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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Another report of Hamas atrocities in Gaza

Hamas have instituted a reign of terror and torture in Gaza. Report after reports tells us the same thing, yet the world has been absolutely silent.
Jason Koutsoukis, Gaza
March 14, 2009
DALAL al-Shoubaki remembers the day Hamas sent its dreaded Internal Security Service to arrest her husband Hamza.
"It was July 25 last year. They came early in the day to our home and they took Hamza away without saying why," Mrs Shoubaki told The Age this week.
Three weeks ago, the tortured body of the father of 13 was found dumped at Gaza's Shifa Hospital, with two gunshot wounds to the head.
From the types of twigs and leaves found on his clothes, Mr Shoubaki's family believe he was executed in a citrus grove on the outskirts of Gaza City.
Mr Shoubaki had been accused of collaborating with the Government of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah faction holds power in the West Bank. Mr Shoubaki was a vocal supporter of Fatah, and was in almost daily phone contact with his brother, a senior officer in the Government.
His fate is a chilling example of the terror inflicted on dissenters who have lived under the Hamas regime in Gaza since June 2007.
"In 2007, the death toll of Palestinians killed by Fatah or Hamas exceeded for the first time the number of Palestinians killed in clashes with the Israeli occupation forces," said Hamdi Shaqqura from the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.
According to figures cited by Mr Shaqqura, 394 Palestinians were killed in clashes with the Israeli military and security forces in 2007, but at least 500 were killed by forces aligned with either Fatah or Hamas.
Mr Shaqqura said Mr Shoubaki's execution was just one of many that followed a similar pattern. "We are talking mostly about barbaric acts of revenge and retaliation. Human rights abuses are witnessed every day here. People have no freedom of association or right to assembly, no freedom of speech, or access to an independent justice system."
At the time of his arrest, Mr Shoubaki, 40, a plumber by training, was working as a fruit and vegetable seller to support his family.
Mrs Shoubaki said that for four months after he was taken away, she could get no explanation of why he had been detained or where he was being held. Then, in early December, he called, saying he was being held in an Internal Security Service compound at al-Saraya, near Gaza City.
Mrs Shoubaki describes her shock when she visited him. "At first I nearly didn't recognise him. There were many signs of torture. He was pale and bruised and he had trouble walking."
He had been regularly punched and kicked, intermittently deprived of food and sleep, hung from the ceiling for hours on end — by his feet and his arms, and on one case from the ceiling for several hours by one arm. Mrs Shoubaki said her husband had also been electrocuted and repeatedly had a gun held to his head to try to force a confession.
"He said he had also been brought before the military court on a several occasions, but they were never able to prove anything about Hamza."
Several days after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert launched Operation Cast Lead on December 27, the jail where Mr Shoubaki was being held was hit by Israeli fire, giving inmates a chance to escape. He fled, but was picked up the same day by Hamas militants.
They shot him through the back of both legs below the knee, then pushed him out of a car in the Sheikh Ejlin neighbourhood, south-west of Gaza City.
"When he came to us, he was barely alive," Mrs Shoubaki said. "But after one month of medical treatment at home, and support from our families, he regained some of his health and was able to stand up and walk again."
In early February, intent on tracking down anyone they believed had collaborated with either Israel or the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, the Internal Security Service launched a search for him.
"On February 4 and February 18, a number of gunmen came to our house asking about my husband, but we had moved him and he was not at home."
On February 26, almost seven months to the day since his first arrest, Mr Shoubaki decided to move again to what he thought he would be a safer location, but at 10pm that day, masked gunmen stormed his new hide-out.
"Around 8am the next day, a relative of Hamza's received a phone call from the Shifa Hospital to come and identify a man who was now in the morgue. It was Hamza. He had been shot twice in the head," Mrs Shoubaki said.
Surrounded by her children, Mrs Shoubaki betrays no sign of fear. "I am not afraid. I want justice. I want what happened to my husband to happen to the people who killed him."
The Hamas Government's official spokesman, Taher al-Nunu, declined to comment. "I have no knowledge at all of this case," he said.
Mr Shaqqura at the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights believes there is little chance that Mr Shoubaki's killers will ever be known.
"Hamas own the justice system here in Gaza," he said. "Why would they ever prosecute themselves?"

■NIHAD SAADI AL-DABBAKAOn February 6, masked gunmen claiming to be police officers arrested Mr Dabbaka, 47, at his home in the Maghazi refugee camp. Three days later he showed up dead in hospital. His body also bore clear signs of torture on the feet, back, hands, ears and the front of his torso.

■YOUSEF AL-BURIOn January 8, midway through the Israeli offensive, masked Hamas security agents showed up at the home of Mr Buri, 39, at the Shati refugee camp.

Claiming to be police officers, they dragged him to a jeep. About half an hour later he was dumped near his home, having been severely beaten. He died of his injuries on February 7.
On Friday, January 30, Mr Shaqqura, 51, a resident of the Khan Younis refugee camp, was summoned to a local sports club where he was told he had to testify in a case he said he knew nothing about. At 6.30am the next day, his brother received a call from Nasser hospital saying Mr Shaqqura had been admitted unconscious. He was pronounced dead on February 6 from what doctors described as a "brain clot caused by torture and severe beating to his head".

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Right wing parties cadge more money for Yeshiva Students

Last update - 04:38 13/03/2009    
A patriotic move that will surely help Israeli defense and economic advance, as well as creating new infrastructure.
National Union: Likud to incorporate yeshiva funding into state budget
By Nadav Shragai, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service
National Union representatives on Friday said that a preliminary agreement has been reached in coalition talks between the ultra-Orthodox umbrella group and Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party.
After the negotiations, National Union Chairman Ya'akov Katz said that Likud has agreed to turn funding for yeshivas into an integral part of the state budget. Katz called the move revolutionary, saying that it would prevent yeshiva heads from having to beg the government for additional aid.
Yeshiva funding was cut dramatically during former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's tenure and increased again during Ehud Olmert's term.
According to reports, the budget for each married yeshiva student has reached an all-time high of NIS 1,080 per month, and NIS 600 for seminary students above age 18.
Katz earlier on Friday said that his party is likely to receive the housing portfolio and fellow ultra-Orthodox party Habayit Hayehudi will receive the education portfolio in the next government.

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The Dead Sea Scrolls authers, the Essenes, never existed?

Proessor Rachel Elior claims: The Essenes, Dead Sea Scroll 'authors,' never existed.  According to her, Josephus Flavius invented them. Josephus is the only source for the existence of this sect. Elior believes the scrolls were written by Sadducee priests in Jerusalem. That may well be, but the question is why Josephus Flavius would invent them. Some believe that some of the defenders of Masada were Essenes as well. 
Elior said, ""Sixty years of research have been wasted trying to find the Essenes in the scrolls. But they didn't exist, they were invented by [Jewish-Roman historian] Josephus. It's a history of errors which is simply nonsense." "Sixty years of research have been wasted trying to find the Essenes in the scrolls. But they didn't exist, they were invented by Josephus. It's a history of errors which is simply nonsense," she said.
"The scrolls speak in clear Hebrew of the priests, sons of Zadok. So why call them Essenes?" asked Elior. "That's a distortion of history. It's like saying that the State of Israel wasn't established by Mapai, but by the Greens."
But Prof. Hanan Eshel of Bar-Ilan University claims that denying the Essenes' existence is groundless. "Almost 70 scholars accept the statement that one of the Essenes' groups lived in Qumran and some say we're all morons and only they understand," he said. One of the scrolls, "describes a small group of people living communally. Can anyone explain to me how this could have come from Jerusalem.
Scientific findings are not a matter of voting. At one time all scholars thought there was an electromagnetic ether, and at one time everyone thought the Sun orbits the Earth. There is no guarantee that all the scrolls were written by the same people, and some of them could have been written by a small group living communally. However, there might have been any number of such groups.
Josephus Flavius is a problematic source, since he betrayed the Jewish revolt and went over to the Roman side. His descriptions of the leaders of the revolt as Sicarii, which means "dagger users" literally and is a term that was used to refer to cutthroat assassins and highway robbers, is very problematic, but nobody has ever considered the improbability of a popular revolt led only by robbers and thieves. However, in the case of the Essenes, Josephus' motives for inventing a group don't seem to exist. On the other hand, it is quite possible and even likely that whereas the Essenes existed, they were not not the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They may have taken them from Jerusalem, or they may have had nothing whatever to do with the scrolls. 

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Stopping Racist Demonstrators: San Francisco can learn from Holland

In Holland, racist demonstrators were punished. In San Francisco, they were given police protection, and a lone demonstrator against the Hamas was evicted from the scene by police
Last update - 19:50 13/03/2009       
Dutch teens convicted of insulting Jews ordered to visit Anne Frank House
By The Associated Press
A Dutch judge has ordered four teenagers to visit the Anne Frank House museum after finding them guilty of discrimination for insulting Jews at a rally.
The boys, aged 14 to 17, must turn in a report to the Hague Police Judge about their visit to the canal house in Amsterdam where Anne Frank and her family hid from Nazi occupiers during World War II.
The four boys were convicted Friday for insulting Jews who were protesting Israel's military attack on Gaza. Prosecutors say two boys held a banner with a swastika superimposed on the Star of David, and two shouted "Hamas, Hamas, all Jews to the gas."
The judge also convicted and fined three adults for shouting anti-Semitic slogans at the Jan. 18 rally in The Hague.

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Another day, more Qassams

Rain or shine, the rocketeers continue their "work." These rockets were fired by Islamic Jihad and they are really aimed at Hamas, not Israel. We know that because Hamas has been arresting Islamic Jihad rocket squads. Behind Hamas and the unity talks stands Egypt. Behind Egypt - the United States. Behind Islamic Jihad stands Iran. Draw your own conclusions. But the rockets fall on Israel.
2 Qassams hit Negev day after Hamas condemns rocket fire
By Yanir Yagana, Haaretz Correspondent
Two Qassam rockets fired from the Gaza Strip hit the western Negev Friday evening. No injuries or damage were reported in either incident.
The first rocket exploded just outside Kibbutz Sha'ar Hanegev, and the other has yet to be located.
On Friday morning, a rocket hit the Eshkol region causing no injuries or damage.
The rocket fire from the Gaza Strip continued Friday despite rare criticism voiced by the Gaza rulers, Hamas, on Thursday, who said that now is not the time for such attacks.
The Islamic militant group has fired thousands of rockets at southern Israel in recent years. But Hamas said Thursday that it was not behind recent attacks and that it was investigating who was responsible.
It apparently fears that new rocket fire could disrupt the reconciliation talks currently underway in Cairo.

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Hezbollah might not be peaceful....

Here is a subtle hint about Hezbollah's intentions...
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah vowed on Friday that his organization will never recognize Israel.
In a speech delivered from his secret hiding place and beamed via video to thousands of Hezbollah followers in Lebanon, Nasrallah said his organization will never officially accept Israel, which in his words represents "a rapacious, racist, and illegal entity."
"We are strong and we are capable," Nasrallah said. "If we will stand on our feet, we can destroy this entity."
"As long as this rapacious entity exists, then resistance is our honor and our lives," Nasrallah added, imploring all Arabs and Muslims to adhere to the same path.
The Hezbollah chief also commented on the possibility of future talks with the United States in light of recent reports that Britain plans on reaching out to the political wing of the Lebanon-based Shi'ite movement.
"The United States is ready now to talk with any party, not out of a sense of morality, but because it failed in its attempts to implement its plans in the region," Nasrallah said. "It failed in its plan to conduct regime change in Syria and it failed in stopping Iran."
"The American plan to liquidate the resistance will fail in the same way," Nasrallah continued. "Generally speaking, before the U.S. lists its conditions for negotiations, we must ask ourselves if we want to hold contacts with it."

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Nine NATO states promise Gaza arms blockade

The question is, whether the states will actually do something beyond talking.
But states are not obliged to join any particular action and the diplomat said that naval vessels would not use force.
So this is an Israeli "achievement" that is empty of content.
Last update - 07:30 14/03/2009       
9 nations agree on plan to stem arms flow to Gaza
By Reuters
The United States, Canada and seven European nations agreed on Friday to try to stop the flow of weapons to Gaza by methods such as interception at sea, information sharing and diplomatic pressure.
Experts from the nine nations, meeting in London, agreed on a program of action to prevent arms reaching the Palestinian enclave bordering the Mediterranean, a senior British diplomat said.
But states are not obliged to join any particular action and the diplomat said that naval vessels would not use force.
Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway signed up to the program, the diplomat said.
Stopping the flow of arms is seen as a crucial part of international efforts to bring a durable ceasefire to Gaza and persuade Israel to lift tough restrictions on humanitarian and reconstruction aid reaching the Palestinian territory.
The diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the program set guidelines for steps countries could take under international law. "What it does is provide a platform to start some form of practical cooperation," he said.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

My Fellow Arabs

My Fellow Arabs

by Sami Alrabaa

Arab regime leaders and their affiliates swim in wealth (luxury private palaces with the finest and mot expensive man has ever produced, private jets, i.e. flying palaces), ignore the poor, repress the population, blame local backwardness on the West, and support fundamentalist Muslims.

