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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Palestinians bid farewell to moderation: Fayyad resigns

Salam Fayyad, Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, was the bright star in Palestinian administration, who patiently went about the task of state building. Now he is resigning, evidently due to Hamas pressure. The new US diplomacy is already paying "dividends."  
RAMALLAH, West Bank – Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad says he's resigning.
Fayad announced Saturday he submitted his resignation to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
He says the resignation will take effect after the formation of a Palestinian unity government but no later than the end of March.
The announcement comes just before the resumption of power-sharing talks between Abbas and his rivals from the militant group Hamas.
Fayad was appointed by Abbas after Hamas' violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007. His decision to resign can be seen as a conciliatory gesture toward the militant group: Hamas has repeatedly demanded that Fayad step down.

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Can Jews live in Europe?

Is this a fair picture of Europe. I think not. And I do not think a lot of Jews are going to be streaming out of Europe any time soon now.
For increasingly helpless European Jews Israel is the solution, not the problem
Guy Bechor
Published:  03.06.09, 01:18 / Israel Opinion
It's hard to believe that this question is being asked gain, but sadly, after 70 years it has emerged nonetheless: Is there room for Jewish existence in Europe? Can Jews continue living as a proud community, in 2009, in that same continent with the terrible memories? The answer, in light of what has been materializing in the past few weeks – yet not only because of this – is negative.

A Jew can no longer walk the streets while displaying Jewish trademarks, or visit Jewish institutions that are not surrounded by police officers and guards; they must remain behind locks and bars, scared for their lives.

Meanwhile, those who hide any Jewish attributes and assimilate into society will continue to live – until they face an unpleasant situation with their colleagues, at school, or anywhere else in life.

In recent months I visited and spoke before several Jewish communities in European countries, including Turkey, France, and Britain – even before the Gaza operation. During the trip I saw with my own eyes the miserable Jewish existence. Yes, if they hide the Star of David and the unique dress, and if they agree that their synagogues will look like locked fortresses, like ghettos in fact, and if they are forced to experience threats on the street and hear about the growing number of anti-Semitic incidents – well, we can say that there is Jewish existence; scared, embarrassed, and submissive.

But what about feeling secure in their countries? There is none of that.

Anti-Semitism is a European phenomenon, with millions of Muslims sweeping the continent and turning the conflict with Israel and the Jews into a cause that enables them to reinforce their hold on Europe. The global economic crisis is being exploited in order to incite against the Jews and against the investment banks which the world enjoyed for half a century. Yet now, when we see losses, "Jewish money still rules the world," as the South African deputy foreign minister startlingly asserted.

The trend is growing across the world and it has nothing to do with Israel: Israel is the tool used in order to secure achievements. Israel is what the Jews used to be in the past.

When we see, in Turkey or Italy, Jewish-owned stores being marked so the locals refrain from buying there, what kind of future do the children of the 750,000 Jews in Western Europe have? You worked for a country that will always view you as foreigners. Following World War II, you made some countries rich, but now we see a quiet Jewish rally in the Swedish capital being banned because of fears of Muslims violence there. What kind of future do you have in this continent, which is becoming increasingly Muslim?

Today we have a state
And what is the difference between 1939 and 2009? Today, as opposed to the past, the Jews have a state; a successful and wealthy state that boasts a standard of living that approaches that of Europe. The per-capita gross domestic product in Britain was $39,000 in December (according to the British Economist,) compared to $29,000 in Israel.
Leave the continent that fondly recalls its anti-Semitism; we in Israel need you. The addition of hundreds of thousands of wealthy Jews will boost Israel, end the illusions of any Israeli Arabs who dream about a demographic victory, and make Israel's economic supremacy absolute. You, who will be arriving in Israel now, will turn it not into one of the world's 20 wealthiest countries - this has already been achieved – but rather, one of the 10 richest countries on the globe.
You have a homeland, so why should you agree to be second-class citizens? Why should you be scared to show that you are Jewish? Why should you be attacked at subway stations at night?

This is the big difference. Arrive here not only for the sake of Israel, but for the sake of your identity and for the sake of your children's future.

The Jewish community in Israel always grew during periods of persecution against Jews – after all, this is the objective of Zionism, and this way we revert to the simplest ideological basis of the national Jewish movement: Serving as a home for Jews who are persecuted around the world.

As opposed to what you have become accustomed to hearing from the global media, for you, the Jews of Europe, Israel is not the problem – rather, it's the solution.

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Israel Apartheid Week

Cody Smith

You should hate Israel this week! Yes, you should hate Israel for its true-democratic government, hate it because it desires peace, hate it because it's only one of a few countries that allows Arabs full civil and political rights and Arab women to vote, hate it because it gives its land away to smaller warring factions in pursuit of safety, protection and diplomatic relations for its citizens — hate it because…

The controversial Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) kicked off Monday and runs all this week across the country, targeting Canada's Toronto universities and U.S. college campuses.

Hating Israel is the message these groups are promoting to students nation-wide, and it is completely untrue!

The weeklong event is a "fallacy" and a "mockery" that "promotes anti-Semitism on college campuses. The Israel Apartheid Week proclaims that the Israeli government oppressively controls its people. It states that Israel mimics the dictator-like situation that prevailed in South Africa from the 1940s to the 1990s, the South African Apartheid Movement.

Apartheid was a system in South Africa under which a small minority of whites ruled over the larger black majority population. Apartheid subjected blacks to severe political, economic and social discrimination and segregation. They could not be citizens, vote, participate in the government or fraternize with whites. Similar to South Africa's Apartheid, various groups promoting the IAW across college campuses stand to denounce Israel as an apartheid state and even construct "apartheid walls" to intimidate and harass students.

Do people not see the scandal and hypocrisy of this mutinous Israel Apartheid Week?

Israel is a democracy like the United States, giving equal rights, liberties and protections to all its citizens. Israeli-Arabs participate as full and equal members in Israeli society, giving them full civil and political rights and encourage women to vote. Multiple ethnicities move into Israel for the main reason of safety and democratic benefits, which their own countries do not provide! In addition, Palestinians have their own government, the Palestinian Authority. While Israel, like all multiethnic democracies, struggles with minority disadvantages, its laws try to eradicate and not endorse discrimination. Furthermore, walls were built in the West Bank not to separate any specific group, but only to protect its citizens from the hundreds of bombings and deaths coming from its warring neighbors.

Why don't people focus on countries where "real apartheid" exists — in Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, where women don't enjoy the same rights as men?

It's a fallacy, mockery, and complete hypocrisy for groups to proclaim that an apartheid exists in Israel. I encourage you to research the fallacy of IAW at

Cody Smith is a senior majoring in biochemistry and mathematics.

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Abuse of science

March 4, 2009
Abuse of science
Protests against Israeli universities are the voice of anti-intellectualism

The Science Museum in London is holding workshops this week that will expound scientific achievements to schoolchildren. More than 400 academics and a Nobel laureate are protesting and organising pickets.
It will appear extraordinary that the educational efforts of a great public institution should provoke anger among those who nominally uphold intellectual inquiry. But the scientists and universities whose work is being introduced are Israeli, and the event is billed as an Israeli Day of Science. All will now fall into place. Israel, its independence and its security policies in the West Bank and Gaza stir passions among the politically committed. In a reversal of the normal pattern of prejudice, anti-Israeli sentiment finds traction among the highly educated. Yet in its animus and malignancy, this protest is a model of anti-intellectualism.
The late Conor Cruise O'Brien, Irish statesman and polymath, once aptly denounced a boycott of academics of a particular nationality as "an intellectually disreputable attempt to isolate what I know to be an honest, open and creative intellectual community". The scholars' offence was that they were from South African universities during the apartheid era. Apartheid was an evil system against which it was right to impose economic and diplomatic sanctions. But scholarship is independent of politics; the academics were private citizens who neither served the regime nor had the capacity to change its policies.
Retribution against the life of the mind in order to make a political point is the approach of movements for whom inquiry is a frivolity rather than a way of life. That is why academic boycotts are iniquitous even when the cause is right. Yet the protest outside the Science Museum is not even in an obvious moral cause. It is hysterical and, in its analysis, plainly unscientific.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict comprises competing and equally legitimate national claims, both of which must be accommodated in an eventual territorial compromise. The notion that this will be advanced by sanctions against Israeli institutes of learning, whose scholars have no political role and may have no sympathy with their Government's policies, is risible.
The protesters are not an identifiable scholarly current, but a group of political activists who happen to work in the academy. Many were associated in an earlier campaign to persuade the Association of University Teachers to boycott Israeli universities. The expansiveness of their campaign betrayed its motivation. It was not a disinterested desire for the rectification of historic injustices against the Palestinian people, but an insistence that Israel was illegitimate by virtue of being a Jewish state.
It is ironic that the academics are joined in an inflammatory cause by a Nobel peace laureate, Mairead Maguire, of the Irish Peace People. It stands higher still on the scale of intellectual disrepute that the boycott is supported by Ian Gibson, a former chairman of the Commons Science Select Committee. Dr Gibson declares: "Science is not neutral. It is part of the political process." It is a fantastic non sequitur to confuse science's institutional setting with its intellectual content, but it might be taken as symbolic of the protests. This is an arbitrary and vindictive campaign, but above all it is a stupid one.

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Peace message from Egypt to Israel with love

Americans - these are your taxes at work. Egypt gets $2 Billion a year in military aid to support this moderate regime. Imagine what it would be like if, perish the thought, the real extremists took over.
Following are excerpts from a speech delivered by Egyptian cleric Muhammad Hussein Ya'qoub, which aired on Al-Rahma TV on January 17, 2009.
Muhammad Hussein Ya'qoub: If the Jews left Palestine to us, would we start loving them? Of course not. We will never love them. Absolutely not. The Jews are infidels – not because I say so, and not because they are killing Muslims, but because Allah said: "The Jews say that Uzair is the son of Allah, and the Christians say that Christ is the son of Allah. These are the words from their mouths. They imitate the sayings of the disbelievers before. May Allah fight them. How deluded they are." It is Allah who said that they are infidels.
Your belief regarding the Jews should be, first, that they are infidels, and second, that they are enemies. They are enemies not because they occupied Palestine. They would have been enemies even if they did not occupy a thing. Allah said: "You shall find the strongest men in enmity to the disbelievers [sic] to be the Jews and the polytheists." Third, you must believe that the Jews will never stop fighting and killing us. They [fight] not for the sake of land and security, as they claim, but for the sake of their religion: "And they will not cease fighting you until they turn you back you're your religion, if they can." This is it. We must believe that our fighting with the Jews is eternal, and it will not end until the final battle – and this is the fourth point. You must believe that we will fight, defeat, and annihilate them, until not a single Jew remains on the face of the Earth.
It is not me who says so. The Prophet said: "Judgment Day will not come until you fight the Jews and kill them. The Jews will hide behind stones and trees, and the stones and tree will call: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him – except for the Gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews." I have heard that they are planting many of these trees now.
As for you Jews – the curse of Allah upon you. The curse of Allah upon you, whose ancestors were apes and pigs. You Jews have sown hatred in our hearts, and we have bequeathed it to our children and grandchildren. You will not survive as long as a single one of us remains.
Oh Jews, may the curse of Allah be upon you. Oh Jews... Oh Allah, bring Your wrath, punishment, and torment down upon them. Allah, we pray that you transform them again, and make the Muslims rejoice again in seeing them as apes and pigs. You pigs of the earth! You pigs of the earth! You kill the Muslims with that cold pig [blood] of yours.

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Elders of Zion to retire

Elders of Zion to Retire

By Anthony Weiss
Published March 04, 2009, issue of March 13, 2009.
The Elders of Zion, the venerable and shadowy Jewish organization that controls the international banking industry, news media and Hollywood, has announced that it is disbanding so that members can retire to Florida and live out their golden years on the golf course.
"We had a good run," said one senior Elder, reminiscing over old photographs of world leaders in his musty, wood-paneled office at an undisclosed location. "Maybe we ran the world for just a little too long. Anyway, now it's Obama's problem."
After a humiliating year left most of its financial holdings, as well as the entire civilized world, on the verge of collapse, the organization has re-defined its mission in terms of bridge games and making it to restaurants for the Early Bird Special.
The announcement comes after a year in which many of the Elders' most prized institutions suffered disheartening failures. The vaunted global banking system, which lay at the heart of Jewish world domination for almost two centuries, collapsed with astonishing rapidity, requiring trillions of dollars in bailout funds. The newspaper industry, through which the Elders have controlled world opinion, is in shambles, with prominent papers declaring bankruptcy and forcing millions of readers to form their own opinions. And, in the unkindest cut, Hollywood suffered the humiliation of losing the Oscar for Best Picture to Indian film "Slumdog Millionaire."
The organization's reputation for financial probity had also taken a hit amidst rumors of billions in losses in private Kalooki games against Sheikh Hamad bin 'Isa of Bahrain. According to inside sources, the organization also lost close to $1 trillion with disgraced investor Bernard Madoff.
Even before this past year, though, the Elders were facing hard times as they struggled to stay relevant and attract young members. The organization has tried to project a more youthful image, setting up a Facebook page and founding a new "Hipsters of Zion" youth division, which has sponsored a number of singles nights. But youngsters haven't been interested.
"World domination just doesn't resonate with the younger generation of Jews," said Marvin Tobman, a professor of non-profit management at San Diego State University and expert on Jewish communal life. "They want the fun of fixing the world, not the responsibility of running it."
These recent troubles have worried even some of the Elders' sharpest critics.
"I always used to complain that Jews ran the world," said Reginald Weber, author of "Zionists and Zookeepers: The Unholy Alliance." "But now I'm starting to worry that nobody's in charge."

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Can we recover from Mad Bernie Madoff ?

Regrettably, Madoff did a lot more than rip off some Jewish charities. He exemplifies the anti-Semitic stereotype of the crooked Jewish businessman. The financial damage he did will eventually be forgotten. It's not worse than what Iran is going to do. He didn't kill anyone except one unfortunate who committed suicide. Mostly, .it is just money  But the damage to the image of Jews is not so easily repaired. The damage to live of individuals who trusted Madoff and others cannot be repaired. Madoff should not be shrugged off. The problem is not a mechanical question of whether or not Madoff's swindle could have been prevented by better oversight, more diversification of investments, less greed for a quick buck. The problem goes to the heart of Jewish ethics, what we are about and how we raise our children.

The problem of the Technion illustrates another aspect of Israeli society. Israel is big enough to be able to stand on its own two feet. We should be able to support our institutions of higher learning properly without depending on aid from abroad. We could, if we didn't squander the money on Yeshivot for draft dodgers and other boondoggles.

Op-Ed: Community can reshape future marred by Madoff

NEW YORK (JTA) -- Bernard Madoff almost stole the future.

He stole the financial future of many decent, philanthropic individuals. He stole the future of some organizations that have been forced to shut their doors. He stole the future of bright, eager students dependent on financial aid from universities whose financial future Madoff also stole. (All this is in addition to the serious damage he inflicted upon the Jewish community.)

When Madoff stole millions from my organization, the American Technion Society, he lifted some of the glow off the future of science, technology and medicine. It's as if he had blundered on to the Technion campus and proceeded to wreck the laboratories where the future was being forged. And moved destructively into classrooms, scattering the students and professors. And stomped through the campus, where he laid waste to the library and synagogue, the student dormitories and theater, the fitness center and cafeteria, damaging the people and facilities that are at the center of Israel's future.

How, I continue to wonder, is it possible for a single individual to perpetrate so much evil, to destroy so much? Could we have done anything to stop him, to curtail the damage?

By now I have given up on finding rational answers. While there is always some element of trust and human judgment involved in retaining financial managers, and while processes can be tightened, nothing can guarantee safety from a massive, well-planned fraud like this one.

Now it is time for the Jewish community to move past these unanswerable questions. Despite the considerable damage he inflicted, Madoff failed to steal our future. He left it damaged surely, but our strong foundation is still standing, certainly more than enough to serve as the basis for a swift and sure comeback. And we are in a place to reshape the future.

Jewish parents used to encourage their children's learning by repeating the age-old truism that no one can ever take away your education. Now I say that no one, not even a hundred Bernard Madoffs, can steal the Jewish community's future because no one can injure the confidence in our ability to shape and reshape that future.

I am greatly encouraged by early proof of this thinking. Already a number of our supporters have -- on their own -- called to make large, unscheduled gifts. This is likely the case in other organizations and institutions. When I ask what prompted their unsolicited decision, their words echo my thoughts: We must move beyond this and forward; we must take back the future; we must ensure that Israel has what it needs to not only survive but thrive.

These conversations leave me wondering: If one awful individual can wreak such havoc, how much power does one committed, brilliant, energetic individual have to undo the damage? Or a dozen? Or hundreds of thousands? In fact, we could do so much more; we could change the world!

We have, in fact, already done so. Jewish history, our mere presence in the world today, is itself a miracle, not only of survival but of astounding achievements against what surely must have looked like insurmountable odds. This latest affair, by comparison, is merely a blip, well below those many defining moments in our history. Bernard Madoff almost stole the future. Now it is up to all of us to restore it.

In May, a hundred or more of us will be on the Technion campus for our annual mission. During those days we will be rushed and sometimes tired. But we know from past missions that we won't mind and no one will complain because we'll be busy dedicating new buildings, expanded dormitories, impressive laboratories. We'll be listening to professors and students explain the research and the studies they conduct with our support. We'll visit them in their homes and dorms, and share their meals and not care when we get to sleep.

We'll be seeing the future unfold before our eyes, and we'll know that it's theirs, ours and the world's, too.

(Melvyn H. Bloom is the executive vice president of the American Technion Society.)

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Charles Freeman - Barack Obama owes America an explanation

Charles Freeman is now officially ensconced as the head of the U.S. National Intelligence Council, and will produce the National Intelligence Estimate. It's a done deal it seems. All USA intelligence (and a lot of stupidity) will flow through this one man and be edited by him. He will produce America's official picture of the Middle East and the world. 
Freeman's qualifications for the job include being President of an Arab lobby organization,  MEPC,  that accepted a million dollar donation from Saudi Arabia and published the full length version of "The Israel Lobby." Freeman is, or at was, also on the board of directors of another Middle East Lobby - The American Iranian Council. Freeman's views about Israel and its enemies can be summed up in this one quote:
"I'm a very practical man, and my concern is simply this: that there are movements, like Hamas, like Hezbollah, that in recent decades have not done anything against the United States or Americans, even though the United States supports their enemy, Israel. By openly stating and taking action to make them–to declare that we are their enemy, we invite them to extend their operations in the United States or against Americans abroad."
Just because the Hezbollah blew up a few marines in Lebanon is no reason to hold a grudge, right? And just because Hamas insists that it wants to wipe out every Jew on the planet, that's no reason to slight them either, correct? And the demonstrations with huge crowds chanting "Death to America" are no reason to hurt these wonderful Islamic gentleman either, are they? Freeman is obviously the perfect choice to vet US intelligence as Muslim Matters (source of the above quote) assures us. Anyone who is, perish the thought, nervous about the idea that a man who is virtually a self-declared agent of a foriegn power should hold a key US intelligence post is obviously a right wing Zionist neocon, according to Muslim Matters. But not just according to them. It is not only Muslim Matters that says so. M.J. Rosenberg agrees.  

It's a new day. For the first time in years, a President has rebuffed the neocon/rightwing lobby on an issue dear to their hearts. He informed the Senate that he will make Charles Freeman head of the National Intelligence Council despite the full-court press led by the neocons and the rightwing of the pro-Israel lobby against him.

...I was wrong about one thing. Steve Rosen was only the public face against the appointment. Quietly, behind closed doors (including doors in the White House), a major effort to block Freeman was made. And it didn't just come from the fringes.

