and Italy are discussing dropping out of Durban II participation citing fear that it will turn into another "antisemitic, anti-Israel arena of hate".  2/19/09.

In England, the BBC's new adaptation of Oliver Twist (aired in the U.S. on PBS's Masterpiece Theatre) adds an abundance of anti-Semitism to the production.  Both BBC and PBS are funded with public tax dollars.  2/17/09.

In London, England, a "FREE PALESTINE/BOYCOTT ISRAELI GOODS" sticker was placed on a poster advertising the Holocaust Exhibition held at the Imperial War Museum.  2/21/09.

In London, England, the London Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism reached the consensus "anti-Semitism has reached new heights and poses a clear and present danger".  2/17/09.

In England, anti-Semitism is on the rise, averaging 7 events per day.  One letter-writer states, "I for one resent the fact that I can no longer congregate outside my synagogue. I resent the fact that my children attend Jewish school protected by security fences, concrete blocks and guard posts. I resent the fact that my eldest daughter ...... should feel intimidated on campus and questioned in a hostile, finger-pointing manner how she feels as a Jewess on the question of Gaza, and if she supports the Israeli actions." 2/17/09.

In Spain, the newspaper El Mundo published a virulently anti-Semitic column by author Antonio Gallo called, "Chosen People".  In it, Gallo blamed the Jews' "greed" and "scorn for other peoples" for anti-Semitic persecution throughout the ages.  2/12/09.  Original article translated here.

In Holland, Israeli Defense Forces Captain (Res.) Ron Edelheit was assaulted by three pro-Palestinian protestors before his speech started.  He was asked to speak to members of Jewish community about the situation in Israel and Gaza.  2/23/09.

In Antwerp, Belgium, research done by "Joods Actueel" magazine has revealed a "slew of anti-Semitic content" on the St. Pius X Society website that has been translated into five languages.  The website states that "Jews are the enemy of man" among other things. The St. Pius X Society is a traditionalist Catholic sect that had been excommunicated by the Church in 1988.  That excommunication was recently lifted by the Vatican in January.  2/19/09.

In Vienna, Austria, an Islamic religion teacher was fired by the federal government for distrubuting anti-semitic leaflets to students and encouraging political agitation in the classroom.  The Muslim community in Vienna voiced its outrage at the firing of the teacher.  2/13/09.

In Turkey, state-encouraged anti-Semitism is growing. According to a first-hand account, the Prime Minister of Turkey has encouraged hatred of Jews and Israel in his speeches and Istanbul has billboards "full of propaganda posters against Israel" such as, "'Moses, even this is not written in your book' and 'Israel Stop this Crime'. On the streets the people are writing such graffiti as: 'Kill Jews,'" 1/13/09.

In Yemen, fearing for their lives, a family escapes to Israel after a grenade is thrown at their home.  Only 280 Jews remain in Yemen.  More here.  2/20/09.

In Egypt, during an interview on Al-Rhama TV, Egyptian Cleric Zaghloul Al-Naggar states, "The Arab world ir ruled by the scum of the earth and the garbage of all nations."  He continues by "absolutely calling to wage jihad against the Jews, who are devils in human form."  2/20/09 (sign-in may be required).

In Lebanon, on BNTV and Teleliban TV, former Lebanese MP Ghassan Matar states, "I am ashamed to admit I am happy when U.S. soldiers are killed," and states "Jews believe they should purify the world, as written in 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion'"  2/15/09 (sign-in may be required).

In Dubai , Shahar Pe'er refused entrance into the country and is excluded from Barclay's Dubai Tennis Championships.  2/18/09.

In Yaroslavl, Russia , there have been attacks on the synagogue every few weeks. The latest attack included smashing the window of the synagogue.  2/23/09.

In Kherson City, Ukraine, Former MP and current Kherson City Council member Sergey Kirichenko has launched an anti-Semitic campaign to replace Kherson's Jewish mayor. 'Jews stole all our wealth and are destroying Slavic nation from within,' he has claimed.  He also says, "The Jews are occupiers.  They have occupied us, they stole all our wealth and control us… they create terms that will enable genocide of the Slavic people."  2/20/09.

In Malaysia, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed posted anti-semitic statements on his blog that also include anti-semitic conspiracy theories.   1/24/09.


Homegrown Jihad clip: Jihad in the United states:  Here.
New York Co-op may ban Israeli produce.  
Former Lebanese MP Ghassan Matar says Jews believe they should purify the world and expresses happiness when US soldiers are killed. 
Here.  (registration and/or sign-in required)
Egyptian Cleric Zaghloul Al-Naggar says the Arab world is ruled by the scum of the earth and the garbage of all nations; Jews are devils in human form. 
Here.  (registration and/or sign-in required)
Egyptian Cleric Ahmad Abd Al-Salam says Jews infect food with cancer and ship it to Muslim countries.
Here. (registration and/or sign in required)
Israeli tennis star barred from championships in Dubai.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

U.S. Prosecution loses key appeal in Steve Rosen AIPAC case

The entire case had a bad odor to it.

U.S. loses key appeal in AIPAC staffers' case

The decision Tuesday by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., keeps in place orders by the federal judge trying the case. T.S. Ellis III had ruled that the prosecution must prove the information allegedly relayed to journalists, Israeli diplomats and colleagues by AIPAC's Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman was "closely held" by the United States and potentially damaging to U.S. interests, and was relayed in bad faith.

Observers have predicted that the appeals court decision could lead the Obama administration to reconsider whether to go ahead with the case.

The three-judge appeals court panel called the U.S. government's effort to overturn Ellis' decision, handed down in 2006 in an opinion that rejected a defense motion to dismiss, as "improper." Pretrial prosecution appeals in classified information cases are meant to strictly address questions of which classified evidence is admissible, the appeals court said, calling the attempt to reverse a major decision "piggybacking."

"This appeal is limited to the evidentiary rulings" in an order Ellis handed down nearly a year ago determining admissible evidence, the appeals court said.

"This is a tremendous victory for the defendants," said Baruch Weiss, who represents Keith Weissman, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's former Iran analyst.

Abbe Lowell, the attorney for Steve Rosen, AIPAC's former foreign policy chief, said the ruling "is just the latest confirmation that this is a misdirected case brought under a misdirected theory where the government continues to be reminded that they are wrong."