Arab regimes have always been despotic and totalitarian. They have never believed in egalitarianism, economic opportunity, religious tolerance, and self-criticism. They have used medieval forces of governance: tribalism, especially in the Arabian Peninsula, authoritarian traditionalism, and most recently Islamic fundamentalism. Arab schools and universities turn out more graduates in Islamic studies, falsified history, and void nationalism than in science, engineering, and medicine. Critical studies and scientific research have screeched to a halt. The majority of Arab professors translate works and research done in the West and claim they are their own. Empirical work is almost non-existent. Students graduate without having the slightest clue about what is really going on in the Western world. The only things the majority of them know about the West is that it produces good car, but it is decadent; people drink much alcohol and women sleep with everybody.

Billions of barrels of oil, fertile land along the Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates valleys, which in the past helped creating great civilizations, yield an excess of misery rather than riches like in North Korea or Hong Kong, for instance. Billions of dollars are squandered on armament and a lavish life-style enjoyed by corrupt despotic rulers of the Arab world and their affiliates. Totalitarian oil rich Arab grandees from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Emirates, and Qatar, who plunder their countries' resources, invest their billions of dollars in the West. Countries like Egypt and Jordan, which receive billions of dollars as aid from the America and Europe, spend the money on strengthening their regimes.

Tragically, prospects of improvement are dismal. Arab government spokesmen and the predominantly state-owned media entertain the illiterate and semi-literate population with anti-Western and anti-Israel propaganda.

The Arab media are a great charade and a simulacrum of the West. They lack life-giving spirit and self-criticism. The state-controlled media and the private ones, owned by rich Arabs affiliated to Arab regimes, like the Saudi tycoon Al Waleed Bin Talal, give the appearance of being modern and Western. But their reporters and anchormen and women are by no means journalists by Western standards of free and truthful inquiry.

For example, while BBC makes a point of talking to the victims of a suicide bomber in Baghdad and Kabul, al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and the other Arab TV stations would never interview the mother of an Israeli blown apart by a Palestinian terrorist. To add insult to injury, Arab journalists call Palestinians who clash with Israeli forces and die: Martyrs.

Most Arab television stations would never broadcast freewheeling debates, like Meet the Press style talk show permitting criticism of the government, or critical, liberal interpretation of Islam. Commercial TV stations quibble over a high degree of anti-Americanism and anti-Israelism and obfuscate criticism of official Islam.

Creative novelists, cartoonists, and bloggers like Najeeb Mahfouz, Salman Rushdie, Flemming Rose, and Alaa Fattah received death Fatwas (ruling) for blasphemy. Four Egyptian editors of four Egyptian newspapers, Ibrahim Issa, Adel Hammouda, Wael el-Ebrashi and Abdel-Halim Qandil were sentenced to a year's hard labour for offending the president, Hosni Mubarak. Instead of getting a prize for literary creativity and civic courage, critics receive a prison or death fatwa and a mob at their courtyard.

No wonder that a culture of zero-creativity and silence is pervading the Arab world. On the other hand, a culture of demagogy is spreading across the Arab world. Prime examples are the Islamist preacher Amr Khaled and the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darweesh. The Arab current furor is scripted, whipped up, and mercurial.

The Arab regimes and their media focus on and exaggerate the number of Arabs killed in clashes with the Israeli army and the coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, they deliberately ignore the thousands of Shiites, and Kurds butchered by Saddam Hussein and Hafez Asad of Syria.

The murder of some100.000 Muslims in Algeria by fellow Muslims, not by infidels, did not provoke so much indignation and violent demonstrations among Muslims as the so-called "Mohammed cartoons" did, although according to the holy Koran, "If someone kills a human being, it is as if he had killed the whole mankind."

All the conferences held in the Arab world about alleged Western bias and media distortion, and all those open-letters signed by Muslim leaders to Christians for dialogue cannot hide the self-inflicted catastrophe – and the growing ostracism and suspicion towards Arab regimes and evil forces in the Middle East. The Arab-Muslim message: "You accept our Shari'a or die" will never be accepted by the world community. The gloat over that Islam is engulfing the world is mere self-deception, vulgar and hallucination, at best. What is engulfing the world is extremism and terrorism. And the world will never accept a religion that approves of bloodshed and carnage.

Yet, in sum, Arab regimes remain objectively powerful, at least in one respect, not because of greater courage, higher IQs, or stronger economy, but because of their unique skills in cultivating fanatics and breeding terrorists. The cultivated West has not yet been able to find an antidote to the culture of terrorism. That is an area where Arabs and Muslims have proved to be superior.

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Washington Post: Freeman's parting letter proves he is a poor choice

The Washington Post's editorial got is right. notwithstanding the fact that M.J. Rosenberg considers the Post a "bastion of neoconservatism." Mr. Freeman has a right to his opinions. The dozen or so congresspeople and the seven senators who were alarmed by his extraordinary position statements and his ties to China and Saudi Arabia had a right to be concerned and to ask for an investigation. Mr. Freeman had a right to sit through the investigation, if he had nothing to hide and be confirmed or not confirmed, according to the results of the investigation. It is not true, as Mr. Freeman alleged that he was convicted before trial. But he withdrew, probably because he knew that his involvements could not stand investigation. Up to that point, everything was quite regular. But Mr. Freeman sent a libelous letter charging that those who challenged his appointment are agents of a foreign power. His McCarthyism is no doubt quite popular in certain circles. In my opinion, the question of whether or not the persons who opposed him, the Senators and congresspersons and others, are all agents of a foreign power, should be tried in court, and Mr Freeman should be made to answer for his irresponsible accusations.
Blame the 'Lobby'
The Obama administration's latest failed nominee peddles a conspiracy theory.
FORMER ambassador Charles W. Freeman Jr. looked like a poor choice to chair the Obama administration's National Intelligence Council. A former envoy to Saudi Arabia and China, he suffered from an extreme case of clientitis on both accounts. In addition to chiding Beijing for not crushing the Tiananmen Square democracy protests sooner and offering sycophantic paeans to Saudi King "Abdullah the Great," Mr. Freeman headed a Saudi-funded Middle East advocacy group in Washington and served on the advisory board of a state-owned Chinese oil company. It was only reasonable to ask -- as numerous members of Congress had begun to do -- whether such an actor was the right person to oversee the preparation of National Intelligence Estimates.

It wasn't until Mr. Freeman withdrew from consideration for the job, however, that it became clear just how bad a selection Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair had made. Mr. Freeman issued a two-page screed on Tuesday in which he described himself as the victim of a shadowy and sinister "Lobby" whose "tactics plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency" and which is "intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government." Yes, Mr. Freeman was referring to Americans who support Israel -- and his statement was a grotesque libel.
For the record, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee says that it took no formal position on Mr. Freeman's appointment and undertook no lobbying against him. If there was a campaign, its leaders didn't bother to contact the Post editorial board. According to a report by Newsweek, Mr. Freeman's most formidable critic -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- was incensed by his position on dissent in China.
But let's consider the ambassador's broader charge: He describes "an inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for U.S. policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics." That will certainly be news to Israel's "ruling faction," which in the past few years alone has seen the U.S. government promote a Palestinian election that it opposed; refuse it weapons it might have used for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities; and adopt a policy of direct negotiations with a regime that denies the Holocaust and that promises to wipe Israel off the map. Two Israeli governments have been forced from office since the early 1990s after open clashes with Washington over matters such as settlement construction in the occupied territories.
What's striking about the charges by Mr. Freeman and like-minded conspiracy theorists is their blatant disregard for such established facts. Mr. Freeman darkly claims that "it is not permitted for anyone in the United States" to describe Israel's nefarious influence. But several of his allies have made themselves famous (and advanced their careers) by making such charges -- and no doubt Mr. Freeman himself will now win plenty of admiring attention. Crackpot tirades such as his have always had an eager audience here and around the world. The real question is why an administration that says it aims to depoliticize U.S. intelligence estimates would have chosen such a man to oversee them.

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Norwegians fund racist and violent Palestinian NGOs in the name of "peace"

Perhaps the most pernicious aspect of this funding is the support for the BADIL refugee organization. The main activity of BADIL seems to be to organize "resistance" (terrorism) against "occupation" and to obstinately oppose any peace settlement that does not include the "right" of all Palestinian refugees to "return" to Israel. BADIL led a campaign to villify Palestinian moderate Sari Nusseibeh, who favors abandoning the insistence on return of the refugees as part of a peace agreement. They insisted Nusseibeh is a traitor, which is virtually a death sentence. This "peace" NGO aslo issued propaganda about "armed struggle" during the period prior to the 2000 Camp David negotiations, helping to sabotage the peace process and contributing to the outbreak of violence.
March 12, 2009

  The Norwegian government provides tens of millions of Norwegian kroner (NOK) annually to politicized NGOs that operate in the Palestinian Authority and Gaza. Some of these NGOs are involved in anti-Israel boycott campaigns and the Stop the Wall Campaign in Norway.

 Norwegian People's Aid (NPA), which received NOK 49 million from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) in 2007 for its work in with the Palestinians, accused Israel of "war crimes" and "collective punishment," is active in the Stop the Wall Campaign, uses "apartheid" rhetoric, and supported the so-called Free Gaza Movement. NPA also funds other anti-Israel NGOs and partners with them.

 The Norwegian Aid Committee (NORWAC) receives MFA humanitarian funds for emergency medical assistance. A NORWAC representative, Dr. Mads Gilbert has engaged in radical propaganda, including justifying the 9/11 attacks and false claims on the Gaza conflict.

 The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) partnered with Palestinian "right of return" NGO Badil on a report on the security barrier. The report labels the barrier a "crime against humanity," and does not call for a halt to the terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians that led to the barrier's construction.
 Norwegian Church Aid supports many NGOs with anti-Israel agendas, including Bat Shalom and EAPPI, and is an "important affiliate" of the Stop the Wall Campaign in Norway. NCA attacked the Norwegian government for refusing to transfer money to the "Hamas government" in Gaza.

The MFA funds Israeli extreme NGOs B'Tselem, PCATI, HaMoked, and Gisha. The Norwegian Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority supports Al Haq, Al Mezan, PCHR, and Miftah. During the Gaza conflict, these NGOs condemned Israel, misrepresenting international humanitarian law to delegitimize Israeli self-defense measures.

 NORAD supports a number of NGOs active in "anti-wall" campaigns, including the Norwegian Assosiation of NGOs for Palestine, the "coordinator for the Norwegian Tear-Down the Wall Campaign and the Norwegian Boycott Israel Campaign."

Background: Norwegian Aid to the Palestinians
For more than a decade, numerous NGOs in the Palestinian Authority and Gaza have been funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), with some overlap between them.[1]  In terms of volume, approximately two-thirds of the total resources emanated from the MFA (funding through the Norwegian Representative Office (NRO) in the Palestinian Authority originates from the MFA), while one-third came from NORAD. MFA funding is formally intended for humanitarian work, while NORAD resources are awarded for long term-support to build Palestinian civil society. The total amount for the whole period was 606 million Norwegian kroner (NOK).
In 2006, the "Palestinian Area" was listed as the second biggest recipient (out of 114 countries; Sudan received the most) of bilateral assistance from the MFA, receiving 563 million Norwegian kroner. Of this, NOK 164 million was channeled through Norwegian NGOs, NOK 15 million through local NGOs, NOK 1.6 million through regional NGOs, and NOK 7 million through international NGOs. Figures for the specific allocation of funds to NGOs in general or individual organizations are not readily available from the MFA or from the Norwegian Representative Office (NRO), and neither the MFA nor the NRO have responded to emailed enquiries from NGO Monitor (correct to January 26, 2009), reflecting a lack of transparency. Hence, the funding information on the MFA and NRO may not be comprehensive.
Norwegian Government-Funded NGOs
Norwegian People's Aid / Norsk Folkehjelp
Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) is one of the biggest and most highly regarded of Norway's humanitarian and development NGOS. It is funded both by the MFA and by NORAD. In 2007, NPA received NOK 83 million from the MFA. According to an email from NORAD's Assistant Director of the Civil Society Department, Gunvor W. Skancke, in 2007, NPA received NOK 29 million for emergency operations in the Palestinian Authority.
NPA describes itself as "a humanitarian organization rooted in the Norwegian Labour Movement" and clearly states that it is not a politically neutral organization.  Nevertheless, it receives government funding to promote this openly biased agenda, which often fuels the conflict, rather than contributing to compromise and mutual understanding.
NPA's activities in support of demonization:
 Accusations of "Collective Punishment" and "War Crimes": On January 6, 2009, NPA's Secretary General, Petter Eide, accused Israel of subjecting the Palestinian population in Gaza to "collective punishment." The organization has also issued a petition entitled "Stop Israel's War Crimes!," which refers to Israel's alleged "disproportionate use violence" and "clear violations of international humanitarian law."