Obama did not back down. In fact, I hear, he never considered backing down.

According to a letter submitted by Congressman Mark Kirk, the MEPCs VIPS include some wonderful folks:
"The [think-tank's] board of directors includes Dr. Fuad Rihani, a consultant to the Saudi Binladin Group - a multinational construction conglomerate and holding company for the assets owned by the bin Laden family,"
Suddenly, it seems only neocons are nervous about the Bin-Laden family. It really is a new day.  It's a new day too for the families of 9-11 victims. The next time there is evidence implicating Saudi Arabian citizens in terror plots against the United States, Freeman will be there to cover it all up if needed. And Freeman, a director of the American-Iranian Council will be there to assure Americans that Mr. Ahmadinejad is really their friend, and he doesn't mean all that stuff about "A world without America."  Freeman was the choice of intelligence boss Dennis Blair. It is not clear if Obama ever vetted this decision. If he did, and didn't consider backing down, didn't even think of double checking, then it is really strange.
Rosenberg is one of those people who sees neocons under the bed. It takes a "special" sort of intellect to write  "the Washington Post (which happens to be a bastion of neo-conservatism)" as he did. The "neo-conservative" Washington Post supported Obama. It seems only King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Mahmoud Ahmadenijad and the Ayatollah Rafsanjani are big enough liberals for Mr. Rosenberg.  
And yet the amazing thing is that Rosenberg and Muslim Matters are absolutely right. It is mind blowing. If Obama had made the President of AIPAC head of the NIC, there would be headlines in every major newspaper. It is an obvious conflict of interest. Yet Freeman's appointment attracted almost no attention at all from any but right-wing journals and right wing commentators. Nobody batted an eyelash. Nobody bothered to explain how the man who headed a prominent US Arab lobby could be trusted to judge U.S. intelligence. The only response was to scream "right-wing Zionist Neocon, right-wing Zionist neocon" over and over" and to gloat over the defeat of the "neocons." The closest thing to mainstream media coverage of this issue that I could find seems to be this article from the Wall Street Journal by one Gabriel Schoenfeld -  Obama's Intelligence Choice -  which notes:
As Mr. Freeman acknowledged in a 2006 interview with an outfit called the Saudi-US Relations Information Service, MEPC owes its endowment to the "generosity" of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia. Asked in the same interview about his organization's current mission, Mr. Freeman responded, in a revealing non sequitur, that he was "delighted that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has, after a long delay, begun to make serious public relations efforts."
Among MEPC's recent activities in the public relations realm, it has published what it calls an "unabridged" version of "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" by professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt. This controversial 2006 essay argued that American Jews have a "stranglehold" on the U.S. Congress, which they employ to tilt the U.S. toward Israel at the expense of broader American interests. Mr. Freeman has both endorsed the paper's thesis and boasted of MEPC's intrepid stance: "No one else in the United States has dared to publish this article, given the political penalties that the Lobby imposes on those who criticize it."
Unsurprisingly, Mr. Freeman has views about Middle East policy that differ rather sharply from those held by supporters of the state of Israel. More surprisingly, they also differ rather sharply from the views -- or at least the views stated during the campaign -- of the president who has invited him to serve.
The issue is not just Mr. Freeman's views about Israel. Public servants can have different political views from those of the President and still get the job done. The problem is that there is a reasonable suspicion that he may be unduly influenced by a foreign power, and that he has totally unrealistic views of  the Hezbollah and the Hamas which indicate he may be incompetent to judge intelligence. Nobody at all is willing to discuss the issues. Predictably, Professor Walt (the "Israel Lobby" guy) published a rant about the "McCarthyite Smear Campaign" against Freeman, blaming it all on the "The Likudnik wing of the Israel lobby." All the right people, he claims, pointed out "what is going on." What is going on is that a man who thinks the Hezbollah and Hamas are friendly to the US, who served as a mouthpiece for Iran and Arab interests, is now in charge of editing U.S. intelligence. How could this be the concern only of "Likudniks" Zionists and Jews? Were only Likudniks killed in the 9-11 attacks? Were only Likudniks killed in the attack on the Marine baracks in Lebanon? Were only Likudniks held hostage in the US embassy? I am not, for the record, a "Likudnik."  
Washington Times, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Fox News, Weekly Standard - that's about the extent of the critical coverage that the Freeman nomination is getting. Even the probe into his finances requested  is hardly to be found in the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN or other large media outlets. Nobody even cares. Nobody bothers to explain.
Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps Mr Freeman is an objective judge of Middle East geopolitics and intelligence and doesn't really believe that the Hezbollah and the Hamas are harmless as he said. Perhaps he just shrugged off the million dollar gift of the Saudi royal family, and maybe he was just going a job as President of the MEPC. But it is really strange that this critical appointment evoked no real discussion or concern whatever other than cries of "neocon" "likudnik" etc.  and that nobody in the Obama administration has stepped forward to justify what seems to be a totally bizarre appointment.
At the very least, President Obama owes the American people an explanation. If you agree, even if you are not a right-wing Neocon Zionist Likudnik with horns and a tail, and especially if you are a Democrat and an American patriot, be sure to contact your congressperson or Senator, as well as writing or calling the White House:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414
FAX: 202-456-2461
Ami Isseroff

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Yes, Durban all over again - Son of Durban Racism Conference Returns

This is the sequel we've all been waiting for. What's the good of having a UN racism conference, if it doesn't include a few pogroms? A racism conference should demonstrate racism, no?  The Durban II conference is brought to us by the UN destroy Israel lobby. It is powered by the tried and true UN Question of Palestine lobby, which forces member NGOs to pledge allegiance to the "inalienable rights" of the Palestinian people (Jewish people have no rights it seems) meaning destruction of Israel. How could it result in anything other than another Zionism is Racism fest?
Benjamin Pogrund is a veteran fighter against actual apartheid in South Africa. Like other decent folks everywhere, he is dismayed by the hijacking of the very necessary fight against racism into a racist Jew-hate festival. But how could it be anything else?
The UN's chief human rights official, Navi Pillay urges all states to attend, but she has not lifted a finger to stop the flood tide of hate and racism or to force the conference to tackle real problems of racism. Israeli delegates could only attend this conference wearing bullet proof vests, so how could all states attend?
The aftermath of this despicable hate fest will be a series of hateful resolutions, belched up from time to time like a bad dinner that won't go away, in the odious press releases of self-appointed "peace" NGOs that have the blessing of the UN, having pledged allegiance to the inalienable rights of the Palestinians to destroy Israel.
Benjamin Pogrund

The original 2001 UN conference became notorious for its hijack by the 'Zionism is racism' lobby. History threatens to repeat itself

This week, on Thursday, Italy's foreign minister Franco Frattini was reported to have announced that his country is pulling out because of the "aggressive and antisemitic statements" in the text. Canada and Israel have already said they will not take part. The United States has withdrawn, saying the draft text is "not salvageable". The Netherlands, France, Denmark, Germany and Belgium are expressing their worries.

The Dutch foreign affairs minister, Maxime Verhagen, told the council this week: "I am deeply disturbed by the turn this event is taking. The thematic world conference is used by some to try to force their concept of defamation of religions and their focus on one regional conflict on all of us."

The references to Israel and the protection of religion in draft texts were unacceptable, he said. "We cannot accept any text which would put religion above individuals, not condemn discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, condone antisemitism or single out Israel."

It all has a horribly familiar ring, except that this time EU nations are lodging their objections in advance. The first World Conference Against Racism, held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001, was intended as a high point in the battle against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance. It was an especially proud event for the South African host in celebrating the end of apartheid seven years earlier.

However, problems began in the initial conference of NGOs attended by 4,000 people from many parts of the world. Israel was singled out as the target. It was condemned in resolutions as "the new apartheid", and accused of racism, genocide and much else. A raft of resolutions urged boycotts and its exclusion from the world.

The west, and especially the United States, also came under fierce attack with reparations demanded for the slave trade. Washington's (black) secretary of state, Colin Powell, who was not present, gave some perspective to this by publicly asking whether he would have to pay or be paid.

The NGO resolutions were carried into the succeeding conference of governments (I was a member of the Israeli delegation, invited to join because of my knowledge of apartheid). The extreme wording and the vicious tone at the NGO conference, inside the hall and in the marching and chanting crowds in the streets, proved too much: four days into the eight-day conference, the United States delegation walked out, followed by the Israelis.

The EU also threatened to quit. As the conference became strangled by controversy and was in danger of collapse, the resolutions were rapidly redrafted to excise the ugly references to Israel, leaving only a declaration supporting Palestinians and Israel's existence. The slavery issue disappeared.

In a review last year, the Netherlands-based ICARE (Internet Centre Anti-Racism Europe) noted that both the NGO and government conference "suffered from hate-mongering and extreme politicisation". It said the discrimination against Dalits in India and Roma in Europe had not even featured in the final governmental declaration.

Less than a week after Durban, 9/11 captured the headlines. Anti-racism went onto the backburner. But anger and disappointment about Durban's wild excesses went on simmering and, seven months later, South Africa's deputy foreign minister, Aziz Pahad, spoke bluntly at the annual conference of the country's Zionist Federation. He referred to the "disgraceful events" surrounding the NGO conference and said: "I wish to make it unequivocally clear that the South African government recognises that part of that component was hijacked and used by some with an anti-Israeli agenda to turn it into an antisemitic event." That was precisely why, he added, that the world's governments had refused to accept the NGO resolutions.

When the UN decided to organise a follow-up conference to check the extent of progress against racism, Durban was the elephant in the room. As preparatory meetings got underway last year, it was clear that there was a universal desire to ensure there would not be any repetition of 2001. It was to be called the Durban Review Conference. It was definitely not to be referred to as Durban 2. Initial thoughts of meeting again in South Africa were put aside. The role of NGOs was played down; no money could be found for a separate conference for them.

But the anti-Israel forces began to assert themselves. The attacks increased: Canada saw what was building up and was the first to walk out, nearly a year ago. The "Zionism is racism" claim, long discredited at the UN, was heard again.

The draft resolutions now say that Israel's policy in the Palestinian territories constitutes a "violation of international human rights, a crime against humanity and a contemporary form of apartheid". Also, Israel poses "a serious threat to international peace and security and violates the basic principles of international human rights law".

In other words, the draft sets out to equate Israel with apartheid South Africa so that it can be declared a pariah state and be made subject to international sanctions.

Together with this, Muslim countries have been pushing for wording to protect Islam from criticism. Angry about Danish newspaper cartoons and films, they want to oulaw any criticism of religion as a violation of human rights. Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, said this week that the conference should deal with contemporary forms of racism such as religious profiling and Islamophobia.

The new Obama administration sent two senior officials to attend the meetings preparing for the conference. But a week ago, the State Department announced that the "document being negotiated has gone from bad to worse, and the current text of the draft outcome document is not salvageable. A conference based on this text would be a missed opportunity to speak clearly about the persistent problem of racism." It said the US will not take part unless resolutions do not criticise any one country or conflict.

The 57-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference, aided and abetted by members of the Human Rights Council such as Libya, Iran and Cuba, is pressing ahead.

The UN's chief human rights official, Navi Pillay, is understandably urging all states to attend next month. She warns that the failure of Durban 2 could damage human rights work for years to come. But the omens are not good.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Boycotting Jewish Science - It's international Pogrom Week

This report by Melanie Phillips about another one of those boycott Israel initiatives deserves our careful attention. The Museum, to its credit, went ahead with the Israel Science week exhibit at last report. Unfortunately, as Philips pointed out, the lynch Israel campaign has long ago spread to the British medical profession. This is sadly amazing, in view of the extraordinary lengths that Israeli doctors and hospitals go to provide medical care for Palestinians.

The campaign is apparently connected with the cynically named "Israel Apartheid Week." There is little doubt that objectively, Israel has the best human rights record in the Middle East. If you don't believe me, check the facts. Israel is one of the few countries in the Middle East where terrorists are jailed and not killed. Israel has a lively democracy, and Arab Israelis have sent 11 representatives to the Israeli Knesset. Homosexuals are not persecuted in Israel and religious minorities are free to practice their religion. Check it out:  Human Rights in the Middle East,

The participation of scientists and doctors in the libel and boycott campaign against Israel is sadly reminiscent of the tactics of a certain other regime that boycotted "Jewish science," forcing the emigration of the top scientists of Europe and thereby dooming its own war effort. It is difficult to imagine how atrocity libels against Jews, boycotts of Jews and of Jewish science could become the passion of "progressives" all over Europe less than 65 years after the end of the Nazi era. There are still living witnesses of the last boycott and its results..

boycott Israel

Even those who cannot remember and never learned about World War II, may remember the "Jenin Massacre" libel that came out of operation Defensive Shield in 2002, and the eventual and shamefaced retractions of the accusations about the massacre that never was. That does not prevent them from inventing new and better massacre stories about Operation Cast Lead, and even retroactive fantasies about the Jewish murder of 35,000 Egyptian POWs in the Six day war. The blood libel is an ever popular accusation in the mythology of European Anti-Semitism,  

 Here are excerpts from Melanie Phillips' story:

Science Pogrom Week

Wednesday, 4th March 2009

It's Science Pogrom Week.

Yesterday, the Independent cranked up a front-page splash claiming that 400 academics were calling upon the Science Museum to cancel workshops being held this week promoting Israeli scientific achievements to schoolchildren. This was a reference to the 400 or so individuals who signed a letter to the Guardian last month screeching about

the indiscriminate slaughter and attempted annihilation of all the infrastructure of organised society in Gaza

and that the museum was thus promoting scientists and universities who were

complicit in the Israeli occupation and in the policies and weaponry recently deployed to such disastrous effect in Gaza.

Such venom is particularly egregious considering Israel's hugely disproportionate contribution to science for the benefit of all mankind – even that of the 400 signatories. And then of course there were the ritual lies. There was no 'indiscriminate slaughter '; most of those killed were terrorists. The weaponry used in Gaza was used to try to stop the murder of innocents; it was legal and proportionate; the Israelis went to huge lengths to avoid hitting civilians. All this is demonstrably so.

... Of course, it is pure coincidence that the Independent published this month-old non-story on its front page in 'Israel apartheid week', part of the orchestrated campaign of lies about Israel designed to soften up the high-minded for genocide.

This verbal pogrom has been making particular inroads, for some reason, into the medical profession. As I reported here, the British Medical Journal ran five pieces in last week's issue accusing pro-Israel lobby groups, and Honest Reporting in particular, of organising a mass campaign of hostile and often abusive emails in response to the BMJ's comments about Israel.

... In last week's BMJ hate-fest Karl Sabbagh (again) complained that hostile responses to hostility to Israel in the medical periodicals

all go far beyond the average heated but civilised debate one expects to find in a scientific or medical journal.

But Honest Reporting has established that the BMJ's obsession with Israel goes far beyond its coverage of any other conflict. In a search of the medical literature for citations relating to victims of international conflicts, including Palestinians, it discovered the following:

  • When Europeans kill Europeans (Bosnia), the BMJ allocates one citation for every 2000 deaths.
  • When Africans kill Africans (Rwanda), the BMJ allocates one citation for every 4000 deaths.
  • When Muslim Arabs kill Christian Africans (Darfur), the BMJ allocates one citation for every (minimum) 7000 Christians who are killed.
  • When Israelis, in the process of combating terrorists, kill Palestinians, the BMJ allocates one citation for every 13 Palestinians killed (including terrorist combatants).
  • When Arab Muslims kill Kurds, the BMJ fails to give this any attention whatsoever.

The evidence clearly shows that the BMJ has a disproportionate interest in Palestinian deaths over those from other conflict areas where the impact on public health is certainly as great and potentially greater than that of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Nor is it alone. The verbal pogrom has swept through the hallowed halls of the Royal College of Physicians. The February issue of its Commentary bulletin carried a 'Special Feature' article by Dr Chris Burns-Cox on 'Physicians in Palestine'. This is a boiler-plate one-sided account of the (undoubted) privations of health care in Gaza with shortages of drugs and fuel for hospital generators, patients dying while waiting for permits to leave (for Israeli hospitals!!) and 'severe

limitations on postgraduate training' through 'restrictions on movement and checkpoints '. But no mention of the fact that the reason for these shortages is that the government which Gaza voted in is waging a war of extermination against Israel; nor of the fact that the checkpoints are only there because Gazans never stop trying to blow up Israeli citizens.

Worst of all was an editorial insert into the article labelled 'News update on Gaza', which
referred to 'the massacres on 27th December 2008', telling readers 'we are tested to see if we "pass by on the other side"'. 

There were, of course, no massacres.

This article so badly incensed one non-Jewish and non-Israeli reader, consultant in emergency medicine Samuel McBride, that he wrote to the magazine as follows:

One is faced often these days by a double standard of moralising against Israel's right to protect its citizens from the murderous attacks of (inter alia) Hamas terrorists. This usually involves assuming a moral equivalence between the Jew-hating murderers and the Israeli Defence Forces response to the missile bases (deliberately based in civilian areas contrary to International Law). Such moral equivalence is specially reserved for treatment of Israel, not of Britain when it bombed civilian targets in Serbia a few years ago, nor Obama's USA in Western Pakistan & Afghanistan to name but two examples.

I perceived the tone of your Dr Burns-Cox' article and the editorial comment as worse than the usual moral equivalence. The term 'massacres' is editorially unjustified and should be corrected in the next issue with an apology to all those who have been hurt and offended thereby. It is a pejorative term smuggled in deliberately to delegitimise the right of the State of Israel to defend itself. I hope sir that you can rise above the tide of anti-semitism (better called Jew-hatred) currently sweeping the UK which often hides behind imbalanced anti-Israel verbiage.

The President of the RCP  has now issued an apology

The College deeply regrets the offence that has been caused by the use of the word massacre in the update box accompanying the article 'Physicians in Palestine' in the February 2009 edition of the College Commentary.  The article was drawing attention to the need to support medical schools there, and we sought a brief update shortly before going to print.  The term 'massacre', not a medical one and with political overtones, would normally have been removed on editorial review.  This did not happen because of a tight publication deadline and for this we unreservedly apologise.

But the point is not that the word 'massacre' is political, not medical. It is that as used in this context it was a lie.

Still, apologies seem to be breaking out amongst the medical pogromistas like an infectious rash. It appears that the Lancet published a blog post entitled 'The wounds of Gaza'. It is not possible to see what it said as the Lancet has now taken it down and issued an apology: 

2 March 09: We have taken down the blog post The wounds of Gaza because of factual inaccuracies. We would like to point out that our editorial decision process to post blog entries (and their comments) on The Lancet Global Health Network is very different from our rigorous peer review process in The Lancet and

Well I'm sure we're all deeply relieved to hear that. But we can glean what it said from a letter in protest that the Lancet has now published from a Nobel Prize winner and three other prominent Israeli doctors -- which makes it clear that the Lancet published a blood libel:

The article begins by asserting that Israel executed 35,000 prisoners of war in 1967.  The claim of murdered POWs was sparked recently by the release of an Israeli documentary film, covered by the Egyptian press who then reported that Israel killed 250 Egyptian POWs.  However, the film's producer contends that the Egyptian media distorted the facts presented and that the incident in 1967 did not involve unarmed prisoners of war, but rather Palestinian militants killed during battle.  Furthermore, two UN peacekeepers who witnessed the 1967 war have gone on record as stating that if an Israeli unit had killed some 250 POWs near El-Arish, they would have known about it. (2) We have no idea where the number 35,000 came from, other than the imagination of those seeking to incite a modern day blood libel.