Prosecutors have suggested that Ellis' restrictions on the 1917 statute create a high barrier to surmount in a trial that has been delayed multiple times over four years. It is now set for April 21.

They argued that the statute does not require proof of bad faith and that its base line was that the release of the information might help a foreign government, and not necessarily that it harmed the United States.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Hamas intend to smuggle arms into Gaza

Gaza-based Hamas strongman Mahmoud Zahar declared Tuesday that his Islamist militant group reserves the right to bring arms into Gaza.
"It's our right to bring in everything - money and arms. We will not give anyone any commitment on this subject," Zahar told Reuters in an interview in the Egyptian town of Ismailia.
One the goals of Israel's recent offensive against Hamas in Gaza was to stem the flow of weaponry into the coastal strip.

Zahar, who served as Palestinian foreign minister in the government Hamas formed in Gaza after winning elections in 2006, also said Hamas had asked Egypt to let it import 1,000 containers into Gaza for use as temporary housing for Palestinians displaced during the Israel Defense Forces campaign, which ended in mid-January.
A group of Hamas engineers arrived in Cairo on Monday to study the purchase of the 1,000 containers.
Hamas has also asked Egypt to press Israel to let wood, glass, aluminium, steel and electrical supplies into Gaza to rebuild what was destroyed in the offensive, Zahar said.
Israel has restricted supplies of building materials to Gaza, saying some of them might help Hamas rearm and earn the movement credit with Palestinians living in Gaza.
Zahar added that Palestinian officials, backed by the United States, were obstructing the dialogue due to open between Palestinian groups in Cairo on Wednesday.
"There are people who want this dialogue not to take place because they will lose their positions and their privileges," he told Reuters in an interview in the Egyptian town of Ismailia, where he was visiting his wife's Egyptian relatives.
Zahar repeated Hamas complaints that Fatah has detained dozens of Hamas members in the West Bank in the past week. "These matters [the arrests] do not serve dialogue," he said, adding that "there are U.S. [intelligence] agencies working in the West Bank."
The arrests have added to the tension between the two largest Palestinian groups during preparations for the dialogue.
Zahar, who was visiting his wife's Egyptian relatives in Ismailia, also rejected Fatah complaints about arrests by Hamas in Gaza.
"We have published pictures of what they call political detainees in Gaza. These are people who have confessed that they provided the enemy [Israel] with information about where fighters were stationed and the tunnels [to Egypt] and the type of weaponry," he said.

Continued (Permanent Link)

US State Department reassures Israel on ties

Last update - 21:35 24/02/2009       
State Department: Special U.S.-Israel ties will no doubt stay strong
By Natasha Mozgovaya and Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondents
The State Department on Tuesday reaffirmed its support for Israel, telling Haaretz that the U.S. viewed its relations with Jerusalem as "special" and lasting.
When asked whether Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's declaration that "There will be no pigeion-holing, no exclusivity, we're reaching out to the entire world" could affect the U.S.' ties with Israel, State Department spokesman Robert Wood said: "U.S. has special relations with Israel, it will continue strong with no doubt."
Meanwhile, U.S. special Middle East envoy George Mitchell has embarked on his second trip to the region to further President Barack Obama's pledge to work for Arab-Israeli peace, the State Department said on Tuesday.
Mitchell was in London on Tuesday for talks with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and would also visit the Turkish capital Ankara, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Israel and the West Bank before returning to Washington on March 4.
Miliband, who was to travel to Cairo later on Tuesday, told parliament in London he had met Mitchell "to discuss prospects for renewed talks on the future of the Middle East."
State Department spokesman Wood said Mitchell would join U.S. Secretary Clinton in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on March 2 for a donors' conference to rebuild Gaza after Israel's invasion last December.
U.S. officials said on Monday the United States would pledge over $900 million, but none of those funds would go to the Islamist group Hamas.
The U.S. recognizes the West Bank-based government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and has no formal contacts with the Islamic militant group Hamas, which runs a separate Palestinian administration in the Gaza Strip.
Money often is funneled into Gaza through international organizations such as the United Nations, or through Abbas' government, which deposits it directly into Gazans' bank accounts.
Asked about Gaza aid on Tuesday, Clinton declined to provide details.
"We have made no decisions and we are working across the government to determine what our approach will be," she said.
Wood estimated the aid package - a mix of new funding that still has to be agreed by Congress and already appropriated money - would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars but he too provided no exact figure.
Report: U.S. to open permament Jerusalem office for envoy
The U.S. is planning to open a permanent office in Jerusalem for Mitchell, the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Tuesday.
Mitchell has been tasked with advancing stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. He is set to make his second visit to Israel in his current capacity in the last week of February.
Last week, Mitchell told the heads of several U.S. Jewish groups that while the issue of Israeli settlements comes up in every conversation with Arab leaders, "it is not the only issue."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Two Saudi Shia Dead After Clash with Religious Police for a Second Day in Holy City

[communicated by email]
Saudi Information Agency
Washington, DC

Two Saudi Shia Dead After Clash with Religious Police for a Second Day in
Holy City

SIA News

(Washington DC –February 22, 2009) - Two Shia civilians have been reported killed by Saudi police who opened fire at thousands of Saudi Shia visitors
to the holy city of Madina following a second day of clashes with religious police, witness told SIA News.

Witnesses told SIA News that two people have died after security forces opened fire at buses carrying Shia visitors in their way to attend religious gathering in a farm outside Madina to commemorate the death of the Prophet Mohamed. The farm is owned by Sheikh Mohamed AlAmari, the top religious leader of Saudi Shia community in the city. While they make up 30% the city, they are not allowed to build their places of worship.

Witnesses said, the religious police attacked Shai visitors in Baqee Cemetery and in the Prophet Mohamed Mosque, where Shia gathered for prayers.

On Saturday, thousands of Shia protested outside the Baqee after discovering a member of the Saudi religious police was filming Shia women while they gathered outside the Baqee to perform visitation rituals. The protest left several injured and arrested by the riot police. Photographing women in Saudi Arabia is seeing as sexual harassment.

In keeping with its policy of banning coverage of Shia religious and cultural news, Saudi press outlets reporting the clashes didn't make any reference to the Shia. AlWatan, AlRiyadh, AlHyata, and Okaz newspapers blamed the crowds for causing disturbances.

The government of King Abdullah bans its Shia citizens from senior government jobs such s diplomats, ministers.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Dennis Ross to coordinate Iran policy as special adviser for Gulf and Southwest Asia

Ross's purview includes Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan and inevitably Pakistan, though that country is not necessarily in Southwest Asia. For those who keep score, this appointment is "good for Israel."