Support for the Free Gaza Movement: In August, 2008, NPA expressed "appreciation and congratulations" to the Free Gaza Movement for "breaking the siege" in the provocative "Gaza boat" campaign in support of the Hamas leadership. Under the façade of "humanitarian aid," these fringe activists, promoted their campaign by referring to Israel as "Palestine," its creation as the "Nakba" (catastrophe), and accuse Israel of "ethnic cleansing."

 Stop the Wall Campaign in Norway: NPA's website promotes the Stop the Wall Campaign in Norway, and displays an illustration of the separation barrier and the text, "Riv muren i Palestina. Trodde du Apartheid var historie?" - translated: "Tear the Wall in Palestine. Did you think Apartheid was history?" The use of the false apartheid analogy is a central part of the Durban strategy of demonization and political warfare against Israel's legitimacy.

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Australia may quit racist Durban II conference

It is not clear how much of the protest has to do with Israel, and how much is related to the "blasphemy" clauses aimed at protecting Islam from criticism. 
Australia threatened on Thursday to withdraw from a UN conference on racism next month unless the wording of a document it considers hostile to Israel is dropped or substantially altered.
Israel and Canada have already withdrawn from the April 20-24 World Conference Against Racism in Geneva amid fears Arab nations will use it to criticize Israel.
The United States has also said it will not attend the conference unless the wording of the final declaration is altered radically. Israel is calling for a boycott of the event.
"If we form the view that the text is going to lead to nothing more than an anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic harangue, an anti-Jewish propaganda exercise, Australia will not be in attendance," Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told parliament.
Critics also object to final declaration sections they say could limit freedom of religion or speech.
The United States and Israel walked out of the first UN conference on racism in Durban, South Africa, in 2001, to protest against an attempted resolution comparing Zionism to racism.

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Israeli companies want to make parts of F-35 Fighter

 Last update - 03:00 12/03/2009       
Israeli firms seek role in Lockheed's new fighter-jet project
By Ora Coren
The [Israel] Defense Ministry is urging the American aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin to subcontract work on the future F-35 jet fighter to Israeli companies, including the Israel Aerospace Industries, the Israel Military Industries and Rafael.
The Israeli companies could build parts for the plane, electronic systems and so forth.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 is a future fifth-generation, single-pilot stealth fighter. Israel wants 75 of the beasts: The Air Force has ordered 25 and has an option to order 50 more. The cost of the 75 jets would come to about $10 billion. In parallel with trying to persuade Lockheed to work with the Israeli companies, Defense is trying to persuade it to lower the price.
Lockheed has been working on the new-generation jets for the U.S. armed forces. The fighter would be invisible to radar and have special warfare capabilities.
Elbit Systems won the contract to make advanced helmets for pilots of these planes, and has contracts in place to sell hundreds of units to the U.S.

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Clinton: U.S. Gaza aid tied to recognition of Israel

Those who are concerned about Obama's supposed anti-Israel stand should take this into account. 
About $900 million pledged by the United States to the Palestinians will be withdrawn if the expected Palestinian Authority coalition government between Fatah and Hamas does not recognize Israel's right to exist, Western and Israeli diplomats said Wednesday.
During her visit to the region last week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas against forming a coalition with Hamas that will not meet the expectations of the Quartet.
Clinton told Abbas that Congress will not approve funding of a Palestinian government that does not recognize Israel's right to exist and renounce violence. She added that if those requirements are not met the U.S.-funded program under the supervision of General Keith Dayton training PA security forces would be the first to be axed.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner recently supported an initiative aimed at easing sanctions against Hamas. Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabir al-Thani is also trying to promote dialogue between the West, Arab states and Hamas.
Two weeks ago Clinton met with a number of Arab foreign ministers at the conference held at Sharm el-Sheikh aimed at raising donations for the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip, whose infrastructure was badly damaged during Israel's operation there earlier this year. Talks between the U.S. diplomat and her Arab counterparts focused on means of distributing money to Palestinians in Gaza.
During negotiations Clinton insisted that the money be placed solely under the Palestinian Authority's supervision and strongly rejected offers by Arab states that they assume responsibility for distribution of the funds. In total, a record $4.4 billion was raised at Sharm, with Saudi Arabia making the largest single donation of $1 billion. The donations greatly exceeded the PA's expectations of raising $2.5 billion total. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the total figure comes to $5.2 billion.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jewish wars Ex-AIPAC Employee Rosen sues AIPAC

If you ever wondered how come Josephus came to give the Sicarii such a bad name in his account of the Jewish Revolt, this account of the AIPAC mess gives us some insight into internal quarrels.
By Ron Kampeas · March 11, 2009
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Steve Rosen, the former AIPAC foreign policy chief charged with receiving classified information, is suing his former employer for defamation, JTA has learned.
Rosen filed a civil action March 2 in the District of Columbia Superior Court seeking $21 million from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, its officers at the time of his dismissal in 2005 and an outside spokesman hired to deal specifically with the case.
Should it come to trial, the civil case promises revelations of how AIPAC works its sensitive relations with the executive branch and allegedly capitulated to government pressure to fire Rosen and Keith Weissman, its then-Iran analyst.
Weissman, Rosen's co-defendant in the criminal case under way in a federal court in Alexandria, Va., is not a plaintiff in the civil suit. He and his lawyers declined comment, as did Rosen.
Both of Rosen's lawyers -- in the criminal case and in his suit against AIPAC -- did not return calls requesting comment.
The core of the case is the repeated claims by Patrick Dorton, the outside spokesman for AIPAC named in the suit, that Rosen and Weissman were fired because they "did not comport with standards that AIPAC expects of all its employees."
AIPAC's regular spokesman, Joshua Block, referred questions to Dorton. In turn, Dorton issued a statement saying that AIPAC and the others named in Rosen's suit would defend themselves vigorously.
"The complaint paints a false picture of what happened," he told JTA, adding later that "AIPAC made all decisions in this situation with a determination to do the right thing."
Rosen is not publicity-shy; he helped launch the recent successful effort to remove Charles Freeman, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, from the chairmanship of the National Intelligence Council. In his blog monitoring Obama administration Middle East policy, Rosen uncovered and highlighted a number of past controversial statements by Freeman praising Saudi Arabia and blaming Israel for the collapse of the Middle East peace process.
In seeking to prove that he was the victim of "false and defamatory statements" made on AIPAC's behalf, the complaint describes Rosen as tumbling from the heights of a cozy relationship with the highest echelons of government to being shown the door at AIPAC.
Rosen describes his own status as a high-flying conduit between foreign policy mandarins and the policy community, journalists and foreign diplomats.
In the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by JTA, Rosen says he had the "requisite experience and expertise" to deal with those "with the authority to determine and differentiate which information disclosures would be harmful to the United States and which disclosures would benefit the United States."
Rosen and Weissman allegedly received classified information having to do with Iran and its backing for terrorism. The case came to light following an FBI raid on AIPAC's offices in August 2004.
After the FBI raid, AIPAC stood by the two employees, insisting they had done nothing wrong. Rosen says he even received a performance bonus. Seven months later, in March 2005, Rosen and Weissman were fired; they were indicted in August of that year.
Rosen's suit alleges that AIPAC gave in to government pressure to fire the two staffers, casting Paul McNulty, the lead prosecutor in the case, as making threats that would not be out of place in a legal drama.
"We could make real progress and get AIPAC out from under all of us," the filing quotes McNulty as saying.
The filing draws its information from a motion by Rosen and Weissman to have the criminal case dismissed in 2007. The motion said the government violated the defendants' right to a defense by threatening to charge AIPAC as well unless it fired Rosen and Weissman and stopped paying their legal fees.
In sworn affidavits filed with the motion, lawyers for Rosen and Weissman quoted lawyers for AIPAC as saying that the decision to fire the two came under government pressure.
T.S. Ellis III, the federal judge trying the case, ultimately rejected the motion to dismiss but said its claims were credible. At the time of the May 2007 ruling, Dorton brushed aside the motion's claims.
"AIPAC made all of its decisions in this case alone based on the facts of the situation and the organization's intention to do the right thing," he told JTA.
Within months, however, AIPAC agreed to pay Weissman's legal fees and reportedly expressed willingness to do the same for Rosen. (Rosen's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, deferred negotiating such a payment, in part because he had switched legal firms in the interim and preferred to wait until the case was completed to properly apportion fees.)
Rosen's central contention is that his actions comported with AIPAC practices, and that he provided his superiors with regular briefings about his efforts to gather information from government officials. The paragraph in the complaint outlining how AIPAC works suggests that the trial would lift the veil over exchanges with the government that AIPAC has long tried to keep under wraps.
"To be effective, organizations engaged in advocacy in the field of foreign policy need to have earlier and more detailed information about policy developments inside the government and diplomatic issues with other countries than is normally available to or needed by the wider public," the complaint says. "Agencies of the government sometimes choose to provide such additional information about policy and diplomatic issues to these outside interest groups in order to win support for what they are doing among important domestic constituencies and to send messages to select target audiences."
The complaint also asserts that the statements made by AIPAC's outside spokesman "might influence a jury that will hear the misdirected case brought against him by the government." The criminal trial, which has been delayed multiple times, is now set for May 27.
The filing also alleges that "through their publication of the falsehoods about Mr. Rosen, defendant achieved an increase of millions of dollars in revenue for AIPAC, whereas had they told the truth, AIPAC might well have suffered a significant decrease in fund-raising, as well as an increase in legal costs."
Sources close to the criminal case say that Weissman and the criminal defense team are not troubled by the lawsuit, but think that making the case that Rosen had been defamed would be much easier after an acquittal or after the case had been dropped by the government.
Increasing calls on the Obama administration to drop the case include most recently an editorial Wednesday in the Washington Post.
The case is now being seen to have been an instrument of Bush administration efforts to expand secrecy laws. Prosecutors charged Rosen and Weissman under a rarely cited section of the 1917 Espionage Act that criminalizes the receipt of classified information by civilians; the section has never led to a successful prosecution.
Rosen in filing his lawsuit may have felt pressed for time, as defamation suits must be filed within a year of the offending statement.
The most recent instance of Dorton, the spokesman, claiming publicly that Rosen and Weissman did not comport with AIPAC rules came in a story by The New York Times on March 3, 2008 -- a year less a day before Rosen filed his suit. The suit contends that Dorton repeated the claim to a reporter for the Forward in October; that instance apparently was not published.
A Superior Court judge set June 5 for a hearing to set a trial date regarding Rosen's claims. By the time Rosen's civil lawsuit comes to trial, he might have a dismissal or acquittal under his belt, increasing his chances for victory.
Rosen's filing asserts that at AIPAC he "was one of the principal officials who, along with Executive Director Howard Kohr and a few other individuals, were expected to maintain relationships with [government] agencies, receive such information and share it with AIPAC Board of Directors and to Senior Staff for possible further distribution."
Kohr is named as a defendant, as are AIPAC's lay leadership at the time: Bernice Manocherian, then president; Howard Friedman, then president-elect (and a former president of JTA's board of directors); and Amy Friedkin, then the immediate past president.
Also named are alleged members of an "advisory group" set up to deal directly with the case. These names reinforce the impression that a small core of members of AIPAC's board continues to take the lead in determining AIPAC's direction. They include past presidents Lonnie Kaplan, Larry Weinberg, Bob Asher and Ed Levy.
The complaint asks for $10 million from AIPAC, $500,000 each from all 12 other defendants and $5 million collectively from all the defendants.

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Freeman versus "hardline Jews"

The nomination of Charles Freeman as head of the United States National Intelligence Council and the issues surrounding it clearly go beyond the statements or opinions of one man.