The article goes on to discuss the use of unconventional weapons by Israel.  Some of these claims, such as the use of silent bombs in which 'all objects and living things are vaporized without a trace', sound like the stuff of science fiction films.  Of course, no facts are brought to remotely support such an absurd accusation, other than 'unnamed people in Gaza' who supposedly witnessed such an event.  The same goes for purported executions of innocent children, old people and women who were supposedly killed in cold blood.  No such thing occurred.  What did occur, according to an orthopedic rehabilitative surgeon in one of Israel's leading hospitals, is that Hamas made PLO policemen and others stand against a wall while they shot their legs with a machine gun and then stabbed their legs to finish the job.    Most of these Palestinians were treated in Israeli hospitals such as Ichilov, Sheba and Barzilai Medical Centers to save their lives and treat their fractures, amputations and neurological damage.

The authors then go on to state that Israel targeted ambulances in the recent fighting.    I refer you to a recent article in the Australian press in which a Palestinian ambulance driver admits that the Hamas hijacked Red Crescent ambulances and lured them into the heart of battle to transport fighters to safety.(3)

Similarly incomprehensible is the authors' claim that the Gaza tunnels are not being used to smuggle weapons.  This incontrovertible fact has been reported by the British press, in addition to every reputable news agency. (4)

... As physicians, we find it inconceivable that a respected publication like the Lancet would print such an imaginary, unproven, uncorroborated diatribe.  This is wholly apart from whether the Lancet, as a scientific publication, should be dabbling in politics at all. Before accepting a medical article for publication, you rightfully insist on proven facts and evidence.  You would not think of printing something based on the flight of fancy of an unknown physician.  Why is this case different?

In the thread below the apology, another reader added of the 35,000 claim:

...this is a staggering historical invention. Have a browse on reliable, international sources on the net. Egyptian sources list 10,000 TOTAL war casualties in 1967. Not POWs, total Egyptian casualties… so what does the statement above mean? And how about the 'civil disobedience' of the people of Gaza? Again, take a look around the net, to see that the people of Gaza have been busy with quite a bit more than civil disobedience. Say, suicide bombings?

But there are also readers who have been incited to hatred of Israel by this disgusting blog post:

It is shocking to hear details of the weapons that were used and alarming to hear the extent of the injuries upon the palestinian civilian population... Many people were dreading to read a report such as this, knowing full well what horrific actions has been carried out by Israel over the years... I have no words appropriate to describe my horror and revulsion. It is almost unbelievable that the people of Israel, many of whom are descended from Jews who died in the Nazi holocaust, should have a government practising today's holocaust.

Tomorrow, in another amazing coincidence with 'Israel Apartheid Week', the Lancet unleashes a further onslaught by publishing a special supplement on 'health care in the occupied Palestinian territory', prefaced by a symposium today at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. (Maybe someone can tell them Gaza is no longer occupied).

 I think it's a fair bet that this series of papers will not feature one of the most remarkable things about health care in Gaza -- unknown in any other theatre of war on the planet -- where patients from the side waging war are regularly treated in the hospitals of those against whom they continue to fire rockets and missiles aimed at killing their civilians. Israel regularly treats patients from Gaza – and yet the only reference ever made to this is the complaint that Gazan patients are often delayed in getting to those Israeli hospitals. And of course no mention that the reason for those delays is the war that Gaza is waging – or the fact that Hamas actually prevent Gazans from crossing into Israel to be treated.

The Lancet is unlikely to tell us any of that. Nor is it likely to tell us that the current undoubtedly parlous health indicators amongst Palestinians, particularly in Gaza, are solely the result of the war they continue to wage – as demonstrated by the  following statistics of Palestinian health indicators reported by Professor Efraim Karsh of Kings College London:

From June 1967 until Israel passed control to the PA in the mid-1990s, life expectancy had risen from 48 to 72 years (compared to 68 years for all the countries of the Middle East and North Africa). Mortality rates fell by more than two-thirds between 1970 and 1990, while Israeli medical programs reduced the infant-mortality rate of 60 per 1,000 live births in 1968 to 15 per 1,000 in 2000 (in Iraq the rate is 64, in Egypt 40, in Jordan 23, in Syria 22).


Continued (Permanent Link)

Hoax watch: Political propaganda based on fake Benjamin Netanyahu interview

A 2006 blog post/e-mail about Benjamin Netanyahu defending Israel to the BBC was "upgraded" to 2009 by substituting "Palestinians" for "Lebanese."  Details: Hoax watch: Netanyahu defends operation cast lead,

Too bad it didn't happen, but it didn't.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Italy leaves Durban II Racist conference

The UN seems to be discrediting itself progressively. Italy has now pulled out of the UN sponsored Durban II "anti-Racism" conference. The conference promses to be a repeat of the first one, in which actual racism was ignored and the entire efforts of the delegates were focused on condemning Israel. The UN Human Rights head  urged nations to participate in the conference and took no action to improve the tone of the conference. Additional resolutions proposed at the preparatory meetings would criminalize criticism of religion. One wonders if this would be applied to Muslim sermons about Jewish sons of dogs and monkeys and Christian sons of dogs and pigs. It is intended to prevent criticism of Islam.
Foreign Minister Franco Frattini also postponed a planned trip to Iran to protest remarks against Israel and the U.S. administration by Tehran's leadership, the ministry said in a statement.

At the NATO summit in Brussels, Frattini said Italy has withdrawn its delegation from the preparatory negotiations ahead of the so-called Durban II conference due to "aggressive and anti-Semitic statements" in the draft of the event's final document. This was the same document that caused the United States to withdraw.

Frattini's comments on the conference were reported by Italian news agencies and confirmed by foreign ministry spokesman Maurizio Massari, who said Rome would not participate in the conference unless the document was changed.

"There are expressions of anti-Semitism," Massari said by telephone. "Until the document is modified we will not have a part in it."

The United States has imposed similar conditions. Israel and Canada have already announced a boycott.

Italy is the first EU country to officially withdraw from the conference, though other nations have threatened not to attend.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Coexistence problem: Bulldozer plows into police vehicle; terrorist killed

Tractor overturns police squad car on Menachem Begin Boulevard in the capital; misses nearby bus. Two officers injured, neutralize attacker
Ronen Medzini
Published:  03.05.09, 13:32 / Israel News
A tractor plowed into a police squad car on Menachem Begin Boulevard in Jerusalem on Thursday. The driver was apparently also trying to hit a bus parked nearby, but missed. The bus was empty at the time.
Two police officers were in the car when it was hit and both sustained mild injuries. Other police officers patrolling nearby shot the terrorist.
Magen David Adom emergency services were immediately dispatched to the area. The paramedics treated both the injured officers and the tractor driver, who reportedly sustained severe injuries.
One of the police officers and the terrorist were taken to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem. The other police officer was taken to the capital's Shaare Zedek Medical Center. The tractor driver was later pronounced dead.

According to the initial police investigation, the tractor driver "hammered into the police car, flipping it over and dragging it on the road. A second, Jerusalem Police tourism unit squad car was alerted to the attack and the officer and volunteer in it stepped out of the vehicle, the officer fired several shots at the terrorist and neutralized him.
"A second police officer who arrived at the scene, as well as the volunteer and a taxi driver who pulled over, all fired at the terrorist as well. The driver was critically injured, taken off the tractor and rushed to a nearby hospital, where he later died of his wounds."
Jerusalem District Police Commander Nissan Shaham added that the driver "had an open Quran in the tractor" at the time of the attack....

Continued (Permanent Link)

No to ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem myth

Various groups have carried out a steady campaign of disinformation regarding a mythical ethnic cleansing of Arabs in East Jerusalem. Allegations about displacement and mass expulsions are common. The fact is that the proportion of Arabs in Jerusalem is growing steadily and that more Arabs live in Jerusalem under Jewish rule than ever lived there before in all of recorded history. In contrast, in 1948, Jews were ethnically cleansed from East Jerusalem, evicted from their homes with no compensation or right of return, and no Jews were allowed to live in Jerusalem for 19  Following is an announcement by the Jerusalem municipality.
Jerusalem Municipality Responds to Disinformation Regarding East Jerusalem
Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Jerusalem Municipality rejects many recent claims made in the media and would like to provide further information on the topic. A disinformation
campaign took place recently, surrounding the visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The Municipality of Jerusalem continues to exercise its rights and its obligations to the residents of East Jerusalem in complete transparency. Mayor Nir Barkat continues to promote investments in infrastructure, construction, and education in East Jerusalem, while at the same time upholding the law throughout West and East Jerusalem equally without bias.

According to administrative procedure, orders can be given to stop work on illegal construction at the beginning and throughout the process of construction. Often, illegal construction has come at the expense of public land designated for the residents themselves. Since January 1, 28 demolition orders have been carried out - 11 at structures in West Jerusalem and 17 at structures in East Jerusalem.

Further details:

1. Emek HaMelech

No new orders have been issued in the Emek HaMelech area and there is no change in the Municipal position on this issue. The area of Emek HaMelech is
one of the most important areas with regards to the history of Jerusalem, with holy sites important to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. Because
its significant importance to the more than 3 billion people of faith around the world, it is also a tourist destination.  It is important to the future of Jerusalem that this area be treated with the utmost strategic importance. Emek HaMelech is not intended for residential development but rather it is intended to be an open public space.  This position is concurrent with positions taken during the British Mandate and going back to Ottoman control of the area. Most of the 80 illegal buildings were built within recent years without proper permits and are in different stages of legal proceedings. Residents of the buildings in question have turned to the District Committee of the Ministry of the Interior, which rejected their petitions and did not approve the illegal construction of the buildings due to the fact that the Emek HaMelech area is intended for public recreational use.

2. Jabel Mukaber

The most recent illegal building that was demolished was not in Silwan but rather in Jabel Mukaber. The illegal building was demolished following the Supreme Court's rejection of the appeal filed against the demolition orders because it was built illegally without a permit in open space. The enforcement of this policy is completely equal between East and West Jerusalem. The Municipality operates in accordance with the law and with the rulings of the courts.

3. Shuafat

According to the Mayor of Jerusalem, administrative orders have been issued to unlicensed buildings continuing the process of construction throughout all of Jerusalem, West and East, without bias.  Following procedure, administrative orders were pasted on five buildings Tuesday that are still under construction and are without residents. They had already been given instructions to stop construction, which were not honored. The orders pasted on the buildings also explain how the order can be appealed in the court of law if any injustice is felt. Due to the illegal construction in areas intended for public use in the neighborhood of Shuafat, a difficult situation has arisen in which almost no public areas remain for public construction for the residents of the neighborhood. The area of the illegal construction includes land reserved for public schools and institutions for the benefit of the residents of Shuafat and according to the Municiaplity's obligation to the residents, the Municipality must stop the construction.

Stephan H. Miller
Office of Mayor Nir Barkat

Continued (Permanent Link)

Iran threat - to be or not to be

We know Iran is an existential threat. Somehow, the possibility that Avigdor Lieberman may be Defense Minister of Israel doesn't make that prospect less of a source of anxiety.
Resolution 2010
By Ari Shavit

If Israel is going to attack Iran in the next two years, it must take the following possible developments into account: The attack will fail. The attack will succeed in part and delay the Iranian nuclear program only somewhat. The attack will succeed but lead to a harsh counterstrike. The attack will ignite an unending Iranian-Israeli war. The attack will cause Israel's allies to break off their alliance with it. The attack will lead to worldwide condemnation of Israel that will isolate it and turn it into an international pariah.
If Israel does not attack Iran over the next two years, it must take into account other possible developments: A nuclear Iran could become a regional power that will tip the scales in the struggle between extremists and moderates in the Middle East. A nuclear Iran that controls the energy routes could gain enough power to squeeze Europe, Russia, China and even the United States. A nuclear Iran could erode Israeli deterrence and initiate serious and ongoing confrontations in the south and north. A nuclear Iran and the terror groups it supports will cast a pall of fear over many Israelis.
In about two months, Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu will meet U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House. That meeting will be fateful. It alone can extricate Israel from the trap of a bomb or a bombing. However, the meeting will be difficult. Netanyahu will have to persuade a dovish president to force a hawkish position on a defense establishment that does not want it.
An Israeli conservative will try to convince an American Democratic president to act in the Iranian crisis the way John F. Kennedy did during the Cuban missile crisis. If Netanyahu succeeds, the West will be able to overcome the worst danger it has faced since the Cold War. If he fails, Israel will face the most difficult dilemma in its history.
Many mock Netanyahu because he compares the Iranian threat to the threat of 1948. The mockers are wrong. True, Iran will be in no hurry for a nuclear strike against Israel. A nuclear Iran will not necessarily generate apocalypse now. However, if Iran becomes as strong as France, it will create new strategic circumstances in which Israel will find it hard to survive for long. But if Israel acts hastily, it could expose itself to unprecedented risks. That is why the challenge in the run-up to 2010 - the year the Israeli intelligence community believes Iran will have enough fissionable material to make a bomb - is so great. Resolution 2010 is an existential one.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni decided not to take part in Resolution 2010. She preferred political interests over national ones. But Livni is not alone. The mainstream is behind her. The mainstream of the Israeli elite insists on ignoring what is happening. That same historical blindness that afflicted us between the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War is striking us again. That same discourse disassociated from reality that characterized us between Oslo and Camp David is doing so again. Denial reigns.
Even the statement by the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff that Iran has enough fissionable material for a first bomb has been swallowed up in the tumult. At a time when we need unity, seriousness and to focus our efforts, politics and the media are bogged down in foolishness. Just as Israel overcame in 1948, it will do so in 2010.
Just as the victory in 1948 emerged from a series of correct decisions David Ben-Gurion made in 1946 and 1947, so it is now. Israel's future depends on making wise, precise and courageous decisions. Livni decided that the person to make those decisions would be Netanyahu; this week she herself crowned him man of the hour. The Kadima chairwoman has thus forced Israelis to stand behind Bibi, who is about to take on a task of Ben-Gurionesque proportions.
Resolution 2010 must be the right one. If we make a mistake this time, we will not be able to correct it in the future. History will not knock at our door again. The time has come to emerge from denial, open our eyes and see the iceberg. If we continue to party on the deck to the sounds of political consultant Eyal Arad's orchestra, a collision with the iceberg is certain. But if we get a hold of ourselves and turn the rudder, we can still avoid disaster.

Continued (Permanent Link)

British to talk to Hebollah;Hamas - not yet

According to the AFP report, the British are now ready to betray Lebanon to the Hezbollah, but they are not yet ready to talk to the Hamas. That move will no doubt come after formation of a Palestinian unity government. Willingness to deal with the Iranian puppet terrorist group in Lebanon became inevitable after Hezbollah proved repeatedly that it more or less controls the Lebanese political scene. One wonders if this announcement was coordinated with the United States.
LONDON (AFP) — Britain said Wednesday it was prepared to engage in direct contacts with the political wing of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, after it became part of a national unity government there last year.
London has had no official talks with Hezbollah since 2005, and last July added its military wing to a blacklist of designated terrorist groups.
"We have reconsidered the position," Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell told a parliamentary committee hearing.
The main reason was "in the light of more positive developments within Lebanon, the formation of the national unity government in which Hezbollah are participating, and for that reason we have explored establishing contacts."
However, Rammell stressed there would be no such change towards Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian movement, saying: "I don't think there's an analogy."
Direct dialogue would only be established with Hamas once it signed up to internationally recognised commitments, he said, which included recognising the right of Israel to exist and rejecting violence.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Update: IAF air strikes kills three Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza

Last update - 09:53 05/03/2009       
IAF air strikes kills three Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent and News Agencies
An Israeli air strike killed three Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, one on Wednesday night and two on Thursday, said medical workers in the Hamas-controlled coastal territory.
They said the two militants were killed near the Israel-Gaza border. The Israeli military had no immediate comment.
An Israel Air Force missile attack killed a senior Islamic Jihad militant in the northern Gaza Strip after dark on Wednesday, and critically wounded another, Palestinian security and health officials said.
The Israel Defense Forces confirmed the attack, saying the target was senior Islamic Jihad gunman Khaled Shalan, who was involved in firing rockets at the Israeli city of Ashkelon, north of Gaza.
Islamic Jihad, a smaller faction than Hamas, said Shalan had overseen its rocket launches and other attacks on Israel from northern Gaza.
Wednesday's strike was the second time since the end of Operation Cast Lead that the IDF has conducted targeted killings against Palestinian militants.
Palestinian security officials said the two militants jumped out of their car when they heard the IAF jet approaching. The Israeli aircraft fired a missile at them, critically wounding them. Palestinian health ministry official Moaiya Hassanain said another five bystanders were wounded.
Israel and Palestinian militants have traded sporadic fire across Gaza's border, challenging Egyptian efforts to consolidate a January 18 truce in the Hamas-ruled territory.
Israel launched a 22-day military offensive in the Gaza Strip in December and has generally responded to Palestinian rocket attacks since then with air strikes on suspected smuggling tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt frontier.
Wednesday's air strike could signal a resumption of targeted killings against militant leaders.
On Tuesday, IAF jets bombed six tunnels in the Gaza Strip near the border with Egypt, and three more early Wednesday, in retaliation for Qassam rocket and mortar shell fire from the territory into Israel.
The IDF spokesperson's office said that secondary explosions could be seen when one of the tunnels was targeted, indicating the presence of ammunition inside it.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel-Turkey Rapprochment?

The dramatic spat between Israel and Turkey may be coming to an end. Reportedly.  Officials from both countries have exchanged messages regarding the need to restore relations to an even keel and hope to do so in the coming days. The exchange follows a letter that Turkish President Abdullah Gul sent President Shimon Peres a few weeks ago, expressing the desire to visit Israel in the coming months.
But the optimism may be premature. The President and the army are secularist and anti-Islamist, whereas it is the Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is orchestrating the rift. Erdogan began an orgy of name calling when Israel began  Operation Cast Lead. Erdogan said Olmert had "betrayed him and stabbed him in the back," and claimed Israel had committed war crimes in Gaza. He calledon United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to have
Israel ousted from the UN. Then he blew his top at the Davos conference in a show of pique. Supposedly, Erdogan was sore that Israel had not warned him about
Operation Cast Lead. Smart allies don't really want to know about such things in advance, however.


Continued (Permanent Link)

IAF kills top Gaza Islamic Jihad rocket terrorist

IAF Gaza strike kills top Islamic Jihad militant
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent and News Agencies Last update -
23:41 04/03/2009

An Israel Air Force missile attack killed a senior Islamic Jihad militant in the northern Gaza Strip after dark on Wednesday, and critically wounded another, Palestinian security and health officials said.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed the attack, saying the target was senior Islamic Jihad gunman Khaled Shalan, who was involved in firing rockets at the Israeli city of Ashkelon, north of Gaza.

Islamic Jihad, a smaller faction than Hamas, said Shalan had overseen its rocket launches and other attacks on Israel from northern Gaza.

This is the second time since the end of Operation Cast Lead that the IDF has conducted targeted killings against Palestinian militants.

Palestinian security officials said the two militants jumped out of their car when they heard the IAF jet approaching. The Israeli aircraft fired a missile at them, critically wounding them. Palestinian health ministry official Moaiya Hassanain said another five bystanders were wounded.

Israel and Palestinian militants have traded sporadic fire across Gaza's border, challenging Egyptian efforts to consolidate a January 18 truce in the Hamas-ruled territory.

Israel launched a 22-day military offensive in the Gaza Strip in December and has generally responded to Palestinian rocket attacks since then with air strikes on suspected smuggling tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt frontier.

Wednesday's air strike could signal a resumption of targeted killings against militant leaders.

On Tuesday, IAF jets bombed six tunnels in the Gaza Strip near the border with Egypt, and three more early Wednesday, in retaliation for Qassam rocket and mortar shell fire from the territory into Israel.

The IDF spokesperson's office said that secondary explosions could be seen when one of the tunnels was targeted, indicating the presence of ammunition inside it.