Ross joins Obama team in Iran-related capacity

Ross was named special adviser to the secretary of state for the Gulf and Southwest Asia.

"This is a region in which America is fighting two wars and facing challenges of ongoing conflict, terror, proliferation, access to energy, economic development and strengthening democracy and the rule of law," said a statement late Monday from Robert Wood, the spokesman for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. "In this area, we must strive to build support for U.S. goals and policies. To be successful, we will need to be able to integrate our policy development and implementation across a broad range of offices and senior officials in the State Department, and in his role as Special Advisor to the Secretary, Ambassador Ross will be asked to play that role."

The geographical designations and the reference to "two wars" suggest that Ross will focus on Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan -- but not necessarily on Israel-area crises, his area of expertise when he was top Middle East negotiator in the first Bush and the Clinton administrations.

President Obama already appointed former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell as an envoy to the Israel-related Middle East peace process.

Ross, the statement said, "will provide to the Secretary and senior State Department officials strategic advice and perspective on the region; offer assessments and also act to ensure effective policy integration throughout the region; coordinate with senior officials in the development and formulation of new policy approaches; and participate, at the request of the Secretary, in inter-agency activities related to the region."

During the campaign, Ross outlined what he said was a "sticks-then-carrots" approach to engaging Iran: rallying the international community to tighten sanctions before offering incentives to have the Islamic Republic stand down from its suspected nuclear weapons program.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Freeman appointment - USA may appoint foreign agent as intelligence chief

Charles Freeman, the apparent appointee of the Obama administration as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, was president of the Midlle East Policy Council (MEPC) a lobby group for Arab interests. It is clearly absurd to appoint an agent of a foreign power to direct the assessment of United States Intelligence. How could this have happened? Freeman reportedly accepted a $1 Million donation from the King of Saudi Arabia for the MEPC and said:

These are obviously very difficult times for any organization attempting to promote better understanding and stronger ties between the United States and the Arab world. ...Financial support has been very negatively affected both by ... the financial controls and other restrictions on international financial transactions -- inhibiting and tending to reduce the willingness to give as well...About a year and a half ago the board of MEPC ...concluded that we probably couldn't continue our work and we couldn't survive on the basis of a continuing flow of small and medium size donations. The only way we could ensure our survival and the continuation of our work over the long run was through the establishment of an endowment. Thanks to the generosity of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia we have managed to accumulate an endowment....I periodically visit the region -- to the Kingdom and to other countries in the Gulf. I meet mostly with individuals and companies who are interested in seeing better relations between the US and the Arab world...Frankly, I'm delighted that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has, after a long delay, begun to make serious public relations efforts. ...

Continued (Permanent Link)

Yossi Alpher on Gaza 'War Crimes' accusations

Israel has allowed the public debate about Hamas to be diverted to an irrelevant side issue, a red-herring that is not the main question at stake.

A message for Washington, Brussels and Cairo as well as Jerusalem

by Yossi Alpher

Israel should not be accused of war crimes in the Gaza Strip during the recent war. In contrast, Hamas can indeed be accused of crimes--terrorist crimes, if not war crimes, since it is not a sovereign state--not only during the war but before it and since it ended. But this too must be stated: it's time that Israel and virtually the entire international community be held to account for the humanitarian ramifications of the past 20 months' economic warfare against the population of Gaza.

Israel should not be accused of war crimes because it took more than reasonable precautions to prevent them, while fighting in a war zone characterized by guerilla and terrorist exploitation of Gazan civilians and their dwellings and institutions as tools of war. Yes, there were excesses on the part of the IDF, but they were proportional and they constituted the exception. Israel also took unusually thorough measures during the war to alleviate humanitarian suffering on the part of the Palestinian population, although as always there were inevitable lacunae here, too.

In view of recent international experience with urban warfare against terrorist enemies, the war crimes accusations against Israel can only be seen as a kind of selective witch hunt waged by religious and ideological extremists, political opportunists and Israel-bashers in certain Middle East countries and among western Islamist and leftist circles. Israel is Jewish, small and diplomatically isolated, hence vulnerable. Attacks on its human rights record sell well in the Muslim world and among anti-Semites.

Compare Israel in Gaza to NATO in Afghanistan and the United States in Iraq. Civilian deaths in Afghanistan rose 40 percent in 2008; many of these casualties were inflicted in the process of attacks against the Taliban by the US and other NATO forces. When was NATO dragged before the court of world opinion and accused of war crimes?

Similarly, when US armed forces conquered Fallujah in Iraq for the third and last time, in a battle waged between Nov. 7 and Dec. 24, 2004, a force about the size of the Israeli force that invaded Gaza faced an estimated 3,000 Islamists (Israel confronted around 20,000 in Gaza). Six thousand civilians were killed and most of the city's dwellings were either destroyed or damaged, along with 65 mosques and 60 schools that were used to hide weapons. Nearly 80 US soldiers were killed.

All this happened 7,000 miles away from the US. Needless to say, no rockets were fired from Fallujah at American civilians for the previous eight years and no one in Fallujah disputes America's right to exist. Fallujah was quickly rebuilt and became a model for successful counter-terrorism operations in Iraq. You don't have to support the US occupation of Iraq to appreciate the challenges involved in Gaza and the relatively successful way the IDF dealt with them there.

Then there is the total disregard for international legal norms displayed by Hamas itself. It deliberately attacks Israeli civilians as a matter of policy. It holds an Israeli prisoner who is denied the most minimal Red Cross demands regarding access and communication with his family. It calls for a neighboring country, Israel, to disappear. It makes common cause with other sponsors of terrorism in Iran and Hizballah.

Accordingly, if the International Criminal Court in The Hague should decide, against virtually all expectations and by bending its own procedures, to hear Palestinian accusations about Israeli war crimes, Israel's army lawyers should show up at the court not only to disprove the accusations but to turn the tables and submit accusations against Hamas and the government it has formed in Gaza.

Yet there is one aspect of the conflict with Hamas where not only Israel but virtually the entire relevant international community, including the Quartet (US, UN, EU and Russia), Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, share blame for an apparent gross violation of international law: the economic blockade of the Gaza Strip since the Hamas takeover of June 2007. This appears to be a clear case of collective punishment of 1.5 million Gazans for the undoubted sins of Hamas.