There is no doubt that Charles Freeman is a capable man with a great deal of experience and many contacts, who could be valuable in government service. After all, the King of Saudi Arabia is not a fool, and he would not have given a million dollars to someone who was an incapable nonentity. Rich and powerful people get rich and powerful and stay that way by knowing where to put their money.


Freeman versus "hardline Jews"

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Washington Post Editors: US should drop AIPAC prosection

The Washington Post in an unsigned lead editorial has called on the US government to put an end to the prosection or persecution of AIPAC officials for allegedly disclosing "national security secrets." One of the reasons for the call may be the fact that among the alleged recipients of the supposedly classified information is a Post reporter.
I'm not sure I agree with their reasons for putting an end to the case:
The government has the right to demand strict confidentiality from government officials and others who swear to protect its secrets. The Justice Department errs egregiously and risks profound damage to the First Amendment, however, when it insists that private citizens -- academics, journalists, think tank analysts, lobbyists and the like -- also are legally bound to keep the nation's secrets. The prosecution in effect criminalizes the exchange of information.
So let's see if I got that right. If I get the top secret plans for the classified American super-weapon and sell them to the Iranian government, I should not be prosecuted because private citizens are not bound to keep the nation's secrets? Who is going to agree to that? That surely can't be what the editors of the Washington Post intend, can it?
The real questions are whether the documents were classified, and whether or not Rosen and others knew they were classified, and whether or not they had any intent to harm the United Staes or could have done so by disclosing the contents of the documents - and what was the motivation of the FBI in pursuing the investigation.
As the editorial notes:
The trial court has also determined that in order to prevail, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendants passed along information they knew to be closely held by the government, that they did so knowing it could damage national security and that they acted in bad faith. These are exceedingly high hurdles to clear.
 And the real risk to the government is that a little digging by the defense may disclose some very ugly things about the reasons that the FBI had for pursuing this investigation.

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UN Confirms Iran Ship had arms cargo

But the tough part is porving that the arms were ultimately destined for Hezbullah.

UN Confirms Iran Caught Red-Handed in Ship Loaded with Weapons

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

( A United Nations Security Council committee confirmed on Tuesday that Iran violated U.N. sanctions by trying to send a ship with weapons to Syria. The high-explosive shells, including those than can pierce armor, and anti-tank explosives may have been destined for Hamas terrorists in Gaza, Hizbullah in Iran or Syrian-backed Iraqis, Council diplomats told the Associated Press.

The U.N. has banned Iran from exporting weapons or materials for the manufacture of arms.

The ship, chartered by the Islamic Republic of Iran, has been docked in Cyprus since January 29, when Cypriot authorities unloaded it and said there were no weapons aboard, although it found material that could be used to make ammunition.

However, United States military inspectors found artillery shells on the ship when it stopped in the Red Sea and said it was destined for Syria.

The U.N. Security Council Sanctions Committee told Cypriot authorities that the shipment contravened the U.N. sanctions. Officials from Cyprus said the weapons may be defused "at the appropriate time." Britain offered to help neutralize the explosives.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice condemned the violation, and France and Britain expressed concern. Iran and Syria were ordered to explain the shipment, but the U.N. has not stated if there will be any punitive action.

The sanctions were clamped on Iran after it refused to suspend its program for enriching uranium, a key material for manufacturing a nuclear weapon.

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Freeman justifies his critics in paranoid note

On withdrawing from consideration as head of the national intelligence council, Charles Freeman sent around the note below. It seems to justify all of his critics, as it is mendacious and libelous.
Freeman states:

I do not believe the National Intelligence Council could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack by unscrupulous people with a
passionateattachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country.
I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubt on its ability to consider, let alone decide what policies might
best serve the interests of the United States rather than those of a Lobby intent on enforcing the will and interests of a foreign government..



There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government – in this case, the government of Israel. 

That is, anyone who opposes Freeman, especially if they are Jewish, is necessarily an agent of the international Jew Zionist conspiracy. The ancient libel of double loyalty. It seems that Freeman was working very hard to prove the truth of the allegations against him. Charles Schumer is evidently a member of the Elders of Zion. Freeman's  claim that he was quoted out of context and  that his opinions are a matter of record is untrue. The quote about the Tienanmen massacre in China was part of an e-mail, and there is no way to know the truth of the allegation unless he himself clears it up. The fact that he didn't bother speaks for itself.
Freeman's claim that he never took money from a foreign power to influence U.S. policy is certainly bending the truth way out of shape. He took a miillion dollars from Saudi Arabia, and said in a public speech that he was glad they are engaging in public relations. Why did he think he was getting that money?
Below is his entire letter, which he signed as an official of the pro-Arab MEPC, a group that seems to insist that "Israel" or "the Israel lobby" was behind the US attack on Iraq.
Ami Isseroff
Letter of Charles Freeman

To all who supported me or gave me words of encouragement during the controversy of the past two weeks, you have my gratitude and respect.


You will by now have seen the statement by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair reporting that I have withdrawn my previous acceptance of his invitation to chair the National Intelligence Council.


I have concluded that the barrage of libelous distortions of my record would not cease upon my entry into office.  The effort to smear me and to destroy my credibility would instead continue.  I do not believe the National Intelligence Council could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack by unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country.  I agreed to chair the NIC to strengthen it and protect it against politicization, not to introduce it to efforts by a special interest group to assert control over it through a protracted political campaign.


As those who know me are well aware, I have greatly enjoyed life since retiring from government.  Nothing was further from my mind than a return to public service.  When Admiral Blair asked me to chair the NIC I responded that I understood he was "asking me to give my freedom of speech, my leisure, the greater part of my income, subject myself to the mental colonoscopy of a polygraph, and resume a daily commute to a job with long working hours and a daily ration of political abuse." I added that I wondered "whether there wasn't some sort of downside to this offer." I was mindful that no one is indispensable; I am not an exception. It took weeks of reflection for me to conclude that, given the unprecedentedly challenging circumstances in which our country now finds itself abroad and at home, I had no choice but accept the call to return to public service.  I thereupon resigned from all positions that I had held and all activities in which I  was engaged.  I now look forward to returning to private life, freed of all previous obligations.


I am not so immodest as to believe that this controversy was about me rather than issues of public policy.  These issues had little to do with the NIC and were not at the heart of what I hoped to contribute to the quality of analysis available to President Obama and his administration. Still, I am saddened by what the controversy and the manner in which the public vitriol of those who devoted themselves to sustaining it have revealed about the state of our civil society.  It is apparent that we Americans cannot any longer conduct a serious public discussion or exercise independent judgment about matters of great importance to our country as well as to our allies and friends.


The libels on me and their easily traceable email trails show conclusively that there is a powerful lobby determined to prevent any view other than its own from being aired, still less to factor in American understanding of trends and events in the Middle East.  The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth.  The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors.


There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government – in this case, the government of Israel.  I believe that the inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for US policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel.  It is not permitted for anyone in the United States to say so.  This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States.


The outrageous agitation that followed the leak of my pending appointment will be seen by many to raise serious questions about whether the Obama administration will be able to make its own decisions about the Middle East and related issues.  I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubt on its ability to consider, let alone decide what policies might best serve the interests of the United States rather than those of a Lobby intent on enforcing the will and interests of a foreign government.


In the court of public opinion, unlike a court of law, one is guilty until proven innocent.  The speeches from which quotations have been lifted from their context are available for anyone interested in the truth to read. The injustice of the accusations made against me has been obvious to those with open minds.  Those who have sought to impugn my character are uninterested in any rebuttal that I or anyone else might make.


Still, for the record: I have never sought to be paid or accepted payment from any foreign government, including Saudi Arabia or China, for any service, nor have I ever spoken on behalf of a foreign government, its interests, or its policies.  I have never lobbied any branch of our government for any cause, foreign or domestic.  I am my own man, no one else's, and with my return to private life, I will once again – to my pleasure – serve no master other than myself.  I will continue to speak out as I choose on issues of concern to me and other Americans.


I retain my respect and confidence in President Obama and DNI Blair.  Our country now faces terrible challenges abroad as well as at home.  Like all patriotic Americans, I continue to pray that our president can successfully lead us in surmounting them.


Middle East Policy Council 1730 M Street, NW Suite 512 Washington, DC 20036



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International Zionist conspiracy combats sex

The international zionist conspiracy is at it again:
In honor of International Women's Day, the Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO) named the most sexist ad of the year on Sunday. The dubious honor of first place went to an Eden Springs commercial featuring model Bar Refaeli, under the heading "the bar you always wanted at home."
The international Zionists are at it again...
The article continues:
After the competition, women's groups plan to launch a consumer boycott of the companies whose ads "made it" to the top five spots. The organizations argue that no matter what advertising agencies are trying to sell consumers - be it juice, soap, energy bars or even the Dead Sea - they always manage to stick in women or sex (usually both).
You don't say! I always thought advertisements were trying to tell the truth and be pious and chaste. So this is quite an eye opener, at least for me. I guess I am naive.  The International Zionists are out to undermine the basis of modern advertising and the capitalist economy. Quoth a Zionist conspiratory:
"We are not naive and know that our fight is against tycoons and large corporations, but we constitute 51 percent of the population and a large consumer force," says Ehrenfreund-Cohen, "and it is important to raise awareness of the fact that a 30-second ad transforms a woman into an object to promote products, and there's a double blow leveled by the company that mocks the man by appealing to him in this way."
It's worse than that dear. You are up against 49% of the population - Men (the heterosexual ones anyhow). "When the revolution comes, all men will adore women who look like Krupskaya, and will be turned off by shapely girls in Bikinis." Somehow, I don't think that's a practical program, not even for the International Zionist Conspiracy, which, as is well known, can do almost anything.

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Bottoms up! (Some) British students think Auschwitz is a type of beer

This is not quite a hoax, unlike the rumor that UK schools do not teach about the Holocaust (see Holocaust Education in UK: Clarifying rumors and hoaxes). British kids thing Auschwitz is a kind of beer - a lethal kick to this lager. This news should be put in perspective. Ignorance of history in general is rife. It is probable that most of those kids think Winston Churchill is a cigarette brand. Too bad there were no control questions in this study. Actually, only 2% of British kids thought Auschwitz is a kind of beer and 10% could not identify it. Remember that in USA, 2% of adult voters didn't know who George Bush was.
British schoolkids believe Auschwitz is a type of beer

A new study shows that around 10 percent British schoolchildren could not identify Auschwitz as a Nazi death camp, and 2 percent believe it is a kind of beer.
The poll of 1,000 pupils between the ages of 11 to 16 was conducted by the London Jewish Cultural Center and Miramax film company, to mark the launch of the DVD edition of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

According to the survey, 60 percent of pupils did not know what the Final Solution was, and 20 percent defined the phrase as the talks that brought an end to World War II.
Just 37 percent of the children polled knew that six million Jews perished in the Holocaust.
"We are not surprised by the results, although we are disappointed," said Stephanie Rose of the London Jewish Cultural Center.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Charles Freeman declines nomination as head of National Intelligence Council

Victory is announced sparingly. .Charles Freeman, outspoken President of the MEPC Arab lobby, withdrew from consideration as head of the National Intelligence Council after mounting pressure from US congresmen and Senators. This is the terse Reuters announcement:
U.S. choice for top intelligence analyst withdraws
Tue Mar 10, 2009 4:56pm EDT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The candidate for a top U.S. intelligence post withdrew from the running on Tuesday after angering some in Congress with remarks on Israeli "oppression" of Palestinians, and about China.
The office of Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said in a statement that Charles Freeman, who had been picked to head the National Intelligence Council, had asked not to proceed.
Blair had accepted Freeman's decision with regret, the statement said.
The appointment was not the responsibility of Barack Obama. Blair had pushed Freeman as his nominee for the post. The post is not normally reviewed by congress as it is not an ambassadorship or cabinet level appointment.  But Freeman's statements favoring repression of dissent as a principle, not only in Tienanmen Square, must've been hard to swallow even for the starkest realists. The fact that he was President of the MEPC Arab lobby and a board member of the American Iranian Council, a lobby for the Iranian interests, should have indicated that he was not exactly beyond suspicion of bias. it is true that many Washingtonians have such ties, but not many of them are chosen to evaluate the United States National Intelligence Estimate, or have such outspoken opinions about Israel. For details of the Freeman issue, and the McCarthyite campain against Freeman critics conducted by M.J. Rosenberg, Professor Walt and others, see Charles Freeman - Barack Obama owes America an explanation.  
Nonetheless, the absurd appointment to a critical post had aroused only nominal interest. Mainstream media hardly mentioned it at all except in op-eds. The nomination of Freeman became a cause celebre for the more vicious enemies of Israel, none of whom considered whether or not it would be appropriate to have an individual who was obviously biased judging intelligence. The only thing they knew about Freeman is that he is anti-Israel, and that is all that interested them. His backers crowed incessantly about their victory over the "Israel lobby" and smeared anyone who dared to disagree as right wing neocon Zionists. Now they will no doubt portray Freeman as a sort of American Horst Wessel, a victim of the Jewish interests. It is not clear how they can justify the idea that it is somehow in the best interests of the United States to have a pro-Iranian lobbyists judging intelligence about Iranian nuclear development.
Much of the credit for exposing freeman goes to Steve Rosen, squads of alert bloggers and unnamed anonymous others, as well as a bipartisan group of congresspersons who signed a letter asking for an investigation of Freeman. When a group of Senate Republicans voiced similar concerns, it was apparently too much for Freeman, though he did manage to muster the support of 17 ambassadors and former ambassadors.  
Ami Isseroff

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Charles Freeman, hypocrisy and nuance

Another Jewish voice is added to the critics of Charles Freeman. Kampeas dares to speak out against the McCarthyite smears of Rosenberg, Walt and others.