Gaza medical officials reported that seven people had been hurt in the attacks.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Report: Hezbollah gets $1 Billion in funding

Hizbollah is pursuing its inexorable quest for control of Lebanon, and is being funded by Iran and Qatar.
Business research facility asserts that majority of donations from Tehran in bid to shore-up terror organization ahead of elections in Lebanon. But funds also pouring in from other sources – in spite of economic crisis
Roee Nahmias
Published:  03.04.09, 00:37 / Israel News
Hizbullah's treasury has recently received no less than USD 1 billion. The bulk of the sum, some USD 600 million, was transferred to the Lebanese terror organization from Iran in a bid to strengthen the former's standing prior to the upcoming general elections in Lebanon this June.
 The claim was made Info-Prod Research (Middle East) Ltd. The institute, which deals in economic reviews regarding the Middle East and also monitors terror funding, released a report Tuesday evening detailing the massive increase to Hizbullah's finances.
According to its sources, Hizbullah is adamant to succeed in the coming elections and expand its power in the Lebanese parliament. All the better for the group if this were to come at the expense of their rivals, the anti-Syrian camp.
The report authored by IPR, which was founded by industry captain Muzi Wertheim and economics lecturer Dr. Gil Feiler, establishes that highest single contribution was made by Iran to Hizbullah.

Part of the delivery was made via high-ranking Iranian officials, and the details regarding the transfer were kept classified until recently as the Iranian election scene heats up and the opposition revealed the massive transfer of funds to Hizbullah.

The report says that after the Second Lebanon War, Iran sent Hizbullah USD 500 million in urgent monetary aid. News of the transfer drew the ire and criticism of Iranian moderates, who accused the regime of rashly giving away the money while ignoring the economic plight of Iranian citizens.

'Terror groups thriving during financial crisis'
But Iran is not alone. According to the Info-Prod report, Hizbullah received another bulk sum from a second Gulf nation – apparently Qatar.
Unconfirmed reports in the Gulf say that in recent weeks Qatar bestowed USD 300 million on Hizbullah. Qatar, it should be noted, is actively trying to buy influence in the Arab world using its gas revenue – putting it in direct confrontation with Saudi Arabia, which openly backs the anti-Hizbullah coalition.
An additional USD 100 million have been brought in since early 2009 following a fundraising tour conducted by Hizbullah envoys in the Gulf area, aiming mostly at private tycoons.
"It seems that the global financial crisis has been good for the Islamic terror organizations in terms of fund raising," explains Doron Peskin, head of research at Info-Prod.
"With the fall of Wall Street, investors in the Gulf were quick to withdraw their funds. Since local investment opportunities are limited, a lot of liquid wealth had accumulated there.
"Groups like Hizbullah, Al-Qaeda and Hamas are well aware of the opportunity at hand – and since 2008 they have stepped-up their fundraising efforts, particularly during the Hajj, after Eid Al-Adha."
The report cites Lebanese sources as confirming that Hizbullah is still funding the rehabilitation of southern Lebanon following the 2006 wars.

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For Israel Apartheid Week

Arab-Israeli duo set to sing for peace at Eurovision contest
Lyrics of planned song are in Hebrew, Arabic and English
By Anna Sussman
Daily Star staff
Wednesday, March 04, 2009

BEIRUT: The same week as American Secretary of State Hilary Clinton declared a two-state solution "inescapable" on a visit to Israel, and just weeks after its voters elected the most right-wing government in recent memory, Israel submitted its selection for the popular Eurovision song contest. Their choice, dubbed a "Jewish-Arab duo" by the press, will sing a "peace song" chosen by Israelis.

The duo consists of Achinoam Nini, a Jewish singer better known abroad as "Noa," and Mira Awad, a Christian Arab Israeli. The peace song received the most votes in text messages from among four selections the duo performed on state television and from a national jury. The peace song is called "Einaiych"; its lyrics ("And when I cry, I cry for both of us. My pain has no name. And when I cry, I cry to the merciless sky and say: There must be another way") speak of a hopeful alternative to the unsuccessful military and diplomatic approaches tried in the past.

Cultural initiatives that bring Arabs and Israelis together are often lauded as a parallel "peace corps," a way to speak a "common language" of music, art, literature, cuisine or some such. Some artists, such as Chromeo, an electrofunk duo from Montreal made up of a Jewish singer and Lebanese keyboardist, see music as perhaps the only possible way forward. Their joking description of themselves on their Myspace page, "the only successful Arab/Jew partnership since the dawn of human culture," is nonetheless an incisive comment on the epic failure of Palestinians and Israelis to find a just and lasting solution to a 60-year-old conflict.

Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said launched an Arab-Israeli orchestra, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, together more than a decade ago. While a concert of theirs drew Israelis to Ramallah in 2005, and the group has toured all over the Arab world, its existence does little to mitigate the stark power imbalance between the two sides. ... Israeli Arabs make up about 20 percent of the population in the Jewish state.

The peace song's lyrics are in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

The announcement that she was to represent Israel came during the three-week war in the Gaza Strip in January. Awad was urged to step down in protest against the offensive that eventually killed more than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. She responded to her critics by saying that "There were people who supported us, and I would seize on those."

Her co-star Nini told Israel's Channel One television that "People want to believe in something, how much can you just watch the horrors?"

Nini, a Yemeni Jew who was born in Israel but raised in New York, returned to Israel after high school and did her military service there. She has also played with other Arab artists, including the Algerian rai singer Khaled, Reem Banna, and previously has recorded with Awad. They made a Youtube video of "We Can Work it Out," by the Beatles.

Israel's President Shimon Peres said he admired the duo, Israel's first mixed ethnic entry to the contest in decades, "for what they are doing for their people and the sake of peace." He also called Noa "the voice of Israel...."

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Iran leader: Obama taking wrong path over 'cancerous' Israel

Some Gems from Iran:
Iran's top authority said on Wednesday U.S. President Barack Obama was pursuing the same "wrong path" as George W. Bush in supporting Israel and
described the Jewish state as a "cancerous tumor."
The comments by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on policy in the Islamic Republic, are likely to disappoint the new U.S. administration which wants to engage Iran but has called on Tehran to "unclench its fist."
"Even the new president of America, who has come to power with slogans about changing Bush's policies, is defending state terrorism by talking about unconditional commitment to Israel's security," Khamenei said.
Khamenei, speaking at a conference on the Palestinian issue in Tehran, said Obama was following the same "wrong path" of his predecessor in the White House.
"Another big mistake is to say that the only way to save the Palestinian nation is by negotiations," Khamenei said.
"Negotiations with whom? With an occupying and bullying regime, who does not believe in any other principle other than force? ... Or negotiations with America and Britain who committed the biggest sin in creating and supporting this cancerous tumor ... ?" he added.
"The way to salvation [for Palestinians] is standing firm and resisting," the supreme leader said.
Khamenei also said the Holocaust, in which six million Jews died at the hands of the Nazis, was used to "usurp" Palestinian land and said the West and Israel showed the weakness of their cause by not allowing anyone to question the Holocaust.
Ahmadinejad, who previously caused Western ire by saying the Holocaust was a "myth", said: "The story of the Holocaust, a nation without a homeland and a homeland without a nation ... are the big lies of our era."
"The continuation of the Zionist regime even on one inch of the land of Palestine, because of the nature of that regime, means the continuation of crime, occupation, threat and insult to the nations," the president told the conference.

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Lebanese celebrate engagement of mass-murder Samir Kuntar

Samir Kuntar murdered three innocent people and a policeman in a 1979 raid. In a shameful and inexplicable deal, he was freed last year, along with others in exchange for the dead bodies of abducted Israeli soldiers Edlad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. Now he is marrying a Lebanese society princess and the cream of Lebanese society is celebrating. Mabrouk. ya Samir.

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Why so few prisoners in Cast Lead?

This answers, in part, one of the riddles of Operation Cast Lead - why so few Hamas terrorists were captured. It underlines some very serious failures. The object of a military operation is not to capture ground, but to neutralize and eliminate enemy forces, either by capturing them or killing them or causing mass desertions. Hamas was able to emerge from the operation with virtually all its forces intact and therefore Operation Cast Lead cannot be considered a tactical or strategic victory of the IDF.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 16:13 03/03/2009       
Which IDF unit captured more prisoners in Gaza and why?
By Amos Harel
Separate Israel Defense Forces units took vastly different numbers of Palestinian prisoners during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, internal IDF inquiries reveal.
Yet in the end, the army captured fewer than 200 Palestinians, most of whom were freed immediately after their preliminary interrogations in the field. Fewer than 30 Gazans, mostly Hamas members, were transferred to prisons in Israel for further investigation by the Shin Bet security service.
The Paratroops Brigade, which fought in the northwest part of the Gaza Strip, took 128 Palestinians prisoner during the hostilities. The Golani infantry brigade, which operated in the northeast sector of Gaza City as well as its Sajaiyeh quarter and the Jabalya refugee camp, arrested only 15 prisoners throughout the entire operation - or by some counts, even fewer: Since some of the prisoners were released almost immediately after being arrested, there is uncertainty about the final number.
Before the start of the operation, the IDF made preparations to accommodate thousands of Palestinian prisoners, including establishing camps for the captives on the Gaza border and even a new prison facility on a base in the south.
The low number of prisoners seems to reflect the way Hamas fought. Most Hamas members preferred to retreat when the IDF moved into Gaza City and hide in neighborhoods where the IDF was not operating. Most of those who nevertheless decided to seek a fight with the IDF were killed or wounded.
However, another explanation is related to the IDF's combat methods, which involved very heavy firepower.
A senior officer in the IDF's Southern Command said that "the differences in the numbers of prisoners stem from the differences between the sectors. The paratroopers waged a series of offensive actions in which they advanced along a front of several kilometers, surrounded Hamas forces and surprised them. Thus they also took more prisoners."
In contrast, he said, Golani conducted one initial offensive and was then engaged mainly in defending the territory it had seized against Hamas' attempts to regain it. "In that situation, you attack and kill whoever is advancing toward you. Therefore, they had fewer opportunities to take prisoners."
However, he added, Golani did discover 50 arms-smuggling tunnels and dozens of booby-trapped houses.
But an officer who served in Gaza, though not in the Paratroops Brigade, offered a different explanation. "To some extent, it depends on the commander's attitude," he said. "The paratroopers' approach was more disciplined and orderly than that of some of the other brigades."
This was also reflected, he said, in the fact that the paratroopers destroyed fewer houses and suffered fewer casualties - the latter being due to the fact that they were more careful about taking cover and wearing helmets. Other brigades, he explained, gave junior officers more leeway, whereas in the Paratroops, senior officers supervised their juniors more closely.

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Radical Muslim attacks on Bangladesh publisher Salahuddin Shoaib CHoudhoury

[Shalahuddin Shoaib Choudhoury is under attack in Bangladesh for challenging radical Islam. He has been brutalized by authorities and hoodlums]
[by email]
After 6 days of attack on the office of Weekly Blitz newspaper by armed hooligans belong to ruling party in Bangladesh, members of law enforcing agencies are reluctant in taking any action, as some high ups in the government and police administration instructed the investigation officer not to 'harass' any of the accused in this case as they belong to the ruling party.
On February 22, 35-40 armed terrorists belonging to the ruling party, led by Ruhul Amin attacked the office of Blitz newspaper. They instructed the caretaker named Anwar of the commercial center named Skylark Point [where the Blitz office is located] to lock the outside gate and continued their notorious actions in the broad day light for hours in presence of  members of law enforcing and various intelligence agencies. The CCTV of the building was also put switched off by the management of the building as the attackers were influential and notorious goons belonging to Bangladesh Awami League.
Despite lodging of a case more than 5 days back [Case No. 65, under section 143, 448, 323, 342, 384, 380, 427 and 506], members of law enforcing agencies in Bangladesh are showing extreme reluctance in arresting any of the attackers, mostly belonging to the ruling party, who attacked the office of Weekly Blitz on Sunday [February 22, 2009], physically assaulted the editor and other members, abused the female staff and looted laptop and other valuables in broad day light, in presence of One Shamim from DGFI [Directorate General of Forces Intelligence]. Members of law enforcing agencies were witnessing the incident silently as the attackers were mostly activists and members of the ruling party in Bangladesh.
Others who were in the gang are identified as Ruhul Amin, Shintu, Liton, Yunus, Anwar, Siraj, Lavlu, Kajol etc. According to police sources, most of them were thugs belonging to the ruling party.
At 10am Sunday, 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 belonging to Bangladesh's ruling Awami League. Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is now under medical treatment for eye, neck, and other injuries those he suffered in the attack. The renewed violence marks the first against him since he was abducted by Bangladesh's dreaded Rapid Action Battalion in March 2008. It may be mentioned here that, the military backed interim regime withdrew police protection from the residence of the Blitz editor in May last year.
A large group of armed hooligans, led by one Shamim introducing himself to be an official of DGFI stormed Blitz premises and attacked newspaper staff until they found the editor. They locked the editor in a room and continued various forms of physical assaults thus abusing him to be a 'Mossad Agent', 'Israeli Agent' etc. Culprits are continuing to occupy the Blitz office.
Meanwhile, one of the leaders of the attacker's gang named Ruhul Amin is continuing to give threats to the Weekly Blitz editors and other members of the newspaper on immediately withdrawing the case. In a phone call, Ruhul Amin said, 'I give you people only 24 hours time. Withdraw the case; otherwise our next target is Choudhury's residence.'
Earlier a person named Advocate Shintu, claiming to be the advisor of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, phoned the Blitz editor and demanded TK. 500,000 [US$ 8,400 approximately] as extortion. Shintu also told the Blitz editor that, he is one of the decision makers helping Sheikh Hasina in appointing her cabinet colleagues.
Weekly Blitz tried to find the reason behind reluctance of police in taking any action against the culprits as to why the attackers are yet to be arrested. On condition of anonymity, a source in police said, 'We have already become captive in the grips of the political government and its cadres. We can watch crime, but cannot take actions. Because, if we take any action against those party activists, then we shall face various forms of departmental harassments and humiliations.'
An official of Weekly Blitz contacted some of the senior officials in Bangladesh Police, including the inspector general as well as Commission of Police [Dhaka] and informed them about lodging of the case on February 22, 2009.. Copy of the FIR [First Information Report] was also sent to those officials with the appeal of initiating immediate investigation into the matter and arresting the culprits.
But, none of these senior officials are taking any action in this regard. It is learnt that, several influential leaders belong to the ruling party are continuing to call the police officers asking the reason of recording the case. They are also warning the police officers of severe consequence if any of the accused in the case are arrested or interrogated.
When contacted, an officer on duty at Paltan Police Station told Weekly Blitz that, they have specific instructions of neither investigating the case nor arresting anyone as the accused are from the ruling party.
Since installation of government led by Bangladesh Awami League, reign of terror is established throughout the country by musclemen and hooligans belonging to student's wing, youth wing, volunteer's wing and other pro-ruling party elements in Bangladesh.
Weekly Blitz editor and other staffs of the newspaper have made an appeal to the media community in the country and in the world for their kind and immediate help in this regard.
Journalist, Columnist, Author & Peace Activist
Skype: shoaibnoca
Editor & Publisher, Weekly Blitz
PEN USA Freedom to Write Award 2005; AJC Moral Courage Award 2006
Key to the Englewood City, USA [Highest Honor] 2007; Monaco Media Award, 2007

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

British Science Museums refuge to boy to boycott bullies

The question in Boycott Israel initiatives is never between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian. It is always between being fair and decent versus allowing yourself to be used in a vile propaganda campaign. Therefore, when authorities decide against a boycott they say something like:
"The Science Museum is aware that a number of groups and individuals have publicly criticized the museum for holding this event. The museum is an apolitical organization and this is a scientific event sponsored by an organization from a country with which the UK has normal diplomatic relations.
"Having considered the issue very carefully, and while fully respecting the right for everyone to express their views, the Science Museum believes that not to proceed with the event would mean taking a political stand, which would be wholly inappropriate," the statement concluded
This is the sort of apologia one must make in a totalitarian dictatorship for trying to teach science in an objective way. "But surely comrade, science should be above politics!"
UK museums won't boycott Israeli exhibition
Mar. 3, 2009
jonny paul, jpost correspondent , THE JERUSALEM POST
Pro-Palestinian activists are expected to turn out in force Thursday at London and Manchester's Science Museums to demonstrate against a science day event for high school students that will look at the contribution of Israeli science to the world.
Organized by the Zionist Federation of the UK, some of Israel's leading scientists will talk to over 1,000 students, from an array of social and religious backgrounds, at Israel Science Day.
The 11th and 12th grade students will listen to lectures, presentations and take part in workshops with the Israeli scientists, who herald from all of Israel's leading universities.
An exhibition of innovative Israeli products that have impacted on the world will also be a part of the day.
The event is to raise awareness of the innovative and vital contribution of Israeli science to the lives of people around the world and to encourage students to study science subjects at university.
In a letter published in The Guardian newspaper last month, around 400 pro-Palestinian academics called for the museum to cancel the event as it promotes Israeli universities "whose research was used in the country's military campaign in Gaza" and are "complicit in the Israeli occupation and in the policies and weaponry so recently deployed to such disastrous effect in Gaza."
Signatories included Mona Baker, an Egyptian academic at Manchester University who fired two Israeli academic from the editorial board of her journal in 2002; Steven Rose, from the Open University, who was one of the first to promote the idea of a boycott of Israeli academia in 2002, and Jonathan Rosenhead, a London School of Economics academic who recently returned from a trip to Gaza with the Free Gaza movement, where he met with Hamas officials.
In a statement, the Science Museum said the event had been planned for nearly a year and has no political theme.
"It is aimed at all secondary schools, the majority of which are non-Jewish. Scientists speaking at the event include a marine biologist, a physicist who works on experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at Cern, a nanotechnology expert, a water scientist and a geneticist," the statement said.
It continued by saying the museum stood by its decision to host the event: "The Science Museum is aware that a number of groups and individuals have publicly criticized the museum for holding this event. The museum is an apolitical organization and this is a scientific event sponsored by an organization from a country with which the UK has normal diplomatic relations.
"Having considered the issue very carefully, and while fully respecting the right for everyone to express their views, the Science Museum believes that not to proceed with the event would mean taking a political stand, which would be wholly inappropriate," the statement concluded.
Lior Ben Dor, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in London, said that "science transcends borders and continents and therefore, one does not need to be a great scientist to understand that the Israel bashers have crossed the border towards insanity."
A letter from leading Jewish and non-Jewish scientists opposing the call to cancel the event will be published in the Independent newspaper on Thursday.

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US Opening to Syria: US officials to visit

Hillary Clinton announced that United States officials will soon be visitng Syria. Before you get too upset about this however (or enthusiastic, depeneding on which side you may be taking), please note that the officials in question are Jeffrey Feltman, acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, and Daniel Shapiro, the senior official for the Middle East on the National Security Council staff.
Feltman was nearly thrown out of Syria. He so angered the Syrian government that at one point State Department security officials were concerned that Damascus had ordered his assassination.
It is not clear if the envoys will come bearing gifts or warnings or both. The US could offer Syria the Golan Heights and Lebanon in return for support in Iraq and in the Israeli- Palestinian peace pocess and reiging in terror. A realistic assessment of the Lebanese situation may conclude that there is nothing to save there in any case, as the March 14 movement is beaten or silent. As for Israel, the United States can point out that Israel was trying to negotiate a peace deal with Syria in any case.

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Clinton: US will stand by any Israeli government

It is hard to know what this promise is worth.
Last update - 11:26 03/03/2009    
Clinton tells Peres: U.S. will stand by any Israeli government
By The Associated Press
Tags: israel news, hillary clinton
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday told President Shimon Peres that the Obama administration would stand by any Israeli government now being forged.
"We will work with the government of Israel that represents the democratic will of the people of Israel," Clinton said after meeting Peres.
Clinton stressed the U.S.' unrelenting commitment to Israel's security and said rocket fire at Israel from militants in Gaza must stop.