Moreover, it never worked. Restricting supplies allowed into Gaza to a bare minimum of food and medicines was supposed to provoke the Gazan population into dumping Hamas, or at least prevailing upon it to behave responsibly. Instead, it has pushed Gazans into ever greater support for Hamas, while impoverishing the moderate traditional middle class that used to engage in trade with and via Israel and enriching Hamas-linked tunnel diggers. So not only is this a violation of international law--it has proven counterproductive. Had Israel and its international and regional supporters recognized this fact and opened the crossings months ago, the recent war might have been avoided.

Looking for something particularly ludicrous? The same Palestinian Authority that, through its minister of justice, wants to prosecute Israel at the International Court of Justice, has also connived in the Gaza economic blockade.

Making war on urban terrorists is not criminal, but it is clearly an ugly business. Certainly, we should explore the alternatives and abandon failed and painful non-combat strategies before invoking military warfare. In the case of Gaza, we did not do this. We are still not doing this.- Published 23/2/2009 ©

Yossi Alpher is coeditor of the family of internet publications. He is former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hezekiah period seals found near Jerusalem

King Hezekiah reigned in Judah about 800 BCE. The historical veracity of at least one incident in the Biblical narrative regarding Hezekiah had long been confirmed with the finding of an inscription from Hezekiah's Tunnel which is described in the books of Chronicles and Kings. The find of seals from the same period provides additional proof. However, the extent of the kingdom of Hezekiah is not known.
Pro-Palestinian archeologists and anthropologists as well as political leaders such as Yasser Arafat and religious leaders such as the Mufti Sabri  have challenged the historical veracity of the Biblical narrative of the ancient Jewish kingdom and the sovereignty of the Jews in Jerusalem, insisting that it was all a "myth" and that there was no archeological evidence to confirm Jewish habitation of the area in ancient times, or at least prior to the Second Temple.  

First Temple Archeological Remains - Judea Royal seal impressions, Image: Mariana Saltzberger , Israel Antiquities Authority

Royal seal impressions were discovered in excavations of the Israel Antiquities Authority at Umm Tuba, in the southern hills of Jerusalem.

A large building that dates to the time of the First and Second Temples, in which there was an amazing wealth of inscriptions, was discovered in a salvage excavation conducted by Zubair Adawi, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in the village of Umm Tuba in southern Jerusalem (between Zur Bahar and the Har Homa quarter), prior to construction work by a private contractor.

Considering the limited area of the excavation and the rural nature of the structure that was revealed, the excavators were surprised to discover in it so many royal seal impressions that date to the reign of Hezekiah, King of Judah (end of the eighth century BCE). Four "LMLK" type impressions were discovered on handles of large jars that were used to store wine and oil in royal administrative centers. These were found together with the seal impressions of two high ranking officials named Ahimelekh ben Amadyahu and Yehokhil ben Shahar, who served in the kingdom's government. The Yehokhil seal was stamped on one of the LMLK impressions before the jar was fired in a kiln and this is a very rare instance in which two such impressions appear together on a single handle.

First Temple Seals Archeological Remains - Judea Royal seal impressions, Image: Mariana Saltzberger , Israel Antiquities Authority

Another Hebrew inscription, 600 years later than the seal impressions of the Kingdom of Judah, was discovered on a fragment of a jar neck that dates to the Hasmonean period. An alphabetic sequence was engraved with a thin iron stylus below the vessel's rim in Hebrew script that is characteristic of the beginning of the Hasmonean period (end of the second century BCE). The letters hay to yod and a small part of the letter kaf were preserved on the sherd. Similar inscriptions bearing alphabetic sequences were discovered in the past, usually on ostraca (inscriptions written in ink on pottery sherds) or engraved on ossuaries (stone receptacles in which human bones were buried). The alphabetic inscription that was discovered in this instance is unique and the significance of it requires further study: was this a "writing exercise" done by an apprentice scribe or should we ascribe it some magical importance?

The remains of the large building included several rooms arranged around a courtyard. Pits, agricultural installations and subterranean silos were hewn inside the courtyard. A potter's kiln, a large columbarium cave in which there is a rock-hewn hiding refuge, pottery vessels, etc were also discovered inside the built complex. The pottery vessels that were recovered from the ruins of the building indicate it first dates to the end of the Iron Age (the First Temple period) in the eighth century BCE. Following its destruction, along with Jerusalem and all of Judah during the Babylonian conquest, Jews reoccupied it in the Hasmonean period (second century BCE) and it existed for another two hundred years until the destruction of the Second Temple. During the Byzantine period the place was reinhabited as part of the extensive rural settlement of monasteries and farmsteads in the region between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Some three years ago the impressive remains of a monastery from this period were excavated that together with the remains of the current excavation confirm the identification of the place as "Metofa", which is mentioned in the writings of the church fathers in the Byzantine period. The name of the Arab village, "Umm Tuba" is therefore a derivation of Byzantine "Metofa", which is Biblical "Netofa" and is mentioned as the place from which two of David's heroes originated (2 Samuel 23:28-29).


Continued (Permanent Link)