Freeman, hypocrisy and nuance

By Ron Kampeas · March 9, 2009

There are times, when you scent political hypocrisy, that you have to shut your eyes and try and pin down the time that the guy crying  "infamy!" was kind of infamous himself.

Not so with the defenders of Chas Freeman, the Saudi apologist now compiling the daily intelligence briefing.  Examples of an utter lack of self-awareness come so fast and furious they kind of bowl you over.

The argument advanced in his defense is that Freeman's detractors start primarily from a pro-Israel perspective. That, according to
M.J. Rosenberg, Stephen Walt, Andrew Sullivan, Matt Yglesias, Chas Freeman's son and now Josh Marshall  renders every subsequent  objection to Freeman  - his coziness with the Saudis, his apologies for China -  irrelevant.

What pristine environment are these folks imagining? Not the one in which they have been operating, unless apologies to John Bolton are forthcoming. After all, what felled Bolton's appointment as U.N. envoy was not the militant brand of neoconservatism he embraces, but allegations of
awful behavior to underlings and colleagues. Under the "Freeman formula" (my coinage! my coinage!) Bolton's awfulness as a boss and peer should have had no bearing whatsoever, because his  policy formulas for dealing with the Middle East were what launched his detractors' objections.

Funny, I don't remember any of these folks protesting when Bolton was forced to step down. Some of them were even in on it.

Likewise, when Elliott Abrams' flirtations with Latin American autocrats
were held against him when it came to Middle East policy, I can't exactly recall the principled objections noting the hemispheric distinctions between, you know, "the Americas" and "the Middle East."

Let's break down the Freeman formula: Nominee/appointee plus motivation of detractors minus ostensibly irrelevant issue: Clarence Thomas plus opponents of strict "constitutionalism" minus allegations of sexual harrassment; Bernie Kerik plus opponents of militarization of Iraq policy minus myriad sexual entanglements that were fodder for a season's worth of  "Law and Order" spinoffs; Bill Clinton plus opponents of all things Clinton minus Paula Jones; any number of nominees plus the perennial desire to make the other party's life difficult minus any number of back tax issues.

You get the picture.

The "Freeman formula," were it ever to become custom, is a recipe for disaster. Of course, every single attack on a nominee starts off from a partisan perspective (and by partisan, I mean to a point of view as much as to a party.) And of course those partisans seek to establish alliances and associations.

And assessing the merit of those associations should be made on a per-case basis, against our understandings of how skills, ethics and policy intersect. For instance, for me personally, a potential Treasury secretary plus tax issues makes me incredibly nervous; a potential health secretary plus same, not so much.

Abrams' flirations with dictators should have mattered, whether they spoke Spanish or Arabic. Bolton's staff issues (and his alleged taste in the early 1980s for "swinging"), not so much. His difficulties with peers - well, yes: He was named to a top diplomatic post. Sometimes it's nuanced, and you have to hold your nose and dig deep. Kerik shtupping Judith Regan was irrelevant to everyone  not contemplating  a double date with the couple from hell; shacking up with a lover at an apartment
reserved for cops suffering post 9/11 trauma, I think, was telling.

Which brings us back to Freeman. His case requires nose-holding, partly because - it is true - some of his detractors have thrown irrelvancies and distortion into the mix.

Taking money from the Saudis? In this town, not a big deal, and Freeman even deserves credit for being forthright about it. Calling their king a liberal?
Oops. Sponsoring a text book proselytizing a particularly Saudi brand of Islam to Amercian schoolkids? Yuck. Taking money from the Chinese? See above, under the Saudis. Saying they should have done more to crush dissent? Well, prepare to dive a little deeper. Freeman did not defend the massacre per se - saying so is a distortion - he says it could have been averted had authorities forcefully intervened earlier. That view was not unusual; it appears to have been shared by the first President Bush.

So Freeman was not an outlier on this issue - but that does not mean his views do not deserve scrutiny. Listen to this, from the
offending email:

I do not believe it is acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government, however appealing to foreigners their propaganda may be. Such folk, whether they represent a veterans' "Bonus Army" or a "student uprising" on behalf of "the goddess of democracy" should expect to be displaced with despatch from the ground they occupy. I cannot conceive of any American government behaving with the ill-conceived restraint that the Zhao Ziyang administration did in China, allowing students to occupy zones that are the equivalent of the Washington National Mall and Times Square, combined.

Really? How did someone who apparently slept through the 1960s and who couldn't pick Martin Luther King Jr. out of a lineup get to be a United States ambassador? More seriously, after John Yoo, rendition, eavesdropping, ad nauseum, do we really - really - want someone running intel who upholds repression in an explicitly American context?

What this reminds me of most is the initial reaction to the classified information (not, not, not "espionage") case against Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman. A lot of the folks now backing Freeman were delighted then at the blow against the "lobby" until it dawned on them that it was of a piece with rampant Bush administration expansions of executive powers. This is more than forest-for-the-trees ignorance; it is an environmental disaster. The judge in that case - who now appears sympathetic to its constitutional challenges - nonetheless has set the precedent of criminalizing the aural receipt of classified information by civilians. Had the right folks realized what was at stake when the indictments were handed down, that damage might never have been done.

Narrow interests seek broader justifications. Sometimes they pass the "makes sense" test, sometimes not. Here's a hypothetical test: Would Andrew Sullivan defend Freeman's choice as ardently were it to emerge that the appointee defended Cuba's monstrous anti-gay policies as vigorously as he defended China's repression?

Freeman is an illiberal defender of dictatorships. That troubles pro-Israel figures, it's true. Why it's not troubling everyone else is in itself troubling.

UPDATE: Add Glenn Greenwald and Ezra Klein to the "Freeman formula" roll. Greenwald, who has written a thing or two about how intelligence and civil liberties intersect, is especially disappointing.


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How to free Gilad Shalit

It is not the Israeli government that is at fault for being reluctant to free hundreds of convicted terrorists in order to obtain the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Put the blame where it belongs. Send the demonstrators to erect a tent in front of International Red Cross headquarters.
Op-Ed: Act to free Gilad Shalit
By Zelda Harris and Marian Lebor ·
TEL AVIV (JTA) -- People throughout the world, including the beleaguered south of Israel, of all places, are collecting and donating humanitarian aid to Gaza. Courts of law in numerous countries are being employed against Israelis to issue civil lawsuits and undertake criminal investigations using allegations of "war crimes," "crimes against humanity" and other alleged violations of international law.
By contrast, there are very few calls for the filing of cases against any war crimes perpetrated by Hamas, and there is a resounding silence regarding the violation of Gilad Shalit's rights under the Geneva Conventions as a prisoner of war.
While worldwide attention is concentrated on the Palestinians' humanitarian plight, where is the concern about the condition of one Israeli in Gaza who has been denied very basic human rights for 959 days, and counting?
Gilad Shalit has been held in captivity in Gaza, whereabouts unknown, since early Sunday morning, June 25, 2006, when a Gazan terror cell launched a cross-border attack on an Israel Defense Forces post near Kibbutz Kerem Shalom in southern Israel. Lt. Hanan Barak from Arad and Sgt. Pavel Slocker from Dimona were killed in the attack in which Gilad Shalit was kidnapped.
Nearly 1,000 days later, we ask: Where is Gilad Shalit? No one outside of Gaza knows and no one in Gaza is willing to say.
Hamas, as the "declared" government of Gaza, must abide by international conventions if it is to be recognized. Yet Hamas is content to bargain with Gilad's life and deny him his most basic human right as a prisoner of war. All Palestinian prisoners in Israel are entitled to visits by the International Red Cross. These prisoners can all be accounted for. We are asking for the International Red Cross to be given access to Gilad Shalit now.
At the recent rally to mark 21 years since the founding of Hamas, the world witnessed an abhorrent spectacle on TV: A young boy dressed in IDF uniform masqueraded as Gilad Shalit and read from a prepared text in Hebrew saying that he missed his parents, while 200,000 Gazans jeered.
Imagine if Gilad were your son, grandson, brother, nephew or neighbor? What would you do if you knew that he was less than a two-hour drive from you and there was no way to get to him? Why can't a member of the International Red Cross visit Gilad? We want tangible evidence that he is alive. We want this now, ahead of any prisoner exchange.
There is a precedent for the involvement of the International Red Cross with Israeli prisoners of war. On Sept. 11, 1969, an Israeli fighter plane was downed over Egypt and the pilot, Capt. Giora Rom, bailed out. Rom was wounded and taken captive. He was returned to Israel three months later.
During his captivity, the International Red Cross visited Rom. In a recent radio interview, he said he thought his life was over until this visit, which gave him reason to hope and to live, and to expect that one day he would be released.
Gilad Shalit has had no such moral support. He remains in captivity, all alone.
The International Red Cross works in Gaza. We want the organization to provide us with the answer to our question: Where is Gilad Shalit?
In the 1970s and 1980s, Jewish communities around the world asserted themselves in the "free Soviet Jewry" campaign. It was a grass-roots movement comprising Jews of all ages and backgrounds who had a single aim: to free their Russian brethren who were arrested and imprisoned for openly expressing their desire to leave the Soviet Union and immigrate to Israel. Not a day went by without demonstrations, and letter-writing and telephone campaigns, organized to target Soviet embassies, consulates, businesses, artists and sportsmen, and to lobby lawmakers to exert diplomatic pressure on the Soviet Union.
We ask that people worldwide organize themselves along similar lines now to help Gilad Shalit.
Those who care about human rights should take Gilad into their hearts. Contact your member of parliament, congressman, elected official or any agency purporting to stand up for human rights and ask them to act. Contact your synagogues, churches, organizations or clubs that you attend to enlist support. Organize a vigil outside the Red Cross headquarters in your country and inform the media.
Do not let a day go by without thinking of Gilad Shalit and doing what you can to find out where he is.
While the world is focused on Gaza and the plight of the Palestinians, we must not forget Gilad Shalit.
(Zelda Harris, who lives in Israel, was a leading activist in the 35's-Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry in the 1970s and is a former director of BIPAC-Israel. Marian Lebor, who also lives in Israel, is a freelance writer and filmmaker who was active in the universities committee for Soviet Jewry in the 1970s.)