"There is no doubt that any nation, including Israel, cannot stand idly by while its territory and people are subjected to rocket attacks," said the secretary of state.
Clinton's morning meeting with Peres was the first of a two-day round of talks scheduled with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on her first trip to the region as the top U.S. diplomat.
The secretary of state arrived in Jerusalem on Monday evening from the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where she pledged $900 million in U.S. aid at an international donors conference for rebuilding the Gaza Strip after Israel's offensive against its Hamas rulers.
On Tuesday she was scheduled to meet Israeli leaders in Jerusalem, including Prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. On Wednesday, she is to call on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.
Speaking at the Sharm el-Sheikh conference, Clinton said the Obama
administration was committed to pushing intensively to find a way for Israelis and Palestinians to exist peacefully in separate states, and called for urgent action to forge a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.
Netanyahu plans to tell Clinton during their talks later Tuesday that his government will continue peace talks with the Palestinians, Likud MK Silvan Shalom said.
"I think that Hillary Clinton, when she comes today, will find Benjamin Netanyahu prepared to continue to hold negotiations, not only on economic projects but also political negotiations, a political process," said Shalom,.
That message would mark a change in the hard-line Likud leader's long-stated position that peace talks are a waste of time because of the weakness of the Palestinian leadership.
He has suggested in the past he would instead invest in the Palestinian economy while continuing Israeli settlement in the West Bank indefinitely.
But Netanyahu appears to have altered his stance, at least outwardly, since Israel's national election last month, after which he was chosen to lead the country's next government. Freezing peace talks would set Israel up for a clash with the international community and the U.S., its most important ally.
Shalom, who spoke to Army Radio, would not say that Netanyahu supports the creation of a Palestinian state, the key goal of U.S.-backed peace negotiations. Netanyahu also openly opposes any division of Jerusalem, a central Palestinian demand.
In addition to discussing the Palestinian situation, Israel will also present Clinton with a series of "red lines" it wants Washington to incorporate into its planned dialogue with Tehran about Iran's nuclear program.

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Gaza rocket hits Ashkelon, Israel files complaint with UN

Last update - 23:10 02/03/2009       
Gaza rocket hits Ashkelon, Israel files complaint with UN
By Anshel Pfeffer and Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz Correspondents and Haaretz Service
Palestinian militants fired a rocket into the southern city of Ashkelon from the Gaza Strip Monday evening. No one was hurt and no damage was caused in the attack.
In light of the ongoing rocket fire from Gaza this week, the parents' association of the Ashkelon school system announced that they would shut down area schools, as the buildings are not properly fortified against rocket attacks.
The parents said that they would go to the schools and physically prevent students from entering the buildings, Israel Radio reported.
Meanwhile, Israel filed an official complaint with the United Nations on Monday over the continuing rocket fire.
"The government of Israel will continue to safeguard its citizens and will do everything in its power to ensure that the situation in the south will not go back to what it was before December 2008," read a letter submitted to the UN Security Council. "Israel will not endure and will respond in kind to attacks against its citizens."
On December 27, 2008, Israel launched a large-scale 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip in efforts to bring an end to the ongoing rocket fire on Israel's southern communities. The operation ended with each side declaring a unilateral truce, but rockets have continued to trickle on Israel's southern communities, and Israel continued responding to the attacks. No formal cease-fire agreement has been reached, as of yet.
Monday evening's rocket attack came after at least 10 rockets fired into Israel, with one Qassam rocket, termed by experts as an "upgraded rocket," exploding in the yard of an Ashkelon school. Another 7 rockets were launched into Israel on Sunday, one of which struck a yard in Sderot. No one was hurt in any of the attacks.

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Media: Kid gloves for Hamas; No Holds Barred for Israel

When the media report a 'fascist' party in Israel, yet call Hamas 'pragmatic', we must ask what double standards are in operation

No one would deny that the outcome of the recent election in Israel was far from ideal. Commentators have rightly emphasised its lack of conclusiveness and the uncertainty this brings. Not to mention that it looks increasingly likely that the person with the most votes won't end up at the helm.

At the same time, by the way the results were reported in some sections of the media, you could be forgiven for thinking that Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party came in first, rather than third, and that it garnered 90% of the Israeli public's vote, rather than 12%. You could also be forgiven for thinking that the prospect of a Likud-led coalition ought to be as feared as the prospect of Armageddon. After all, Israel's Likud party, combined with Yisrael Beiteinu, is surely a recipe for the most extreme political force ever to emerge in that liberal haven that is the Middle East.

In any case, the outcome got a unanimous thumbs-down, with the Guardian even claiming that it threatened to ruin Obama's entire foreign policy in the Middle East, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. This caused me to cast my mind back to another election altogether – the Palestinian parliamentary election in January 2006. Hamas won a decisive victory over Fatah in Gaza, leaving the international community to ponder how it was going to sit around the table with a party whose signature policy is indiscriminate suicide bombing in public places.

How did the media respond back then? Did editorials predict the end of all things good and bemoan the state of Palestinian politics? Not really. The Guardian, while somewhat apprehensive, said that the Hamas victory "may bring new opportunities to the immense task of building peace between two peoples who have been fighting for far too long in the same small country". The Independent was adamant that "The democratic voice of the Palestinian people has been heard. And now we must deal with the new reality." The Daily Telegraph's editorial was titled, "The west and Hamas must talk to each other" and opined, "there is much to be said for engaging with Hamas." Only the Times exhibited extreme caution, claiming that the outcome was, "a huge blow to the peace process".

So, when radicals come third in Israel, it puts everything in jeopardy and Israeli society 'has to take a hard look at itself" (Jonathan Freedland). But when extremists win by a landslide in Gaza, then there are still signs of hope; besides, the Palestinian people have spoken loud and clear and who are we in the west to question them?

I also noticed that journalists covering the Israeli election have seemed very concerned about Lieberman and his party being "fascist" and "racist". But this is not terminology I recall them applying three years ago to Hamas, which, unquestionably, has its fair share of fascists and racists. A case of such a journalist in point is Ali Abunimah: in his response to the Israeli election, he lambasted the "proto-fascist Yisrael Beiteinu" and its "racist" leader. And yet, if you scour his article from three years ago about Hamas' electoral victory, you won't find a single word critical of the group, let alone accusations of fascism or racism. The mainstream media followed a similar pattern, labelling Hamas merely as "hard line" (The Independent) and even "increasingly pragmatic" (Financial Times, January 27) in 2006.

This isn't the first time the media have demonstrated a blind spot for the true nature of Hamas. Just Journalism's report on coverage of the recent Gaza conflict shows that there is a disinclination to acknowledge Hamas' fundamentally illiberal and terrorist profile. For example, we are constantly assured by commentators that Hamas' Charter (stridently against peace, committed to Israel's destruction and against sharing land) no longer holds the relevance it once did and should not be cited to justify Israel's refusal to deal with the movement. However, after casting his vote in 2006, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar vowed publicly, "[Hamas] will not change a single word in its covenant". And yet this choice quote did not find itself cherry-picked for the following day's editorials to demonstrate Hamas' blatant aversion to peace. Compare this with the dependable recounting of the Moldovan ex-bouncer's pledge to make life difficult for Israel's Arab population by demanding a "loyalty oath".

Even Peter Tatchell (hardly Israel's biggest fan) in his recent post here about Hamas totalitarianism, points out that "while progressive opinion is justifiably quick to condemn Israel, it is oddly silent when Palestinians are being persecuted by fellow Palestinians. Why the double standards?" Why indeed.

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Fair Witness Questions America Magazine Article on Israeli Elections

Fair Witness Questions America Magazine Article on Israeli Elections

Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East questions America Magazine's editorial judgment in publishing "Arab Christians Assess Election Results" (Signs of the Times, March 2d 2009).

"Fair Witness shares the concern about MK Avigdor Lieberman," says Rev. Msgr. Dennis Mikulanis,  pastor of San Rafael Parish, San Diego, California, "but this article features inflammatory quotations which do not help explain either the political system in Israel or the views and status of Lieberman's party, which recently won 15 of 120 Knesset seats."

The article contains a quote by an Arab Israeli Christian saying there is no difference between Hamas and Lieberman.

"To publish a quote like this and then let it stand without comment is pretty outrageous," according to Msgr. Mikulanis. "How many innocent people has Lieberman killed? How many Qassam rockets has he thrown unprovoked at civilian targets? When did he call for the destruction of Arab nations"?

The article also published a quote by an Arab Israeli journalist saying "We now have a fascist party in the Knesset and none of the large parties have spoken out against them."

In addition to Labor Party condemnation (Education Minister Yuli Tamir called Lieberman's positions "immoral") senior members of Likud and Kadima have condemned Lieberman. For example, when MK Lieberman discussed his plan to make Arab towns in Israel part of a Palestinian state, Prime Minister Olmert immediately distanced himself, saying Israeli Arabs were integral to Israeli society. Former Likud leader Ariel Sharon had previously condemned Lieberman's policies saying "We regard [the Israeli Arabs] as part of the State of Israel." Last month, Nachman Shai, one of Kadima's senior members, stated "we disagree with [Lieberman] on Israeli Arabs."

"Surely the editors of America know that mainstream Israeli politicians have over time repeatedly condemned Lieberman's extreme policies," points out Fr. James Loughran, S.A., Director, Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute. Why didn't the America editors make that clear?"

"The Yisrael Beitenu Party has extreme views which are openly and rightly opposed by most Israelis. But publishing a quote calling it 'fascist' makes the article seem more likely to inflame people's emotions against Israel than to inform," adds Dr. Eugene Fisher, retired Associate Director, Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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Rabbinical incitement: IDF tries to lock barn door after horse departed

The inciteful propaganda of extremists, released to the world, helped to sabotage Israel's image. Too late, the IDF is trying to curb these activities. Of course, the limitations do not extend to what the government funded rabbis teach in the Yeshivot.
Last update - 09:06 02/03/2009       
After Haaretz probe, IDF limits rabbinate activities
By Amos Harel
The Israel Defense Forces Personnel Directorate released a document limiting the military rabbinate's involvement in educational activities, after a Haaretz report exposed the right-wing political content mixed with religious material the rabbinate was distributing to soldiers.
"We must display the utmost caution and sensitivity," a top IDF official said. "When the IDF deals with values, it must refrain from bringing in ideological exhortation or contamination by political content."
The official said the army would be monitoring whether the rabbinate follows the new guidelines.
"It's very important for soldiers to be familiar with ethical issues," he said. "But mistakes were made in this process, and the head of the personnel directorate has spoken personally to whomever he needed to."
Last month the Defense Ministry criticized a controversial booklet the rabbinate distributed during Operation Cast Lead, which included articles by the respected and well-known rabbi Shlomo Aviner saying it was occasionally necessary to show cruelty during fighting and warning against giving up an inch of the Land of Israel.

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Hitler on Youtube

What is puzzling to me, is that this harmless comedy spoof attacted attention of outraged Holocaust survivors. But Youtube is chock full of Holocaust Denial videos, videos of Nazi era conquests, real videos of Hilter, videos of the World War II German National Anthem, videos of Wehrmacht and SS and the Englandlied and the Panzerlied, all attractants for Germans and others who leave comments about the "Judentum"  and aver that Hitler had the right idea. Yet nobody protests and Google allows this blatantily racist propaganda.

That really is "No Laughing Matter."

No laughing matter?

Mar. 1, 2009

We already knew, thanks to the Internet, that Hitler was a Dallas Cowboys fan and that he lost his Xbox account. Now it turns out he hates the parking situation in Tel Aviv, and is infuriated about a 250-shekel ticket.

This is YouTube Hitler, the star of countless viral video parodies and the centerpiece of a renewed debate about the Holocaust, humor, and good taste.

The parodies feature a snippet from a German miniseries about the Third Reich called Downfall. During the four-minute clip, a defeated Hitler, as portrayed by actor Bruno Ganz, rants and raves before an audience of frightened henchmen. Parodists supply their own subtitles, and the results are a Web sensation.

The videos were back in the news after someone posted a version titled "Hitler is looking for a parking spot." After his aides explain how they were ticketed by Tel Aviv police, "Hitler" aims his fury at the city's mayor, Ron Huldai, and its elected officials.

"All of this money goes to this corrupt city council!" Hitler screams. "These inspectors, they are all one big mafia! They are worse than the SS.!" Okay, maybe you had to be there. Or maybe not. Holocaust survivors asked YouTube to remove the video. In the meantime, the Hebrew version has been viewed 49,000 times; the English version 110,000.

FOR SOME, the Holocaust and the Nazi era are levity-free zones. Hogan's Heroes, The Producers, and the "Soup Nazi" episode of Seinfeld each managed to offend by daring (stooping?) to reduce Nazism to a punch line. Last May syndicated columnist Susan Estrich stated the case against Holocaust humor in writing about the YouTube videos. "Hitler is not funny. Killing six million Jews is no joke," she wrote. "Sixty years, almost to the day, from the founding of Israel out of the ashes of the Holocaust, can it be that putting words to the rant of the most evil man of our time is the key to Internet fame, if not fortune?"

It's hard to argue with Estrich if the very sight of Hitler causes pain or anguish. But others have tried to make a case for such humor if its goal or effect is to deflate the Nazis or ridicule Hitler. Call it the Mel Brooks defense. When he invokes the Nazis, says Brooks, the joke is on Hitler.

"One of my lifelong jobs has been to make the world laugh at Adolf Hitler," Brooks explained recently in the PBS series on American humor, Make 'Em Laugh. "Because how do you get even with the man? How do you get even with him? There is only one way to get even. You have to bring him down, with ridicule."

I can think of other ways of "getting even" (hunting down his collaborators, making Jewish babies, and preventing future genocides spring to mind), but Brooks' point is well taken. The same philosophy is behind Purim - the one Jewish holiday in which historical calamities and near-misses are treated not with reverence and dread, but with something like satire. Haman was no less a villain than Pharoah or the Roman legions. Yet, unlike Passover or Tisha B'Av, Purim has a carnival tone. It's as if the Sages were saying, "There are many responses to tragedy. Often we cry, but sometimes we need to laugh. Both help us remember and heal."

But the YouTube videos are not parodies of Hitler, per se. Rather, they are a parody of whatever fixation is being expressed in the subtitles. When Hitler rages against the Cowboys for having dropped a playoff game against the Giants in 2007, the joke is on the obsessive fan whose inner monsters are unleashed by Tony Romo's stumbles. (As one fan commented on the Cowboys video: "This is AWESOME! It explains *exactly* what it was like to be a Cowboy fan and lose this season!") When Hitler loses it because he can't get his video game to work, it's a joke about nerds, not Nazis.

(The joke wouldn't work nearly so well if Ganz's performances weren't so over the top. The videos also work as parody of television dramas.) I am personally much more offended by "serious" people who invoke the Nazi specter in political discourse, whether by using the odious phrase "Judenrein" to refer to the dismantling of Jewish settlements, or try to close down debate on how to confront Iran by comparing the dreadful Ahmadinejad to Hitler.

Still, when Israelis enlist Hitler in a parody, all bets are off. So long as there are living survivors, and the wounds of the Shoah remain fresh, there are no benign satires on or involving Nazism. I can well understand the pain of a survivor who imagines a young Israeli cavalierly enlisting Hitler in a spoof.

And yet, there is something ironic, wildly subversive, and yes, hilarious, about Hitler sweeping his hand over a map of "Tel Aviv" and complaining only about the lack of parking garages. In Hebrew, yet! If the very idea of an overcrowded Jewish state is not revenge on Hitler, then nothing is.

The writer is editor in chief of the New Jersey Jewish News.


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Nobody really knows how much anti-Semitism there is in Europe

Remember this next time you read about a "wave of anti-Semitic attacks" in Europe.

'EU nations fail to track anti-Semitism'

Mar. 2, 2009
Associated Press , THE JERUSALEM POST

Most EU countries fail to compile statistics on anti-Semitism, a new report says, complicating efforts to gauge the level of animosity toward Jews within the 27-nation bloc.

Often, anti-Semitic incidents do not make it into official records because they are not labeled as such or because victims or witnesses do not report them, the Vienna-based European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights said in Monday's report.

"The agency's data collection work shows that most member states do not have official or even unofficial data and statistics on anti-Semitic incidents," the report said, adding that even when information is compiled, it often cannot be used for comparative purposes because it is collected in different ways.

The agency did not blatantly single out states that are failing to track anti-Semitic incidents. But its breakdown of country-specific data - both official and unofficial - only included Austria, Belgium, Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden.

It also gave recent examples of anti-Semitic incidents in other EU countries, indicating the problem is widespread.

The agency said it did not have enough information to calculate an overall EU trend in anti-Semitic activity for the period between 2001 to 2008. But it noted that the data available showed a decrease in such offenses in 2007 and 2008.

In France, for example, where the Interior Ministry collects and compiles data, the number of officially recorded anti-Semitic incidents was lower in 2007 - 386 - than at any year since 2001 when the tally was 219, the report said. The number of anti-Semitic violent acts and threats in France peaked at 974 in 2004 after reaching 936 in 2002.

German government statistics show that the number of anti-Semitic incidents decreased to 1,561 in 2007 after peaking at 1,682 in 2005. In 2006, authorities recorded 1,662 such incidents. The low since 2001 occurred in 2003, with 1,226 incidents.

Dutch authorities reported that 50 out of 216 discriminatory incidents in 2007 were anti-Semitic in nature - about half as many as in 2006. In Britain, the Community Security Trust recorded 541 anti-Semitic incidents in 2008, compared to 561 in 2007 and 594 a year earlier.

The report also revealed discrepancies between official and unofficial numbers.

Official Austrian statistics, for example, show that the number of anti-Semitic offenses doubled in 2007 compared to the two previous years - from 8 in 2005 and 2006, to 15 in 2007. Unofficial NGO data, however, found 125 anti-Semitic incidents in 2006 and 62 in 2007.

The report also said that since Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, a number of assaults against Jews, attacks on synagogues and sporadic violence have mainly been reported by the media in France, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and Britain.

Last month, a survey for the US based Anti-Defamation League conducted in Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Spain and Britain found nearly a third of 3,500 Europeans polled blame Jews for the global economic meltdown and that a greater number think Jews have too much power in the business world.

This article can also be read at

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Yemen: Fine for killing Jews

Last update - 11:05 02/03/2009       
Yemeni court fines man $250,000 for fatal shooting of local Jew
By The Associated Press
A Yemeni court has ruled that a Muslim on trial for killing a Yemeni Jew is mentally incompetent and ordered he to pay a fine for the fatal shooting.
The slaying of Jewish teacher Moshe Yaish Nahari last December in Omran, north of the capital, San'a, raised fears of anti-Semitic attacks across the country.
Nahari was shot to death in a market in the city of Rida, after the alleged murderer called on him to convert to Islam.
Nahari has four sisters living in Israel, who left for Yemen as soon as they heard of the tragedy.
Monday's ruling says the defendant - Abdel Aziz Yehia Hamoud al-Abdi, a retired pilot in the Yemeni air force - is mentally unstable. It orders he pay a fine of 50.5 million riyals, or about $250,000.
Lawyer Khaled al-Anisi representing the slain teacher says the court showed prejudice and warned the light ruling opened doors to attacks that could lead to the eviction of the Jewish community from Yemen.