The rise of anti-Semitism

Making the world 'Judenstaatrein'
Feb. 22, 2009
Some 125 parliamentarians gathered together last week for the historic founding conference of the Interparliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism (ICCA), brought together by a new sophisticated, globalizing, virulent and even lethal anti-Semitism reminiscent of the atmospherics of the 1930s, and without parallel or precedent since the end of World War II.
The new anti-Jewishness overlaps with classical anti-Semitism but is distinguishable from it. It found early juridical, and even institutional, expression in the UN's "Zionism is racism" resolution - which the late US senator Daniel Moynihan said "gave the abomination of anti-Semitism the appearance of international legal sanction" - but has gone dramatically beyond it. This new anti-Semitism almost needs a new vocabulary to define it; however, it can best be identified using a rights-based juridical perspective.
In a word, classical or traditional anti-Semitism is the discrimination against, denial of or assault upon the rights of Jews to live as equal members of whatever host society they inhabit. The new anti-Semitism involves the discrimination against the right of the Jewish people to live as an equal member of the family of nations - the denial of and assault upon the Jewish people's right even to live - with Israel as the "collective Jew among the nations."
As the closing "London Declaration" of the ICCA conference affirmed: "We are alarmed at the resurrection of the old language of prejudice and its modern manifestations - in rhetoric and political action - against Jews, Jewish belief and practice and the State of Israel."
Observing the complex intersections between the old and the new anti-Semitism, and the impact of the new on the old, Per Ahlmark, former leader of the Swedish Liberal Party and deputy prime minister of Sweden, pithily concluded: "Compared to most previous anti-Jewish outbreaks, this [new anti-Semitism] is often less directed against individual Jews. It attacks primarily the collective Jews, the State of Israel. And then such attacks start a chain reaction of assaults on individual Jews and Jewish institutions... In the past, the most dangerous anti-Semites were those who wanted to make the world Judenrein, 'free of Jews.' Today, the most dangerous anti-Semites might be those who want to make the world Judenstaatrein, 'free of a Jewish state.'"
Genocidal Anti-Semitism
The first modality of the new anti-Semitism - and the most lethal type - is what I would call genocidal anti-Semitism. This is not a term that I use lightly or easily. In particular, I am referring to the Genocide Convention's prohibition against the "direct and public incitement to genocide." If anti-Semitism is the most enduring of hatreds and genocide is the most horrific of crimes, then the convergence of this genocidal intent embedded in anti-Semitic ideology is the most toxic of combinations.
There are three manifestations of this genocidal anti-Semitism. The first is the state-sanctioned - indeed state-orchestrated - genocidal anti-Semitism of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Iran, dramatized by the parading in the streets of Teheran of a Shihab-3 missile draped in the emblem "wipe Israel off the Map," while demonizing both the State of Israel as a "cancerous tumor to be excised" and the Jewish people as "evil incarnate."
A second manifestation of this genocidal anti-Semitism is in the covenants and charters, platforms and policies of such terrorist movements and militias as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah and al-Qaida, which not only call for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews wherever they may be, but also for the perpetration of acts of terror in furtherance of that objective.
The third manifestation of this genocidal anti-Semitism is the religious fatwas or execution writs, where these genocidal calls in mosques and media are held out as religious obligations - where Jews and Judaism are characterized as the perfidious enemy of Islam, and Israel becomes the Salmon Rushdie of the nations.
In a word, Israel is the only state in the world - and the Jews the only people in the world - that are the object of a standing set of threats by governmental, religious and terrorist bodies seeking their destruction. The London Declaration - again in a significant clarion call - recognized that "where there is incitement to genocide signatories [to the Genocide Convention] automatically have an obligation to act." This promise must now be acted upon.
Ideological Anti-Semitism
Ideological anti-Semitism is a much more sophisticated and arguably a more pernicious expression of the new anti-Semitism. It finds expression not in any genocidal incitement against Jews and Israel, or overt racist denial of the Jewish people and Israel's right to be; rather, ideological anti-Semitism disguises itself as part of the struggle against racism.
The first manifestation of this ideological anti-Semitism was its institutional and juridical anchorage in the "Zionism is racism" resolution at the UN. Notwithstanding the fact that the there was a formal repeal of this resolution, Zionism as racism remains alive and well in the global arena, particularly in the campus cultures of North America and Europe, as confirmed by the recent British All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism.
The second manifestation is the indictment of Israel as an apartheid state. This involves more than the simple indictment; it also involves the call for the dismantling of Israel as an apartheid state as evidenced by the events at the 2001 UN World Conference against Racism in Durban.
The third manifestation of ideological anti-Semitism involves the characterization of Israel not only as an apartheid state - and one that must be dismantled as part of the struggle against racism - but as a Nazi one.
And so it is then that Israel is delegitimized, if not demonized, by the ascription to it of the two most scurrilous indictments of 20th-century racism - Nazism and apartheid - the embodiment of all evil. These very labels of Zionism and Israel as "racist, apartheid and Nazi" supply the criminal indictment. No further debate is required. The conviction that this triple racism warrants the dismantling of Israel as a moral obligation has been secured. For who would deny that a "racist, apartheid, Nazi" state should not have any right to exist today? What is more, this characterization allows for terrorist "resistance" to be deemed justifiable - after all, such a situation is portrayed as nothing other than occupation et résistance, where resistance against a racist, apartheid, Nazi occupying state is legitimate, if not mandatory.
Legalized Anti-Semitism
If ideological anti-Semitism seeks to mask itself under the banner of anti-racism, legalized anti-Semitism is even more sophisticated and insidious. Here, anti-Semitism simultaneously seeks to mask itself under the banner of human rights, to invoke the authority of international law and to operate under the protective cover of the UN. In a word - and in an inversion of human rights, language and law - the singling out of Israel and the Jewish people for differential and discriminatory treatment in the international arena is "legalized."
But one example of legalized anti-Semitism occurred annually for more than 35 years at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. This influential body consistently began its annual session with Israel being the only country singled out for country-specific indictment - even before the deliberations started - the whole in breach of the UN's own procedures and principles. In this Alice in Wonderland situation, the conviction and sentence were pronounced even before the hearings commenced. Some 30 percent of all the resolutions passed at the commission were indictments of Israel.
After the commission was replaced in June 2006 by the UN Human Rights Council, the new body proceeded to condemn one member state - Israel - in 80% of its 25 country-specific resolutions, while the major human rights violators of our time enjoyed exculpatory immunity. Indeed, five special sessions, two fact-finding missions and a high level commission of inquiry have been devoted to a single purpose: the singling out of Israel.
This week's ICCA conference and London Declaration unequivocally condemned this "legalized" anti-Semitism, calling out that "governments and the UN should resolve that never again will the institutions of the international community and the dialogue of nations states be abused to try to establish any legitimacy for anti-Semitism, including the singling out of Israel for discriminatory treatment in the international arena, and we will never witness - or be party to - another gathering like Durban in 2001."
The Resurgence
of Global Anti-Semitism: Evidentiary Data
The data unsurprisingly confirm that anti-Semitic incidents are very much on the rise. Still, the available figures only show half the picture - they demonstrate an increase in this old/new anti-Semitism by concentrating on the traditional anti-Semitic paradigm targeting individual Jews and Jewish institutions, while failing to consider the new anti-Semitic paradigm targeting Israel as the Jew among nations and the fallout from it for traditional anti-Semitism. But the rise in traditional anti-Semitism is bound up with the rise in the new anti-Semitism, insidiously buoyed by a climate receptive to attacks on Jews because of the attacks on the Jewish state. Indeed, reports illustrate both an upsurge in violence and related anti-Semitic crimes corresponding with the 2006 Second Lebanon War and the recent Israel-Hamas war, which delegates to the ICCA conference characterized as a "pandemic."
It is this global escalation and intensification of anti-Semitism that underpins - indeed, necessitates - the establishment of the ICCA to confront and combat this oldest and most enduring of hatreds. Silence is not an option. The time has come not only to sound the alarm - but to act. For as history has taught us only too well: While it may begin with Jews, it does not end with Jews. Anti-Semitism is the canary in the mine shaft of evil, and it threatens us all.
The writer is a Canadian MP and former minister of justice and attorney-general. He is professor of law (on leave) at McGill University who has written extensively on matters of hate, racism and human rights. He is a co-founder of the Interparliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism with UK MP John Mann.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Not Good for the Jews