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Questions about Freeman (Intelligence nominee) in Senate Intelligence Committee

What a pity that Democrats "see no reason to get involved."
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 10, 2009; A05
All seven Republican members of the Senate intelligence committee yesterday joined a small chorus of voices on Capitol Hill criticizing the choice of a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia for a senior intelligence position, concerned about his views on Israel and his past relationships with Saudi and Chinese interests.
Charles W. Freeman Jr. was picked by Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair to lead the National Intelligence Council. In that position, he will oversee production of national intelligence estimates and shorter assessments on specific issues, tapping experts from among the 16 intelligence agencies. The position does not require Senate confirmation.
The outspoken Freeman was assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs from 1993 to 1994 and was U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia heading into and during the Persian Gulf War. In the 1980s, he was deputy chief of mission in Beijing and then Bangkok.
Since 1997, he has presided over the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that is funded in part by Saudi money. In that role, Freeman has occasionally criticized the Israeli government's positions and U.S. support for those policies. In 2007, for example, he said, "The brutal oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli occupation shows no sign of ending," adding, "American identification with Israel has become total."
Sen. Christopher S. Bond (Mo.), vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the six other Republicans on the panel wrote Blair to raise "concerns about Mr. Freeman's lack of experience and uncertainty about his objectivity." His appointment, they said, would result in "even more oversight scrutiny to the activities of the NIC under his leadership."
Committee Chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is aware of the letter, an aide to the senator said, but does not see a need to get involved in the matter. The White House has also been largely mum on Freeman's appointment. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked last week about the objections, but he ducked the question.
Opposition to Freeman's appointment has been led by several pro-Israel groups and advocates in the United States, joined by some members of Congress. Last week, nine House Republicans, including Minority Leader John A. Boehner (Ohio), Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) and two intelligence committee members, joined Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley (Nev.) in asking DNI Inspector General Edward Maguire for a comprehensive review of Freeman's past and current financial, commercial and contractual ties to the Saudi government. Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), a member of the House intelligence committee, wrote a similar letter to Maguire.
Blair welcomes the review, said DNI spokeswoman Wendy Morigi. She added that the review, the normal security clearance process and Freeman's public financial disclosure report "will put to rest any questions about Ambassador Freeman's suitability, character and financial history."
Freeman has also been faulted for statements about the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989. Critics have said that he faulted the Chinese for not acting earlier in putting down the demonstrations, but Freeman said the remarks were his assessment of how Chinese leaders had seen things. Opponents have also pointed to his serving four years, beginning in 2004, on the board of the China National Offshore Oil Corp.
Morigi noted yesterday that the board met only once a year and that Freeman took no part in issues involving the company's dealing with Iran or its unsuccessful 2005 attempt to buy the U.S. oil company Unocal.
She was optimistic that Freeman would be at work by the end of the month. After that, he has 30 days to file his financial disclosure statement and work out with the DNI general counsel how to resolve any potential conflicts of interest.

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Stephens: Charles Freeman is "intelligence crackpot"

Stephens takes on the absurd contentions of M.J. Rosenberg and others that only neocon right-wing Zionists are opposed to the nomination of Charles Freeman as head of the NIC.
In a recent article about Mr. Freeman's nomination in the Huffington Post, M.J. Rosenberg of the left-wing Israel Policy Forum writes that "Everyone involved in the anti-Freeman effort are staunch allies of the lobby." Of course: Only the most fervid Likudnik mandarins could object to Mr. Freeman's 2006 characterization of Mao Zedong as a man who, for all his flaws, had a "brilliance of . . . personality [that] illuminated the farthest corners of his country and inspired many would-be revolutionaries and romantics beyond it." It also takes a Shanghai Zionist to demur from Mr. Freeman's characterization of the Chinese leadership's response to the "mob scene" at Tiananmen as "a monument to overly cautious behavior on the part of the leadership."
But the bad news is that the propaganda of Rosenberg and others like him is working. US Congresspeople are apathetic about Freeman and many apparently don't even know who he is and don't care. One reason is that pro-Israel activists have ignored the Freeman issue, focusing instead on hopeless causes and non-issues like American aid to rebuild Gaza.
Obama's National Intelligence Crackpot
What does the Jewish lobby have to do with China's dissidents?

On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal published a letter from 17 U.S. ambassadors defending the appointment of Charles Freeman to chair the National Intelligence Council. The same day, the leaders of the 1989 protests that led to the massacre at Beijing's Tiananmen Square wrote Barack Obama "to convey our intense dismay at your selection" of Mr. Freeman.
If moral weight could be measured on a zero to 100 scale, the signatories of the latter letter, some of whom spent years in Chinese jails, would probably find themselves in the upper 90s. Where Mr. Freeman and his defenders stand on this scale is something readers can decide for themselves.
So what do Chinese democracy activists have against Mr. Freeman, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia? As it turns out, they are all, apparently, part-and-parcel of the Israel Lobby.
In a recent article about Mr. Freeman's nomination in the Huffington Post, M.J. Rosenberg of the left-wing Israel Policy Forum writes that "Everyone involved in the anti-Freeman effort are staunch allies of the lobby." Of course: Only the most fervid Likudnik mandarins could object to Mr. Freeman's 2006 characterization of Mao Zedong as a man who, for all his flaws, had a "brilliance of . . . personality [that] illuminated the farthest corners of his country and inspired many would-be revolutionaries and romantics beyond it." It also takes a Shanghai Zionist to demur from Mr. Freeman's characterization of the Chinese leadership's response to the "mob scene" at Tiananmen as "a monument to overly cautious behavior on the part of the leadership."
Mr. Freeman knows China well: He served as a translator during Richard Nixon's historic 1972 visit to Beijing. More recently, Mr. Freeman served on the advisory board of CNOOC, the Chinese state-owned oil giant. Is this also a qualification to lead the NIC?
But the Far East is by no means Mr. Freeman's only area of expertise. For many years he has led the Middle East Policy Council, generously funded by Saudi money. It's a generosity Mr. Freeman has amply repaid.
Thus, recalling Mr. Freeman's special pleading on behalf of Riyadh during his stint as ambassador in the early '90s, former Secretary of State James Baker called it "a classic case of clientitis from one of our best diplomats." Mr. Freeman has also been quoted as saying "It is widely charged in the United States that Saudi Arabian education teaches hateful and evil things. I do not think this is the case." Yet according to a 2006 report in the Washington Post, an eighth grade Saudi textbook contains the line, "They are the Jews, whom God has cursed and with whom He is so angry that He will never again be satisfied." Maybe Mr. Freeman was unaware of this. Or maybe he doesn't consider it particularly evil and hateful.
Whatever the case, Mr. Freeman has been among the Kingdom's most devoted fans, going so far as to suggest that King Abdullah "is very rapidly becoming Abdullah the Great." No sycophancy there.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Freeman was a ferocious critic of the war on terror. Not surprising, either, was his opinion about what started it: "We have paid heavily and often in treasure in the past for our unflinching support and unstinting subsidies of Israel's approach to managing its relations with the Arabs," he said in 2006. "Five years ago we began to pay with the blood of our citizens here at home."
This is not a particularly original argument, although in Mr. Freeman's case it becomes a kind of monomania, in which Israel is always the warmonger, always slapping away Arab hands extended in peace. Say what you will about this depiction of reality, there's also a peculiar psychology at work.
Then again, as Middle East scholar Martin Kramer points out, Mr. Freeman's recent views on the causes of 9/11 contradict his view from 1998, when he insisted that al Qaeda's "campaign of violence against the United States has nothing to do with Israel." What changed? Mr. Kramer thinks Mr. Freeman was merely following the lead of his benefactor, Citibank shareholder Prince Al-Waleed, who opined that 9/11 was all about U.S. support for Israel, not what the Kingdom teaches about the infidels.
Is Mr. Freeman merely a shill? That seems unfair, even if it's hard to square his remorseless "realism" in matters Chinese with the touching solicitude he feels for Israel's victims (who, by his count, must be numbered in the tens of millions). James Fallows of the Atlantic has argued that Mr. Freeman's "contrarian inclination" would serve him well in the NIC post. But the line between contrarian and crackpot is a thin one, and knowing the difference between the two is a main task of intelligence.
Adm. Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence who asked Mr. Freeman to serve, is testifying today in Congress. Somebody should ask him if any of Mr. Freeman's views quoted above meet the definition of "crackpot," and, if not, why?

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Report: Even Madoff's swindle was a swindle

According to an article by Shlomo Shamir and the associated press, even Madoff's swindle was a swindle. The crook listed inflated investment and profit figures that never existed. The $50 billion never existed:
The scale of the financial fraud attributed to Bernard Madoff is significantly smaller than the originally reported sum of $50 billion , which gave it the Ponzi scheme the dubious title of greatest white-collar fraud in history.
Investigators claim Madoff himself told them that he stole $50 billion, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the number may be as fictitious as the sprawling fraud that he allegedly ran.
A growing number of people involved in the case and outside observers are saying that the actual loss to investors could be far less than the mind-boggling total often treated as fact. The actual number is not known at this point, but some believe it's less than $20 billion.

"I'd be pulling a number out of the air," Stephen Harbeck, president of the Securities Investor Protection Corp., told The Associated Press this week when asked how much money he thought was swindled.
Harbeck said he believes the $50 billion estimate is unreliable because it "includes entirely fictitious profits" that Madoff said he brought investors over the years. Even the $17.1 billion that the SEC recorded last year as being held by Madoff Investment Securities LLC -- once thought to be the legitimate side of his operation -- "does not appear to reflect reality," he added.
"I think it's somewhat misleading to say this was a $50 billion scheme because I believe that includes the fictitious profits," he said Thursday. "If that is the case, and I believe it to be the case, then the real dollars lost would be considerably lower."
Madoff, 70, was arrested late last year, a day after meeting with his sons and telling them that his secretive investment advisory business was "basically a giant Ponzi scheme," a criminal complaint said. He "estimated the losses from this fraud to be at least $50 billion," the complaint said.
The disgraced financier remains under house arrest in his Manhattan apartment while the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission and a court-appointed trustee labor to measure the true scope of the fraud. The Securities Investor Protection Corp., an industry-funded organization that steps in when a brokerage firm fails, has been helping process hundreds of claims by investors hoping to recoup losses.
"It's an unprecedented Ponzi scheme, but the extent of it we'll know once the claims are filed," Harbeck said.
It remains unclear how much burned investors will ultimately say they're owed. They have until July 2 to file claims with the trustee.
A spokesman for a court-appointed trustee overseeing the liquidation of Madoff's operation said Thursday that so far only about $1 billion in assets have been recovered: $650 million from bank accounts and other financial institutions; $132.3 million securities that have been sold; and $161 million in securities still invested.
In the weeks after Madoff's arrest, various news organizations and other groups began compiling a list of Madoff losses that totaled around $30 billion. Those estimates were based on a list of institutional and individual investors and how much they lost - sometimes in the billions.

But it's likely those estimates were based on monthly statements that investigators say were fabricated, said Alan E. Weiner, a partner in Holtz Rubenstein Reminick LLP, a Long Island accounting firm.
The $50 billion "appears to be a number that (Madoff) just threw out," Weiner said. "It could be the total value on all the fallacious statements. I don't think it represents the cash that people put in."
Former SEC head Harvey Pitt agreed that Madoff "probably inflated the amount of money he had under management." He predicted the actual loss would fall below $17 billion.

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Claim: Israeli(?) drones disrupted Iranian satellite launch

Last update - 09:26 10/03/2009       
Iran: Hostile drones disrupted our satellite launch
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent
Hostile unmanned aerial vehicles overflew Iran last month and disrupted the communications systems at the launch site of a missile carrying Iran's first satellite to space, according to the country's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Iranian leader was quoted by an Iranian news agency as having said in recent discussions that the disruptions of communications caused a delay of several hours to the launch of the rocket, which had to be operated with the use of a backup system.
Ahmadinejad said drones flew at very high altitude and used sophisticated electronic equipment to jam ground-based systems. He also said that a decision was made to shoot down the drones with fighter planes, but it was decided not to do so for reasons he did not explain.
Meir Javedanfar, an expert on Iran, told Haaretz on Monday that Israel is presumed to be the No. 1 suspect for this operation. "The intelligence war against Iran is intensifying and becoming more public. It seems that the aim is not only to foil Iran's military developments but also to embarrass the leadership and put pressure on it. This may be an important tool for Ahmadinejad in the coming presidential elections," the analyst said.
Monday's report suggests that Iran had planned to launch a satellite into orbit on January 20, the day Barack Obama assumed office. However, the launch was delayed by two weeks because of difficult atmospheric conditions.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Prostitution in the Middle East: Mothers pimp daughers in Iraq

We could predict that a repressed society would produce prostitution. Time magazine is shocked at the Iraqi sexportation industry, but in fact it is a staple of the Arab and Muslim world.
Here's an excerpt from Time's article on Iraq: Iraq's Unspeakable Crime: Mothers Pimping Daughters
By Rania Abouzeid / Baghdad
She goes by "Hinda," but that's not her real name. That's what she's called by the many Iraqi sex traffickers and pimps who contact her several times a week from across the country. They think she is one of them, a peddler of sexual slaves. Little do they know that the stocky, auburn-haired woman is an undercover human rights activist who has been quietly mapping out their murky underworld since 2006.
That underworld is a place where nefarious female pimps hold sway, where impoverished mothers sell their teenage daughters into a sex market that believes females who reach the age of 20 are too old to fetch a good price. The youngest victims, some just 11 and 12, are sold for as much as $30,000, others for as little as $2,000. "The buying and selling of girls in Iraq, it's like the trade in cattle," Hinda says. "I've seen mothers haggle with agents over the price of their daughters." The trafficking routes are both local and international, most often to Syria, Jordan and the Gulf (primarily the United Arab Emirates). The victims are trafficked illegally on forged passports, or "legally" through forced marriages. A married female, even one as young as 14, raises few suspicions if she's travelling with her "husband." The girls are then divorced upon arrival and put to work.
Nobody knows exactly how many Iraqi women and children have been sold into sexual slavery since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, and there are no official numbers because of the shadowy nature of the business. Baghdad-based activists like Hinda and others put the number in the tens of thousands. Still, it remains a hidden crime; one that the 2008 US State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report says the Iraqi government is not combating. Baghdad, the report says, "offers no protection services to victims of trafficking, reported no efforts to prevent trafficking in persons and does not acknowledge trafficking to be a problem in the country."
But it is not much different in other Arab and Muslim countries. Those that have stricter laws and better policing form lucrative export markets for their neighbors.