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Lindsay Lohan said converting to Judaism for DJ girlfriend

Actress Lindsay Lohan is planning to convert to Judaism to show her committment to her Jewish girlfriend D.J. Samantha Ronson, according to the British Daily Mail Online.
Lohan, 22, announced on her facebook page that she planned to eschew her Catholic faith and then flew to London to attend the bar mitzvah of Ronson's half brother, Joshua, according to report.
"She's exploring Judaism right now. She's explored the Church of Scientology, she tried Kabbalah, and now this. I think it's just another phase," her estranged father Michael Ronson, who became a born again Christian and then minister after a period in jail, was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail.
"But either way, she's involving God in her life, and I'm happy about that," he said.

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Civil marriage issue is a non-issue - or is it?

Yair Lapid provides a supposed way out of the civil marriage controversy. What Lapid does not mention, is whether these unions that he conducts are recognized and recorded by the Ministry of Interior. The civil marriage legislation demanded by Avigdor Lieberman and the Yistral Beiteinu party might be a serious issue in forming a right-wing coalition government.
The actual stand of the rabbinical authorities is "no compromise" - not even for the meaningless idea of allowing non-Jews to marry in civil ceremony. The "Posek Hador" Rabbi Eliashiv, has ruled definitively that there must be no compromise whatever. However, Shas politicians, who are not known for their honesty, have agreed to sweep the issue under the rug.
Lapid mentions Maimonides. He will be glad to know that Maimonides himself attacked the elders of the community for money gouging, provoking the Maimonidean controversy that lasted until opponents provoked Christians into burning the works of Maimonides.
It is about money, and power of course. Moses not only married a gentile. He married an African, a "Schwartzeh" as the bigots would say.  And his sister Miriam rebuked him for it, and was punished by God for her racism according to the Bible. That is the short history of Jewish bigotry, which should have been finished forever then.
Desire to maintain Rabbinate's monopoly on marriage stems from greed
Yair Lapid
Published:  03.02.09, 00:45 / Israel Opinion
"The problem with you," Rabbi Yona Metzger once told me, "is that you do not keep accurate records of the couples you marry. If you keep going like this, within two or three generations we won't know who's married to whom."

No problem, I told him. I will be glad to maintain such records. Moreover, I am willing to entrust them in your hands. You will receive everything in an orderly manner – the name of the bride, the name of the groom, the names of the parents; everything you need.

"Wonderful idea," the rabbi said with great excitement, "I'll give you a call and we'll discuss it." Ever since then I haven't heard from him, of course.

For years now I've been conducting the wedding ceremonies of couples who chose to avoid the Rabbinate, and for years now I've been trying to explain that this is not a demonstrative act. In every single one of the weddings I conducted, I spoke before the bride and groom arrived, and told the guests in attendance the same three statements: "We are not here today because we are against someone. We have no interest in arguing with anyone. According to Judaism, two witnesses are enough to render a marriage valid, and the person who conducts the ceremony does not have to be a rabbi. Moreover, King David was not married by a rabbi; therefore, the young couple is married in the eyes of God and man.
 This is followed by all the Jewish rituals and blessings, as we thank God for creating love. This is a wonderful idea in my view. The thought that God did not only create the earth, and stones, and Shas Knesset members, but also the abstract things: Love, friendship, and joy.

And if someone thinks this wedding ceremony is invalid, they should not be counting on what I'm saying here – instead, open a copy of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, where one will find a detailed and thorough explanation of how to conduct a Jewish wedding ceremony. You will discover all sorts of beautiful things written by Maimonides, but as you keep reading you will discover that one thing is missing there: Maimonides did not think that everything hinged on the arrival of a representative of the Rabbinate, who expects to receive an envelope containing dollars at the end of the event. According to Maimonides, those who conduct the ceremony are the couple, with a little help from their parents.

Now, you decide which authority on Jewish Law you prefer to listen to – Eli Yishai or Maimonides. Because before someone decides to zealously speak in praise of marriage "in accordance with the religion of Moses and Israel," one would do well to keep in mind that both Moses and Israel (that is, Jacob) married gentiles.

After all, it isn't Jewish Law that our rabbis are concerned with, but rather, they are concerned for their business. The Chief Rabbinate's offices cost us NIS 20 million (roughly $5 million) a year, and we spend NIS 350 million (approximately $90 million) on religious services (not including the funding granted to synagogues, religious councils, and rabbinical courts which are budgeted separately.) To this, add the NIS 600 (roughly $150) marriage license fee, and the giant and flourishing kosher-certificate industry at banquet halls – someone may even ask what exactly they're doing with all this money.
 This money is the only reason why they continue to abuse hundreds of thousands of people while showing rudeness and indifference, and without showing even a hint of the mercy that is the essence of Judaism.

After all, the famous "partnership covenant" is not designated for religious Jews in any case. Only 58% of Israeli couples get married in line with religious law. Nearly half the population – all of whom are Israeli citizens – do not belong to any category that is recognized by the Rabbinate. Aren't we responsible for their fate? Isn't it the State's job to provide them with a fair solution? And what do our rabbis know about themselves that makes them believe nobody would want to use them unless they are forced to do so?


Two personal clarifications on the same matter:
1. Every time this issue came up, quite a few couples turned to me and asked that I conduct their wedding ceremony. I thanked them, but in the past two years I only conduct the ceremonies of people who suffer from a mental disability or Down's Syndrome, as the Rabbinate refuses to marry them.
2. Just so nobody suspects me, heaven forbid, of promoting my personal business enterprise via a news website – this is not a business. I never took a penny from any couple I married. The very idea seems odd to me. The reward for a mitzvah is the mitzvah itself.

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Anti-Semitism in the East: Asia's Jewish myths

Yes, we really are all powerful. And we'll get you too if you are not nice, so watch out!

The Australian

February 11, 2009

A CHINESE bestseller titled The Currency War describes how Jews are planning to rule the world by manipulating the international financial system. The book is reportedly read in the highest government circles. If so, this does not bode well for the international financial system, which relies on well-informed Chinese to help it recover from the present crisis.

Such conspiracy theories are not rare in Asia. Japanese readers have shown a healthy appetite over the years for books such as To Watch Jews is to See the World Clearly, The Next Ten Years: How to Get an Inside View of the Jewish Protocols and I'd Like to Apologise to the Japanese - A Jewish Elder's Confession (written by a Japanese author, of course, under the made-up name of Mordecai Mose). All these books are variations of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Russian forgery first published in 1903, which the Japanese came across after defeating the tsar's army in 1905.

The Chinese picked up many modern Western ideas from the Japanese. Perhaps this is how Jewish conspiracy theories were passed on as well. But Southeast Asians are not immune to this kind of nonsense either. Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamed has said that "the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them." And a recent article in a leading business magazine in The Philippines explained how Jews had always controlled the countries they lived in, including the US today.

In the case of Mahathir, a twisted kind of Muslim solidarity is probably at work. But, unlike European or Russian anti-Semitism, the Asian variety has no religious roots. No Chinese or Japanese has blamed Jews for killing their holy men or believed that their children's blood ended up in Passover matzos. In fact, few Chinese, Japanese, Malaysians, or Filipinos have ever seen a Jew, unless they have spent time abroad.

So what explains the remarkable appeal of Jewish conspiracy theories in Asia? The answer must be partly political. Conspiracy theories thrive in relatively closed societies, where free access to news is limited and freedom of inquiry curtailed. Japan is no longer such a closed society, yet even people with a short history of democracy are prone to believe that they are victims of unseen forces. Precisely because Jews are relatively unknown, therefore mysterious, and in some way associated with the West, they become an obvious fixture of anti-Western paranoia.

Such paranoia is widespread in Asia, where almost every country was at the mercy of Western powers for several hundred years. Japan was never formally colonised, but it too felt the West's dominance, at least since the 1850s, when American ships laden with heavy guns forced the country to open its borders on Western terms.

The common conflation of the US with Jews goes back to the late 19th century, when European reactionaries loathed America for being a rootless society based only on financial greed. This perfectly matched the stereotype of the rootless cosmopolitan Jewish moneygrubber. Hence the idea that Jews run America.

One of the great ironies of colonial history is the way in which colonised people adopted some of the same prejudices that justified colonial rule. Anti-Semitism arrived with a whole package of European race theories that have persisted in Asia well after they fell out of fashion in the West.

In some ways, Chinese minorities in Southeast Asia have shared some of the hostility suffered by Jews in the West. Excluded from many occupations, they too survived by clannishness and trade. They too have been persecuted for not being "sons of the soil". And they too are thought to have superhuman powers when it comes to making money. So when things go wrong, the Chinese are blamed not just for being greedy capitalists, but also, again like the Jews, for being communists, as both capitalism and communism are associated with rootlessness and cosmopolitanism.

As well as being feared, the Chinese are admired for being cleverer than everybody else. The same mixture of fear and awe is often evident in people's views of the US and, indeed, of the Jews. Japanese anti-Semitism is a particularly interesting case.

Japan was able to defeat Russia in 1905 only after a Jewish banker in New York, Jacob Schiff, helped Japan by floating bonds. So The Protocols of the Elders of Zion confirmed what the Japanese already suspected: Jews really did pull the strings of global finance. However, instead of wishing to attack them, the Japanese, being a practical people, decided they would be better off cultivating those clever, powerful Jews as friends.

As a result, during World War II, even as the Germans were asking their Japanese allies to round up Jews and hand them over, dinners were held in Japanese-occupied Manchuria to celebrate Japanese-Jewish friendship. Jewish refugees in Shanghai, though never comfortable, at least remained alive under Japanese protection.

This was good for the Jews of Shanghai. But the very ideas that helped them to survive continue to muddle the thinking of people who really ought to know better by now.

Ian Buruma's latest book is The China Lover.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

iran - carrying a grudge to extremes

One of the issues President Obama will need to overcome and apologize for in opening a dialogue with Iran is the bad press Iran and Persia have gotten in the West. This is evidently a very long term affair, related to Western cultural imperialism in the Middle East and the machinations of highly placed secret Zionists in the historiography industry. .
It seems that the Iranians are still sore about bad press over their invasion of Greece about 2,500 years ago. In the Middle East, a grudge is forever.
Iranians are still sore about Thermopylae - they got bad press from the West. Witness this report from AP and as-Sharq Al-Awsat:
TEHRAN, Iran, (AP) – An adviser to Iran's president on Sunday demanded an apology from a team of visiting Hollywood actors and movie industry officials, including Annette Bening, saying films such as "300" and "The Wrestler" were "insulting" to Iranians.

Without an apology, members of Iran's film industry should refuse to meet with representatives from the nine-member team, said Javad Shamaqdari, the art and cinema adviser to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"In my viewpoint, it is a failure to have an official meeting with one who is insulting," Shamaqdari told The Associated Press.

The film "300," portrays the battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C., in which a force of 300 Spartans held off a massive Persian army at a mountain pass in Greece for three days. It angered many Iranians for the way Persians are depicted as decadent, sexually flamboyant and evil in contrast to the noble Greeks.

The Iranian government has long been convinced that Hollywood, and in particular the Disney studios, are controlled by the international Jew-Zionist conspiracy, and that Mickey and other mice are creations of the devilish Zionists. Add Thucydides and Herodotus to the list of Zionist conspirators. How unfortunate that the benighted Greeks did not appreciate the attempt of the enlightened Persians to bring their advanced civilization to Greece and eliminate the Zionist apartheid regimes there!

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Arab countries try to continue petroleum extortion

Arab and Muslim petrolocracies planned the future on gouging the west with sky-high oil prices. After $150 a barrel oil ruined the world economy, oil prices plumetted. These countries are stuck with budgets that plan for luxuries like artificial islands and atomic weapons programs to wipe out Zionism and America.
In reaction, they are cutting production in order to try to retrieve their loss. Of course, this will only sabotage world economies further and accelerate the search for petroleum alternatives. The long term price of oil, in adjusted dollars is $20 a barrel, and that is fairly close to its fair value, including the highest extraction costs, transportation and reasonable profit. Cutting supplies in a dead market ignores market economics and won't raise the world demand. These countries will discover that the demand for anything is elastic. It's true people need oxygen. But if you raise the price of oxygen to $100 a liter and they can't afford it, most people will just suffocate to death and you won't have any market any more.

CAIRO (AP) - The United Arab Emirates' official news agency says the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company has announced it will cut oil shipments to customers starting in April, a move aimed at shoring up crude prices as the global downturn eats away at demand.
WAM reported Thursday that ADNOC will enact 15 to 17 percent cuts in supplies of its various crude grades, including Murban.
The move comes as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries struggles to reverse a slump in crude prices despite its pledge to cut 4.2 million barrels per day from September production levels.
Several OPEC members say more reductions are needed, as crude still hovers about 70 percent below mid-July highs of almost $150 per barrel.

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Egypt and Hamas: Keep Iran out of the Palestinian problem

The message is clear: Saudi Arabia and Egypt are to form an axis against Iran for controlling the Hamas and preventing Iran from exploiting the Palestinian problem for its own purposes - taking primacy in the Muslim world away from the Sunni Arab countries as a first step to regional hegemony of Iran.
By Tariq Alhomayed
Editor, as-Sharq al-Awsat 
Remarkable and important are the words one could use to describe the speech delivered by the Saudi monarch, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, aimed at Egyptian President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak following the Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation talks between Palestinian factions that took place in Cairo.
There is no doubt that Egypt (and the Egyptian president), which has suffered from the injustice of its brotherly nations, deserves to be congratulated. However, more importantly, we must understand the significance of the Saudi monarch's remarkable speech.
In his speech to the Egyptian president, the Saudi monarch said, "Undoubtedly, the efforts exerted by your Excellency clearly indicate that Egypt of the free and proud people, Egypt of Arabism and Islam, under your wise leadership, has played its hopeful and expected historical role as a government and people." In reference to Egypt the King added, "It has proved, as it is customary, its continuing determination to find a solution for the inter-Palestinian disagreement. Tiredness and weakness have not found a way to the watchful mind of Cairo."
The first point that should be made is that it has become clear that Riyadh and Cairo are the ones that are concerned about all the plotting against the Arab world. Some people think that Saudi Arabia and Egypt are not affected by it; this is nothing but part of an organised plan to harm the region and these two countries.
Moreover, the Saudi monarch's speech shows that there is no rivalry between Riyadh and Cairo with regards to inter-Palestinian reconciliation. Rather, Saudi's interest is on par with Egypt's interest to bring together the Palestinians and prevent the Palestinian Cause from becoming a playing card in the hands of foreign parties.
It is difficult to forget what Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said about Egypt and what the Iranians said about Saudi Arabia after the Israel-Gaza war as part of their organised smear-campaign against the two countries. This is the crux of the matter.
Regarding the Palestinians, the Saudis played their part through the Mecca Agreement. What happened after that happened, and today the Egyptians are completing their historical role with regards to Palestinian reconciliation. The Saudis rushed to say to Cairo that a success for the Egyptians was a success for the Saudis.
In fact, in his historical speech to the Egyptian president, King Abdullah said, "We congratulate your Excellency and our brothers in Egypt and we congratulate ourselves with you as supporters for the issues of Arab and Islamic nations." This demonstrates the clear integration between Saudi Arabia and Egypt and this pleases all rational-minded people.
What is important today is that the Palestinians, from various factions and Hamas especially, prove that they care about reconciliation and its success and adhere to it in spite of all the difficulties that they will face. They must also show that they will prioritise the Palestinian Cause and not one ideology over another or their own limited interests.
If any of the Palestinians thwart Egypt's efforts, they will not be pardoned; after the Mecca Agreement, Hamas realised how shocked many Arabs were at what the movement did regardless of what it said. Accordingly, whoever seeks to weaken dialogue today will bear the consequences tomorrow. Therefore, without any hesitation, Cairo must resort to naming any Arab party that seeks to thwart Palestinian reconciliation, not out of revenge but so that that party may bear the consequences vis-à-vis Arab public opinion. Saudi Arabia must also strive towards this so that those who seek destruction know that they will pay the price.

Tariq Alhomayed
Tariq Alhomayed is the Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, the youngest person to be appointed that position. Mr. Alhomayed has an acclaimed and distinguished career as a Journalist and has held many key positions in the field including; Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, Managing Editor of Asharq Al-Awsat in Saudi Arabia, Head of Asharq Al-Awsat Newspaper's Bureau-Jeddah, Correspondent for Al - Madina Newspaper in Washington D.C. from 1998 to Aug 2000. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs including: the BBC, German TV, Al Arabiya, Al- Hurra, LBC and the acclaimed Imad Live's four-part series on terrorism and reformation in Saudi Arabia. He is also the first Journalist to conduct an interview with Osama Bin Ladin's Mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a BA degree in Media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, and has also completed his Introductory courses towards a Master's degree from George Washington University in Washington D.C. He is based in London.

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Dennis Ross: The Most Important Dossier

Heads up to Dennis Ross, the arch-Zionist villain of Middle East op-ed fiction, from the general manager of Al-Arabiya television, in the Arab world's leading publication.
By Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed

There are many political envoys in the administration of the new American President, Barack Obama. But assigning diplomat Dennis Ross the dossier of Iran and the Gulf means that his [mission] is the most serious and important of all. Despite the importance of the Arab-Israeli conflict and its historic value, it remains confined to a 35-year-old case, counting the years from the last war that changed the political situation. It can continue as it is, with its disputes and wars confined in the area of its conflicts. As for Afghanistan and its neighbor Pakistan, and with them Al-Qaeda organization, it is true that this is a problem capable of exploding but it is similarly confined to its area.
But Iran is the problem number one in the world. It presents a recipe of uranium, religious extremism, and limitless ambitions. It is the most energetic force in managing anarchy and financing wars. It is also accused of being behind the Lebanon turmoil and the emergence of Hamas, and of being the only threat to Iraq as well as to the Gulf nations. Add to this that it is about to give birth to its first nuclear weapon which will make it more dangerous.
The Americans have been suffering from the Iranian Complex since the Khomeini Revolution that has lasted for three restless decades. This has gone to the extent where the United States sees the Iranians in its nightmares and where the bulk of US policies have become geared to how to deal with them everywhere, in such places as Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, the Gulf, Yemen, and Palestine.
Now this file has been turned over to Ross, the man who can be described without hesitation as knowledgeable about all the details of the Iranian affair and the issues linked to it in the region. This will save a lot of time for the American Administration, but it does not mean automatically guaranteeing the sought solution with Iran. Envoy Ross has to perform a miracle that defied five American presidents who ruled for 30 years and devoted much of their time to extinguishing the Iranian fire.
So, will the special envoy be able to contain Iran, or to draft a plan for fighting it or reconciling with it, or making concessions to it? We do not know, but any decision Ross recommends might change the map of the region. It might end a dispute that has dragged on, and consequently open the door to solving the difficult problems of the region in which Iran is definitely involved. Everybody hopes that a good relationship with Tehran will mean peace in the Middle East, and [yet] Ross could be the cause for embroiling the region into more Iranian hegemony and consequently erosion of American power and threats to the Gulf nations, with new wars that will ensue as a result of this. Thus it is no exaggeration to say that Ross is carrying the most important dossier and that he is required to perform a political miracle.

Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed
the general manager of Al -Arabiya television. Mr. Al Rashed is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate degree in mass communications. He has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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Iran: Orchestrated attack on reformists

There is no doubt that the Tehran troglodyte paleocons and extremist Ayatollah groupies are going to pull out all the stops to prevent the accession of a reformist presidency in Iran, even though the Iranian government is in large part a tool of the Ayatollahs. But of which Ayatollahs is it a tool?
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad established a power center that is built on the IRGC and is somewhat independent of more "moderate" Ayatollahs like Rafsanjahni. At the same time, he recruited the backing of more extreme factions represented by Ayatollah Khameinei.
As he is the incumbent, Ahmadinejad is free to use the resources of the state to batter his reformist opponent, Khatami.
The Fight in Tehran Gets Bitterer by the Day
Friday 27 February 2009
By Amir Taheri
As Sharq al-Awsat

Although the Iranian presidential election campaign is not due to open until the end of May, two things are already certain. The campaign has started; and it is unusually dirty. One could expect piles of dirty laundry to be washed in public, affecting major figures of the regime. Even "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenehi, hitherto kept outside the mud hole, is being dragged in.
The first shot was fired last December when the official Islamic New Agency, controlled by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, published a 5000-word article attacking Muhammad Khatami, the former president who has since declared his candidacy in next June's election.
The article, signed by Payam Fazli-Nejad, claimed that Khatami is at the centre of an international conspiracy to bring the Khomeinist revolution to an end and transform the Islamic Republic into a secular state.
According to Fazli-Nejad, the so-called «Bilderberg Group» hatched the "conspiracy" when Khatami attended one of their annual gatherings in a Portuguese resort. According to Fazli-Nejad, the group is part of the global Freemasonry and represents financial interests and political circles that use it as a "secret government of the world."
Although Fazli-Nejad's claim could be dismissed as pure nonsense, they claims found an echo in Iran partly because mullahs have a long history of association with Freemasonry. The Islamist reformer Jamaleddin Asssad-Abadi, known to Arabs as al-Afghani, founded the first Freemason lodge in Iran in the 19th century. Sayyed Hassan Imami, Tehran's Friday Prayer Leader between 1955 and 1979, presided over another Freemason lodge known as "The Brothers."
Obviously encouraged by the Office of the Supreme Guide Ali Khamenehi, the author of the article went on to publish a whole book about what he claims are "secret plans to topple the Islamic Republic through soft subversion."
The book, titled "Knights of the Cultural NATO", includes a number of photographs and photocopies of supposedly confidential documents revealing the alleged "conspiracies" in which the government of the United States is supposed to have played a major part.
It names most of the active figures of the internal opposition of being involved in the "conspiracy" and, in effect, working for US and other NATO intelligence services. The list of those accused amounts to a who-is-who of politicians, journalists, lawyers and human rights activists who try to oppose the system without breaking with it.
The message of the book is clear: the so-called "reformist" camp is an American Trojan horse, brought in to destroy the Khomeinist system.
Last week, the official news agency in Tehran reported that the book, published by the Kayhan Group, which is controlled by Khamenehi, has run into its 10th edition, becoming a major best seller.
Tehran sources claim that the book's best-seller status has been engineered by the government with the purchase of thousands of copies for free distribution among civil servants and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
In an introduction to the book, Kayhan's Editor in Chief, Hussein Shariatmadari, claims that it contains "irrefutable evidence of contacts between the bridgeheads of this group with foreign intelligence services". He seems to ignore that his claim raises a crucial question: if there is "irrefutable evidence", why haven't the authorities have brought no charges against those named in the book?
The response of the accused came last week during a meeting at the home of Ayatollah Abdallah Nuri, a former Minister of the Interior and generally considered as the regime's most serious critic within the Khomeinist establishment. During the meeting, attended by more than 200 "reformist" figures across the board, speaker after speaker denounced the campaign of vilification orchestrated by Khamenehi's office. One speaker, Hashem Aghjari, a hero of the war against Iraq, went further by denouncing Khamenehi by name and calling for the abolition of the post of "Supreme Guide".
A few days later, an even graver charge against Khamenehi came a few days later in an attack by Muhammad Sazgara, a former aide to the "Supreme Guide" and one of the first generation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. Accused of working for US intelligence, Sazgara claimed that Khamenehi himself has a history of contacts with the KGB, the former Soviet Union's intelligence agency, and its East German branch known as Stasi.
In an open letter addressed to Khamenehi and published in "reformist" websites, Sazgara claims that his allegations are based on top-secret Stasi documents, made available by the German government for research purposes. According to Sazgara, these documents are being studied by a "young Iranian researcher", and, once fully analysed, could show that Khamenehi acted as a Soviet agent of influence during a crucial phase in the power struggle in the early years of the revolution.
Sazgara's allegations may be as fanciful as those of Fazli-Nejad. After all, that Khamenehi was in contact with Soviet officials was no secret at the time. As Deputy Defence Minister at the time, Khamenehi was charged with the task of securing weapons from the USSR at a time that the United States, Iran's main arms supplier, had imposed an embargo.
The accusations from both sides are important not because they might reflect the truth. They certainly don't. Khatami is no CIA agent and Khamenehi was not working for the Soviets.
These accusations are important for two reasons.
First, they show that the power struggle may be heading into new and more dangerous directions in which the Marques of Queensbury's rules would no longer apply.
Secondly, they show that the two camps are unable to fight on the basis of concrete political and economic plans and are using Middle Eastern style personal attacks, and charges of "betrayal" and "working for foreign intelligence" as a substitute. This campaign would see a lot of mud flying. However, what Iran needs is a serious debate about its future at what may be the most dangerous time in its contemporary history.
Amir Taheri's new book " The Persian Night: Iran Under The Khomeinist Revolution" has just been published by Encounter Books, New York and London.

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Article in Arab Daily 'Al-Sharq Al-Awsat' Calls for Arab-Jewish Conciliation

The London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat recently published an article by liberal Syrian philosopher Hashem Saleh, who resides in Paris, titled "Towards an Arab-Jewish Conciliation." In it, Saleh argues that the time is has come for the Arabs to make peace with Israel and to focus on developing their own countries, and that the Palestinian problem will resolve itself via the natural Palestinian demographic superiority over the Israelis.
Following are excerpts: [1]
I Want the Gaza War to Be the Last War
"This surprising heading will cause a big fuss. People will say, 'The blood [spilled] in Gaza has barely dried, yet he is already calling for defeat and conciliation with the enemy!' Nonetheless, after pondering and deliberating the matter for a long time, I am determined to defend this option.
"I confess that I was surprised at my own conclusion. I did not expect to reach this conclusion after many years of exploring every aspect of this dilemma. I spent many an hour in seclusion, reading extensively about this infernal conflict, until I was able to arrive at my [current] position.
"As the matter stands, I firmly believe that it would be absurd and meaningless to continue this conflict, because it stifles our revival and our freedom. It has become a useless burden. It has become a total waste of time, effort, money, and human lives.
"I want the Gaza war to be the last war. Let us start a fresh new era in the region, and use all the [heretofore] wasted energy and missed opportunities towards construction and development instead of destruction and devastation. Let us invest [our energy] in building schools, universities, hospitals, and children's playgrounds.
"In order for the Arab cultural enterprise to truly get underway, we cannot continue postponing it indefinitely under the pretext of liberating Palestine. Let us first of all liberate the Arab thought, and Palestine's liberation will follow of its own accord.
"I admit that, [for me,] the straw was reading the latest book by Palestinian thinker Sari Nusseibeh, recently published in English and French under the title Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life. [2] It is this book that prompted me to adopt my current position, which is bound to create problems and draw me into arguments with Arab demagogues who are filling TV programs and newspapers with their screeches and yelps…"

The Victory Over Israel Will be Achieved by a Different Tactic: Through Demography
"We take a completely wrong course when we keep locking horns with the Jews, cracking our own skulls along with theirs, to no avail whatsoever. [The Jews] have a long history, which is unique and replete with suffering. Let us try a different way of managing this conflict, instead of sticking to the same outdated and wretched stratagem.
"I am positive that we can win this battle without firing a single shot. [We can do this] by employing a different tactic - [namely,] through [our] birthrate and demographics. The Palestinians will overwhelm the Israelis and influence them [through their sheer number].
"Enough of wars and pointless confrontations! We have suffered enough [wars] and are tired of them. The Israelis, who intimidate us with their airplanes, missiles, and state-of-the-art military technology, are actually afraid of us. Their entire existence is founded upon ghettos, persecution, and unending slaughter, which has not ceased throughout [their] entire history. This is the [correct] psychological analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
"Victory over Israel will surely come, and I contend that it will come of itself. How will this happen? First of all, though victory over ourselves, through a successful implementation of the Arab cultural enterprise, and through acquiring knowledge and technological [know-how].
"Look at China and what it has achieved. Don't you think that the Chinese would like to take revenge on the West, which has been humiliating China from the time of the Anglo-Chinese opium wars in the 19th century? Though the British once humiliated the Chinese in their own homeland, the contemporary Chinese are not sacrificing their lives to provoke the British. [Instead,] they are waiting until their economic, technological, and cultural enterprise is completed before standing up to America and taking revenge on Japan. They do not act [prematurely], since [they know] it is necessary to prepare the ground.
"This is the logical way to proceed. It is the [kind of] political reasoning that the fundamentalist or mystical mentality... is unfortunately unable to grasp. [It is this mentality that] has brought destruction upon us, twice within a span of two years - once [in the 2006 war between Israel and] Hizbullah, and the second time [in the 2009 war between Israel and] Hamas."

"The Future Belongs… to People of Good Intentions and Enlightened Minds, On Both Sides - Palestinians and Israelis"
"What is the use of all these wars, which bring no change? Unfortunately, they cause a lot of damage. They destroy our infrastructures, throw us back dozens of years, and bring pain and suffering upon our families, wives and children, taking us back to square one, or even [to square zero]…
"The future belongs neither to Hamas, nor to [Al-Qaeda leaders] Zawahiri and bin Laden, nor yet to the Israeli extreme right, which has lost its mind. It belongs to people of good intentions and enlightened minds on both sides - Palestinians and Israelis, Arabs and Jews. These people are many, though they are frightened and [therefore keep] quiet."

[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), February 20, 2009.
[2] Nusseibeh, Sari and Anthony David, Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.

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Compromise with Hamas cannot lead to peace

Barry Rubin
Urging talks with Hamas only encourages it to continue its strategy of dictatorship within Gaza and its war against Israel
Perhaps it is true that peace can only be made with enemies, but this is only true regarding those who no longer want to be enemies. This does not apply in the case of Hamas. In fact, the stronger Hamas becomes – empowered by well-meaning, but no less destructive bystanders such as the signatories to this week's letter in the Times, urging talks with Hamas – the further away will be any chance for peace in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
These points should not be so difficult to understand. Yet a large part of the problem is that when this particular issue becomes the topic of conversation, many seem to lose their most basic common sense and their understanding of how politics and international affairs work.
Consider the basic facts. Hamas's main goal is the physical destruction of Israel and its people. In its pronouncements in Arabic, the organisation makes no secret of this fact. That is commonly called genocide. It routinely uses historic anti-Jewish myths and incites hatred of Jews. This is commonly called antisemitism.
Hamas's historic military tactic was the maximum murder of Israeli civilians. This is commonly called genocide. It is ruthless in killing those among the Palestinians who disagree with it. This – recently documented at length by Amnesty International and reported on by the Guardian – is commonly called ferocious repression. It indoctrinates children with the ambition to be suicide bombers. This is commonly called – well, it is so unprecedented that there is no proper name for this behaviour.
Did Hamas win the Palestinian elections? It certainly came in first. But then, after making a deal with its Fatah rival, Hamas launched a military coup and seized power in Gaza by force. Thus, it can have no democratic pretensions for its rule. The Nazis in Germany and the Bolsheviks in Russia also won elections, then grabbed dictatorial power also, yet no one had any illusions about what they did.
During a ceasefire, Hamas continually either launched attacks itself – on the ground and using mortars and rockets – or worked with smaller groups to do so. This is commonly called aggression. It then ended the ceasefire and launched a large-scale attack. That is commonly called declaring war. Then, it used the civilian populace as human shields and committed other actions, which is commonly called war crimes.
Was it productive for the cause of peace or the welfare of Gaza's population for many people in the west to, in effect, support Hamas? Not at all. For this only encourages Hamas to continue its strategy of total dictatorship within Gaza and permanent war against Israel. Keeping Hamas in power, much less providing it with hundreds of millions of pounds of aid – no matter what safeguards are put in, Hamas will end up with lots of the money – is a guarantee of future war, terrorism, instability, and no peace.
And this brings us to the key argument which basically ignores all the evidence of this specific case: that Hamas must be negotiated with and brought into negotiations.
There is a reason why groups are put into two categories: the IRA or Fatah, for instance, in one; the Taliban, al-Qaida, or the Nazis into another. The question is whether an organisation is so extreme, so ideologically intent on conquest and murder, that its goals cannot possibly be satisfied through negotiations.
If the goal of Hamas is not a two-state solution but Israel's destruction, the repression of all other Palestinian forces, and the establishment of an Islamist dictatorship, how is any compromise outcome possible? And remember that this goal is built into the organisation's fabric, ideology, and claim that it is sanctioned by Allah?
There is, however, another issue, which is all the more important for being practical. Adding a large quantity of deadly acid to water will not make a palatable drink. To empower Hamas, in practice, is to undermine the Palestinian Authority (PA). And to add Hamas to the PA, under present conditions, would not make a more moderate Hamas, but a more radical PA.
It would, in fact, destroy any possibility for peace whatsoever. Any time the PA thought of making any necessary compromise, it would be discredited by Hamas's outbidding, which would also appeal to many people within Fatah. Instead of an end to conflict with the Gaza Strip, there would soon emerge a war with both that area and the West Bank.
Hamas would continue to try, aided and strengthened by western assistance, and might well succeed in wiping out the more moderate – and consequently less ruthless – forces altogether. And, of course, it would condemn Palestinians both to Hamas's rule, endless war, and no chance of getting a state of their own. A strange way to behave by those who claim to be concerned about their welfare.
As for arguing that Hamas is not going away and must be propitiated, there are always factors in the world that are extremist, terrorist, repressive and dictatorial. Hamas is not going to be changed by any soft-line approach, no matter how much people wish that were the case. The answer – especially when they are so relatively weak – is to defeat them by supporting their would-be victims; to show that moderation pays and fanaticism costs dearly.
We will be watching closely, looking for any signs of genuine change in Hamas. The door remains open. But until then, the world must stand firm and speak to Hamas with one voice. Unwillingness to take this course has been a key factor in the spread of violence and extremism throughout the Middle East and beyond.

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Steering toward peace or destruction of Israel.

The advocates of the "Radial New approach To Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process" generally advance programs that are euphemisms for junking the peace process entirely and proceeding to the destruction of Israel. This embodied for example, in the notion advanced by Nathan Brown, who labored long and hard to establish his credentials as an anti-Zionist:
Nathan J. Brown, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote in a paper published last week that the effort to create a two-state solution "has come to a dead end" and that it is "time for a Plan B." He advocated a clear and perhaps even written cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, which could be broadened into an armistice. The effort would require breaking the taboo against speaking to Hamas, but he argued that the taboo has been broken because of indirect negotiations. "The question is whether to make a virtue out of necessity of declaring it open," he wrote.
The "taboo" against speaking to Hamas is not a religious superstition, and it doesn't become invalid by breaking it, like some religious rite. The Taboo against Hamas is not the result of some religious injunction in the Talmud or an arbitrary superstition of Christian religious sects.  Hamas is not a partner for any political process, because they declare that their goal is destruction of Israel and are opposed to peace. How could legitimation of a genocidal group that declares they are opposed to peace be an approach to a "peace process?"
Tough Options For Clinton on Trip to Mideast
Analysts Urge Radical New Approach To Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 1, 2009; A10
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton this week will make her first foray into Middle East diplomacy, attending a high-level conference on humanitarian assistance to Gaza and making the rounds of Israeli and Palestinian officials, at a time when a growing chorus of voices in the United States say the peace process needs a dramatically new approach.
President Obama won praise by appointing a Middle East envoy on his second full day in office, indicating a commitment to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The envoy, former senator George J. Mitchell, is making his second tour of the region in a month and will meet with Clinton at the aid conference, which is scheduled to be held tomorrow in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
But neither Mitchell nor Clinton appears to have come up with new ideas for rekindling peace efforts. Clinton's husband, Bill Clinton, devoted the final months of his presidency to unsuccessfully trying to achieve a peace agreement, even sketching a series of groundbreaking proposals -- still known as the "Clinton parameters" -- for bridging the gaps. But much has changed since 2001, and the Bush administration's last-minute effort at peacemaking, known as the "Annapolis process," also collapsed.
Clinton will visit Jerusalem and Ramallah, in the West Bank, on Tuesday and Wednesday before flying to Europe for meetings -- and every word that she utters in the region will be closely monitored for clues to the administration's approach. Israelis, for instance, will be listening for how hard she presses for Palestinian governmental reform and an end to corruption, while Palestinians are eager to hear a tougher U.S. stance on Israeli settlement construction in Palestinian territories. "It would be great to hear an American official say that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law," said Nadia Hijab, senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies in Washington. "But I don't think I will ever live to see that day."
Mitchell authored a plan in 2001 to reduce tensions and make progress. Israelis and Palestinians embraced the plan as fair, but it was never implemented. In a conference call with Jewish American leaders last month, Mitchell said that when he reread his report, he was struck by how much had changed in the past eight years, according to an account of the conversation published by JTA, a Jewish news service. Iran, he said, was not mentioned in the report, but every leader in the region brought up the problem of Iranian influence during his initial tour.
Any new peace effort would be complicated by other factors, including the prospect of a new right-wing Israeli government hostile to the idea of a Palestinian state and the splintering of the Palestinian leadership into a moderate faction that runs the West Bank and a radical group that controls the Gaza Strip. Israel waged war in December against the militant group Hamas, which controls the narrow coastal strip that is home to almost half the Palestinian population, and it has kept a tight grip on crossings into Gaza, making it all but impossible to begin reconstruction.
The administration faces tough decisions: How does it get aid flowing to the Gazans or encourage Palestinian unity without bolstering Hamas, and how does it encourage the new Israeli government to open up crossings, ease settlement expansion and begin to consider talks with the Palestinians? Increasingly, many analysts say, the goals are contradictory and virtually impossible to achieve.
The United States, for instance, intends to make a substantial pledge at the conference, American officials say, but whether much of it can be delivered is unclear.
"It will only be spent if we determine that our goals can be furthered rather than undermined or subverted," Clinton told the Voice of America in an interview Friday. She said aid dollars will "be spent only in service of the goals that will help people feel more secure in their lives and, therefore, more confident that progress toward peace would serve them better than retreating to violence and rejectionism."
Although officially the Israeli government refuses to deal with Hamas -- and U.S. policy dictates that there can be no contacts until the group renounces violence and recognizes Israel -- Jerusalem is negotiating a cease-fire deal with the militant movement via Egypt.
Hamas and its moderate Palestinian rival, Fatah, also have begun talks on creating a unity government, which would complicate U.S. diplomacy. During a meeting in Washington last week, Clinton told Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League, that she hoped such efforts succeeded, according to league Ambassador Hussein Hassouna. But in the VOA interview, she said that unless Hamas meets international conditions for recognition, "I don't think it [a unity government] will result in the kind of positive step forward either for the Palestinian people or as a vehicle for a reinvigorated effort to obtain peace that leads to a Palestinian state."
The issues are so complex that some analysts are advocating a radical rethinking. Elliott Abrams, a deputy national security adviser under President George W. Bush who is now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, proposed scaled-back goals in a recent article in the Weekly Standard that was highly critical of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's efforts to reach a deal. "It is time to face certain facts: We are not on the verge of Israeli-Palestinian peace; a Palestinian state cannot come into being in the near future; and the focus should be on building the institutions that will allow for real Palestinian progress in the medium or longer term," he wrote.
From the other side of the political spectrum, Nathan J. Brown, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote in a paper published last week that the effort to create a two-state solution "has come to a dead end" and that it is "time for a Plan B." He advocated a clear and perhaps even written cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, which could be broadened into an armistice. The effort would require breaking the taboo against speaking to Hamas, but he argued that the taboo has been broken because of indirect negotiations. "The question is whether to make a virtue out of necessity of declaring it open," he wrote.