'Jews facing increased challenges and threats worldwide'

Feb. 23, 2009
herb keinon and abe selig , THE JERUSALEM POST

Representatives of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (JPPPI) briefed the cabinet at its weekly meeting Sunday on their 2008 assessment, presenting a particularly bleak forecast.

According to the assessment, Israel and the Jewish people are facing a wide array of challenges and threats, including a new US administration, a continuing erosion in the US's global position, the strengthening of Iran, the use of Israel as a pretext for the dissemination of a new anti-Semitism, and the economic crisis and consequent blow to Jews' economic status.

The report pointed to the overall decline in the United States' status during 2008 as impacting worldwide Jewry.

The simultaneous strengthening of an axis advocating the annihilation of Israel, led by Iran, is threatening the image of the Jewish state as a haven for the Jewish people, the report said.

"Israel is becoming a mainstay for the proliferation of 'new Anti-Semitism,'" it stated. "This harms Israel's 'soft power' and the image of the Jewish people as a whole."

Additionally, the report said the global economic crisis may challenge the political power of Jews in the West.

"The assessment is not particularly encouraging from the socioeconomic point of view," the report went on to explain. It noted that "the economic crisis has dealt a serious blow to Jewish wealth and, along with the Madoff fraud, has severely damaged philanthropist activity and has exacerbated the danger of rising traditional anti-Semitism. Budgetary problems could adversely affect the ability to manage community life and education systems in various locations abroad, given intensified competition over allocations and the channeling of donations outside the community."

Among the JPPPI's recommendations are enhanced ties between Jewish communities and the Hispanic and Afro-American communities in the US, increased cooperation between Israel and the Diaspora in dealing with the challenges of the new anti-Semitism, and Israeli government involvement in considering ways to lower the cost of Jewish education in the Diaspora.

During the discussion, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that despite Israel's efforts to arrive at a political solution with the Palestinians, it was perceived abroad as an occupier and that was impacting the way the country was being viewed. Cabinet sources denied reports, however, that Olmert said the growing anti-Semitism around the world was a "result of the occupation."


Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bangladesh: Anti-Radical, Pro-Peace Muslim Journalist Savaged in Broad Daylight

To those of us who know of Salah Uddin's brave work in countering radicalism, this is sad news indeed. Salah's ordeal has been continuing for over six years now.

 Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury Attacked by Goons:
Anti-Radical, Pro-Peace Muslim Journalist Savaged in Broad Daylight
CONTACT: Richard L. Benkin, Ph.D.; +1-847-922-6426;
e mail :
Dhaka, Bangladesh—At 10am today, local time, internationally-acclaimed journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, was attacked as he was working in the office of his newspaper, Weekly Blitz, by "a gang of thugs" claiming to be from Bangladesh's ruling Awami League.  I spoke by telephone with Choudhury as he awaited medical treatment for eye, neck, and other injuries suffered in the attack.  The renewed violence marks the first against him since he was abducted by Bangladesh's dreaded Rapid Action Battalion a year ago.
A large group stormed Blitz premises and attacked newspaper staff until they found Choudhury.  At that point, he said, "they dragged me [and two staff] into the street" where they beat them "in broad daylight…They looted my office and stole my laptop" with "all my sensitive information.  As of this writing, the attackers continue to occupy the Blitz office.
According to Choudhury, the police were impassive and seemed intimidated when the attackers emphasized their party membership and accused him of being an agent of the Israeli Mossad.  They later threatened to attack his home should Choudhury go to the police again.
Choudhury was arrested in 2003 by government agents, in cooperation with Islamist forces, because of his advocacy of relations with Israel and religious equality, and his articles exposing the rise of radical Islam in Bangladesh.  He was tortured and held for seventeen months and only released after strong pressure by human rights activist Dr. Richard Benkin and US Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL).  In 2007, the US Congress passed a Kirk-introduced resolution 409-1 calling on Bangladesh to stop harassing Choudhury and drop capital charges against him after extensive evidence confirmed them to be false, contrary to Bangladeshi law, and as admitted by successive Bangladeshi officials, maintained only to appease Islamists.  The Bangladeshi government continues to remain in defiance of that resolution and its provisions.
For further information, contact Dr. Richard Benkin at the telephone or email above.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Iran's Bushehr reactor to be start pilot operation Wednesday

Last update - 15:18 22/02/2009       
Iran to begin operation of first nuclear power plant
By News Agencies
Iran's official news agency said Sunday the country's first nuclear power plant would begin preliminary phase operation on Wednesday after a series of delays.
The report by the IRNA agency said the pilot stage operation of the power plant will start on Wednesday during a visit by the head of Russia's state Rosatom Atomic Corporation, Sergey Kiriyenko.
The long-awaited 1,000-MW power plant, which was built in the city of Bushehr with the help from Russia under a $1 billion contract, was expected to become operational in fall of 2008.
Some 700 Iranian engineers were trained in Russia to operate the plant.
Tehran also plans to build a 360-megawatt nuclear power plant in Darkhovin, in the southwestern Khuzestan province.
The West, which suspects Tehran of seeking to produce its own nuclear bomb, has been critical of Russia's involvement in building Iran's first nuclear power plant. Russia says it is purely civilian and cannot be used for any weapons program.
The head of Russia's state nuclear company, Sergei Kiriyenko, said this month Russia aimed to start up a nuclear reactor at Bushehr by the end of the year. The plant is located on the Gulf cost in Iran's southwest.
Iran's official IRNA news agency said the plant "is in the final stages of its construction" and the Russian side had boosted the number of staff to "increase the speed of work".
Analysts say Iran could become a central issue in relations between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and new U.S. President Barack Obama, who has said that the United States was prepared to talk to Tehran.
They say Russia has used Bushehr as a lever in relations with Tehran, which is suspected by the United States and some European countries of seeking to build nuclear weapons.
Iran, the world's fourth-largest crude producer, rejects such allegations and says its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity so that it can export more oil and gas.
Russia started deliveries of nuclear fuel for the plant in late 2007, a step both Washington and Moscow said removed any need for Iran to have its own uranium enrichment program.
Switching on the Bushehr plant could dismay some in the United States, Israel and Europe who are deeply suspicious of Iran's intentions.
Moscow says the plant poses no proliferation risk as Iran will return all spent fuel rods to Russia.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Netanyahu intends to work with Obama for peace