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Islam - Religion of Peace? Fair Enough - prove it

Before you get yourself in an uproar about neocon Zionist propaganda - the article was written by a Muslim, and is worth considering. At least consider carefully what the man has to say.
Islam Should Prove It's a Religion of Peace
Muslims can start with better Quranic scholarship
The film "Fitna" by Dutch parliament member Geert Wilders has created an uproar around the world because it links violence committed by Islamists to Islam.
Many commentators and politicians -- including the British government, which denied him entry to the country last month -- reflexively accused Mr. Wilders of inciting hatred. The question, however, is whether the blame is with Mr. Wilders, who simply exposed Islamic radicalism, or with those who promote and engage in this religious extremism. In other words, shall we fault Mr. Wilders for raising issues like the stoning of women, or shall we fault those who actually promote and practice this crime?
Many Muslims seem to believe that it is acceptable to teach hatred and violence in the name of their religion -- while at the same time expecting the world to respect Islam as a religion of peace, love and harmony.
Scholars in the most prestigious Islamic institutes and universities continue to teach things like Jews are "pigs and monkeys," that women and men must be stoned to death for adultery, or that Muslims must fight the world to spread their religion. Isn't, then, Mr. Wilders's criticism appropriate? Instead of blaming him, we must blame the leading Islamic scholars for having failed to produce an authoritative book on Islamic jurisprudence that is accepted in the Islamic world and unambiguously rejects these violent teachings.
While many religious texts preach violence, the interpretation, modern usage and implementation of these teachings make all the difference. For example, the stoning of women exists in both the Old Testament and in the Islamic tradition, or "Sunna" -- the recorded deeds and manners of the prophet Muhammad. The difference, though, is that leading Jewish scholars agreed to discontinue these practices centuries ago, while Muslim scholars have yet to do so. Hence we do not see the stoning of women practiced or promoted in Israel, the "Jewish" state, but we see it practiced and promoted in Iran and Saudi Arabia, the "Islamic" states.
When the British government banned Geert Wilders from entering the country to present his film in the House of Lords, it made two egregious errors. The first was to suppress free speech, a canon of the civilized Western world. The second mistake was to blame the messenger -- punishing, so to speak, the witness who exposed the crime instead of punishing the criminal. Mr. Wilders did not produce the content of the violent Islamic message he showed in his film -- the Islamic world did that. Until the Islamic clerical establishment takes concrete steps to reject violence in the name of their religion, Mr. Wilders's criticism is not only permissible as "controversial" free speech but justified.
So, Islamic scholars and clerics, it is up to you to produce a Shariah book that will be accepted in the Islamic world and that teaches that Jews are not pigs and monkeys, that declaring war to spread Islam is unacceptable, and that killing apostates is a crime. Such a book would prove that Islam is a religion of peace.
Mr. Hamid, a former member of an Egyptian Islamist terrorist group, is an Islamic reformer and senior fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

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Washinton Post Op-Ed: Intelligence Chief appointee Chas Freeman is a fanatic realist

The growing concern over NIC charimain Charles Freeman is not a monopoly of Zionist fanatics and it should not be. This is one critique, but it is really besides the point. The question is not whether someone agrees with realism or a different approach. The question is what sort of judgement has this man shown in the past, and whether or not he is his own man, or serves the Saudis and Iranians who have been supporting him.
Obama's Intelligence Blunder
By Jon Chait
Saturday, February 28, 2009; A13

Most of President Obama's "missteps" to date have been Washington peccadilloes of the "let's find something to complain about" sort. But Obama has made one major mistake that has attracted little public attention: his appointment of Charles Freeman as chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Freeman was attacked by pro-Israel activists, but the contretemps over Freeman's view of Israel misses the broader problem, which is that he's an ideological fanatic.

That may sound like an odd description for a respectable bureaucrat and impeccable establishmentarian such as Freeman. What's more, he's not an ideologue of the sort who draws most of the attention. When most people think of foreign policy ideology, they mean neoconservatism, which dominated the Bush administration. Broadly speaking, neoconservatism is obsessed with the moral differences between democracies and non-democracies. At its most simplistic (which, alas, it nearly always is) neoconservatism means supporting the "good guys" and fighting the "bad guys." As most of us have seen, neoconservatism has trouble recognizing that the good guys aren't perfectly good and that the bad guys aren't comic book villains.

Freeman belongs to the camp that's the mortal enemy of the neoconservatives: the realists. Realist ideology pays no attention to moral differences between states. As far as realists are concerned, there's no way to think about the way governments act except as the pursuit of self-interest. Realism has some useful insights. For instance, realists accurately predicted that Iraqis would respond to a U.S. invasion with less than unadulterated joy.

But realists are the mirror image of neoconservatives in that they are completely blind to the moral dimensions of international politics. Realists scoffed at Bill Clinton's interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo, which halted mass slaughter. Realists tend not to abide the American alliance with Israel, which rests on shared values with a fellow imperfect democracy rather than on a cold analysis of America's interests.

Taken to extremes, realism's blindness to morality can lead it wildly astray. Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, both staunch realists, wrote "The Israel Lobby," a hyperbolic attack on Zionist political influence. The central error of their thesis was that, since America's alliance with Israel does not advance American interests, it could be explained only by sinister lobbying influence. They seemed unable to grasp even the possibility that Americans, rightly or wrongly, have an affinity for a fellow democracy surrounded by hostile dictatorships. Consider, perhaps, if eunuchs tried to explain the way teenage boys act around girls.

Freeman praised "The Israel Lobby" while indulging in its characteristic paranoia. "No one else in the United States has dared to publish this article," he told a Saudi news service in 2006, "given the political penalties that the lobby imposes on those who criticize it." In fact, the article was printed as a book the next year by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in New York.

The most extreme manifestation of Freeman's realist ideology came out in a leaked e-mail he sent to a foreign policy Internet mailing list. Freeman wrote that his only problem with what most of us call "the Tiananmen Square Massacre" was an excess of restraint:

"[T]he truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud, rather than -- as would have been both wise and efficacious -- to intervene with force when all other measures had failed to restore domestic tranquility to Beijing and other major urban centers in China. In this optic, the Politburo's response to the mob scene at 'Tian'anmen' stands as a monument to overly cautious behavior on the part of the leadership, not as an example of rash action. . . .

"I do not believe it is acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government, however appealing to foreigners their propaganda may be. Such folk, whether they represent a veterans' 'Bonus Army' or a 'student uprising' on behalf of 'the goddess of democracy' should expect to be displaced with despatch [sic] from the ground they occupy."

This is the portrait of a mind so deep in the grip of realist ideology that it follows the premises straight through to their reductio ad absurdum. Maybe you suppose the National Intelligence Council job is so technocratic that Freeman's rigid ideology won't have any serious consequences. But think back to the neocon ideologues whom Bush appointed to such positions. That didn't work out very well, did it?
The writer is a senior editor at the New Republic.

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Symbolic Victory - Israel defeats Sweden in tennis to advance to Davis Quarterfinals despite pro-Palestinian demonstraitons

Last update - 21:43 08/03/2009       
Israel defeats Sweden 3-2 to advance to Davis Cup tennis quarterfinals
By Haaretz Service and The Associated Press
Israel advanced to the Davis Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 1987 after rallying to beat seven-time champion Sweden 3-2 Sunday in a close series overshadowed by political protests.
Harel Levy beat Andreas Vinciguerra 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 8-6 to decide the World Group first-round series in a near-empty arena in Malmo.
Dudi Sela had leveled the series earlier Sunday by wearing out Thomas Johansson 3-6, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Vinciguerra saved two match points but botched a forehand to lose his serve and the final set. The jubilant Israeli team ran out on the court and hoisted Levy in the air.
In the previous match, Sela got so upset when he lost the third set he cracked his racket against the indoor carpet. The burst of anger appeared to have energized the Israeli, who broke Johansson's serve in the first game of the fourth.
Meanwhile, Johansson, playing his second match since October following heel surgery, was showing signs of fatigue. He struggled with unforced errors and lost the set when his backhand return went wide.
"I knew I had to play long points and keep him on the court as long as possible. I think it paid off," Sela said.
Johansson admitted he lost steam in the fourth set.
"When your body stops there is not much you can do," the 2002 Australian Open champion said. "It's just agony to stay out there. You know that if he doesn't break his leg there is no chance".
Johansson could not longer put up a fight in the final set, allowing Sela to break his serve twice and go 4-0 up to the delight of a small group of Israeli special guests.
Sela lost four match points before the Swede botched a return to give Israel the victory.
With the score tied at 1-1 after two marathon singles on Friday, Simon Aspelin and Robert Lindstedt put Sweden ahead in the doubles Saturday by defeating Andy Ram and Amir Hadad in four sets.
In the opening singles, Johansson beat Levy in five sets before Sela leveled the series with a five-set victory over Vinciguerra.
Only about 300 special invitees were allowed to watch the match because city officials said they couldn't guarantee security at the venue. Critics, including the Israeli team, said Malmo was caving in to threats of violence from anti-Israel groups.
On Saturday, scores of rock-throwing protesters bent on stopping the match
clashed with police in an attempt to storm the arena. Police apprehended nearly 100 people and arrested 10 of them on preliminary charges of rioting and assault. No injuries were reported.
Two officers pulled their weapons but no shots were fired in the melee, Malmo police said.
Israel will play Russia in the quarterfinals, being held between July 10-12.

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Pope to visit Holy Land in May: Israel, Palestinian areas and Jordan

Last update - 15:57 08/03/2009       
Pope officially announces Holy Land visit in May
By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent, and News Agencies
Pope Benedict XVI officially announced Sunday that he will visit Israel on May 8-15 in the first papal trip to the area since 2000.
Benedict announced the dates of the long-planned pilgrimage following his traditional noontime blessing on Sunday.
The Pope said he would visit the sites of Jesus' life and would pray for the precious gift of unity and peace for the Middle East and all of humanity. The itinerary will include stops in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Benedict is expected to visit Jordan's largest mosque in Amman, and make stops in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth.
At the same time, the Israeli chief rabbinate will renew its ties with the Vatican, which were cut in response to the Holy See's decision in January to revoke the excommunication of Richard Williamson, a British-born bishop who denied the extent of the Holocaust.
Last month, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that Pope Benedict will visit Israel in May, confirming the spring pilgrimage and avoiding any mention of tense Catholic-Jewish relations over Williamson.
"This May, we will receive a special visitor, Pope Benedict XVI," Olmert told his cabinet, without giving an exact date. "President Shimon Peres will accompany him to various sites in Israel."
Olmert said he will ask the government to appoint Vice Premier Haim Ramon to be responsible for organizing the visit, and PMO Director-General Ra'anan Dinur to chair an inter-ministerial team to coordinate preparations for the visit.
"Naturally, we very much hope that the visit will be held in an appropriate atmosphere and will be as successful as Pope John Paul II's was," said Olmert. "A Papal visit to the Holy Land is always an exceptionally significant event and we hope that it will be this time as well."
President Shimon Peres said he was "delighted" that the Pope had accepted his invitation to visit the Holy Land.
"The Pope will be a most honored guest, welcomed and respected by people from all walks of life. His visit will be a moving and important event bringing the spirit of peace and hope," Peres said.
Catholic-Jewish relations have been extremely tense since Jan. 24, when Benedict lifted excommunications of four renegade traditionalist bishops in an attempt to heal a schism that began in 1988 when they were ordained without Vatican permission.
Williamson denied the full extent of the Holocaust and says there were no gas chambers.
The Vatican has ordered him to recant but he so far has not done so, saying he needs more time to review the evidence.
Faced with Jewish anger over Williamson's remarks on the Holocaust, the pope said during a meeting with American Jewish leaders last month that "any denial or minimization of this terrible crime is intolerable."
A detailed itinerary of the pope's visit is not yet available.
It would be the third visit of a reigning pontiff to Israel since the state was created in 1948.
Pope Paul VI made a one-day stopover from Jordan in 1964, but since the Vatican and Israel did not yet have diplomatic relations, he avoided any statement or act that could be interpreted as even indirect recognition of the Jewish state.
In March 2000, Pope John Paul II made a five-day pilgrimage to Israel and the Palestinian territories, during which he visited Christian and Jewish holy sites.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Clock ticking on Iranian Nukes while US dithers