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Qassam rockets keep falling

The rain of daily Qassam rockets continues.  

Kassam rockets continue to hit South

Mar. 1, 2009 Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

Gaza terrorists resumed their attacks on Israeli civilian areas at around midnight Saturday, firing a Kassam rocket that landed south of Ashkelon.

No one was wounded in the latest attack, which came after two advanced Kassams were fired at the city on Saturday morning, one of which tore through an empty school, destroying classrooms, and spraying shrapnel in all directions.

Damaged areas in the school included some that had been deemed safe zones by the Home Front Command.

Two people living near the school were lightly wounded and eight were treated for shock.

The second rocket fired Saturday morning hit an open area in the city, causing no injuries or damage.

Four additional rockets were fired during the day at the western Negev, striking open areas and causing no damage.

On Saturday evening, another rocket hit the Sha'ar Hanegev region.

A police source told The Jerusalem Post that terrorists in Gaza assembled the rockets that struck Ashkelon using an improvised technique to make them more powerful.

The two rockets, which were retrieved and analyzed by police sappers, had a 170-mm. diameter, which allowed for a greater amount of explosives to be packed inside.

"These are improved Kassams, more powerful than standard Kassams. They have a longer range and pack a bigger punch," the source said.

The rockets were not, however, more powerful than the Grad-type rocket.

Following the attacks, the Ashkelon Municipality reactivated its emergency command and control center, situated in a bomb shelter adjacent to city hall, where situation analysis meetings were held on Saturday.

The center had served as a hub for coordinating emergency responses to the large number of rockets fired at the city during Operation Cast Lead.

Ashkelon residents reported hearing an air raid siren at 8:43 a.m., before a powerful blast shook the residential area where the school is located.

The municipality decided to keep city schools open on Sunday, despite the concerns of anxious parents.

"In light of the situation, we can say with certainty that the school struck by a rocket will not be open tomorrow. We will have to find an alternative solution for students. The remainder of the schools will open on Sunday," Deputy Mayor Shlomo Cohen said.

Cohen added that the municipality "shared the concerns of parents in light of the deterioration of security, but we must remember that carrying on in a routine manner bolsters the education system and the whole of the city of Ashkelon."

The municipality has been waiting for two weeks for the Defense Ministry to approve rocket reinforcement construction plans drawn up to protect city schools, Cohen said, adding that the school struck in Saturday's attack was on the list of schools waiting for protection.

"The Ashkelon Municipality has demanded that the school be equipped with inexpensive basic rocket protection reinforcement. The reinforcement plans have been approved by the municipality and the Home Front Command. They have been sitting on the desks of Defense Ministry officials for two weeks, waiting for approval," Cohen said.

On Friday, a Gazan Kassam hit an open area in the Sdot Negev region. No damage was caused.

On Thursday, a number of Sderot residents were treated for shock when a rocket struck close to two houses.

Police on Saturday said 65 rockets and mortar shells have hit the South since the end of Operation Cast Lead on January 18, leading to four light injuries. staff contributed to this report

This article can also be read at

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Human Rights in the Middle East: Abusing the rights abuse mechanism

The best intended institutions, no matter what their constitution, must reflect the realities of the societies and civilizations that produced them. That is the Achilles heel of every attempt to reform society through legislation. It accounts for the failure of the Soviet constitution to guarantee human rights, the spectacular failure of the United Nations to provide either peace or even handed justice, and the widespread abuse of Human Rights institutions and legislation that was intended to prevent the abuse and suppression of human liberties. When a dictator like Stalin is given the power to enforce "social justice," the result can only be social injustice and mass murder. When a tyrant like Muammar Ghaddafi or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is given the power to enforce "human rights" laws, it is inevitable that only those who stand up for human rights will be victimized by it. The problem of cynical abuse of the human rights mechanisms is examined below and in a presentation on Averting Abuse of Universal Jurisdiction.  Suppose that these laws and this mechanism had been in place before World War II. Is there any doubt that the Nazi government of Germany would have used them against Jews? And if the Nazis had won the war, wouldn't "war crimes" tribunals have prosecuted Generals Eisenhower, Montgomery and De Gaulle for abridging the "rights" of the Nazis and commiting "war crimes?" 
How else can we explain that the human rights institutions look benignly upon repression in Tibet, hanging of homosexuals and Bahai in Iran, and gross inteference with rights of Christians in Gaza and Malaysia, while instituting specious suits against Israeli generals for "war crimes?"  (see  Human rights in Iran and Israel  Human Rights in the Middle East 
Irit Kohn
Right at the outset of Israel's recent operation in Gaza, French pro-Palestinian organizations filed a lawsuit against the Israeli president, foreign minister and defense minister. Turkish prosecutors said in February 2009 that they were investigating whether Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity over Israel's offensive in Gaza, after Mazlum-Der, an Islamic-oriented human rights organization, filed an official complaint in Turkey. At the same time, a Spanish judge is currently investigating the role of Israeli soldiers and security officials in a bombing in Gaza in 2002 in which a top Hamas suicide bombing planner, Salah Shehada, and 14 other people were killed.  

Universal jurisdiction refers to the power of a state to legislate, adjudicate, and punish any individual for war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide committed outside its borders, even when those crimes were not committed against that country or its citizens, and even if the accused is not its citizen. The idea is that anyone who commits such atrocious, internationally condemned crimes will not be able to find shelter or hide from judgment anywhere on the globe.  

Human rights organizations all over the world have been instrumental in the implementation of universal jurisdiction. This has contributed to the entry of politics into the universal jurisdiction process, as may be seen in many actions brought by NGOs that are supported financially by special interest groups or even states for the benefit of their own agendas. In 2005, Israeli Brig.-Gen. Doron Almog was warned not to leave his plane at Heathrow Airport in London after a UK court issued a warrant for his detention. 
It is important to remember that universal jurisdiction and the International Criminal Court are applied when a country does not or cannot act to prosecute. Yet Israel is a democracy with a well-developed judicial system and does not need external intervention to conduct any investigation.  

In fact, the Israeli military police reported that between 2000 and 2007, Israel's military judicial system conducted 272 investigations of illegal firing of weapons, with 31 indictments and 17 convictions; 330 investigations of property damage, with 36 indictments and 36 convictions; 475 investigations of violence, with 37 indictments and 34 convictions; and 128 investigations of crimes in the Palestinian areas, with 20 indictments and 18 convictions. The case of Salah Shehada, mentioned above, has already been reviewed thoroughly by Israel's Supreme Court, which is widely respected in the international legal community. What would a Spanish court have to add?  
Dr. Henry Kissinger wrote that we are witnessing an unprecedented movement to turn international politics into legal proceedings. International law does not require that the prosecuting country be neutral or politically impartial in order to exercise its jurisdiction in a given case. The purpose for which universal jurisdiction was created may be a worthy and noble one. However, its current execution is problematic, to say the least. 
Referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC)
A few days after the outset of Israel's three-week operation in Gaza that ended on January 18, 2009, a lawsuit was filed by several French pro-Palestinian organizations against the Israeli president, foreign minister and defense minister. The Rome Statute, the founding document of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, was cited as the legal basis for the suit.  
The organizations demanded that France, which presided over the UN Security Council at the time of the filing, initiate a discussion of the suit at the council, hoping for a Security Council resolution referring the case to the International Criminal Court.
Yet the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction only over nationals of states that have signed and ratified the Rome Statute. Israel has not ratified the statute, and its citizens are therefore not subject to it. Yet Article 13(b) of the court's statute establishes the court's jurisdiction over cases referred to it by the Security Council in accordance with Chapter Seven of the UN Charter. This article was the legal foundation for the court's authority over crimes committed in Sudanese Darfur. In that case, all the members of the Security Council voted in favor of referring the case to the court, including the United States, which is also not a party to the Rome Statute.
 The International Criminal Court began operating in July 2002. Since its inception, it constitutes a permanent tribunal, with supplementary authority to the states' authority to prosecute individuals for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Another crime mentioned in its mandate, whose definition is still under deliberation, is that of "aggression."
 Since it was impossible to reach an agreement about the issue of terrorism, that subject is not within the court's purview. Many countries and organizations view the use of terror in a war of self-determination to be a legitimate act of war.
The need to create an International Criminal Court was recognized in the wake of the Second World War and the Jewish Holocaust in Europe. Following the ad hoc tribunals of Nuremberg and Tokyo, the Jewish people and the State of Israel, as part of the international community, had recognized the need for a permanent international court to deal with the recurrent phenomenon of genocide and other such serious crimes.
Israel was very active in the preparatory committee of the International Criminal Court. The former Israeli Attorney General, Judge Eli Rubinstein, spoke at a conference in Rome where he stated that Israel was strongly in favor of trying war criminals responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity. However, Rubinstein added, the inclusion of political bodies into the decision-making process was extremely problematic, and since Israel is a victim of ongoing terror assaults, it hoped that the international community would recognize terror as an international crime and concentrate on practical and effective methods for cooperation designed to bring international terrorists to justice. To this day, the court has yet to institute such measures. 
Israel's Problem with the ICC
 What happened? Why has Israel refrained from ratifying the statute? One article of the statue, which consolidated the politicization process of the court, is the primary cause for Israel's decision: the article that deals with the transfer of populations.
Article 8(b) 8, the section defining war crimes in the Rome Statute, discusses: "The transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory."
 This article was copied almost word for word from the 1977 First Protocol of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.
The article clearly emphasizes forced transfers of populations. Its intentions are even clearer when we remember it was drafted in response to the forced relocation of populations in Europe during the Second World War (e.g., the transfer of Germans into former Czechoslovakia).
In the Rome Statute this article expanded ad absurdum the Nazis' forced repopulation program, which was reasonably defined as a war crime under the Geneva Convention. The statute now defined any voluntary movement of people, either directly or indirectly, by any means, as a similar crime under the Rome Statute. But what is the connection between this distortion and the original intent of the Rome Statute, which was to establish a court to deal with horrible and intolerable trespasses against humanity? Here the intent was to have Israeli settlements in the West Bank internationally acknowledged as a most serious crime which should therefore be subject to the court.
Let us recall that, in general, violations of international law are not, ipso facto, war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide. There are many violations of international law which are not considered tantamount to these crimes. Furthermore, expanding the definition of "population transfers" in the Rome Statute even beyond that of the First Protocol of the Geneva Convention, while creating a legal construct specific to the issue of the Israeli settlements, seriously diminishes the statute on which the court was founded. Israeli sources claim that the phrasing of this article, inspired and influenced by Arab nations, specifically targets the State of Israel, and therefore is wholly unrelated in severity and content to the other flagrant acts designated by the statute as war crimes.
 It is interesting to note that neither the ad-hoc tribunals for Rwanda nor Yugoslavia saw fit to expand the definition in their constituting documents beyond that of the Fourth Geneva Convention, wherein only the deportation or illegal transfer of protected persons are considered to be serious violations of the convention.
At the end of the day, the introduction of this article into the Rome Statute and the connection between the ICC and the UN left Israel no choice but to refrain from joining the statute, and consequently the ICC has no jurisdiction over it or its citizens.
The International Criminal Court isn't the only avenue for the prosecution of these crimes. There have been special UN tribunals in which individuals accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity have been prosecuted. These include the courts established by the UN Security Council to address the crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone and Cambodia. Recently, a court was established in Lebanon with regard to the murder of former Prime Minister Hariri.
Individual States Seek to Exercise Universal Jurisdiction
Yet another way to prosecute suspects for heinous violations of international law may be found in certain states that have adopted laws involving "universal jurisdiction." As noted, the Rome Statute established the primary commitment of states to exercise their jurisdiction and prosecute individuals suspected of responsibility for such crimes in national courts. The emphasis here is on a state's responsibility to bring to justice anyone responsible for such crimes, via adjusted legislation, expanded universal jurisdiction, and improved international cooperation.
Universal jurisdiction refers to the power of a state to legislate, adjudicate, and punish any individual for crimes committed outside its borders, even when those crimes were not committed against that country or its citizens, and even if the accused is not its citizen. The idea is that anyone who commits such atrocious, internationally condemned crimes will not be able to find shelter or hide from judgment anywhere on the globe.
The definition of these crimes is the result of historical processes. The constituting treaty of the Nuremberg trials, for example, established principles regarding Nazi war crimes, and mandated that individuals accused of crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed during the Second World War would be prosecuted in an international military court assembled by all the countries party to the treaty (the U.S.A., USSR, England and France), which would operate in Nuremberg. It was further determined that these criminals may be prosecuted by the national justice systems of all the countries party to the established international court. The treaty was ratified by 19 additional countries and in 1946 its principles were unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly. Therefore, it was determined that crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity are crimes in all stat es, and all states can prosecute individuals who were responsible for committing them. As a result, Nazi war criminals were prosecuted in several countries.
In another example, the Rules of War were expanded by the 1949 Geneva Convention, and demarcate the line between "right" and "wrong" in times of war. They also define what are benign and flagrant violations. They entrust each individual state with the responsibility to locate and prosecute violators, even if the crime was committed outside its jurisdiction and was not directed against it or its citizens. The description of the flagrant violations extended the definition of war crimes beyond their Nuremberg definition and subjected them to universal jurisdiction.
It is important to note that human rights organizations all over the world have been instrumental in the implementation of universal jurisdiction, as they were, for instance, in actions filed against former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and others in the case of the massacre of Palestinians by Christian militias in Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon. This has contributed to the entry of politics into the universal jurisdiction process, as may be seen in many actions brought by NGOs that are supported financially by special interest groups or even states for the benefit of their own agendas.
In a more recent example, Turkish prosecutors said in February 2009 that they were investigating whether Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity over Israel's offensive in Gaza, after Mazlum-Der, an Islamic-oriented human rights organization, filed an official complaint in Turkey. The group asked that the Israeli officials be detained if they enter Turkey.
In addition, a Spanish judge is currently investigating the role of Israeli soldiers and security officials in a bombing in Gaza in 2002 in which a top Hamas suicide bombing planner, Salah Shehada, and 14 other people were killed. In 2005, Israeli Brig.-Gen. Doron Almog was warned not to leave his plane at Heathrow Airport in London after a UK court issued a warrant for his detention.
The case which opened the floodgates of prosecution under international jurisdiction in recent years was that of Chilean General Pinochet. In 1998, England received a request from a judge in Spain to extradite Augusto Pinochet so he could stand trial in a Spanish court for crimes committed against Spaniards in the territory of Chile. Litigators who support universal jurisdiction believe Pinochet's arrest to be a turning point. Yet critics of the case argued that it was wrong to use the principle of universal jurisdiction as a tool to settle political disputes
Contemporary implementation of universal jurisdiction is very controversial among international law experts. No public discussion as to its proper implementation and enforcement has ever taken place and, as a result, there are no universally accepted rules.
Every state exercises universal jurisdiction authority according to its own domestic laws, which are far from being international common knowledge. Nor are there any unified definitions of the crimes or certainty about the defense the accused must be afforded. The statutes of limitation differ from country to country. In addition, local trial judges are not always well versed in international law. Thus, all these factors are possible hindrances to the execution of universal jurisdiction.
This situation changes when jurisdiction is exercised by international organizations. International courts such as the ICC exercise rules agreed to by all the countries party to their founding treaties. Furthermore, when the UN Security Council appoints an ad-hoc court, it operates within the framework of international conventions and statutes designated for this purpose by the UN, sometimes even in full cooperation with the countries involved. In both cases, the crimes are clearly defined, as are the rules of evidence, available legal protection, and the like. One should also bear in mind that the judges appointed to these courts usually represent a wide spectrum of legal opinions and some of them are international law experts.
No Need for External Intervention in Cases Under Israeli Jurisdiction
It is important to remember that universal jurisdiction and the International Criminal Court are applied when a country does not or cannot act to prosecute. To my regret, since Israeli army officers have been subject to universal jurisdiction in different countries, it appears that some include Israel in the category of states that would not or cannot take action against such crimes.
Here the answer is clear. Israel is a democracy with a well-developed judicial system, as the statistics below prove. The military judicial system is separate from the civilian courts, with the ability to appeal decisions handed down in a lower court. The Israel Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, receives complaints against the military courts and against the discretion of the military prosecution.
The military police reported that between 2000 and 2007, Israel's military judicial system conducted 272 investigations of illegal firing of weapons, with 31 indictments and 17 convictions; 330 investigations of property damage, with 36 indictments and 36 convictions; 475 investigations of violence, with 37 indictments and 34 convictions; and 128 investigations of crimes in the Palestinian areas, with 20 indictments and 18 convictions. The case of Salah Shehada, mentioned above, has already been reviewed thoroughly by Israel's Supreme Court, which is widely respected in the international legal community. What would a Spanish court have to add?
In 2008 there was a large increase in the number of complaints, investigations and convictions. This may be due to the establishment in October 2007 of a new unit - the Military Advocate for Operational Affairs. This unit deals with two types of cases: complaints involving Palestinians and training accidents.
Let us recall that during the Lebanese War in 1982, an Israeli investigative panel consisting of two sitting Supreme Court justices and a high army officer was established to investigate the actions at Sabra and Shatilla, while Lebanon pardoned all those responsible for the crimes committed there. As a result of this panel, then-Defense Minister Sharon was removed from his post. Nevertheless, Belgium decided to attempt to prosecute Sharon. Doesn't this have the ring of political influence?
Political Exploitation of Universal Jurisdiction
A particularly problematic aspect of this issue is political exploitation of universal jurisdiction. Dr. Henry Kissinger wrote in 2001 that in the course of less than ten years we have witnessed an unprecedented movement to turn international politics into legal proceedings, an argument mentioned with growing frequency.
When prosecution is initiated by a country not wholly unrelated to a case, there is always the very real possibility that it is doing so for political reasons. International law does not require that the prosecuting country be neutral or politically impartial in order to exercise its jurisdiction in a given case. 
An example of this problem can be found in the attempts to prosecute former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for actions in Lebanon. When the lawsuit was first filed in Belgium, which indulges in a very broad definition of the principle of universal jurisdiction, Israel's Justice Ministry began receiving many letters describing Belgium's actions in the Congo.
Many countries are likely to find skeletons buried not so deep in the closet of their own past that qualify as crimes subject to universal jurisdiction. Are countries with such tainted pasts really fit to serve as representatives of the international community in adjudicating crimes of which they themselves may be found guilty?
It is interesting to note how some African nations view universal jurisdiction. Recently, Rose Kabuye, director general of state protocol in Rwanda, was arrested in Germany in accordance with a French extradition warrant. This is an example of why some African nations refer to universal jurisdiction as Western judicial imperialism, because they do not see cases brought by one Western nation against another Western nation. Could you envision a European state bringing action against U.S. generals and politicians for war crimes in Iraq? Belgium considered it, but was deterred by the U.S. threat to remove NATO headquarters from Brussels.  
There is no doubt that the will of a country to arrest and prosecute is affected by its relationship with the country where the crimes had been committed and by its military and economic strength. For example, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's strong criticism of Pinochet's arrest was influenced by the aid he offered Great Britain during the Falklands war.
Many countries are careful to limit their view of universal jurisdiction to a demand that either the suspect or the victim be in their territorial jurisdiction for such a process to begin. The purpose for which universal jurisdiction was created may be a worthy and noble one. However, its current execution is problematic, to say the least.
*     *     *
Irit Kohn, Esq., joined the Israel Ministry of Justice in 1989 and from 1995 to 2005 was director of its International Affairs Department. In that position she was involved in one of the first cases involving universal jurisdiction as head of the legal team defending Prime Minister Sharon in Belgium in 2001. In 2004, she was elected Vice-President of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists. This Jerusalem Viewpoints is based in part on her presentation on November 26, 2008, at a conference in London on "Averting Abuse of Universal Jurisdiction."

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