Israel's PM elect Netanyahu and the American administration are "all smiles." It would be foolish of any leader to say anything else, and Benjamin Netanyahu is no fool. Prospects for real cooperation are rather frosty, however.
Last update - 16:36 22/02/2009       
Netanyahu vows to work with Obama for peace
By News Agencies
Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu pledged on Sunday to work with United States President Barack Obama for Middle East peace, pursuing the formation of a broad government.
"I intend and expect to cooperate with the Obama administration and to try to advance the common goals of peace, security and prosperity for us and our neighbors," the U.S.-educated Netanyahu told reporters.
Netanyahu was chosen on Friday by President Shimon Peres to try to put together a governing coalition and become prime minister for the second time.
Following a Feb. 10 election, Netanyahu already has the backing of 65 rightist members of the 120-seat parliament, but a narrow government could put him on a collision course with Obama and his promise to move quickly on a Palestinian statehood deal.
He met with Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni on Friday to try to enlist her centrist Kadima party, which favors trading large parts of the West Bank for peace, into a "national unity" government.
U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, meanwhile, said Sunday that a Netanyahu-led government would enjoy good relations with Washington.
"Our enemies, unfortunately, are as common as the values and the interests that have united us for all these years," Lieberman told reporters.
"I have no doubt that with Netanyahu's government here we will have good and positive relations with the Obama administration in Washington and with members of Congress, and I look forward to playing my part in contributing to that."
Netanyahu, 59, has said he wants to shift the focus of stalled, U.S.-sponsored peace talks with the Palestinians away from tough territorial issues to shoring up their economy, an approach their leaders have rejected.
As prime minister from 1996 to 1999, he clashed with the Clinton administration but bowed to U.S. pressure and handed over parts of the West Bank city of Hebron to Palestinian rule.
While not ruling out a Palestinian state, he has said it must have limited powers ensuring it is demilitarized.
Along with rival Kadima, Netanyahu advocates expanding existing settlements in the West Bank, in defiance of the United States, which brought little pressure on Israel over the issue during George W. Bush's presidency.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Waltz with Bashir in First Lebanon war was a success, says spymaster

The first Lebanon war must be evaluated in terms of the longer term consequences, but Mr. Navot is entitled to his perspective.
Last update - 16:40 22/02/2009       
Ex-spymaster: First Lebanon War was Mossad success, despite Sabra and Chatila
By Nachik Navot
Ari Folman's Oscar-nominated film, "Waltz with Bashir," is a brilliant cinematic work, even if the scenes of the Sabra and Chatila massacre, which have unjustly become the signature images of Operation Peace for the Galilee, the first Lebanon War, are difficult for me. At the time, I was responsible in my capacity at the Mossad for nurturing relations with Lebanon's Christians.
One of the Mossad's most important missions from the day of its inception was Israel's "special relations" with countries that did not recognize it and with minorities like the Christians in Lebanon and the Kurds in Iraq. This was the declared policy of the governments of Israel: Israel will be prepared to come to the aid of any threatened minority that is fighting for its existence - but it will not fight in its stead.
The relationship with the Lebanese Christians warmed up in 1976, when Syria entered Lebanon at the invitation of the Christian president, Suleiman Franjieh. At the time, we warned the U.S. about the danger of a radical Syrian-Palestinian takeover of Lebanon. Iran, under the shah, took an interest in Lebanon and flew in arms to defend the Christians.

At that time, Palestinian terrorist organizations were establishing a foothold in Lebanon, with the encouragement of Arab states that saw in this a solution, albeit temporary, to the Palestinian problem. On the ground, a state within a state was being established, with Lebanon acting as a base and training camp for terrorist operations against Israel.
As the terror operations from the north increased, the Israel Defense Forces carried out defensive operations against Palestinian terrorist forces, which did not stop attacking northern Israel. Such was Operation Litani on March 15, 1978 and other short operations by Israeli forces.
On June 15, 1980, I became the main broker of the Mossad's relations with the Christians. A month later, Bashir Gemayel established the Lebanese Forces as a paramilitary defensive force aimed at defending the Christians of Lebanon from repeated acts of slaughter by the Palestinians. During 1980 and 1981, the IDF engaged in preparations for a more comprehensive offensive. The Mossad's relations with the Christians enabled the senior IDF brass, including the commanders of the forces in the field, to reconnoiter as far as Beirut, and to receive the necessary intelligence.
The IDF's battle plans were also based on the Christians' participation. The head of the Mossad at the time, Yitzhak Hofi, had reservations about an all-out war and the IDF's possible entry into Beirut, where the Palestinian Liberation Organization's political and military center, headed by Yasser Arafat, was located. We expressed concern about a large-scale war and its results. Despite the differences of opinion, the Mossad continued to aid the IDF as needed and insofar as possible. At the same time, we also worked on a diplomatic level, in the context of the Syrian bloodletting of the Christians at Zahla in May of 1981. At that time I went to the Vatican for a meeting with its foreign minister Achille Silvestrini, to ask for help in saving the Christians of Lebanon.
The agreement at the Camp David summit to establish Palestinian autonomy made things very difficult for then prime minister Menachem Begin. In the IDF's initiative toward an all-out war, he saw a chance of eliminating the Palestinian problem in Lebanon. In September 1981, he was also positively disposed to entering Beirut, as the IDF commanders had proposed. During 1981, on the eve of Ariel Sharon's appointment as defense minister in the summer of that year, preparations for an extensive operation known as Operation Pines were completed. This eventually turned into Operation Peace for the Galilee.
In January 1982, at a meeting in Beirut with top Christian leaders - Pierre Gemayel, Camille Chamoun, Georges Adwan and Etienne Saqr (Abu Arz) - Sharon set forth the battle plans. Pierre Gemayel made it clear then that we had to remember that Lebanon must maintain its bridges to the Arab world, as Henry Kissinger had advised them to do.
'Strayed from the path'
Then an excuse that would "justify" the action was needed. This happened only in June 1982 with the attempted assassination of Israeli ambassador Shlomo Argov in London. The Christian leadership in Lebanon, however, was not prepared to jump on the bandwagon of the IDF's operation. Nonetheless, Bashir Gemayel, the commander of the Lebanese Forces, supported all of our plans and enabled the IDF to carry out preparations for any and all actions. We sometimes clashed with him, in part in the context of his relations with other Christian groups in Lebanon. After the National Assembly elected Bashir president of Lebanon he was murdered, apparently by the Syrians, in a car bomb in Beirut. As Pierre Gemayel said of him at his graveside, Bashir had "strayed from the path," contrary to the position of the Christian leadership in Lebanon.
It was not the Mossad that defined the objectives of the war and it was not the Mossad that participated in its preparation. Bashir Gemayel was not alive at the time of the massacre in Sabra and Chatila, which bore an element of revenge for his assassination and for the many pogroms the Palestinians had carried out against Lebanese Christians.
From the Mossad's perspective, the "waltz with Bashir" was a successful intelligence operation, because of the extraordinary capabilities he put at the disposal of the IDF. The Mossad came out "clean" in the Kahan commission investigations of the Sabra and Chatila massacre. It is also important to remember that the 1982 war led to the start of diplomatic relations with the Palestinian movement, as should happen after every military campaign.
It is just a great pity that every such struggle is accompanied by the bloodshed of innocent civilians.
The author was deputy head of the Mossad.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Where is the Obama administration going?