I am not sure what this headline means: MI chief: Iran has crossed 'technological threshold' in quest for nukes. There is not really any threshold except assembling a weapon and testing a delivery system. Nobody thinks Iran has done either, but they are accumulating the materials and the know how gradually.
The real problem is that Iran is accumulating enriched uranium day by day, and testing new delivery and defense systems all the time, while the US temporizes. "Technological threshold" sounds impressive, but nothing essentiall changed in Iran in the last few months as far as anyone knows, not according to published reports.
Here's the story from Ha'aretz:

By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent and Reuters
Military Intellience chief Amos Yadlin said Sunday at the weekly cabinet meeting that "Iran has crossed the technological threshold" in its quest for nuclear arms.
"Arrival at military nuclear capability is a matter of strategy," Yadlin said. "Iran is accumulating hundreds of kilograms of enriched uranium at a low level and hopes to utilize the dialogue with the West in order to gain time, which is required in order to achieve the capability to manufacture a nuclear bomb."
Yadlin stressed that the American government's new approach of dialogue with Iran is being treated with caution in the Middle East.
"The moderate Arab states think this will come at their cost and will be used for negative purposes by Iran and Syria, who are dragging out time with the appearance of talks but are continuing to arm themselves and to support terrorism," Yadlin said. "The extremist axis hopes the U.S. will change its stance, but they suspect that it is a step that will only advance the formulation of a more efficient coalition against them."
Meanwhile, Iranian media reported on Sunday that Iran has test-fired a new air-to-surface missile, in the Islamic Republic's latest display of its military capability.
The missile test was carried out despite the offer by the administration of new U.S. President Barack Obama to engage Iran in direct talks if it "unclenches its fist".
Iran's Fars News Agency said the domestically produced missile had a range of 110 km (70 miles) and was designed for use by military aircraft against naval targets....

Continued (Permanent Link)

Long arm of the Ayatollahs reaches Argentina

AMIA investigator tortured in Argentina

Mar. 8, 2009 Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

Argentinean Jewish community leaders were demanding an immediate probe Sunday into the kidnap and torture of one of the senior investigators in the 1994 Iranian-Hizbullah bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

The investigator, Claudio Lifschitz, said masked attackers nabbed him from his home on Friday night, threw him into the trunk of a van and violently interrogated him for several hours.

The men identified themselves as members of the Argentinean intelligence service and demanded to know if Lifschitz had any case material that wasn't presented in court regarding several Iranian suspects, he said.

The assailants also burnt the letters AMIA into Lifschitz 's back and arm before releasing him near the police academy premises in Buenos Aires.

"They made me get out of my car, get into a van and they took me away," Lifschitz said. "They put a plastic bag over my head and with a blowtorch, they burnt the letters AMIA on my arm and my back."

Argentinean Jewish community leader José Scaliter was quoted on the local Jewish News Agency Web site as saying that "we have called for an immediate probe of the incident."

Meanwhile, the American Jewish Committee expressed its outrage over the assault.

"We trust Argentine authorities will quickly find those who carried out this brutal attack on Mr. Lifschitz," AJC Executive Director David A. Harris was quoted on its Web site as saying. "This awful incident undermines Argentina's important progress to bring to justice those responsible for the murderous attack on AMIA's headquarters."

Eighty-five people were killed and more than 200 were wounded in the July 18, 1994, bombing, the single worst terrorist attack on Argentinean soil.

The blast leveled the seven-story building, a symbol of Argentina's 200,000-strong Jewish population.

Late last year, a 10 million pesos civil suit was filed in an Argentinean court by the family of one of the victims, in the wake of an Argentinean prosecutor's report linking Iran to the bombing.

Since the report was released, a series of international arrest warrants were issued against Iranian officials for the attack.

Etgar Lefkovits contributed to this report

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel cutting funding for information servicies

Israel is cutting money for information servicies. Israel has no international sattelite TV service, no short wave radio, and now:

Israel Radio cutting AM broadcasts, possibly harming English News

Mar. 7, 2009
Greer Fay Cashman , THE JERUSALEM POST

The Israel Broadcasting Authority is gradually eliminating AM (medium-wave) broadcasts, a cost-cutting measure that will seriously harm Israel Radio's news in English and a dozen other foreign languages, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

A date for closing the AM service completely has not been announced, but insiders indicated that the move was imminent.

Until recently, anyone wishing to ascertain the frequencies used by the IBA for its radio news could find details of both AM and FM transmitters on its Web site. The AM listings have, however, disappeared without any explanation.

Asked about the development, the IBA spokesperson confirmed that AM broadcasts were being cut. The spokesperson said the annual cost of maintaining an AM transmitter is NIS 20 million, a sum the IBA, in its current financial situation, can no longer afford....  

Continued (Permanent Link)

International Women's day - Middle East

It's International Women's day today, but there will not be much cheering in the Middle East. If you are a woman and live in most of the Muslim Middle East, this is what you can look forward to:
Driving and Voting - If you live in Saudi Arabia, forget about driving and voting.
Honor killings - If you are suspected of hanky panky by members of your family, you will end up dead for dishonoring the family.
Female Genital Mutilation - practised in much of North Africa and parts of the Middle East.
Burqa - This is the style in Afghanistan.
Women's Rights Muslim Burqa
Hijab - This is the style in many Muslim countries. Iran and Saudi Arabi have stricter garments.
These styles are not options. They are enforced by brutal religious police.
If you are a woman, you'll be happy to know that Sharia law protects you - a bit. The bad news is that husbands have a duty to beat disobedient wives. The good news is that they are not supposed to leave a mark. That's fair, isn't it? Owning property and getting citizenship is sometimes a bit tricky for women too in this party of the world.
Getting Stoned - And If you like getting stoned, Iran is the place to be. This woman is about to be stoned for adultery:
Iran - stoned for adultery 
There's only one place in the Middle East where women are protected - "Apartheid" Israel.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Exposing Israel Apartheid Week

Ismail Khaldi  is a Bedouin Israeli Consul. He makes a good case for Israel during so called Israel Apartheid week. He reminds people that Israel has the best human rights record in the Middle East. Check it out: Human rights in Iran and Israel Human Rights in Israel and Elsewhere Israel: Which Side Are You On? Human Rights in the Middle East Human Rights Highlights - Middle East Torture in the Middle East  
It is absurd to see "progressives," gay people who would be hanged in Iran or Saudi Arabia, and liberated women who would probably be stoned to death in Iran, rallying to support these reactionary regimes and denouncing Israel  

Lost in the blur of slogans

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators march through San Francisco...

For those who haven't heard, the first week in March has been designated as Israel Apartheid Week by activists who are either ill intentioned or misinformed. On American campuses, organizing committees are planning happenings to once again castigate Israel as the lone responsible party for all that maligns the Middle East.

Last year, at UC Berkeley, I had the opportunity to "dialogue" with some of the organizers of these events. My perspective is unique, both as the vice consul for Israel in San Francisco, and as a Bedouin and the highest-ranking Muslim representing the Israel in the United States. I was born into a Bedouin tribe in Northern Israel, one of 11 children, and began life as shepherd living in our family tent. I went on to serve in the Israeli border police, and later earned a master's degree in political science from Tel Aviv University before joining the Israel Foreign Ministry.

I am a proud Israeli - along with many other non-Jewish Israelis such as Druze, Bahai, Bedouin, Christians and Muslims, who live in one of the most culturally diversified societies and the only true democracy in the Middle East. Like America, Israeli society is far from perfect, but let us deal honestly. By any yardstick you choose - educational opportunity, economic development, women and gay's rights, freedom of speech and assembly, legislative representation - Israel's minorities fare far better than any other country in the Middle East

So, I would like to share the following with organizers of Israel Apartheid week, for those of them who are open to dialogue and not blinded by a hateful ideology:

You are part of the problem, not part of the solution: If you are really idealistic and committed to a better world, stop with the false rhetoric. We need moderate people to come together in good faith to help find the path to relieve the human suffering on both sides of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Vilification and false labeling is a blind alley that is unjust and takes us nowhere.

You deny Israel the fundamental right of every society to defend itself: You condemn Israel for building a security barrier to protect its citizens from suicide bombers and for striking at buildings from which missiles are launched at its cities - but you never offer an alternative. Aren't you practicing yourself a deep form of racism by denying an entire society the right to defend itself?

Your criticism is willfully hypocritical: Do Israel's Arab citizens suffer from disadvantage? You better believe it. Do African Americans 10 minutes from the Berkeley campus suffer from disadvantage - you better believe it, too. So should we launch a Berkeley Apartheid Week, or should we seek real ways to better our societies and make opportunity more available.

You are betraying the moderate Muslims and Jews who are working to achieve peace: Your radicalism is undermining the forces for peace in Israel and in the Palestinian territories. We are working hard to move toward a peace agreement that recognizes the legitimate rights of both Israel and the Palestinian people, and you are tearing down by falsely vilifying one side.

To the organizers of Israel Apartheid Week I would like to say:

If Israel were an apartheid state, I would not have been appointed here, nor would I have chosen to take upon myself this duty. There are many Arabs, both within Israel and in the Palestinian territories who have taken great courage to walk the path of peace. You should stand with us, rather than against us.

Ishmael Khaldi is deputy consul general of Israel for the Pacific Northwest.

This article appeared on page A - 11 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Continued (Permanent Link)

U.S. Complains about Israeli settlements

Everyone knew this was coming.
Last update - 01:23 08/03/2009       
U.S. turns up heat on Israel over settlements
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent
Israel is under increased pressure from the United States over settlement construction. In the past month, since Barack Obama was sworn in as U.S. president, Israel has received four official complaints from members of the new administration regarding various issues linked to West Bank settlements.
A senior government official in Jerusalem told Haaretz that the complaints represent a gradual increase in American pressure vis-a-vis settlement activity. "This is going to be one of the main issues that the Obama administration will be dealing with in the coming weeks and months," the official said. "It is not going to be easy to argue with them."

The American complaints were relayed to Jerusalem via senior officials in the State Department as well as the National Security Council, which seek clarifications and explanations from Israel.
The four separate complaints relate to the demolition of Palestinian-owned homes in East Jerusalem, reports of Israeli plans to construct additional housing in the E1 area, between Maaleh Adumim and Jerusalem, the relocation of the illegal outpost at Migron to a new, as-yet unbuilt neighborhood of the Adam settlement and to plans to build thousands of new residential units in the settlement of Efrat.
"Thus far," the Israeli official said, "the issue has been raised by senior officials, but it is going to go higher up the hierarchy. It is a safe bet that special envoy George Mitchell will raise the matter when he makes his next visit to the Middle East in a few weeks, after the Netanyahu government is sworn in."
There was an additional embarrassing incident between Jerusalem and Washington over the weekend, against the backdrop of comments by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton against the demolition of Arab homes in East Jerusalem. Clinton said during her visit to Ramallah that house demolitions "do not help the peace process" and violate the spirit of the road map.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat responded by briefing foreign correspondents. According to the Washington Post, Barkat described Clinton's comments as "a lot of air" and claimed that Clinton had been misled by the Palestinians. "I totally reject the criticism," Barkat said. "It is a lot of air. There is no substance. Maybe it is because there is a new administration in the States. I am not willing to say the houses will remain houses. It is the wrong signal to send to people who break the law," he added.
In response to Barkat's criticism, the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and sources close to Clinton were quick to relay strongly-worded protests to the Prime Minister's Office; they described Barkat's comments as "an insult" to the Secretary of State. On Friday afternoon, in a highly unusual step, the PMO issued a clarification in which Barkat claimed that his comments were taken out of context and that the articles in the U.S. press were 'inaccurate and incorrect."
According to the Prime Minister's Office, Barkat even claimed that his comments were not directed at Clinton but rather at the false Palestinian arguments. "We regret any implication that Secretary of State Clinton was in any way being criticized," read the statement. Clinton met briefly with Barkat during her visit to Israel last week, despite her aides' concerns that meeting with him could land her in hot water because of the disputed status of Jerusalem.

Continued (Permanent Link)

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