The possible appointment of someone like Freeman to head the NSC, along with Jim Jones as National Security Adviser, can't be good for Israel. But opponents of the Obama administration should withhold criticism until the Obama administration actually does some something bad. It is totally unacceptable for Israelis to interfere in US appointments, just as the reverse is true.
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- A former ambassador to Saudi Arabia with a history as a critic of Israel will reportedly be named to a top intelligence post in the Obama administration. reported Thursday that Chas W Freeman Jr., who served as U.S. ambassador to the Saudi kingdom from 1989-1992 and is currently the president of the Middle East Policy Council, will be the chairman of the National Intelligence Council, which plays the leading role in producing national intelligence estimates. The publication reported Freeman has told associates that in the role, he would occasionally accompany director of national intelligence Adm. Dennis Blair to give the president his daily intelligence briefing.
In 2005 remarks to the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, Freeman said that "as long as the United States continues unconditionally to provide the subsidies and political protection that make the Israeli occupation and the high-handed and self-defeating policies it engenders possible, there is little, if any, reason to hope that anything resembling the former peace process can be resurrected. Israeli occupation and settlement of Arab lands is inherently violent."
He added, "And as long as such Israeli violence against Palestinians continues, it is utterly unrealistic to expect that Palestinians will stand down from violent resistance and retaliation against Israelis. Mr. Sharon is far from a stupid man; he understands this. So, when he sets the complete absence of Palestinian violence as a precondition for implementing the road map or any other negotiating process, he is deliberately setting a precondition he knows can never be met."
In 2008, in a speech to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Security Studies Program, he said, "We have reflexively supported the efforts of a series of right-wing Israeli governments to undo the Oslo accords and to pacify the Palestinians rather than make peace with them.
"The so-called 'two-state solution' is widely seen in the region as too late and too little. Too late, because so much land has been colonized by Israel that there is not enough left for a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel; too little, because what is on offer looks to Palestinians more like an Indian reservation than a country."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Subscribe to
email newsletter for this site and others

Powered by

Feedblitz subcription
To this Blog only

You can receive our articles by e-mail. For a free subscription, please enter your e-mail address:

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Web Logs & Sites

This Site

Zionism & Israel
Zionation Web Log
IMO Web Log (Dutch)

ZI Group
Zionism-Israel Pages
Israël-Palestina.Info (Dutch & English)
Israël in de Media
MidEastWeb Middle East News and Views
MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log

Brave Zionism
Israel: Like this, as if
Israel & Palestijnen Nieuws Blog

Friends and Partners
EinNews Israel
Israel Facts
Israel Proud Adam Holland
Middle East Analysis
Irene Lancaster's Diary
Middle East Analysis
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Israel Facts (NL)
Cynthia's Israel Adventure
Jeff Weintraub Commentaries and controversies
Meretz USA Weblog
Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers
Simply Jews
Fresno Zionism
Anti-Racist Blog
Sharona's Week
Z-Word Blog
Jewish State
Take A Pen - Israel Advocacy
Zionism on the Web
ZOTW's Zionism and Israel News
Zionism On The Web News
ZOTW's Blogs
Christian Attitudes
Dr Ginosar Recalls
Questions: Zionism anti-Zionism Israel & Palestine
Southern Wolf
Peace With Realism
Sanda's Place
Liberal for Israel
Realistic Dove
Blue Truth
Point of no Return
Christians Standing With Israel
Christians Standing With Israel - Blog

Encylopedic Dictionary of Zionism and Israel
Middle East Encyclopedia
Zionism and its Impact
Zionism & the creation of Israel
Zionism - Issues & answers
Maps of Israel
Christian Zionism Resources
Christian Zionism
Albert Einstein
Gaza & the Qassam Victims of Sderot
Zionist Quotes
Six Day War
Jew Hatred
Learn Hebrew
Arab-Israeli Conflict
International Zionism

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Israel Boycott
Boycott Israel?
Amnesty International Report on Gaza War
Boycott Israel?
Dutch Newspaper Reporting: A Study of NRC Handelsblad
Hamas (Dutch)
Dries van Agt (Dutch)
Isfake lobby

At Zionism On the Web
Articles on Zionism
Anti-Zionism Information Center
Academic boycott of Israel Resource Center
The anti-Israel Hackers
Antisemitism Information Center
Zionism Israel and Apartheid
Middle East, Peace and War
The Palestine state
ZOTW Expert Search
ZOTW Forum

Judaica & Israel Gifts
Jewish Gifts: Judaica:
Ahava Products

Elsewhere On the Web
Stop the Israel Boycott


Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]

RSS V 1.0

International Affairs Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory